I made the mistake of taking my girls to the feed store in Spring of 2010 during chick days. Strangely enough, I repeated the mistake several more times. I knew the littlest, who was not yet 2, would have a hard time learning to be gentle with baby chicks, and I knew that things don’t get done quickly on a ranch, so I decided that I’d wait til spring 2011 to acquire the chickens.
In the meantime, I’d study, teach my girls how to be gentle with fragile things, and work on getting a secure coop built. I even called the neighbor and asked if I could come over and help him process his meat chickens. I think he was shocked, but it was an experience that I needed in order to be sure that I could handle the reality of keeping chickens.
I also knew it would take some time to get the Husband on board with the idea. He was dead set against having chickens, due to childhood trauma. He has similar prejudices against horses and lambs. After a lot of campaigning, he relented, so long as he didn’t have to have any part of it.
Originally I planned to recycle a bunch of pallets and build the coop on a dirt floor, because I figured the less money spent, the happier the husband would be. That wasn’t to be, because the dimensions kept getting bigger (funny how that happens) and the husband thinks everything needs to be built to withstand Armageddon. My basement stairs are framed with welded oilfield pipe.
Once Dad arrived to help, the husband must have become afraid we wouldn’t use his tools right, or maybe his conscience was bothering him. He ditched his plans for the day, and between the three of us, we got all four wall sections assembled in an afternoon. The walls were framed out with lumber that we had previously used to support the concrete forms when we poured our basement, and a couple of treated 2x4s that we bought from the brother-in-law.
We didn’t do anything more for several months, because putting up hay trumps pretty much everything else. Once haying was over, we turned our attention to the coop floor. After a lot of debate, we finally decided on a concrete slab floor. Being cheap, we decided to mix and pour the concrete ourselves. My dad came out again to help with that (I’m perfectly able-bodied, but there are these pesky kids running around that need constant supervision) and we got the pour done in about 3 hours. We placed several threaded rods in the concrete to anchor the walls, and used a soup can to create a hole in case I want to have a functioning sink. Then we covered the slab with hay to insulate it until it cured.
Once the concrete was cured, we spent a couple of hours standing the walls up and bolting them to the slab.
Ranchers get to have such cool toys.
And that is where things currently sit. I’ve purchased 4 windows and some vent covers from the Re-Store, and we’re just waiting for the snow to melt off so we can find the tin siding that we plan to recycle. The building that was blown down by a tornado this summer won’t go to waste.