Our First CoopThe chickens spent the first night in the coop and did ok with the heat of the day - I was very concerned but they had plenty of water and watermelon and they settled down pretty quickly. There is virtually no direct sunlight on the coop and only a small slice in the yard which helps to keep it cooler. They have water and food in both the yard and coop.
We have 4 chicks about 4 weeks old now and they have taken over our laundry room (see 1st coop 2009 pictures) they refuse to stay in their plastic crate so it is imparitive that this coop is finished by the weekend! This is the first coop my DH has built and it is beautiful - he did a wonderful job! It was constructed primarily of materials he had collected here and there, except for the plywood, latch, extra shingles and hardware cloth. You can see all the ventilation at the top of the coop - we are hoping it will stay cool enough - may need to add a misting system next summer. He might also have to add some plexiglass for the "winter" if it gets too breezy - it rarely gets below 38 degrees so we are going to see how it goes.
Brad found a dog kennel (6'x10') and designed a portable cover over it from some panels we recycled from our grapevine shades and 1"x 1"s to keep out the animals and provide some shade - it can be lifted off in two peices and new panels can be built as needed. He will cut a hole in the chain link on this end where the door to the coop will be located so the whole yard can be utilized for the chickies. We also have four 6' panels we got for free that need new chain link and he will be adding those to the length once he replaces the chain link. I will add a picture of the finished coop and yard in it's permanent home this next week. The whole set-up will be moved to this long wall (below) where one of my veggie gardens is located - it will give us an opportunity to let the chickens into the garden to eat the leftover veggies and greens.
The coop and yard will be mostly shaded from our fierce desert sun by two trees - one to the South and one to the West. Here is the yard area - the coop will be at the end farthest from the garden and there will eventually be 6' chain link around the garden area (only 4' chicken wire now) and a gate so we can open the chicken yard directly into the garden.
Moving Day - The Great Chicken Procession:
Everyone was remarkably calm for being outdoors for the first time...
...and trotted right into their new home. We have hay for bedding right now since my sister had a whole bale she couldn't use (free, yah!) and we put down sod for the initial covering as it was cheaper (and prettier) than sand - who knew!
Here is the finished coop & yard:
To be safe, we will not allow the dogs in this part of the yard until we reinforce the pen with hardware cloth about three feet up all around and block access to the area between the block wall and the pen. Brad is also going to put shade cloth up on that fence next to the block wall which will give them a "wall" at their backs and alow them a place to go under the ramp to feel secure in the yard. Thanks for checking us out - see more pictures of the coop & how it was built under the page "coop project-2009".
Our dogs were too rambuncous and eventually we locked them in another yard because it seemed as if they were stressing the chickens out, but this morning the dogs (and chickens) were a lot calmer and all coexisted under our watchful eyes.