I have no idea where I left off with the chickens, so hopefully I don’t repeat myself. Then again, repeating myself seems to be the norm lately.
I think, when last we left El Chickies they were in a state of “sardinessnish”. They had no room at all. The coop needed to be built no matter what. I wanted it full size so I could store supplies in it as well.
My plan was simple: a drainage area that did not allow critters to burrow up for a late night snack, a shed roof (mainly because I don’t like heights and it’s easy, so I won’t be up there long.), 3 six foot high walls, the front would be an 8 foot high wall, 3 sectioned nesting box on the outside, simple run which I hadn’t figured out yet, inside walls insulated against our winters and sealed. The walls were designed to be simple cuts without measuring angles.
The front would have the little chicken door, man door and a window. Each side would have a window. One side would have a clean out along the bottom. The back would have a ventilation cut-out along the upper half above the roosting bar. The doors would be cut to allow for swelling, but with trim around them to keep out drafts when shut. Remember these words I have just typed.
I set a budget, priced a materials list and ordered it all from Lowes except the chicken door which I ordered online elsewhere. It’s an automatic door that I will set up for winter. And the coop would be built with screws so I can take it down and move it with us. Yes, I’m a bit ambitious at times.
I planned on building the floor, then building the walls on the floor since it will be the only level area, then put the walls into place, roof, blahblahblah.
It took me several days of drawing plans before I got it the way I wanted. It was the first time I had drawn plans, and it did come out rather nicely except I forgot to draw in the man door. That’s kind of important. Oops. I did realize my mistake and added it in. I made sure I had all the measurements correct, because I didn’t want to waste any wood. The budget was tight on building it.
Then DH got involved. He took the plans which made me nervous. He normally does not listen to how I want something done. This has ruined a few things in that past within the house and now they need to be redone.
However, he asked me about everything and wanted to know every detail I had drawn. I was shocked when he seemed to want to know exactly what I wanted and my thinking behind it all. This gave me hope that, for once, he might listen and do things how I wanted.
While I do greatly appreciate his help, he changed things without telling me, left out items I considered important, and sent me over budget. In the end, I walked away and let him do it the way he wanted. Mainly because burying a body in our yard is next to impossible without explosives.
Half the chicks in the dog crate. Unfortunately, the other half had to join them. It was not pleasant at all.
The snow determined that we were not building a coop anytime soon. However, the chicks were killing my basement with “chick dust”. It was thick and it was EVERYWHERE! They needed out, and they needed out NOW.
We started with a drainage base for the coop with hardware cloth to keep hungry critters from finding a late night snack. See the evil white stuff? We had to shovel snow out of the way to make room for the coop. Since our land in back has a gradual downward slope, I wanted to build up for the base, so water would run around it. I figured digging down would just give water some place to sit.
DH dug down.
Okay, deep breath. No biggie. It should be okay. I sort of put a trench around it to direct water away. So far it seems to be working. Next came the floor which had another layer of hardware cloth and stiff foam insulation between it and the wood floor. A nice simple 8 x 8 floor.
I wasn’t allowed to help, and he insisted I take pictures only. He was taking a very long time building the walls, and I was staying out of his way, so I didn’t realize what he had done until…
I knew something was wrong as I stared through the lens, but I couldn’t figure out what until I lowered the camera. Look very carefully at the wall laying on the floor. It took several minutes before my brain did the math.
1) Two walls were up when no walls should be up. The only level place to build is the floor. Not a huge thing, but it just makes it harder to build walls when you have to do it on non-level ground.
2) Side walls are angled. That explained why it was taking him so long to build them. I gave him the plans. He chose the hardest and most expensive way. I had planned on using the cut 2 x 4 for blocking in the walls and, if any was left, part of the nesting box. Now I had no blocking.
3) Everything was nailed instead of screwed. He thought I had bought screws by mistake, even though I told him my plans on multiple occasions, so he used framing nails we had in the basement.
4) The wall laying on the floor. It shouldn’t fit – at all. It should be hanging over the edge since two walls are already up. He never cut the wood to measure 8 x 8. The floor was too big. Wood panels come in 4 x 8 sheets. I now had to go buy one more panel of each item. That was going to cost another $100+.
5) The walls are the wrong height. Once again, he didn’t measure according to what I had planned.
While I was out grocery shopping, he decided to “make it work” and shifted all the panels over so they were centered. This left raw wood exposed on all corners and no place to attach the trim I bought. I had already ordered the trim. It won’t fit now without rigging it somehow. Each piece will sit at an angle. If I try to nail it straight, it will leave gaps for rain and snow to get in.
After I saw it, I just stared at him, turned and walked away. I also stopped taking pictures because it was just stressing me to go out there and seeing my plans ignored or changed.
The back of the coop before the shingles went on (not even going there – you can probably figure out what is missing):
Can’t figure it out? The important ventilation opening. Since the chickens have been in it for a couple of months now, I can say that even with the windows, that ventilation was a vital item to lose.
Nesting box side. You can see the exposed framing at the corners:
The front of the coop. The doors were supposed to have trim around them in order to help block out the bitterly cold winds we get in winter. It would also allow the doors to be cut enough to allow for wood swelling in the summer. I’ll have to remove the hardware later on and redo the doors. Since the wood swelled in the past month, I can’t even get the door to shut all the way.
A lovely view of the other side with the window and clean-out… oh, wait.
The inside is almost finished. I have rotated this picture 4 times and it keeps loading sideways. I give up.
Inside the almost completed nesting box.
The chickens move in! I love the screen door. Especially since I can’t fully shut the man door all the way. DS3 is watching them through the door. He has taken a strong interest in the goats and chickens. I was not expecting that.
Since these were taken we’ve added a run, soffits and finished the nesting boxes. They each currently hold a golf ball to (hopefully) help the hens know where to lay. I’ll update the rest with pictures when I can.
Off to bed. DH has surgery at O’Dark Thirty tomorrow and I need sleep.