Saturday, April 13, 2013

construction recap, part 2

Wow. That was some cliffhanger. Last June I wrote the first part of the coop construction recap, ending with the burning question: would we finish in time to move the growing girls out before they overran their brooder? I promised that all would be time. Which, of course turned out to be 10 months later. I really hope no one was relying on me to provide detailed plans for coop construction so they could build their own. It hardly seems worth finishing the tale of construction at this late date but I do keep thinking about how helpful I found various pictures and descriptions of coop construction when I was planning and building mine. So in the interest of giving back to the community, I will finish.

When I left off, we had a coop and run, fully enclosed but for actual doors and gates. So let's take a look at the various portals and how they were made fast. Before I go into detail, I just have to say that I was pretty excited and very apprehensive about building actual doors, never having done so before. My only prior door/window experience was installing pre-hung windows and doors when I converted our carport to a studio at 3371, 16 years ago. The scariest part of every construction project I've ever done is the part that requires me to use skills and techniques that are new to me. I always doubt my ability to get those things right and I always feel proudest of that part of the finished product. Assuming it comes out okay...

So first the human-sized coop door. I chose a classic shed door style as something I thought I could manage and that would function well for that spot. I used 1" lumber of mixed widths (to enable me to get closest to the size I needed) and laid the boards out on the picnic table. Then, by building a rectangle slightly smaller than the finished door size, I attached all the boards together. Diagonal cross-braces keep it all true and strong. Look how beautiful it is!
And here it is hung:
For the pop door--the 12" square through which the birds pass between coop and run--and the nesting box door I used similar construction methods. Here is the pop door opening sans door:
And here it is, closed up tight:
This photo also reveals the interior paint colors: very pale icy blue on the walls (lighter than it looks here) and french-vanilla-ice-cream-with-lots-of-eggs for the trim. It also shows the ever-so-elegant vinyl sticky tile flooring I used to cover my plank handiwork. I painted the entire inside in semi-gloss, in order to make it easy to wipe down. The vinyl floor works for the same reason, in addition to being super-cheap and easy to install. Having just last weekend performed what I expect will be a once or twice a year process of completely cleaning out the coop and washing walls and floors, I am very happy with these choices!

Next, the nesting boxes. Chickens will nest in a wide variety of things and I could have re-purposed something or built my own, but I was attracted to the utilitarian beauty of the pre-fab sheet metal boxes so I bought them. Here is the opening in the wall--to allow for egg collection:
note the "shelf" to help stabilize the boxes
And here is the finished product!

there is actually a wooden perch that rests on little arms that attach to the boxes but I installed that when the girls were closer to laying
These are really well-designed and functional. And the girls seem completely content to hop in and hunker down until they manage to bring forth the day's egg.

And this is the nesting box door from the outside:
The last door is actually a gate: the entrance to the run. For that, I built a fortified rectangle of 2x4s, braced with diagonal cross-pieces and covered in hardware cloth.
in progress
Other details include the ramp that runs from the pop door into the run (just a board with a bunch of little crossbars hammered on for footholds):

And then...all moved in!

Annabelle getting comfy

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