Once again the storms are rolling in., We did get some time outside today to work on the coop. With all the rain the doors on the coop were not closing. We have had so much rain that the wood has swollen considerably. I also had to redo a few other things to make it more secure. Seems there are all kinds of critters out there that like fresh chicken. I hear coyotes at night quite often, and I am sure there is raccoon and possum around. There are several feral cats around, but don’t think they will pose much of a problem for a full-grown hen.. and with a rooster in the bunch I think the cats will learn to leave the birds alone. Neighbors also have some pit bulls they allow to run. They make a regular mess of my trash and crap on my decks. I love country living, but all the predators are making me really make the coop secure.
These are the back doors I has to redo. The weight of the door put some weight on the hinges and the hinges actually loosened up some. The doors are framed with 2×4’s. Then I got a pair of similar cupboard doors from the Habitat for Humanity Re-Store for a $1 each and put them behind the frame. I also did a cross brace to help with the sagging issue. It took a bit but they are more square and open and close freely again. I will need to make sure there is no access along the bottom for mice or snakes to get in. I still have to get some locks that can be secured and I think in time I may need to replace those hinges with some that are more heavy-duty. Since these are hinges for home doors, I never considered weight. A third hinge in the middle may also help.
I also removed all the boards and reapplied them with out the overlap and just butted them up next to each other. Again the reason is to keep things out of the coop, and by butting together instead of the overlap we should have less access for creepy crawlies. Although I have added boards to the inside, the thought of something stuck and dying in the walls and stinking up the place was not something I wanted to deal with. I also do not have the carpentry skills to finish off around the doors with that overlap board.
I have this one end to finish and have been kicking around a few ideas. It faces towards the east and we get a decent regular breeze from this direction. Since we are in Texas we have some serious heat at times to deal with, so did not want to make the coop so tight there is no air circulation. You can see in this picture I have installed hardware cloth along the top under the roof and have done it at both ends. That should be a good east west cross ventilation. Initially I wanted to get a few more fence boards and just close the end off. The roosts are along this end, so wasn’t sure I just wanted to add wire and not be able to close it off and protect against some of the crazy storms we can get.
What I decided to do is a little of both. I covered the end with hardware cloth. I found some nice long skinny cabinet doors again at the Habitat for Humanity Re-Store for a $1 each. I took a 2×6 and cut it to go across the end and mounted the cabinet door to the bottom edge. Both cabinets came with hinges so that was pretty sweet.
I will mount the second one above the one I got installed before it started to rain. We will frame them in and then work out some sort of prop or support to keep them open. I got some of the wire anchored down and will put more screws and washers in so nothing is able to yank it loose and get in. These doors will allow me pretty much keep the end open and allow a good ventilation. And if we have some storms roll in I can drop the doors down for protection against t he elements.
Since ventilation is important in a coop we have tried to have open areas protected by hardware cloth on all sides. I have already shown the top ends of the sides covered in hardware cloth and having the doors that will open. The space front and back below the roof is getting hardware cloth to allow ventilation from north to south. The wire is going on the inside so it is not as easy to see. The hardware cloth is attached to the top board that the roof will lay on. That should make that secure. Then it comes down to the inside of the pallets and is going between the pallet and the boards I used to make the inside walls. That open space actually allows air from under the coop as well as from the north and south to come in and flow upwards. I am hoping that it will pull some of the air in the coop out
Not all the work for the chickens has been outside on the coop. I got some water nipples and put them in the lids of some Coke bottles. You have to poke a small hole in the bottom to allow the water to come out the water nipples when the chickens peck at it or it creates a vacuum. I will be putting these in the brooder with the baby chicks. Since I am using my bathtub as the brooder I need something to hold the water bottles. I have read about how messy chicks are and how they walk though and spill their water. I will not be around to constantly change out the water, so I need a system that will provide clean water at all times. And they seem to grow rather fast in those first 6-8 weeks so being able to adjust the height of t he waterers was something else I wanted. Since the cats could care less about this particular scratching post I figured it would be useful for the chickens. I can adjust the height of the water bottles as they grow.
I got 10 nipples from Amazon and have only used two on these bottles. I am going to take five of the nipples and make an automatic water system for the coop run. I am going to use PVC like in the picture but am still thinking about the best size for the PVC and way to make the Waterer. From what I have read the larger diameter PVC has less leaking. That is probably 2″ PVC and what I will get. I will have a bucket that feeds water in the system so all I have to do is keep the bucket full. I also want to collect rain water off the coop roof that will keep the bucket water level constant so a float valve setup will be needed. Still thinking about all the little things.. like keeping mosquitoes out and avoiding algae growth. The long commute in the mornings to work allow me to work out all those details.
We still have quite a list of things to do before the chicks arrive in August. I am short two 4″x 4″x 8′ posts I will need for the run. I picked up several that are a bit weathered on Craig’s list so have been watching for more good scores of free wood. If I end up purchasing the 4 x 4’s I will use the new ones for my gate. That way will not have to deal with the weathered cracks in the wood I have when installing the gate.
I got a good deal on some wire here local and picked up some 2″ x 4″ x 4′ wire that will go over the top as well as the top half of the run. The hardware cloth is going to be expensive so looking for a good deal and pinching pennies to get that. I am going to have to learn to set some fence posts. My son’s dad is in the fencing industry and we used to work together. Most of what I did was sell fencing.. but I have been on plenty of job sites. I will be using Quikrete to set the posts but the posts will have to stay level from all directions while it sets up. I am hoping I will not need help to keep every thing still while it sets up. I am also not sure how I am going to approach adding the fence as the pen roof. There will be some fence length as well as weight to deal with and will need to figure out a way to keep it manageable for just me.
The roof is the other major issue to do. I want metal but the roof is a bit wider than 4′. The most economical thing to do is purchase 8′ metal panels and cut them in half. That will leave a few inches of the front roof rafter sticking out. Also have to figure out the best way to cut that stuff. Roof will probably be the last thing we do just because I am a bit backed off by the entire thing. We will spend a lot of time on Google and YouTube figuring it out before even starting.
With the use of indoor cupboard doors I think I need to figure out paint fast. With the rain we have been getting they probably will not last long as they are not designed to be getting wet. I will need to water proof them well as well as protect the aged fence boards from any more deterioration.
There have been times where a second pair of hands would be handy on this coop build. I am sure it would be moving along much faster with help and with what I still have to do. But we are being creative and moving along slowly but surely.