A Wattle and Daub Coop
Natural Building / Permaculture Design
in Northern New Mexico
My husband is a natural builder and this coop for our flock of Buff Orpingtons was created like the other buildings on our off-grid homesite: almost entirely from natural materials harvested on our land or very nearby. A stone foundation was built on a rubble trench dug into the hillside. Posts of peeled fir and pine were set into the foundation and branches of willow woven between them to create a framework in the traditional style found all over Wales and elsewhere in the UK. Clay, sand and straw were mixed and pressed into the woven frame to create the mud walls. The technique is similar to cob, the method used on our main house, but the willow frame allowed us to build the walls much thinner - only about 9" - 12" thick, and therefore much quicker. Discarded glass block was reused to give the chickens more light inside and two vents were left open high in the walls. The door is also recycled frorm an old structure nearby. Only the metal roofing was purchased. The coop stayed blissfully cool all summer and is now holding the warmth in very well as we fall into the single digits at night with a good bit of snow on the ground.
The Buffs arrived on Mother's Day this year and in a very short time were outgrowing their box in the house. Thanks to the wonderful help of our summer "intern" and all around swell guy, Caleb Leonard, we got the coop which he dubbed the Cluck Hutt finished in about a month. In the pictures above you can see him working the mud into the woven willow structure. Below are a picture of our cob home and a cob horno (outdoor cooking oven) shaped like one of our local bears.
We teach natural building workshops and often use horno construction as a way to introduce students to the techniques. But we'd love to help someone create another chicken coop!
Judy & Jose Garcia, Ocate, NM
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