Henhouse Journey

My dad has been coming over nearly every week for the past couple of months, slowly chipping away at our hen-house between rain showers and wind storms. Most days I’ve been able to help him. He didn’t like the design at first, but I explained that my goal was to use as much of the old cabinetry and wood from our kitchen remodel as possible. The tall, slender shape of the resulting “hen-condo” came from the structures that we had to work with. I still need to paint the hen-house, but it is so nearly done, I just had to share it.

Here is a pictoral history of the project that lasted from October 1st to December 1st….

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Here is what the East side of the house looked like pre-hen-house:  So clean.  Oh my.

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And here is the day that we began construction, October 11th, after laying the concrete slab foundation. These are my circa 1969 plywood cabinets, which my very aesthetically demanding husband just couldn’t bear to live with.  We used this and the other main upper bay, below.

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Here’s my dad, showing off our unique design.  We found a 4×6 cheap at the Restore, so we made a nice wide door frame and beam out of it. Later on we found a very high door at the Restore as well, to fit perfectly inside the frame.  The linoleum was laid double thick by yours truly, also picked up as a scrap from the Restore for a few bucks.  Anyone who knows chickens knows that this is waaaaay too many nesting boxes–they might serve a hundred layers. The center channels are really the only ones wide enough for nesting.  The side areas will be used for ventilation shafts and feed storage, as well as a nice recessed roost or two.

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I put in all of the insulation.  What I used was the plastic liner “cloth” that encased all of our new cabinets. I also used a lot of the plastic vapor barrier sheeting that I found underneath our pergo floors in the kitchen. (Yes, we did rip out the pergo flooring too, and laid tile, God bless us.) Every crack and crevice was stuffed with the flexible plastic stuff.

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Here she is with her underclothes on.  Looking all bucolic from the perspective of the fence post that I was helping Jimmy to set on one beautiful evening in late October.  The under-siding was one of the very few new items that we bought for the house–along with screws, some plastic sheeting and a couple of two by fours.20131023_171435

We got the roof on on the 23rd of October, just before the big rain.  The roof is made entirely of the side-walls of my cabinets that enclosed the oven that was built into one lower bay of cabinets.  Dad designed it on his own, and it was a very proud moment, especially because it took little carpentry-work.  He saw it as divine providence.  He also worked hard to put some leftover lap siding from one of his former projects onto the face of the house that week.

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Here you can see her with siding on. We used hardiboard siding picked up from the Restore for a few bucks, and some leftover brown caulk that looks like mud smeared all over the seams.  My dad loves to caulk. You can also see the fence and pea gravel that we built and laid this past week. The cabinet in the side of the house is for egg collection. The concrete board was hard to cut holes in so we went with one large hole for the upper nests.  The area under the holes is a plastic window to let in light at the entrance so that they won’t be afraid to go into the coop at dusk.  Dad cut down one of my cabinets to provide a chicken-sized door, and you can see our wonderful glass Restore door here that we boast about only costing $10. In this photo I hadn’t yet removed the fancy green curtain, which I replaced with a sheet of clear plastic the morning that the chickens arrived. The roofing material was also nearly free at the Restore.  That square thing at the peak of the side is a vent coming out of one of those narrow channels which is used as a ventilation shaft.  The white door will be our gate into the yard.  I just bought some hardware cloth to staple into it’s open window.

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Here is dad working on the cabinet to cover the egg collection holes as I am putting in the last few fence posts.

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And here’s the Fencemeister, stretching fence for the chicken yard.  Jimmy just finished fencing three pastures covering five acres, so he’s a little tired of stretching fence.

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The chickens arrived at 11am on Saturday morning.  We were not ready.  Dad was staying over and I woke him up at nine saying we only had an hour or so.  He put together my ladder-roost as Jimmy and I finished replacing cabinet doors, putting in nest-roosts, and enclosing the ventilation shaft and bedding material storage shaft.  This is a photo of the girls in their first afternoon in the house, with nest and ladder-roost in the foreground and more nests and clear storage shaft in the background.  Their food and water are hanging under the cabinets behind them. The door window is letting in all kinds of light!  (Yes, that is plastic sheeting you see along the walls.  We are a very sanitary farm, and it is an extra deterrent to mice and drafts.)

In case you didn’t get to see the lovely baby blue color of the Americauna eggs, here they are, with the responsible lady hopping out of the nest!

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