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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Building a Chicken Coop Hoop House - Part II

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After a wet and dreary Saturday, the sun finally broke through on Sunday as we prepared to finish building the new chicken coop hoop house.


I use the term "we" in the loosest possible way. All of you who know me also know I wouldn't know how to build a chicken coop any more than I'd know how to build a house.


But as I mentioned in my Part I post, I happened to be blessed with the most talented and energetic honey-do-list-completer that I could ever have hoped for.

You complete me sweetie.  You know that, right?  Just like you complete my honey-do list.

So while I was busy moving my boys to another area of the lawn to mow, Papa Bear was busy starting to staple the chicken wire over the cattle panels.


Enter super-cool-air-powered-staple-gun, a birthday gift from yours truly for PB's birthday last fall. He hasn't really had too many chances to use it since he received it, so I think he was more than a little thrilled to drag it out for this occasion.

Last weekend we had attached the chicken wire to the ends of the coop, laying it in horizontal strips and just wrapping the edges around onto the sloped roof. Sunday we had the easier job of running it up and over the roof. PB had a trick for pulling it off the roll and up over the hoop - (and by the way, we purchased a 4'x150' roll in hopes of having leftovers to build cages for my square foot garden beds) he laid down some boards first, so as he pulled on the wire and it unrolled, it wouldn't be spinning in the dirt.


Brilliant, no?  PB's always coming up with new tricks like that.

Being that this was 4' wide chicken wire and the roof was 8'4" long, we made 3 passes up and over, so there is a lot of overlap between the three sections of chickenwire.  We didn't want to use just two and have them barely meet, as this structure needs to be raccoon-proof.

I figured we only had an hour or so of work to do to complete the coop that day. Three strips of chicken wire over the roof, then put on the tarp.


Boy was I wrong. What I had neglected to factor into my mental timeline was weaving wire to connect all the various sections of chickenwire wherever there was a seam.  Again, to varmint-proof the structure.

We spent at least two or three hours weaving wire seams together.


In case you missed that, that was HOURS. 

Excuse me while I take a break from weaving wire to take this picture of my lovely daughter who has recently enrolled in classes at the University of Phoenix on-line degree program, and who is enjoying the sunshine as she works on an assignment.


I don't really have to go back to weaving wire, do I?  Perhaps I'll spend some time covering the chicken coop door with chicken wire and taking more photos of the door details.

Yeah, that's what I'll do.


Using 16' cattle panels has produced a coop that's about 6'2" at its peak, big enough even for PB to stand up in. The door is also nice and tall. No stooping or hitting ones head to get in and out.


Well, I don't have to stoop. PB might have to duck a little.

In addition, the door has some nice extras, like this latch that you can either padlock, or, in our case, lock with a carabiner. (Extra varmint-proofing measure).


I noticed that once you pulled the coop door shut from the inside, you were effectively locked in.

No problem. PB to the rescue!


Turns out there's a small hole in the latch mechanism that PB attached a pull-cord to and threaded to the inside of the coop. Pulling the cord releases the latch on the outside.


Am I the only one who sees a face in this close-up shot?  This poor fella needs to trim his nose hairs, dontcha think?

Sorry, weaving wire in the sunshine for hours on end is having an interesting effect.

Eventually all the wire was woven and PB put a small older tarp on the back of the coop, attaching it at the grommets with wire to the coop, before pulling out the brand new 12'x16' silver heavy-weight 8ml tarp for the roof.

The roof tarp is attached with tarp bungees to screws in the frame so that it can be attached fully in inclement weather, or pulled back half-way on nice days.


At this point I had to run half-way to town to bring my lovely daughter some items she left at our house that afternoon that she desperately needed.

While I was driving to town and back, PB attached a line of electric wire around the bottom frame of the coop. That along with a small fence charger attached to the back of the coop, under the tarp, and a bunch of extension cords should make it possible for us to position the coop anywhere in the yard but keep the wire hot. This should yield a nice little shock if anything comes nosing along, hoping to crawl underneath to get my chickies.

In case you've been pondering the whole "portability" factor while looking at this amazing structure and thinking it's built like a brick you-know-what house, you're right. It takes two of use to move this beast.

But, I hear PB is planning to put wheels on it somehow.

Part III next weekend?

We shall see. 

But this weekend we're traveling to The Great Midwest Alpaca Festival in Madison, WI where we will be showing Grace in her second show of the season. Let's hope she does as well as she did at the MN Show. (No pressure Grace, we'll love you no matter how you place.)

What are you up to this weekend? Have you built a chicken coop?  Leave us a note - we'd love to learn more from you!

8 comments:

Hayden said...

I really love this - very clever idea. Am curious about the dimensions of the skid.... would you share? I'd like to try doing this for shelter for turkeys next year. With electronet around it, a solid roost and lots of straw inside - wouldn't even need doors.

Am curious, though, how wide the dimension is to end up w/ the height you got at the center. Am only 5'4", so would try making it a little wider to take full advantage of the material.

Thanks for posting this, very clever and well done!

Victoria Strauser said...

Hello Hayden -
Thanks for visiting! The dimensions are 104"L x 108"W. The center height is about 6'. So you could widen it if you didn't need it that tall. Have fun!

Country Goddess said...

What did you do about nesting boxes and roosts? I'm trying to figure out how I'm going to attach them inside...

Victoria Strauser said...

Hello Country Goddess - we took 5-gallon or 3-gallon buckets and cut them in half (top to bottom) to make 2 nest boxes out of each bucket. We then screwed pieces of lathe into the bottoms (front to back the long way) to keep the birds & hay from sliding out sideways when they stepped in. The buckets got wired to the coop walls. For roosts we took a branch that had fallen down in the yard and wired it to the walls across the back. Hope that helps!

Moraine View Farm said...

There's a much quicker way for joining panels of chicken wire. They call them 'hog rings' I believe. Basically is a little C shaped wire clip and a tool like pliers that bends the C clip and closes it around two wires - one from each panel of chicken wire you are attempting to join.

Donna Harry said...

I LOVE this house....I made one just like yours, except I tied everything togeather with cable ties instead of wire. I also made mine 40 foot long, so it can't be a tractor pull. I put 2 chicken coops on one end up on stilts; I put the door at the other end, and covered that end with the tarp. I'm gonna have about 40 birds in mine.

Victoria Strauser said...

Thanks Moraine View Farm for the tip! IF we build another we'll look into that!

Victoria Strauser said...

Thanks Donna! Everything on our farm has to be moveable by one person (me!) and we have no tractor, therefore the size of this coop. We also only keep about 2 dz birds or less, and they come out during the day and range around their paddock.

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