Monday, February 6, 2017

Problems Detected & Coop Erected

THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU to Rick & Judy for coming out to our ranch-in-progress and getting this coop standing.  There is no way Brandon and I would have been able to cut the lumber and make the footings level without your help! 

Additional disclaimer: I've been sick with bronchitis for the past week so really all of this work was done by Brandon, Rick, and Judy. We definitely owe Rick and Judy fresh eggs and veggies for the rest of our lives.

Supply Run

Now that we've made it out of the rainiest part of the winter, B and I decided it was time to start getting this coop back together. Last weekend, we both had a day off so we used that day to take a trip to Home Depot - the land of infinite building materials and surprisingly sparse staffing. We eventually found (read: hunted down) a person to help us, found everything we needed, and headed home to start digging a hole in the ground for the coop legs to be set in:
  • Four pressure-treated (PT) 4x4s (4 ft long)
  • Six cinder blocks 
  • Anchoring cement
Not far into digging the 4' x 6' footprint, we discovered this treasure.

After a few attempts to dig it out or smash it to bits (neither of which were successful), I had the idea: if we can't move it or work around it, let's work WITH it!

This cement patch happened to (fortunately) have a hole perfectly fit for a 4x4. The location of the patch wasn't exactly where we had initially planned for the corners to be, but adjusting our plan by a couple feet was not a big issue. It worked out surprisingly well for such an odd find.

Coop Footings 

The footings are very important because the posts have to do two VERY IMPORTANT things:
  1. Support the weight of the coop (approx. 600 lbs)
  2. Not rot or decay over time
Number 2 is hard to avoid when putting wood in the ground, but we're hoping to slow the rotting process by using pressure treated lumber AND by securing the posts in cement to minimize direct exposure to the soil. Each post (except out special guy, the right-most corner in this pic) is stacked 2 cinder blocks high, with our predator-proof hardware cloth sandwiched between the two blocks.

'Coon Proofing

Raccoons are a natural born enemy to any chicken raiser. They kill for pleasure, they can get into almost anything, and they will take out a whole flock. Don't be fooled by their cute tails and masks, these fellas are RUTHLESS. 

From what I know from experience plus hours of forum searching on, the best way to predator-proof your coop is to have a continuous layer of hardware cloth (a.k.a rabbit wire) buried under the coop and run that connects to the bottom frame. This way, nothing can dig tunnels under the coop to get to your precious lady birds.

 In our case, the pieces of hardware cloth were not wide enough to cover the entire bottom, so we are connecting two panels with zip ties. Zip ties are great because they won't degrade in the soil, and they're cheap so it's easy to add a LOT of them to secure the wire bottom.

From the Ground Up

Now that the legs were in the ground and the cement had dried, it was time to get the coop onto it! Earlier in the week, B and I figured out how to remove the "walls" and roof in one piece off of the coop floor, after we figured out how to remove the antique windows. Not bad for a sick day!

Holy hell, those windows were at least 50 lbs each and the walls+roof cut the remaining weight down by two thirds, at least. Left with just the bottom stage, they had something they could actually lift and secure to the posts.

Continuing the bottom-up construction, Rick, Brandon and Judy lifted the walls and roof onto the bottom and screwed it all back together with the salvaged deck screws.

And with that, the coop was officially erected! Have I used that word enough? I mean in the not-dirty sense... it's just the best term for this particular step, OKAY!?

On the day of the coop erection (Saturday, Feb 4th), I was out all day working and learning to compost (more on that later). Brandon was texting me pictures throughout the day and I was nearly in tears of joy when I came home to find THIS BEAUTY:

The coop is gorgeous, sturdy, and finally starting to look more like a structure than a pile of lumber. The next step in this process will be to dig out the footprint for the run, to the right of the coop. The run is a 4' x 8' rectangle, but the walls are mostly still intact. I definitely see more digging, PT lumber, and trips to Home Depot in our future.

Keep your eyes peeled for updates on our composting situation! And feel free to send us your thoughts by commenting below!

No comments:

Post a Comment