One of the most important buildings on any homestead is the chicken coop. On our homestead we eat eggs every morning. Pound for pound the chicken coop is the undisputed champion of providing meals. Our coop is located where we can see it from our back door. So when it came time to build it we knew it had to look good too. We chose to make it look like a small rustic cabin, and were able to acquire rough cut hemlock for the exterior. This also saved money in the end, as the lumber also has some natural resistance to rot. The next challenges when building a coop are to maximize space and ease of use. We chose to put the nesting boxes directly in front of the door, this made it easier to get breakfast in the morning.
The floor space behind the door can be used by the birds when the door is closed. We also made a “chicken door” to the outside with a sliding piece of plywood to close it. This is also located in close proximity to the entrance.
Next we put in the roosts, because we had left the whole right side open, we were able to stack the roosts. This allowed us to have space for a few extra birds. We also built a platform just to the right of the door to put food and water on. A raised platform helps to keep bedding out of the food and water.
The entire design makes it very easy to tend to the chickens in the morning. Cleaning is also easy, we just pull the bedding toward the door and scoop it into a wheel barrow. We left space under the nesting boxes so we can scoop up bedding without knocking it into the boxes.
The next challenge was window placement, we decided to use two windows to increase ventilation in the summer, and light in the winter. We used 1/2″ hardware cloth that was permanently affixed between two boards. When winter rolls around we have Plexiglas panels that we screw in behind the cloth. We also added a solar powered light. It is very helpful in the winter when we are collecting eggs in the dark. It was an inexpensive (thank you, Harbor Freight!) modification that we really can’t live without.
We really love our chickens, and we enjoy our homestead. Our chicken coop is a focal point, so we have landscaped it, stained it, and we even built a nice rock walkway around it. We did not know it when it was built, but a year later, it became the welcoming entrance to our small vineyard. We often take pictures of it in different seasons.
No project on the homestead is ever perfect. There is always something to learn. The very first winter after we built the coop we realized our mistake. The first time we slammed the door with snow on the roof, we got an roof full of snow down the back of our neck. Lesson learned, as far as lessons on the homestead go this one wasn’t bad, at least there was no trip to the doctors office.
Our chicken coop is now the cornerstone of our homestead, and we are so thankful for the meals it provides us. So when it comes time to build or upgrade your coop, grab a glass of wine, sit back in a lawn chair, and envision the coop of your dreams. You and the girls will be happy you did.