The Scoop on My Coop

| 5/13/2011 11:14:03 AM

One of the reasons it took us so long to get our own chickens was how intimidated I was about building a coop. There are sooooo many choices and so many nice coops. I’d be happy if my house looked half as nice as some of the chicken coops I’ve seen. I blame Mother Earth News for my intimidation. I have seen some of the most beautiful, ornate, functional, and just darn pretty chicken coops in their pages and frankly I was overwhelmed.

Finally I just decided to order the chickens that forced me to just build a coop. We were having trouble getting local organic eggs, so I pulled the trigger and ordered the chickens.  

I really liked a design that Darcy from The Stumbling Homestead posted.  

I like it because it is portable. Or at least movable. I decided I wanted to be able to move my chicken coop around. Partially for the chickens and partially for my soil. My other parameter was that I didn’t want to spend any money on it. This is my instinct with most jobs, but one of the reasons we took so long to get chickens was because we kept saying “well, by the time we house them and feed them, it’s probably cheaper to just buy eggs from someone else.” That probably is true if you buy factory farmed grocery store eggs, but not necessarily if you’re buying locally raised organic eggs like we do.

Our neighbor Don Garrett keeps a scrap pile of his off cuts from his millwork business and I find some amazing wood there. It’s not consistent, but it’s in great shape. There are usually all different sizes and wood varieties, but I’m not into looks – I was just looking for good, free wood. This spring Don had a load of western pine that he wanted to get rid of that he offered to me. Turns out it had been on the original train station in Belleville. The boards are insanely wide, presumably from a time when the trees used were older and bigger and wider boards were available.

I had mentally worked out a few designs and then one day I was behind my horse barn and I noticed my pile of pallets. Most pallets have spaces between the boards, but we had a few pallets that came with shipments of our books that were solid – no spaces between the boards. It seemed to me that one of these pallets would make a good floor for a coop. I wanted the floor raised off the ground so that it didn’t rot. I also wanted it off the ground so that it would serve as shade for the chickens on hot days if they wanted to be outside. Then I started to figure out how to add a roof. Then one of those compact fluorescent light bulbs went off over my head and I realized I could use another pallet. Voila! Instant coop!

two pallets

Now I’m not a builder, but I know flat roofs are to be avoided if you can. I know this, but like water flowing downhill in your plumbing pipes I followed the path of least resistance and knew I could whack these together in minutes and I’d feel great about how much progress I made. Sort of like answering the easy questions first on an exam. Of course later the questions start getting harder to answer, as was the case with the coop.

Suzanne Horvath
5/25/2011 10:19:25 AM

I've saved this post for future reference - don't need it for chickens, but for the yard stuff residing in my house. BTW, couldn't you just angle the roof and lift up one end to help with rain runoff? Great project.

Ellen Hamilton
5/15/2011 10:33:20 PM

Thanks for this article. It just so happens that I picked up three pallets the other day with the idea that I'd used the wood to built a chicken coop. I've never had chickens before, either, and have felt both intimidated and confused by some of my reading. What your article has done for me is give me the notion that I just need to DO IT. I'll learn as I go! Thanks for the nudge!

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