building a coop with my dad

He’s the guardian of the flock.

Is it a flock of chickens? Probably not. I’ll google that right now. Oh hey, it is a flock. Or a brood of hens (but I think we might have a rooster). Or if they are still considered chicks, it is a clutch of chicks. Whatever they are called, he is their guardian. He recently figured out how to scale up the sycamore. He can now perch up there and keep an eye out for predators.

Speaking of predators, our chickens need to move on outside. Our girls are kind of like dinner on a plate out in our open field. We looked into so many coop options. The tractor versions (coops that move around your yard) perked our interest, but based on our lifestyle and location we are going with a more permanent coop. I’ve been reading a bunch on coop locations, gardens, zone for free ranging and free ranging in general. Our girls are outside a lot right now. They just kind of roam around wherever we are playing. I thought they’d try to fly or run away, but nope they just hang out in a flock with us.

Friday morning the coop just had a concrete stem wall.

My dad and I spent Friday building the main walls and getting the frame up. My dad has let me build alongside him since I was a little girl. He is always introducing me to new tools. My favorite this round was one that used bullets to shoot into the concrete. It was loud, fun and a great stress reliever.

Our stopping point on Friday. I’m not sure why we didn’t take off our safety goggles before taking a picture!


Saturday, we built the roof trusses. It was my first time to build a truss, but not my last. I’m sure I’ll need to make more one day…for something. Saturday also had soccer games, a birthday hike and a photography workshop so we didn’t do much. Sunday, however, we were back at it.

I really enjoy building. It is a restful for me, which doesn’t make sense to some. It is a break from the normal routine of kids and laundry and picking up a million times a day. Chris got extra time with the kids and I got to build. Win, win. The kids were around watching…these two spent a little time in the shade snuggling.

The coop needed 6 holes for ventilation. My dad cut the first three perfectly. I wanted him to cut all 6 so they’d all be perfect. I am totally comfortable with saws, but not curved lines. I just always seem to struggle to get the curves perfect. Dad made me do it anyway. They were wonky and will drive me crazy. Thankfully they are on the east side where no one will really see them. I do appreciate that my dad makes me do stuff that I know I can’t do perfectly, and be okay with those imperfections. I find myself pushing my oldest all the time to do the same…to try even if he can’t do it perfectly. It is easier to be the parent in this lesson than the kid!

So the weekend ended and dad wanted a picture of me in front of the coop.

I am pretty proud of this project. There is no way I could have built it without my dad, but I am grateful he let me do all the work alongside him. The great thing about building with my dad is that now I feel like I could actually do this on my own. The reality is I need him. It is really empowering not just to build, but to learn from my dad so I can similar things with more confidence. I hope I can parent my kids in ways like my parents still parent me.

We have a lot left to do, but we are getting closer. The coop is huge because we are planning for the future. I’d love to let our hens hatch a few chicks and let the kids see that process. We made a lot of progress and I am looking forward to getting this thing finished and those crazy chickens outside!

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  • RachelC - Wow, friend!!! That coop is so cool! I love that you and your Dad always build together. It just enhances the end product….not just a super fabulous chicken coop — but lifelong memories. You rock!

  • Ellie - Random question, I know, but are you going to keep the rooster? We have chickens in the city so we can’t have a rooster and had to give ours away (to friends in the country). But was just wondering. I know there are good reasons to have one and not to have one…

  • bonnie - the coop looks great. i totally get it when you say that building is relaxing. it is a nice break from the norm and it gives you a sense of seeing something being accomplished. it just feels good to use your hands to make something. i love the relationship you have with your parents. your kids will learn so much just from watching your relationship with them. i cant wait to see the finished project.

  • Necole @seriouslysassymama - I love all the different ideas for coops. My parents neighbors have one with one wood wall, then chicken coop wire that surrounds the other 3. They built specific places or the chickens. It is really cute. You need to paint it a fun color, or a colorful stain.

  • Kari - “Our girls are kind of like dinner on a plate out in our open field.”

    I read this three times before it finally hit me that you were talking about your chickens and not your daughters! I’m off to get more coffee.

  • Jenny B. - Terrific! The coop looks great, but more importantly, I love that you built it with your dad. The picture of you sawing the vent holes made me think of Proverbs 31:17 “She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks.” 🙂 And, the whole story made me think of an article I just read last night about building our family narrative. It was a good read. Here’s the URL if you’re interested. 🙂

  • Berlyn - Aww! This is so sweet! My family has been raising chickens for years, only once did a hen lay and hatch eggs on her own, but it was an amazing thing to witness! Some of my favorite memories of growing up involve our chickens. We once had 4/5 chickens who would fly up a tree (not too high off the ground) and roost every night, but one of the roosters was too large to fly that high, so he just slept on a rocking chair on our porch! Oh the chicken stories I could tell.. haha. Your family is going to have so much fun!! 🙂

  • Sellersatlast - That is so awesome your Dad, and Grandfather are such amazing builders! I would love to be able to see a project and know I could complete it! My Dad does a lot of other things really well, but building is not one of them 🙂

  • mandi@hebanhomestead - oh man, I love this! My dad and I are very close and we share similar interests too. Probably because he let me garden and cook alongside him my whole life. Your coop is looking great! And trust me, it’s always better to go too big than too small. Our tractor is too small. So we have to add on or start all over. Sigh…

  • Juli - I’ve said it before & I’ll say it again…you are blessed, BLESSED I tell ya! It is amazing to see someone so loved by her whole family.

  • Alice H - I have said this before but I am going to say it again…your family is so amazing! So full of crafty, DIY people! You each offer something different but still so similar. Again, amazing talents you all have!

    Also, I said this on your IG pic…NICE BICEPS!! And look at how tan you are getting too!!

  • Monica - It is so cool! Almost finish. I would love to live kind in a country side to have more open space to do things like that. My housband love to garden, but I think we need more space for that too. I never loose my hope that one day we will have that. Thank you for sharing. And congratulations . It is excited to see your project from the start to the end. 🙂 Have a great day!

  • Paige - Love it! Our girls used to follow us all around the yard. The kids would run and the girls would follow! We lost them last year to our dog that played too rough with them. He never bothered them before other than bark at them. I cried. Stupid I know, but those were my babies! Anyway, remember to give them egg shells. My girls LOVED egg shells with yogurt. A special treat for them each week!

  • Laura@Ms Smartie Pants - Beautiful work! As you explained your relationship with your dad as your worked on this project it reminded me of our relationship with Christ…. “The great thing about building with my dad is that now I feel like I could actually do this on my own. The reality is I need him.” Love the pic of the guardian too!

  • Robin C. - nice little sunburn/tan you got too.

  • Regan - That first picture is amazing!

    How special to do this with your father. A beautiful memory.

    My friend in Texas has chickens and was not greatly prepered for the heat of summer. I know you said you ave been reading a lot about it. Frozen berries, frozen melon, sprinklers really helped her and her chickens.

  • Amy - Curious- we’re about to move further out to the country & I expressed a desire to have chickens once we’re there. My husband said no bc they’ll attract snakes. So we plan to have guineas instead. How do you keep the snakes away? Or is that not an issue?

  • Sharon @ Discovering Blog - There is so much awesomeness in this post! The example your father sets for you, the example you set for your kids, the fact that you are building a coop from scratch, your comfort with power tools – so much awesomeness!

  • Annbee - Wow! Loving the coop thus far! Definitely looks a lot cooler than ours. 🙂 This spring we’re going to do up some chicken tractors for meat birds and seeing all your hard work on your coop is definitely inspiring me to get out there and start already!!

  • Sarah - The coop looks great!! I grew up on a chicken farm and our coop wasn’t quite as fancy, but more industrial. You guys did a great job.

  • Debbie C - So so impressed…by that beautiful coop, your family’s mad building skills, and your toned upper arms. 🙂 Also, I can’t believe the chickens are so big already! Wow they grow fast. Looking forward to seeing the finished coop.

  • Oh Lardy - Oh!!! I love this. Your coop is going to be amazing! I can’t wait to see the finished product. I am actually writing a Practical Guide to Chicken Keeping on my website, so check it out for some info that you might not know yet.

  • Raimie @ Joyfinders Path - Dear Ashley Ann,
    Fabulous glasses! 😉 It is probably like when I forget I’m still in my painting clothes when someone snaps a picture and never notice until I see it later and am thinking, What was I wearing!?

    Your dad is so great to share his skills. My dad is a carpenter and when I was a little girl I used to tell him I was going to be one too when I grew up. I took great pride in calling us ‘Keough and Daughter’. And while I’ve never taken up the trade for more than very small tasks around our own home, I still love the thrill of creating on that level. The best gift my husband ever bought me (besides my DSLR) was a nice jigsaw.

    The coop is wonderful!
    So happy for your family to be able to try this new chicken-keeping role. Great memories being made.

    Raimie Lu

  • Ruth Abel - I love watching your flock grow! I can’t wait till we get a yard with enough space for some chickens of our own! Saw this funny little bit of whimsy and thought of you 🙂

  • Jacci in Ohio - WOW. That is a coop!


    I love, love, love that you live around so much of your family. That your dad is game to build this… and that he’s still looking out to teach you a thing or two 😉 That’s all GOOD stuff!

  • Jane - Precious memories! I loved doing anything with my dad. Feeding cows or walking through the woods. He died unexpectedly in December and I miss the little things. Especially his advice and wisdom. I have gotten many of his tools and gadgets and have been building on my own. You will be able to reflect fondly on these memories with him…..

  • Susan - #2 slays me! He is adorable! May God continually bless him and all of yours with this awesome curiosity they seem to have!

  • Shan - I lost my Dad 3 yrs ago. Its nice to see someone still being able to enjoy their Dad. It fills my soul 🙂

  • meg duerksen - gun show!
    girl you are ripped!
    i miss you.
    and your kids.
    and you.
    happy coop making.

  • Lisa - My favorite thing is building things with my dad as well! And I was introduced to the concrete gun when we built my shed together last year – SUPER fun!! I am thinking up new projects so I can use it again! It is such a blessing to have a dad that is handy and enjoys the experience of creating with his daughter, even if he could do it faster himself. My dad says I’m his favorite project partner because I always know exactly what I want and we just make it happen. 🙂 Love how the coop is coming.

  • Amber Campbell Hibbs - The coop is fabulous. Maybe I missed it because I haven’t been able to read your blog for a while, but are you using a plan from somewhere or did you/your dad design it. I ask because I’m supposed to design one for Meg and I’m not getting it done as quickly as I would like. Yours looks like it might be in line with what she is wanting.

  • Ria - You are going to love having chickens! Our ladies are like family. And the fresh eggs….yummy.

  • Lex - He’s a regular, real-life Huck Finn! Too cute!

  • Kate @ Songs Kate Sang - I love this! Love. Your daddy reminds me of mine… but I was not as good of a listener… thankfully he still lets me help.

  • Dana - Ashley….I adore this post. Love reading about fathers/daughters….oh my heart! Your pictures are precious, as always.

  • Izabela - It looks amazing. My husband is building a chicken coop right now to make it look like a barn. He’s made some great progress. I will have him check out your post because I’m sure he’ll find it interesting. I love your bonding time with your dad.

  • Melissa - That coop is going to be amazing! You are so lucky to have such a great dad – growing up that was always work for the “boys” aka my brothers. So wish I had some skills now.

  • Ryan - Chicken coop or guest house? You be the judge. 🙂

    I love it! It looks great. You’re going to make some foxes and coyotes very unhappy with that super fancy, buried wall you’ve put in.

  • Jenn Hays - Your coop is going to be amazing! I can’t wait to see the finished product! I LOVE the picture of your son in the tree watching over the chicks.