A-FRAME COOP/RUN WEEK 10

This weekends project was to get the ends of the run closed off so I can get the chicks outside and into the run. They have been growing like weeds and are ready to venture outside a bit. The shopping list this week is small, just a few odds and ends.

This weeks materials list

The price of the 2 x 4 x 8  have gone up a bit.. about fifty cents. I got five as I did not know how many it will take to do the door on the end. Since I always have building projects around here, an extra 2 x 4 or two will get used up in the next project.

Since I was going to be closing up the end I decided to add a few more wheelbarrow loads of wood chips in the run. It is a lot easier to add now then after the ends is closed. With the end still open I was able to dump the chips into the middle of the run and spread them out a bit. When the end is closed the best I will be able to do is dump the cips inside the door. That is not as bad as it sounds as the chickens will have a lot of fun scratching in a dumped pile and will have it spread out in no time. I added three wheelbarrows to the main coop in one afternoon and just waited a few hours in between loads to give them time to kick it around. It is surprising how fast they can level a pile of chips. They love bagged leaves as well and they are a great addition to a chicken run.

Enclosing the Ends

The weather has finally cooled a bit and it was nice to be working in the yard. The first thing we did was close up the opening under the nest box. I used six foot fence boards and cut them to fit the opening. This got me pretty close to up under the nest box. Always wary of what might want to try and get in, I took a scrap of plywood, from the drop in making the nest box, and cut it to fit snug up under the nest box.

Since we have chicken wire enclosing the end, and it is not as secure as hardware cloth, I added more fence boards to give a bit more security to the wire. This is a place where I would be concerned about a dog running at the wire and trying to attack a chicken through it. They would have to go through the wood before they get to the wire. This should also stop entry of a fox we sometimes see around here.

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I did a little reinforcing on the side as well. Here I took eight foot pickets and screwed them down and into place. I am going to plant bulbs and flowers in this area so I put the bottom board up a bit, then spaced the other board about 4-5 inches above it. If anything goes after the chickens they will have to go through this wood first, before getting into the wire.

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I have always prided myself in being able to look at a problem and quickly figure things out. That was  until I tried to make doors for my coops. No matter what I do, I always have to redo somethings and today was no exception. I did not get progression pictures as I was busy trying to get done so the chicks could get out.

To start we took an eight foot board and leaned it up vertically against the frame. Then with a tape measure, I measured to the ground. It was close to five feet where I wanted the door to go. Since I am a more visual person, I put another one up and figured where the top of the door would be if I cut the door jam edges to be five feet. I also was able to see how wide the space would be for the door and make sure it would not be too narrow to get in and out of. With everything approximately where it would be I decided the five feet would work just fine. We then cut two of the five 2 x 4 x 8′ boards at five feet. Then I took those boards, put them in place outside the frame, and then drew a line on them where the frame angle was on the boards. Cutting angles on a board is another area I typically am an epic fail, but we managed to do OK using the jigsaw.

To anchor the boards into place I used the three inch screws from the outside of the frame and screwed them into these vertical door jams. I used a few more of the screws to go from the outside of the base board and into the door jam.

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After I got the door jam anchored it was time to do the top. I used the tape measure to measure the width of the opening then added a little bit and cut a board to length. I used the drop from other cuts when I could for these shorter pieces. The reason I added a little bit was becauseI was going to have to cut these ends at an angle, so I needed a bit more width to make sure it did not get cut too short.

After the piece was cut, I held it up where it was supposed to go on the outside of the frame, and used a marker to mark the angle of the frame on the board. Then I said a little prayer and used the jigsaw to make my cuts. The base of the jigsaw rotates to do angled cuts, so I just twisted it until it matched the angle I needed and cut the boards.

I held my breath as I put the piece up and tried to get it into place. It was just a hair too wide to just be put into place. Not to be deterred.. I got my hammer and gently pounded it into place. I had to use another piece of scrap between the hammer and board so as not to dent the top board.. but it went in just fine with the added pressure. My other option would have been to get out my mouse sander and shave off a bit to get it into place.

By this time, I was amazed I had not totally messed something up and lost my religion cussing it out. The angled cuts were done and not half bad.. and I had come up with a plan where the gate was going to be pretty easy. Well.. they say pride goes before the fall.

It started off ok as I measured the opening and cut the vertical pieces an inch shorter than the opening height. I measured the opening width and then laid the cut boards out on the ground with their outside edge being the size of the opening. Since I had to allow for the hinges and door swing, I moved them in a half an inch. Confident that I now had to just measure the inside between the boards to determine the length I needed to cut the horizontal pieces, I measured and cut.

I cut three boards, a top, bottom and a center piece. Then I put them into place and squared everything up. Once it looked good I started to put the screws in place.  As I was working my way around, getting all the boards screwed into place, I kept checking to make sure everything stayed square. I was pretty pleased when I was done and took it over to the opening. The door did fit in the opening, but just barely.. it was too snug. The half inch allowance was not enough and there was no room for the hinges and space for the door to swing. UGH….

img_6987I hate having to do things over.. but this was not going to be all that bad. I took all the screws out of one side and removed that board. Then I marked the end of the horizontal boards an inch from the end. With the jigsaw I cut the ends off then went about attaching the side piece again. I made sure to keep checking for square as I reassembled the door.

This time the door did fit and I had room for the hinges and space to allow the door to swing. Now we just needed to add the hinges and get it attached to the door jam. Putting the hinges on the door was pretty easy. It is a bit of a trick to get it into place on the jam and screwed into place without a helper. This took a lot longer to do than it should have, with one hand holding the door and the other the drill, it made things difficult to get the door where I wanted it and a screw started into the door frame. I used one foot to kind of hold it where I wanted it as I got a screw started and into place. Once one screw was in, the rest were not that difficult.

With the door in place it was time to add the wire. I have so much chicken wire that I used that on the end. I started on the right side by laying the wire edge at the door frame and kicking it out to the side. I added a little past the end then cut the wire piece off. Cutting the piece off makes it easier to work with as you don’t have the weight of the roll and its unwieldiness to make things difficult. I then held the wire up and lined it up with the edge of the frame so some of the wire would wrap around the edge. I also lined it up so it just touched the ground. Then I took the staple gun and put a few staples in to hold it into place.

I smoothed the wire down the frame and to the base pulling gently. At the base I ran staples along the top. Then the wire was bent around the base board and anchored there. A few more staples were added along the other side before being bent over the top. Again, more staples to hold it in place and the excess wire was snipped off at the angle of the frame.

I repeated the same thing on the other side except I started on the right side of the door and went all the way over to the run edge. Rather than cut a piece for the door and one for the side, I covered both areas with one piece of wire. When I open and close the door, the wire bends enough I did not feel like I needed the wire cut where the hinges are. It is a bit more secure than cutting the wire and bending it around an edge. With the hinges it would be difficult to bend wire into that area, and just cutting the wire would need a lot more staples and possibly reinforcing with wood, to make it secure.

After the bottom row was in place I was able to use one of the angled cut scrap pieces at the very top. I lined an edge up with the bottom of the top board then stapled into place. I then bent the wire around and put a few stapled in the top of the board before finally trimming the excess off along the edge of the board.

I used other scrap pieces to cover the small angled areas between the door jam and the frame. All that remained now was the top of the door. I cut another piece from the roll and lined it up along t he top of the door. I stapled to secure then worked my way down the sides, overlapping the other wire.

Door latches..

The staple gun was really useful for getting the wire where I wanted it, but it is not the most secure way to hold the wire in place. And when I added another layer of wire it really became not as secure. We picked up some poultry staples a few weeks ago and now was the time I started to use them. I took the poultry staples and my hammer and went around adding these longer and more secure staples to anchor everything down. These are also much better at attaching the field fence wire to the boards. Because the poultry staples are much longer and thicker, it would take a lot more to get them pulled out.

First Day Out

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By the time I got to adding the poultry staples we were getting late in the day. With daylight savings time it was now getting dark earlier. Because I wanted to get the chicks out to see and explore the run, I decided to let the chicks out to explore as I worked. The run was secure so there was no reason they could not be out as I worked.

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I opened their door and waited.. and then waited some more. Everybody was very curious but no one was brave enough to be the first one out. They don’t call them chickens for no reason.. they are chicken.

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To get them out of the coop I took their favorite treat, scrambled eggs, and scattered them down the ramp. We still need to finish the ramp off by attaching it to some 2 x 4’s  and attaching it to the coop, but it is functioning leaned up on some screws to keep it in place. As you can see, the eggs did the trick and they were all over each other trying to get their treats. They worked their way down the ramp and set about scratching in the wood chips. I had scattered some millet and rye seeds a few weeks ago and you can see it coming up in the photo. I should have scattered that seed much sooner to have a thicker bunch of greens for the chicks. It did not take them long to devour all of what you can see here and the rest of the run.

I finished putting in the poultry staples as I enjoyed watching the chicks explore. I found it interesting that any bird flying over head would cause them to sprint under the coop. With no mama hen to teach them it was instinct to get under cover with something flying above them. I am glad I made the coop with the area under it as the chicks spend a lot of time under there. Just as in the other coop and run I built, the chickens tend to spend time there snoozing in the afternoon. In the summer it is a source of shade and it also gives some shelter from rain and the cold without the chickens being actually in the coop.

We got a late start and spent about four hours total working on the coop and run. I still have to paint the door and really should have done the painting before I added the wire. Was not even thinking about the paint until I took the photos and realized it is going to be a bit difficult to paint over the wire. In the haste to get the chicks out I made things a bit more difficult, but we will get it done.

I have a few other things to do before we are completely done. I have to paint the rest of the nest box end and will be painting the fence boards I put up for security and strength. I plan on adding the double fence boards along the run like I did at the base of the coop, so will need to get them cut and in place then painted. The coop is completely open with the wire on the ends and I will need to get that more closed in before the colder weather hits. I have some scrap plywood I plan on cutting to cover the openings on the sides of the doors. Above the door I am considering creating some hinged covers that can be opened and closed depending on the weather. The ramp needs to be finished and I need a way to secure the door from outside the coop so I can just drop the door and lock it up without having to enter the run. I also have to get some bulbs and plants planted then mulched.

Almost done .. see ya next weekend!

Running Total

COST: $687.25

TIME:  40.75 Hours

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