Hey all! I'm a homeschooler from central Ohio. Recently our family decided to invest in chickens!! We've wanted to make the leap for awhile but financially could not. It's still a very tight budget, and we're debating how we should go about a coop. We aren't sure how many chickens we'd like, but everyone says plan for a few more than you think. Maybe 10, MAX? Our yard is very large and we definitely want to take advantage of free ranging. The problem is with the coop itself. I would love to construct one using cheap or free materials found on craigslist. We are not by any means master craftsmen. I'm open to youtube tutorial-ing the heck out of this project, but my mother, who's partnering me on this endeavor, would rather buy one as she is impatient to get the chickens! I understand her excitement, but the coops I've seen are either vastly out of our price range or teeny tiny. Not to mention we have no way of verifying the quality/soundness and security. We do have some things on hand that we think could be usable: milk crates (nesting boxes?), a climber cube (picture one, note we do not have the slide or internal orange platform. the cube is a hollow shell.), also a playhouse (picture two, we saw the DIY coop utilizing a playhouse and since my sister is outgrowing it we've considered incorporating it into the setup), and a food-grade barrel(bottom picture). Can we use any of this stuff? We don't have a truck so hauling pallets and other scraps from nearby junkyards is not exactly viable. We also have a small metal shelf that's pretty sturdy, and we thought about putting milk crates on it inside the climber cube (we've tried and the shelf fits perfectly). My concerns with this are: - is that space large enough for 4-6 hens? (The cube is about 4X4X5) - It is made from interlocking plastic shells. Will this be warm enough in the spring? - We tend to get moles, if we laid down hardware cloth under the cube, would that be sufficient to deter diggers? I think that's all for now. Like I said, huge newbie here and my first move was joining BYC. We consider ourselves very good stewards of our animals, and would like to have the happiest, healthiest chickens possible. Thank you all so much for your time, any advice regarding this matter or another would be vastly appreciated! Happy Homesteading!