This is a story of two kids that met and fell love while working on a farm in Northern MA and ended up with 2 kids and an unloved swingset.
Rise & Shine Mother Cluckers
The swingset was purchased second hand. It had seen lots of kids playing on its slides, swinging on its swings, and had been moved around the yard more than twice! It was time to retire the swingset. However, through it's course of life, it was sturdy and wasn't quite ready to become firewood and left for parts on the side of the road. Nope. It was destined for a new home...one for chickens. Here's how we did it.
We are mindful of the environment. We tried to reuse whatever wood we had laying around, scavenged from barns, basements, garages, and the sides of the road. We used pallet wood, flooring, and the frame of the old swingset. We had some chicken wire and lots of nails and various hardware from previous projects. We needed to purchase the metal roofing, 12 posts, one sheet of plywood, the hardware cloth, a few hinges, the slide locks for the nesting box doors and the run door, and paint.
We didn't really have a plan per se. My husband is quite handy and can build anything. The fact that almost every aspect of the coop had a story to tell reminds me that life is good. The nesting box doors were from his childhood bedroom. The linoleum is from our first home. The wood pallets are a sign of the pallet bed he made for our son. The swingset....well, that's its own awesome story. The ladies are very happy and bring us lots of laughter. We are anxiously awaiting our first egg!
Here is the rough size of the new chicken coop and run from the old swingset.
The base of the coop is about 5' wide by 6' long across the front. It doesn't include the nesting area, which adds about 1' to the 5' side length. The run area includes the area under the raised coop and is approximately 5' wide by 16' long.
The floor is all built and he's sawing off the old canopy rungs.
All framed up. We used all kinds of found wood and leftover scraps.
The chicks have arrived! Our flock consists of 6 ladies: Goldilicks (Golden Comet), Nugget (Silver Laced Wyandotte), Alvin (Araucana), Brittney (Araucana), General Gao (Black Sexlink), and Soup (Black Sexlink).
This is the clean out side of the coop. This wood framed, clear plexiglass door is wide enough to access inside, clean out the shavings. It also provides us a view inside without disturbing the ladies.
The walls are up! We kind of winged the angles and squared up the front and back. There are triangle vents on both ends.
This is inside the run and will have a ramp with a sliding door closure.
The nesting boxes are reclaimed milk crates.
The fronts were cut off and we added wooden "floors" to them all. We have 4 total and have them blocked off until they begin laying. We hope this discourages sleeping in the boxes and keeps our eggs clean.
First coat of paint done. We painted it with an exterior, water based paint named "Red Geranium."
Repainting the ridge pole of the swingset. We wanted to use the existing hooks for hanging the waterer, feeder, and a swing!
The windows are roughed in! We ended up enlarging them and covering them with hardware cloth. In the winter they will have plastic window inserts to keep out the cold.
The roof has been cut to fit, the trench has been reluctantly dug about 12" deep by our boys. We will extend the chicken wire into the trench and backfill.
Painting the final coat. We used almost a gallon of paint.
Painting the back wall of the covered run area. I was told it wasn't fun crawling underneath there.
Nailing the chicken wire. We added 2' tall, 1/4" hardware cloth over the top of the chicken wire all the way around the run area to prevent predation.
Installing a leftover piece of linoleum flooring into the coop. This will prevent moisture on the wood, allow for easier cleaning of the shavings, and add an extra layer of protection from critters.
The nesting boxes access doors act as shelves for pulling out the boxes and gathering the eggs, cleaning, and any other task needed.
The run access door is operated by a pulley system from the outside. The door is predator safe and easy to operate.
Moving day! The ladies enjoyed all their new space and clucked around!
We constructed a walkway into the coop, but adjusted the slope slightly because we weren't sure they could navigate it.
Teaching General Gao to "walk the plank." It took about 2 weeks for them to learn to use it and put themselves to bed every night. Until that point, we had to catch them nightly, a task I'm certain our neighbors enjoyed watching.
Inside the coop. We kept their brooder feeder and waterer in case they needed a midnight snack.
This is the first roosting area we have. We plan to add a higher one down the road a bit.
Goldilocks checking out the discarded tire that will be a dust bath area.
They are checking out their new digs! Jumping up, scratching, and being happy.
The run is accessible via a door made to fit the opening between the triangular space from the support poles. We put a swing inside and he often swings with them. We eventually will lower the swing for the chickens to use when we find some free chain.
The ladies can free range when we are home to supervise, because we have many large predators in the woods behind the coop.
We planted some mint around the coop to help keep the rodents away.
The handpainted sign that I made.
I love that the rope climber is still there and that the chickens have a cool place to live.
The Rise & Shine Mother Cluckers have a sweet, upcycled home and the swingset has yet another few years left!
We don't think that we would change anything, really. We plan to add the following:
*A dust bath to the tire.
*A second, higher roosting area.
*Plastic inserts for the windows for the winter.
*Golf balls to the nesting boxes.
*More herbs to the area around the coop to aid in natural ways to ward off bugs and rodents.
*Different, longer chain to lower the swing for the chickens to use!
We did move the feeder to the under the covered run so as to keep it dry during wet weather.
The swingset has been successfully upcycled to a 6 chicken coop and run. It took about 5 weeks worth of weekend warrior work and a few extra episodes of complaining and rethinking, but it's pretty awesome.
Thanks for reading! We would love to know if you successfully upcycled a swingset too!