Getting Cooped Up with Stormy Weather

May 13th, 2010

I have this problem.  It has to do with trying to make things better, and wanting to do things right.  Okay, that’s not usually a problem.  Except when you’re not a carpenter and you’re building something, the learning curve is very steep.  And you keep getting these insights and ideas… “Oh! Well then I can just…” or, “Aha! Now it shouldn’t be too hard if I…”     It’s easy to underestimate a lot of things when you’re still filling your knowledge basket.

Okay, so building a chicken coop isn’t rocket science.   Maybe it’s garden science or something.  I’m making progress, although we’ve had torrential rain the last few days.    This morning is no different, although I did get the flooring painted yesterday between the rain.

I started framing up the sides last weekend…  I like framing.  You measure the length you need (I hear my Dad’s voice in my head, “Measure twice, cut once!”).  Then you go measure the space you need… then you go get the wood you need, and then you forget if that’s really the measurement, so you go back and do it again.  Then you write it down so you don’t forget this time.

Then you make a straight line on your 2×4 (nothing is really straight you know… it just looks like it until you get ready to put it up or use it).   Then you go over to the saw, and then you reach for the 2×4, and then cut it and then go hold it in place to check and wonder why in the hell it’s too short!  And you realize you measured a couple of feet lower and there’s a slight curve to the post there, so you go do it all again…

Ah, but hammering nails is rewarding, and simple.  Blam, blam, blam!  The satisfying thunk of nails going in is just awesome.  Until you realize you weren’t ready to nail it there.  Da@#! Getting nails back out is no fun.

Of course, instead of just putting wood or siding on the outside, I decided to insulate the coop with a double wall.  As long as I was building something, I figured I would make it protected for winter weather.   Do the chickens need it?  Depends on how cold it gets, but I won’t have a heater out there.  Maybe a light bulb.  I don’t think I’ll run electric, and face permit issues and such.  I can run an extension cord out there and put a small bulb in for them.

I can even give the coop a green badge for recycling! I’ve re-used quite a few materials lying around, including wood that came from old benches and about a hundred nails that I took out from twenty year old planting bed frames.   These were galvanized spiral nails and worked really well (boy are they strong!).

I even dug up some older wire hardware cloth and cut it to fit the coop windows.    This window faces south, with the opposite smaller one on the north side.  I imagine the chickens could use another window in the front for ventilation.

The bigger space below the south window will be for the nest boxes when I figure out if they’ll go on the inside or the outside…  I would like a to have a door to open up (or down) and get to the eggs, but I’m not sure if making it flush with the siding would be better or if I should build a whole nest box extension off the side?

I got a little creative with a couple roof supports- these are joined at the other end on the front trim along with two end joists connected from the shed to the posts.  I crawled all around up there for a good while, so it’s a pretty strong roof.

Last Sunday I stayed out until after 9:30 pm in the dark finishing putting on the roof.    Heavy rain was coming and I couldn’t wait…   it wasn’t much fun on my knees with a flashlight in my mouth lining up shingles.   I was lucky I didn’t smash my thumb with a hammer, but a few nails went “Bing!” off in the driveway somewhere.

Fortunately I had help… the boy was out chasing fireflies (he was smarter than me that night…) and he would bring me piles of shingles as I needed them.   Then imagining that those nails would end up in tires and feet I said I would pay him a dollar if he could find them in the gravel somewhere.   Dang if he didn’t find them pretty quickly!

The chicken coop roof is a shallow angle and perhaps not optimal for shingles with just under a 2:12 slope, but both ends are protected from heavy winds with the bigger shed on one side and the house/garage about 50 feet away to the east.    The shingles are also glued down with roofing sealer.    I would like to box in the corners somehow under the eaves of the bigger shed just to protect them.

The good news is the roof works just fine…  rain comes right off as it should with drip edge all around.    Of course lots of chicken coops tilt the other way to keep the rain off the front, but that didn’t fit the plans for mine.   Gutters on the shed and coop would be nice… maybe to divert the rain into a barrel for the garden?

Now it’s time for insulation and siding.   Solid wood for the outside just costs too much, so I picked up three sheets of inexpensive siding.  I’ll have to keep it sealed and painted, but it should work just fine.

I really liked this location however, and our coop is only about 4.5 feet tall at the front.  It will involve bending over to clean things up so I’m trying to build a good-sized door (or two) up front.   I could make swing out panels, but I would still like to insulate with an inner wall.   Maybe just insulate half the front?   Or will a door around 3’x3′ work okay?

I think I could have looked around a bit more for some real plans, and maybe I would have had some better ideas.  There’s some free plans available out there, but I guess the challenge of putting up my own chicken coop design was part of the fun…  But for specific chicken coop ideas, I really like the plans at Building a Chicken Coop .  If I had planned ahead a little, I would have kept careful plans of my own chicken coop design and provided that here… but instead, I’ve put some affiliate links here that seem like very nice plans, and maybe it will help someone.   I’m kind of an intuitive do-it-your-selfer, and that’s how I approached my chicken coop.  Kind of like with cooking. I’ve never met a recipe I didn’t like to fiddle with!  Often it turns out great, but sometimes? Well, maybe not so good!

All things being equal, a taller chicken coop would be best- especially for cleaning and gathering eggs.  I do like the window in the bigger shed…  It will be like an observation window to the chickens!   I haven’t even got to the run yet, but it will probably be buried posts with 1×4 galvanized wire.   And I may still put linoleum down in the coop to protect the floor and make cleanup a little easier.   Then there’s windows, doors, nest boxes…  :0   Thanks for all the ideas and comments…. keep ’em coming!

The rain is with us for a few more days, but next week is supposed to be dry and sunny.  I’m going to get this thing finished… :)

8 Responses to “Getting Cooped Up with Stormy Weather”

  1. Ed

    I would build the nesting boxes so that the back ends are flush with the outside wall. It makes weatherproofing, constructing (with weather suitable materials), and siding the outside much easier. Whatever is used to construct the boxes inside will be out of the weather so not as much care needs to go into keeping them weather tights and you can use cheaper materials.

    A 3 x 3 door is probably just right for your boy. Send him in whenever it becomes necessary.

    Our chicken house wasn’t insulated and the chickens made it through winter just fine and I’m farther north. We did have lights in there but we never left them on unless we were in there doing something. I’m sure if you insulate it, they probably won’t even need a light bulb when you are quite a bit farther south than I am. On a side note, our chicken house was later converted to a honey house for processing our bees until it was torn down along with the 100 plus year old farm house.

  2. Thanks for sharing your building process with us. You will end up with a very nice coop & your hens will thank you for all the time you put into it.

  3. Lucky chickens! That coop looks better built than my cabin (well, not really — the cabin is solid — but that coop still looks dandy)!

  4. I’m not as sanguine as Ed about the heat. It’s probably better to have something ready to go, even if you don’t use it much. Plus, you may need the extra “daylight” in the winter for laying purposes, even if the heat isn’t necessary.


  5. sweet chicken digs. *sigh* one of these days imma post a picture of my coop; like most things here around the homestead, it could use a little TLC. or a lot.

  6. That’s a five star coop! Good job. Michael Perry’s newest book (which I haven’t yet read) is titled Coop and it’s about raising his own food.

    As for your spam protector, when did 6+9 not equal 15? It just rejected me… it rejected me again, so i copied my post and exited and then came back, hoping I can come up with the sum of 2 + 3

  7. Ed- Thanks for the feedback; You have far colder winters than we do, so they should be fine as you said. I have the same preference for the nesting boxes… and the door too! I think a rake should reach in fine.
    Grace- Thanks for your encouragement. I am fortunate to have a good location with time/materials on my side. I know it’s tough for some folks just to find a place, let alone building one!
    Pablo- Ha! I’ll take your cabin any day, and wouldn’t let the chickens in! Thanks…
    Randall- Sometimes I think the “wet cold” that we get here is worse than a lot of places that have colder winters, if that makes any sense… but great point about the light helping with laying and such.
    Chook- Thanks. Well it sure helps to see everyone elses examples, but I’m still clueless about actually having chickens! Hey it ain’t the digs anyway, it’s the love right? :)
    Sage- That looks pretty good (Coop), I’ll have to read it. Weird about the spam protector! I have no idea… thanks for sticking with it!

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