Chicken Coop Craziness

So, it was time for us to have a holiday. A South Island holiday complete with catching up with friends and family in Christchurch and a wedding in snowy Twizel. If you know how things go around here you know that us + holiday = extra nuttiness. This time was no exception, indeed, this pre-holiday nuttiness was trying to trump them all.

Part of the problem was my need for a bigger chicken coop. Eight chickens were producing far too much poop for their little coop and, as well as not wanting The Big Sister-in-law to have to clean it while we were away, I was tired of having to clean it out every three days and they just needed more space. I had a great plan. I was going to buy a garden shed and make a few small adjustments to turn it into a chicken coop, because that would be one third the price of the equivalent-sized wooden chicken coop that I really wanted. I had measured where it would fit and found one I wanted. I was poised to buy it and have it sorted before we went away. Then The Husband said no. It was not in the budget. I was mad, but I knew he was right. I stood sulkily in the chicken pen, figuring out plan B. Plan B came to me swiftly. I was excited. The Husband not so much. I was going to build/attach a long, narrow chicken coop on the concrete pad under the woodshed roof, using up half the floor space to allow us to still get wood out of the two woodshed bays. This meant that I could get it done more quickly and cheaply than building a whole separate coop.

Work began in earnest. The Husband wasn’t entirely sure what I was trying to do but once he showed me how to use the circular saw and how drill in screws (yeah, I haven’t built anything big before) I was off. The vision was in my head and it was coming out! I used a sheet of plywood from the old fort as the first end wall. It had a square-ish hole in it, but I could deal with that with some clear plastic sheeting. It was now a window. Then came the framing for the long side: one of the pieces The Parents-in-law had picked up from the side of a road. One piece of wood was cut off for a doorway. The frame was to be clad with other bits of wood from around the place. I had to buy a sheet of plywood for the second end wall. There were lots of bits of timber to suss out, cut and attach with screws. For the nestboxes, I decided to go with a low-maintenance, low time-investment option: some plastic stacking cubes that I could cut holes in the front of.

Building the coop
Things started off well with the chicken coop building project. The first plywood end wall and long side framing can be seen here. It’s just as well I made those shade cloth curtains for the woodshed.

Things were coming along nicely. Then The Little Sister had a delightful little baby, whom The Little Fulla and I naturally¬†had to go and visit up in Auckland for a day, three days out from our flight. The night before that, The Little Fulla tripped and burnt his hand on the fireplace. That evening was gone on an A&E ‘adventure’ and hasty preparations for an Auckland day trip. We also had to go to a doctor the next two days to get his dressing changed. Things were looking grim on the chicken coop front but I spent all the time I could building and using the noisy power tools before it got too late and dark. Two days out from our flight there was a large bout of rain. Water came through to the floor of the new coop. The concrete was uneven and difficult to build on and rain was coming through the stupid gappy fence. It was dark and wet and I was tired. I felt like giving up. But I’m not a quitter. I’m too stubborn for that. Besides, I had taken up half the chickens’ day time rain shelter spot so I had to keep going.

The next incident came the afternoon before we left. The Little Fulla met The Husband at the door as he came home from work, complete with poop all down his shorts and t-shirt. There was a poop trail down the hall and poop smeared on the linen cupboard door beside the closed hall door that leads to the lounge. I was out in the garage working on the chicken coop. The Little Fulla was supposedly having his nap but at some unknown time had exited himself from his sleep sack, climbed out of the cot for the first time ever and spread his poohsplosion down the hall, where I couldn’t hear him on the monitor. He was upset and I felt like a terrible mother! A big clean-up and lots of cuddles ensued. That was the climax of the pre-holiday nuttiness. No, wait, it was when The Husband decided he had to drain oil out of the car 10 minutes before we had to leave in it. Fortunately, I had allowed plenty of time on all angles.

So, did I finish the chicken coop in time? No, but yes. Somehow, amidst the packing and other craziness, I finished enough of the coop to get the chickens in there the night before we left, after throwing together some temporary roost options. It was a mission getting the chickens in there after blocking off the old coop. They are very resistant to change. That night I cut entry holes in two of the nestboxes, then had fun trying to get Frodo and Lizzie to lay in one in the morning. Frodo laid in the top nestbox, so that was something. I also stapled some black plastic along the gappy fence and on top of the shelter in The Cedar Pen to stop rain getting in. I am expecting all sorts of silliness to have gone on by the time we get back, but as long as all the chickens are there and well, I’ll be happy.

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