No Hard Hat Required

Guinea-Pig-Cage Brooder

Guinea-Pig-Cage Brooder

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. 

The Occasional Chicken Coop

The Occasional Chicken Coop

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:

Digging in the posts for the foundation.

Digging in the posts for the foundation.

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.) 

Fence posts were much cheaper than 4’x4′ posts and worked great but you have to take into consideration the fact that the posts are 2 1/2 inches by 3 1/4 when you are planning the other aspects of your coop. 
Framing in the floor of the coop.

Framing in the floor of the coop.

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.  

The hatch in the floor that the girls will run in and out of.

The hatch in the floor that the girls will run in and out of.

After the decking was screwed down, Adam cut out the opening of the hatch and installed the hatch door on hinges.  

Instead of buying individual boards to build the walls, we bought an 8′ section of fence and cut it into 3’x4′ sections.  We used the sections to enclose the house.  This was a great deal because the fencing is treated and was on clearance for under $20.  It worked out really well.  You can see the fence on the inside of the walls behind the kids. 
The kids in the coop.

The kids in the coop.

The interior was insulated with 1″ foam insulation and then finished with 1/4″ OSB to make it air tight and warm.  Adam wrapped the whole thing in tar paper and then sided it with cedar shakes that we had lying around in the garage.   The cedar looks really nice and now we have one less box of junk in the garage! 
The finished backside of the coop~shingles and all!

The finished backside of the coop~shingles and all!

This is the finished coop!!  The roof is on, it’s insulated and the shingles are up.  The weather has been uncooperative, so the run isn’t fenced yet, but the girls need to be locked in for another day or two so that they can learn where home is anyhow.  The shingles are stained so they’re weather proof, but we’ve been discussing painting the coop barn red. Depending on the cold and rain, that may have to wait until spring.  The windows aren’t complete; Adam just tacked them up temporarily to keep the wind and rain out until it’s nice again so that he can properly frame the shutters.  You can see the thermometer on the back and the glow of the lightbulb through the window.  We’re not planning on heating the coop this winter, but the little girls are only four weeks old so we decided they needed a week or two of supplemental heat until all their feathers are overnight
Tonight is the third night for the ladies in their “big girl house.”  It’s been raining and really cold since we put them in, but they’ve been dry and cozy in their new coop. 


Filed under urban chickens

4 responses to “No Hard Hat Required

  1. Wow! Great work! I look forward to seeing more pictures. The weather has made any aspects of construction a bit less formidable lately. I also like your idea about the fence posting.

    I plan on doing a fixed outdoor run and seeing these pics gave me some good ideas. Cant wait to see more.

  2. I love this! Great pictures. I like the idea of the decking for the sides. It looks like that worked really well for you. Thanks for sharing your experience. I have some new ideas to think about.

  3. Pingback: Building a Rabbit Hutch « Notes From a Country Girl Living in the City

  4. Pingback: February Charcutepalooza: Bacon | Notes From a Country Girl Living in the City

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