Friday, March 14, 2008

Had a party, started the coop, dug some stairs...

You know it's been a busy week when Friday comes along and only now do I mention what we did LAST weekend. Normally, I'd just let it go, but somehow, the start my chicks' future home seemed monumental enough that I needed to at least mention it.

But first...just to set the stage for the type of weekend it was:
The weather was sunny and mild and perfect for hanging out at the farm.

On Saturday, my mom threw a weekend birthday party for me (at our house) which was just the best thing ever. She cooked German schnitzel for thirteen of us (yummmmm) with asparagus and potatoes. My step-dad turned over and prepared a portion of my garden plot for me to plant my first crop of peas in. My sister gifted me with a lovely certificate to my local feed store (woo hoo!!). My husband's two grown sons were able to be here, too, and added to the party spirit perfectly. There was a lot of noisy conversation, silly stories, laughter, eating and just enjoying being together.

Silly group shot:

I loved the laughter:

Scats and Tracks of the Pacific Coast was a gift from my mom and step-dad. Being the mature group that we were, LOTS of giggles and snickers happened as a result of this book:

This was our first official celebration in our new home and it felt wonderful.

On Sunday, Jim, his oldest son, Brian, and my son, Aidan, began building my chicken coop. I have to say, the hardest part - truly - is just getting started! Figuring out what to build, where to build it, how to build it, how to level it, what to level it with...the devil is in the details. Each decision creates an additional list of questions needing to be answered. Fortunately, they made a great team and the foundation and floor of the coop are now done.

When it's finished, it will be an 10' x 8' cedar tool shed converted to be a wonderful, safe chicken house for my girls.

"Does this look level to you?":

"Ok, everybody move one footer one inch to your left":

The framing of the floor commences:

Testing the floor:

Roxy approves:

What did I do, you ask, while all this manly building was going on? Well, first I made chocolate chip cookies and delivered them to the coop builders. Then I decided it was time to dig some steps into the hillside that we all kept sliding down to get to the coop building site.
Fortunately, the ground was fairly easy to dig:

But look at how steep this hill is:

Ta daaaaaaa....a great use for left over pavers:

What's funny about this is that, now, looking at these photos - these steps look like doo-doo. Right after I had finished placing the last stone paver, though, they looked like a work of art to me! How does this happen??? Oh well, the important part is that they are functional!

My feet on my new chicken coop floor:

I think we're going to put a plywood floor down on top of this that can be replaced when it gets really smelly and ucky to try to keep the base floor as functional for as long as possible. I wonder if there is something I could put down that would be easier to clean and disinfect than wood?


  1. I really wish you'd open the comments section to non-Google account holders. :D

    Anyway, regarding the floor, it depends on how much foot traffic you'll get, but something like butyl pond liner would be very easy to clean. You wouldn't need to fix it in place. Just lay it out, and then when it gets grotty, you could pick it up in one piece, take it outside, hose it down, and put it back. I don't know how far down chickens would scratch, though, or if they'd be strong enough to scratch the liner?

    Maybe even some heavy duty rubber, or the sort of thick rubberised stuff they use to make the curtains on the side of articulated lorries?

    With regard to the steps, they looked great because you'd invested time and energy in building them. They don't look so good now, because you're looking at a picture of them, and not them themselves. :)

  2. Wow the coop is coming right along.. Soon those little chicks will have a great home to be proud of...

    Big Sloppy Kisses
    Gus and Louie

  3. Hey solomon!! I had no idea this was a problem for anyone - I have just now changed my comments permissions from "google account holders only" to "Registered users - includes OpenID" - I'm hoping this helps. I don't much care for anonymous comments so I didn't click that one. Let me know if this makes a difference for you.
    Thanks for your comments...I hadn't thought about a plastic liner that could be pulled out and washed off...sounds like a grand idea. I'll have to see what my options are for thickness. Thank you! (oh, and for thinking my steps look good!) :-)

  4. Your steps look good, and so does the foundation for your hen house. Much nicer than mine! I built mine with a plywood floor that can be removed fairly easily, but I have never removed it. I just scrape the hardened "soil" with a flat edge shovel or a hoe, put it in my wheelbarrow and transport it to my compost piles. I built that hen house floor in the Spring of 2000, so it is 8 years old now and still functioning fine. Your hen house is going to be a real classy one I can tell. I loved your photos. All of your photos!

  5. Things look like they're moving along great! I'm hoping to have some help when I redo the tool shed into the coop. The shed right now has a plywood floor that I'm going to cover with hardware cloth (we have digging creatures around here) and run it up the sides 2 feet high. I'll cover that with plywood. I've read about some covering their floors with linleum, some using those sticky-type cheap-o vinyl tiles and others just leaving the plywood there and cleaning everything out once a week. I don't know what we're going to do yet, but one thing's for sure, nothing can get in through the floor! Darn weasels!

  6. That Roxy is just too cute for a dog. I hope our Cabra is as cute and as smart! Of course if she were a goat, there would be no question.
    The goatmother built steps much like yours using thick-cut slices of Douglas Fir. So, if you run out of pavers, you know what to do. They look pretty nice too. We are quite envious that you can actually dig in your ground.

  7. I've been collecting blogs around the country and was happily surprised to find an Oregon one! It looks like your chickens are going to have a palace.
    Best wishes on your new adventure, I look forward to future posts.

  8. Gosh, those chickens of yours are going to be living in the Taj Majal of chicken houses! So big and fancy.

    I like that you chose to raise your floor, too. Now you won't have any problem with vermin trying to dig their way up through a dirt floor.

    You're also very lucky that you had all those big strong smart guys building your house and coop.
    For our house and coop it was just me and the middle of winter with blasts of cold air and snow falling on us and our fingers going numb while trying hammer in the nails! Do I sound like I'm complaining? hehe
    It's all good in the end though.

    I do like your carved-into-the-hill steps. They curve so gently. I think if you just bury them down a little deeper, so they are flush with the ground, and then plant some ground cover and pretty flowers on that hill, it will be such a joy to walk up and down.

    As for floor coverings, I'd be cautious using plastic or rubber, unless it's super thick and hard. Chickens have very sharp claws and beaks...and they love to scratch and peck ALL the time.

    As you know from reading my own blog, we went to Lowes and bought a roll of "Oops" leftover vinyl flooring to use to cover the plywood bottom of our henhouse.
    The entire roll only cost us $10.00and it covered our hen house floor and I still have plenty left in case I ever want to replace some.

    It's a breeze to sweep clean and I can wash and sanitize every so often, too. I use a 1"-3" layer of aspen or pine shavings on top of the vinyl, too. Some of my hens like to cuddle up in it at night instead of roosting.
    And the wood shavings do an amazing job absorbing the chicken droppings.

  9. Wow, that is going to be one serious chicken coop! I agree with Twinville: look for some cheap-o vinyl flooring that comes in a big roll. We don't use that since our chickens' house is little and quite quick to clean out, but I've heard from chicken owning friends that vinyl saves you lots of time if you've got a larger coop. And I second the wood chips idea. We buy ours in a giant bag (I think it's like 3 square yards or something crazy) and it lasts a while before it starts getting gross.

    I can't wait to see when it's finished!

    By the way, I think your steps look awesome. I like steps that are dun into hills like that--much better than the alternative of actually building ugly concrete steps all the way down or something.

  10. What a great family. And yes the weather was beautiful in Oregon last weekend!
    Now onto the floor. My neighbor, the farmer, is using these really neat thick rubber tiles that lock together on the floor of her new chicken house. But with that said I like the idea of vinyl. That would work well too.
    And worry not. You can use "biddies" I googled it, because I taught it to a bunch of first graders, and it means a female chicken or chick. So use the word proudly.

  11. Okay- Once again picture a big smile on my face! The first party in your house!!! How exciting is that! Makes it feel like home doesn't it?

  12. About 8 inches 0f straw on the floor and you won't have any mess, unless you consider loose straw a mess. It works better than most products that I have seen for bedding. When I muck out the coop the straw goes on the garden beds in the fall. I have only had to muck out the coop once a year the last 4 years. With the small number of birds you have it would be a very affordable and easy bedding/flooring option for you.


  13. Chocolate chip cookies and stairs. Seems like you were very useful!

  14. I like that you said doo doo. Funny. What a fun looking party. I am jealous of your sunshine and dry ground and manpower.
    I used leftover vinyl for our coop floors and it's nice because after you get the heavy moist stuff out you can sweep the rest out the door.

  15. Chickens:
    Good eggs
    Good compost
    Good company

    They just keep giving and giving!!
    Give em all a pat for me farmgirl!

    Hi to the troops too! Happy Birthday to you and keep up the good'll be a pro stair builder in no time!

  16. and her Mom said,
    Your party looked like so much fun! Dinner sounded wonderful too.
    Roxy is just adorable and your new chicken coop is going to be fantastic.
    Really enjoyed reading your post.


I ♥ it when you leave a comment.