Coop Improvements, part 2

Last week’s weather helped me get started on coop improvements for my chickens and ducks. We erected a new shed in the fall and the time has come to convert it to a coop. I learned quite a bit from the first two I did so this one felt pretty easy!

First I needed to build a door. I removed the central panel from the wall that faces the run, then installed 2x4s to use as posts. A piece of scrap made a great lintel, and I used a second piece of scrap to cover the gap between the flooring and the ground – any potential entries for mice need to be blocked. 2×2 boards make perfect doors – I used the hinges I had and a piece of scrap hardware cloth to create an airway in the middle. I had some itty-bitty leftover screws from the shed installation, and they worked wonderfully to hold the hardware cloth in place. This door seemed to come together easily…but then again I’ve built quite a few in the last year!

Next up: cutting a window for air flow. The way this coop is situated made this a bit tricky, and I’m slightly worried that the coop will be unbearably hot this summer. I cut a single window in the wall opposite the door I built, covering it with hardware cloth and bolted it in place. I just need to cover the sharp edges with duct tape – I used all my non-gray and want to look for a roll that will add a touch of color. I had scrap guttering that is just the teeniest bit longer than the shed; it will work just fine for the addition of a water barrel (I got 3 of these small barrels from my friend Robin). I found the downspout in a pile around the farm (there’s more where that came from!) – the barrel has an opening in the top that’s about the same size. I need to install a faucet tap so we can fill buckets easily. We can use this to water the blueberries and blackberries – they are just yards from this coop – or supplement pond water in the summer.

Speaking of the pond – here’s its new home. It’s along the back fence line, centered, in the new run space. Placement was vital: I want pond run-off to go down the hill into the field instead of mucking up the run. I want easy, safe access for the pump so cleaning isn’t a pain – an exterior door is just to the right of the pond. The ground has a fairly steep slope but I still dug a substantial hole to nestle the pond into the ground.

I’m planning some landscaping to prevent any birds from getting stuck between the pond and the fence. My roommate is working the upper field so we can have a wildflower field – which means I get free grass plugs (aka sod!) for the run. After laying the grass I use the loose soil left in the wheelbarrow to fill in behind the pond. Once the fence is installed I’ll set up the stump barrier/edging and continuing building up the soil. Transplanted daylilies will provide excellent screening – and the hens don’t eat them!

Oh yes, the fencing. Another thing I’ve become rather adept at in the past 6 months is post-setting. Tree roots proved challenging in this section so the posts aren’t equidistant (I actively choose not to let this bother me). All told we’re adding about 100 square feet of space to the run. I’m reusing the chicken wire that previously surrounded the goat run (it was replaced by stronger fencing) so out of pocket cost for this expansion has been fairly minimal. There will be horizontal boards across the top for ceiling support and 3 feet up the posts for siding support. Large stumps from the trees that were removed will serve as exterior border, blocking predators and helping keep the fence in place.

Planting season is upon me and I’d like to get this project done soon, but the weather took a dive so work has slowed a bit. I’d like to have the fencing and ceiling completed within a week, so I can give the grass a little time to root before letting the birds into the space. Luck is on my side this weekend – the forecast looks like warmer weather plus I’ll have the advantage of Daylight Savings Time!

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