Friday, September 28, 2012

Building your own cheep chicken coop!

The Coop.
My chickens had grown up enough that they could no longer fit in their little safe house cage. They were getting larger and larger by the day. I had to get them a coop, and soon. With working full time, having two little boys, a beast of a dog, 2 cats and a rabbit, plus paying my mortgage and car payment, by myself, my budget was slim. 

The Gnome
I had seen extravagant coops, 2 level chicken condos. I had seen some chickens just living with fencing and a tarp. I was very curious to see if I could come up with something adorable and inexpensive. The thought process had begun…My best friend and neighbor Sara had a little girl who had recently outgrown her Little Tykes® outdoor playhouse and had mentioned tossing it. What if that could be their new home with a few minor adjustments? I called her and asked her daughter Kylie if she would be willing to donate it for the love of her "Auntie's Flock". She had some minor conditions that I happily agreed to. One of them was she'd have to be able to come over, handle the chickens and feed them whenever she wanted. I am thinking, wait, you want to donate your little house and come feed the girls?! Deal! 

I packed up little S10 Chevy pick up and drove a street over to Sara and Kylie's place. We pulled the playhouse apart and put in safely in my truck bed. I pulled in my driveway so excited, this was completely free! Next step, let's spray it down and clean it up. I recruited my little boys for this task. Owen is always loving to clean and scrub, so I filled up a bucket with soapy bubbles and a neat little scrub brush. He insisted on doing this task, so I let him. 

The next day, Sara came over and we gave it another super scrub. (A little more power with two adults and some more elbow grease.) It's clean and ready to be put back together. Let's pick a spot in my yard. I was settled on the far corner of my yard, but decided that it would be better to keep it near my driveway, within my fenced in yard. It would be easier to get to in the cold winter months and the hose was there for a quick spray down when I cleaned the coop. I had a corner of my yard that I had moved my rose bushes to last year. They were still in shock, but trying to come through budding. I dug up the lilies I had planted there in front of the roses and replanted them to another spot in my yard. We placed the coop on the mulch and it fit perfectly, with the roses coming up directly behind the coop. 

Next, I had to think about screening. I poked around in my shed. It just so happens I had old metal screening from a previous project. I cut the metal screen with scissors (I recommend you use wire cutters) I was determined that my chickens would sleep in there that night and didn't have wire cutters. (1 hour later) I whipped out my power drill. Sara held the screening in place and I drilled directly into the plastic house. We covered every window with the screens and was perfect. Now about the door, it's a small dutch swinging door. How will I make this work? I had purchased a pink and purple shower curtain at my local WalMart for $3. I cut a strip to fit in front of the door from the inside. I drilled and screwed that in, leaving the bottom half open for the swing door. 

I think I may have to find a more solid solution for the door, possibly The Incredible Poultry Door™, but for now it works perfectly. With a fenced in yard and a bullmastiff on staff, I feel confident the chickens are safe. I will purchase plexiglass to insulate the windows for the colder weather. My boys and went on a scavenger hunt around the neighborhood, found some big branches and placed them inside the coop. I had been growing some fresh grass and herbs in a planter and placed that inside for the girls to munch on. Under the little kitchen sink, there are cabinets. 

I decided to make that the girl's nesting boxes. I placed very own Excelsior Nesting Pads in the cabinets. Since the little house had a small window planter, I picked up some purple mums and placed them inside the planter with a garden gnome whom once lived within my strawberry patch. 

The girls love their home and primarily sit on their kitchen table to cuddle at night time. Since my chickens are all named after Rock Stars, I named their coop "The Hen House of Blues". 

The breakdown:
Coop: Free | Screening for windows: Free | Gnome: Free | Shower Curtain: $3 | Mums for planter: $4
Excelsior Poultry Pads: $12.95, $1.30 each, available in a 10 pack | Total: $19.95

Hen-dy, Creative Department

L to R: Branch and nest pads. Chicken Salad. Room with a view.
L to R: Pat Hen-a-Tar Peeking out. Their sign. The girls scratching.