Dear readers: I recognize that for some of you, spring does not represent chickens and eggs. I kindly implore you to indulge me one more chickens post. Then, I promise, I will return to our regularly scheduled program of veggie gardening and wonderful food. Thank you.

The coop is up. Three days of sawing, hammering and painting later, the girls have a semi-permanent home. I think it turned out pretty great for a recycled dog-then-duck house:

Here’s how we went from dog/duck house to chicken coop. First, here’s the starting point:

I cleaned out and scrubbed the future coop.

Nick got to work cutting and assembling 2x4s to build the run.

I painted the run with an exterior latex floor paint in dark grey because that was the only exterior grade paint we had hanging around the house. I painted the interior of the coop with a light yellow latex and painted the exterior in a cool green color.

For the coop, we used paints we already had from other projects, but it’s worth pointing out that if you are flexible on color you can score cheap paint at your local hardware store in the “odd bin” section. When I was buying paint to do the mural for my son’s room I discovered that I could get a gallon of paint for $10 and scored some great colors I wouldn’t otherwise have considered this way.

 Nick built a base of pressure treated 2x4s and screwed it to the bottom of the run.

I wrapped the run in 1/2-inch, heavy-gauge hardware cloth. I secured the mesh to the frame with heavy duty staples. The staple gun and I got quite cozy on this project.

We designed the size of the run to allow a minimum amount of hardware cloth to be purchased (it was the single most expensive element of our design) and to allow a minimum number of cuts to the hardware cloth. This was a good decision since “cutting” a length of mesh really meant about a million tiny little snips with the wire-cutters. You can see here that we wrapped corners to cover three sides with one long piece of hardware cloth rather than cut each panel separately.  

Almost done.

Nick began to cut out the openings for the nesting boxes and the clean-out door.

At some point when I wasn’t taking many pictures, Nick put together the nesting box expansion to the coop and I painted it this funky red-orange color. Note the professional saw-horse surrogates: plastic pots and 5-gallon paint buckets.

Here’s the major components of the coop coming together.

We drilled some ventilation holes for our chickens.

 Nick begins to put on the hinged roof.

Meanwhile, we have to make a space for our coop. Sorry rogue patch of raspberry canes, you’ll have to find a new home. Dig, dig, dig.

Not too bad. It’s even a relatively level patch of earth.

I covered the coop space with cardboard to cut down on weeds and draw worms to below the run.

We positioned the run and Nick installed the door.

I put on and began to paint the coop trim. Damn right my chickens deserve trim!

When everything is kinda dry we load the coop onto a hand-cart and roll it to its backyard location.

Nick thought this was the greatest thing ever. Mobile Chicken Home!

Our awesome neighbors Herb and Joyce came by to see if we needed some help. The whole neighborhood has been very supportive of our Great Chicken Adventure. Nick and Herb he-manned the coop into position on top of the run.

Nick went inside the coop for some last minute modifications to the ramp and roosting bars.

We moved the chickens into their new home – they seemed happy after they settled in.

Bella does a very good chicken impression:

And the finished product…
We love our coop and are eagerly watching the chickens for signs that they like it too. We built this one as our “learning” coop and man did we learn a lot. 
Things I love:
  • The color scheme
  • The big overhangs of the roof
  • The location – I can watch the chickens from the living room!
  • The size: it was easy to fit into a space we could easily clear and is large enough for our two chickens.

Things I would do differently:
  • It sounds stupid, but we didn’t really think about how tall the finished product would be and the egg door is too tall for our daughter to gather eggs without a step-stool. That’s a bummer.
  • I am probably going to have to remove another half-row of raspberries to make room for an access path around the coop.
  • We figured the ramp and the roosting pole in the run would be pretty easy to figure out but in actuality they involved bringing together quite a few things in a small space. It was trickier than we thought and I would pre-plan that aspect better next time.

Our next coop will be a bit different and a lot bigger to accomodate our (hopefully) growing flock. We are already seeing that it would be a tremendous benefit to have a large, walk-in aviary-style coop. But expanding the scope of our Chicken Adventure will have to wait until we recover from this one.
Thanks to all the chicken-keepers out there who’ve been virtually cheering us on! We love and appreciate your advice and experiences.
Do you have pictures of your chicken coop online? Post a link, let’s see what’s out there! If you don’t have your own coop, do you have a favorite “dream” coop?
I’ll start: This is a coop I keep coming back to. I think it’s so cool. When we expand, you can bet I’ll be studying these pictures obsessively. 


  1. says

    Wow, what a transformation! I wouldn't recognize it. And you and Nick are very handy with tools. I'm very impressed. That coop seems perfect for 2 hens, though the run is very small unless they're free ranged or tractored for a few hours a day. 10 SF per hen is the rule of thumb for a full-time run. I'm tractoring my birds in a slightly smaller 4×8 A-frame run that'll move, so I'm hoping 8 SF per bird is ok. So, I've heard…

    Otherwise, I'm shocked and impressed by your creativity, inginuity and hard work! Your hens will love you for it!

    Oh, and I wouldn't worry about your readers getting tired of it. You're shooting for a homestead or sustainable living, and this is a major step! It's all interconnected!

  2. says

    Here are pictures of our coop -
    The construction:

    And then three years later, after a move to another part of the yard:

    I love the colors of your coop! Lately we've been getting a few broken eggs, and I think my hens are not sharing their one nest box well any more. We also got three more pullets this year. So we are actually planning on taking the nest box down and building a separate, free standing, three-nest nest box. Hopefully at a height that our sons can reach(we made the same mistake you did there).
    We'll probably repaint at that time, and also fix the big gate on the run which is starting to sag. My hens have half the back yard all to themselves, so the run isn't *really* necessary, but it's nice when there are predators about at night as an extra security measure. ;)

    Love your coop.

  3. says

    Great colors!
    So… are you planning to remove all that cardboard at some point? Chickens love (LOVE!) to scratch in the dirt and dirt-baths is how they bathe. Just wondering… =)
    We have way too many pics of our coop being built – but that's what happens when you take 4 months to do it (and it's built by an architect)!
    The most shots are here, when we were moving the coop:
    a couple more shots here:
    and here you can see it with the trim up!

    Yeah, lots of pictures.
    And definitely – hardware cloth was the most expensive for us too!

  4. says

    yeah I was going to ask what the size of your run was? I'm going to have 4 chickens with a 5X6 coop and a 12X5 run minimum. 10sq ft run and 4sq ft coop per chicken is the minimum in Vancouver (we have a chicken by law!).

    Looks lovely though, and so nice to have them in so quickly.

    Are you on There's a forum there, it's FANTASTIC!

  5. says

    To answer size questions: the coop is about 3×4 and the run is a bit over 3×6. We are at about 12 ft of coop and 19 sq ft of run area for two chickens, so just under the minimum for Vancouver. I wouldn't put any more than the 2 chickens in there. When we get more chicks the "big coop" will have to go in and then this will become a mobile coop or we'll sell it. We knew going into this there would be a lot to learn and we are happy to have learned on a small coop. :)
    The entire run, including the bottom, has the wire mesh hardware cloth on it. The coop was set over the cardboard and then soil was backfilled over the cloth and cardboard. If the chickens scratch down past the 4 or so inches of straw and 2-3 inches of soil they hit the wire.
    We are happy with the coop but are running into problems with the long ramp. I suspect the chickens are still learning about how to go around in their new home, but I think we will have to rework some of the ramp features to make it easier for them to move between the coop and the run. Also, the girls need a window! I can tell we'll need to put one in because they seemed to sleep in more in this coop than when they were in the greenhouse. Again, glad we are enjoying the learning curve with a small coop and two chickens! :)

  6. says

    Hello neighbors in the far northwest! Never should you feel the need to apologize for too many posts about chicken. Those of us with them understand and love to hear of your experiences.

    We've built two coops now and each is a learning experience, but at least they keep getting better. I'm hoping the third one's the charm. Meanwhile we're thinking of a chicken tractor as the next project, just after we get the goat shed built for the Dwarf Nigerian babies we just adopted. Happiness is living a more sustainable lifestyle!

  7. says

    Mobile chicken coops. Awesome! Build a few, put them in the same yard, attach to the same run and Bam! you've got a mobile coop park. Although you might have some domestic disturbance issues…They'd fit right in in WNC!

  8. Lorrie says

    I am living vicariously through your blog. We lived 43 years in Washington with an acre yard and garden, but moved to California for my husband’s job 5 years ago. Now we have a tiny yard and no way to garden without the HOA breathing down our neck. The trade off is I can buy produce pretty cheap year round here.
    I just wanted to let you know that in Washington they have recycling pick up for paint. The contractors bring in the leftover interior and exterior paints to the recycling place and they combine the browns with other browns in a vat (likewise for beige or grey, etc) and pour them into 5 gallon buckets and put a smudge on the top for the color inside. My husband and I went and picked up about 8 buckets of grey and 3 buckets of white. We bought two plastic garbage cans and poured all the paint into a “white can” and a grey can and stirred. We strained the paint through a pantyhose covered can first, then used hubby’s paint sprayer. We painted our house before selling it for FREE! Look online for paint recycling and we got ours off of Hwy 99, north of Renton.


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