Since many of us are building now, and in snow zones the melt is starting, I thought it might be helpful to think about construction issues surrounding a sudden thaw. Would love to hear your experiences, I know it haws been a tricky year for coops after the snow loads diminish. Taken from an update on my Seasonal Concerns Page- https://www.backyardchickens.com/web/viewblog.php?id=7693-seasonal-concerns The Spring Thaw I was planning to write this segment in June 2009, but a weather bomb and an abrupt thaw after a massive snow load and a rain storm have forced me to begin now. I cannot stress enough the need for good drainage when you're building a coop. The winter of 2008-2009 was the most savage in 25 years here and the ground still contains thick sheets of ice and a huge snow load. The attrition rate among white-tailed deer is though to be in excess of 30% due to inhibited movement in the search for food. We did not get the anticipated January thaw and instead we were cursed with a 'Siberian Express' which drove wind chills down to -41C and lasted nearly two weeks. Then, last night's storm. I know that many poultry owners did not get their January cleanup done and now that we have a thaw, their deep-litter is liquid at the base, the coops are filling with ammonia and even the top layers are getting tragically dirty. I'm so glad we used platforms and a roost and that we spot clean, because last night the rainstorm flooded beneath the snow and over the ice, driving water in the front door of the barn/coop and drenching about a third of the floor, including a corner of the coop, the feed room, and the main aisleway. The water continued until it began to drain out the back door, and when I arrived at dawn I shovelled out that foor on a slop through the middle of the manure pile to get the water out. I had placed a shovel within reach through a window by the driveway in case the snow blocked the barn door, which it had. The floor drains worked for a while but eventually filled, I must put some road salt under the caps later to see if there was a spot in the gravel underneath which had frozen. It took 4 hours to get the place in reasonable shape and I'll be going back soon to continue. Of course when something like this happens you also have your home, driveway, paths and other things to clear and possibly other animal to tend. It's going to take a couple of days and a freeze-up is coming tonight but there are only the two of us and a snowblower, so we are prioritizing. Because this also had happened twenty years ago on this farm, the animals, feed and bedding were all located in such a way that there were no losses. Hurrah for Rubbermaid refuse containers on wheels and for planked stalls. Outside, a drainage ditch runs past the farthest edge of the run, which was itself damp but suitable. Roofing has paid off yet again. The ditch, though, is still clogged with slush, and though I scraped part of it to improve the drainage, I need to go back to finish the job, especially considering it is still raining and snowing alternately. Radar indicates it should pass before dusk so I'll finish then. This type of material is very heavy. It helps to have spare containers for coop cleanup indoors for emergencies like this. If you can't easily reach your disposal site, or if you need a break after a hard session of cleanup, you can delay the dumping if you have a porch or other place to leave them. The birds were oblivious, but the horse was frantic about the 'water snake' on his barn floor. If the coop itself had flooded, the birds could access nesting boxes, platforms and roosts without difficulty. Their hopper-feeder is part way up the wall and would have been spared. So if you haven't taken a critical look yet, ask yourself if you could get to your birds during an event like this, ask how bad it might get and what modifications would lessen the impact. I'm happy now that we began building in February 2008, which prepared us for winter, and now, with a few tweaks, we can avoid too much trouble in future (hoping).