As I mentioned in my last post, my weekend was spent primarily outside rebuilding my chicken coop. There was nothing particularly wrong with the earlier version, but I my carpentry skills have improved over the last year which made certain aspects a little painful to look at. For starters, I used way to much wood. That and I built it before I had it moved into the best position. After it was built, it then became too heavy to move into place. The light also seemed limited for the girls. Since my urban chickens take the winter off from laying, more daylight means more of an urge to lay eggs.
I was really tempted Saturday to run across town to the rebuilding center to pick up an old window, but low and behold I have a whole stash of old ones sitting in the yard. I have been planning on making a greenhouse with them, but since space in the yard is shrinking I decided a few less windows might make the greenhouse more likely to materialize.
By Saturday night I had dismantled the coop, added more structural soundness to the frame, and rebuilt the walls/windows of the hen house. The girls were allowed to free-range all day while I worked. They spent the night on make shift roosts in a hen house with no roof. I do not advise this in a neighborhood with raccoons, but they were fine in my hood for the night. It was really funny to check on the girls periodically from our living room window and see them staring back at us.
Sunday was a whirlwind. There was lots of swearing involved, but generally speaking things worked out. The windows created a lot of head-scratching moments… I still have some minor tweaks to work out (finalizing the roosts, reworking the nesting boxes, painting, etc), but by 8:00 pm the girls had a roof over their heads.
I am afraid the chickens might be a little colder in the winter with the addition of two more windows, but generally Portland has mild winters so they might be just fine. In the past, if the weather drops below freezing I move the girls onto our enclosed back porch, lay down some straw, and call it a temporary winter cabin for them. After the temperatures pick back up, the petting zoo moves back to the coop.
Here are the new fabulous features of the coop:
- Easy access to all sides of the coop
- Tons more light from three old windows in the run and hen house
- All windows open for ventilation/cleaning
- Aluminum roof replaced with tinted plastic for more light
- Bigger egg door
My plan to move the coop up against the side of the house didn’t work after all. Between rain barrels, water spigots, and electrical meters there just wasn’t room. I have decided instead to turn this side yard into a “secret garden” of sorts surrounding the coop. Maybe some sort of archway thing will be constructed some day to enter the space. The best outcome though of moving the coop has been the easy access around the whole structure. Before I was squeezing between the coop and fence. I even left room at one end to build on the smaller, temporary hen house for the chicks when they are ready to go outside.
All the materials I used for the reconstruction were salvaged or reused from the earlier version. A neighbor just gutted their house and Jay was sweet enough to go dumpster diving for me to salvage the tinted plastic roofing. Hurray for dumpster diving! The plywood was the same stuff on there before – just used more efficiently this time around.
There is plenty more work ready for me this weekend, but hopefully it will be more leisurely than frantic, since at the very least the girls have a roof over their heads!