Funny thing about renovating this 1860’s coop…. I realized I am a TERRIBLE tracker of progress through pictures.
But then… Hindsight IS 20/20!

When moving to this Southeastern Greene County farm 8 years ago, this old building was moving well into its 2nd century and quickly down the path to ruin. Let's face it...many people don't want to drop a ton of money into something that at first, APPEARS to be kindling, just for 1 sad abandoned rooster. Many would opt for new, and tear down the building, deemed not only too big for anything … but really an eyesore! It looked hopeless with its holes in the walls and shabby tin roof. I mean… NOBODY would have given this a second look.
Well…. nobody but a couple of suckers.

The roof wasn't great, but it kept most of the weather out… the siding wasn't so lucky. The old siding was Tongue and Groove and from lack of paint for some 20 years, it was rotting. In several places, there were several holes a child could easily slip through. That was the outside…..

The inside had insect damage as well as water damage from a long ago hole in the roof that went ignored, and it caused structural damage to the corner of the building and some of the ceiling joist. At some point over the last 60 or so years, some of that damage was “repaired” and the tin roof added, thus slowing down the process of UTTER ruin, but…. just barely!


The damaged corner is located here, on the right side of the picture and was “patched” by a former owner. The damaged roof directly above. (not the original siding, but our newer addition)

The good thing going for this coop…. It was built from the left over lumber from the barn construction… it was SOLID OAK FRAMING!!!
There is still some of that SAME oak stored in the rafters of the barn to make better repairs to the corners and joist as time would allow!! (and they call ME a hoarder)

This coop was built sometime in the 1860’s at or around the time our large barn was erected on the farm. We were able to date the coop using 2 methods:

  1. The wood itself is the same oak with similar cut marks as the barn
  2. Rectangular head nails pulled from a hinge we replaced from the interior dates after 1850 but before 1880
    -Thank you google for the history lesson on nails!

In the fall of 2013, someone abandoned a rooster on part of our farm, and we were faced with 2 options….
  1. A Rooster Noodle dinner……. or
  2. Take him in and let him live out the rest of his days in relative peace.

You can guess what happened…..
We skipped the chicken dinner, went out for pizza and shopped for some plywood to seal up the gaping holes on the old Chicken House siding.
Later that fall, a friend brought us 2 hens who were “past it” so he would have company……
then, we added a run…………..
then, re-did the siding……
then, repaired some of the footers…..
then, added 3 pullets…………..ugh!!!!
And yes…. It goes on and on……..and continues...STILL!
Did I mention… we did NOT want chickens???!!!


The coop is an open front, lean-to style poultry barn quite common in the midwest. With 4 large windows facing SE, it utilizes the open air concept of ventilation. We have tried and tried to find vintage plans for this barn, but I haven't come across them yet. It sets on the downward slope of a hill and yes… is QUITE picturesque!

The barn is 20 ft long x 19 ft wide (22’x21’ including roof line)
The interior of the barn has 2 sections, each having 9’x20’ft of floor space.
There is a dividing wall between the two that includes a door and 2 openings at the concrete footer that are about 3ft wide and 18 inches tall. All of the openings are able to be shut so the coop can easily convert to 2 separate coops.


The North side of the coop was originally the roost area of the barn. These are also the coop's original roost. Wasn't sure till I tried to drill into one…. It was petrified wood, I SWEAR!

You can see the second roost tied up to the rafters above the nest box. The concrete located in the middle of the floor just in front of the present roost, we believe, was a support for the roosts to keep them off the floor. If anyone knows WHAT that might actually be, PLEASE feel free to tell me, we are only making an educated guess. My husband's grandfather didn't even know its purpose.

The southern side of the coop was for the nest boxes. There are 3 units of 10 nest boxes, but currently only use the one unit. It is shown above under the roost that is tied up.

In the beginning of our poultry journey, the southern side was used as a “sun porch” for our birds, with bales of straw to lay around on and scratch up. They LOVE this area! But, with each flock addition, it is used more and more each day.
In recent years, we have used this space for our brooder box and a second roost area. We took the roost that was tied up, and moved it to the southern side along the western wall. They love to perch on the roost and watch out the windows on cold or rainy days when they choose not to venture outside.

This room would be the mirror image of the main roost area except we chose not to add nest boxes in the southern half of the coop because…
they don't NEED 20 boxes! They choose to argue over 3 of the 10 nest boxes that are already hanging!
19 layers and they argue LOUDLY over 3 stinking boxes!

The coop is set on a concrete footer and has a dirt floor …. That I LOVE!!! DRY as a bone!!!!
The southern side is 1 foot lower than the northern side because of the slope of the hill.
Other than the windows, all soffits are open for ventilation.

SO…. WHAT are some of the renovations????
After the first long winter of these poor critters being stuck inside,
(they didn't complain, they had the screened in porch!)
We decided to add a little run to our coop. Back then…. We knew NOTHING about chicken runs. So we took a few hog panels, some t-posts, and some chicken wire and made up a chicken run! Cut a 2’x2’ hole/door in the northern wall, and set up the fencing. It worked great for a LONG time!!!!

You can JUST make it out right in front of my Egg Collectors…. (yes, this picture melts my cold heart!)
The run was 14ft long along the fence and 12ft along the coop.Instead of being square, it formed a triangle. For 3 birds, It was fine! We used it for about 3, maybe 4 years.

The fall of 2014 brought new siding! Piece by piece we ripped off the old tongue and groove and replaced it with deck boards.
We heard of a sale on deck boards. We were looking to replace our deck, these were on hand… so deck boards went up as siding! And it looked GREAT! For ABOUT 3 years…….

Tiny person with tiny egg basket and tiny muck boots with her daddy for “AWWWWWWW” effect!

In the fall of 2016 tragedy struck. A MINK! I HATE mink!!!!! We decided to add 6 pullets that year to the 3 layers we already had, and had JUST moved the babies out of the basement brooder to the coop when a mink took our once abandoned Rooster. There was an INCH gap between the fence and the coop….. He found that gap... AND eventually, the end of the husband's shotgun. Although we lost our great protector… (not a people lover) but a great protector nonetheless, we decided to redo the run.
So in the spring of 2017, we started the plan of our new run.

Also that year, we decided to cover the deck boards with T1-11. The boards were starting to shrink quite a bit, and even though the last couple winters had been mild, and we were able to block drafts with simple caulk, we knew our luck was running out. So, we started squirreling money away for a run and covered the roost side the T1-11 and T-VECK. Hey, if you plan on cutting down a draft… do it right! And it was a good thing too because that winter brought a good amount of snow and cold with it!

It looked like the dickens… but it was fine for the girls when they roosted. You can see it just past the husband on the coop. Electric was also added to the coop for lights and 2 outlets.
But at the time of this picture, little did I know that the following spring we would wrap the rest of the building in T-Veck…. And NOT get the siding on it….. For about 18 months! I couldn't even take a picture, it looked so bad…. But, the chickens were cozy, they didn't mind a bit!

The summer of 2018 brought stinking hot humid air…. And the new run! Of course, I had plans to “sell” the idea to the husband…. And he liked my ideas BUT like any woman…. Everything was subject to change! did!
So, other than the door into the coop and 16’x16 area of the plan, most was scraped and we set to building. Now, one of many reasons why this renovation took so long…. When it's hot… we get TESTY with one another. So a project that should have taken MAYBE 3 days stretched into a month of weekends and 2 people who shouldn't work together at all. LOL!

To save costs at first, we covered the top of the run with Chicken wire to be changed out later.(It has since been changed to HC) Hardware cloth covers the bottom of the run and is buried to 18” for digging predators. The roof is open but covered for protection from aerial predators and during the summer, a sail cloth is employed for shade. The entire run is 16ftx16ft and it runs in height from 6ft where it meets the coop to 5ft at the farthest corner. You can still bang your head on the supports, but at least you can stand in there! Up until the summer of 2020, it was a grass run because our number of birds was low… but then, why have only 4 chickens when you can have 23! It's now wood chip.
So life is good until a 2020 spring storm blows up and blows into the front of the coop and lifts the roof.
The time has come to replace the roof……….. Ugh…….
The WHOLE summer goes by without incident. No crazy storms… just heat…. LOTS of heat! We also find out we have 2 accidental cockerels…. (hey, good job hatchery staff...LOL)
A second run would be wonderful if we are replacing the roof anyway to take the strain off 2 hormonal cockerels who may need space of their own.
I put off the stain and seal of the building for the second year to plan the new run. This ones easy! We are going to extend the roofline of the Southern part of the building 8 more feet for a second run. This run will be 22’x8’ with one exterior door.

Here we go again….
As the tin came off, the original roof was exposed. WOW… it was a mess! We think a limb came down on it sometime to damage it. That was then left to the elements for sometime before someone put the tin on. Thank goodness they did… it saved the building. We cleaned up the damaged areas as best we could without TOTAL reconstruction of the roof, and added metal.

The southern side saw the BIGGEST change with the addition of the new roofed run.
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This building almost has a footprint as big as the house!
We will no longer have to make a flying run in a storm to cover windows because of a freak rainy wind!
Burying the hardware cloth is trickier on this side because the ground is rocky! But I am persistent because I want this sucker predator proof!

Now, when that cold wind blows in from the north, they are able to still get outside without introducing the wind tunnel to the coop through the pop door.
So, over 2 complete weekends we completed the biggest project yet, with minimum fuss! Well, except when one of the roofers shot a 16 penny nail through 3 of his fingers…. But that's another story!
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As of right now, the major building projects with this coop are done. The only project left is to open up some vents in the uppermost part of the north side of the coop for a monitor type of window, to move heat out quicker in the summer. I can do that alone! Of course, I will update this article as we move forward with our flock. I am very prone to changing my mind, and my husband is a sucker for the nostalgia of this old farm and its original buildings, as well as beautiful ways to preserve them.

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So… WHY did it take so long?
Well, some people have the money to renovate an old building and get it done all at once with the help of contractors, or using their own ingenuity. But, we the EXACT same time as we worked on the coop, renovated the house. Yeah, I know… we is SmArT!
On top of everything, we had a baby in the fall of 2013. So, I think we are doing pretty good considering...LOL…

We could have let it just fall down and had that Rooster Dinner!

AND we STILL don't have that NEW DECK!

********as always....TO BE CONTINUED!!!!**********