2014 Run update:
In late winter of 2012 I was reading “The Resilient Gardener: Food Production and Self-Reliance in Uncertain Times” by Carol Deppe. I’m definitely one of those people who gets inspired by other’s passion. Carol’s writing got me thinking about taking steps to self sufficiency. Not becoming self sufficient but learning some skills that could be beneficial should the need arise.
Her book advocates keeping duck eggs as a source of protein. I was enthusiastic. Until further research gave me a clue about their habits, about the challenges of keeping their area neat and their water fresh. Undaunted I researched chicken keeping. My high school interest tests (taken SO long ago) indicated I should either be a surgeon or a chicken farmer. Too late for the former, not too late for the latter! For whatever reason, I’ve always had an interest in farming, organic gardening, herbalism, natural healing…the list goes on. My addiction to information via the internet led me to BYC and another fire was flamed. I have books about building sheds, plumbing, roofing, framing, carpentry with hand tools, tiny house design, saunas and more! Building a chicken coop would provide an outlet for those interests.
I started building in June. I did the whole thing BY MYSELF except the shed roof. My brother helped with that, thanks bro! BYC coops got me to think BIG. Little did I know just what I was getting myself into. I decided to make a 6 X 10 storage shed with a coop “addition” on the back. My vision was to have a roll away nest box built into the wall between coop and shed so that the eggs would be easy to collect. I thought I could build it using a lot of recycled materials such as torn down pallets. I found out that it’s difficult to plan and frame structures with short dimensioned wood! Off to Home Depot (and Lowes and numerous other places) MANY TIMES! The cost of building my two structures has not been tallied and I intend to keep it that way.
Some shots of building the shed (I moved that beautiful black cohosh plant later)
Shed floor framing. At first it was 6 X 8, added 2 feet in length later.
Walls going up.
I got nervous about such a tall shed being on blocks so I buried some posts and anchored the foundation.
The chicks arrived the week of August 20th. I thought I would be done by then, that was one of my mistakes!
Roof is on! Prodex insulation, strapping and shiplap applied to shed:
Site of the coop addition:
Shed was purple at first. That changed later
I realized I had to finish the back gable end of the shed before building the coop. SO MUCH WORK!!!
Frame a used window sash:
Finish gable end!
Opening day for the coop build! There were many false starts to this phase. The cement blocks were positioned and repositioned many times! I originally wanted an earth floor but felt it would be too hard to prevent predation. I caved to my fears and went with platform construction.
There were a lot of blood, sweat and even tears during this build. The pictures don’t reflect that!
Tapered rafter cuts:
Shiplap roof decking. It was easier to handle myself plus I dislike plywood.
Going all the way with red cedar roof shingles. See what I mean about not adding up the cost?
The pressure was definitely on as the birds were getting big. I bought myself some time by building an enclosure in the garage from shutters and a large wire dog crate. The cat carrier was used to transport them in good weather out to a fenced area.
Without further ado here is the finished exterior. Perhaps you can understand why the purple stain had to go. We live on a small lot and I didn’t want to completely freak out the neighbors.
The clean out door is a dutch door built up with cedar deck boards. The dutch door sets (top window, solid bottom) were a great Habitat for Humanity Restore find. $25 for each set. The tops I used for the 3 windows, I still have 2 bottoms. Hardware cloth covers all windows and the south facing top vent.
You can see the 36 inch wide aluminum flashing that I attached to the bottom of the coop, it’s buried way down to keep the chickens from scratching their way under the building (and anything crawling through to get them in their run).
Windows open in and secure to the ceiling. I ended up making a little door from the shutters and a netted partition to keep the chickens in the coop when I open the door from the shed. It also serves for food storage.
I built the door between the shed and the coop from leftover ash flooring. The window was a gift from a neighbor, the rose trim I had lying around.
View as you walk through the door. You can see the roost and the covered up pop door.
When can we move in?
Next pictures of their run!
(Nov 8th) The Girls have actually been in their coop for 3 weeks. I felt pressured to get the run in place so I opted for dog kennel panels from Tractor Supply. While expensive, they can be reconfigured, were set up in a day and so far have kept everyone in. I have a lot to do still on EVERYTHING. The run will be covered with netting tomorrow. I'll have to line the bottom of the kennel panels with hardware cloth then apron out wire all around. Nest boxes! I'd like to paint the fence panels with black rustoleum to preserve them longer and make them less....shiny. The shed needs to be finished. Somehow I will fit it all in.
Here they are eating their first pumpkin
I feel so much better having the solar operated door. The first night after installing this I was rushing around after work doing kid stuff and didn't get home until after dark. They were all tucked in! What a wonderful thing! Then later that night coyotes were yipping 3 houses down, that is the 1st time I've heard them so close!
You can just see the tiny solar panel on the roof:
I'm in this hobby hook, line and sinker. Hatching eggs came in the mail
What I would do differently: Well, hindsight is 20/20. This project took an INCREDIBLE amount of time. I did not want to ask for help, partially a mid life thing or Walden thing of wanting to build something concrete. My family put up with many makeshift meals and takeout added to the unforseen costs of the project. I created these structures with an ancient circular saw (well over 20 years old) and a Japanese handsaw for cutting. An electric drill with a chuck that was lost 3/4 of the way through the project. So better tools would have been nice. I wish I could have had the patience to make it from reclaimed materials but at least I used some. I would suggest that all doors be self latching (currently mine aren't).
Other than that I am satisfied and my urge to build may well have been satisfied for life. One regret is that we don't have more land, 0.4 acres is small! But I am so grateful I had the chance to accomplish this.
If I were to do it again I would have ordered the coop from a kit (like the schoop!!!). I know I spent more than I would have via a kit. And the time savings would be HUGE HUGE HUGE! Well, if we ever sell and move to the country (poor DH would never come with me LOL) I know what to do. -Linda