Coop Building 101...Coop Building for Dummies...Coop Building in our backyard at the house we're renting by the lake...is finally underway. The man downloaded plans for a fairly easy chicken coop project (easy, of course, for those who know what they're doing - since this is our first coop project, I'd say we don't fall into this category). But he certainly made it look easy. This frame went up in no time.
and the roof, with sunlight panels, ya know, for extended eggy laying-ness
the little monkey, who can't get out of her pajamas most days, at least picked up a hammer and nails and got to work...in her pajamas
we used about 85% found or recycled lumber (found, as in, found in the storage shed the previous owners left behind), which meant nice beadboard siding instead of just plain ol planks...
once the frame was built, we had to move that heavy sucker to the chicken yard (otherwise known as behind the hammock). We decided not to do a chicken tractor, mostly because the garden has too narrow of an opening (thanks to deer-proof fencing) to move the tractor into it, and since the garden is fenced, we can just shoo the chickens in and out whenever we want/need. Also, we have very little grass as it is because of lots of shade trees so we'll let them have free range in the yard most days. They have nice cover under the trampoline (which is where we're hoping they'll hide when the hawks come around), so no need for a chicken tractor at this point.
We found a few table legs in the garden shed as well, and re-purposed them for the roosts inside the coop
the box in front offers three nesting boxes with a hinged lid for easy egg-hunting, and the back has a large locked/hinged opening for cage cleaning
the nesting boxes
and to keep with the recycled theme, we also only used found or old paint to paint the coop with (rather than buying new paint in colors we actually wanted). We found green and white paint buckets in the shed, and my folks gave us a pretty yellow paint they needed to get rid of, and a nice red deck stain.
most of the coop was painted with the yellow, but I painted this one side white as a prep color as this is the side the girls and I are going to paint a mural on. We're thinking a few sunflowers and a few hens will get painted on this wall...maybe a rainbow (and I'm sure my older gypsy will paint her signature peace sign somewhere).
and strangely enough, the colors seem to match the hammock...ironic? serendipitous? (though I think perhaps that blue chair needs to become yellow now - he seems to be screaming for attention)
and while we're on the subject of screaming...I don't want to hear my ladies doing so in the middle of the night because of coons or foxes (we have both here), so they're getting locked up fer reals. We know all too well how clever coons are after having one figure out how to use our cat door at our last house. He? She? would saunter in around 9pm while we were watching TV (and yes, saunter is the correct word), step over the cat (they were apparently buddies from the backyard...'sup), make his way to the kitchen, open the cabinet, take out the dogfood tub, open the latch on it, take out the scooper! and proceed to help himself to dinner. Some days we watched in amusement...and some days I thought perhaps he must be stopped in case a hostile takeover was being planned.
Needless to say, no sliding latches going up on this coop - it's lock and key over here - let's see you figure that one out coon! 'Sup!
The man cut out little windows on the sides for ventilation and we re-purposed some of the chicken wire from the bunny compound to cover them with (and this is the part where you need to send some sympathy the man's way as he smashed his fingers with the hammer quite a few times trying to get those pesky wire staples to go into the flimsy beadboard, which had me contemplating the kind of life where people actually have the disposable income to pay someone to build coops for them or buy them ready-made, to which I replied to myself: but we're learning to be self-sufficient and you can't put a price on that - right? right.)
the inside view of the nesting boxes, the roosts and the skylights...I don't know about the hens, but I'm ready to move in. I'm sure they'll enjoy looking at the stars at night, too.
and apparently our Strawberry girl is ready to move in as well...wait, is she licking her lips?
Personally I think the man did a fantastic job and I'm quite proud of him for going for it (especially considering 11 years ago when I first married him he didn't even want a yard, much less one with chickens and hammers and skillsaws).
I've missed seeing the man in his, ahem, manly tool-belt, and I enjoy working on projects like this with him. Despite the frustrations and headaches DIY projects can sometimes come with, there's a reward at the end when you can look at what you've made/created/fixed/repaired and feel a sense of confidence and pride - that you conquered your fears - and the unknown. Turning a pile of scrap lumber into something useful and pretty...something that brings you a step closer to sustainability. It becomes a part of you...repurposed energy and vitality. It's not just a coop - it's our coop - a coop he built and she painted - a mosaic of our time and energy (mixed with a little blood, alot of sweat...and a pair of jeans covered in paint).
I couldn't be more excited! It's perfect for our little flock of ladies and just small enough to move to new land in a year or so. Who knows what stories it will be able to tell by then. Now it just needs some lovely ladies to call it home!