6.13.2013

Building A Chicken Coop


Well. Can I just say it's been a long silence? It has been. A looong silence.

I've been busy building, both literally and figuratively, but since I'm still in a bit of a delicate emotional state, I think I'll stick to talking about the literal today.

*ahem*

BEHOLD:


I DESIGNED AND BUILT A CHICKEN COOP!

It's modern. It's beautiful. It's ridiculously large. And it's exactly what I've been picturing for the last two years. Just to give you an idea of what we started out with, let me show you the (extremely embarrassing) BEFORE picture:



I told you. Just awful. The chicken wire fence was constantly being bent and clambered over by children, the shade and shelter was almost non-existant {the doors leaning against each other was an incredibly lame, short-term attempt to remedy that} and the chickens had taken to escaping their confines regularly. I was fed up with looking at it. 

AFTER:


Seriously, so much better. I still have to address the short mason-block fence around it {probably paint it a dark grey to blend better with the henhouse and run, but eventually might cover it with stone veneer} and build steps to the door, but it's pretty much done. Enough that I spend waaaay too much time staring at it admiringly.


It all started when J bought me a pocket jig. I'd been wanting one for ages, since nearly everything I'd seen Ana White or John and Sherry build had used it. Then, we inherited a compound miter saw, and suddenly anything seemed possible. :) J indulged me, and for the next few weeks, our date nights consisted of trips to the hardware store and evenings covered in sawdust and paint.

At first, we were only going to build the chicken run. You know, for financial reasons. I did all the math, sketched out plans, made a cut list and we built wall panels. {They're tall, because I wanted to be able to walk inside for ease of cleaning and maintenance. Plus, the kids hang out with the chickens like they're kittens and puppies or something.}  I pre-painted them,  assembled, and screened in the sides with hardware cloth, which both looked cleaner and held up better than chicken wire.


Shade cloth was secured to the top, which lowered the temperature in the run and also prevented our more ambitious hens from trying to fly out. Then we build a door and added my favorite feature-- a spring loaded door closer. No more escaping chickens!


{I need one of those for my back door. Seriously. I'm considering switching out our sliding glass doors for french doors JUST so I can use a door-closer!} 

That would have been that, except that our neighbor saw what we were doing and offered us tons of scrap lumber. He works as a landscaper, so he had all these 2 x 4's that had been used as concrete molds stacked up beside his house. We looked at that and thought, "why not frame up the henhouse as well?" 

So we did.


We spent a long weekend framing, installing and painting. I got very sunburned.



Of course, it's hard to stop at just framing. We were so close to being done, my stubbornness kicked in and we just went for it. I haven't even added up the receipts yet. I'm too scared. 

We did try to stay as frugal as possible without compromising the look and function I wanted. We chose cedar fence pickets for the siding, since it was less than half the cost of using sheets of T1-11 siding. It probably wouldn't be water-tight enough for any other state, but here in the desert, it works just fine. Plus! When the sun warms it, it smells heavenly. 


It was at about this point that I started to think, "Really? All this for chickens? This could be such a cool clubhouse..." But we pressed on. 

As you can see, I thought it was easier to pre-paint, apply siding, paint the siding, and THEN install the walls on to the base. We did this with all but the last wall. Then we ran out of primer, but I was too impatient to pause work in order to take yet ANOTHER trip to the hardware store, so we put up the roof without pre-painting....


And lived to regret it:


You should have seen all the paint I had in my hair. painting the interior ceiling of a chicken coop is much more difficult in situ. Lesson learned. 


A lot of the things we did to build the henhouse felt like practice for when we build a shed in the fall. That's part of the reason we went ahead and put a 'real' roof on, with builder's felt, a drip edge and shingles. 


Then came all the finishing touches. 

I designed the entire front wall of the henhouse to hinge open so we could easily muck it out weekly. Here it is CLOSED:


And OPEN: 


It also helps increase airflow on hot days. And I built those two levels of roosting perches. {from scratch! L-brackets! Mitered cuts!} So far, they prefer the top one. 

I get a geeky thrill seeing how perfectly the bottom of the door/wall lines up with the first beam of the run, so it can be held open like that. Perfection!


The nesting box can be accessed from the outside of the coop, even though we didn't go for the traditional exterior-mounted nesting box. {Purely for cosmetic reasons. I think it looks better this way.} The chain keeps the kids from destroying the hardware and paint by allowing the door to fall open, and it also provides a nice little shelf for collecting eggs. So far, there's no lock. I'm installing rare earth magnets instead, because we don't have many predators to worry about and all the locks I looked at weren't pretty enough to be front and center.


Lastly, I enlisted the help of E to fill all the holes from the screws. Again, purely cosmetic. We used galvanized outdoor screws, so there was no fear of rusting. I just liked the clean look of having them all filled and painted over.


And that is how I became the proud owner of a gorgeous chicken coop. Also, the most expensive eggs in history. :)

16 comments:

Crys said...

Crazy jealous. I would live there.

The Dragonfly said...

All that coop pinning paid off! It's gorgeous and I want some of those eggs.

Singin' Heart said...

That is truly wicked awesome!!! And I don't blame you for just sitting and staring at it. When we get chickens and a need to build a coop, I know who to turn to :)

The Queen Vee said...

I would crow if I were a Rooster and cackle if I were a Hen.

The completed coop may have made for some expensive eggs but also a whole lot of learning and growth. I like that you did it together. It's the nicest coop that I've ever seen and visually ....well, perfect.

Well done Melancholy and J.

Miggy said...

Amazing!! I've loved the instagram pics, but seeing these on the blog--even better. I wish I understood all the shop talk and the steps along the way, but I'll show my husband and he'll translate. Way to go lady!

Apis Melliflora said...

Love that little seafoam chicken ladder. Martha would be diggin' it.

JeanetteH said...

Looks GREAT!!! By the way, you can get a closer for the sliding glass doors. I'm not sure where you can purchase it, but we had one installed at our 1st house in PC, because it had a pool.

Unknown said...

WOW. Amazing! I am enormously impressed, but not at all surprised. You can do anything.

Chelsea said...

It's gorgeous, though, and really, since it was a date night and joint effort, you could consider it a small investment in your future happiness! I think it's fantastic. And I love that you and J were able to build it together. I don't think I could pay my husband to help me build something - I'm the DIY-spirited one in our relationship and (although it's frustrating at times) I love it.

I know you don't know me, but want to come to Kansas and build me a coop? :)

Rachel said...

Wow, now that is a very modern chicken coop!! We have an extremely rustic old one that's falling apart...and no chickens. :P

McBooter said...

Coming late to this party, but how about some new-to-me-so-new-to-you kudos? I wafted between being impressed as h#ll and 'you're killing me, Smalls' with all this. See, my woman has been after me for two years to do the chicken thing. CAN. NOT. SHOW. HER. THIS. Outstanding work!!

Natalie said...

Hey, it's been a while. Hope you're ok.

Jackietex said...

It's been a long time since you posted, I hope everyone is okay. I've been reading your blog for years and miss "hearing" about your life.

Stephan Scoot said...

Thank you I am glad about the encouragement! I love your site, you post outstanding.www.backyardchickenshop.com/coop-kits-sale/

Mary Pablate said...

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