Nesting boxes come in so many forms that I found myself stymied when it came to making a decision for my coop. Individual cubes or shelf-style? Stacked or free-standing? Build my own or reuse existing materials on the farm? In the end I realized I just needed to make a decision and get going – I’m ready to be done with interior work!
I spent several days sketching with my graph paper and came up with a plan that would yield 6 12″ x 12″ boxes from 3 4′ x 2′ plywood sheets. I cut my wood then started to assemble before I realized by error – I failed to take plywood thickness into account with my measurements. Ah well – live and learn.
I made a base from a 2″ x 4″ x 8′ that made up most of the difference on the sides and back, but there is still a bit of a gap on the left side. In the end, though, I am quite aware that the chickens don’t care what the box looks like – they just want a quiet, safe space to lay their eggs – and I’m pleased with my results.
With plenty of time left in my day I got to work on the chicken run. I had several concepts but starting the work solidified my choice. The land next to the shed is full of deeply buried stones, has poor drainage thanks to clay in the soil, and was once used to burn trash so there is a thick layer of ashes. It’s also steeply sloped and needs to be leveled – water runs downhill, after all, and the last thing I need is a flooded coop!
After setting the front corner post I started digging a trench to bury the chicken wire. It was tough going and exhausting work but I like the design I chose. The fence will extend behind the shed and around to the future duck space – just need to gather more posts from the field. Covering the top presents a new set of challenges – I’m thinking lean-to style roof but need to figure out the best support system.
This run layout won out for a simple reason: I want the front to look cute! Cute doesn’t have to mean impractical after all – and the addition of planters and raised beds will benefit my chickens. Salvaged 3′ x 5 1/2″ boards were perfect to layout this bed. Bulbs removed from the run area are lined up alongside the fence itself. Their blooms will attract bugs for the chickens to snack on and the roots will help secure the buried fence. I covered them in coop litter that has been curing for several months. The front half starts with a layer of walnut shells and other backyard litter – soil removed from the run will be added on top. Various herbs, greens, and other veg will be planted so healthy treats will always be on hand for my girls.