What do you get when you cross 3 old buildings, a nail puller, Craigslist, a hammer and two people who have no clue what they’re doing?
Why, a recycled chicken coop of course!
When we decided to build a chicken coop we wanted to use an existing building and as many materials from around the homestead as we could. This satisfied my frugal side as well as my reduce-reuse-recycle-save-the-Earth side. Since our little 6 acres has all the buildings that used to support a 120 acre dairy farm (some with equipment still inside), we practically have a farm store in our backyard.
So we went shopping!
First we looked at the old chicken coop that came with the house. It even has nesting houses and roosts hanging on the walls. But after closer inspection, we found that the center beam is split in two. The roof looks like it could collapse at any second. Since Josh and I are newbies in the building/construction area, we decided this might be too hard for us to tackle right now.
Our next choice was a building that was almost obscured from view because of the weeds growing around it. So we hacked our way back to it and found that it was full of raccoon poop. Lots and lots of raccoon poop. The poop covered the dumping ground inside of what appeared to be an old garden shed. Broken pots and old gardening supplies were everywhere.
And how might the raccoons have gotten into the building? Well, glad you asked! Through the holes that used to be windows. Shards of glass were all over the ground while some jagged pieces still clung to the frames. Oh, and also through the huge holes in the walls. Because only two walls were still totally intact. The other two plus the door all had huge openings, kind of like little raccoon pet doors. (Unfortunately this was during the BC time period: Between Cameras: after losing my old camera but before buying a new one. So I don’t have any photos of it’s grossness. Although that might also be a good thing.)
Just like Charlie Brown’s little Christmas tree, we decided this building had possibilities. We closed our eyes (and our noses) and could envision our little hens clucking away as they lay us yummy eggs. (I think we must have been drinking some that afternoon.) To our credit, we did check the other buildings and this really was the one best suited for a chicken coop.
So we jumped right in, either oblivious or in denial about the amount of work it was going to take to get this little building in shape. Since we didn’t buy the homestead until October, we didn’t start the coop until the middle of November. So, instead of working on the coop itself, we decided to build the run first.
Our hope is that the chickens will free range during the day and stay in the coop at night. But we also wanted an enclosed outdoor area for them to use during bad weather or if predators are a problem. In order to build the run, we needed to set posts in the ground and this is MUCH easier to do before the ground freezes. Mid-November was pushing it before the top layers froze but we wanted to do whatever we could.
So we got to work. For two days. Then it froze. Sigh. But we managed to get a little done on the run anyway. The rest will have to wait until the snow melts and the ground thaws.
One of the great things about living here is that we all get to work together and learn new things as a family. The chicken run was the first real project we tackled together and we all had a great time. Since then, we’ve done lots of things together but this will always be my memory of the day we really started building our homestead together. Kind of sappy I know but what can I say?
Well! Apparently I’m a little long-winded today (imagine that!) so I’ll save the rest of the building project for tomorrow. See you then!