The difficulties of creating anything able to withstand the weather and terrain of our mountain home became clear long before we decided to keep chickens. However, nothing had prepared us for the engineering skills or aesthetic and functional design concepts required to build a hillside haven for our little chickadees. A few concrete footings and retaining walls later, the coop started to take its shape.
We modeled the exterior after our house with a few differences. We opted for a gambreled roof to optimize the head space, nesting boxes with access from outside of the coop for ease of use, an eave for protection from inclement weather, a flower bed lining the west face, and an arched doorway.
We left an extra foot of space when back-filling the foundation so that we could have a deep litter bed of straw. From we we have gathered, this allows the chicken manure to start its composting process inside the coop, providing a little warmth and a stronger immune system for the chickens. It also allows the lazy chicken keeper to change the bedding only two or three times a year. the floor was lined with 1/2 in welded wire to prevent any predator from finding its way in.
The chickens were closed in the coop for the first few weeks while we built the run, and they figured out that this was home. The run was completely predator proofed with 1 in x 2 in welded wire along the top, sides, and buried 2 ft out from the base. We let everyone into the run during the day and slowly transitioned into a couple hours of free ranging as they learned to put themselves to roost after sunset.
The interior is fully stocked. We have your standard feeder and waterer, with plans to install a rain water catchment and nipple watering system. There is an oyster shell feeder for healthy shells, and a Black Soldier Fly Larvae bin (more on that later) that serves as both food waste disposal for us and a protein source for the chickens.
We have had so much fun with all of this and can’t wait to start seeing the bounty of our labor. With thirty chickens (yes, thirty) we will be swimming in eggs very soon.