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The Coop!

The chicken coop is… functional!

Coop in place

I won’t quite declare it done because it needs a roof that’s a bit more weatherproof. We’re also going to dig in a mesh apron around the base to discourage digging predators, and I’ll probably paint it and add trim to pretty it up at some point. But the chickens are moved in and doing great, so yes, it’s quite functional. To refresh your memory, here’s my post with my original plans. Picking up from there, I got the frame for the coop built and moved it into place in our back yard:

Coop frame

I made the nesting box by just gluing some OSB together:

nesting box

And then I started adding the old fence slats to the sides. You can actually see the pile of slats that we inherited when we bought this house in the background of some of these outdoor photos. It turns out we had 4(!) different varieties in that pile… some had lapped sides instead of tongue and groove, some had V-shaped grooves, some had U-shaped grooves, and some were a good 1/4″ thinner than the rest. Sigh. It was an adventure finding enough pieces in good enough condition that actual fit together for each side.

For the sides that sloped at the top, I cut the slats longer than needed and attached them, then had Dave come through with a portable circular saw to cut the diagonal line all the way across:

Cutting the slope

Then I attached the boards to support the roof directly onto the siding, thus avoiding having to figure out any angles for miter cuts:

Adding a roof

The roof for both the main part of the coop and the nesting box is just OSB for the moment. I’m going to add some sort of vinyl roofing or something eventually, but it rains so rarely here that it isn’t much of a priority at the moment. Although it is actually raining as I type this, so I guess the joke’s on me… Anyway, here is the coop with the siding completed, roof attached, and even the doors in place:

Coop with doors

Here’s the inside as seen from the main door. That’s the nesting box in the back, and the roost overhead. For the roost I used a big wooden closet rod from when we re-did our closet, but I may need to rethink it since I don’t think the chickens are actually using it currently. I’m pretty sure they’re both just sitting in the nesting box to sleep at the moment. Well maybe the rod won’t be too high once they’re a little bigger. And they won’t be laying until July so I guess it’s not a big deal if they sleep in the nesting box for now…

coop interior

After finishing the coop, it was on to the run! I ran 2×4’s along the ground (we’ll see how long they last…) And even unrolled the hardware cloth around the 2x4s so the chickens could get some sun while I worked:

Run base

Unfortunately I was way too focused on the getting the run put together to take progress pictures, but I attached 2x3s to make a frame and then painted them with some white exterior paint I had. Since they aren’t treated I’m hoping the paint will help them last a little longer…

I did get this one picture of Dave helping me attach the last of the hardware cloth. It was a bit of a pain, though we found that screws and washers worked quite well to get it attached, and hopefully they’ll keep raccoons out…

Attaching hardware cloth

Here’s a shot from the end of the run looking back towards the coop:

Chicken run

The entire end is actually a door so I can get into the run if needed:

Run door

I put hasps and twist-lock carabiners on all 4 of the outside doors to the run and the coop. The twist carabiners are pretty stiff, I have to work at it a little to get them open, so I hope they’ll stump the raccoons.

Here’s the other run door, it’s to access the food and water, which hang underneath the coop:

Food door

And here’s the “pop door” which allows the chickens access to the run from the coop:

Pop door open

Hopefully you can see there’s a string running from an eyebolt in the door to a bolt high up on the coop to keep it open. This allows me to open the pop door without having to actually go into the run. Here’s the pop door when it’s closed:

Pop door closedI drilled a hole through the frame and added another hole in a board on the other side of the door. The plan was to have some way to secure the dowel in place, (perhaps yet another hasp that closed over the outside hole?) but for now I give the dowel a good twist and it’s actually quite a tight fit.

So that’s it! Yes, we still need to do the anti-digging apron, a better roof, a window for more ventilation, and perhaps some paint, but for now I’m taking a break. Whew! Here’s how it looks from across the yard:

Coop at a distance

Maybe I shouldn’t paint it, it blends so nicely! In person the white run with the unpainted coop looks a little weird though. Hmmm.

For posterity and anyone else trying to figure out if this is something they want to try, here’s a breakdown of costs:

  • 6 Pressure treated 2x4s – $28 (3 for the coop platform, 3 for the base of the run)
  • 16 regular 2x3s – $26 (8 for the coop walls/roof, 8 for the framing for the run)
  • 1 4′ x 8′ sheet 7/16″ x  OSB – $9
  • 2 25′ rolls of 2′ wide 1/2″ hardware cloth and 1 10′ roll – $70
  • 4 hasps, 4 carabiners – $25
  • 5 sets of exterior grade hinges of various sizes – $30
  • washers for securing the hardware cloth – $9
  • Exterior grade screws of various sizes – maybe $10?
  • Fence slats, paint, primer, closet rod – already owned

The hardware cloth total includes enough for a two foot wide apron around the whole thing, which adds a lot to the cost. Hopefully nothing will eat my chickens though!

Hens!I think they agree. 😉

Shipping Pallet Compost Pile

Dave recently (and perhaps foolishly) mentioned that there are occasionally abandoned shipping pallets at his work that he could abscond with. I had to immediately show him a sampling of the insane number of “make X out of a shipping pallet” tutorials there are on Pinterest and pretty much all over the internet.

He gets a reprieve though, as I’m not actually very into the whole reclaimed wood look (yet…) but I did recall seeing examples of shipping pallets being used as bins/fences for composting. And especially now that we have chickens it seems silly to not have a compost pile, especially as this is the third year in a row where I’ve gone out and bought compost for gardening.

Compost Pile

So yes, behold! Compost. I’m not trying very hard, I suppose I should do some reading, as I hear that there’s brown stuff and green stuff that you’re supposed to layer or something. Anyway, I figure I’ll go buy a pitchfork and turn it occasionally. And keep adding the stuff I clean out of the coop and trimmings from the yard, and hopefully the whole brown/green thing will work itself out. Here’s a better shot of my veggie garden with the compost lurking in the background:

Garden and compost pile

And here’s the view of the whole side yard from the back patio:

Side yard garden garden and compost

The shipping pallets are in the back right of the photo. They look halfway decent from this view!

I have started separating out raw veggie scraps from the stuff that we put in our city compost bin, which still gets discarded meat from dinner and Starbucks cups and such. But I figure I should be offering the veggie scraps to the chickens? I guess if I do they’ll still eventually end up in the compost pile… In a sense. 😀

Speaking of chickens, I’ve finished framing the coop and moved it into place in the back yard. Now I just need to add the siding and the roof:

Coop progress

I’m planning to build a small (four feet long) outdoor run off the right side of the coop, and also enclose the part underneath the platform with hardware cloth for a little more secured outdoor space. You can see the remains of the old fencing slats piled up behind the coop, after I pulled out the pieces I wanted for siding, which are in the garage being cut down to size.

Lucky me, Dakota still really likes hanging out in the back yard and is decently good at keeping herself entertained!

Outdoor baby

 

Chicken Coop Plans

We have chicks!

Chicks!

But they’re actually not that exciting at the moment, so this post isn’t really about them. It’s about the chicken coop that I need to have ready for them in about a month.

They say you can build a chicken coop out of pretty much anything, especially here in California where it rarely gets below freezing or above 80 degrees. But our suburban lot is less than a quarter acre and we share fences with 5 different neighbors, so I want to have something neat and tidy looking to hopefully minimize the likelihood of complaints as much as possible. I also figured that trying my hand at a nice-ish little coop would be a fun project, and maybe good practice for a future kid’s playhouse or something.

I did some poking around the internet, and holy cow are there tons of gorgeous DIY chicken coops out there! I did my best to keep track of what would work best for my situation, and then I started drawing up my own plans. Here’s what I came up with:

Coop Plans

I wanted to keep costs down at least a little and also try to keep the thing from being super heavy, so I’m going with 2×3 studs and trying to keep the number of boards for framing to an absolute minimum. A lot of coop plans I saw used 2x4s AND plywood for the walls, but that sounded like crazy overkill for my situation. I also have a pile of old but serviceable fence slats in my back yard from a previous owner, so I’m going to grab a bunch of them to use as siding.

The chickens will only be “free ranging” around the back yard when I’m here to keep an eye on them, so I’m also drawing up plans for a secure run for them to hang out in during the day. I want to get the coop finished first though.

I managed to get a little bit of building done in the last few days, so here’s the base! I’m planning on sticking it directly on the ground. It’s made out of pressure treated 2x4s, so hopefully it won’t rot away too fast…

Coop Base

I’ve started work on the walls, but I’m going to need a day without rain (and with Dave available) so we can pull the table saw out and cut the plywood, since I’m using it for the floor and the walls will then get screwed down after the floor is attached.

Gotta get on it, the clock is ticking…