A-FRAME COOP/RUN WEEK 9

This weekend our goal is to get the coop so I can get the chicks out. The biggest expense this week is the covering the for the coop floor, but it will water proof and protect the board underneath.

This weeks materials list

Finishing Up the Coop

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Since I want the chicks out this weekend, the priority is finishing the coop so it is safe and secure for the babies. The first thing we did was finish covering the open areas with hardware cloth. I still had to close off the top above the door leading into the run and also enclose one side of that end. When that was done the chicks would be completely enclosed in the coop. Next was to keep them in and keep them safe.

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With the hardware cloth on it was now time to put latches on the doors. Since I am concerned about warping I used a latch bolt on each side towards the bottom. The idea is the latches will keep the the door square and prevent it from warping. Then I put a hasp in the center that is being held closed right now with a snap. In time I will get a lock that requires a key to open. The snap does a fine job keeping the hasp closed.. but my concern is the intelligence and tenacity of raccoons. A lock with a key is a little pain when I want in, but the peace of mind knowing I will not come out to slaughtered chickens is worth it. I will put the key on a key ring with a snap and keep in the area of the coop so it is always handy. I ended up doing this on both doors.

My plan is to be able to open and close the door into the run from outside the run. Right now I do have a wire from the door up and over then out of the run that does work. But I need to work out some things to get that working like I want it. I also have an idea for using a metal rod that will slide through some brackets that will keep the door closed. Still working out the details.. but in the meantime, this will work.

Coop Floor

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I have used the Blackjack #57 before on the first coop and it does a good job of sealing the floor. It is a rubber coating that will protect the floor and seal the little cracks between the floor boards. I got a 5 gallon bucket that is a lot more than needed for this project. You can probably get by with a gallon though I think it might not quite do it. By the time you buy two gallons you might as well buy the larger container. With chicken math I have no problem seeing another coop in my future and I will once again need this.

Before you can apply the Blackjack to the floor you have to get it mixed back together. When you open the container you will see that it has separated. The stuff that settles to the bottom is very thick and I had to use a cut piece of 1/2″ PVC to stir it back together. I use the PVC because I did not have a paint stir stick long enough and nothing else was sturdy enough. Know that it is going to take a bit of stirring to get everything mixed back up. I spent 30 to 40 minutes constantly stirring to get it mixed where I could use it.

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To apply the Blackjack I used a plastic cup and scooped some out of the bucket and I poured it out onto the coop floor. I started at the far end and poured it out then used a brush to spread it around. It does go on thick but is easy to spread. I poured it extra thick over the cracks between the floor boards and also up against the wall. You can see from the photo above I ran the Blackjack up the board around the edge. This will offer protection to that board as well.

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After I got the coop floor covered I opened up the doors and let it dry. It would have to dry overnight so I moved on to a few other things. I still needed to put the wire skirt on around the pen.. so I cut a piece of the field fence the length of only the pen. Since the field fence is four feet wide and I only need a two foot wide skirt I then cut the field fence in half lengthwise.

When I made the cuts I had one two foot wide piece of wire that had horizontal wires along the top and bottom. The other piece has one horizontal edge and the other edge has the 4″wires from the cut.

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The side with all the loose ends I put on the other side of the coop and put those loose wires up next to the fencing on the side of the coop. Then with fence pliers I took those loose wires and looped them up and around the bottom edge of the coop side wire. This will join the two in a way a digging predator will not be able to separate.

Back on the front side I do not have the loose ends to wrap around the side wire. So after snugging the two wires up close together I was back to cutting wire and joing the two together with wire ties. Once again I used electric fence wire. It is sturdy but easy to work with. All the wire cutting and twisting took some time but we finally have a nice protective skirt.

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Since I still had daylight I decided to prepare the side next to the house for a raised flower bed. I recycle and shred all the paper that comes into my house. I also gather any paper towels I don’t use with a chemical type cleaner, dead leaves removed from my indoor plants and the vacuum cleaner dust and put it into a bag that ends up going into the compost pile. I took the current bag I was working on and dumped it onto the wire and spread it out as a base along the first section at the end.

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Then I got the shovel and wheelbarrow and dumped a load of compost over the top of the wire and my paper trash. I want Iris here so I don’t need to have a very deep bed. The paper will break down in time and the compost adds fertile soil to grow in. I wanted a decent layer of soil and one wheelbarrow load gave me a few inches of soil over the first eight foot section. After spreading the compost I planted a couple of Iris th_apollodorus_web1rhizomes I had picked up. To finish it off I put a light layer of wood chips as mulch on the top then watered everything.

I have sent a request for a Schreiners Iris catalog and plan on making the area around this coop into an Iris bed. I have always loved the beauty of Iris.. and when I grew them before.. I came to enjoy their fragrance. I am looking forward to drooling over the catalog when I get it then ordering some beauties to enjoy over the years. The coop is opposite my kitchen window so it will be nice to look out and see the beautiful Irises.

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Another plant I love are these large leaved philodendrons. I think it will look nice next to the coop and it will fill the area behind the tree I put the coop under. Before I anchored this end of the wire I dug a hole and planted this plant. Because this plant has a much deeper root system and came out of a five gallon pot, I had to get it into the ground. Adding soil and compost would not get the bed build up enough to cover the root ball.

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After the plant was in the ground I cut the wire so the wire skirt would go around this plant in the soil. I did leave it slightly out of the ground because I would be adding soil and mulch and did not want it sitting too low. Then I finished wiring the skirt to the side fence making me almost done with the skirting. I still have to do the skirt around the coop itself.. but I need to figure out what I want to do for plants there first.

With the wire skirt attached it was time to add some compost around the exposed root ball. Since I had more shredded paper I put that over the top of the compost, then topped everything off with a few inches of the week chips. Earth worms seem to like the paper shreds so I do not expect them to last long in the flower bed.

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The Iris are on the end in the first section of the run,and the philodendron is in the last section before the coop. That left the middle area needing built up. In this area I put cardboard and paper grocery bags under the wire as a weed barrier and then put a bag of leaves over the top and spread them around. I will be getting some bagged soil and peat and mixing in some compost and covering this section. I do not have enough compost to add here and also add to the garden when I plant.. so will get bagged soil to make up the difference.

Chicks First Day Out

The next day we were finally ready to get the chicks outside.

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The floor dried nicely and it was time to put in the floor cover. To cover the floor I purchased two bags of Sweet PDZ and spread them out over the coop floor. It lightly covered most of the floor area and I will have to get a few more bags in there to get the depth to about half an inch. I love this stuff as it is very easy to sift out the chicken poo while keeping most of the bedding. It dries out the feces and does a great job controlling odors. I put two bags in my first coop and add to it as needed. I have found I add a new bag about every three to four months so it is pretty economical at $10/bag. It is also biodegradable so there are no issues with it in a compost pile or added to a garden. This coop will take a few more bags to get started but should still only need a new bag every few months to freshen it up.

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This coop is close enough I can run an extension cord from an outside outlet. So we moved the chicks wire hutch outside and got it plugged in and warming up. Daytime temps are still in the 90’s and the nighttime temps are in the 70’s so I do not think they will really need it for warmth. But as a place to hide and something familiar, we put it in the new coop. This gives the chicks control of how warm they want to be.

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We finally had everything in place and were ready for the chicks. I gathered them by hand three at a time and just carried them outside. The first few out there were very loud and vocal in their new wide open space. Slowly we added more chicks to the coop and the loud chirping subsided and they went about their normal peeping amongst each other.

For a while the chicks were not interest in doing much more than hanging together in the middle and just looking around. Slowly, some of the braver ones started to move about and explore. There was a lot of jumping and flying as they got used to the new space they had to run around in. Eventually they settled down and went about eating and scratching around in their new space.. and I went into the house happy we are getting close to being done.

Where We Are

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At this point we have a lot done. The coop is enclosed and the chicks are outside. They are still too small to go in the run as they would easily fit through the 2″ x 4″ openings in the field wire, but they are getting used to being outside. We also have the wire skirt around the pen on both sides and have a flower bed starting. Though we have accomplished much,  we still have a little ways to go.

On the nest box end we still have to close up the open area under the nest box. I have fence boards that will be cut to close this area off. I will also add some more fence boards to provide a bit more security over the chicken wire. Since I have dogs always roaming out here I want the strength of wood at a level they would bite and try to gain entry.

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I also want to use the fence boards to add that security along the sides. I will run fence boards along the base in an even row then leave about a four inch space and run another line of boards. Again .. this is the area a dog would lunge and try to reach the chickens so the boards will add some additional strength. The boards will also close up the area under the coop roof that has the chicken wire that is not as strong as I would want. Putting the boards over the field fence I hope will keep the chickens also from reaching out of the coop and snacking on my garden or getting their head taken off.

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Also needing done is closing the far end of the pen. I will need to create a door then get the end all closed up. I struggle with doors and gates so will see how this part goes. The final thing I will do is construct the ramp to the coop. I still have some plywood and may only need a few 2 x 4’s to get that finished. I hope to get all these things done the next weekend and finally be done with the coop. Then all I will need to do is wait until the chicks are big enough to go outside on their own.

Time wise I did not spend too much time on the actual coop. I got all the door latches up in about an hour and spent about one and a half hours working on the coop floor. What did take some time was wiring the skirt to the side wires. That took several hours. The landscaping is for my personal pleasure so I am not considering that time in the coop construction. Overall I spent about five hours working on the coop this weekend.

Cost wise the coop is now double what I thought it would cost. I am pretty sure, at this time, it is not a budget coop. I had not considered paint, the Blackjack #57, the hardware and the additional support that would be needed in this project. The next time I plan out a project, I now know to not only think about these things, but also take their cost into consideration instead of figuring they will just be a few extra dollars along the way. That said.. I am very happy with it for the ease of construction in doing everything by mself.

With the end in sight.. see ya next weekend!

Running Total

COST: $653.59

TIME:  36.75 Hours

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2 responses to “A-FRAME COOP/RUN WEEK 9

    • I have read too many horror stories and do not want to take a chance on losing anything. It is more work and more expense but the peace of mind is worth it.

      Like

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