Let the backyard chicken experience begin.... finally

By jenn- · Apr 5, 2015 · Updated May 1, 2015 · ·
  1. jenn-
    It has been a long 4 years since I first approached my husband about the idea of getting some chickens for the backyard. He's pretty clear that I will have sole responsibility for them. This is the year I have finally decided that my kids are all old enough to help out if they are needed. A few hiccups with travel obligations have prevented me from bringing home some tiny little fluff balls, but that doesn't mean I cannot start my journey of learning and building before I am able to get some birds in another month or so.

    First up is/was deciding on how to build a coop. I had drawn up numerous plans for my FIL who is also getting into backyard chickens this year, but I had a better idea. Turn my kids' unused play structure into a chicken coop!

    This set is probably 8 or so years old and has been neglected from the beginning. The wear and tear on the wood looked pretty bad. [​IMG]
    We had thought to paint over it just as it is, but then decided to at least try and hit it with a pressure washer.

    Yeah, that's going to be much better. I took over after the picture was taken (remember he doesn't want anything to do with them but he is going to help with construction cause I'm a danger to myself with power tools). Today's task is to finish the pressure washing prior to the pressure washer keeling over and trying to figure out how not to get soaked. [​IMG] Well yesterday ended with a broken pull cord on the pressure washer. Its engine keeps randomly stopping anyways and I couldn't crank it myself. As such, I've decided that hubby needs to fix it before I can use it again. I am only a third of of the way done . My dad is coming to the rescue and is letting me borrow his. So today's goal is the same as yesterday's, finish the pressure washing. [​IMG] Never fear, we did not waste a perfectly good morning after the washer died. Both the slide and the swings were successfully detached. Goodbye old friend. Don't worry, you are being redesigned to be a standalone set that can withstand the size of rapidly growing boys. One word to describe today's task: WET! My dad's pressure washer hose leaks and was too short so I was soaking before I had to come in for a warm shower. I still wasn't able to get it finished before the rain came down. I am now sitting here soaked again this evening after an emergency run to cover up stuff occurred during a downpour. Tomorrow is going to be sunny and nice and I have moved the pressure washer into the yard to make up for the shorter hose, but I'm on the road most of the day. Maybe I will be able to get it finished before dark. [​IMG] Today was a success! I survived 4 kids in the car for a total of 5 hours. Then I got completely soaked pressure washing the play set, but is DONE! Now the long waiting game for the wood to be dry long enough and no rain to be in the forecast so that we can get the first layer of paint on this bad boy! [​IMG] One step at a time. Down goes the monkey bars! They were only held on by 4 fairly easy screws to remove. This afternoon I might press my luck and use the Kilz2 on it. [​IMG] I have zero patience. This is where I ended the day. Not enough time to get it all primed when I couldn't get started until 4. After I snapped this picture, I removed both the climbing wall and one of the "fences" under the house. Tomorrow is a bunch of unknowns, so either I will get it finished primed, or I will run around crazy trying to get everything in my life squared away. [​IMG] Evidence of a hard day's work. [​IMG] The base coat was finished this morning, and the first layer of top coat is on. Much rain is inbound though so the second coat will not be going on for a while. I also bought 20 bags of mulch to spruce up the area around where the coop is going to be. That stuff is heavy! First I loaded it from the stack to the carts (it took 2), then from the carts into the back of the van, and finally with the help of some abled bodied children, from the van to the ground. Next will be from the resting place into its home in the raise bed that houses the coop. [​IMG] That is 32 bags of mulch and 39 pavers (where I lost #40 at is beyond me). At nearly 18 lbs a piece, my van was crying to be relieved of those pavers. I also bought some 2"x4" welded wire to create the skirt for the structure. I figured it would be better to put it down before the mulch went in. After my weekend plans got thrown out the window, we had a nice productive Saturday. My plans to put the second coat of paint was pushed to the side when I realized that my husband was willing to help with my "child containment system." To explain, my husband really doesn't want chickens. As such he doesn't want anything to do with them. That said he likes me with all my body parts in one piece, so he is helping me on the construction. I just about took off a finger with the rotary cutter for my sewing, I'd hate to see what would happen with circular saw. Needless to say, we jokingly call this our child containment system because he doesn't want to help with a chicken coop. [​IMG] Getting started! I was driving my husband nuts with questions because he has a plan in his head and I didn't fully understand where we were headed. We survived though, but some of my measuring was off a hair so we need to take a few screws out and adjust the roof line a hair. [​IMG] [​IMG] At the end of Saturday, here's where we stand. Sunday was rainy and it's supposed to rain all week so not much work will be done this week. As was anticipated, between the rain and getting myself scuba certified, nothing happened on the coop until today. This morning was supposed to be dedicated to getting all of our plants into the garden, but 3 large fire ant hills made me think twice. Those have to be treated before I am shoving my hands in there. Instead of gardening, we were able to get the landscaping around the chicken coop done for the most part and a couple more boards up. We needed a wood run, so not much building could go on today. First we had to get all the weeds that had been allowed to grow up out. I wish I had thought to have taken a before picture. Then we put out two layers of weed block. [​IMG] We followed that with laying out the skirt to the coop as my daughter started the job of emptying all the bags of mulch into it (the skirt is seen only on the edge of the picture). After laying all the pavers around the edge, my daughter finished the spreading out of the mulch. We still have a few bags left that we will add in tomorrow or place around the garden (it needs it). [​IMG] Here's where we ended another Saturday worth of work. We are getting storms again tonight, but there is hope that tomorrow afternoon, I can get some more work done. [​IMG] What a busy week I have had! I have spent most of the week either painting, planting, or planning. [​IMG] All the railings are finally painted with at least 1 coat of paint. The top part of the run will have to wait to be painted until the roof is finished. Those poles keep moving around so I am not going to waste paint if we are just going to have to adjust again. [​IMG] My helper for the day trying to help me figure out a minor issue that came up. We have it all figured out now. [​IMG] I had no choice to finally take a break from the coop construction. It was well beyond time for our garden to go into the ground. With the squash, zucchini, cucumbers, eggplant, tomatoes, peppers, and edamame in the ground, I could focus once again reaching my goal of becoming a chicken owner. [​IMG] Ah, my home away from home this month. Between plants, lumber, and hardware I've been in and out of this store way too much. [​IMG] Today's task was to finish the bottom layer of the hardware cloth installation. In case anyone thinks this is an easy process, IT'S NOT! At first I was going to attempt to use these cute little U shaped nails and hammering them in. That so wasn't working for me. I scratched myself pretty good trying though. This morning I threw in the towel and headed back to my second home and bought some screws and washers to use. That went much better. It isn't a perfect job, but when I go back through with the U nails (easy now that it is hung) it will be great. I also know how to do the top part now. [​IMG] See, all hung up! What a busy weekend we had working on the coop. By the end of a long weekend for my husband, we had half walls made, painted and hung. A door frame created, and a door primed and painted (not hung yet). [​IMG] A metal roof installed [​IMG] And the new flooring for the house! I even got the side that will face the existing floor primed and painted. [​IMG] Then the rain came into the forecast and all the OSB that wasn't sealed yet had to journey back into the garage for a couple of days. I was finally able to get the floors put in and BlackJack #57 put on it yesterday. I was instructed to just pour it in the middle and push it around, so that is what I did. [​IMG] [​IMG] Maybe they should have said while standing outside the coop so you can notice when the thick black paint goes dribbling down your white walls. Nothing a color change can't fix. [​IMG] I also got my one end closed in on the currently uncovered part of the playhouse. The gap underneath will have wire over it during the summer and covered with a plank in the winter. [​IMG] Unfortunately, I don't know what I did wrong, but my BlackJack #57 has cracks all in it. I hope to get out there and put another much thinner coat on it once the sun hits the side that cracked. My only guess is that it was a little cooler in the shaded area (or I took the suggestion for one thick coat a little too seriously).

    I will be updating along the way to chicken owner ship.

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  1. Bloveschickens
    Looking good! I also made my chicken coop out of an old swing set.
  2. jenn-
    Thank you for the comments fshinggrl and Finnie. As pretty as the wood looks clean, there is no way to make the new wood that will have to be added match the existing wood. As to what color it will be, it depends on if I get the cheap paint or the tintable more expensive paint. It'll be red if it's the cheap stuff and haven't decided if I use the expensive stuff.
  3. Finnie
    You are lucky to have a structure as a starting point! It will turn out great. :) That wood color looks awesome now. Have you considered sealing it with something instead of painting it? Or do you have a favorite color you are planning?
  4. fshinggrl
    Good luck! Sounds like you have a great plan! I can't wait to see the finished product and of course those little fuzzy butts!
  5. jenn-
    Thank you both for your comments.

    If there is one thing this house will definitely have, it is ventilation. I don't plan on sealing up the vertical holes under the windows (seen in the second picture) and there are two large windows like that, a roof vent, and we are going to put another on the other end and maybe one in the cleaning door. Living in the deep south means the larger concern is keeping them cool over the summer more than warm over the winter.

    My hardware cloth is already on its way to me via Amazon. This website has been a wonderful source of information prior to making this commitment.
  6. Brookliner
    The next important item after ventilation is 1/2" hardware cloth to cover the ventilation to predator proof. Never use chicken wire. Predators will just rip right through it. Make sure that your locks are sturdy raccoons are nimble fingered and very smart. Welcome to chickens and to Backyard Chickens.
  7. crazyfeathers
    That will make a very nice coop. Remember the importance of ventilation. Im sure you have done your research on making the coop easier to clean. You will be building a bigger coop in a few years as you will be addicted! Lol best of luck to you and your FIL.

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