Actually, we have decided that we would like to have some backyard chickens. Fresh eggs would be a nice addition to our lives, and farm fresh eggs are MUCH better than store bought. I should know. I come from a family of chicken ranchers.
The first thing we had to do was make sure that it was permitted to have backyard chickens in our area. That was a simple enough task. I visited our City's website and found the information I was looking for. We are actually permitted to have 12 chickens in our backyard.
We decided to get four.
Before we made our purchase, I did some heavy research into raising baby chicks, raising backyard poultry, chicken care, chicken feed, chicken coops, chicken runs, and just about everything chicken. I visited countless websites, and watched more YouTube videos about chickens than I care to admit. I wanted to make 100% sure that we were willing to take on this new adventure.
One of the main concerns with most chicken ranchers is predators, but since I live in the suburbs I won't have to deal with the majority of the predators that country folks have to deal with. You won't find any raccoons where I live. You also won't find any foxes, weasels, or possums. My biggest threat would be my own dogs, and neighborhood cats. A well built chicken coop and chicken run can rectify that threat.
Once we were 100% sure that we were going to do this. We started researching chicken coop designs. I am a woodworker, so I knew that building a handsome coop wouldn't be difficult. The problem was that since we live in the suburbs, we don't have a massive backyard. If I am going to build a chicken coop then this structure is going to have to be something we would be proud to display in our backyard.
After surfing around the internet, looking at all sorts of chicken coops, we finally found one that we really liked. We knew that we would have to make some modifications to it, but it was a great inspiration peace to get us started.
This is the coop that inspired us.
I thought I would share this little project as a timeline.....
(Saturday, Feb 25, 2017)
Today we took the plunge and purchased our very first chickens. They are super tiny and cute as can be. We got (1) Black Australorp, (1) Speckeled Sussex, (1) Silver Laced Wyandotte, and (1) Barred Plymouth Rock.
All four are mild tempered and great egg layers. We built them a little brooder box from a Rubbermaid container, and picked up a red heat lamp and some food and water bowls.
The clock is now ticking to get that chicken coop built.
(Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2017)
I made a quick drawing on my computer to get my dimensions figured out, and to put together a lumber list for the build.
(Friday, March 3, 2017)
After work today we visited our local Home Depot and purchased all of the lumber and supplies I will need to build the foundation and frame. I have started calling my project, "The Little Cottage Coop"
(Saturday, March 4, 2017)
I started the morning by leveling the ground where the cottage coop would stand. We decide to create a foundation of paver stones instead of pouring concrete or sitting the coop directly on the ground.
I got lots of moral support from my dog Boo. She was on my heels the entire day. I think she was wondering what in the heck I was doing to her backyard.
Next, I started the frame. In my original drawing I had set the peak of the coop to 6 feet high, but I decided to increase all of the height measurements by 1 foot, so now the peak is at 7 feet and the top of the door frame is at 6 feet.
As you can see from the picture below, it took me until the end of the day to complete the frame work. Normally I can get a frame stood up much faster than this, but in this case I didn't use nails. The entire frame is put together with 3" woods screws; and to prevent the wood from splitting I had to pre-drilled every hole.
I got a lot done today. Tomorrow morning is supposed to rain, but the forecast says it will clear up by mid-morning. We are making another run to Home Depot tonight to pick up the roofing plywood, the siding, and the lumber for the trim.
(Sunday, March 5, 2017)
I woke up this morning to rain, so I had to wait it out. Sometime around 10am the rain finally stopped and I had a chance to return to my work.
On today's agenda I planned to finish the roof by building trusses and laying down plywood. I also planned to get all of the siding attached and to trim out the eaves of the roof. It took me most of the day to get it all done, but in my defense I got a late start and had to quit early due to a dinner date with the soon-to-be in-laws.
Rain is in the forecast for later tonight, so I have to throw a tarp over everything before heading to dinner.
(Tuesday, March 7, 2017)
I can't get much done today considering that I work during the week. By the time I get home I only have about 2 hours of daylight. But, today I plan to get the roof shingles and the siding trim installed. The Cottage Coop is really starting to take shape now. I am really looking forward to seeing it when I get the door installed. I am making a custom door to replicate a heavy oak antique door. I probably won't get to that until this next weekend though.
(Thursday, March 9, 2017)
Today, my main strategy was to get the two windows and the pop door cut out and trimmed, and to start making the window frames. Don's Mobile Glass in Modesto is supplying the plexiglass for the coop, but until I decided on how I was going to design the windows themselves, I didn't know what size plexiglass I needed. I made a mock-up window so that I could detemine what size plexiglass to order.
I bought a router bit on my way home from work yesterday. I had planned to use my router to cut out the windows and pop door, but when I got home I realized that the bit I purchased was too large for my router. I ended up making the cuts using my jigsaw. I will be taking the router bit back to the store this weekend. On the plus side of that story, I saved myself $22.
Here are three pics of today's progress.
(Saturday, March 11, 2017)
Today I finally got to work on the chicken run. It took me a little longer than expected. First my saw blade got too dull to rip down the 2x4's in a timely manner and then I ran out of lumber. We drove over to Home Depot to pick up a few more 2x4's and got the flashing, and chicken wire while we were there.
I also got a chance to build the window frames, and I started on the replica antique oak door.
Boo has to have her picture taken.
Frame is up. I just need to add chicken wire.
Window frames are ready for plexiglass.
Here is a sneak peak at the door.
The trick to making a door look like it's a turn of the century antique is to bevel the edges where the boards meet. The dark stain will really make it look older.
(Sunday, March 12, 2017)
First thing this morning I started working on my nesting box. I have read that the accepted requirement is to have at least one nesting box for every two to three chickens. I only have four chickens but I built a row of three nesting boxes. That way I'm covered if we decide to add any a few more birds to our flock in the future.
I designed my boxes to be 12 inch cubes and I built them out of scrap pallet material that I already had on hand. It looks pretty good now that I installed it in the coop. I hung the box 20 inches above the floor.
Next, I started working on my roosting bar. I originally made only one that fit underneath the front window. That bar ended up being a little over 20 inch long. I read that each bird needs a minimum of 10 inches of roosting space, so I had to add more bars. I ended up adding three bars for a total of 49 inches of roosting space, and I hung them 35 inches above the floor.
This layout design may change in the future. I need to see how the birds like it before deciding if I need to make any changes.
The last thing that I did before calling it a day was install metal flashing along the roof line and inside the windows and pop door. I apologize for the lack of pictures of the flashing, but it's not really much to look at. I hid it behind the trim. I only did the windows and pop door because I wanted a little extra protection from rain on my siding.
After the flashing, I made the trim for the big door, which was a little difficult due to the top of the door being round, but it came out looking good.
Once I finished the trim, I used caulking around all of the doors and windows. Everything is now water tight and leak proof. The last thing I do to all my projects before paint is to use Bondo to hide all of the visible counter-sunk screw heads on all of the trim, and to hide any small gaps between boards. Wood putty works good for this application, but I find that auto body filler is much stronger and will hold up better than putty.
The coop is now ready for paint.
(Monday, March 13, 2017)
Today I had planned to come home from work and start painting the inside of the chicken coop. I have a gallon of white 'Kilz Primer Paint' that I will be using ....but I decided to start working on the window flower box instead.
We will actually be using the flower box for live flowers, so I want this box to hold up to the weight of the soil and the water. I decided to make the box out of 1 x 4 material with an internal frame for support. I assembled the box using Titebond Wood Glue and reinforcing it with 1-1/4" wood screws.
It may be a little overkill, but I built this flower box like a wooden Sherman Tank.
All the screws were attached from the inside so that there are no exposed screw heads anywhere on the exterior of the box.
The image below is where I left off. I glued the facial board together for a water tight seal, and had to wait for it to dry before attaching it to the front of the unit.
(Tuesday, March 14, 2017)
Today I finished assembling the the window flower box and installed it on the chicken coop.
I think it looks pretty good.
Next I got busy on the windows. Using a router, I notched out a 1/8" groove on the back of the window frame for the 1/8" thick plexiglass to sit.
Then I cut, sanded, and installed the decorative dividers and mounted the plexiglass.
After I had the windows all put together I sat one in place to see how it would look. I was really happy with the outcome, but the fit was a little tight, so I had to take the window back into my shop and do a little trimming and sanding to get it to fit correctly.
The last thing I did tonight was to make a run to the hardware store. I needed hinges to finish this install. By the time I got home it was starting to get dark, so I only had time to mount the hinges and install one window. The back window will have to wait until Thursday. Wednesday evening I have baseball practice with my fiance's son, so I won't have time to work on the coop.
Look at how nice the window opens. The chickens will get plenty of ventilation in the summer time with these installed.
(Thursday, March 16, 2017)
Today I hung the rear window and installed seals for both windows. It took me a little longer than expected because I had to notch the top and bottom seal on both windows due to the way I designed the inside of the window.
Here is a look at the inside of the rear window with the seals. You can barely see the two notches along the bottom seal in this picture. I had to notch them the old fashion way; with a hammer and chisel.
On a special note..... Our baby chicks turned 3-weeks-old today, so I thought I would share a new photo of them in their little brooder. It's getting to small for them so I am going to make them a larger brooder box out of old fence planks after work on Friday. Two more weeks and the little boogers will be ready to live in the coop.
(Friday, March 17, 2017)
After work today I have baseball practice, but after practice we went to Home Depot and got the paint, and the door and window hardware.
When we finally got back home I was in my shop about to build a new brooder when my fiance pointed out that we had a huge cardboard box up in the rafters that would work as a fine brooder box.
(Saturday, March 18, 2017)
Saturday we were very excited to get started painting, so immediately after breakfast we got to work. My fiance and I started painting the outside of the coop, while her 11-year-old son worked on the interior.
Finished the siding. Time to start on the trim.
My fiance decided that she wanted the windows panes blue, so NOW it's time to move on the the trim.
The colors look super great together. I'm loving the look.
We finally finished the trim as the sun was going down, so I didn't get a photo of the completed work tonight.
I don't require sunlight in my shop, so I decided to stain the door and install the new hinges that I ordered. This door looks fantastic. I even managed to find a black iron latch that really reminds me of an antique cottage door. I'll post pics of the latch once the door is installed.
Here is the stain pic.
...and here is the door with the awesome hinges installed.
(Sunday, March 19, 2019)
This morning we are going to concentrate on the touch up. Since we did the white trim last we have a little bit of white paint on the blue siding. It wasn't much and it took us less than an hour.
Here is how the paint came out.
Once I finished the touch up paint I mounted the latches on the windows.
Next I decided to run some power to the coop. We may want to install a fan for this summer, or possibly a small heater when next Winter rolls around.
I drove over to Orchard Hardware Supply to pick up some conduit and wire to run under ground. When we were out we stopped by Home Depot to pick up some paver stones for a surprise that you will see at a little further down this thread.
When I got back home I immediately started digging the trench to lay the electrical conduit. It wasn't easy, but I got it done.
I already have power ran out to the corner of my porch since I used to have an above ground pool sitting where the coop is sitting now. I decided to dig the trench from the porch power outlet to the back corner of the chicken coop. If you look closely you can see a line painted in the dirt that I used as a guide while digging.
I drilled a hole in the back corner of the building and ran the conduit up into the coop. Then I buried the conduit and took a picture to show how I fed the conduit into the coop.
Here is a view from the inside.
Here is a view of the other end. You can see the outlet box at the bottom of the porch post. Now I just need to cut off the excess cord and install a new plug onto the cord.
The last thing I did today was the surprise I mentioned above.
My niece just put in a new lawn at her home and had some turf left over. She called me on Thursday night and asked if I would like the unused portion. I told her I would, and I picked it up from her house Friday after work, right before baseball practice.
We had 9 rolls of turf which would not cover a whole lot of space, so I decided to use paver stones and lay the turf around the stones to stretch out those 9 rolls of turf to cover the entire front of the chicken coop.
I think it came out really nice. Now lets just pray that the turf takes hold and doesn't die.
As a nice touch, my fiance put some lovely flowers in her window flower box.
(Monday, March 20, 2017)
Today when I got home from work the sky was threatening to rain, so I decided to save the work on the door for a sunny day, and instead finished hooking up power to the coop (although I did do a little work on the door after I was finished hooking up the power. I removed 3/4" off of the bottom of the door to make it fit better)
All I needed to do for power was attach a male and female plug adapter to each end of the cord that I previously ran under ground. Then I mounted an outlet strip to the interior of the coop, and plugged the cord into my existing outlet on the patio.
Here is what it looked like when I finished. You can see the outlet strip near the peak of the roof and the conduit under the nesting boxes where the power cord is coming into the coop.
It's hard to tell from this photo, but I chose this particular power strip because it has buttons on the side that have to be pushed in order to plug something in. When an outlet is not being used it has a cover blocking the holes from any foreign material getting in. I don't want to risk a stray feather starting a fire, but even with that safety feature, I will most likely build a small cabinet around the outlet for added safety.
This is how I attached the cord to the wall. I ran the cord up behind the nesting boxes and hid the plug where the chickens can not get to it.
...and here is the other end of the cord where it comes out of the conduit and plugs directly into my rain proof electrical outlet. On a side note, this outlet was installed by a licensed electrician and is connected to a breaker that was installed solely for this outlet. If I have any issues with the coop's power popping the breaker it won't interfere with the power going to the house or my shop.
(Tuesday, March 21, 2017)
Today the weather forecast was right on the money. We had a thunderstorm roll in, as promised, that kept me from my last two chicken coop projects; hanging the door and attaching the chicken wire. Instead I did a little bit of home repair in the form of fixing our garbage disposal.
But I made a promise to the girls, and built them a new perch. This new one is a little bit taller and the tad bit thicker than the one I made for them when I first brought them home.
I think I may need to add a second perch. It looks like this one barely fits two birds.
(Wednesday, March 22, 2017)
Today came another storm. In fact, it was raining so heavily during my commute home that at one point the freeway traffic almost came to a complete halt because visibility dropped down to nearly zero.
When I finally made it home safely I began work on a second perch for the brooder box. Yesterday I noticed that all 4 birds could barely fit on one perch because they are getting so big.
...And naturally, the girls had to prove me wrong.
But as you can see in the picture, they now have two perches to choose from ....and if you are wondering where their food and water is located, they are directly beneath the camera in this picture. This cardboard brooder box is rather long and narrow.
As a kind of afterthought, I decided to add a large door at the end of the chicken run so that I can easily get into the run to rake it out from time to time without having to move the entire frame.
This was my first foray into working with chicken wire. It wasn't very difficult at all, but I am typing this with a fresh hole in my palm where a stray wire "Kabobed" me. But to be honestly, I didn't realize I had been cut until the wound started itching some time later that evening.
Anyway, I ripped down some 2x4 studs into 2x2's, and built a frame that fit the exact size of the end of the run. I assembled the structure using 3 inch wood screws, and reinforced the square frame with 45 degree braces at each corner and then I cut a square of chicken wire to fit the frame. I used a manual staple gun to attach the wire to the frame. I didn't have any hinges on hand, so I will have to buy a set on my way home from work on Thursday. That is also the day I plan to hang the new chicken wire door.
Here is how it looked when I was all finished.
(Thursday, March 23, 2017)
Today I didn't have a lot of time to do the things I wanted to get done. Instead I spent my free time after work with my fiance. We dropped her son off at tutoring and went shopping. Together we found the hinges that we needed for the large chicken wire door. We also bought a hasp for that same door, though after installing everything I decided that I need a different type of hasp.
We also picked up some sealer for the replica antique door that I have yet to install; And we bought a couple of patio chairs and a small patio table to decorate the little paver/grass patio that I added to the coop.
Lastly, we found the rope lights that we wanted to use to light up the coop, so we bought a 24 foot spool of the lights, and picked up a plug timer while we were at it.
As soon as we got home I got busy installing that chicken run door. I works great, but on the downside, now we need to do some more painting.
As soon as I got the door hung I got busy installing the lights. I ran them completely around the interior roof line, and still had some left over. So I ran the remaining lights half way around the rear window.
Then I bundled up the excess cord and used a zip tie to look a little more organized at the power strip.
As you can see, that rope light really illuminates the coops interior. It looks pretty bright, but it's actually just a nice warm glow.
As I was installing the lights, my fiance was placing the new patio chairs along with the new patio drink table next to her chimenea at the corner of her new paver/lawn patio.
(Friday, March 24, 2017)
Today when I got home I concentrated on getting weather sealer on the front door. I didn't bother taking any pictures, because painting on coat after coat of sealer is nothing exciting to see. During the evening I put on 3 coats of sealer in total. I gave roughly a two hour gap between coats.
(Saturday, March 25, 2017)
I woke up happy this morning. I'm a man on a mission. Today is the day that I finally get to hang the door on the chicken coop, so immediately after breakfast that is what I did.
As soon as I hung the door I discovered that the door was rubbing on the door jam just slightly in a couple of spots, so I busted out my power sander and shaved a little bit off of the door to get it to fit correctly.
Now that the door fits into place perfectly, I started mounting the latch. I didn't realize when I purchased the latch that it actually works from both sides like a modern day door knob, So I will have to drill a hole through the door tomorrow after I split the door and mount the inner screen.
The door ended up looking amazing.
It is exactly how I had it pictured in my head. I am very excited that I managed to build it from my imagination.
After hanging the door I was feeling really good, so I got a little playful and hung a very clever aluminum sign that I received in my monthly Loot Crate this month (www.lootcrate.com)
Welcome to Jurassic Park!
Next I started hanging all of the chicken wire on the chicken run. I was going to have my fiance take a few pictures of the work being done, but dealing with chicken wire is such a hassle that instead she had to help me hold the wire in place as I stapled.
I hung the wire from the interior of the frame work for a more aesthetically pleasing look. I think it came out pretty nice, and I managed to get all the razor sharp wire hung without any more injuries to my skin.
After dealing with the chicken wire I was running out of steam. The main thing left that I need to do is work on the screen for the front door and split the door.
I'll save that for tomorrow.
Instead, I hung up some lights that my fiance purchased to decorate, and light up our new paver/lawn patio.
They light up more than just the patio. Our whole backyard lights up with these Edison Bulb stringers. It sure is pretty though.
Before calling it a night, I went into my shop and laid out the screen door that I will be attaching to the front door after I split it. I got all of my measurements off of the door and got everything all glued together and clamped. Tomorrow the glue will be dry and I will be able to stain it and attached the chicken wire screen.
(Sunday, March 26, 2017)
Today is the day that I split that door. I would be lying to you if I said I wasn't nervous. I've put a lot of hard work into that door so far, and one little screw up could destroy all my hard work.
I followed the age old saying, "measure twice, cut once". Actually I measured about four times before I even pulled the saw out. I decided to make the cut with my jig saw. That way I could make the cut slowly and hold it to a straight line easier.
The cutting went perfectly, but once the two halves of the door swung separately, the upper hinges sagged a little bit causing the upper portion of the door to rest on the lower portion of the door. I had already taken this situation into account, so when I made my cut I made sure to leave enough space on the top and bottom portions of the door so that I could sand them down to meet the framework on the back of the door.
It came out looking awesome.
My fiance told me that this style door is referred to as a Dutch Door.
She ordered the little "Fresh Eggs" aluminum sign online last week. I surprised her by picking the spot and hanging it on the screen door. She loves it.
Once I finished splitting the door I had to re-stain where the cuts were made and in the spots where I sanded.
After washing up from staining, I cut chicken wire to fit the two windows and got the wire hung.
The second to last thing that I did today, was to drill a hole in the split door and hang the hardware on the inside of the door, so that you can't accidentally lock yourself inside. It came out pretty nice though it only works with force. I now can't lock myself in the coop, but a weaker person might. My mom learned that today when she stopped by for a visit.
Here is a look at the interior of the door and screen with the "knob" attached.
....and the last thing I did was put another coat of wood sealer over the entire door and screen; inside and outside.
The final thing that I will be doing to the door itself is mounting a sliding latch that will hold the top portion of the door to the bottom portion. I ordered the latch from the same company that I got the hinges and clavos (Wild West Hardware). I should receive it by this Wednesday.
(Wednesday, March 29, 2017)
My door hardware hasn't arrived yet. The Tracking info is showing that I should get it on Thursday, so I have that to look forward to.
Until then I did a little project to remedy an issue I was having with my little chickens spilling their drinking water. If you are interested, you can find that story HERE.
(Thursday, March 30, 2017)
I finally received the last piece of hardware for my door, and installed it. I'm a little disappointed that the black paint came off of the bottom screws, but I will remedy that by picking up a little bottle of black model paint and touching up the screws.
Everything on the door is dark and kind of hard to see, but the hardware that I just installed is the little slide lock that is above the ring latch and below the door handle.
I also built a new gravity fed chicken feeder. You can see the feeder and how I designed it HERE.
(Saturday, April 1, 2017)
Today the chickens got to move into their new coop.
First I put them in the run to let them enjoy the amazing weather that we were having.
After a long day of playing in their new chicken run, I put them in the coop for their first night.
I hope you enjoyed reading about my chicken coop build as much as I enjoyed building it. I am looking forward to many years with my new flock.
If you would like to take a closer look at any of the photos above you can find them on my Photobucket account HERE.