We're really excited about it. Our chicks are starting to fly now, and J does not want to come home to chickens (and their poop) all over his house, so it was time to think more seriously about our chicken coop, or makeshift chicken coop.
We were originally going to buy one at IFA when we bought hens (which they didn't have), but they were dang expensive, and SRSLY, they're just chickens. So we've been watching Craigslist and KSL for used chicken coops or doghouses, or anything we could turn into a chicken coop, and checking out sweet sites like BackyardChickens which have coop ideas and lots of fun advice about keeping chickens in the backyard.
But the tricky thing is, J and I both have lots of other projects we're doing. And as much as we like fun things like being creative and constructing stuff, we know that our talents lie elsewhere. We want our chicken project to be pretty simple, and we don't know how to cut plywood, and we don't know how to make egg-collecting doors on the back of doghouses, and we needed something that we could move...so we completely abandoned all ideas of building our own coop. And we called on a couple things from online, and in the end we decided to buy a custom chicken coop that some guy was selling online.
It was almost half the cost of a similar one that IFA was selling. We called the guy, because it looked like there were no nesting boxes (I told J maybe we could use those plastic shoeboxes? To keep things simple?) and the guy said he would include them. Get this: we called early yesterday afternoon, and when we went over yesterday evening he had installed nesting boxes for us. Like, perfect ones which he built! with wood! just for us! We were pretty pleased.
I asked if he had a chicken coop like the one he had built, and he said that he did, but ours was better. I asked if we could see his chicken coop, and he obliged. He took us back into his backyard and showed us how he had it set up, and what was the same and what was different, etc. This part was especially cool because I recognized that a couple of his hens were Buff Orpingtons like ours! I asked him about the others and he also had Araucanas, like us! They were gorgeous. And huge.
The guy said he used to build houses. For people. But now fewer homes are being built because of the housing market and economy, etc. He had built his family a chicken coop and people from his ward all wanted the plans for it, and I guess it's been really popular, so he decided to start selling chicken coops. J and I thought it looked like exactly what we wanted, so we bought it. He told us to keep his number so that if we ever needed anything for the chicken coop we could call him, because he has the right tools and parts, etc. The guy helped us load it into the back of the truck, and we strapped it down and took it to J's house. [His name was Aaron. His ad on KSL is here, and we would totally recommend him to anyone in the Salt Lake area who needs/wants a chicken coop. Also, if someone wants something in particular--something bigger, or modified somehow, he's your guy.]
On the way I thought of something:
"Uh, J. This isn't going to fit through your gate."
J's backyard has a big wooden fence with a gate that opens at the top of his driveway. But the chicken coop is 4'x4' * which was not going to fit. The chicken coop is pretty lightweight, though, so we decided we would just lift it over the big fence.
Exceepppt, then we tried to carry it back there, and I could barely lift it to carry it, and I was definitely not going to be able to hold it (even just to keep it balanced) on a wobbly fence, above my head.
We decided to carry it to the fence, and it almost fit. The bottom part did fit, but the roof hangs over, so it didn't fit through. I suggested we remove the gate, because if we took the like, door of the fence off, it would fit though just barely. And so we removed the gate, and we took the chicken coop into the back corner of J's little yard.
And then we put the screws back in and hoped that we were quick enough that J's neighbors wouldn't notice.
So instead of building a chicken coop, our plans are to:
- paint it. (Red and white! Of course! ... But I have left-over red and white interior paint...so will that work? We don't know.)
- put a roof on it, maybe. Depending on how much it would cost us, and how much weight it would add, and whether a wood sealant would be just fine.
- figure out how to do the thing at the bottom of the coop where it's like sawdust and it composts and still keeps things dry.
- add a perch, which we realized we thought it would have, but now we think we may have been confusing it with one of the other ones we thought of buying.
- build a little fenced-in chicken run.
- buy four hens that are laying or about to start.
*Funny story: We were on our way to J's parents' house for the Memorial Day BBQ, and to borrow his dad's truck (because J has a cute new little red car that would no-way fit a big chicken coop) and we were driving and I saw a 4x4 truck and I was like "Ohhh, good thing the truck will be 4x4! That's the perfect size for the chicken coop!" Because, you know, the coop is 4 feet by 4 feet. And J didn't really say anything. And then he was like "is that supposed to be a bad joke?" and I was like, "Um, no. What do you mean?" And he said "You're really serious?" And he explained that 4x4s are not 4'x4's; they're vehicles that have four-wheel-drive. And then he pointed out that some trucks still say 4x4 on them but the back doesn't look like it is 4'x4'. But, in my defense, the chicken coop did fit perfectly, so the truck was a 4x4 that was 4'x4'. And also, people say "two-by-four" to talk about size for wood, so it was totally reasonable to assume that 4'x4' was the standard size for a truck bed. We laughed a lot about that, though.