Category Archives:Building Projects

Coop for the girls!

Weekends are the only time we get things accomplished in large-scale. Hubby had to leave for two weeks so we needed to get the laying hens’ coop built in a hurry.

I found a book at Farm and Fleet which was really helpful, Reinventing the Chicken Coop by Kevin McElroy and Matthew Wolpe. A great reason to get this book if you are building a chicken coop, (and don’t have a lot of experience building things) is that this book gives you the entire shopping list of building materials and tools you will need for each version of coop. It also gives you instructions.
Some of the designs had great features that we will like to apply to a future chicken coop, but with the time crunch we had we needed to stick with the original plans. We decided one of the easy coops was the ice box version. It seemed easy to clean out, and it was tall enough to put our already made watering system inside the coop.
(Picture of waterer)

Hubby is such a wiz with getting things done that he got the main coop cut and built in about a day.

coop 1

coop 2

(Sides and bottom of coop)
coop roof 1
(frame for the coop roof)
coop roof 2

(Bar to support the nesting boxes and provide a roost)
inside 3
We will need to install another board on top of the nesting boxes to make them darker so the chickens feel more comfortable laying eggs.
inside 4 (supports for the nesting box walls)

We used an oil base outdoor paint on the coop to protect the wood, and it is water-resistant!
closed coop
(The front door and window)
They recommend using hardware cloth, which is tiny squares, but we happened to have the chicken wire left over from the meat bird coop. The hardware cloth is more durable, providing ventilation and protection from predators.
open coop
outside run
Since I am home, my girls usually go out in this run during the day. They can hunt for bugs to supplement their feed, and eventually they will be able to get in the yard and garden.

We do have a hawk in residence near by- happened to see it on the garage this morning. I took some fishing line and tied it to the posts across the run. I am hoping this will prevent the hawk from coming in and carrying off one of my chickens. In the future I would like to plant some shrubs and bushes that the girls can hide in when the hawk is around. We have some wild birds that chase the hawk, and I have read that martins are great at keeping hawks at bay. So I will be looking for plans to build a martin house next to my coop.

Lastly, pictures of my girls, they are getting so big!
the girls 1
girls 3
girl 1
Can’t wait to get some eggs!

Update: Upon further reflection and actual use of the coop, helpful additions to the icebox coop are:

Paint the inside of the drop down door- my ladies poop on it frequently so the oil-based paint will help keep the wood from getting damaged faster.

Buy a small brush and mount it on the side of the coop- I filled the inside of the coop with pine shavings and the girls drag heaps of shavings out with them during the day. The brush is handy for removing those shavings to prevent damage to the hinges of the drop down door.

Original post published on June 29, 2016

Chicken Tractor for Meat Birds

Chicken Tractor

May 5, 2016

We are expecting to pick up our chickens today. We are getting 10 meat chickens to butcher at the end of summer, and 5 Speckled Sussex laying hens.

Since we have our nice large piece of property, we wanted a cage that could be moved around for the Cornish meat birds. This way they can eat the bugs in one section of grass to help supplement feed we give them. We are hoping this method will cut back our cost on feed.

We built a chicken tractor. The dimensions are 3X10. After purchasing 6- 2X4X10 boards, we kept 4 of them intact to  frame the cage. The other two, we cut down as the sides and used the extras as reinforcement. Again we used the brad gun, and screws to put the cage together. The covered shelter area was built out of spare wood from two old useless cabinet we found in our basement. We added a hinged lid for easy access to the chickens.

In order to keep the wood from rotting, I used the left over paint from the bookshelf to cover the cage.

tractor 2

Originally we were going to use the black plastic fencing (salvaged from our garden two years ago) to cover the cage, but we decided to use proper chicken wire because while we unrolled the plastic we found holes bitten out by the squirrels. Using a staple gun, we attached the chicken wire, and used the brad gun to attach extra wood on the top to reinforce the wire.
tractor 4

To hopefully help deter predators, we draped the chicken wire down further than the cage with the cut edge sticking up a bit.
tractor 6

The only things we have left to do before we can put the meat birds in are to possibly add wheels and handles (like a wheel barrow) to aid in moving the cage around the yard, and to set up our water and feed so that we hopefully don’t have to open the cage all the time to refill. I will update with a final picture when it’s all put together.


The start of our chickens and children began with the purchase of our first home. My husband and I managed to find a 1905 farm house that rests on almost 5 acres. We have both wanted to have a relatively self-sustaining farm since we got married, and now we can finally start!

After we moved and got most things unpacked, we realized that all of our how-to books needed a new home.

Enter our first project, a book shelf!

Deciding to go with a simple design, we headed to the hardware store to purchase wood. We bought 5 1 inch X 10 inch X 6 foot boards.

Hubby cut 3 of the boards into 3 foot sections for the shelves with a circular saw. For the sides, we left 2 boards full length. We added a little style to the book shelf making the top resemble a picket fence. We measured 2 inches in on each side of top, and 4 inches down on each side giving us the same angle to cut on each corner.

bookshelf finished unpainted

We used a power drill and a 1 ½ inch spade bit to cut the circle in the top of the sides. The whole bookcase was assembled using wood screws and glue. Each shelf is supported by a small block of wood cut from the same stock. We braced the sides to the shelves using the corner pieces we cut off the sides as a 90 degree support block on the top and bottom shelves.


I love to paint everything so instead of staining the wood I painted it! We applied the base coat to all sides and the tops of the shelves, and waited for that the dry. Then flipping it upside down we applied base coat to the bottoms of the shelves.

To get the distressed look on the book shelf, I used a dry brush technique.

Dry brush technique:

  1. Using paint just from the lid of the paint can, you dab your dry bristle brush into the paint.DSC05860
  2. Then blot the brush a paper towel to remove excess paint. It is best to have less paint on the brush when you apply it to the wood. You can always add more as needed to get the distressed look you are going for.DSC05861
  3. Gently paint the wood, and as the paint is being removed from the brush you can add a little more pressure with each stroke.


If there is a discrete area of your project, like the bottom of a shelf, that would be a good place to practice applying light to heavy pressure as the paint leaves your brush.

DSC05858Here’s an example of putting more light grey paint in a few spots to add to the distressed look.

 It didn’t take very long for the dry brush strokes to dry, and once that was done it was time to move this book shelf to its final resting place upstairs.