Sunday February 25, 2024
09:13 AM (CST)
|October 24, 2013: OK, it's been a LONG time since I've posted an update, sorry. But - there's a good reason - we're pretty much done with the coop. Ohthankgod, it's finally done. There are still a few little details to wrap up like a little paint here and there, some trim work, and a little more work on the electric fence and chicken run. But anyway, on to the new stuff.
I got the feeders put together for grit and oyster shell.
They are made from 4" PVC, and will give the girls plenty
of grit (for digestion) and oyster shell (they will crave
calcium to help with egg production). These were simple
to build and will provide a good amount for them, so we won't
have to refill them very often.
The door also got some trim work, too - I used 1.5"
PVC trim, and notched it for the hinges behind the door. I
also drilled a horizontal hole into the trim on the right edge,
so the bolt latch could fit inside. It hides it quite well.
I continued on with the trim, taking care of the
northeast and northwest corners of the coop.
I also took a little time to run some cable in the house.
I got the battery monitor (a Victron BMV-600S) wired up, so we
can see the exact state of our solar battery bank from inside
the house. Which is awesome.
|When I headed back outside, I dove into the "electric grid" around the chicken run. That's what I'm calling the electric fence surrounding the run. We have way too many predators around (raccoons, oppossums, coyotes, foxes, cats, dogs, bobcats, etc), and we've poured too much time/ money/energy/blood/sweat/tears into this entire project to let a dog rip its way into the chicken run and kill our flock.
So, I'm building an electric fence around the lower
half of the outside of the chicken run walls. It'll be live
anytime we're not physically inside the run or coop.
Even though the coop isn't really out in the open or
at risk of a lightning strike, there's a lot of metal (all of
the hardware cloth and the electric grid) exposed, so I went
ahead and mounted a lightning protector with its own ground
rod on the outside of the run. Really necessary? Nope. A
nice $10 insurance policy? Yep. The circular green device is
a high-voltage LED indicator that will let us know if the grid
is hot at a glance. The second picture is the disconnect that
will shut the grid down.
I'm having some challenges with the door - it is the
only section of hardware cloth that isn't grounded, and the
electric grid is actually inducing a voltage of almost 3,000
volts on that hardware cloth. I've tested it six ways from
Sunday, and it is *not* an accidental short or anything - it
really is that high of a voltage being induced just being
close enough to the hot grid conductors. This means two
things - the first being that the *rest* of the sections of
hardware cloth would likely induce the same kinds of voltages
if they weren't incidentally grounded (simply by contact with
the earth), and the second being that I'll need to ground
the hardware cloth on the door. So, because of both of these
revelations, I'm going to have to actually run a grounding
conductor to each section of hardware cloth. 3,000 volts will
likely kill a chicken (and make us jump), and I cannot count
on the incidental grounding that I have right now - as the
hardware cloth deteriorates in the elements, I'll lose that
"accidental" grounding. So, it *all* gets grounded electrically.
Pain in the ass, but it's the safe thing to do.
September 27, 2013: Another week, lots of progress.
We're so close, I can feel it. One of the last major
components is the people door into the run - once that's
complete, we can at least let them into the run and not
have to watch them every second. So, that's what I tackled
While the door was drying, I got two coats of finish
paint on the north and south soffits, and got the gutters up.
I ended up extending them a bit past the west wall of the
chicken run, so I could just run the downspouts down the wall
at an angle to the water barrel that will be installed.
Finally, the door is finished and hung. Still have a
little tweaking to do and a bit of touch-up painting, but it's
in. It works. And now we don't have to babysit the chickens
September 19, 2013: Yep, it's been a while. Here
are some more updates. I primed a bunch more furring
strips, as well as the fascia board for the south end of
the chicken run.
More hardware cloth went up - we've gone through about
four bundles of furring strips and probably 20 pounds of
screws, but it's not going to let any critters in (or out!).
At this point, I realized that I hadn't taken any
final pictures of how the solar system turned out. The panels
are up and you got to see that, but I didn't post any pics of
how it all came together. The first picture is the combiner
box, which uses two Y-connectors to connect the solar panels
together, then passes the conductors through a cable clamp
assembly so it's all weatherproof. Then, there is a disconnect
switch to completely disconnect the panels from the system,
and the equipment bonding to make sure each individual panel
and the pole are all grounded. The final pictures are the pull
box where the ground is spliced in, and the ground conductor
I put the fascia board up. This allows me to start
working on the guttering, too.
The hardware cloth walls are pretty much wrapped up
now, just need to work on the floor next.
I finally got time to get the wiggle mold up, which let
me start fitting and cutting the roofing panels. I could have
purchased 12 foot panels instead of having to seam 8 foot
panels, but I just didn't think the expense was worth it. This
roof is over the run, if I don't get it perfectly 100% leak-free,
it's really not the end of the world. I had to trim off the
tops of the chicken run corner posts to get everything to fit.
With the roof up, I wrapped the edges down over the
furring strips on the east and west sides. It gives the
roofing panels a bit more rigidity (we get some VERY violent
winds here), protects the top edges of the furring strips,
and is a bit easier to deal with than building overhangs.
The last little detail I have a picture of is the
electric fence disconnect for the chicken run. I got that
mounted up on a few furring strip scraps so the handle would
clear the hardware cloth. Once I get the door built, I'll get
the electric fence put up around the run. The hardware cloth
will keep coon and possums out, but it might not stop a
determined coyote. I want that extra layer of protection in
September 06, 2013: More updates - I can see the light
at the end of the tunnel, AND I'm fairly confident
it's not a train! Now that many of these little dependencies
are finally taken care of, I hit the chicken run with a
vengeance. I started working my way around the coop and run
working on the remaining hardware cloth - once I get it all
enclosed, at least they can enjoy the nice summer weather
while I get the hardware cloth installed on the "floor" of
the run, and the roof overhead. I had to cannibalize the
temporary run for more hardware cloth.
Along the way, I also got some primer and a quick splash
of finish coat on the east wall, which let me re-mount the
network junction box for good and get a corner of trim up. The
trim was preventing me putting up the hardware cloth in the east
gap between the coop and the run.
The hardware cloth is a pain in the ass to work with,
and getting it around obstructions isn't easy. Several times
I had to take a deep breath and remind myself that this is all
for chickens, so it doesn't have to be perfect. I
typically want to do a better, neater job that some of this.
But really, in the end, it just needs to keep chickens in and
With the majority of the hardware cloth up, we could
let the girls out in the run supervised. The roof
still needs to be installed, and the run "floor" still needs
its layer of hardware cloth to prevent predators from
burrowing in from below, but it's good enough to let them out
and enjoy some fresh air.
While they ran around in the run, I made up a cable and
attached a pulley to the rafter, as well as some rings on the
side of the run. This is to hang a treat basket, and to be
able to adjust its height.
The girls loved running around in the grass, foraging,
and generally being idiots. While they did that, I worked
on getting more of the high hardware cloth up, and installing
more furring strips to hold the wire mesh permanently.
After putting the chickens back in (WOW, was that an
adventure), I got the first finish coat of paint on the outside
of the coop. The white spots are where I used some Quad on
screw holes. I'll touch them up once the Quad cures.
|August 26, 2013: MASSIVE update, part deau. I finally uploaded and processed the second batch of photos I've been sitting on for a while.
Not the smartest creatures on earth.
The girls have been in the coop for a few weeks now, and
they love it. They're active, seem to be happy, and love being
able to look outside. Now, I need to get the run completed so
they can actually be outside. The major push is to
get all of the hardware cloth up, around, and under the chicken
run. They don't need a roof on it to use it, as long as
they're supervised, so the priority is to get the run
usable and finish putting the roof up afterwards.
It may look a little goofy, but I'm mounting round
reflectors on all of the large run sections. My wife and I
are both scatterbrained and tend to get focused on things.
When we do that, we have a tendency to walk into things - doors,
etc. So, with some reflectors (bought at a surplus store for
$0.35 each), we hope to increase the visibility of the hardware
cloth panels a bit so we see them before we absentmindedly
try to walk through them.
While the morning was still cool, I got the rest of the
solar system trench backfilled and compacted.
I also got the steps squared away. I dug a little pit
underneath where the steps land in the run, and leveled it
roughly. Then, I added rock and compacted it, leveling it as
I went. Once I got done, the steps are level and solid, and
no more shims. Plus, now I can hardware cloth the floor of
the chicken run.
While chickens are cold-tolerant as long as you keep the
drafts closed up, they can struggle in the heat. Missouri
summers suck. I installed a wireless temperature and humidity
probe in the coop, so I'll get an alert if it gets too extreme
My buddy Kyle came over and helped with pouring the
concrete for the solar panel base. I snagged a 14 foot pole
from a surplus store nearby, and we got it installed, the
concrete poured, and the cables pulled. I also mounted and
wired the solar panel disconnect in the basement, and got the
disconnect labeled per the NEC. It's up and running now.
I took advantage of Kyle being here (he's like nine
foot twelve) and we got the ridge board up for the chicken run
roof. This will allow me to work on the rafters.
Even though the rafters aren't as much of a priority,
I still like to mix it up and work on different things here
and there. I get bored doing one thing for a long time. So,
I took a break from the other stuff and worked on some rafters.
I got the rough notches cut and then fit them closer to size
as I installed them. Blocks were installed between each one
on the top and bottom ends.
Once the rafters were up, I decided to spend another
hour on the run roof and get the battens up. The wiggle
mold will be installed on these, and then the roofing panels
will be installed.
If you recall, the door was going to hit the rafters.
It was unavoidable, I simply ran out of vertical space on the
south wall of the coop. So, I got out the trusty Sawzall, and
modified the door so it swings clear. It doesn't look real
great, but I can clean it up a bit with some trim board.
I also got the north side primed. The siding sheets are
pre-primed, but I feel better putting a coat on myself.
Especially after all the holes I put in them putting
them up (and missing studs every now and again). While I was
into the primer, I slapped another coat on some furring strips.
These will be going up very soon, as the hardware cloth is
getting closer to done around the run. Right now, it's just
stapled up, which is temporary.
The last thing I worked on was preparing the north side
of the coop for the hardware cloth that will go between the coop
and the ground.
|August 22, 2013: MASSIVE update time. The chickens have reached the event horizon, so I've spent the last three weeks working pretty much every waking moment to get this coop done. We had a number of things that were show-stoppers for moving the girls into their new home - the nesting box, the people door, the roost, and their feeder and waterer.
I started on the nesting box. When I sided the coop, I
cut it snug around all four sides of the nesting box. Probably
not a great idea - I had to mount the hinges for the lid, and
try to make it as watertight as possible. A brief rain shower
impressed me by showing just how much water can flow down the
side of a coop - there was an inch and a half of water collected
in the bottom of the nesting box! Good grief. So, I set the
depth on the circular saw very carefully, and notched the
siding where the hingest needed to go. I strugged to get a
strip of flashing slipped behind both the siding and the Tyvek,
but I finally got it. It's not perfect, and it might be a
temporary thing, but it seems to do the trick for now.
I got the windows trimmed out with some furring strips -
this is for chickens, they don't need fancy oak trim
or anything. Most importantly, this covers up the foam caulk
rope around the windows, so they don't peck it apart.
Once the windows were trimmed, I took a few minutes to
build a basic gravity feeder from a section of 4" PVC. It
was very simple, and will provide them a lot of feed and little
manual labor from us on a daily basis.
Intermission time. Some pictures of the girls in their
temporary run outside, while the real run is under construction.
Chickens are horribly filthy beasts. Not swine type
of filthy, but they're messy little bastards nevertheless.
As such, I installed a drain in the floor. With the linoleum,
a drain lets us get in there with a mop and water when we
really need to get a deep clean going on.
The people door, all primed and ready to go!
They also need their roost to move in, so I went to
town on that. The hinges needed to be mounted, the roost
boards needed to be fixated so they wouldn't rotate, and then
the entire assembly needed to be installed in the coop with
a few tie plates on the ceiling to fasten it to when it's
folded up and out of the way.
The people door was due for a good hangin'. So, we
hung it. I am well aware that the top right corner of the
door will hit the rafters of the chicken run's roof - there
simply isn't enough vertical space on the south wall, so I'll
have to adjust it later.
Since we are planning on using the deep litter method,
we needed a "dam" of sorts to keep the cedar shavings from
pouring out the door when we open it. So, a quick bit of work
with furring stips and a bit of leftover 1 x 6, and we have a
The nesting boxes are ready!
The major chicken containment items are ready!
The feeder and water are hung and ready!
I built a temporary grit and oyster shell feeder. When
the chicken run is done, they'll have all of this available
outside. Until then, we can use this.
Big HUGE check on the list.
|July 30, 2013: Well, lots of progress on a few different fronts. While we're a week past when I wanted the chickens in the coop, we're nearing the end and we should be working on the chicken run very soon.
I got the linoleum installed inside the coop on Friday
evening. No, it's not necessary, but it'll make cleaning the
coop much easier. I finished it up the following day
with some furring strips. We ran it up the wall for a few
inches where we could.
Durbin had some trenching to do as did I, so we went
together and split the cost of a trencher rental for a day.
We started at his place and got his done, then ended up at
our place to trench for the solar panels. We had about 75
feet or so to go, and there was no way I was going to dig
that by hand in the hard, sun-baked clay. We got the trench
completely done, so when we get the concrete poured for the
pole, we'll be able to install the solar panels!
In a spare moment, I got a second coat of primer on the
south, east, and west sofitts.
I also cut and mounted a piece of plywood to close off
the chicken door until the run is finished.
The lovely Mrs. Benny worked on a temporary chicken run
in the back yard, too. They're getting big, they're getting
grumpy, and they need some room to play/forage/etc. It's not
pretty, but it will give them some time to stretch their legs
and wings while I finish the chicken run.
After installing the temporary chicken door, we started
working on installing the hardware cloth over the windows. What
a pain in the butt - four inch screws with phillips heads are
HORRIBLE. Even with pilot holes, screwing four inch screws into
solid wood is almost impossible with phillips heads - they start
jumping, and if you're not incredibly careful, the
heads will strip. But, the long screws are necessary, that
cloth has to be solid.
Last but not least, my father-in-law worked for much of
the day on designing and building a folding roost for inside
the coop. It's not finished, but the design is sound and it
won't take it long to mount it and finish things up.
July 24, 2013: Hallelujah, the siding is done! I started
with the west end of the coop - not much siding there, the wall
is almost completely window. So, it's not perfect, but I
pieced it together. By doing that, I had enough siding to
finish the project without buying another sheet.
Here's a happy moment - about to make the last cuts on
the final sheet for the north side. I needed to cut a place
for the power outlets on that side.
The north siding goes up!
Now that the siding is up, I took a few minutes to punch
a hole through the east side to mount the network conduit
permanently this time.
Thank god, the siding is done. I still have trim to
put up to take care of the corners, etc, but the heavy lifting
part is done.
|July 22, 2013: We're on the home stretch now! The girls will be in the coop before the end of this coming weekend. And that's a good thing - they're getting huge. We took them outside one at a time yesterday and clipped their wings, and a few of them were pretty hard to control. Time to get them moved in ASAP.
This weekend was a lot of work (I was out working on
the coop before 7AM both days), but boy did we get a
lot done. A few updates from the second half of last week - I
got the people door built. I didn't get pictures of the
actual construction, but here it is after being glued and
screwed together. All of the crap piled up is to weight it
down and keep it as flat as possible while the glue cures.
In the second two pictures, you can see just how out-of-square
I let the doorway get when I framed the south wall. I'm sure
my father is rolling in his grave (he was a carpenter and a
craftsman), but I keep reminding myself - it's for f'ing
chickens. I can't hang it quite yet, I need the siding
up for that.
After the door, I started working on installing the
Tyvek housewrap. I think Lowe's should help sponsor this
entire project - I've spent eleventy billion dollars on this,
AND advertised them with their housewrap.
Despite all my mutterings, putting up housewrap solo
isn't the biggest pain in the ass in the world.
Taping it is. I got rolling on that while my wife
worked on priming and painting, and she jumped in on the
end of the taping. She agreed, it was a pain in the ass. And
that housewrap tape stinks.
The north wall gets its new paint.
The stairs are ready to go!
Construction in Missouri summers is a thirsty, thirsty
Then it was on to the siding. The siding is holding up
several pieces of this puzzle, namely mounting the lid on the
nesting box, hanging the people door, and installing the
hardware cloth screen over the outsides of the windows. The
east wall was first.
I started siding the south side, too.
I had to make a few cutouts for electrical stuff - I
needed power in quick, but I forgot to take into account the
thickness of the siding. The PVC is already glued, there's
no going back, life goes on. I'll clean them up the best I
can. The gap above the electrical disconnect is intentional,
the top of the disconnect has to lift straight up to remove,
so I'll have to figure out a way to make that look a little
Once I had the siding on the south up, I went ahead and
enlisted some help from my wife to get the stairs installed.
After a few SNAFUs with measuring incorrectly, we got them
mounted. I actually mounted them on hinges, so we can lift
them up and out of the way for cleaning or to get underneath
the coop. I'll mount a cleat on the side of the coop so we can
use a piece of rope or chain to hold the stairs up and out of
the way when we need to.
It's looking good - half the coop is sided!
|July 17, 2013: OK, no updates for quite a while, I've been too busy/exhausted. We're on the home stretch now - the chickens are getting HUGE, and they're starting to get a bit grumpy with each other in the brooder box. We can't go any bigger with the box - we don't have the basement space. So, I have to get the coop done.
I started the grind on the southern soffit and fascia.
It might be a bit overkill, but I installed a drip edge
around the bottom of the structure. This will prevent water
from following the bottom corner of the siding/sheathing and
saturating the bottom of the structure. Plus, it was all of
like $10 for all the flashing.
The fascia I had put up on the south side was a 1 x 4
like the northern one, but it didn't cover what I wanted - there
was still a gap on the top, between the roof deck and the fascia
board. So, I bought a 1 x 6, and actually mounted it *over* the
existing 1 x 4. It actually turned out quite nicely, it covered
the gap much better, and it closed the gap underneath.
Once I was satisfied with the southern soffit and
fascia, I moved onto priming the west soffit and vent.
Since the cheeping bastards are getting so big and things
are getting urgent, I took a day and a half off from work to
continue on the coop building marathon. I started on priming
the east fascia and soffit on Monday morning.
I was already in the priming zone, so I went ahead and
slapped another coat of primer on a bundle of furring strips.
These will be used for both "trim" inside the coop, as well as
the framing for the hardware cloth that will completely enclose
the chicken run.
Next up on the hit parade - I needed to get the nesting
box built. Really, this is the last truly large hurdle, as it's
a gaping hole in the east wall. They won't lay eggs for a little
while, but I need to seal up the envelope. The people door is
another, but that's a much simpler build. So, on with the
nesting box. I started by drawing out a very rough pattern on
some cardboard, and mocking it up somewhat. The measurements
are rough, but it's close enough to tell what is going to work,
and what isn't.
I then laid that out on 3/4" plywood, and cut one out.
A little wiggling, a LOT of rasping, and I got it adjusted to
a point where it would fit, and fit pretty well. I went ahead
and cut a second one, and got them both fitting nicely:
This took quite a while, but I'm glad I took my time and
fit everything carefully. I did some priming, and then used
the original pattern and adapted it a bit for the two partitions
between nesting bays. I cut them out and tested them for fit
as well (the short little strip of plywood is just there to
ensure that the back of the box will fit nice and flush once
the partitions are installed).
At some point during the day, I also trimmed up the
spray foam I used to somewhat seal up the gaps between the
roofing material and the fascia board. A coat of primer went
on that as well.
The next day was all about finishing up the nesting
boxes. I got the lid cut which included beveling the top
edge at 14 degrees so it will fit flush once the siding is on.
I also got the partitions square and plumb and installed them,
and then put a coat of primer on them.
July 08, 2013: It's been a long several days, but we
got a lot done. I started by getting the rest of the
inside of the coop primed and ready for paint, and got the
electrical I had to move to prime back up.
I worked for half a day on July 4th - I wanted to at
least get something done, but I also wanted to enjoy
the holiday with my family, too. I started by cutting and
installing a few trim boards inside the coop. They're not
really "trim" persay, as they're just furring strips that I'm
using to seal up some of the seams and corners. Trim, in my
mind, is nice wood and mitered corners and such. These are
just cheap wood and help clean up the appearance a bit.
Nevertheless, they make things look a bit better.
|Once I got those up and a first coat of primer on them, I started setting up ladders and working on the north gutter. We intend to have a basic water catchment system so we can use rainwater to care for the chickens as much as we can. We may get enough rain in a season to do it, we may not. But it'll be nice to not have to haul water the entire year. I started by stringing a chalk line across the fascia board, and accounting for a slight incline so water will drain. I dropped about 0.25" across a 10' span.
With a chalk line to follow, I then mounted the PVC
gutter brackets with screws. Once they were up, I cut the
cutter section to install the drop outlet (where the water
goes down out of the gutter), and then popped everything into
place. The last step was to loosely install a length of black
plastic mesh in the cutter itself, to keep some of the leaves
And of course, the ten foot section of PVC gutter
I bought was about three inches too short, once I took into
account the west overhang and the drop outlet. I stubbornly
refuse to buy another full section of gutter just to cover that
three inches. I may change my mind once I install the gutter
on the south side, and I'll be short again.
Unfortunately, I had to work the day after the holiday,
so I couldn't get a full day's work in on the coop. But I
was still able to get about a half day in. I got the electrical
roughed in for the IP camera that will help us watch on the
girls, and figured out that the network box and power box for
said camera were too close together, I'll have to move the
network box. Oh well, not a huge problem.
The next day, I got started early in the morning since
it was going to get hot. I had to dig the holes for the 4x4
posts for the chicken run. And oh lord, is that ground bad -
it's heavily compacted, it's got a lot of clay in it, and it
was as hard as a rock. It took me almost six hours of
back-breaking work to dig six holes approximately 24" deep
each. One of the holes was bad enough that each stab with the
trenching shovel would only take about a quarter of an inch
with each bite. That day just about killed me.
About halfway through that day, I deeply regretted not
having Durbin bore the holes for the posts. But, the hole
digger he has is a 12" auger, and that was a bit larger than I
wanted, especially since one of the holes was right next to my
two buried conduit runs for the power and network. So, I dug.
And dug. And after that, we went to Lowe's. Durbin was coming
over the next morning, so we needed to get all the treated
lumber for the chicken run. Again, people, buy Lowe's stock.
It's a pretty safe bet right now.
It was R-Day (chicken run day). It was also hot as
balls, which sucked. But, Durbin came over, and he knows how
to do this stuff very well, so it was infinitely helpful to
have a second set of hands that knew what he was doing. We
started putting up the run walls, without the concrete
in the holes. It was the opposite of what I would have tried,
but it made getting everything square, plumb, and level much
|July 03, 2013: OK, here are the pictures I took the other night, but never uploaded.
I got the west vent screened in - that wraps those up,
they're ready for chickens except for priming and painting.
I added short 2x4 blocking mounted perpendicular from
the sheathing out to the ends of the rafters, and then trimmed
the rafters off with my Sawzall. That did a few things for me -
it gave me a more-or-less level surface to screw the soffit to,
and it gave me a consistent length for the rafters.
The Sawzall and I got a bit crazy on the west end - it
wasn't real easy to balance on top of a ladder and trim these
rafters cutting upside down, so I cut into a bit of the roofing
along the edge. Not a big deal, I'll zip another screw in the
short strip to the left, and seal it up with some Quad.
And then I mounted the fascia board, using the newly-cut
After the fascia went up, I commandeered the other 1x4
to build the soffit. I figured it would be better to get one
side done than have two sides half done.
Once the soffit was up, I took a rasp to things and
smoothed out a few rough parts. Once it was "good enough", I
threw a coat of primer on it. Since this is an outside surface,
I'll put three coats of primer on for extra protection.
When I was done with that, I moved back into the coop
and finished up with the west wall's sheathing. It was just a
bunch of little strips getting puzzle-pieced together.
To wrap up, I started priming the north wall.
|June 30, 2013: Another week, and a lot of progress!
First off, the roof is done! Oh thank the lordy jeebus,
the roof is done!
I also got the ceiling sheathed.
Before I called it a night, I insulated part of the
south wall, and I roughed in some of the power.
And then, of course, I ran out of insulation. So, yet
another Lowe's run. If you're into investing, LOW (Lowe's)
is a pretty safe bet right now. On with the insulating:
I didn't really like the roughed in electrical, so I
redid it a bit - the box on the right is the light switch,
and the box on the left is a convenience outlet. Oh the bliss
of having electricity inside the coop! Very convenient
The next day, I dove back into sheathing the inside of
The north wall got the same treatment the next morning:
For some damned reason, I stubbed out some Sealtite to
the left of the light fixture. I don't know why, I think we
had discussed putting the IP camera in that corner at some
point, and apparently it stuck in my head. I went ahead and
left it, terminating it in a four square for future use if
we need it for a heater or something.
On to the vents on either end - these will be open during
the summer, and will most likely be sealed up during the
winter, depending on how much ventilation the girls need. I
cut some 2x4s and framed them out. Cutting the angles was a
challenge, but I think they fit together quite nicely.
I punched the conduit for the IP camera through the east
wall. Unfortunately, the hole saw I have isn't deep enough
to make it through the wall in one shot, so I had to take a run
at it from outside, and then again from the inside. Of
course, I didn't get them lined up properly, so I'll
have to take care of the gaps.
Before I called it a night, I installed the 1/4"
hardware cloth screen in the east vent. I cut it for the
opening, then sandwiched it against the 2x4 framing with
furring strips. The strips are pretty low quality (they're
just made from crap wood), so I used 2" exterior-grade screws
and 3/16" fender washers. That way, if the strips split, the
screen will still be secured.
|June 24, 2013: It was a long, hot weekend. But, we got a LOT done.
We started on the roof. God, how I love that job - a
swiss seat squeezing the jewels, kneeling for an hour or two
on an incline leaning back against the rope while drilling
and screwing and Quad-ing. Bleah. But, we got five sheets
up. Unfortunately, we needed six (when I bought the roofing
material, I wasn't sure how much of an overhang we would put
on the west side). We'll get a sixth sheet tonight and finish
it up. I will also pick up some more wiggle mold, the roofing
material needs a bit more support along the top and bottom
edges (you can see how much "slop" there is). I'll also be
cutting off the excess material at the bottom.
We also got the south window installed.
After all of that, I was pretty wiped out and it was
getting late in the day to start another major push. I fiddled
around getting some small things done, like cutting out the
space for the nesting boxes, cutting out the triangle-shaped
ventilation at the top of the east wall, and weatherproofing
around the windows with some foam rope.
The south and east walls are really coming together!
|June 22, 2013: I've been really bad about taking pictures, but we have been busting our asses all week on the coop. I took a lot of pictures today, showing our progress.
Earlier in the week, I started sheathing the outside of
the north wall. In the third picture, you can see how I notched
the sheathing to slip around the rafters.
|I had to wait on sheathing the rest of the north wall, as the double duplex box for the convenience outlets would have to be replaced (I accidentally dropped a 2x4 brace on it and broke two of the four mounting ears). The 1/2" PVC conduit feeding it would also need to be replaced (the one that I installed originally didn't take the thickness of the sheathing into account).
So, I started sheathing the south wall. It's the largest
of the walls, but it doesn't have much sheathing at all -
almost everything is either doorway or window. So, instead of
cutting up full sheets of plywood to sheath it, I just pieced
together scraps. As you can see, I did well with some of them,
but not so good with others.
Because the power disconnect was installed before the
sheathing went on, I had to kill power again and reinstall the
disconnect and conduit running to the double duplex convenience
outlet box on the north side.
Once the disconnect was reinstalled over the sheathing,
it was a good time to rough in the power for inside the coop.
We'll have two sets of outlets inside (one for the IP camera,
one for miscellaneous maintenance/cleaning/etc.
June 18, 2013: After the weekend, I was pretty beat
up - leaning back against that rope while straddling rafters
and nailing roofing felt really isn't all that much fun. But,
the chicks are getting HUGE, and I feel the clock ticking.
No rest for the weary, on to sheathing the coop!
I just cut the sheathing to size/shape, and put it up -
it's much easier to just get it up and then cut
out the openings for the nesting boxes, so this view from
inside the coop shows the space that I'll need to cut.
The west wall is almost entirely window - the one we
got off Craigslist was 3' wide and 5' tall, so it literally
is the west wall. Because of that, we just sheathed
the wall using scraps of plywood, and I got the window in.
I was running out of energy, so it's just nailed in for now.
Tonight, I'll level and shim it properly, before fastening it
in for good.
|June 16, 2013: The past weekend was both a washout and a success. On Saturday, we made [yet another] major Lowe's run to pick up the bulk of the remaining materials. A little over $350 later, we drove all the way across the city to meet someone from Craigslist - we picked up a vinyl window for a great price. And it tilts in for cleaning! Yeah, yeah, overkill, but it's nice to find a window that was large, opens for ventilation, and under $100.
|Unfortunately, a storm blew in just as I was setting up to start working on Saturday afternoon, so I really didn't get any actual work done. Well, it's good to have most of the materials now, in any case.
However, my wife's parents came up to help on Sunday.
The day started out looking pretty shaky with a heavy mist
coming down, but that finally quit about 10:00 or 10:30.
It left the day armpit-swampy, but at least we could work.
We started out by getting the east and west overhangs framed
for the roof. I again remind you I'm not an expert, so I'm
pretty sure my roof-building is a bit .. unconventional.
It's pretty sturdy, though, and I already had a sistered
2 x 4 pair that I had to cut out of the west wall to fit
the window we picked up. I figured that (and the extra
blocking) would give it a little extra support. Once the
chicken run starts going up, there will be a 4 x 4 in the
corner to help support the extra wide overhang on the west
Once the overhangs were ready, we cut and installed
the roof decking. We used 15/32" plywood, mostly because of
the lower cost. I would have rather used 3/4", but that was
damned expensive. All three sheets are glued and screwed
into the rathers. There's some wave to the deck, but that
will straighten out a bit more with the fascia boards, the
roofing material, and with some additional support I'm going
to add underneath the deck to help support the seams a bit
We cut the roofing felt to length, plus about eight
inches or so. I wanted some extra to wrap the edges of the
deck when I start to trim it all out.
Next, I strapped myself into a swiss seat. I tacked
up a 2 x 4 across the front (high) edge of the roof, and then
threw a rope over the roof. The 2 x 4 was to protect the
edge of the plywood and give a stronger edge for the rope.
I attached to the rope and climbed out onto the roof, using
the rope to brace myself (and catch myself if I slipped on
the slick plywood). My wife handed up the precut rolls of
roofing felt, and I laid and nailed it all down.
|June 14, 2013: Well, I haven't really taken pictures this week, but I *have* been busy - I got all the rafters cut, and kind of figured out how the roof was going to go together. I'm sure it isn't the way real professionals build a roof, but, well - this is a chicken coop, not Trump Tower.
So, tonight I installed all the rafters. There are
seven of them, not quite 16 inches on center (I opted to
add one more and have less than 16 inches between, rather
than one less rafter and a longer span). And here they
Here is a closer look at how I stabilized the rafters,
and keep them from twisting. I cut 2x4 blocks to fit between
the rafters on the upper and lower plates. I bet there's a
better way to do this. I also bet this will work just fine.
And finally, I added a set of blocks halfway up the
span. This will add stability and will stiffen the roof, and
will give me an additional point to fasten the roofing panels.
|Next up on the hit parade - the roof goes up tomorrow!
June 09, 2013: The fourth wall is up! I framed and
installed the south wall of the coop today. The south wall
is where the door and largest window will be, as well as the
door for the chickens. Unfortunately, about half way into
the wall, I realized that it wasn't completely square. By
that time, I had glued and screwed an awful lot of lumber,
so going back to tweak was mostly out of the question. So
I made a command decision - I decided to erect the wall
before it was finished.
Then, it was on to framing up the rest of the wall.
I'm going to build the door instead of buying something, so
if the doorway isn't exactly perfect it's not a huge deal.
The window, however, doesn't give me that flexibility, so
I wanted to make sure it was plumb and square. I started
with the window sill and cripple studs:
Once I was done, the window opening was plumb, level,
and square. If you look closely, you can tell that the
doorway is not, while the window opening is. I'm
not going to worry about that... This is a chicken coop,
not a McMansion.
Once the south wall was done, I still had some fight
left in me, so I started building the rafters. I did a little
research on YouTube, and cut the bird's mouths on two rafters.
They fit pretty well!
June 06, 2013: Progress on a few fronts this
week... Our chicks showed up on Tuesday, and are now
hanging out in a brooder box in the basement:
Here are a few pictures of the network and power that
I trenched in. I got the permanent boxes installed last
weekend but didn't get pictures of them. This is a 6" x 6"
PVC pull box that I used to break out the two network runs
I pulled. I used outdoor-rated direct burial CAT5 cable,
type STP (shielded twisted pair). I did bury it in schedule
40 conduit, that provides a good layer of protection for the
cable itself, even though it is rated for burial.
I'd rather have it in conduit for the additional level of
protection from moisture and physical damage. I used STP
because it's only an inch or two from the power, so I wanted
shielded so it wouldn't pick up all the interference from
the AC current being so close. There are two runs - one to
the garden, and the other will go to an IP camera inside
the coop itself.
This is the electrical disconnect for the power.
It allows me to de-energize the power to the coop and
shed completely, and is required by the NEC. The second
picture is of a double duplex box I mounted on the outside
of the coop (and outside of where the run will be) to
provide power for maintenance/construction/normal tasks
around the coop and garden. It has a weatherproof cover
that allows me to have things plugged in even when the
weather isn't good. The entire circuit is protected by
a GFCI breaker in the generator panel in the basement.
I framed and raised the west wall today, too. I just
framed out the outline of the wall, because I don't have the
window for it yet. Once I have a window, I can frame the
rest of it for the correct size.
|June 01, 2013: It's been a busy day! I didn't take any pictures of it, but I started with wiring up the permanent power to the coop and shed. I had been using a 25' Sealtite whip connected to the conduit I trenched in as kind of a makeshift extension cord. I mounted the disconnect on the side of the floor platform, and wired up a double duplex box with four receptacles on the north side of the coop for power. I then wired the Sealtite that I trenched to the shed into that box, so everything is nice and permanent.
|Once I got that wrapped up, I started measuring and cutting lumber for the north wall. That will be the shortest wall - we decided to make it about 5' high. I'll have to lean down a bit, but the roof will slope up to the south, so that's OK.
I started by marking out the top and bottom plate
of the north wall for studs:
Because the floor is essentially 4' x 8', I used two
true 8' 2 x 4 pieces for the plates.
Once I got the plates marked, I laid everything out:
Then I applied the "Mike Holmes" method - glue it and
And then, it was time to raise it!
I jumped right in on the east wall. The nesting boxes
will be on this wall, and will be about 12" high. They
will actually jut out from the side of the coop, to allow
gathering eggs without actually going inside. I am not
entirely sure how I want to build them, but that's more
of a trim detail than a framing detail, so I started by
basically framing out a 12" high opening, and then put a
light duty header over then framing in studs above.
Here is the finished wall, ready to install.
And here it is, after getting everything level and
Here is a closer look at the opening I framed for
the nesting boxes. The coop is small and the roof will
be very light, so I didn't bother with a real 2 x 8 or
2 x 10 header across the opening - a pair of sistered
2 x 4s will carry the load just fine:
|May 29, 2013: Well, one of the footings we poured back in April turned out to be bad. It was like the hole stayed too wet, or perhaps one of the bags of Quikrete 5000 didn't have enough cement in it, but it just fell over when I took a Sawzall to the J-bolt in the top. It literally crumbled and fell over. So, I wasted a lot of time digging that back out.
|We got that taken care of two weekends ago; I opted for the lazy way out, and replaced the 8" sonotube with a 12" tube (that was the size of the hole, I figured it'd be considerably easier to just slip it snugly into the hole and be done). That has had time to cure, so onwards!
Here is the base now, with the one large footing.
It looks goofy, but I was tired of wasting time. You can
see the temporary power pulled through - that's the Sealtite
running from the J-box to the shed.
We also got the garden worked up with a hand tiller
(I dubbed the tiller "The Destroyer Of Worlds and Benny's
Back"), and got some plants in the ground. They're not all
going to make it, but they're looking pretty good for the
first year so far. These pictures are from a little over
a week ago, so the plants aren't all that visible yet.
I tilled up a separate patch for asparagus:
I also got the hot and ground feeds trenched in for the
electric fence around the garden. Because I'm alternating
hot and ground wires, I can't just rely on earth ground, so
I trenched in two separate 1/2" conduits. I installed a
high-voltage disconnect on the side of the shed, so we can
de-energize the garden fence while we're working out there,
while leaving the fence around the chicken run hot.
Here is one of the lightning protectors installed on
the garden fence. It's kind of out in the middle of an open
area (and we live on a hill), so I wanted to add some
protection. This unit will shunt a lightning strike to ground
through a little gas tube underneath the plexiglas cone at
the top. Also notice the yellow warning sign; there are ten
of them around the perimeter. That's just CYA in case an
idiot gets shocked and tries to complain that they didn't know
the fence was hot.
Speaking of idiots, I've got an IP camera watching
over the garden. That's just as much to watch the wildlife,
as well as evildoers hitting the fence.
We also have strung out some soaker hoses. We're just
about floating right now with all the rain we've gotten, but
that'll change later on in the Missouri summer.
|April 15, 2013: Yesterday, we poured the footings for the chicken coop. I used 8" sonotubes, one in each corner. We ended up using just shy of 1100 pounds of concrete mix (that's just the dry mix, much more once water was added and mixed in). That totals out to about 8.1 cubic feet.
We filled the bottoms of the holes with concrete,
then set the sonotubes in and starting filling the tubes.
Once the tubes were solid, we added rebar and plumbed them
up. A little backfill to keep them in place, and then we
filled the rest up and sunk a J-bolt into the top. That's
what the metal brackets will fasten to:
I also got the conduits punched through our crappy siding
and run to where they need to go - one to the generator
breaker panel for power, and one to a J-box for network. We're
planning on having a few IP cameras in the coop, so we can keep
an eye on the girls:
I screwed up when I measured my conduit, it's about
seven or eight inches from the footing. I can't have it
unsupported, so I'll probably just dig up the elbows and
extend them another six or eight inches, so I can fasten them
securely to the new concrete column:
|April 07, 2013: Wheeee, we finally broke ground on our chicken coop! A buddy of mine came over with his tractor, hole auger, and plow. There's a lot to be said about having the right tools to do a job - he was able to bore five 12" holes for footings, and plow and till the garden in two hours. It would have taken me four or five days, and it would have been backbreaking.
The solar panels are going to be mounted on a pole
south of the house, where there are no trees to shade them.
I had originally planned on putting them directly west of
the house, but they'd be partially shaded in the winter,
and I'm not 100% sure of where the septic line runs in
the back yard. So, last minute change, we bored the hole
for the footing right south of our grill patio. It'll
make for a longer cable run (which isn't good when dealing
with low voltage DC current), but it'll have better exposure
to the sun. If you click on the picture to view the large
image, you can just barely see the ground rod sunk next to
the hole. This will be for the equipment ground at the
The chicken coop will be directly north of the house,
next to our ramshackle shed. The coop will be 4' by 8', and
will be surrounded by a run. The total footprint will be
about 8' by 10' or so. The four footings are approximately
4' x 8', and will be directly under the coop:
The garden is going to the north of said shed, where the
previous owners had corn. Durbin and his tractor plowed up
the terraces that were there, and then tilled the soil. It's
still a little rough, but I can knock the rest down with a
We live in the country, and with country living
comes critters. We have critters, and lots of them -
opossums, skunks, racoons, deer, rabbits, dogs (strays and
dogs that run), just about everything. Unfortunately, all
of the above will destroy a garden. So, we're putting an
electric fence around the garden:
It's going to have seven strands, alternating hot wires
and ground wires, and surrounds the entire garden with a three
to four foot border:
The little green doohickey at the top is a Gallagher
Live Lite - it will flash with every pulse from the fence
charger, so we know at a glance if the fence is hot or not.
I'll be installing a few high-voltage knife switches, so we
can de-energize the garden fence while we're working on it,
or de-energize the fence that will go around the chicken
coop while we're taking care of them.