We brought the chicks home without a coop. I knew it was a risky prospect, but I had already discussed with the hubby the fact that I was ordering chicks, that they would be little enough to keep inside in a brooder, and that he would have until about Halloween to construct some sort of chicken residence for them. He was cool with that. However, in the original plan, the chicks would be mail-ordered day-old chicks and wouldn’t be shipped until THIS week. Considering the weather recently, I think I’m glad day-old chicks aren’t arriving on my doorstep tomorrow but bringing home two and four-week old chicks threw a monkey wrench in the timetable.
I’ve spent a lot of time researching chickens in the last few months, and have looked at probably hundreds of pictures of chicken coops and arks or tractors. I was originally thinking that a tractor would be the way to go. I want the chickens to scratch around the yard, eat insects and loosen the soil for my garden because of a book I read this summer, “Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals” by Michael Pollan. It changed the way I think about food and was the main reason I wanted to keep chickens. In the book Pollan spends a great deal of time on a farm run by Joel Salatin, Polyface. Salatin discusses how his animals work for him and describes his chicken tractor which is a natural chicken-powered tilling machine. Seems like a great idea to me.
After perusing photos, and discussing the options with Adam, I decided on a modified version of this coop I found on The Occasional Chicken . It is definitely not a chicken tractor but Adam told me he’d build me a portable chicken run next spring so that I could still move the girls around the yard. I started drawing plans and he added his input. After an hour or so at the big box lumberyard we came home with most of the things we needed to start construction. After several more trips to various lumberyards and hardware stores, we were actually ready to build!
I took way too many pictures of the in-between stages of construction, but I tried to be selective in posting them. Check it out:
We started with four treated fence posts and dug holes to secure them. (You know your husband is a perfectionist construction worker when you put footings underneath the posts of your hen-house to prevent settling.)
Once the posts were secure, Adam framed the floor around them and then screwed decking down as to form the floor of the coop. We looked at several other materials as flooring options and decided that the decking was sturdy and more economical than a similar thickness of plywood or OSB.
After the decking was screwed down, Adam cut out the opening of the hatch and installed the hatch door on hinges.