Since before we even had a plan, chickens were in the plan.
And for some unexplained reason I felt the that it was my compelling duty to personally provide a hand-built shelter for planned chooks. This sense of duty persisted, despite my complete lack of joinery experience and not having ever built anything with wood before.
To be fair, I do have some experience with working with wood, but it is more reductive than constructive and limited to carving spoons.
And who ever saw a chicken use a spoon.
So, with no prowess for construction, I am unable to articulate the how, what and why I did what I did. I just sort of did it, albeit very slowly. So this post is a story told mostly in pictures.
I must have had a fair bit of self belief because in my research of potential chicken coopery, I settled on a design not dissimilar to this:
Probably thinking that if I managed something halfway this decent, then the chickens should have a chance of survival.
However, to add to the challenge I wanted to use as much up-cycled and recycled material as possible. My dad provided a fair amount of rimu 4×2 and I obtained fence palings from a colleague of Jenny’s.
I made a bit of a false start on the frame and needlessly used longer uprights than required.
To give you an idea at how crap I am at joinery, it took me most of a day to create the above.
From there, I probably spent two or three weeks considering the my toil to date, before referring back to the original design and deciding to saw off the uprights and create a platform.
A rare lightening strike of genius gave me cause to advertise on Berhampore Peeps for an off cut of vinyl floor covering (thanks DebZeb for supplying!) to cover the deck and hopefully make the inside of the coop a bit more sanitary and easier to clean.
Making use of excess 4×2, I made frames for two sides which I attached to the base; one higher than the other to allow for a pitch roof. I decided against framing the sides as I was short of wood and the structure was getting mighty heavy. At this stage I had zero idea how on earth I would attached a roof, but that seemed like a task I could Google in a few month’s time.
For the walls I had to purchase some sheets of ply as I couldn’t source any second hand. Having not spent anything on my coop so far I was shocked at the price of even the most basic product. There was no way I was forking out for marine ply, so it would have to be standard ply and a paint job.
As such, I was kinda limited by the season for when I could cut and attach the walls, as the ply I purchased would warp if caught in the rain. With the help of Dad’s jigsaw, the walls went up in a hurry one fair weekend. It took me several attempts to work out how to attach the hinges so the door would actually open. On one of those attempts I might have gotten myself stuck inside the coop as I tried to attach the hinges from the inside and the door fit was too snug to open again. I had to climb over the top to get out. It wasn’t pretty.
[By this stage I had probably used about 4kg of zinc screws to hold the thing together. At least the coop would get lighter as the screws rusted away.]
Once the walls were up, I covered the coop with a tarp , and prayed for a dry week.
The next weekend I slapped on a quick coat of primer (thanks again Dad!) to protect the walls, threw the tarp back over it and then I went back into hibernation for about 6 weeks pondering what on earth I could do to make a lid for the coop.
The roof solution came out of necessity. The persistent howling southerlies eventually ripped the tarps away and the coop was going to fill with rain. I decided to make a “temporary” roof frame using the old fence palings. I didn’t have enough to cover the whole roof so I spaced them eveningly between the two frames and screwed them in place.
By pure luck I found a couple of sheets of clear corrugated plastic under the house. If I used this as the roof covering over the palings, it would make it look as if I deliberately left spaces between the palings to allow light inside for the chickens!
I scavenged some more timber paint from my Dad’s garage (a veritable Aladdin’s cave!) which mostly covered the outside walls in a final coat.
Things Still To Do:
This post in will mature with age – call back again to see how the chicken coop construction is progressing
- Cover for hatch
- Perch inside
- Handles and latch for door
- Nesting box
- Ramp from hatch
- Chicken wire around base
- Bedding material
- Get Chickens!