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I know everyone has been waiting with bated breath to see chicken coop updates since you devoured my first Build report.  Well, prepare your gullets.  Here you go.

I like to spend as much non-office time wrestling with the world’s strongest Toddler… so this project has taken way too long since it was mostly relegated to snippets of nap-time-construction-time and after-night-night-total-darkness-build-hours.  However, I finally declare this beeyotch 99% done and ready for occupants!

Who wants the grand tour?  Just ignore the ugly tall unfinished fence post that’s part of my ugly tall garden deer fence.  I wanted the coop in here so they could free range every now and then helping to clear the garden of weeds and bad bugs, while being protected from our friendly free range canine neighbors.

Feast your eyes on the prettiest little coop Joanna has ever co-owned.  Such is the life of a lucky Gentleman Farmer’s wife.

 

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The entire 8’x12′ structure is protected by half inch hardware mesh that encapsulates the 4’x8′ elevated, enclosed hen house.  Every chicken book in our Metro library system (because I read them all) says you want a minimum of four feet indoor space and/or eight feet outdoor space per chicken.  Initially, I’m targeting five chickies, so I (over) designed this beast to give them plenty of wing-stretching space.

 

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That hardware mesh is buried about twelve inches into the ground to thwart any raccoons, skunks,  coyotes, or other hungry diggers looking for a free meal.

 

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The girls can access their Deluxe Apartment in the Sky through their very own ladder.

See the Eye Hooks on either side?  They help secure the front wall.  It’s hinged and can be held open to access the inside for cleaning.

OutsideCoop

 

“Open Sesame”.

More fittingly for tasty pets, maybe it should be “Open Sesame Seed Bun”.

On the right you’ll see a 2″-3″ diameter limb I scavenged and cut.  It’s perfect for use as a roost at night.  To the left are their nesting boxes which they’ll hopefully overflow with eggs.  It’s very important the roost be higher than the nests.  Chickens evolved in the wild roosting in trees at night as high as they could get.  If your nests are above your desired roost, that’s where they’ll sleep (and make a terrible mess) each night, thereby soiling your eggs.

Yes, I did line the floor with a scrap piece of linoleum Dad found at a garage sale. You might recall the dude can find you anything. This should greatly assist clean up.  The floor will be covered in about two inches of sand (you’ll see in later pictures).  A few seconds of scooping every few days keeps things nice and tidy up here.

HenHouse

Yep, let’s definitely keep this area clean.

Chickens share nesting areas.  A rule of thumb is you should have one box for every three to four hens.  So I went overkill here, but since I could theoretically house up to 10-12 birds in this structure, I might as well give them some options.

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Above you can see the sand that still needs spread out.  There are a lot of different bedding options, but I’m trying  sand because it best dries the droppings, reducing smell and easing clean up.  A note: You don’t want fine play sand.  Rather, look for washed “construction sand” or “river sand” that is coarser.  The most suitable (and cheapest) stuff I could find was at Home Depot and labeled as “all purpose sand”.

Purchasing pullets (female chickens less than a year old) or hens (older than a year) will set you back between $4-$12 each around these parts, so I made sure to adequately protect my investment and load test to exceed weight specifications before their arrival.

 

LoadTesting

The entire top is open, but protected by hardware mesh so nothing can climb the walls and drop in for a chicken smorgasbord.  I made sure the mesh “ceiling” is over six feet tall so we can walk in and work comfortably without having to stoop. There are a few inches between the mesh and the sloped metal roof to provide plenty of ventilation, which is essential for healthy living quarters.  You definitely do not want ammonia building up inside a dirty coop.

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I built a small outside access door that opens into the back of the nesting boxes.  That way we can gather breakfast without having to enter the main structure.  Both this access door and the human door on the front are locked with carabiners.  I read that raccoons are able to open anything a two year old toddler can open. Let’s hope these do the trick.

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Voila.  Open that door each morning and fill up your carton with natural, organic backyard eggs.  Not these plastic easter eggs made in China.  They train our young girls where they should be laying.  When the girls see egg-shaped thingies in a safe comfy spot, they learn it’s a good place to lay and will head there when nature calls.

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Golf balls can also be used in this role, but I don’t have any on hand since a golf course is a terrible use of land that would otherwise make a great rifle practice range.

There you go.

I hope you enjoyed your look around.

 

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I know.  I know.  It’s so breathtakingly beautiful you’ll throw a tantrum when it’s time to leave.

Tantrum.

Every. Time.

 

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For now these are our only occupants, thanks to people practically giving away 1960s era decorations on Craigslist.  We’ll be sure to update you when they get some hot female company.

 

Decorations

–Mike

Question of the Day: Pretend you’re my wife.  Would you only be interested in chicken keeping for the Photography?

 

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12 Comments

  1. Pingback: Building our Chicken Coop

  2. Okay, I have to say “open sesame seed bun” is the same camp as “delic-ata-ious”. The coop looks awesome, I am sure your ladies will take to it quite nicely. I can’t wait to see some pics of your undoubtedly photogenic birds.
    Patrick recently posted…Want To Help A Small Business Get Off The Ground?My Profile

  3. I like your new leaf header!!

    This is an impressive structure. I am impressed. I am sure the chickens will be impressed as well.
    Cinnamon @ eatpraytri recently posted…Weekend picsMy Profile

  4. Very nice work! As a fraternity man, I assume you’ll be hanging some sorority letters up for your chicks. I was under the impression that farm animals were always part of Greek life anyway. As a young man I remember pledging “iota shoota vc” at the Univ. of Da Nang. Their mascot was an infected leech, but I digress….

  5. That coop is a real chick magnet!!! Best of luck with the ladies! Considering this post and your last one, you might even be the MacGyver of the gentleman farmers. You guys totally need to enter the egg award this year – a Scottish contest for organic egg recipes where you have to include the story of where the eggs came from. I’ll forward the notice for it when I see it!
    Ann recently posted…Don’t toss your guts – giblet gravyMy Profile

    • MacGyver might be a fitting analogy. I can take a good woman’s patience, my kooky ideas, bubble gum, and a bread wrapper twistie tie and create wifey eye rolls and sighs of exasperation.

  6. Hmm….I think as Joanna I would be wondering how much work this will involve to maintain a clean coop!
    Aly recently posted…Strawberries and Cream Buttermilk Bundt CakeMy Profile

    • I put a lot of thought into that and after researching, it’s not much work at all. In fact, it’s a lot less work than household pets. I built a feeder out of 3″ PVC and filled it early Saturday morning. As of this morning (Thurs) it’s still half full. The waterer I built out of a 5 gallon bucket and PVC piping was filled Fri night and I probably should fill it again tomorrow. So those sound like quick weekend tasks that only take a minute.

      Every 3 days or so on one of our egg-check visits I’ll scoop and rake out the hen house’s sand. That should take two minutes. Everything will be raked down into the run. Once every 1-2 weeks, while raking or mowing the lawn anyway, I’ll add some dry leaves, cut grass, or straw to cover everything down there. It all composts in place in the run. That Deep Litter Method is one of the most hygienic ways to go. No mess. No odor. The chickens scratch and peck in it to turn the compost looking for worms and bugs, helping everything to break down. Then twice a year I’ll shovel that compost right onto our gardens and fruit trees, saving the time I spent composting traditionally.

      This is all a lot easier than feeding/watering/walking/cleaning up after our dogs, and they don’t make us breakfast! 🙂

  7. I want to live at your house. You have so many fun projects happening. Love the pics of the little dude helping. I’d totally be afraid to photograph chickens because I’d worry I’d get pecked.
    Calee recently posted…Sweet Tunes Thursday [78]: Arcade Fire “Reflektor”My Profile

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