The Widow Maker

By MamaBearsFlock · Apr 23, 2019 · ·
  1. MamaBearsFlock
    Yes, you read it... "The Widow Maker"! Our first coop build affectionately named because I almost ended up on an episode of Snapped after working with him on this build. I am sure he made some inquires as to how to "get rid of me" as well. To this day when someone talks about the coop... we look at each other with bloodlust in our eyes. Truly. Don't get me wrong... we are deeply and will be forever madly in love, but we are two sides of a coin, yin and yang, North and South, Paula Abdul and that cartoon fox thing... you get where I'm going with this. We're opposites. On that note, since the completion of the coop we have finished a full basement (adding 3bd, 1bth, a storage room, a game room, and a living room. We have also built four duplexes and made blueprints for a farmhouse. Why??? Because after that coop... we can work together through ANYTHING.
    Onward and Forward... or backward... because this build was four years ago. I had done hours upon hours of research on the right coop for our girls' needs, and came up with what I thought would be a simple two weekend coop build using 9 sheets of 4X8 OSB, treated 4x4's, 2x4's, 1x4's, roofing paper, shingles, foam insulation, a bucket of screws, 8-12 hinges, 3 door handles, 2 door locks, and a couple rolls of poultry fencing. We had most of the materials already so I set a budget of $200 for extra material or odds and ends we may need. Insert maniacal laugh... we ended up tripling the "budget", it took us FIVE months (which felt like 5 years), so many hours I don't dare try to remember, and countless sighs of exasperation. The date was March 23, 2015 at 10:13am in North West Indiana. It snowed 2+ inches overnight, but no matter WHAT... we were starting this coop! We already had our flock of girls growing faster than the speed of light in a kiddie pool in the garage. There could not be any more delays. So, we started constructing the floor and walls of the coop inside the workshop. I wanted the coop to be a 4 feet wide by 8 feet long by 6 feet high (at the pitch) so that there would be plenty of room to get inside and clean, I also wanted one entire wall of the coop to be doors for ease of cleaning, three nesting boxes, five windows, and two coop doors for the ladies to come and go without a traffic jam. I also wanted a feeder inside of the coop because we live in a highly wooded area with all types of "undesirables" that would love nothing more than to eat chicken feed from the ground. For those of you unfamiliar with Indiana's winters... they can be brutally cold (this year [2019] we hit -50 degrees TWICE), and so we insulated all four walls, the floor, and the roof with foam insulation (that we glued in place. The floor and walls were constructed of 2x4's (framing windows, doors, and nesting boxes where I specified on my extremely rough "blueprint" of the coop). We had some left over linoleum from a camper flooring project. It was thick and really nice so I thought that it would be really GREAT for our coop when it came to clean-up. I used an industrial floor glue to adhere it to the OSB and placed an extra sheet over it until it dried so that it would not lift or have bubbles underneath. Next came the roof and nesting boxes... yes, those are custom handmade rafters for the coop, and the nesting boxes were constructed separately and then braced and screwed into the framed walls. By this point in the build I had succumbed to my husbands need to make this the greatest most perfect chicken HOUSE the world (or our friends, family, and neighbors) had ever seen. The coop and the run around it was on a hill, so we decided to elevate the coop (which was also wonderful for keeping predators and mice out) and bury 4x4's in the ground which would make for a very safe and sturdy run without having to build a retention wall and leveling the ground. Hillside also eliminated the worry of "flooding" or a soggy run. After the 4x4's were set we lifted the floor and placed it on the "foundation" posts, we lifted each wall and screwed them to the floor and covered them with sheets of OSB (cutting out the holes for all our openings just as you would if you were to build an actual house), and then we had to call the entire family to lift the roof on top of the coop. I honestly cannot tell you HOW we managed to do that without a crane... we are relatively low to the ground humans, and the peak of the roof was 12-14 feet off the ground. I believe there were ground guys who lifted it to the guys standing inside the coop, and then we attached it with braces, brackets, and screws. I would have taken pictures of the insanity, but I was too busy having multiple panic attacks and screaming at my entire family because I thought for CERTAIN that no one was coming out of this "roof raising" alive... let alone unscathed. Thankfully I was wrong, but there were a LOT of grey hairs grown that day.
    So, floor, walls, and roof built... 4x4's set, and I spent the next 4 days painting the inside of the coop until JUNE reared her ugly head. June the month... not June the person. We had zero progress in June that year as it LITERALLY rained every single day except for 3. On those three days I took all of our 1x4's (the siding for our coop) and used a weed burner to char the wood and topped them all off with a coat of clear deck sealant for added protection.
    JULY 1st: Tar paper on the roof and walls, SOFFIT AND FACIA installed (please don't ask), roof shingled, and siding installed. We also made each window a "locking" door for the winter which were just vertical 2x4's with horizontal 1x4's screwed to them and a 1x1 (with a screw in the center) mounted on the side of each window and door to keep them from slamming open and closed on windy days (I honestly don't think that was necessary considering the fact that the smaller windows were at LEAST 10lbs and the larger one was double the size, but what do I know... because I didn't think that we needed soffit and facia either, but here we are and there it is), and they were held open by one heavy duty eye-hook latch on either side of the window/door. The large doors were framed just like the floor and walls, insulated, sided, and mounted with six heavy duty galvanized hinges. We cut two 4" holes all the way through the coop on two sides and mounted 4" PVC elbows (with mesh wire on the inside to prevent pests and predators from entering) for extra ventilation, and I drew up a feeding bin to be attached to the inside of one of the doors and he built it. We used treated decking boards for a border to the run and attached them to the treated 4x4's, and then we stapled all of the poultry netting to the inside of the run and over the top so that nothing could get to our girls.
    Lastly, we made the door to the run with 2x4's and ramps for the girls to come and go from the coop with one 2x12 cut at 4' and 6' (one was farther down the hill than the other and we wanted them to be at the same angle) and topped them with 12" 1x1's for traction.
    Fast forward through introducing our flock to the coop on August 13, 2015 (they were so excited that one of our Leghorns laid our very first egg THAT DAY!!!), our first winter (so so much snow... I used the "deep bedding" method which worked wonders for warmth and mess), and here we were in the Spring of 2016... our birds THRIVED, the coop still stood (and probably will for the next 100 years), everyone who saw it was in "AWE" (my mother actually said, "This is unbelievable!!! It's nicer than MY house!!), the girls (as well as our Roo "Bojangles") were finally old enough to get out of the run and wonder our 4 acres during the day eating all kinds of yummy bugs and things, and we had more eggs than we knew what to do with. August 2016 we decided to put the house up for sale and the buyers requested that we leave the coop (of course they did). I wanted to add another 20K (pain and suffering included) to the purchase price just for the coop, but decided that wouldn't be very nice of me... FAIR... but not nice. We sold the house, re-homed our flock to friends, the buyers used some kind of forklift to move the chicken coop to a flatbed truck, and drove the coop to their daughter in Wisconsin or Arkansas or somewhere.
    Now, we are considering another flock for next year. Instead of ten... three (just because we downsized to a little over an acre and our girls wont be able to roam so freely where we live now), and are currently looking for ANYTHING that will be just as nice without having to actually build it. Pray for us!
    Side Note: I am SURE that I have left out many things, so if you have any questions (aside from precise measurements because I have NO idea) feel free to message me and I will try to get back to you in a timely manner.

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    WannaBeHillBilly likes this.

Recent User Reviews

  1. Anonymous
    "Cute coop and story!"
    3/5, 3 out of 5, reviewed May 11, 2019
  2. MROO
    "Entertaining Story of an Awesome Build!"
    4/5, 4 out of 5, reviewed Apr 23, 2019
    There's a lot of text here, and it looks intimidating - but work your way through it, as it's well worth the effort. I'd almost move in, myself!
    MamaBearsFlock likes this.
    1. MamaBearsFlock
      Thank you for your review and taking the time to get through my story!


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  1. BReeder!
    The buyers moved the coop to their daughter's?! What jerks! They didn't need it. Although I am not certain you would have wanted to move it. That sounds like a real hassle.
    1. MamaBearsFlock
      Haha! I am pretty sure they showed their daughter pictures of the house when they were considering it, and requested the coop on behalf of their daughter. You're right though... we would not have wanted to move that coop! I cannot imagine how difficult it was to get that done.

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