We are so happy to have finally finished our coop. We patterned it after The Palace design with a few changes. Our coop run is 9' by 12'. 10' tall in the front and 8' tall in the back. The raised coop within the run is 4' by 9'. We have six nesting boxes inside with two roosts.
The front window and the two windows over the nesting boxes are on pulleys so we can open them from the outside by pulling on the para cord and tying them off on a cleat.
Here are some additional pics of the walls inside the coop, our happy chickens and our first collection of eggs on day two! Just loving the chickens and our beauty of a rooster!
Here is the journey described as best I can. We began our coop back in October.
My husband rented a concrete mixer, a must, to pour the foundation. A couple of helpers showed up about halfway through. Lol
Next we laid down weed barrier and a series of PVC pipes connected. The coop is downhill from the highest part of our acreage and a lot of rain comes that direction. The pipe system has holes drilled in the top followed by a layer of gravel, another layer of weed barrier and finally sand. This system works very well to let any water drain very quickly. There is a drainage pipe going through the foundation on the front, downhill side.
I had pre stained as much of the lumber that I could before rain, holidays, travel, and cold temps shut down progress. In January we began framing in earnest. The first framing had to be the entire east wall as it attached to the garden. It had to be complete with hardware cloth and all. There is an opening for a hatch door to allow the chickens to go into the garden at certain times such as between growing seasons.
Next, came the rest of the walls which were on 2' centers.
In the previous pictures we had framed in for the windows and built the deck for the raised coop, and also built the nesting boxes. The coop deck is sloped to the back about an inch fall. This will help for easy cleaning. The nesting boxes are slightly sloped as well toward the interior of the coop. We added linoleum to the coop deck too. Next we started the siding.
We added the slats and the metal roof. (sorry if these are out of order. I'm having to sort through pictures I took and ones my husband took. Lol)
Windows were built and attached. Later we added pulleys and used para cord through the pulleys and a series of eye hooks to open the windows from the outside. Our ground slopes so much here and the coop is so tall, I cannot reach the windows easily so this system was our solution.
The door to the coop was next.
I found an old, but sturdy screen door at a local antique store and painted it Ben Moore Heritage Red. We installed it next.
I don't have pictures of the hatch doors for the garden entrance and the coop, but we built them out of 1/2" birch and used cabinet drawer glides to install them. Both doors are on the pulley system as well.
Throughout the process, I was working on the coop decor. I found old siding boards that I put together as the backing for the coop name. The tin lettering I found at my favorite store ever, Hobby Lobby!
Once we decided to name the coop, The Breakfast Club, my zany brain was on a roll. I researched pictures of the characters in the movie and found one where they were all perched on a railing. EUREKA! I then thought of one of my favorite cartoons as a child, Foghorn Leghorn, the little chicken hawk, the brainy chicken with glasses and the older hen with the blue hat. I decided to paint a "sign" and have them perched on a branch. I found two more cartoon hen pictures to represent the two females in the movie: the docile dark haired one and the sexy redhead. I drew out the pics on 3/4" plywood, cut it out with a jigsaw and painted them. Side note here: jigsaws are not made for left handed people! the air vent blows right in a left handers face! Lol here are some pics of that sign in progress!
And the happy day once installed!
I purchased the tin signs, but I made the four chicken pictures on wood using the decoupage method. I happened on to a beautiful chicken calendar while waiting in a long checkout line at, yes , Hobby Lobby! I wish I had room for a few more as I truly adore the chicken illustrations from that calendar.
That's about it I guess, other than the fact that I want to thank God for the blessings and for creating chickens! I just ate the best omelet ever thanks to my little cluckers! here are a few more pics of the finished product with the ladies, two silver laced wyandottes we've named Lavern and Shirley because they are always side by side, one Easter egger named Raquel (welch) because, uhhhh, how to put this... Our beautiful rooster, Cogburn, really finds her attractive. we also have one white legging (Loghorn) we've named Lucy for her big red headed floppy comb, a black sex link named Ethel as she appears to be Lucy's sidekick and Lucy has been protecting her from Laverne and Shirley's bullying, and lastly, a beautiful hen that I think is a Delaware. The 89 year old chicken breeder just couldn't think of her breed, bless him, so he called her a black shawl! Lol. Because she has that shawl we thought of naming her Granny, but she's just too pretty for that, so she is Ellie Maye! BTW, if anyone has any idea what breed our rooster is, we would love to know. Again, Mr. Wise was drawing a blank! Thanks for reading our story!
Our next project is to add a large chicken run to the right of the coop so that we can let the birds out in more of a free range method. We will throw in our brown and green compost and our kitchen scraps to let them do all of the work!
I had posted on Facebook a very funny video I found of the rooster crowing! It seriously sounded like a human laughing. He would start out correctly, then his head would bounce forward and he would chuckle. It was scary hilarious! I made the comment to my FB friends that I would NOT get a rooster. Well.... We did! Thankfully he has an appropriate and stately crow. Then this happened...
Well shoot... It won't let me load the video. Just suffice it to say we have a laughing hen! Lol
Well, I've hung my final tin sign up as there's no more space! Lol. We also added the gutter and rain catch system! I so love having access to water right there by the coop and it's free too!
It's been six months since the completion of our coop and I thought I would give some updates. We love our coop; it's very functional in every way. We did, however change our roosts inside the enclosed area as it was too hard to step over and under them to scoop the poop. So my husband made a ladder system that is also on a pulley system so that I can raise it all the way up and can now scoop with ease.
In May, we added a 20x40' covered run to allow the hens the ability to "free range" in a protected space. My husband made a deal with a local restaurant that grows their own organic vegetables to place their veggie scraps in a trash can for us, so we've been able to provide them with food. We lined the run with wood chips we acquired from a local small company that sells firewood. The chickens have done an excellent job of making us some great compost for the garden with their scratching. Here's the view before staining and after.
Around July, my husband wanted to get more hens but the sweet old man didn't have any that he was ready to sell. Since we had three hens that had three hens that had gone broody, he suggested that we let one hatch some eggs. We had been isolating them individually in what I call the Broody Jail to break their broodiness which worked, but two, in particular, would go broody again a month later so it seemed like a good idea to let one become a momma. Let me interject here that raising chicks is a whole new learning curve!!!
After much reading and study, I knew we had to build something to keep momma and baby chicks away from the rest of the flock, so I began drawing a design. We built what I dubbed, "The Hatchy Shack" and moved it into the covered run. Here are some progress pics and the completed addition in place inside the large run.
Our barred rock, Diva, had gone broody again about a week before we had her abode ready. We let her sit on four eggs we selected and moved her in once we had the Hatchy Shack in place. It worked well and she hatched three of the four eight days ago. She's a good momma! When they were a day old she walked them down the ramp into the little run. Of course, they didn't go back up the ramp so we removed it and put a small dog crate under the hutch where they have been sleeping.
When they were three days old I started reading more about what to expect and the appropriate feed for each stage of growth. I knew to feed them starter feed which we buy an organic brand and to provide chick grit not oyster shell as I had read that much. What I didn't realize due to lack of study :-/ was that the chicks would be staying in this coop until eighteen weeks old or when they start laying eggs (whichever comes first) before they can eat big girl food and join the flock! This made me realize they needed a bigger space to feed, dust bathe, run and roost. Dilemma.....
Solution? More construction! Ugh! Lol. This weekend we built an addition to The Hatchy Shack that we have dubbed the juvenile detention yard as it seems we have built a collection of jails for various ages of chickens !
Here is that addition. All that's left to do on the addition is stain it in the spring when it will be empty. Now to work on getting them to sleep on a roost. I surely hope momma helps with this latest issue!
I added a fancy door handle and some metal artwork to our additional covered run attached to the Hatchy Shack. I sure will be glad to get it all stained to match, but I will have to be patient and wait for spring when it's unoccupied.
Chicks are two weeks old today.
My most recent chicken lesson in the gigantic learning curve of raising chickens was about chicken saddles. My rooster is very attracted to the two Buff Orphingtons we have in the flock; so much so that they are missing so many feathers on their backs right above their tails that it's bare skin. This had me worried and the more I read about rooster tracks , the more I realized I needed to find a solution to protect their bare skin. This is where the chicken saddles come in. After reviewing several sights, I decided to make my own. Here are the two I made and a pic of Dolly wearing hers. I haven't gotten a good pic of Daisy yet.
One thing about chicken keepers...we keep finding ways to improve our coops as the need arises. Our next project is to add a sheet of FRP (which is a plastic board used in commercial kitchens,) to the interior back wall of the coop. The chickens on the top rung of the roost ladder leave a LOT of poop on the top of 2x4 that frames the top of one of the windows. This addition should fix that problem along with adding some drop boards. I've figured out a configuration that will allow us to add the poop boards. I'll add pics once that's completed.
As much as we've enjoyed our Foghorn Leghorn sign, it's going to leave out for a more country design that is more fitting with our house and our two sheds. The Breakfast Club sign will be moved to hang across the front of the run at the top, just below our raspberry trellis that we've added for next spring. We are going to add a covered porch across the front of the main coop to give the look we desire. The foundation will have stacked stone to match the various stone retaining walls we have on the property. Here are my non architectural sketches for this future addition.
Foghorn Leghorn and his friends have left out and we have started building a covered porch attached to the front of the coop. Here is the progress as of February, 14, 2015
The weather finally cooperated and we were able to get the porch stained. Saturday, February 28, 2015, we also applied the scratch coat over the metal lath as the prep for stone.
The new coop porch completed.