Here in Santa Fe, not only are we surrounded by our beautiful mountains and fantastic open spaces but we also have a rich culture and history, lots of conveniences and the wonderful ability to keep as many chickens as we’d like in our very own back yards!
Well, with the addition of our Newbies, we’ve found it necessary to expand our chickens living space. This started out as an idea and came (mostly) to fruition this weekend. You know how things can look very different on paper than they do in real life? That’s kind of what happened here. I had no idea that we would spend (literally) all weekend working on this project and STILL have work to do!
To give you a little background, we decided last year that, if we were going to get chickens, we would give them the best life possible. We established a space on the side of our house in our backyard for them where we had tried to grow food but couldn’t (it never gets enough sun, no matter what time of year it is). We built them a coop and established a little fenced in yard for them that is approximately 9 feet by 15 feet. We felt this would be plenty of space for them to root around when they are not being allowed out into the yard with us.
First, let’s start by talking about what didn’t work with our old coop that was addressed in the new coop.
1) The roof was too pitched which created a too small living space
2) There was no roost. Well, there was a roost, but it was too close to the roof so the chickens wouldn’t fit (see #1)
3) It was too small for the Newbies and the Originals
4) It was nearly impossible to refresh their water and food (it was supposed to hang from two hook inside the first floor but it hurt our backs to try to get it in there)
5) We cut little doors in the back to be able to better access the nesting boxes and therefore the yummy eggs, but in doing so created lots of holes and cracks for the cold/rain/snow to get through all winter long
6) To fix #4, we tied a tarp over the whole thing all winter which just looked…well…gross
7) There was wasted space behind the coop because the ivy never grew (probably because we continuously trampled it to get to the eggs)
|Aerial view of the coop and Chicken yard with the tarp. Again, gross.|
|Here’s the front of the coop from inside their “yard”|
|Aerial view of the coop and the chicken yard, minus the tarp|
Tool Lady sat down with several different coop plans and adapted them all until she came up with something that seemed like it might work for us.
So, here’s what has happened this weekend (besides several trips to Lowe’s)…
We moved out the old coop and are using the bottom half of it for the Newbies within the Chicken Yard. There comes a time in every cute little chicks life when it just gets too big and too damn stinky to be in its brooder in the garage any longer. They are now living in one half of the chickens yard, but sectioned off from the Originals for a little bit longer. They are very excited to be outside and even gave themselves their very first dirt bath!
Then, Tool Lady pulled out the Ivy we planted behind the original coop space and I leveled out the ground for the soon to be expanded living space. Oh! Also during this process, an old compost bin had to be moved! We emptied it’s contents into our active compost pile and still haven’t figured out what to do with the old bin. Dog poop compost???
|Chicken coop framing|
|More chicken coop framing|
Here you can see their new roost!!! And to the right are the new nesting boxes. There are four in total. While the area under their roost is covered in wire mesh (so they just poop straight onto the ground), the area by their nesting boxes has a solid foundation to help keep them warmer in colder months.
Then we put on the roof, painted all the walls, attached all the hardware, insulated most of the cracks (if there is a way to cut plywood and screw it all together and leave zero cracks, we have not yet found that way), re-attached the netting that goes over the top of the whole chicken yard (this keeps out the crazy, stalker neighborhood cats), fixed up the part of their fence we destroyed through the whole process and tried our best to not get blown away by the insane wind we had today!
Here are a couple of pictures of the (almost) finished project!
|These two drop down doors lead to the
four nesting boxes! Super easy & convenient
(we don’t have to enter the chicken yard or trip
over ivy to get to them)!
|Aerial view of the new coop and the chicken yard.
Note that it is sectioned off for the Newbies and the Originals.
As soon as the Newbies officially join the flock,
their yard will be all open again.
The coop is now four feet by 10 feet and two stories (about 6 feet) tall. That’s a lot of space for (soon to be) 9 chickens! I guess that means our flock really can grow!!!
You might ask why we chose the colors brown and blue for the coop…Well, while brown is not my favorite color of the rainbow, it does camouflage the massive mansion that now sits in our backyard. It blends nicely with the color of our wall and the stucco of our house and you almost can’t see it from the road 😉 The blue was to give it a pop of color and I really love this blue!
At this point I’d consider it all about 95% done. What do we still need to do???
- Add some more insulation
- Put up some brand new netting (it all got a little torn in the process of the renovation)
- Touch up some of the paint
- Move the Newbies in and the old coop out
What have we learned form this whole process?
- Measure twice, cut once
- Foam insulation is super cool, super gross and is super super hard to get off your hands
- Bigger IS better (at least when it comes to a growing flock)
- Lumber is always more expensive than you think it will be
I am so excited about this new coop. And about the Red Stripe in my hand. And about the idea of sitting on the couch for the remainder of my weekend.