Friday, April 22, 2011

The Making of the Coop, Continued

The Making of the Coop, Continued

The Best Laid Plans…

22 April 2011

Flexibility is the key to success in many things. If you're too rigid with, say, traveling you will no doubt use up any patience and convert it to frustration in a matter of hours. If a tree does not yield to the wind, it'll snap and fall. If you are unable to bob and weave during your annual family reunion, or go with the flow at the company picnic,

someone will eventually find you rocking yourself in the hedge, sucking your thumb. So it is clear to me that if you are inflexible in most matter of life, you'll develop an attitude that it seems life itself plots against you. Building a chicken coop is no different. In fact, when building your coop you may find you need a disproportionately greater amount of flexibility and patience than with most other things-- wood is definitely one of those things in life that plots against us. You've been warned.

With the plumbers bill in one hand, a grand coop design in another and a brooder with three dino-peeps growing in the next room, I realized some things had to change. I never had any intentions on spending hundreds of dollars on a coop, but I did have it in my mind that it would be built with the future in mind-- both in terms of size (adding

more chickens in the future), ease of use, ease of cleaning and longevity. With all of those things in mind, the coop I had hoped to build was one I was pretty proud of! I "shopped" the internet for ideas, pros and cons to each as I found them, and incorporated the best features I could find into my coop. I used Google Sketch-Up to render the plans in 3D. If you do not know about Sketch-Up, check it out. It is a free program (though there is an option to upgrade to a professional version) to use and is pretty powerful. Don't be intimidated by the features and use of the program. I have zero engineering background and I would not consider myself by any stretch of the imagination gifted at the art of woodworking or design. Also, Google does host a sort of forum and tutorial site for this program. You'll find the answers to all your questions there.

Here is the original design I came up with. It was made large enough to house about 6 chickens. Pretty isn't it?! Sadly, it's officially on hold.

Once I realized how much my bill would be for my home repair, I knew I had to come up with option B for the coop. The dino-chicks were not going to wait for more options to become available, so I had to come up with something quickly. So I went back to the internet and looked for a minimalist's approach to coop building. It was then that I found this coop design-- I loved it!

The coop design (I assume) and product is by I have no affiliation with them but link to their site as it's their product and want to give credit where credit is due! Even at their reasonable prices, though, I couldn't swing the expense at that moment, or the near-enough-for-the-dino-peeps future. But you have to admit, it's a fine-looking product!

So I went back to Sketch-Up to do a redesign of something similar to this coop design but more catered to my wants and needs. Did I say mine? I meant my chickens' wants and needs, of course.

Meh… did a better job, for sure. Oh well. So I did the next logical step in the process-- score material. In my attempt to save on money, I turned my attention, as mentioned in previous posts, to the ridiculous-sized shelves in my garage. They were so insanely deep, that if anything fell to the back, it would be lost to eternity and bound to live out the rest of existence as a house for a mouse or some other woodland creature we seem to have so many of around here. And, I remind you, that the wood the builder and previous owner used to make them was scrap-wood from the making of the house.

Whilst demo ensued, I happened to save several large pieces of wood that would make for the perfect foundation of the coop. I threw the very lower base together and it hit me just then. I looked up at my house and realized that it would be perfect if the coop were built in the image of my own home, since it would be made of the same material! Too Google Sketch-Up!

Thank you, Google, for making this amazing program!!! Now, I didn't have the time or the will to draw up a intricate design at this point. I had two weekends at most before the dino-peeps really would revolt, escape and get me into serious trouble with the rest of the house's population. So, back to the garage for more demo, more wood reclamation and getting on with building a decent coop.

Sadly, I did not take photos while making the coop. In hindsight, that would have been nice of me to do, but with ripping apart shelves, old nails scream in protest from being taken from their homes, and saw dust flying, I couldn't be bothered. The coop took shape quickly, though. So here are some photos of the now stocked, but not-yet-finished coop.

The girls really like their new home! Lots more space to run and stretch their wings.

You can see the structure of the roof. At this point you might be thinking, "Hey I thought he said he'd build it in the image of his own house. This looks like a barn!" Well I don't live in a barn, but it certainly looks like one!

On this side you can see the door to the coop, which is the upper "half" of the entire design. I made it in such a way that when the door is opened, it rests on the upper roof and the peep droppings can be swept right out the door, as the floor is level with the bottom edge-- no mess! You may also be thinking at this point, I thought he wanted this thing to be portable, too. Well, it is. I mean anything can be portable so long as you can apply the appropriate amount of force to something, right? But yes, it's very heavy. Definitely movable but it's not meant to be moved by someone who is weak nor frail. I haven't decided yet, but I may get castors for the bottom that can be put in or out and moved at will.

In the design, I had a much larger opening for the egg door, as that is where the nesting boxes would be; however, you have to be flexible, remember? The door got a lot smaller and why? It was too messy to cut a bigger one and having a smaller one meant I could finish the coop sooner. Sold.

At this point here is what I've spent:

Hardware Cloth - $30

Braces and Brackets - $25

Hinges, Screws, Fasteners - $15

Total so far - $70

I've included the price only of those things I had to actually buy. In fact, some of the stuff I even plan to return to the store as I wasn't sure what I needed and what I didn't. With that said, I have everything else here to finish the coop-- including caulking, paint and some thick plastic/rubber for making a baffle for around the doors.


  1. Awesome! Ours should be finished by this weekend, but boy, yours looking good! Unfortunately for us, we don't have any materials to repurpose for our tractor like you have.

    I will be sure to post commentary of ours once it's done.

    Great blog! :)

  2. It's looking good! Those chicks look so happy- any sign of revolt appears to have subsided.

    I'm really enjoying your posts! I think it was the first one that had me thinking of Chicken Run: "They's ORGANIZED!"!!!

    If you haven't seen it, you must!

  3. tikktok- thank you for the kind comment. I encourage you to share your progress! The good thing is, our chickens are awfully good sports-- they really could not care less what they coop looks like. I've just been very fortunate to have such great material about the house.

    And Leslie-- yes, thankfully, there is a peace in the Peepdom. Although I have to admit they aren't too wild about being cooped up all the time (though I do take them for walks in the garden). It's simply too cold for them to be out and about just yet.

  4. Fabulous job! Very impressive use of resources. Thank you for sharing the Google application. I'm going to have to try that out. I have all these plans floating about in my head but can't draw a hill of beans let alone something in 2D. Welcome to the world of hens! Our buffs have been a hardy breed and yes a few were escape artists!