For the backyard farmer, the answer to the age-old question is “neither.” Before the chicken or the egg must come the coop. Or in this case, the coupe. With a love for wordplay and a garage full of scraps from old remodeling projects, you might say that I was driven to this egg-streme.
My idea to build a small chicken coop was hatched a year ago when I began to brood over the fowl housing market and became determined that I could build something on my own. My first thought was to use a vintage car body, but I discovered that such shells were out of my price range. Then it occurred to me that an old Model A, essentially a box on wheels, could be simulated with plywood — except for the curvy fenders. I pecked away at Craigslist for a few weeks, and turned up a worn but serviceable set of fenders from a ’29 Ford for only $50.
For a chassis, I recycled an old single-axle 4-by-8-foot trailer. Covering the frame with 1-inch steel wire made an easy-to-clean floor and droppings pit. I found the tires by scratching around in a junkyard. The hubcaps are simple painted plywood rounds, for which I must credit my wife, who gamely fried an egg so I could get the yolk-to-white proportion just right.
I can access the three nesting boxes under the “dashboard” by opening either the side door or the hood. The coupe backs up to a 12-by-12-foot pen, which is roofed and wired to a foot below ground to discourage predators.
The few whimsical front-end details I added provided finishing touches to the coupe. The headlights are burned-out floodlight bulbs inside work-light reflectors; and the colorful hood ornament came from a thrift shop. Finally, I found a website that allowed me to design my own license plate for $15.
One final suggestion to egg on those plucky enough to emulate my coupe: While this vehicle is stationary, a handy person could build one atop a lightweight wagon equipped with a moveable front axle. If you hook up the front end to a garden tractor and attach a lightweight, wheeled pen to the back, you can allow your chickens to graze in different locations. Why, they could even cross the road.
Grants Pass, Oregon
If you, too, have built a cool coop, send us a photo and we’ll consider it for publication. Please send to Letters@MotherEarthNews.com; or write to Coop Photos; MOTHER EARTH NEWS; 1503 SW 42nd St., Topeka, KS 66609. — MOTHER