About six months ago, I convinced my live in boyfriend that we needed to eat organic food, because we didn't need our family of seven eating processed food anymore and I wanted everyone to be healthier. That was quite a job, as our grocery bill skyrocketed and I re-learned how to cook with fresh ingredients instead of boxed and prepared items. A couple of months went by, and I started thinking, wouldn't it be awesome to have fresh eggs too? My Grandfather owned a farm with guines, and though I only got to visit a few times a year, I remember being young and envious of the farm life. We live inside city limits, so I secretly began to research. I had heard of an urban organic farm nearby, and I had wondered how they were able to have chickens inside of city limits.
Turns out, anyone can have chickens inside city limits!!! I never even knew how lucky I was to be able to own chickens, when others cannot. It took two months of research, of begging, of compromise, but I finally did convince my boyfriend that hens would be an enhancement to our already beautiful home. My boyfriend did have stipulations, he had me print off article and coop examples, and information about the breed of chicken I had so thoroughly researched, and I had to go one by one to all of the neighbors and present my case, explaining what it was that I wanted to do. Well, I'm not much of a public speaker, and we only just bought our house 9 months prior, so needless to say I was VERY nervous. I think the boyfriend was banking on neighbor disapproval in order to have a reason to say no to chickens, but now even one of my neighbors is trying to convince her husband of the chicken necessity!!! My chicken presentation was a hit, and my amazing and wonderful boyfriend agreed, it's ok to have chickens!!! I promptly had to order them before he changed his mind, of course!!
We had to wait until after our scheduled vacation, so August 6th is our hatch date! I'm so excited!
We have decided on Australorp chicks, and have ordered four.... so work began.... lot's of research, and I mean lots! We were so inspired by The Witchita Cabin Coop (https://www.backyardchickens.com/a/wichita-cabin-coop ), most of our design elements have come from the beautiful design, that I have seen so many others duplicate! What a tribute to the baldessariclan family for their coop to be utilized over and over, it was beautiful and fit our needs too! But before the coop....
you need a brooder! My oldest daughter, who is (almost!) 14, painted the outside! We decided to go the plastic tote route, as I figured that it would be easiest to dump out, clean, and rinse since I want to make sure my babies brooder is very clean, I don't want medicated feed.
In the meantime, my super amazing boyfriend began work on the coop... which turned out to be maybe a bit more of a chore than we realized...
a quick look on Craigslist, and we found all the lumber we could ever want, and all for $50! Then....
Used playground cedar planking.... a vision dancing in my head, and after these bad boys were sanded, they took stain like nobody's business and turned out GORGEOUS! No fear, I may be new to chickens, but I've been reading you guys for like four months now! Cedar is only going on the outside... no chicken contact since we are isulating this bad boy!
I had already been doing lots of staining and prep work...
Ok so maybe I have had some help too.... and we liked the stain color so much that we temporarily stopped staining boards and started staining everything else!! The deck got stained, the pergola got stained, and we even started to stain the fence! We went through 5 gallons of stain, and still need about 5 more gallons to finish the coop and the rest of the fence... but what was really awesome were all the compliments from all of our new neighbors about how nice it is to have someone living in the area who takes so much effort to make the house look good! We even won a neighborhood beautification award!
But I was getting stir crazy to get moving on this coop! So the boyfriend realized that maybe he should get started, after all, you gotta keep the one who cooks for you happy!! .... And chicken day was getting closer! We followed the Witchita Cabin plan on the foundation, so we started digging and placing stepping stones... we bought the stepping stones new at the hardware store, but only because we couldn't find the style or quantity that we needed on Craigslist. I love craigslist because you can find almost anything you need, and I like to bargain with people to get myself a better deal. It is really working out nicely for us on this project, because from what I have seen as far as coop prices (which are outrageous and shocking might I just add!) we are building this for a fraction of what we would have paid on a manufactored coop of this size.
When placing the foundation we quickly ran into some problems. There was a slight slope in the backyard, and all it took was one heavy rain for us to realize that water from the drive all runs in the space between the barn and the coop... We needed drainage! So... I was sent to hardware store and bought one of those black drain things, which I was specifcally told not to get the one with holes along the length... and of course sending the girl to the hardware store usually ends in disaster!!! But I bought what I thought was right, and meticulously dug this drain trench and buried it, all beamed up proud of myself for taking charge and knowing that my man would be so proud of me and my effort (and feeling quite lucky not to have electrocuted myself when I found out the electrical wiring for the barn runs right under the coop!!!) Oh shucks, he came home and inspected my work only to tell me he had to redo the whole thing!!! Well I tried, but we both got a good laugh out of it anyway!
The other problem with our little hill, we had to regrade the yard around the coop, even though the slope seemed gradual, it was just too much to put a sturdy structure on it. So back on Craigslist I was, and two free dirt finds later, the yard was regraded, mostly, I still think I want to do it just a little more grading when we are all through.
I also wanted sand in the coop run, luckily there is a landscape place a couple miles way, and I bought a ton of sand, that's literally one ton, not just alot, and started to move it to the run. The only problem is that my wheelbarrow broke after the second load, so four hours later and sand moved one shovelful at a time, and we had sand!
I went to work one day, and was fortunate to be able to stop back by the house during my shift (I work as a paramedic)... and what did I see? The boyfriend hard at work!!! I was so excited!
It was 104 degrees that day but he was sweating away and hard at work, I'm beginning to think he may secretly want chickens deep down too!!!! My partner at work had to chip in for a complicated procedure as well!
Back off to work I went, and 14 hours later, this is what was waiting for me when I came home!
We are making such good progress, and all the framing was only after one day of hard work (on the boyfriends part that is!)... and we still have three weeks before our little one day old chicks hatch so I have no doubt that we have plenty of time!!! This is still a work in progress, and if you have looked at the Witchita Coop page link above, you can see they have their roof sloping towards the back of the coop, and the enclosed portion of the coop on the right side. We changed this up a little so we could put our coop so close to the barn, and the slope to the roof is actually toward the front of our coop We are planning on adding guttering and a rain barrel collection system, so that hopefully we will have plenty of water to supply our planned garden next year, and all of the landscaping without crunching our water bill so badly! I am so excited for my little chickies to arrive that I can hardly wait, please feel free to leave comments or critique on our coop! I will post more as events happen and update with pictures on any more building we do!
P.S. Total expense so far...But most of this was found on Craigslist... $40 for stepping stones, $50 for used lumber, $100 for used cedar planking, and $155 for 5 gallons of stain (but technically, most the stain ended up elsewhere in the yard!), $30 for one ton of sand, $50 for four bundles of shingles and related roofing supplies (also on craigslist!), $60 for four 15x31 inch windows and $50.00 for four Australorp chickens and shipping!
Ok we have been working a little bit more, and here are some shots with more framing, and the windows framed in! I love these windows, they are actually casement windows, or awning windows, and they were brand new when we purchased them on Craigslist, we got 4 of them for $60. They open to allow great ventilation.
We'll hopefully be getting the siding on next, and then start with insulation for the coop...
Siding is up! And so is the roof.... and we got our babies!!!!
The girls have finally grown up enough to move into the coop! We still need to paint... but otherwise I am fairly pleased with how it has turned out, and ever grateful to my boyfriend for all his hard work!
The chickens have grown on him!!! And to think he was once reluctant!
I hope this article helps you make your perfect coop!!!