So a few weeks back my wife and I were having a conversation and some how it turned to chickens. She was telling me stories of old friends of hers that have laying hens and I shared stories of my chickens when I was a kid in Texas. All of a sudden she says, "We should get some hens." I completely agreed with her and so this little project began. I looked through this site and got a lot of great ideas from numerous contributors...Thank you to everyone who had posted pictures and coop designs.
We decided that we would like to obtain 5-6 hens and we would like to get them as started pullets. Neither of us really have the time to care after baby chicks. Anyhow, I decided to go with a 5'X10' base. Since we live in South Florida where we get a lot of sun, rain and occasional hurricanes, we picked a spot in our yard that would offer protection on one side from the house and also the best amount of shade possible.
...And so the digging begins...
Here in Miami Dade County, you have to fight through limestone as soon as you pass the thin layer of grass and top soil. I actually had to dig deeper than what you see in these pictures...WOW! What back breaking work! This has been the hardest part so far.
I drew a quick draft on notebook paper, went to the local Home Depot and began purchasing wood and cement blocks. I also went to my local feed store and purchased 1/4" Hardware Cloth. I leveled the ground out, layed some hardware cloth down and placed the cement blocks down over the hardware cloth. Later I'm going to pour a small amount of cement around the inside and outside border. This should help lock them together and also keep the predators out.
Due to all the rain and a recent Tropical Storm, I've gotten delayed on my project. It's also held me back from pouring the cement. It has rained here every single day since I started construction. As you can see in some of the following photos, a lot of the clean white sand has washed away and been replaced by black dirt.
I decided to make our coop 6' tall on the front and 5'6" on the back. Since we get no snow here and I don't have any trees dropping leaves or branches to worry about, that should be more than enough pitch for water to run off.
With all the rain we've been having down here, I haven't had much of a chance to work on the coop. While saying grace on Tuesday night, I asked God if he could please not let it rain Wednesday. Well, he came through and I was able to put a few hours into the coop Keep in mind, I'm doing all of this by myself, so that also makes everything move slow.
I needed to re-level some of the pavers that had been moved and sunken from all of the rain. I did that to the best of my ability and then re-dug a small trench around the outside perimeter of all the pavers. I then poured some cement on the outside and inside of the pavers. That should help lock them all in place and secure the hardware cloth to keep the predators out.
I bought some 2 grade PT 2X4s at The Home Depot for half the price of the regular PT 2X4s. They were actually in pretty good shape with no warping. I just cut off the small damaged ends and the rest was perfect for framing. As you can see, I began framing the coop floor. Like I mentioned before, we decided to make the chicken door at the bottom of the coop instead of on the front wall. We figured that will help with moisture and the inner coop getting wet since we get a lot of rain. If anyone here has experience or any input on bottom chicken doors, PLEASE chime in. I could use as much info as possible. I'm pretty much just winging it with no formal plans except for some scratches on notebook paper.
After the cement dried, I added a layer of gravel. I plan on placing several layers of sand on top of the gravel. I'm hoping this helps with water drainage.
We purchased the two stains that we will use on the coop. I really wanted it to stay with a natural pine or cedar look. My wife insisted on a light gray stain with white trim. She won, so that's the way we will go. I hope it looks good. We'll probably begin staining it some time next week if we get a chance. At least we haven't purchased the pullets yet, so there's really no rush.
We've had rain every singe day, but I was able to get a few hours in on Monday and today, Wednesday. It's true what I've heard most people on here say...plans always change! I ended up laying down some 1X6 PT boards for the coop floor. I think it was a great choice. They were very easy to work with and easy to trim to fit around the 2X4's. As you can recall, I originally planned on making the coop pop door at the bottom of the coop. I decided on keeping as much floor space as possible and make the door on the inside wall with a ramp (thanks to all the advise from BYC members).
I also began the support framing for the nest boxes.
The nest boxes were framed out by night fall...
...here you can see it better during the day
My wife came out and helped me with a little seal and stain. She'd kill me if she knew I took these pictures!
I started putting on the roof. Used regular plywood sheathing.
Here it is with the drip edge and partially stained. My wife wants the coop to be Grey with white trim. I also changed my plan from the corrugated roof to shingles. There's still a few things that I know for certain will need to be changed. I'm learning a lot as I go along. Once again the weather started getting ugly so we had to call it quits.
I was able to complete the shingles a couple days later. Here you can see that I was on the home stretch. This is the first time I've ever shingled a roof, so I hope they came out o.k. WOW was that a job! My knees are killing me...knee pads and all!
Here are a couple picture of the completed roof as of Sept 29th, 2012. If anyone sees anything that I should change or could have done better, please don't be afraid to chime in.
I was out of town this week and returned yesterday afternoon, so I put a couple of hours into the coop. It was really less then that since it would pour then stop then pour again. I must have set up my Miter saw on the table and then unplugged and ran it under cover several times. Well, I was able to start adding the hardware cloth and sandwiching it with 1X4s. Hopefully next week I'll be able to invest some serious time into the coop and complete most of it. Below are the most updated photos as of 10/11/2012.
Added some stain to the finishing 1X4s and stained all the beams. I still have a ways to go! Feels like It's taking me forever. Hopefully this week I can put some good time into the project. Need to make another trip to the Home Depot. I'm just hoping that the weather behaves this week. This has been one of the wettest summers that I can remember.
Put up the walls and stained them.
...Also added some trimming.
Cut out the boards for the nest box and began the lid.
Measured and cut out the nest box seperaters. I used 1X2s to make small rails on the bottom and the back wall
to slide the boards in. they'll probably become permenant anyways, but I thought it was a good idea at the time.
Finished up the nest box, stained it, added hinges, handle and a latch to it.
Finally made the run door and attached it.
Made the coop door, finished all the painting (most of it anyhow) and had all the hardware mounted.
Added two roosts using wood closet dowels and a strip of non skid tape. Also filled the coop with sand, DE and sweet PDZ. Hoping that will keep the smell/pests at a minimal and make cleaning a breeze.
Added an auto feeder made from a pvc pipe and I made a 3 nipple waterer using a 3 gallon bucket.
As you can see, my backyard looks like a mud pit. I'm in the middle of having a patio built, but the rain hasn't let up in a few days. I'm also planning on landscaping the outside of the coop nicely.
We ended up buying 6 pullets from Mark Harrison of TheFancyChicken, 2 of which just started laying.
Here is my lovely wife carrying "Violet" our smallest. She's a Blue/Wheaten Ameraucana. She picked that little pullet up at the farm and would not place her down untill we got home.
Here's my wife inside the coop holding "Samantha" the head hen. She's also a Blue/Wheaten Ameraucana
There's Violet with "Blue." She's a Blue Copper Marans. Those two are inseperable!
Here you have Samantha eating with "Penny" our Blue Laced Red Wyandotte
We still haven't named this one in the front. We're leaving that up to my Goddaughter. She's a Welsummer.
As you can see, I had to put some non skid tape on the coop ladder.
That's "Red" on the right. She's a Black Tail Buff Marans.
All 6 girls sleeping on the roost.
We've been getting an egg a day from the Ameraucana and the BLRW. I guess they must really like their new home!
Hope you enjoyed our little journey into chickenhood. I'll definetly be posting updates and pictures of the landscape process.