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Did You Say Chickens?

My wife, Robyn, has been talking about getting chickens for quite a while now. Raise our own, have an egg supply, know what they've been fed to keep them free from all the crap the food industry puts in them and such. They also produce a lot of fertilizer which would be handy in our garden.

Chickens. Sure why not?
Well, how about we live in an area that hits 120F/49C on occasion. We have bobcats and coyotes and I've found what's left of our neighbor's chickens in the wash on occasion. She's laughed about watching a bobcat hop over her wall, into her chicken pen and snag one for lunch.

If anything can be said for Robyn, it's that she can be quite persistent. She's talked about chickens for YEARS. I guess it finally sunk in and I decided it was time to pursue getting a coop and run set up. She's kinda laughed about just sitting back and being patient with me. She knew I'd cave and get her set up.

Back in Jan of 2018, not long after making the garden I added a green house. It was a simple floor with PVC framework and clear plastic sheeting over it. Even in January it wasn't a green house. It was a hot house.

It didn't take long to realize that the PVC setup was not going to work. One passing dust devil showed me the errors of my building ways so I made a simple wooden frame and covered that with the clear plastic. We tried a couple of times to start plants for the garden but all we got was cooked veggies. No bueno. The green house never got off the ground (well, other than it's elevated a few inches. - insert drum shot). It's just sat there holding what was inside, weathering the past six years of Arizona sun. Gotta say I'm impressed with the composite board flooring. Other than being dirty, it still looks darned near new. Something to be said in our mega UV light world. UV destroys EVERYTHING! Especially plastics.

I decided that the old green house base would probably make a good chicken coop. It's twelve feet long and eight feet wide. More than enough room for, well, I don't know how many. Robyn had been on a couple of Facebook chicken groups (yeah, there's a group for that...) and had a bunch of ideas to work with. We also used Google-fu to find blueprints and such. I was armed with (mis)information and the time had come to do something with it.

The beginning of this March, 2024 I started out by cleaning up the old green house and then got to work on roofing it and getting walls installed.

We found a simple run kit that came with chicken wire all around and over it so we can keep the predators out and the chickens have a place to roam and scratch and do what ever it is that chickens do. I hear they like swings, so there will be one. It's ten by twenty feet and comes with a tarp to cover one third of it. I get the feeling I'll be covering at least another third. We shall see...

Roofing work:

That fan has been running off of just the solar panel now for going on six years.
It's funny; as a cloud passes by, limiting the light, the fan slows down a bit.
Cloud passes, up it revs.
Also, a breeze out of the south kicks it into high. WhrrrrRRRRRRRRRrrrrrr.

Time for the metal roof installation along with closing up the coop.

We discover that chickens like to have their own personal space for laying eggs. They (chicken people) call this area a 'nesting box'. Chickens like an area that's about one cubic foot, give or take. I have eight feet of wall, I'll make seven boxes. And so began that aspect of this project.

I made sure to place them in the area that gets the most shade through out the day and where we'd have easy access to them. My shop shades the coop until mid morning and then the sun sets on the opposite side, where the run is located.


I made three separate openings to get into the boxes from outside. It allows access to either a pair of nesting boxes on the ends or three of them in the middle.
Unlock, open, reach in, snag eggs.

Got the interior wall up and a door on the exterior. I also got chicken wire screening up inside the coop on both the north and south walls.

Installed a sliding door on the north wall so we can shut the chickens in at night.

Another thing I had to pay attention to was any place that a rodent or snake or any vermin, for that matter, can intrude. A bit of wire work and the place is sealed tight from critters. I supposed a lizard can probably get through up in the top but why a lizard would come into a chicken coop is beyond me. A lizard is a moving snack for chickens.

One afternoon, while I'm working on the coop, Robyn informs me that she and two of her friends are going to have a coop paint and wine party. She shows up with a couple of cans of paint and a bunch of painting equipment. The three of them did it all in a day (minus some touch up and a couple pieces of trim that's still needed).

I posted a pic or two of this build in one of the FB groups and had someone ask if we were going for a "Friend's Theme". Huh? What the heck is that? I still don't know.

Time to head inside and get it set up. I started out with the shelf in front of the netting boxes, including a ramp. Who knew they needed ramps? I thought chickens had wings for vertical movement.

I also started working on getting the roosting bars installed. This is a mock up. The board holding the end of the bars is now gone.

Here's what it looks like now.

One thing that people on the FB groups kept saying is that the chickens were going to need a lot of ventilation. The single fan won't do it. I kinda suspected this. So it was time to add windows in the east and west walls and add a bit more fan power to increase air flow.

East window closed

East window open

I'll get to the west side window in a while. I need to work on getting the run critter proof. I decided that doing a concrete footer around the perimeter of the run would probably be the best option. It's proven very effective in the garden. I head to Lowe's and snag a bunch of cinder blocks. I'm going to make a footer and put these in it to form a small wall. I can put the legs of the coop directly into the edges of the blocks and secure everything nicely.

Didn't take me long to start looking on Craigslist for someone that did concrete walls and such. Well worth the phone call... Concrete work SUCKS. They didn't do it quite right - didn't enclose the corners - but I was able to move stuff around and make it right.

Anyone that knows me knows that I'm a bit of a tech nerd. (Okay, maybe quite a bit...) My good friend Jay had given me a bunch of large solar panels and I needed a use for them. Let's see... Chicken coop has doors that need to be open and shut, fans that need to be turned on and off, lighting and a lot of posts on the FB groups recommend cameras to keep an eye on the chickens and wary of predators. Hmmmm.... Sounds like a project to me! Time to automate the coop.

It's incredible what one can find on Amazon. How do you go about opening/closing doors remotely? Actuators and wireless controls, that's how. And the stuff is silly cheap. I can open/close the windows, turn on/off the fans and lighting and I have two cameras that feed back live data all the time. Cool! I ordered a bunch of stuff and started building.

Once I had it up and running, it was time to install it into the coop and start wiring everything up.

I installed two lights, one inside, one out, a second pair of fans (man these things are NOISY) and got the second wall cut in a couple of days ago. I still have to put screen over the fans. I don't want pureed chicken.

I also got the window actuators installed. It's pretty cool to hit a button on my phone and have the stuff move.

My friend Jay's going to come over and help me put two of the solar panels up on top of the coop tomorrow morning. I get those installed and plugged in and the whole coop is up and running and completely off grid. The panels are ready and waiting.

Plan as of now, as I sit here typing, is to get up with the sun (4:30a) and try to get all the caging over the run. Once that's done, the coop is complete and ready to start accepting birds.

Speaking of the birds...
I build stuff.
Robyn keeps things alive (we hope).
Robyn wants designer chickens, we're starting out with Tractor Supply chicks.

That's all for today.


As mentioned, Jay came over and helped me the beginning of the week. We got the solar panels installed and then about 2/3rds of the run caged with chicken wire. He really helped progress. Thanks Jay!

Panels installed

Chicken wire installation.

Worked on the run today. Got up at 6:15, was out at about 7a and was able to work outside until almost 11 - mainly in the shade. Can't do work in the direct sun, that wipes you out.

It was 82F/28C when I started and 95F/35C in the shade when I called it a day. Almost done.

Still have to finish the end on the left.

Fighting the white shade/cover thing was comical. Light breeze made it a bit challenging. Was able to use it to my (short statured ass) advantage a bit. Got the upwind side zip tied sort of in place then worked on getting the other side down. Once in place I screwed it onto the frame and zip tied the edges to the cage wire.

I also got the pass through cut out so the chickens can get to the run area.

Run shot from the west door.

Getting closer!

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