Big Homestead Project Day: Chicken Coop Build!

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Big ol wolf spider

Today the boys and I built a new chicken coop. Sophie was with my mom, getting a dress for my sister's wedding, and Melissa was out doing her side hustle shopping for folks. Lots of other cool stuff, but that was the main focus today: getting the coop built and ready for Melissa to paint it.

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Baby corn in the little corn patch!

I was really excited to see most of our corn coming up in the little patch that we re-planted last week. Corn is such an exciting plant for me. For thousands of years it's been grown here, developed by people, for people, and civilizations were built on the corn they could grow. Yeah I know, there's a lot of perversion in the realm of modern corn, but I don't think I'm participating in that. I'm working on connecting to this soil and lifeway's of indigenous people here, and corn is helping me do that.

Lots of nature was going on today too. We saw a giant wolf spider under the stack of pallets that I had to move. Funny how starting a project makes an enormous mess. With the project done now, I think the whole patio is covered in the remnants of four or five pallets, two or three short stacks of whole pallets, nails, sawdust, pieces of IBC totes, chairs, and God knows what else. I went out one day last week and started "cleaning" and got a bee in my bonnet to build a chicken coop. Still haven't cleaned.

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Farmer Sam, showing off the front panel of the coop

As things came together, I was excited to find a reason to fire up the 3D printer today. I only had enough spare hinges laying around for the front panel to open for cleaning, not enough for the chicken door. So I set some to print as I was working. It's cool to have automated work going on while I do productive things.

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Return of the asps

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3D printed hinges for the chicken door

All in all, today was right about eight hours of work. Plus probably two more hours before today that were spent breaking down pallets and the crate I brought home last week. I think the grand total for materials comes out to four partial pallets, one shipping crate, seven feet of rabbit wire, and most of a box of screws.

I'll be making a lock for the chicken door too. It isn't predator safe to just have the door unsecured. I don't want to lose these birds like the first flock, so I designed the coop to be easy to secure. I'll put up the electric fence like we used to have as well.

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Chicken coop floor

I haven't decided yet if I'm going to put trays in the bottom of the coop or if I'll just collect poo with the leaves and wood shavings I'll use as a floor covering. The floor is 16 gauge rabbit wire, wrapped up the sides and screwed down with wood to be nice and secure. If I'd had that in the original coop from way back when, that critter wouldn't have crawled in the bottom and ate all my birds. The window is the same way; wire sandwiched between wood frames. The original coop didn't have any specific ventilation system built into it. That can be an immune threat to the birds, making moisture, ammonia, and heat in their living quarters. Not safe. So I made the floor breathable and put on a window up high on the back. The site I read said you want one square foot of vent per ten square feet of floor. Well, not counting the vented floor, the window makes almost double that.

I still want to build a couple of nesting buckets onto the side like I used to have, and maybe a little decorative patio. That'll be a project for another time though. My friend Sam improved on the nesting bucket design for his birds by mounting the buckets on the wall of his coop (so the birds can enter from the inside) and adding a hole and a hinged cover on the end of the bucket to reach in for the eggs. I'll make a picture and post when I get it done.

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Datura seeds, finally!

On our ten year anniversary date Friday, Melissa and I spotted some real datura. The last stuff I thought was datura was prickly poppy. Still medicinal, bit not the same. I've, been looking out for datura for some time now, as the five seeds I planted this spring never came up. I was able to safely and responsibly harvest these four seed pods and two that were already dry and opening. I'll have plenty to plant and plenty to share.

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Roosting bars all in place

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Completed chicken coop, just needs painted

It'll look a lot better after it's painted. I'm leaving that up to Melissa because she's the boss of pretty things around here.

I made the coop about twelve square feet of floor space, with three roosting bars about three feet long each. We'll be keeping the flock much smaller than before because whenever we scaled up to well over what we could use, that's when we had issues in the past. I'm taking that as a sign; keep it well under a dozen chickens. I think 6-8 hens and a rooster will suit us well. Another lesson I learned: stick to heritage breeds. I want a sustainable flock, so any industrial hybrids are off the table so to speak. They don't breed true, and are rife with the issues that you can imagine for birds that are born to do well in extreme close proximity and be stuffed full of GMOs. Nope! Not in Nate's garden!

Well, it's nearing 2AM, and I've got church in the morning. Thanks for reading and checking up. The last couple days have been busy busy busy, so I didn't post any updates Thursday and Friday. Hope my projects and observations are interesting and entertaining, thanks for your time!

Love from Texas,

Nate💚

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Will this one be set up high like one of the last ones? Certainly built secure this time!

Yes ma'am, it'll be off the ground, but not quite as high as the last one. The platform I've got is about two feet off the ground to keep the peak of the coop below the fence line.

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Ha, Mel being boss of pretty things - us woman gotta make your boy things look good! Those 3D hinges are fabulous. Wait til you see our chook house project! So excited. I'll post about it tomorrow, don't want to spoil it now. So stoked you're getting a new flock and keeping it small. YES, heritage breeds are the best. Excited for you.

I realized a day or so ago, that this post had had a Farmer Sam photo, and I had not commented on it! When I went to do so, I could not believe it was so many days back! Time flies when you are having fun.....

So much fun in the spring and summer! He's getting so big. All this time off from school has done him good. I think someone put it in his head that he was "fat," and not eating right, so he wasn't eating well in school. Much more healthy and happy now. And he's been a big help too. Directing his little brother and sister and working with them. Kiddos being a blessing 💚

We found school to be pretty awful for my son. He was homeschooled except for 2 very brief times when he insisted on school.

"Return of the asps" - what are those???

Asps are nasty little caterpillars. You step on em and they give you blisters and terrible pain. Our first season here we saw gobs of em. None the next year, and this year they're back. I guess they're on a biennial cycle.