*The Chicken Palace*
25 July 2012
For almost 20 years, our family has raised chickens primarily for their eggs. When we purchased our home in Southern Utah we wanted to continue to keep chickens. Being thrifty (okay, cheap) we thought it would be good to repurpose an existing grape arbor in the yard into a "Chicken Palace". It was close enough to the house to access easily, yet far enough to not hear or smell anything we didn't want to.
To start with, careful measurements were made and a plan formulated. Money was always in mind and I didn't want to buy lumber that we didn't need to. The posts were well weathered 4x4's with chicken wire fencing on the north and south facing sides and a pergola style, timbered top. Over the Christmas break, Offspring #1 and #3 helped with the framing of the walls and putting up the recycled corrugated roofing. Then, as money was available, we bought T-111 siding for the sheeting. As an afterthought, Mrs. Scooter asked if a feed shed could be added to the front of the coop, under the roof overhang. It was easy to integrate and a great choice for feed and yard tool storage.
At a clearance sale, we had purchased a large amount of wire fencing. It is 4 feet high with 2x4 inch openings. It isn't traditional chicken wire, but it is paid for. Two days with a post hole digger got the yard laid out. Using the wire fencing to create a 1 foot "no dig" skirt and climb proof top two runs of fencing wrapped up the yard. For ease of access, two gates are installed to make it easier to take care of the birds and have wheelbarrow access for clean up.
Inside the coop, we decided to go with a nest box design we saw on YouTube. Using 1x2 inch lumber to build a framework to support plastic tubs, we made easy to clean nest boxes. The tubs are easy to remove and clean. A 2x4 with a lag hook suspends the feeder off the ground. The water tank rests on some paver blocks to keep it from filling up with stuff on the floor. Chicken feet, like all bird feet, are happier on round roosts. Think tree branches. So, being thrifty again, Mulberry branches left over from spring tree trimming were installed as roosts to keep the birds happy.
Now, the project is finished and Mrs. Scooter and I are happy. Annie, the Wonder Springer Spaniel, and the chickens aren't sure yet. Annie, being a bird dog, knows she must get the offending birds and the offending birds know that they don't want to be gotten. I find it highly entertaining. I apologize that I don't have step by step photos, I wasn't a Rubie at the time and never thought I'd need to write this article. The photos are in order of build progress...
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