Monday, February 1, 2010

What's Doing with the Coop

I may have written this before, but if I'm going to get anything done at home on a work evening, I have to keep the plan firmly in my mind and start doing it as soon as I get home.  Otherwise I'm going to forget, get sidetracked, or who knows what else.  I'm a morning person and there's not much left of my mind in the evening after a day of work.

So that's what I did this evening.  I came home and started working on the playhouse/coop.  I didn't even change out of my work clothes. My fingers got too cold to feel, so I came in to warm up about 6:30 and then went back out until about 7:30.  Then when I came in, starving for dinner, I couldn't think of anything healthy to eat.  So I had pasta.  Again.  (Never mind that I have plenty of vegetables and good meat around.)  That's a major reason why I've gained 10 pounds in the last year.  It's EITHER get things done after work OR cook a good dinner.  I don't have space in my brain for both.  Yuk.  This is something I have GOT to figure out. Oh yeah - I don't have space in my brain to plan and take a healthy lunch to work either.  But I am getting lots of things done around here.  Gotta find a balance.  Let some things go, but eat better.

Anyway - when I was looking online for help modifying this playhouse into a chicken coop, I found a lot of finished pictures (yes, it's fairly common), but no descriptions of what people did.  So I'm going to write about exactly what I did so future people who have Little Tikes playhouses and want to turn them into chicken coops can have a reference.  Of course I have no idea whether I'm doing good things or bad things, so if you see that I'm doing something wrong - please tell me!

First - I put it together.  Don't laugh - that required a pretty big whammer, the biggest one I've got.  Then I took off all the shutters, except two.
Then I made some holes and put a 5/8 dowel through the place where the dutch door was attached.  I'm not sure what I'm going to do with that yet, but it's there now.  I'm going to put the hinges on the other side of the opening.  Then I made a door frame and covered it with 1/2" hardware cloth.  Then I put hardware cloth over one of the windows.  I've attached the hardware cloth to the plastic with screws going into hollow wall anchors and fender washers.  I'm going to put hardware cloth over the rest of the openings except the door and the opening that still has the shutters.  That's 3, total. One down.
Then I put the whole thing up on plywood on concrete blocks.  I'm not sure exactly why, except it seemed like the right thing to do, to raise it up a bit, maybe make it easier for me to scrape out droppings into a container.  I've bought vinyl floor tiling to make the floor smooth and easier to clean (no, it's not on yet).  I'm an idiot because when I measured, for some reason I thought 4ft x 4ft plywood would work for the floor.  It doesn't.  It's short about 6 inches.  Why I'm an idiot is that I measured the inside of the structure (to get square feet per bird) and then used the same measurement to buy flooring, when I should have measured the outside for flooring.  I had a piece of 4x8 plywood 23/32 thick cut in half and both pieces are down here, just not completely overlapping.  As long as all four corners of both pieces rest on the concrete blocks, I'll be OK.  I can see that they don't sell 3/4-inch plywood anymore - it's probably the same reason they don't sell 8 ounces of tuna fish or 8 ounces of yogurt anymore.  Progress - hah.

You can see that the plastic shutters are still on this end of the house.  That's because I'm going to put the nesting box inside on this wall and reach in from the outside to get eggs!  Cool, huh?  I found some spare beehive pieces in the shed (that's them stacked up by the porch window).  I'm thinking of putting them on concrete block(s) and somehow attaching them to the inside wall (one right in front of the other to make one cube open in back and front).  Yes - I will need to put more concrete blocks underneath to support the nesting box concrete blocks.  This thing is getting pretty heavy!

By the way, there isn't enough square feet for the birds I'm going to get - there's 3ft x 4ft = 12 feet for 5 birds, about 2 point something feet per bird.  For small birds that would be fine, but these are big birds.  I don't know if that's going to be a problem or not - Chicken Mama?

What I still need to do.  Finish putting the hardware cloth over the window openings.  Put the roof on and hang a light and the waterer down between the roof pieces (and maybe a heater to keep the water liquid).  Hang the door (I've got the hinges already), and decide how to latch it shut.  Put the vinyl flooring pieces down.  Notably, the house is not attached to the floor.  I'm not sure whether or not that is a problem either.

Sooo - what am I doing wrong, or what did I not think of?  I did think of a roost. I'm going to use 1x2, but I haven't figured out how to attach it to the walls yet.  What else?


  1. Jordan-
    You wouldn't have to attach the floor and the house, but do something to keep them from sliding apart..perhaps just some big whopping nails, a couple on a side, sticking up enough to keep it in place, but that you could lift the house over when/if you want to move it.
    Looking you know why parents look so tired on Christmas morning.. I mean really how hard can it be to put 6 or 8 pieces of plastic together??? or a couple of wheels on a bike?? I want to stay home today, too, but I owe, I owe, so off to work I go!! The first of 4 is in college, with the second joining next year..I"M OFF!!

  2. Jordan-
    Have you read Rhonda?? She's in Australia, so not in winter and snow, but she writes very well and now is doing some writing about 'chooks' just for you, I think!

  3. This is a cool link Karen Sue - thanks!

  4. I'm not so good for information.....BUT I love it, and when I'm in my own house and can get chickens this is such a good idea!

  5. At work, in the back, I saw what one of the guys came in this weekend and was working on in dry, warm space. It is a small dog run hook onto a dog house and I said...this would make a great place for the chickens I'm never going to have!! and he agreed...with both parts!!
    I think I found Jenna's blog from Rhonda's. She is good, writes most days, and you can go back through and look for lots of good info on tons of stuff. I went through the whole thing and it took me a long time...but it was kind of like reading a book.
    Now if only I could figure out how to get my blackberry to send me emails again. I dropped it in my purse this a.m. and must have pushed some buttons and now - no emails for ME!!

  6. Christine - I've seen pics where people used ANY kind of playhouse. Keep an eye open because someone said they got a brand new one for $80 on sale somewhere.

    Karen Sue - hope you got your BB fixed! You never want to be without email!!

  7. I just found your blog through Karen Sue's - and wish I'd found it earlier in the day. I definitely h.a.v.e. to come back to see how the playhouse/chicken coop turns out!! I have a Little Tikes playhouse in my yard just screaming to become a chicken coop!

    Great blog: I'll be back, most definitely. Good luck this weekend.

  8. Welcome Conny! Hopefully the kid(s) aren't still using the playhouse, and if your municipality allows chickens - go for it! I keep reading and hearing about how chickens are SO easy. We'll see about that!