My Mid-Life Crisis Coop

My wife says that most men going through a mid-life crisis get themselves either a new car or a mistress -- but lucky for her I got into chickens instead! Here is my story . . .


It was Easter 2010 and my wife insisted on getting our 10 year old daughter an incubator. I was originally against the whole idea, but she felt it would be a great family project. The idea was to get eggs, hatch them out and raise them just long enough until they were ready for auction. Done!

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What happened next, however, is --- I got involved! And, after hours, days and weeks of research on the internet, I came to find what wonderful pets chickens make and how their owners just love them and their vibrant personalities. Soon, I stumbled upon the BYC website, where I found a photo of a chicken coop which become the inspiration for my project/crisis . . . It was then, that my quest for "Chicken Ranching" began . . . From bonafide "City Slicker" to "Country Cowboy" . . . It only took me 41 years to realize my life's true calling!


So, the saga begins . . .

It was a cold April day in Pennsylvania when I began to construct what has, in our circle of friends, become known as the "The Taj-Mahal" of chicken coops.

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First, I had to figure out what type and how many chickens we would be keeping. We decided that we wanted to keep all bantam breeds (Silkie) and roughly 8-12 birds. Using the calculation of 2 sq ft per bird for inside the coop and 10 sq ft per bird for the outside run area, the blueprints in my head began to take shape . . .

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Once I had the outside dimensions figured out, I proceeded to construct! No plans, just a picture of a similar, but smaller-scale design. I made some revisions to the original based on preference. It was my goal to build a "house" that was fully functioning without ever having to set foot inside the building --- I have two nesting boxes with outside access doors, another door with a viewing window, two large doors opening on the front for ease of cleaning/feeding and a side door for tool/feed storage.

The perimeter of the actual coop is 6' X 8'. I decided to raise it off the ground 32". I did this to deter the entry of rodents, predators and to provide some cover over the run on hot or weathery days.

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The height of the peek of the roof towers over 14' off the ground.

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I used left over shingles from our house for the roof. Once the roof was complete, I began installing the 7/16" OSB siding using 8 penny nails.

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When the OSB siding was complete, I trimmed the overhangs with OSB board.

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Now, the dreaded task --- painting! UGH!!!

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Once the painting was complete, I installed the windows. I was very lucky to find a used window dealer who was going to throw these ones away because they were fogging up. They were only sashes, but I was able to build wooden frames for them. The windows are able to open by tilting them out from the bottom. The sashes measure 18" X 32". I aligned two, side by side, for the walls.

My next step was to install the vinyl siding, which was leftover from our home. I attached it using 1" roofing nails.

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After the siding was complete, I added a cupala with a rooster weathervane.

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I began on the inside of the coop. I insulated the walls with R16 and used 1/4" OSB for the interior walls.

Now, the hanging of roosting poles and the building of the nest boxes. The box openings are circular in shape measuring 9" X 12", the actual nest boxes inside measure 12" X 12". I determined that only two would be required for the amount of birds I was planning on raising (one nest per 4-5 birds). The two roosting rods are of natural timber found in our woods out back. The highest roost is 32" off ground and the low roost is 18" off the ground. I calculated the space required at 5"-10" of space per bird.

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If you didn't notice -- that is a family photo in the coop! I thought it needed some ambiance to make the girls feel right at home. I also hung the water and food canisters from a chain, as this really helps in keeping them free of pine shavings. Since my girls are getting spoiled, why not add some lighting for them??? Thus, my wife found a chandelier to put in the coop --- and YES, it works!

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The next stage was to begin the construction of the attached run. The run measures 8'W X 14'L X 7'H. I decided to cover it all with 1" chicken wire to protect the girls from predators above. I used 1/4" chicken wire all around the bottom 2' high. Not shown, but done, is the fact that I dug out the whole run area 4" deep and buried 1" chicken wire to stop skunks, coons and foxes from digging in. GOTCHA!

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Food storage was a concern of mine. I had planned all along to to add a space on the back side of the coop with one large door for access. I store the feed in 5 gallon plastic buckets to control rodents and moisture.

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All of this, not just for my lady chickens, but also to keep my main girl happy!

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So . . . Even at this point, my wife claims that she would have rather I have taken up with a mistress versus getting into chickens, as she states, "At least the MISTRESS wouldn't be living in her back yard!"

Hope you all enjoyed my story, I am really enjoying my CHICKENS!!!

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Lessons learned:
- Plan on spending way more time than the wife allotted..ouch!
-- Started April 10, 2010
-- Finished Sept 4, 2010 (well there are still a few odds and ends)
- Hidden cost were everywhere . . .
- Before building an off-the-ground coop, check to see if the bird breed you are raising can navigate a ramp! I found out a little too late that my Silkies don't! UGH!

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Total Construction Cost Breakdown:
-- Estimated Material / $550

- 34 (2x4x8)
- 12 (treated 2X4x8)
- 4 (treated 4x4x8)
- 8 (2X6X8)
- 8 (7/16 OSB)
- 6 (1/4 OSB)
- 14 (2x2x8)
- 40' Drip Edge
- 40' Vinyl Starter Strip
- 100'/ 1"x4' Chicken wire
- 45' / 1/4" x 2' Chicken wire
- 2 gallon white paint
- Hardware (handles/hinges/screws)
-- Misc Items
- Cupala (Purchased through EBAY for $ .99 plus shipping)- WOW!
- Weathervane (Purchased through EBAY for $19.99) - WOW!
- Chandelier (Purchased at Thrift shop $2.00) -- WOW!
- Artwork (Purchased at flea market $2.00) -- WOW!
- Water and Feed Buckets (Purchased at Tractor Supply $30.00)
- Vinyl flooring (Purchased at Lowe's, bartered it down for only $5.00) - WOW!
-- Free Items
- Four bundles of shingles (left over from house)
- Vinyl siding (left over from house)
- One roll of R16 insulation (left over from house)
- Windows (savage from local dealer trash) -- LUCKY!
- Misc nails, screws.

-- Labor ..... PRICELESS!!!

With all this, I think you will agree with me that a $600 chicken coop is much less expensive than a new car and MUCH more reasonable than a MISTRESS!

Sincerely,
Todd Bowser
aka: Todtrac

Link to BYC