Monday, July 25, 2016

Chicken Coop Progress, Week 12

coop after week 11, roof half on, only part of the coop being used

Last week I hit the treadmill once, went for a hike, and worked on the coop three days. It wasn't a high mileage week, but I did make significant progress on the coop. Temps got up to the low 90s and humidity levels ranged from 40% to 80+%. So, super hot and muggy, and lots of sweat. Yet another reminder why I tend to retreat inside to the air conditioning very summer.

Last week I also finally got new orthotics. My old ones have been giving me problems for awhile now, plus my body mechanics have changed after being pregnant and giving birth to another kiddo and still carrying around extra weight. When I got scanned for the new set we saw that I got my last pair two and a half years ago, just a couple months after River was born. So yeah, it was definitely time for new ones. I kept my mileage low as I adjusted to them, but already my feet feel so much better.


I had hoped to get the run finished last week, but the heat was just too much for me and I didn't make as much progress as I wanted. I did get the fence lines dug out and I started cutting the 24" wide 1/2" hardware cloth in half for the buried portion of the fencing. I don't need more than 12" for that portion, but I couldn't find 12" rolls of fencing. I am determined to finish the run and get the chickens outside this week, though.

two sides of fence cut, third side still to go

I knew the roof would be finished on Saturday, so I wanted everything else inside finished so the chickens could have full run of the chicken portion of the coop. I started by hanging the windows. I used the table saw to rip scrap 2x4, 2x6, and 2x8 pieces from our stash to the proper width to fit between the screen on the outside of the windows and the window frame on the inside. This adds more wood to secure the screen to, reduces drafts around the windows when they're closed, and keeps the windows from swinging too far in and getting stuck.

the unpainted wood pieces are the ones I added, white trim boards will cover them eventually

west window propped open, you can see how close the south window is

east window hanging closed. 
I need to add catches to all the windows so they don't blow open in bad weather

I have the screen on the outside and the windows opening inward because our trees are always dropping branches and I don't want the windows breaking because a branch fell on them when they were propped open.

Pretty much as soon as I had all the windows hung with the hinges on the top I realized it wasn't going to work well. When the east window was open it blocked the entrance to the coop. The west window overlapped with the south window closest to it and blocked the west wall as well. Because the south windows are over the brooder, it's not a problem for them to open out above it. Unfortunately these realizations came after I hung all the windows and I was out of work time for the day, so they stayed that way for several days.

lots of propping up going on

Since part of the coop is for storage, I had to install a dividing wall and door inside the coop. I finished the dividing wall while our friend and his brother finished installing the roof panels and ridge cover. I used two crib panels I pulled from the neighbor's trash awhile ago for the upper portion of the wall. It keeps the chickens in, but allows great air circulation. And it was free! The rest of the dividing wall is scrap siding and plywood from our stash. It doesn't look super pretty since I had to make sure the window would open while having as much space for storage on the other side. There's something I want to store there, but the space is an inch or two too short, so I was trying to minimize how much space the wall took.

I built the door from 2x4s and attached 1/2" hardware cloth to it. I didn't have handles, so I used some scraps left over from the interior window framing. I had purchased a lock for the door, and it's up nice and high so River can't reach it :) He can open the exterior door if he stands on his tippy toes and uses his finger tips and I didn't want him inadvertently letting all the chickens out while trying to "help". I'll replace the exterior door lock with a real lock when I finish trimming out the windows and door, but in the meantime it's just a piece of wood that rotates up and down.

so much darker with the roof on, but ready for the chicks 

After the guys finished the roof I rehung the east and west windows. Having the east and west wall windows open to the side makes it a lot easier to not run into them. I may or may not have a bruise on my back from hitting the corner of east window while working on the dividing wall....

the windows are a bit too large to lay flat against the wall, but they take up so much less space this way and we won't run into them anymore

I'm super happy I decided to use such large windows. The coop is so much darker now that the full roof is on. The large windows provide light and ventilation, which makes the coop a better environment for the chickens. Since the coop is in the woods it will be better lit once the leaves fall, but we also won't have any chickens in there this winter. In the meantime, all those leaves shade the coop and keep it cooler than if the sun was beating down on it.

panoramic view of the coop interior

 I screwed eye hooks into the windows above the brooder and some wire to the rafters above. A hook attached to the wire loops into the eye hook to keep the windows open. I haven't quite decided how I want to keep the brooder lid up, so it's propped up with 2x2s.

The chicks exploring their expanded (and mucked out) habitat. 
I opened the front panel of the brooder so they have free access to the whole space.

I also put together a small side project this week: I made a PVC grit container. I've seen feeders made of PVC pipe, but they won't work for us since I soak our chicken feed and wet feed tends to ooze everywhere if not in a large bowl. And our chickens don't have free access to feed 24/7, so it's easier to feed them in a bowl. Since they spend so much time indoors though, they do need supplemental grit to help them digest their feed. I was using a small bowl, but they tended to tip it over and may or may not have wasted the grit.

I was trying to think of a better receptacle than the bowl for the grit and I realized the PVC feeder would work well. My only concern was the chicks going through a bag of grit in a day, so it's a good thing they'll be getting outside consistently by the end of this week. I've heard it said that they're pigs with wings, and I would definitely agree: the chicks always act like they're starving, even when their crops are bulging.

I bought the above pieces at Lowes- I think it's 3" pipe

The plug is threaded so it doesn't actually fit into the pipe by itself. 
I glued it in place with gorilla glue.

The pipe was too long to fit inside the brooder, so I cut it down a bit.

I used a scrap piece of hardware cloth to hold the pipe in the corner.

I ended up taking the cap off and leaving it off because it was a pain to get on and off.

I put a piece of 2x6 over the space formed by the open brooder door. I knew the chicks would want to roost on top of it and I didn't want them falling between the door and the wall.

roof completely on!

coop functionally finished, run still to be finished, coop trim work to be added

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