Friday, August 9, 2013

The New Chicken Coop

The add a room was our first major construction job.  In August 2009, before I started blogging, my Father-In-Law came to live with us.  My Mother-In-Law had fallen, broken her hip, not enough bone density to walk again, diabetes, dementia...  She was accepted into a nursing home, he wasn't.  The nursing home would take all of her money, leaving him unable to pay his rent.

Our house is much too small for permanent house guests- 3 bedrooms, 3 closets, 6 people.  We set up a bed in the livingroom for him.  It was cramped to say the least.

However, the summer before we had helped Mom and Dad build an add a room on their trailer on the corner of our property.
This was their cabin in the woods, before they bought the place next door.

We had some building experience, and we had room, so we decided to build FIL an add a room as well.  The first step was to get the trailer in place, and set up logs around it for the foundation.  The logs had to be BIG and solid.  Then levelled off.  We enclosed our trailer inside the structure to add insulation.  Windows  and doors were framed in.  We built around the propane tanks, keeping them and the trailer hitch on the outside of the building.
Press board sheeting was used on the roof, not quite in time for winter. 

Press board sheeting was put up for the exterior walls.  Windows and doors were installed.

Construction moved inside for the rest of the winter.  We installed the floor.  We insulated.
We put up vapour barrier.
Press board walls for the interior.  A partial wall was built in around the inside side of the trailer, leaving the windows exposed for light and heat.
My Dad built the wood stove and delivered it.  We used four 2'X2' patio stones for the floor, and a piece of tin siding for a heat shield.
Spring came, and we went back to work outside. 
The boys and I laid shingles, while Husband cut a hole in the roof to install the chimney.
Chimney in, flange tarred, no leaks...  Heat!
A little deck, a little porch.
Paint and firewood.
We added the firewood lean-to.
And then filled it and cleaned up the yard.
FIL moved in, using the trailer's propane heater as soon as the weather was bearable.  My interior pics seem to stop there.  Husband installed lights, electric sockets, wiring. We painted the inside.  #2 put up interior wood panelling.  Husband added a pipe and fan to blow hot air under the trailer.

We did all of this while Husband was still driving long haul, the Bigs weren't very big yet, trying to run a farm, looking after FIL, bringing MIL home on the weekends...  And less than a year later FIL went to live with one of Husband's brothers.  Six months later, another brother.  He's in an old age residence now.  MIL passed on February 7, 2013.

At first it just sat there.  What were we going to use it for?  A guest house maybe?  We don't have that many guests.  We thought about tearing it down.  That's too much work.  Eventually it became the playroom-
pool table, dart board, air hockey table, card table.
It was great until the insurance company decided that they wouldn't insure the home made stove.  Then it was pretty useless most of the year.  So it sat there.

And then I got an incubator for my birthday.  And now I hatch eggs.  And I have big plans for more eggs next spring!  And now it's a construction zone again.

We removed the chimney and patched the roof with a sheet of tin.

We took out the wood stove, heat pipe and fan, and ceiling fan.  We started building pens!
Mouser has moved in, and has given it her approval.  She's not crazy about the loud noises from saws and hammers, but she's happy to be out of the cage and loves climbing up the side of the pen.

We thought about removing the trailer, but it would be a lot of work.  The plumbing froze and split when FIL was with us, four windows are cracked, the floor is rotting, and the roof leaks.  Where are we ever going camping in that?  For now it will remain in place as storage. 

The back section (in the pic above Mouser) will be divided into two pens.  Then there will be a small pen on the wall side in front of the window, and a larger pen from there to the door.  The trailer side will have one large pen in the corner for turkeys.  There will be a walkway down the centre and to the trailer door.

Nesting boxes will go on the walls, with brooder boxes above.  The brooder boxes will hold each batch of chicks when they come out of the incubator. 

The geese and ducks will spend the winter in the old chicken coop, with the cement floor.  Geese and ducks are very messy. 

The four pens in the new coop will each have 1 rooster and 4-8 hens.  One will be a meat rooster with meat hens.  One will be a meat rooster with new hens- my incubated chicks.  One will be an incubated rooster with meat hens.  The last will be current rooster with mixed meat and laying hens.

Most of the old laying hens will be going to the stew pot.  I'll take one out at a time and put them in the new pens to figure out which ones are actually laying eggs.  They'll be the keepers.

The turkey pen may not be used for turkeys this year.  I can't tell yet whether they're toms or hens.  I only have seven of them, and for this to work, I'd like to have two toms and five hens.  If they end up not being a suitable mix for breeding, I'll use the pen for another batch of chickens.


  1. That is an interesting concept of putting a trailer inside a building. I have often thought that trailers/campers would be okay, only if parked in a garage. Plus, it seems all of them need a roofed area to park under since leaking is a problem.

    Did you leave a way to removed the trailer, something like a door or removable panel? is it still usable for an overnight guest? Of course, once chickens are out there, the ammonia odor would be overwhelming. Hey, unwanted guests could go out there to discourage an extended

    This should be an interesting year will all the chick plans. I like your plan to isolate a hen to determine who is laying and who is ready for the pot.

    1. Leaking is generally from the roof vents wearing out. They are replaceable, but fairly expensive and only last a couple of years.

      The hitch end of the building was built to come apart to remove the trailer. Then we put the back wall in tight and snug, and fitted around the septic drain, trailer furnace vent and such. Then we built the inside wall, nice and tight, and siliconed around the edge of the trailer... So, no, not really, lol. We'd have to rip half of the building apart.

      An overnight guest could sleep in it if they needed to, but yeah, the smell might be discouraging. I don't find that my chicken coop smells too bad, but then, I'm used to it. I may someday strip the innards out of it to use for my cabin in the woods... Then the interior could be turned into more pens...

      I know the ladies are old- over four- but I think at least two of them are still laying. No point in sending producers to the stew pot, since even a couple of eggs per week is better than none!

    2. You asked the same question I was going to ask, Linda. I won't ask you to answer twice, Wendy. What excitement planning a new coop! Will each pen have access to an outside run?

    3. No, none of these pens will have outside access- at least not under the current planning. This will be a winter coop- which means 4'-8' of snow and -20°- -50°C. Only the ducks and geese go out to play in the snow, and they"ll be in the old coop.

      I'll start incubating around February/March, depending on egg supply. Chicks will go in the brooder boxes above the nesting boxes for the first month or so. Then the older birds will move back out to the turkey pen and the new chicks can take over their pen until they're big enough to join the others.

    4. It sounds like you have given this lots of thought. It's great that you will have enough room to make it happen. :-)