Chicken Coop: Then

Our chicken coop began its life some untold years ago perhaps as a simple garden shed. When we moved in, it was this tiny hideaway tucked beside a vibrant Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Diabolo’ (ninebark). Within a few weeks, I started to dream of repurposing the structure into a small chicken coop.

Garden Shed

A lot of work had to be done first. The shed was jam packed full of half-rotten miscellaneous house construction stuff – oh, and many, many, many dead bugs and spiders. With the help of a friend at the end of March in 2014 (as I was nine-months pregnant at the time), it was cleared out lickety-split.

Backyard

The shed was in an ideal part of the backyard. The towering Picea pungens (Colorado spruce) around it provided some nice shade for the hot summer months, and it already had two windows cut into either side. The swinging front door added appeal. The best part, though, was the view from our master bedroom.

Shed

 

I started to research what chicken coops need and sketched out my initial plan. I knew I wanted to tackle eight areas and I took down notes:

1) DRAFTS AND CLEANING – I am taking foam and lining all the walls, roof, and subfloor between the studs with the foam then covering it in shower board to make it easier to clean off poop and stuff. I’m going to make the floor slightly sloped and without any impediments so that I can just use a push broom to drag out all the shavings/poop into a waiting bin to plop into the compost bin and then wash up anything that’s left.

(2) ROOSTING – I’m adding a roosting pole ladder (that will be slightly off the ground so that the push broom can easily get underneath of it) and several different roosts throughout. There’s quite a bit of vertical space in that I can stand up inside the shed.

(3) VENTILATION – I’m adding two secured vents near the ceiling for ventilation in the winter months.

(4) HEAT – We will be able to add a heating lamp if we need one, but I’m not starting off with one.

(5) RUN – On the right side, we are cutting out a secured chicken-sized door and building a ramp that will go out into the permanent, secured wire run (ceiling and walls dug down a foot). There’s tons of room for them in the back corner to roam around, a lot of vegetation above and around to clean it shady and nice during the summer heat. We’ll close them in at night and let them out during the day.

(6) – TRACTOR & FREE RANGE – They’ll also have a tractor to tool around in my garden in and will probably be able to roam around in side the fenced in portion of the yard, too, but the permanent run is so that they can still have outdoor time when I’m not out there to keep an eye on them. With cats and all kinds of other animals around, I want to make sure they’re safe while I’m not looking.

(7) NESTING BOXES – We are cutting out access to DIY secured nesting boxes that I’ll be able to open from the outside.

(8) FOOD & WATER – They’ll have water in the coop and they’ll have food and water (that’ll get secured/removed) at night in the run.

Chicks

Before the coop was even done, on April 8th, 2014, I ordered my chicks: (1) Ameraucana, (2) Buff Orpingtons , (1) California White, (1) Gold Star, and (1) Barred Rock. They arrived on April 29th, 18 days after my fourth child was born. I had dreams about nursing one human infant and six chicks soon thereafter. The race was on to finish the coop, and finally, we did.

To be continued

 

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