Saturday, June 25, 2011


Phew!  Building a chicken coop is hard work, but it's finally finished!  Yes!  Hip hip hooray! 

The thing I'm most excited about is getting my bathroom back.  The babies have been getting bigger every day and they are pretty much busting out of their now tiny box.  There's poop and wood chip dust everywhere.  Tonight is going to get a little cold but tomorrow is outside with them!  (And major bathroom cleaning time for me.)

So here's the lowdown on the whole coop ordeal.  As I mentioned earlier, we started with a large cabinet that we got at the ReStore for $15.  It was a pretty sweet deal, that meant that I started with an already sturdy structure and the materials to make that would have cost more than the cabinet anyway.  Awesome.  We had a ton of scrap wood sitting around the house from the last time we built a coop last summer so we were pretty good in that department.  We also got a handful of screws and nails, hinges, a roosting pole, and two 2x4's at the ReStore for an additional $7.50.  Good deal.

I wanted to limit the amount of stuff I bought new but I did have to buckle down and buy a few things at the H-Dizzle: a roll of 1/2-inch poultry mesh, 6 hook-and-eye fasteners, two sheets of 11x14 plexiglass, a box of large nails, 6 reinforcement angles, and 4 reinforcement plates.

The original plan was to create a chicken tractor that had the coop elevated over the run, and the whole thing would be moved as one unit.  After losing sleep over the design and the complicated logistics of what that would have required, my brain just couldn't take it anymore and we decided to make something similar to the housing that the older ladies already have: a coop and a removable run.  They can be moved separately, and reattached very easily. 

Once the design was figured out, my dad and I spent one afternoon cutting all of the wood pieces for the run and the nesting box.  He brought his awesome table saw over and the process was quick and easy.  (I'm afraid of the damn thing so I measured, while he cut.) 

I built the nest box in one afternoon and the run took several afternoons with Shawn and I working together (a few arguments here and there, but we made a good team.)  The coop was almost the easiest part, minus cutting the shelf out.  We put in a roosting pole, cut out an extra window and a door for them to have access to the run.  We already had a window where the drawer used to be so we just covered it with plexiglass.  Shawn did all the window work.  The roof and the nesting box was the funnest to build. 

Honestly, a lot of it was figured out as we built, since occasionally problems arose that were not expected.  But overall, I think it turned out great.  The roof still needs some shingles or tar paper (or both) but we're not supposed to get rain for the next week so it's ready to be lived in.  Out of my house, ladies!

I didn't take any pictures of the process, but lots of the final result:

Before... (the hole is for the nesting box)

We had to cut the shelf out.  It was a pain.

And after!
The setup: the run is right next to their aunties' so they can glare at each other.
Inside the coop.
The run.
They like it!  They really like it!
Chicken-eye view!
Eventually, the babies will move in with their aunties but that will be another two months before that happens so in the meantime they get to live in this posh unit.  You may be asking: "even though this is just a temporary house, why in tarnation did you go through all the trouble to build something like this!?"  Well, I figured that if I was going to put the effort and materials into making something, might as well be something that could be used again.  I can keep it in case we have to move, or my parents can use it, or I could even sell it to someone starting their own urban flock.  And I just wanted to see if I could make one.  Now I know I can.  And it will be awesome.

Anyway, here's the final cash and supplies count:

* Cabinet from the ReStore: $15
* Used materials from the ReStore: $7.50
* Poultry mesh from the H-Dizzle: $35.00
* Wood pro-bono from my dad, my mom's work, or scrounged from my shed: $0
* Fasteners, angles, other hardware from H-Dizzle: $25.00
* Use of tools pro-bono from my dad's collection: $0
* Shingles/Tar paper pro-bono from a friend: $0

TOTAL: $83.50

Less than a hundred bucks to build a chicken coop?  Sah-weet!

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