I hope everyone has stayed safe during the pandemic. It appears as though LeAnn and I had it back in March. (which is cool because I had FOMO on this historic event) My doctor at the VA monitored our symptoms by phone, but it was only a few days of fever, body aches, loss of taste and smell, and we both got winded easily. There was really no need to go the doctor, so we just secluded ourselves in our room for about two to three weeks. Only going to the kitchen when no one was there, washing our hands thoroughly, and staying away from Mom, and no one else here got sick.
With all the shortages that came with the virus, a whole lotta people got motivated to help themselves to become, at least a little bit, more self-reliant. We were no exception, and one of the best places to start is with chickens.
They will not only eat chicken feed, but also most table scraps, and they can supply you with tons of eggs. (Just don’t get too attached to them in case Cane’s is shut down, lol…now I’m craving Cane’s sauce…)
Since we were all cooped up like everyone elese, we thought it’d be a great time to start.
First off, we needed a coop, so LeAnn searched through a ton of photos and information online about it all and came up with just what she wanted.
Our goal was to build it all with our salvaged materials, BUT we had to buy hardware cloth and treated wood, so we ended up with only about half of it built from our stash.
Next was finding a location for the structure. We referenced a couple of books and online information to find the best location and setup. LeAnn chose a place, fitting most of the criteria, on the side of our backyard, about 30 yards from the house.
We started with clearing the area, which had several overgrown azaleas. Fortunately, we had a tractor to help with that massive task.
We leveled out the ground, then we used a mixture of salvaged and new treated four by fours for the base.
Then we covered the ground with quarter inch hardware cloth and used one inch roofing tacks to attach it to the four by fours.
After that, we moved on to framing up the walls and then adding the rafters for the roof. As most of it would be exposed, we used treated lumber.
Then we needed a roof. We had plenty of salvaged tin, but every piece was covered in holes. So we laid all the pieces on the ground and painstakingly arranged them in the best possible way to overlap/cover most of the holes while making the best use of our materials. We saved about two hundred dollars by using the old tin and it was much heavier duty than we would have gotten in town. That was important because we have a lot of oaks and they drop limbs constantly. (There’s actually a stuck, fallen limb hanging above the chicken house that we affectionally refer to as “The Widowmaker”)
I screwed them all down with roofing screws that I found in my stash, then sealed the holes I could see and hoped for the best. There were just a couple of drips, but I think I have that sorted out now.
First, using the one inch roofing tacks, we attached quarter inch hardware cloth on the walls underneath where the coop was to be built, so we wouldn’t have to lay down underneath to do it afterwards.
(Helpful hint: Use quarter inch hardware cloth instead of traditional chicken wire or else chicken snakes and rats will slip right through and get your eggs).
Then we constructed the coop using two by fours, plywood, and siding that we had reclaimed.
We put in some roosts and also the laying nests. We covered the door of the laying boxes with cedar shakes and installed an old window on the end with (fake) shutters and new shutter dogs.
Then we installed the rest of the hardware cloth on the walls again using the one inch roofing tacks.
Next we needed a screen door.
I’ll have to admit that I’ve been kinda hard on the Kreg Jig, but I WAS glad that it gave people without a lot of woodworking experience the ability to build awesome things on their own.
I wanted to build without using pocket holes, because I didn’t trust them, But…the more antique and vintage pieces I rebuilt, the more pocket holes I found. So, I decided that I wanted to try it out for myself. I knew the best test would be the screen door for the chicken yard that LeAnn had designed, and I wanted her to make it. So we ordered one from Amazon.
The Kreg Jig came in and we (LeAnn) learned how to use it in about two minutes. She drilled two holes into a scrap board and then screwed it into another board. It worked just like it said it would. I was really impressed. I’m sold on it now!
LeAnn built the door with me as her helper and had zero problems. Then she used her pneumatic stapler and three-eighths inch staples to attach the hardware cloth. I helped her use the nail gun to install the decorative blocks. It was rather awkward to do it. And you needed to be a wee bit taller to do it.
After that, all that was left was painting, and a few odds and ends to finish it up.
After painting, we wheelbarrowed topsoil (we’d had a dumptruck load dropped off) and filled the entire floor up to the top of the bottom four by fours, then spread a layer of construction sand in the laying boxes and pine straw over that and the floor of the yard. I also screwed corner anchors into the ground at each corner and bolted them to the base. (you can see two of them right there in the picture)
Oh yeah, we had to get chickens…
LeAnn bought six laying hens from a friend and they’re doing great!
We’ve also started some more self-sufficiency projects that we hope to share soon!
*This post was not sponsored. We weren’t gifted any products. And no toilet paper was hoarded during the construction of this coop.