Saturday, May 07, 2011

Building the Zero Dollar Chicken Coop

I'm not really what you would call a "math whiz".  In fact, the only math class I took in college was called (and I am not making this up) Euclidean and Non-Euclidean Geometry, which includes a lot of letters and lines and me reading the school newspaper during class.  My future husband was in that class with me back when we still hated each other.  Ah, sweet memories!

Where was I?

Math.  I'm not that good at it.  But even I can understand the concept of not spending 3 years worth of eggs on a coop for a bunch of creatures who happily poop while they're eating.  Let me explain.  Let's say we were to spend $800 on a not-so-fancy coop.  Then we manage to get and use 24 eggs per week from our chickens (are you still with me?  I know.  I don't like it either, but this is important.).  Assuming that such fine eggs would cost us $2.50 per dozen (they wouldn't, but I'm giving our eggs the benefit of the doubt.  They're fancy, gold-plated eggs that rub your feet at night), it would take us 160 weeks, or 3.0769 years to recoup the cost of just the coop.  That doesn't even take into consideration the feed and bedding and special chicken grit and oyster shells and poultry manicurists and whatever else people say we have to have for our flock of birds.  Over three years!  Non  grazie.  That's Italian for "Are you out of your mind?".
6 week old chicks are bigger than you think!
And thus was born the brilliant notion of building the Zero Dollar Chicken Coop.

Remember our old kitchen?  The super stinky one with the snakes in the walls and the moldy, rotted hole in the floor?  Well, as some of you will recall, we are quite blessed to still have its torn out guts piled high in our pole barn.  That means wooden cabinets, wall paneling, and linoleum covered pieces of flooring all at our disposal- a perfect array of materials for constructing our cheapy mc-cheaperson Cluckingham Palace.

This is one of the corner cabinets from the old kitchen which Tommy has laid on its side.  Remove door and voila, instant nesting boxes!

Finally, over a month after first starting the project (note how much greener this photo is than the one up there.  Thank you Lord!) we're finally ready to get these chickens out of our dang house.  Seriously, if you have chicken poop on your scroll saw, it's time.

Here's Tommy cutting a chicken sized door/human sized window into the back of the barn just this afternoon.

Then it was time for the roosts to go in.  These were made of pieces of wood paneling that we had removed from the weird second half of our freakish kitchen.

Making the lid for the nesting box so we can get our little prizes out every day...
Check it out: open....
Closed!  He even slapped a little handle on there just for me.

Meanwhile, our little flock was gleefully enjoying their first full day outside in buggy heaven.  (Yes, our barn is ghetto.  It did come free with a $27,000 house, so be sure to adjust your expectations.)

Here are some views of the door/window and coop taken from the outside...
He even made those lucky creatures a snazzy ramp.  Skillz.  Incidentally, four of them were trying to sleep on this thing when I went out to check on them instead of on the ample roost space that he made for them so carefully.  Chickens are not as brilliant as someone may have told you.

Putting the finishing touches on the chicken wire inside.

Finally the girls get to explore their new home!

And the piece de resistance...Super Ghetto Zero Dollar "Door"! 
As with most things around here, this is probably going to be a perpetual work in progress.  We have visions of painting it on the inside and making yet another separate run area (rather than just our fenced-in yard) and having an indoor run as well for the winter time.  But we also have visions of a month long excursion through Western Europe with our kids.  So, you know...we're super reasonable.

Please say a little prayer that they don't die some horrible death on their very first night out there.  It would be slightly unpleasant to have to explain that all chickies go to heaven to my bawling children on Mother's Day.  (hint, hint God.  Throw me a bone, will ya?)

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  1. Very nice! I'm impressed by what you can do with stuff around the property.

    Our coop cost about $300 when we built it 2 years ago (dang suburban rules and regulations requiring things to look just-so!) and we're likely to spend another couple hundred this spring power washing it and making some changes before flock #2 moves in. We almost killed our old hens today but my BIL couldn't come over to help, so they were saved for the time being.

    Here's a picture of our coop 2 years ago -- the run hasn't had grass in forever -- we put straw down now.

  2. That door is awesome! I burst out laughing when I saw its guys rock. What a great adventure for you and the chickens :)

  3. Aww, so the chickens are finally leaving their nest (i.e. the house, lol)? Separation anxiety!!!

    But seriously, the coop is lookin' mighty cool! You made me want to be a chicken and live there. (Um, that somehow sounded a little wrong, but dunno how to put it any other way).

  4. Your chickens have a bigger house than me, seriously. This apartment is totally cramping my style.

    Hope they had a cozy first night! Happy Mother's day Dweej!

  5. I like the use of both "Ghetto barn" and "skillz" in this post. You need to add some hydraulics, and pump up the Snoop to make it feel more like the 'hood.

    Glad to see the chickens are getting a proper home, and you'll be getting your home back. That HAS to feel good.

  6. You may have lost me at first with "math," but then I picked back up after "free." It looks great, Dweej. Y'all are so freakin' creative and smart. I haven't told you this but I think your whole adventure is absolutely dollar chicken coops included. I pray those little chickies have a lovely first night in their lovely new digs.

  7. Seriously as big as the condo I lived in when I was single.

    IMPRESSIVE! My worms would be so jealous.

  8. Thanks guys! Glad you could get as big a kick out of it as I did.

    And the super good news is that none of them died during the night. Su-weeeeet!

  9. I love this and also, you crack me up!

  10. Hey, I think ya'll did a great job on it! Your commentary with the photos is really cracking me up this time. ANd hey, if one of the kids is acting up, I have a great idea where a new 'time out' area could be. That would scare them straight, with all those pooping and simultaneous eating chicks :) P.S. Happy Mother's Day!!

  11. It looks awesome! Our coop is a continual work in progress too...lots of salvaged stuff in there too, but my dh did put electrical because they need extra light in the winter and we had to heat their water last winter so it wouldn't freeze. We let ours completely free range last year but decided we would like grass this year so they are in their run all the time and we try to get them daily scraps.

  12. I also took only Euc & Non-Euc as my undergrad math credit. :)

  13. As scared as I am of birds, even I have to admit those little feathered squatters have some pretty nice digs. And thank goodness y'all are so handy (my hubs would have outsourced the work to some foreign farm) and we'd be paying twice as much.

  14. What's that they say, Daenel? Necessity is the mother of invention? Lord knows if we had the money, we'd be paying someone to do all this stuff, I can promise you that! :D In fact, my hubby must say exactly at least 10 times per project. I am quite the task master, what can I say? ;)

  15. What a lovely coup. Any material left over? Want to help me build one? As you know, Dwija, I have chicken envy.

  16. We do have material left over, Amber. But if I even breathe a word of suggestion that my poor hubby do anymore projects around here, he will absolutely revert to the fetal position!

  17. okay...1. Happy, Happy Mother's Day new cyber friend. Hope you had a terrific day,.
    2. I've had all sorts of scrap wood hanging around for a year, just waiting for my cheap/free chicken coop to be built. Guess who will build it? Me. That's what I get for marrying a lawyer.

  18. Tell your lawyer to buy you a ready-built coop, woman! Don't get all masochistic on me, now ;)

  19. I love it. I must admit I glossed over the math part of the post, but the coop looks great.

  20. Oh, so many fond memories of Euc and Non-Euc. Seriously, how does one still manage to suck at math when math actually isn't a part of the class? That's what I asked myself all semester, at least.

    I love your coop. You guys are so handy. I'm very impressed. I think you should make the ghetto motif a theme. Pipe in some Tupac. Have your kids do a little tagging. You could even make a homemade sign that says, "Chicken Hood." That'd be neat.

  21. I do not like chickens as I was attacked by a tormenting rooster as a child. So I will not comment on your brood.

    However, I am happy, very happy, to see that I am not the only wife who stalks her husband with a camera while he is working on "projects."

    Another entertaining post, even if it is about chickens.

  22. I will try to keep the chicken posts to a minimum hereafter. Would hate to stir up repressed panic! Thank you for reading and enjoying our little adventures :)

  23. Now, this bone you want... is it a chicken bone? Because they get stuck in dog throats, or so I've heard.

  24. That is totally the best looking free Cluckingham Palace I have ever seen! Now aren't you glad you had to totally gut and replace your kitchen? Wasn't it totally worth it for the free materials?? ;)

    BTW I was in that math class with you as well. I seem to recall the teacher having a huge crush on your husband . . .

  25. Dweej! You rock. Fa shizzle ma nizzle. I'm so curious. Do you have acres upon acres of land? Hello my sweet little 1/5th of an acre. I wish I could multiply you by 10.

  26. Jen Says,

    Hello dude, really like this concept. I did not know much more about Zero Dollar Chicken Coop but the allocation you did here makes me knowable about it. Now I will able to make it. Thanks :)


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