I don’t even remember how it came up, but all of a sudden, we wanted chickens (we had toyed with the idea for a while). Maybe it was because a co-worker had a brood of Silkies and she was willing to give us four chicks.
So, I needed to build a chicken coop. I had built my wife a potting shed over the winter that was in a magazine (naturalfamilytoday.com and search for “Barton Hollow”), so I just couldn’t throw up any chicken coop. It had to be something that fit the look of the backyard.
I goofed around with the design, scoured my scrap wood pile for supplies, and came up with a doable design based upon the wood I had left. I had seen an ornate ornamental bird house on the porch of a friend. I stuck that in the back of my mind thinking, “someday I’ll use that design for something.” Little did I know then that it would be the creative seed for what would become our “Chicken Church Coop.”
I took the idea of that birdhouse and did some sketches based on the design, allotted space, and what I thought a chicken coop should incorporate. The design changed as I did research and I ended up with the design on the bottom row, second from the right. I worked hard on the proportions since it needed to have that particular look that I was going for.
Based on the sketch, I framed up a 48” x 48” cube with 4x4s and 2x6 top plates. I looked at my sketch and placed the ridge 2x6 at 60” so that the proportions, again, would be right. I had a dilemma about the roof – it needed two 27” wide panels to reach the middle rafter and hang over the ends 3”. I know, I had 21” drops left over, but I’ll find a use for them! The roof decking has 1x2s running vertically, the middle one hiding the seam. It really looks like a metal standing seam roof!
I tackled the nesting box assembly next. I made it 44-1/2” wide so that it could slip in and screw directly between the 4x4 uprights. I attached a 2x2 underneath so that there was some wood to screw the hooks holding the water and the food feeders into. It is 15” deep because I wanted the feeder/water to be covered from above and off of the floor where waste can’t get into them. There is a dowel that runs the width to be usedas a perch.
I sheathed the coop in ½” and ¾” plywood (whatever I had that was large enough from the scrap pile). You can see the run in the bottom of one of the framing photos and that end of the coop is open. The opposite side is fully enclosed, and the front has the door in it. The rear of the chicken coop has two access doors, one for the nesting boxes and one for the food and water trays. They are hinged at the bottom to allow easy access.
The doors and windows are proportionate; the main door is 1-1/2 times the window, which is 12’ wide and 24” tall. I kept the cut-outs to cover the openings in the winter. The fascia boards around the windows and door are just left over plywood cut out with a jig saw.
The steeple is made out of plywood with scrap 2x4s in the corners to be able to screw it together. The cross was made out of two pieces of ¾” plywood screwed together. I almost didn’t have enough plywood left, but I found two scraps that were just large enough. The circles on the cross are drawn from around the bottom of Trader Joe’s coffee cans. The whole steeple was painted and roofed on the ground since it is installed over nine feet off the ground. The tin panels are the extra part that was cut from the potting shed roof.
I guess one of the funniest things (at least for me) was, as I was caulking the trim boards prior to painting, was that I was caulking stuff on a chicken coop! I mean, it’s just a chicken coop! All-in-all, we have $109 in the coop as you see it here since the materials were left over from our potting shed and that stack of “don’t-throw-it-away-I-might-need-it-someday” pile. Below is a measured drawing of most of the elements if someone would like to duplicate the Chicken Church!