“The Coop”

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If you are going to keep chickens, you must have a coop.  And if you’ve ever done research on coops I’m sure you’ve found that there are about as many coop designs out there as there are people who own chickens.  It can be a very overwhelming experience if you don’t know what the heck a chicken really needs.  Soon, you will realize that most coops are not designed for chickens, they are designed for people.

Selecting a coop

The chickens don’t really care where they live or what it looks like so long as they have the basic necessities; a nesting box, a roosting bar, ample space to move around and protection from predators and the elements.  Beyond that, all the bells and whistles are for the people, and our coop was no different.  After doing some research on the web, skimming about a dozen chicken books and visiting a few coops, I knew there were a few things I wanted in our coop.  I wanted to be able to walk into the space without ducking, bending over or whacking my head.  I wanted it to have easy access for both me and a wheel barrow for cleaning it out.  I wanted it to be predator-proof (we have two dogs, a cat the roams the neighborhood and back-up to a nature center full of wildlife including a pack of coyote).  Also, I didn’t want it to be an eyesore and I wanted it to be a little whimsical as well because, well, chickens don’t exactly strike me as the serious type.  In the end we decided practical ranked higher than whimsy so we selected the Wichita Cabin Coop for our design.  Not exactly whimsical, but I’m opting for paint to get my whimsy.

Wichita Cabin Coop

Wichita Cabin Coop

Selecting the site

When we were selecting a site for the coop we knew we wanted to use the existing fence for added protection from the elements,  I wanted to easily see the coop from the house in case of chicken drama, I didn’t want to travel too far from the house to the coop (especially in the winter), I wanted it out of the path of kid play (I didn’t want the chickens to be traumatized by the soccer balls blasting into the side of the coop or the run) and ideally, it would be close to the veggie garden and compost bin.  The chickens also need some sun, some shade, protection from wind and protection from wetness.

Our coop is sited so that the end of the coop with the run is closest to the house and the nest box end of the coop is farthest from the house so we can see the girls when they are outside.  The coop is visible from our kitchen, the dining room, the sunroom, the master bedroom and the master bathroom.  It is sited on the north side of our fence, which provides shade from the summer sun, but doesn’t protect them from NW winter winds.  Fortunately, we also have a 100-foot high, 15-foot wide spruce tree that is 5  feet from the coop which serves as a wind block.   They get morning sun from the East on the nest box end and late afternoon sun from the West on the run.

Selecting the color

A few years ago we built a shed in the back yard and wanting to conserve and utilize rain water, we put a metal roof on the shed.  We want to add a rain barrel to the chicken coop as well and therefore wanted to have the have a little uniformity with the shed so we chose to use the same roof.  Originally we were going to side the coop in cedar, the same siding as we put on the shed, but were extremely lucky and neighbors offered reclaimed wood for the project so we shifted gears and decided to paint it instead.  Well, that opened up a lot of room to play, only limited by the roof color.  I was excited because now I could add a little whimsy to the coop that I was hoping for.  Originally I was leaning toward a sage green or red, but our son really wanted “blue, the color of the sky”, so we agreed.  I figured, why stop there?  If we’re doing bright blue, why not lime green too?  And perhaps accent with a little tangerine.  Yes, our coop will definitely have color! (And when the snow melts I plan to add a little whimsy as well.)

 

The Coop (minus the window)

The Coop (minus the windows)

The Materials

Although chickens only cost a couple of dollars to buy, the coops can be downright expensive.  Granted, the smaller you go, the less expensive they are, but even so, if you are to buy a kit, they can still range anywhere from $300 to $3000 and more!   We were lucky.  As I mentioned, the majority of our lumber was given to us by our neighbors, so we had very little cost there.  We used old double hung windows in our shed and I wanted to stick with reclaimed windows again if we could, so we headed to Bauer Brothers Salvage and found a few gems there.  We bought the roofing, the siding, the hardware cloth, 2 gallons of blue paint/primer in one, a quart of the green paint/primer, hinges, screws, misc. hardware, patio stones, wire, conduit and a trenching shovel from Home Depot and Menards.

So that’s our coop, designed for us, with the girls in mind.  We’ve been very happy with the design.  I works well both for us humans and our feathered girls.  When the weather warms up I’ll finish the painting and add some other touches.  I’ll add more photos as the project progresses.

If you want the nitty-gritty details on how and what we did, let me know and I’ll put together a post on that as well.

Kate

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2 Comments to ““The Coop””

  1. I think your coop rocks! Any hen would be happy to have that. 🙂

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