Ain't nobody got time for dat
So we finally completed our extensively-researched, solid & whimsical chicken coop, yay!
The construction took a long time for a few reasons such as an extended heatwave that made it impossible to work for more than 2-3 hours at a time without taking an hour of rest in between to cool-off a bit.
The first step was to build the raised coop floor. We used larger logs, about 3 feet long, as legs and two pallets as the floor. This is so that the chickens can use the space created under as both a shelter from the heat and rain and also to use for their dust-baths.
Next step, we covered the coop floor with a heavy-gauge metal sheet. The idea is that a metal floor would be easier to scrape the poop off and it's more sanitary/less chance of contamination as opposed to a wooden floor.
Next, we dug out the perimeter of the run, extending down by about a foot. This was so that we could bury the hardware cloth we were using to enclose the run, so as to deter critters from digging their way in. Every step was hard work since we were only using very basic tools. This step though was one of the hardest.
Creating the posts for the run using fallen trees was the second most challenging step of the build. Searching for appropriate trees took time. Trees in the forest grow unevenly and, of course, narrow as they get taller, though not at the same rate as the other trees, which makes for differing diameters. This in turn made it difficult to plum the posts. Having only handsaws to cut the trees to the lengths that we needed also took quite a long time.
Another hurdle was the covid hysteria and shortage of hmmm...everything!
So, when we ran-out of hardware cloth, it took a good few weeks to get more.
We continued work by installing the beams and the rafters using what materials we had plus more logs or smaller trees. I really liked the rustic look of it.
Finishing the actual coop (rectangle box) was another time consuming part as we were using whatever scraps leftover from our house build. Lining it up symmetrically was near impossible because no two beams were alike, slight ground slope, .......... and as the structure settled & shifted during the construction period, we found ourselves having to redo many steps, over & over again.
We insulated the entire wall, floor & ceiling cavities, as the coop will be warmed only by the chickens own body heat. We installed 3 fixed windows and made sure to include ventilation spaces at the top of the front and back walls , running the length of the coop.
We splurged on nice metal roofing. It took a lot of measuring & lining-up of the sections. Although the metal is silver in colour, it was still pretty hot to be climbing about on, plus it reflected the sun right at me.
Finally the hardware cloth was available again. So we got busy with wrapping the entire structure with it. We had to overlap the cloth (chicken wire) sections and make it as tight and seamless as possible so that not even a mouse could get in (though I hear some chickens eat them).
While researching how to racoon-proof the doors, we found out that racoons are very smart and persistent. Some folks told tales of the combination-lock-picking racoons, lol.
For the run, we covered the ground with lovely soft & decomposed 4-year-old mulch and we rake it daily to eliminate any poop odour. It will be collected and composted, to be used to replenish our 34 raised bed at the end of the growing season, as one of many, many organic materials that go into building our soil for next year's planting season :)
The roosts were the last items installed both inside the coop & the run. Funny, we thought that the two roosts we initially installed were insufficient for these fairly large young-adult chickens as they packed themselves on them like sardines. So the next day, we installed a third roost only to discover that they still preferred to only use two roosts, lol. Body heat, sense of security,... I'm sure this was a dissertation work for someone at Berkeley, lol.
Before starting our project, a neighbour told of a quote she got from a carpenter, to build a conventional looking chicken coop & run. We were astounded to hear that it was for $5,000!
But after having taken many weeks to construct ours, we can totally believe/see that. I wouldn't accept any less to build it. More, perhaps, but not less.
Anyway it's all completed now and throughout the construction, neighbours would stop to see the progress and they've all expressed how much they love it. It really was a labour of love and something that no-one here has attempted to do due to the amount of time required . Ain't nobody got time for dat.