Hot Desert Chick's New Mexico Chicken Palace, AKA The Alamo:
The coop and run that covers the east wall of our desert barn. Coop is 14 foot long, with 26' 6" run. (A few decorations not yet added in photo.)
Looking down the finished run towards the brightly-painted coop.
South end of run, 7' wide. Join at barn is 8' 10" high. Front of coop is 7' 9" high.
My Trip To Rome...!
THE PROJECT BEGINS:
I never liked the boring side of our barn, as it is very visible from stepping out from our back garage door. I drew up Mickey Mouse plans for approval for our development Architectural Committee, by overlaying photos of the barn with tracing paper. Then scanned, my simple ink drawing overlay for submission to the Committee, and contractors who might be willing to work on a Chicken Pen. The word "Chicken Pen" proved to be a stumbling block in my area, but I finally convinced a respected father/son-construction company that a chicken coop/run didn't have to look like chicken crappe. To keep everyone "straight" I also got my own independent bids on various parts of the construction. I agreed to buy all of the wire, and do all of the painting, and a few other things. The length of the coop was determined by the existing window placement on the barn wall. The first window of the barn sits 57" from the corner of the structure, so I merely measured over 57" from the second window to keep the window placement looking "equally spaced". I also wanted a horizontal steel member to go around the entire perimeter of the run, to strengthen the wire against possible coyotes and/or loose dogs. I chose 14 gauge 1/2" x 1" welded wire to exclude our many hawks, other wild birds, packrats, and a legion of ambitious coyotes, and common rattlesnakes. A deep concrete sill, and two-foot wire apron at the bottom would prevent ambitious varmints from breaching The Alamo. Coop design required as much ventilation as possible, due to our triple-digit days every summer.
I bought the wire from a manufacturing company that I have dealt with over the course of several decades, although only for small orders of "rabbit wire" in the past. Paying motor freight costs from the midwest unfortunately upped the cost of the run. Two 100' x 36" rolls safely arrived on pallet.
The deep concrete sill is poured and floated. Rebar & steel "anchor plates" for the welded steel frame were set into the wet concrete.
Slab for the coop begins. The sill and coop slab required 94 bags of concrete mix! The small cement mixer, and crew, got a workout. All of the construction, painting, etc, was completed in temperatures from 96 to 106 degrees. We went through a LOT of drinking water. Pant.
My 38 Belgian d' Anver bantam babies all safely arrived from Georgia. They didn't have a clue as to how much work they would cause.
As the project slowly inched forward, I was forced to separate the rapidly growing chickens into a second Pop n' Play kiddie playpen within the garage. Fortunately, Amazon ships fast. As the chicks began to try their wings, I had to cover all with plastic hardware cloth. Cars were "snowed on" by chick dander. The "missing Toyota Camry" (parked outside in pic) makes the garage appear much more spacious than it actually was. My patience was wearing thin, even though I thought my babies were wonderful. Fuzz, fluff & pine shavings coated our garage bays.
The Phoenix rises, at last...! We allowed the concrete to fully cure for three weeks, before anchoring the emerging walls. Three coop windows of 3' x 3' will provide maximum ventilation. Lower cut out is for four-foot nest box.
I chose HardiePanel for the exterior sheathing for the coop, as my tiny greenhouse has held up very well with this type of "siding" after 10 years. Brought up the cost more though...moan. Barn windows needed to be covered by small-mesh diamond steel. Coop windows to be covered by the 1/2" x 1" wire, welded to steel frames.
I began painting, to protect the HardiePanel. A standard three-foot x 7 foot steel door was chosen for the coop entry door. We had the top panels of the door cut out for increasing air circulation (to be covered by wire). Heat is our Number One Enemy in southern New Mexico. Cold is not an issue with chickens here.
I began painting the inside of the coop, putting one thin coat of concrete sealer on the floor. Corgi looks out the opening for the inset nest box.
The welded-steel frame for the run begins. All walls of the coop became higher than my original "drawings", as we decided to join to the barn fascia. Steel is anchored to rafter ends, through fascia. As we intended to match the existing pitch of the barn roof, this also gave us more height on the front coop wall, allowing installation of a standard 7 foot door.
Some of the welds were a bit tricky, coming off of the fascia on the barn. My painting is "rough", as I knew there would be a lot of touchup involved.
The 1/2" x 1" wire skin goes up for the run. The great welders were careful to not burn through the 14 gauge wire. All of the welding was done with a small portable welding unit, which facilitated joining the wire "roof panels" in place. The welder was ferried across the roof on scrap plywood, panel by 3-foot panel. The 36" wide wire is centered on each 2" steel member.
'Aussie' helps with the long side of the run. Door into run yet to be built.
The Ador1 auto door is installed. We had to "double" the HardiePanel trim to clear the steel frame on the coop window. Inside, and outside ramps are built to be removable (set into steel channels).
I built my own Stop Strips. A combo of welding, 2x4" wire, and Apoxie Sculpt. Bantams are good flyers, and I didn't want them perching on the window sills.
More Anti-perch devices over the windows. Inexpensive ceramic decorations from Palomas, Mexico adorn the inside of the coop.
Sans Stop Strips: Looking out from the small feed room to the north, the nest box opens via piano hinges both inside and out. I added a small hook & eye on both sides to hold next box top open. The long plywood (& 2" x 6" boards) Poo Box beneath the perch spans the entire length of the coop, and was filled with Sweet PDZ, after adding The Kids. I also coated the floor, and (sanded) poo-box bottom, with latex floor enamel. Cheap iron "loops" from a decorative iron supply tacked on for door handles. Inside and out, wire doors, and nest box, are secured by carabiners.
Close up of the simple "hasps" used on inside and outside doors. Merely a steel strap, and tab, secured by carabiners.
North end of coop. A steel door, wire, and HardiePanel wall divides the coop, providing a small feed room, and maintains maximum ventilation. Note to self: Next time, add a short, solid panel on lower part of feed room door. Too many fine shavings and feathers get through the wire. The coop stays comfortable even at temperatures over 100 degrees. Attached to the east side of the stuccoed barn, the coop and run are protected from the worst afternoon heat. The now-"embedded" barn window (over the perch), also adds more cooling ventilation from the inside of the barn.
Beginning the two foot buried apron. We installed pvc drains through the concrete sill as the run could become a swimming pool in a downpour. A lot of water funnels off the big barn roof. I decided to forgo any gutter as it would be a nightmare to maintain.
'Aussie' simulating coyote. We buried, halved, "hog panels" to provide a two-foot apron surrounding the entire perimeter of the run.
Finished run, with wilted plants. I had the iron stars and Fleur de lis for 10 and 15 years (never throw out anything?). Cheap, simple, decorations that were welded to the top of the run, and,.. bolted through the wire panels. Hubby helped with seemingly a "thousand washers" to install the 95 "stars", to create The Milky Way on the run. Added some roadside metal art (red flowers) to dress up the run & coop. The cheap steel daisies in pots will be Everblooming. The three large pots and hanging baskets are amended by much TerraSorb (polymer granules), which greatly reduces watering.
A two-foot "Gecko" Haitian drum art circle is added to the run door. Auto door shows through wire run.
Picked up another inexpensive metal deco at an area chili pepper stand for the corner of the wire run. Simply wired on, using coated craft wire. Easy Peasy.
The Coop, complete with local chili ristra. Plants at base, are treasured cuttings from coastal GA, previous digs.
Inexpensive Home Depot patio blocks, set in sand/gravel mix create the stoop. The two-foot ceramic "moon/sun" Talavera piece, also from Palomas, Mexico sits within a three foot steel frame. Hung on heavy bolt through the coop wall, and (sand-able) epoxied-in-place. Hard to see in pic, but I also "Epoxied" (again, using Apoxie Sculpt) the metal roses onto the front door. These came from a local welding supplier. I had one carved Viga (post) made at a local shop (not extremely difficult where we live). Repeating the decorations on our hacienda and barn, I asked for it to be sawn in half: Instant "pilasters", which are affixed via several long carriage bolts completely through the coop wall, after I stained them, and made corbels from scrap cedar (not shown in pic). The sawn pine posts should not twist. I hope.
North end of coop, recently planted, complete with chicken wire barriers against rabbits. Destructive devils, they be.
Yet to come: A thin piece of steel to be welded onto the "leading edge" of the gate entering the run. Too large of a gap remains. Likely, where this small 21" Western Diamondback got through (?).
Coop, with unusual snow storm that passed through on Christmas and Boxing Day:
My d'Anvers were initially confused by the "solid/dark roof" overhead (pic taken after much of the six inches of wet snow had melted). They adapted fine to the situation, as did wire & whirligig.
Icicles in southern New Mexico are not a common occurrence....!
Etsy sign, on the north end of the coop.
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