City Chickens: Watching an Idea Become Reality, Part V


Meet Heather and Brian, Lansing residents and hopeful urban farmers. Follow them as they document their new project: raising backyard chickens. You’ll see the construction process, meet their chicks and follow their development over the summer.

Building the Coop, continued.
In our last post we were hopeful about staying on our coop completion timeline.  Alas, there are still a few dozen details to work out before the chickens can move in to their new home, and we are not quite ready for the big reveal. 

Building a structure from the ground up takes a lot of work, a lot of time and a little bit of patience.  Let’s take a look at where we are in the project and talk about the finishing work.  We’ll also have a look at our rapidly maturing flock.

What’s left to do?  Lots and lots of finish work.  We’ve cleared the space, framed the building, and put on our OSB sheathing and roof.  Next we worked on securing and protecting the structure from the elements and predators. 

Brian admires the vapor barrier on the coop

A vapor barrier goes underneath the exterior siding.  In this part of the project we get to use a lot of the skills we learned last year during our exterior renovation project.  We are also using a lot of the left-over materials from that project, including tar paper, trim, and other odds and ends.  Tip: you can buy left over materials from home improvement projects at the Habitat Restore.

Heather cuts hardware cloth

Tougher than it looks!

The frame of the run has to be secure from predators, so we are affixing hardware cloth to the framing timbers.  It’s important to use hardware cloth and NOT “chicken wire” when building a coop:  hardware cloth is heavy welded wire with small openings; chicken wire is twisted (not welded) and has larger openings, which predators can easily bend and reach through to grab a meal.

Which hardware cloth to use?  We are using 1/2 inch 19 gauge wire.  It’s extra tough to cut and bend, but worth the effort.  I’m in charge of putting up all the wire; it’s a prickly business!

Putting up the hardware cloth

Brian is working on framing out the nest boxes.  You need one nest box for every four chickens; we have five chicks so we are putting in two exterior nest boxes.  Our boxes jut out from the structure so that we have more floor space in the coop, and the roof of the next box will open up so that we can reach in for eggs easily.  This design also keeps the boxes dim, which chickens prefer for laying.

nest box framing

Brian and the nest boxes

Brian’s put up some exterior siding and trim and it’s looking good!  Our automatic chicken door is mounted inside the coop and the chickens will emerge out of their pop door in the mornings to get into the run. 

exterior and pop hole

Brian’s filled the coop walls with insulation, and put up bead board and trim inside the coop.  I’m working on caulking the seams inside: you can get a good idea of the size of the coop from the picture below.  It’s pretty big!

Heather working inside coop

I always wanted a giant doll house. This is as close as I’ll get!

Caulk and trim will help stop any drafts inside the coop, and a coat of primer and paint will help cut down on parasites like mites.  I’ve covered our big window opening in hardware cloth, and a window will be hung over it which can be propped open in the summers.  The window and ridge and soffit venting will keep the coop ventilated without being drafty.  Here’s a look at the progress.

Coop, rear side

The coop so far, North side view

 In order to give us a little breathing room in our timeline I rigged up a temporary run for the chicks to play in while we work on the coop.  They love hanging out in here when we’re home, and they are so fun to watch that we have to take lots of breaks on the project and just hang out with the chickens. 

temporary chicken run

The temporary garden run

Buffy, week 5

Buffy, five weeks old

Mei Mei at five weeks

Mei Mei, five weeks old. Finally getting her feathers in!

Next post: Will the chickens finally move in?  Find out in the next post!

© hgoupil 2012

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7 responses to “City Chickens: Watching an Idea Become Reality, Part V

  1. I was shocked to see myself in the coop. Then the next moment I realized it was you Heather, because I haven’t looked that good in 30 years. :D The coop is looking so incredible. I was thinking that if/when you folks move to the South of France to grow grapes, then the next family can use the coop for either chickens or KIDS. What a fantastic castle you two have constructed. I loved all those photos. It’s fun to see your progress. Thanks so much for sharing.

  2. I can’t even begin to tell you how much I love the names of the chickens! Then again, I’m sure you already are aware of my obsession!! :-)
    You are both doing an amazing job and I’m so excited to see the finished result!

  3. Thanks for sharing. My husband wants chickens and I am going to show him this article. You two have put quite a bit of energy into this project!

    • Thank you! We sure do work hard at it. :) I wish you the best of luck if you and your husband decide to keep chickens, we are really enjoying the experience so far despite the work!

  4. i uber love the shot of BJ drinking his cuppa joe (probably tea really) and scowling.

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