We live in a country sub-division in Northwestern Ohio known as Adams Acres . I grew up on a small farm-- we didn't raise crops but we dappled in all sorts of animals from kittens and puppies to livestock-- goats, lambs, rabbits, pigs, cattle and a few chickens. Naturally, you can take the girl off of the farm but you can't take the farm out of the girl-- a lesson learned by my country-boy husband (notice I said country-boy....not farm boy) who fell hard for the 'farm-girl' who wore flannel shirts and cowboy boots and was an 11 year 4-H member and an American FFA Degree recipient. It took me 10 years to convince him that we should 'keep' chickens if he would only build me a coop....
We began by planning a small coop and once we crunched all the numbers of building supplies (my husband was doing all the labor) we discovered it wouldn't be much different to build a generic shed and make part of it into a coop for just short of $1,000. A dream of a small shed/chicken coop turned into a larger and larger one until we had most definitely "out-priced" ourselves and decided we couldn't afford it all all....that was until I approached my parents about reclaiming wood from the barn on the farm where I grew up that was deteriorating and would be torn down. Thus my dream became a reality as we spent hours and hours in the cold of Northwest, Ohio in February, March, & April 2013 reclaiming barn wood and breaking ground for my dream chicken coop/potting shed.
Here is some pictures of the barn we were tearing apart and reclaiming wood from:
Before we could begin constructing our coop we had to contact our townships zoning inspector to get our shed size and location approved. I was told that technically, in our area, when there are 15 or more houses in a row that you are not allowed to have poultry; however, they couldn't tell me that I couldn't have a few "pet" chickens and/or bunnies....
$100 later for a "zoning permit" and we were ready to break ground...
Here is the placement of the shed on our lot....
I highly suggest contacting your county's auditor's office and/or building inspector to make sure that you get proper permits and approvals prior to building anything that is intended to be a permanent structure (that you don't want to have to move!). The fees for getting approved the first time are usually much less than the fees for building without approval.
We purchased 16' treated 6x6 beams to put into the ground below freezing (around 3' long and in as deep--set in concrete) as type of foundation for the shed so that it was not shifting during the freezing and thawing in our Northwest, Ohio climate. Here are some pictures of my husband placing the cut 6x6's and the full length ones:
With the posts in concrete in the ground and the beams set, my oldest son helped him check to make sure it was square...
He built the outside box/frame and floor joists out of the floor joists that were under the haymow floor in the big barn. Throughout the entire process the boards needed to be clamped and persuaded to go straight before being nailed and/or screwed as they have been in the same position for 100+ years in the old barn. The floorboards/decking is the barn floor from the downstairs of the barn. It is all tongue and groove and 1 5/8" thick!!!! An amazing find, but very difficult to take apart without destroying and every.single.piece. had to be clamped and persuaded to go back together... here are a few pictures...
This is the only print my husband drew up (which isn't much help to anyone else because it doesn't have measurements and isn't very dark)....the rest was in his head...
We splurged on the cost of 2x4's for the wall framing so that he could do a little building with some wood that was pretty straight and uniform without having to manipulate it! Here are the walls-- which he built with 16" centers...
He actually framed them up on the floor and then we "set" them...
All the framing is up for the walls so now it's time to design and build the front porch (eeeeekkkk...with beams from the barn....)
Finally time for siding-- the siding is tongue and groove floor boards from the hay mow floor and some interior walls in the old barn. Much thinner than the decking but still beautiful! we wrapped the shed with tar paper prior to putting the siding on to help create a reasonably priced barrier for moisture and air.
With the majority of the wood siding hung, but not washed in 100+ years, I am sure some of our neighbors are really wondering what we are doing. We haven't exactly broadcasted that we are getting chickens....and we have only lived here a couple of years...
Time to begin framing the roof and the little dormers!
All of this framing out of the reclaimed barnwood....
We splurged for plywood to deck the roof (just for simplicity) and bought asphalt shingles to match the house roof.
We got 6 chicks, picked up at Ridgeway Hatchery (the day they hatched), March 20, 2013-- 3 Rhode Island Reds and 3 Silver Laced Wyandottes. (March 20th is the first day of Spring AND my mom's birthday....such a significant day to me!)
They have grown fast in a couple of months in the house and are anxiously awaiting their coop to be finished...
Some final touches to the shed....power washing, water sealer, pop door for the chickens....
I was insistent on doing a barn quilt. I chose the Ohio Star pattern that gave settlers coming to America hope as they traveled and looked for a place to call home... I painted it on plywood-- my husband framed and hung it! We also designed a run (10'X12') for the chickies that used the same roof line as the larger structure...
The posts that went down in the ground for the run are treated 4x4's set in concrete below the freezing point. The rest of the framing and hardware are reclaimed materials except for the hardware cloth which we also burried in the ground 6" to a foot to deter predators and the galvanized roofing that covers half of the run.
Here are a few photos of the finished coop/potting shed from the outside.
I painted this slate for a name plaque for the coop. I decided on "Gabencal's" because it is a combination of my 3 boys' names-- Gabriel, Benjamin, & Caleb-- and I want this experience as much for them as I do for myself!
The inside of the chicken coop is 4'x10'-- with feed storage and other things stored for the chickens in the shed area. I will take pictures and post them of the inside very soon. The coop part is insulated-- it also has a farm durostat that is programmed to control a heat lamp that comes on at 40 degrees and goes off between 45-50 degrees. It has a fan in the back corner of the ceiling for ventilation that comes on at a changeable but preset temperature/humidity level that is covered by hardware wire. It also has a window that can be opened (although-- it is also covered by hardward wire for predator safety as well).
Here is my "chicken scratch" of the inside of the coop. My coop is 40 sq. ft. for 6 chickens. Experts suggest 4 sq.ft. per a bird for heavy breeds in "non-confined" housing so technically I have plenty of space... I know this also because, even in extreme weather conditions (below 0 temps) when the girls were confined for days, they did well and their litter on the main floor is always dry. Still, it is amazing how fast the space fills up with feeders (free choice commercial rations, grit, oyster shell, etc...), waterers, nesting boxes, doors, roosting bars, etc...My advice is to plan for more space than you initially think you need, especially if you are going to keep your birds for their lifespan (even after they cease laying) and you plan on adding younger birds to your flock for eggs. The door into the coop is 36", which is a huge advantage as I can easily get the wheelbarrow in and out!
There is poop in the coop today....though I clean the poop-boards often. I love this design because it is just big enough to put the wheel barrow under the poop shelf and use the hoe to scrape the poop off! It takes me 10 minutes (tops!) to clean the only part of the coop that gets extremely nasty! The two roosting bars are made with 2x4's with the top edges slightly rounded with a sander. Although it is hard to tell by the photo-- the top one is about a foot or so from the wall-- the lower one is atleast a foot forward from that!
The feeder against the wall is actually screwed on a wooden shelf. It is always full of grit...
Here is the little Oyster Shell Feeder I put together (12' wide)....my husband generally does the woodworking because it is so effortless to him....so I was happy with my creation on this one.
This is the heat lamp that is wired up on an eye hook and plugs into an outlet on the ceiling-- the outlet is connected to a farm thermostat that turns the heat lamp on when the coop temperature falls below 40 degrees F and turns it off when it reaches a temperature between 45-50 degrees F.
This is the chicken door from the inside. We took clear vinyl (bought at my local craft store) and cut it in strips to help keep the outside drafts from blowing in during the day when the chicken door is open...as a perk...it should help control the fly population in the coop in the summer too! The chickies do not hesitate to run through it!
Here are the nesting boxes that are accessible from outside the coop....though they prefer these ones that my husband built for me-- below is a picture of the "make-shift" one I threw together with a basket and peice of wood since the girls were having a hard time agreeing on who got to use the boxes...they happily use it if the two upper boxes are already occupied.
Here you can see the window covered with hardware wire for predator protection. It can easily be unlocked and slid open or closed with a long screwdriver for ventilation.
This is looking up to the ceiling of the coop. Right now it has blue foam to stop the drafts but in the summer the foam is removed. This where an attic fan that can be set to kick on at a certain temperature resides for our hot summers.... It is covered with hardware wire as well.
This is the wall that encloses the coop from the rest of the shed. I love this pallet type version of an oranizer to hold our lawn, garden, and farm tools!
This is our thermostat that controls the heatlamp....probably should have sprung for digital...but it seems fairly accurate. The top gizmo just gives us the inside temp of the coop without having to actually enter it.
The door to access the nesting boxes from outside the coop...but honestly....I love being with the chickens so much that I rarely use it!I almost always go in the coop to be nosey and say hello to everyone!
See one of my RIR's thinking.... if this is the only way out of being locked up on this blustery day-- I'm gonna take it....
This is the door and wall in its entirety looking at the coop...all of it is tongue and groove reclaimed barnwood!
Here are a few photos of the chicken "pop" door. I have debated on a solar "pop" door but have opted to stick with this one for now. It is hooked up using a pulley system with a rope. The rope is run through eye hooks along the ceiling, the length of the run, and is able to be opened and closed outside of the run. The end of the rope outside of the run has an old snap-hook from a dog leash that we hook on an eye-hook to hold the door open and unhook it to close the door.
Winter is upon us and extreme weather conditions are prevailing. During the first "Polar Vortex" I cut all of my fountain grasses, bound them with yarn and built a little "hut" inside the run (under the roofed portion) to block the wind. It actually worked well for a while until the chicks scratched and pecked at it (which I knew would happen!)-- I thought by then we would have typical winter conditions. Much to my dismay-- Polar Vortex #2 is here and my girls have been cooped up in the coop. They are starting to get irritable with one another and I knew something had to be done. My husband and I got to talking and decided to get some Polycarbonate Clear Roofing material 144" x 26" and close in the roofed part of the run a little more so that the girls could be outside without being in the wind and snow. He built it so that it could all be easily removed and reused next winter, however we talked about just removing the lower side panels for good ventilation in the summer and leaving the middle partition in so that in a driving rain they could still enjoy the outdoors. We will see what the summer brings. I thought in this part of the run I would try to incorporate the deep little method!
This is what it looked like prior to enclosing it:
Here is some pictures of the building process:
Here is the finished product:
It took the girls just a few days to make the grass in their run non-existent. They do have the privilege of free-ranging daily so that isn't too much of an issue-- still, this spring we intend to build grazing frames for the run so that I can plant chicken forage blend high in Omega 3's and the root systems will not get destroyed. I have been exploring growing these greens indoors for winter grazing-- and so far-- so good! Obviously, they scratch and peck in this until it is destroyed as well so I had my husband build little grazing frame boxes that my 17"x17" flats can slide into and the greens can grow up through the reclaimed corn crib wire we used and the chickens cannot destroy the root systems.
Thanks for checking out our 'coop'! 2013 was the year of the chicken for us! It has been so exciting and so very rewarding! This chicken thing will not be short-lived for me-- I am already "chicken obsessed"-- I absolutely adore these creatures and love watching my sheepdog Sam, my chickies and my 3 little boys out in the backyard together!
"You can take the girl off the farm but you can't take the farm out of the girl." (My mini-barn)
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