a tour of our chicken coop

10.17-1

Yesterday, I shared pictures of the process of building our coop. Today’s post is simply a photo tour of the coop. Like I mentioned yesterday, our coop is based off of Heather Bullard’s Chez Poulet plans. I purchased her plans and then decided we really wanted a bigger coop to house more birds. As a result, we basically doubled the coop. We changed up most of the dimensions and a lot of the materials based on what we had access to and cost. My dad did all the planning and drew up new plans based on Heather’s. I will not be sharing any dimensions for our coop or answering specific questions about the design because though we reworked the plans, they are still very much Heather’s. You can purchase Heather’s plans by clicking here.

We have a lot of empty field around our house, which feels spacious, but we love trees. We started a raised bed garden several years ago, but haven’t done much to it since – kinda had a lot going on (like having babies and an adoption!). This year we put big chunks of time, labor and sweat into one area of the yard. We started a little orchard of several fruit varieties, added the coop, built bigger compost bins and fenced in the garden.

Next up we plan to add another fenced area, add potager garden elements, 6 goats, 2 zebu, and a dairy cow. Not really. Just the fence and garden elements. We’ve got all kinds of dreams for the area. I am a reader, planner then an implementer. I’ve been quietly doing my research and planning for the long term. We built a lot this year and missed out on a lot of the growing season. I can’t wait to see this area next spring!

And now the coop.

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I really wanted to hang Meg Duerksen’s cow picture on that big white wall.

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The inside of the coop has a sand bottom with some wood shavings mixed in as well. I really questioned how this would work when I read about it, but so far it has been great. It stays oddly clean. The chickens are pretty much never in here though – usually they are in the nesting boxes laying an egg, roosting on a rafter or out running in the yard.

10.17-7

Most days we leave the coop totally open like pictured below. The chickens mainly roam our yard – with the occasional visit to the neighbor’s picnic table during dinner. Our compost bins are on the backside of the coop and the chickens are the best compost workers. Eventually we will fence in the compost area and rotate the chickens between that area and the garden area depending on growing season. We’ll keep them out of the garden when things are growing. When it is time to turn the garden soil, we will let the chickens do all that work for us (and ‘compost’ it as they work!). If you are curious about using chickens in your garden or how to have them not destroy your bountiful harvest, I recommend the book Chicken Gardens. We’ve used it extensively for our long term planning.

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The sliding door encloses the roosting & nesting box area. The rope to close it is connected to the outside of the coop. We actually leave this door open all the time since the outer part of the coop in strongly enclosed. We have three chickens that prefer to roost in the rafters of the outer area of the coop. The rest roost in the rafters of the roosting area (despite the fact we built roosting bars for them!)

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The inside of the roosting area does not look this pretty very often. The boys deep cleaned the coop before I took these pictures. We deep clean it (power wash the walls and scrub everything down about once every two months. Chickens poop a lot – everywhere. We add more wood shavings about every 5-7 days and then totally change them out every couple of weeks. Our chickens are only in the roosting area when they sleep, so that affects how dirty it gets compared to chickens that might be inside for longer lengths of time. The little cut-out holes you see lead to their nesting boxes (where they go to lay eggs). We access the nesting boxes from an exterior wall of the coop (seen in photo on right).

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The best part of the coop is the ease of cleaning it. We move our wheelbarrow to the back side, open the doors and push all the dirty (AKA poopy) shavings into it. Then we dump it all into the compost bins, where it becomes awesome compost. Our compost bins are to the left of the wheelbarrow in this picture.10.17-17

On this end, we can access the 6 nesting boxes to get the eggs. We also have 2 large compartments for storage. We store chicken supplies, garden supplies and small tools in these areas.

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I’m not sure my dad really knew what he was committing to when he agreed to ‘help me’ build a coop. I’m thankful he said ‘yes’. When we look out our kitchen and studio windows, the coop and garden is what we see. While I think it is a beautiful coop and I enjoy looking out at it, what I love most about it is that I got to build it with my dad. Maybe I doubled the size so it would take longer to build! My dad finished off the coop with a handmade weather vane. One more creative work by my dad. My dad can build anything – he really can. Thanks Dad!

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Just a reminder – I will not be sharing any dimensions for our coop or answering specific questions about the design because though we reworked the plans, they are still very much Heather’s. You can purchase Heather’s plans by clicking here.

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  • Avenlea - LOL! I just looked up what a zebu was! They look a little scary. Then I read that you were just kidding! I’m glad!

  • Christi {Jealous Hands} - It is a beautiful coop – I’ve long been an admirer of Heather’s – what a lovely home for your chicks!

  • kimberly oyler - classiest chicken coop i’ve ever seen. i propose a tour of the garden next!

  • Avenlea - It’s me again! Cute coop! Very nice you got to build it with your dad! I do a lot of building with my dad.

  • mandi@herbanhomestead - Oh man. It is so great! I love that you built this with your daddy and that he gives a thumbs up in his pictures. He’s the best! And that weather vein! Holy cow Ashley! That thing is awesome! I can’t wait to see this area continue to grow. I will live through you on this until we have a place of our own again. PS: I was really excited when I read 6 goats. And then cracked up at the zebus. HAHA!!!

  • mrs d - Love it. Can you show more of the composting you do. I am interested in how you do that as well. I love you plan. I have a similar one I want to implement at my house. Do you have lots of critters? I know we have some foxes around here and I am worried about that… even with concrete footings that I would have to do like you did. How did you secure the fence to keep critters out?

  • Katie - I love your chicken coop! It’s just so pretty! We’ll probably never have chickens (or pets for that matter–haha), but I love daydreaming about it as I look at your blog and instagram feed. Thanks so much for sharing the beauty in your life! (chicken poop and all) πŸ™‚

  • Marissa - Now I want chickens, just so that I can have a pretty coop like that! My Dad is the type to be able to build anything to, so fun that you got to do this with him!

  • Sarah (SophieBugsMom) - What an awesome project! The coop is amazing and the memories behind it are what you will treasure the most! Do you ever think forward to think of how someday your children will be saying such beautiful things about you and Chris like you say now about your dad? Beautiful legacy!!

    PS… just looked up a zebu. Glad you aren’t going there too!

  • Izzy - It looks so big and lovely! The detail and pretty-ness is amazing for a chicken coop!

  • Laura@Ms Smartie Pants - You have such a gift…..you can even make a chicken coop look pretty! What a nice family activity and life learning experience.

  • danielle - Wow, that is very pretty coop! It almost makes me want chickens, at least if I had someone else to care for them πŸ™‚

  • Shannon - I never thought I would be so in love with a chicken coop but I am! Someday I want the same exact one, right down to the Fresh Eggs sign! It’s a beauty. And that’s wonderful that your dad built it with you.

  • angie - it’s so pretty!

  • Janell - How do you handle the feeding and the care of the chickens if you go on vacation or are out of town? And what do you do with all the eggs, do you trade them or give them away? Or are you a big egg family?

  • Sarah - I love it! Prettiest chicken coop I’ve ever seen!! I have serious chicken envy πŸ™‚ I can’t wait until we have a bigger space for chickens in our yard.

    Can you tell us how many chickens your house is equipped to hold as opposed to Heather’s? I don’t see that info on her page, and I’m curious how you figure the size needed based on how many chickens you have.

    Thank you!

  • Amy @Fig Milkshakes - It’s like a fairy tale…with chickens! (Which is actually quite a thing, now that I think of it…)

  • Jennifer - That is awesome. Soooo my question is… do you rent out your dad?? πŸ˜‰ Ha! I have quite a few egg crates and I have no idea why. Maybe I thought I’d do a craft project with them or something. I’m also in BA. I’ll happily give you the pile!

  • Melinda - How many chickens live there? Do they each need their own nesting box of do they share? We are wanting to get chickens next spring but I feel like we should get the stone coop we have on our property ready as early this winter as we can:)

  • Jill - Could you give me the dimensions for your coop? lol, just kidding πŸ™‚ Beautiful pictures and inspiring post. We are getting ready to close on a house that I think would have enough room for a chicken coop. Oh the possibilities…

  • Taylor - Wow! That is absolutely incredible and stunning!!! What a fantastic job you guys did!

    xoxo
    Taylor
    http://www.welcomehometaylor.com

  • Jennifer@Godstellations.com - Awesome indeed, and I’m with the previous Jennifer, do you rent out your dad? πŸ™‚

  • Brianna Schaaf - Oh how I love your coop! I keep whining to my husband that I want chickens, but he thinks I am completely nuts!

    I love that you worked so hard with your Dad on this project, what precious memories those are…

    Like others, I had to look up a Zebu too…what a creature!

  • Cheryl - I never thought a chicken coop could be beautiful, but yours sure is! Thanks for sharing!!

  • Anna - Gorgeous! And so special to have built this with your Dad. Will you do anything different once winter arrives and temperatures drop? Is there a way to winterize the coop? Thanks for sharing.

  • sarah - I love it! It’s the prettiest coop I’ve ever seen! You make me want to get chickens! πŸ™‚

  • Bird - How amazing is this coop… where do you get so much energy?! You have 5 kids… a house, a garden and know all of these chickens.! I am speechless! Thanks for shearing your energy with us!

    Love from Germany and the -fatcatconnection-
    it was wedding time…
    http://lasagnolove.blogspot.de/2013/10/wedding-review.html

  • Brittany Fry - Absolutely stunning!! I cannot wait to have our own house so we can build a beautiful coop just like this. Love it

  • Rose E. - So, what about in the wintertime?

  • Sarah - I see your coop and the immediate words that come to my mind are peaceful and restoring. Never words that I thought I would associate with a chicken coop, but you certainly achieved it. Well done! And I love the heart behind your post- quality time with your dad, making memories and celebrating his gift. Such a neat relationship- I hope my girls will be the same with my husband through their life.

  • maile - This is the cutest chicken coop I’ve ever seen!

  • Wen - Wow so beautiful and all built with love! Thanks for sharing! Just wondering if any predators ever try to get the chickens and any tips on how you can accomplish such amazing projects with kids? I only have 2 and it’s so hard to get much done other than the everyday cleaning, cooking, homework, etc. Would love to hear your tips. πŸ™‚ Thanks!!

  • Ann - wow really impressive.. all hand made by our own.

  • Jenna Sue - Love those first two photos, so charming. I just moved back to the country and am surrounded by animals so this post makes me happy! And so does the fact that you use my font in your blog πŸ™‚

  • Kerry - Those look like great prizes! Just from scrolling through, I love the print and the leaf necklace πŸ™‚ I can’t wait to browse each store! Enjoy the rest of the time with your family πŸ™‚

  • Lynne Malan - So happy that the 7 of you could get away and dance in the waves… seems like the sea is a huge magnet for your little family… hope you had the most amazing time xx

  • Katherine - You’ve made me want to get some chickens. And maybe a goat. But I draw the line at a zebu. πŸ™‚

  • Starting A Local Market Garden Co-Op | The Potted Vegetable Gardener - […] a tour of our chicken coop Β» ashleyannphotography.com […]

  • Angela - Ashley- Who is the author of the “Chicken Gardens” book? I am looking into it for my Dad for Christmas, but I’m not sure I’m finding the right thing! Thanks!

  • Made ME Smile | Breath of SimpleBreath of Simple - […] these adorable chicks. One of my favorite blogs. Β Ashley has her own chicken coopΒ that is […]

  • Cooper - Gorgeous coop, thanks for sharing the great photos and the general layout. The ability to easily clean and compost is a very well-thought out element to the design. Looks fantastic.

  • Gordon - The coop is well and solidly built. Looks terrific! But everyone should consider more ventilation for chicken health. Perhaps leave an entire wall open (with protection). See “Fresh-Air Poultry Houses” or other materials online.

  • Emilie Mahoney - You recommend reading the book Chicken Gardens. Could you give me author, publishers – a little more so that we might find it? Thanks for the lovely chicken coop pictures and story – very helpful and inspiring!

  • Roaster Chicken Coop - […] The white walls are also very pleasing to look at. check it out here: Β http://ashleyannphotography.com/blog/2013/10/16/a-tour-of-our-chicken-coop/ […]

  • Free-Range Chicken Gardens aka Chicken Porn - […] found an awesome chicken coop and garden on Pinterest (I think that’s where I found it, maybe it was on Houzz?) and in the post the […]

  • Kathy Dill - This is the best picture of chicken coop I’ve seen.:D

  • Grace Epstein - Wonderful set up! and so clean! I used the same system at school where I had chickens/compost from school meals/veggie & herb gardens. It is so organic – a real ecosystem! I wish I could get the same at home but we have no sun for veggies so it’s chickens, lilies, monarda and land-mines in the dirt that used to be grass one time long ago. I will share your posts with my son in law who really wants chickens in addition to the gardens he and my daughter have created. Thank you!

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