Well, it’s almost – finally – almost done.
The New Coop, which I’ve been working on for the past month or so as time – and weather – allow. Over the weekend, I finished up the nesting boxes, which project from the rear wall – so as to enable getting eggs without getting my feet full of the mud and muck that the chickens (and ducks) inevitably create in the run.
That was a mistake I made the first time – with the prior coop. To get eggs, you had to enter the coop – which was enclosed within the run. That meant waking through the muck and mud, no fun – and much mess – especially after it had rained for a few days.
Now I’ll be able to collect eggs without collecting mud. Just walk up to the rear of the coop – and raise the hinged lid to access the eggs. If you are considering getting some chickens – in order to have some eggs – I strongly recommend designing accessible nesting boxes that allow you to get the eggs without having to go in the coop, itself. No matter how hard you try to keep it clean, the chickens (and ducks, if you’ve got ’em) will make sure you don’t.
These bird don’t roost- as chickens do – because they can’t. Webbed feet make that difficult. They like to nest on the ground – which creates an issue when you house ducks with chickens, which roost – above the ducks. Perhaps you can see where I am headed. Or, rather, what will be headed the ducks’ way – from above – if you don’t devise a poop sluice or similar, to prevent the ducks from being anointed each night by the roosting chickens.
My solution was to devote the far side of the coop to the chickens, with the floor area reserved for the ducks – with a poop sluice mounted to catch any wayward emissions. The sluice being a piece of leftover siding, mounted at an angle underneath the perch. There will also be a covered area above the ducks’ area.
The other feature of this coop that is the result of lessons learned – the hard way – is the pair of outward-opening barn-type doors that provide total access to the interior, which can be easily and quickly cleaned as a result. This is a job you will have to do fairly regularly – see above points regarding the dirtiness of these birdies – so being able to do it with less effort and faster makes having the birds more enjoyable and that is no small thing. The goal – my goal – was to have renewable food right here, at home – without it becoming a hassle.
As I detailed in prior accounts about this project, I also decided to build this coop as if I were building a house – on concrete, framed (4x4s) to be sturdy and durable; something that will not have to be rebuilt in two or three years. I probably over-built this thing. It should stand as long as the house – and because it is properly built and looks nice, it will be an asset to the house – important in the event I ever decide to sell it.
This is another important point. If you build a coop – if you build anything on your property – it is worth building it such that it does not detract from your property. A shack is a deterrent to future prospective buyers – and regardless, you’ll regret building a shabby-looking, leaky eyesore.
The one thing yet to do, in terms of the physical structure, is the roof. Which I am waiting to do until I can get my buddy Joe the Roofer to come over and help me with it. I could probably do it myself, but why risk it when a professional is available? Trust me when I convey to you that – above all – you do not want a leaky coop. If you get drips, you will have have soggy, nasty bedding. The wood will rot. It will smell. It will decay, rapidly.
Plus, leaving aside keeping things dry, I want this to look good – not cobbled together. I designed the coop to look as though it had been built at the same time my adjacent shed was built. It has exactly the same siding, the same trim and paint – and the same pitch, to its roofline. It will be roofed with the same tin that roofs my shed and – when complete – the whole thing should look (as Elvis used to say) as if it had been meant to be.
There are still a few odds and ends to finish up, including running electricity to the coop, for lights and outlets for heaters, etc. (if you live in an area that is subject to cold weather, this is a must – unless you want frostbitten birds and frozen-solid eggs). Also, I haven’t yet built the feeder system, which will be made of PVC pipe – and the watering system, which will feed off of runoff rain collected in a barrel.
I’ll have more about that, once it’s all done!
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