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I am a 50+ yr old stay at home wife of a scientist/Military man.  I raise chickens for eggs, rescue dogs & cats & spoil them all.  I am a silver/metal smith & stained glass artist.  I, at one time was an secondary art teacher & Social Studies teacher.  I am sorta a eclectic earth mother who recycles everything I can get my hands on.  Enjoy working with power tools & even built my own 10ft by 6ft chicken coop.  am pretty much interested in learning everything I can thur books, magazines & friends. I enjoy veggie gardening & doing gardens just for the chickens. I also sew & love making pioneer style comfortable clothes for myself & adding vintage lace when I can find it. I am pretty easygoing, but need my coffee first before I am ready to face the world & day.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Building a coop, the hard but cheap way

Hello Everyone
If you have been reading my blog, you know about the Fishercat who got into the coop last fall (2009) & killed a hen, hurt Cashmire (Rooster) & also got into the bunny area & killed my 6 yr old baby girl. You also know that 4 hens & Cashmire were put in the basement in a tarp coop from Nov until now, which is the middle of May. I decided to build a 10 ft by 6 ft coop inside my shop that is divided so each rooster & his girls have a 5 ft by 6 ft area. Each side has a door cut out of the side of the shop to the run area, which is also divided. I have had enough of my 2 roosters accidently meeting! I drew out an idea of what I wanted so I could still have a lot of 'my' space in my shop. Ok, now I don't have a lot of free money so I headed to the shop attic & found an old door that needed 2 window panes (Which I replaced), antique wood guttering & some old boards that would need to be cut. I also have a neighbor who gutted out an old pantry area in her basement & let me have all the wood that I wanted. So far so good. Since the wood & guttering was very old, I had to assume they contained lead paint so that was something I had to make sure was never exposed to the chickens. Eight days of measuring & cutting old dry or wet wood was a lot more than I bargained for, but I did it. The hammering nearly did me in, I had wanted to use screws so it would be easier if I needed to take down a section. But no, the wood was so bad it striped nearly ever screw I used. I had said I wanted the 'Fort Knox' of coops well this one surpasses even that! The first 5ft by 6 ft area is all reclaimed, recycled wood but I finally ran out & had to break down & hit the hardware store. Nice thing about that was I got them to cut the plywood the sizes I needed, which by this time I was willing to pay the $1 per cut! I even used some old windows encased in wood frames, so they would get more light. And used a lever door cut in half for a extra vent area up near the ceiling area since the shop is a boiler in the summer. To make sure both sides got the air movement,I used plastic lattice with chicken wire over it as a window between the 2 sides in the dividing wall. It is high enough that the chickens can't climb or get to the window & pester each other. I will tell you right now that I am worn out! I enjoyed doing the work myself, but sometimes when I had to drill holes into 2 fingernails to release blood clots caused by hammer blows, I think just buying a ready made coop would have been much easier on my body. I knew I had to get this done no matter what happened since tomorrow I am getting 5 new 2 yr old girls that have to have a place...not inside my house! Today I got the second part of the run all done except for the door which will be done tomorrow along with building a few more laying boxes for them. I know age is part of the reason it took me so long to get this up, also doing over the head work by yourself can surely wear out the arms. I am a firm believer in making things easier for myself...Ha, Ok well most of the time anyway. So I used cheap tarps & covered the inside of both coop areas, floors & walls. this way it will help cut down on wood mites & can be dusted down with a broom when the kids are outside in the run, plus cover any lead paint on the old boards. The floors will be easy to care for as well. I learned this doing the tarps on the rabbit floor. Once the straw is swept up its easy to wash the floors in the fall & spring. Or any other time it is needed. My big fear also was the old paint on the boards, you all know how chickens will peck at anything & everything. Well if they contained lead paint I surely didn't want them eating it or us eating the lead filled eggs. Cashmire & his 4 girls have been in their side for 4 days & the girls are happy enough 3 gave me eggs today. Chatty & his 2 girls went in last night to their side & Rosy gave me an egg today. So I guess they approve of their new home as well. Tomorrow Rosy & Scarlette will go into a dog kennel in the coop while the 5 new girls come in. I don't need WW3 going on with all the new events, so its easier to crate the 2 girls than crate the 5. I am excited about the new girls cause they are hefty & can handle Chatty's weight when he mates with them. So I am down to 3 hens in the house right now, which is heavon & so much quieter. Even though it has been a mad house with all of them in the house or basement, its been a good lesson for me. I now know that I can handle it when there are emergences with the chickens. I have decided to set up a large dog crate & house with fencing in the basement so I can reclaim my laundry room. Voodoo Moon who is crippled, will always be in the house, but now I can put the others if needed into a safe comfortable space in the basement. I will still keep the ER playpen in the dining room for the hens who need me to check on them often. So the lesson of all this is: if you are doing it on your own & over the age 50, maybe a pre-made coop will be your better bet! I guess for all my time (8 days) my new coop cost me $2500 in labor time, $80 in material, not counting the free stuff. Oh by the way, I cut down a nice wood pallet to make a ladder from the run up to the door for the kids. They love it & don't slide down it like the other one I had built them. Now I think its time for me to climb into a nice hot bath & soak my weary bones. Until next time have a great Chicken day!

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