This weekends we wanted to stabilize the coop with some additional vertical support. I had on my shopping list four treated 4 x 4 x 10 and actually purchased that many. However, I could only get two in the vehicle. One end has to go over the passenger seat and on to the floor. With the angle of the board, there was not enough room between the seat edge and the glove box to get any more than two in there. So, I loaded the two and returned the other two. I had counted on Lowe’s cutting the lumber for me, but they will not as they do not have any saw blades deep enough. And actually .. I did not either.
Not on the list but picked up were blades from my jigsaw. I spent about $12 on blades that were supposed to be able to cut through a 4×4 post. I did not add them to the expense for the coop as these are something I need to keep on hand anyway. I found they did not go all the way through the 4×4.. but they still did a good job cutting the posts and I will explain shortly how we cut them.
Until I get the foundation more stable under the coop I can’t add the wired over the top and sides of the coop. I can.. however.. add the wire to the run and wanted to start working on it. I wanted to have the boards painted to weatherproof them some, and also to add some nice color that would look nice with the house. I had always intended to paint my first coop and thought I would do it later.. but as often happens later has not come. So I determined to do it first then add the wire.
This weeks materials list
- 2 – 4 x 4 x 10′ Treated Lumber … @ $11.50/each … $23.00
- 1 Gallon Exterior Paint … @ $19.00/each … $19.00
- Poultry Netting 4′ high x 150′ … @ $70/roll … $70.00
- Welded Wire Fencing 4′ high x 50′ … $47/roll … $47
- TOTAL $159.00
We ended up working both days this weekend and it does not feel like much got done. The first thing we did was paint the frame of the run and some of the coop area. I plan on several colors on the coop.. red, cream and a dark brown. I like the dark brown color as it tends to disappear into the background. We got an exterior paint without a primer included and I spent several hours painting. I still have to paint more on the boards touching the ground but wanted to get where I could put up some wire.
After several hours of painting we then cut up the two ten foot 4 x 4’s. The space under the coop is about 2.5 feet and I planned on getting four supports from each 4 x 4. It is a good thing I did not get them precut at Lowe’s as it ended up that 30 inches was not the correct length for all supports. The supports on this near side tended to need to be 31 inches and the opposite side needed to be close to 29 inches as we are on a slight hill. We still were able to get four supports out of each 4 x four and got them into place.
To cut the 4 x 4’s I did use a jigsaw that the blade did not go all the way through the width of the lumber. I used a square and marked all four sides of the 4 x 4. Then I cut through from one side to the other. I then flipped the 4 x 4 over twice so the cut was facing down. We then cut again using care to go in the same cut to make a clean cut. The trick with the jigsaw was to use the correct speed and then just go slow to get a good, clean cut.
After we got the lumber cut we then got them into position. I did have to use the claw of the hammer to remove some soil in places to get everything to fit snug. I put the support in at an angle with the base about where it needed to go then used a hammer to hammer the top into place. We then made sure it was up against the outside edge and the bottom support board as seen above.
Since I only got two 4×4’s I used the supports to do the outside corners and also support two of the three center support boards. We are going to get another post.. this time an 8 footer.. and add three additional supports in the center under the three support boards.
The addition of these eight supports really did make the entire coop much sturdier. There is still some motion from left to right.. and we will add some bracing along the sides to stop that motion. All in all today we spent five hours and got the supports done and the coop painted. I still will be adding some 3″ or maybe longer screws from the top plywood, through the 2 x 4 support and into the 4 x 4 pillar supports. I had wanted to put the bottom supports on either another board or some pavers.. but this seems to be working OK. We will try to keep the chickens from digging around the supports. Not sure how at this point in time .. but we will make sure the birds can’t undermine the supports.
It is finally cooling off a bit and it was a pleasure working outside this weekend. On day two we worked on getting the wire up. To start, we unrolled the chicken wire the length of the run. It is a good idea to put a board on each end before cutting because wire has memory and will spring back once cut free. We then cut the wire and went about trying to get it up over the peak of the coop run.
Getting the wire up over the top proved a bit difficult. I ended up kinda throwing it up there then went back to the end of the run to get it where I wanted it. The chicken wire has a wire that runs it’s length every foot. So I found the wire marking the two foot mark and centered it in the run peak between the hinges. Then, with a staple gun, got it anchored in a few places. Once anchored I was able to then work back towards the coop stapling the wire as we went.
Working with wire is not my favorite way to spend an afternoon. I have multiple cuts on my arms and hands and the wire never is pulled tight and snug. Working with the sire is also not fast. Today we got the far side of the coop wire stapled down and into place. I did wrap right up under the horizontal boards and onto the vertical supports.
I then needed to add the second row of chicken wire. Once again I rolled the wire out the length of the coop. Using some boards I held down the ends then cut the wire. I ended up cutting this wire a little too short and will have to do a little extra to overlap it. Not great but not something that can’t be fixed.
I had to determine how much of an overlap I wanted with the wore already in place. Once I decided on the overlap I needed to hold it in place so I could staple it into place. When I unrolled the chicken wire I cut the wire that was holding it into a roll and kept it. I then used this wire to join the two pieces of chicken wire together in several places to get it to hang where I wanted it.
The above photo is a heavier wire used for electric fencing I had on hand and is joining the chicken wire to the field fence… but you get the idea. Basically you put a bend in the wire on one end, enclose the two fence wires and cross. Then use a pair of fence pliers to twist the two wires together and snug it up. Then cut the long end as short as the other end and twist until the two ends are twisted together.
You will need to do a lot of this wire twisting because the overlapped wires do need to be joined together so nothing can get between them. A determined predator would find a gap and work it until they gain access. The chicken wire is more for hawk protection.. but when it gets dark I do have to make sure raccoons also cannot gain access.
Once we got the second row or wire on it was time to put the final one in pace. This is 4 foot high 2″ x 4″ field fence. I used this wire on the top of my first coop. Tractor supply offers this at a good price on sale quite regular. Again.. the wire was rolled out from one end to the other, boards were put on each end and then we cut. I did make sure to have some extra and made sure the extra was on the end away from the coop.
When I put this wire into place to determine where I wanted it, I made sure the wire hit the ground and actually extended a bit past the coop. I will be cutting additional wire and adding a wire apron around the coop. This will prevent any predator digging getting into the coop. I have also found that chickens seem to like to get right up the the pen edges and they tend to dig down and under the base boards so this will keep them in as well as the predators out.
Having the bottom wire on the coop flare out a bit makes it easy to attach the skirt wire. Attaching the skirt wire will be another thing that will take a bit of time. I plan on the side next to the house to be mulched and landscaped. The other side I plan on making a chicken tunnel of sorts. It will not be very high or wide and the top will be hinged. I will have to create a door from the run and into this tunnel that can be closed off. I plan on putting my shredded paper and leaves in it and allowing the chickens to scratch around in it a bit. Then we will seed it with some fast growing sees like millet and oats. I then let the chickens in once it gets going to dig around once again. After that I plan on using that are to grow crops. Lettuce, radishes and carrots will be fall crops that grow through the winter and into spring. After they are harvested again the area will get a cover crop and the chickens turned loose in the area to scratch around in and make the soil ready for a nother crop
It was a very long weekend and we did not get the house very clean. We finished up with more support under the coop and the wire up on one side. I am spending much more money that I had originally planned. The initial plans had about $300 to $350 in materials and we are well over that. We have the major things purchased so I am hoping not to have to purchase much going forward.
Next weekend I plan on adding more support under the coop and putting the wire on the other side. We are getting closer to being done.. but still have a ways to go.
TIME: 19.75 Hours