Here they are, exploring their new coop. The nesting boxes are lined up inside. There are 4 right now, but I can easily put more. They are plastic bins, super cheap, from Walmart or Target (I'm reusing old baskets, and I forget which place I got them from). I cut the front out. It will be nice because they will be easily clean-able.
Better shot of the exploring hens and their boxes. There is black electrical tape on front so they won't hurt themselves on the raw edge from where I cut the front out. I will eventually put something even more secure on, like duct tape, but I did not have duct tape last night, so.... electrical tape it was!
Another close-up of the boxes.
Little hen exploring UNDER the coop.
This is a good shot of the interior. You can see their little ramps to their roosting posts and whatnot inside. I have few more posts I need to hang. Not super critical, since right now they sleep huddled on the floor since it gets into the high 30s at night. They're fine though; warm coop, warm straw, warm sisters.
Why stand next to the feeder when you can stand on top of it?
Here's the gate to their area. I made a 1' high lip on the bottom that I have to step over, that way it's easier for me to get in without letting chicken out (they'd have to hop over the lip, adding an extra layer of difficulty to escape).
Here's an overhead shot so you can see their different areas. Under the coop and on 3 sides, there is plain dirt with mulch on it and a few big rocks. In front though, there are three grassy plots and a sandy L-shaped area. I intend on filling the sand more, but again, that can wait. The sand is there for them to dig in, but also to eat dirt (aids digestion) and to give me an area to walk on when the grass is wet. By me not walking on the grass in the winter, it will help give more life to the grass. From this perspective, you can also see the bird netting, which helps keep pests out and chicken in.
Here are the shutters on the side window. They need to be painted, but again, more pressing projects. They have two latches which keep them shut, but they can also be latched open; there's a screen over the widow opening.
The back area isn't huge, but it's pretty big for a few chicken. They like to poke around in the mulch (maple mulch, not cedar, which is poisonous to chicken).
From this perspective, you can see our back deck. The chicken are close enough that we'll hear them if something's wrong (squawk!), but otherwise, they're background noise. I wanted them closeby, but not TOO close. This was a happy location.
One of the hens, USING THE RAMP to go out of the coop.
Chicks sloooooowly beginning to explore.
Path between the garlic/strawberry bed and the chicken coop. The rocks in front are mostly for decoration, since the grass beds will keep animals from easily being able to dig under the fence. However, the rocks line the entire pen, including areas where animals could dig under. In those areas, the rocks are a bit bigger.
I love the look on this chick's face.
Happy little hens out in a yard. Eggs in 60-80 days.
Getting a little darker, but still exploring. They actually fell asleep out in their yard, 9 huddled together and 1 on top the watering can. I couldn't find a flashlight, so I had to grab a candle, go outside, and begin chucking half-asleep hens into the coop. They'll get the idea, particularly if I put a small light in the coop that goes on right at dusk. I did feel ridiculous out there, in my pajamas, hurling chicken by candlelight.
So, some project summaries....
- 6' x 1/2"x 5.5" cedar boards: 79 cents ea (home depot giving me the price of a competitor)
- Grass: $12
- Sand: $2
- Mulch: Free
- Rocks: Free
- Baskets: Free, in that I am reusing my old baskets that I otherwise would have tossed.
- Feed thus far: $12
- 2"x3"x8' studs: $1.67 each
- Cedar shingle roof: $20 (would have been at least $140 if I had bought them pre-made at the store)
- Paint: $20 (but I have a ton leftover that is earmarked for other projects)
- Dowels: $5
- Chicken wire: $40 (to get the 5' tall fence, I used a 2' high wire and a 3' high wire)
- Shutters: $4 (recycling place)
- Vinyl tiles: $10 (and there are many leftover)
- Screws: $20
- Crescent vent above door: $5
- Doors: $2 (yes, for both)
Could I have done it cheaper? Yes. But by doing it nicely, there were many benefits:
- I learned a lot about what resources are available in my town.
- I learned where to get cheap materials that would be good quality.
- I learned how to make a decent shed, for FAR FAR less money than you can get a shed from anywhere else. This will likely benefit us several times in the next few decades.
- It looks nice, which keeps the landlord happy (if he ever comes around) and us happy, since our deck is nearby.
- If we ever sell it, it's much more easily sell-able because it looks nice.
- By taking extra steps to make the coop easier to clean, the coop will stay cleaner (thus healthy chicken) more easily (thus happy me).
- If we ever want to add a few chicks to our flock, we can easily do so. There is a lot of room.
Here's to a bunch of happy little fluffy red girls and their new blue house!