Sunday, December 25, 2016

Storm Coopers

First off, Merry Christmas to you and yours! Happy Hanukkah, Joyous Kwanzaa, and Happy all the rest of the Holidays too! I hope anyone who is reading this is happy and well.

That's me, cold and damp and barely caffeinated picking
up a UHaul. Notice the extra curls in my hair due to the
humidity. Thanks rain!

Now for the adventure recap: 

WE DID IT, Y'ALL! We rented the truck, got up at the crack of dawn, grabbed our tools and rain coats and headed out to dismantle this coop! And of course, it rained for nearly the ENTIRE TWO DAYS it took us to complete this thing. This is especially odd because it almost never rains down here and we just so happened to pick THIS weekend to do some intense, outdoor, manual labor.


This is how the coop looked when we arrived. Notice the stormy weather, muddy jeans, and soaked raincoats. The cool thing about this was that the coop (proper) -- that's the white enclosed box shelter, raised off the ground -- stayed completely dry inside! And since I'm about half the size of Brandon, I did all the climbing around inside it to pull out deck screws and such.

The first thing we tackled was the nesting box, which is where hens will go to lay their eggs. This coop is laid out such that the nesting box has its own lid that can be lifted up to collect eggs without having to crawl into the coop itself.
It was probably a poor first choice, considering this was one of the most technically complex parts of this giant 3-D puzzle.

But, we did it! And it only took us about an hour and a half to get it off (just the nesting box, that is).

< A view from inside the coop. Brandon is standing outside the coop, behind the nesting box as I free the 2x4s that are screwed to the frame of the coop wall. 

Once the nesting box was off, the coop looked more like a giant cube. Not a true cube, at 4' x 6' x 4' - but it still weighed about 600 lbs. So we decided to move on to dismantling the run. A chicken run is an enclosed pen that allows chickens access to the soil and usually has walls made of either chicken wire or 1/2" hardware cloth. In our case, the walls (and bottom, which is an EXCELLENT anti-predator mechanism) are all lined with heavy duty hardware cloth.

Notice also that the floor of the coop has black rubber mats. This is an awesome idea, and it protects the plywood floor from chicken poop stains and makes the whole thing much easier to clean. The woman who designed this coop really knew what she wanted and knew exactly how to make it happen!

Once the run was down (for which I have to credit Brandon entirely because I had to leave to go to work for 2 hours in the middle of the day), we had only one problem left: the massive, heavy coop itself. The run was easy to take apart since it was entirely frames made of 2x4s and covered in hardware cloth; not too heavy, just big and unwieldy.

The coop was lifted off the ground on wooden support beams, but once the Simpson ties and deck screws were out, it became very clear that the actual wood holding up this coop was pretty weak and rotted out. By this point it was completely dark, still sprinkling a little, and we knew that we couldn't lift this thing off its legs with just 3 of us (me, Brandon, and Brandi - the woman who built the coop). So we tried to reduce the weight by removing the plywood and chipboard walls. But it was still way too heavy, and we couldn't take off the roof without climbing on top of the very structure that we just made incredibly unstable by taking off the supports' Simpson ties and such.

So we went a different route: let gravity do its thing and allow entropy to increase. We got behind the coop and LITERALLY PUSHED IT OVER ONTO THE GRASS - without even a wiggle in the frame structure! This thing is SOLID. The antique windows didn't even crack from the fall.

Once it was on the ground, we could easily scoot it onto the 2 furniture dollies we rented from UHaul and wheel it out of the yard. We had to take apart a small garden structure in order to fit the damn thing through the entrance to the yard but at that point, taking 5 or 10 deck screws out of some 2x4s was no biggie. At this point we had also recruited the help of Brandi's husband, Christian. With 4 of us, we were able to lift the whole coop -- still mostly assembled -- into the truck with no more than 1/2 inch of clearance all around. 😅 After all that, we decided to call it a night.

Day 2

After a shower, a meal, and a good night's sleep we were ready to take everything out of the truck. Luckily, we had some amazing volunteers: Judy (Brandon's mom), and Jany!

Together we scooted the coop out of the truck, placed logs and and rocks under it to hold it above the dirt during the storm, and then took the rest of the day off, preparing for TWO Christmas parties. It's been a hectic last few days, to say the least!

But the good news is, we now have a beautiful coop and lots of high-quality lumber to rebuild what we took apart. AND! We learned SO MUCH about construction, coop design, and our own limits and capabilities.

Merry Christmas, y'all, and thanks for keeping up with us. B and I are headed to Tahoe with his family for the next week, but we'll be back with more shenanigans after the new year. See you in 2017!

Look at this beautiful blue sky after the rain!

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