Thursday, September 12, 2013

Mel's Magnificent Mansion... For Chickens!

By Mel -

I have been accused of "overbuilding" most of my life. I think I might have, this time, too. However... I know we have weasels here. I've seen one. We also have a chipmunk metropolis. Chipmunks will tunnel into the coop/run to get at the food and that creates a weasel "highway." I was determined that would not happen to my hens, so I literally "wrapped" the thing with 1/2-inch hardware cloth.

I was able to save my income tax refunds and I found a sawmill nearby that sells rough cut hemlock lumber, so I was able to afford to build the way I wanted to. This is NOT a "you should do this" article! This is a "I did this" article--do what you can/want with what you've got!

I designed it myself with a consultation from a guy who goes to my church and was in construction. I wanted to be sure what I was thinking would actually hold up through our typical snow fall. I am almost 60. My fellow construction worker just turned 57. Except for two men, who helped us about get the (unbelievably heavy) rafters up, Jennifer and I built this ourselves. It took more than 80 hours (how much more... I really don't want to know) all in weekends and an odd day here or there.

It is 10 feet wide by 20 feet long. The roof is a "shed roof" and is 8 feet at its height, sloping to 6 feet. The coop end is 6x10 feet, so the run is 14’ x 10’. There is gravel under the hardware cloth and over it is soil and deep litter of oak, maple, & birch leaves and pine needles. The roof is metal.

1/2-inch hardware cloth laid out. Long and wide enough to go all the way up the walls as well as the whole floor.

Pieces overlapped and ferruled together.

 4x4 rough cut hemlock foundation.

North wall going up. Jennifer screwing the wall to the foundation.

North and South walls up. This stuff is incredibly heavy! You have to work with it pretty green, because when it dries it is like iron.

Rafters up, South hardware cloth up--even where there will be coop siding. (Taking no chances.)

Coop siding up, all stained, roof on. This is the back/north side. There are no windows, but all along the eaves is open. Should be great ventilation but no drafts on the chickens, even in mid-winter. I plan on putting up a tarp along the run part, to block snow blowing in too much.

Gravel on top of hardware cloth, beginning to put in the loam.

Inside the coop part. Found a gallon of buttercream yellow “oops” paint at Home Depot for $6.00. Easier than mixing white wash…and cheaper. I tried to replicate my friend Sue's “log stair steps instead of a ramp” idea.

Run end looking out from coop. Little box on left is a greens growing bed, with wire on top, to keep them from scratching the plants totally out.

Eaves. Even if they climb very well, the weasels (and ‘possums, and raccoons) will be thwarted.

All done. Windows are just rectangles cut in the siding…the hardware cloth is already there. I figured out and built and hung the dutch door all by myself.

- Mel 



  1. lol you sound like me. My daughter told me mine was Fort Knox. ;-)

  2. Wow!!! Very nicely done!


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