We moved from an apartment into our rental house this June. My friend Liz had a large backyard flock of about 50 chickens, and was looking to downsize her flock. We planned to take four of them, so the first step was to buy or build a coop to house them.
I quickly learned that pre-built coops are ridiculously expensive. At tractor supply, a cheap coop for four chickens is about $230.
Even on Craigslist, the cost of a chicken coop isn’t usually much better. A comparably sized chicken coop still costs at least $200, unless you get a lucky deal. We decided to probably build our own, but I kept checking Craigslist daily in case I could get that lucky break.
Then one day, there was a post on Craigslist where someone was trying to give away a large doghouse. There were no dimensions posted, but the ad specified that it would take multiple guys to load it, and it featured two doggy doors for a large breed of dog. We called the owner within 15 minutes of the ad being posted, but she said that someone had already claimed it. Disappointed, I went back to planning out what materials I would need to build my own coop.
The next morning, the lady called us back and said that she’d had multiple no-shows, so we were next on her list of people who wanted it, and that if we wanted it, we’d have to hurry and be there quickly. So my husband David, roommate Ann and I borrowed Ann’s parents’ truck and headed out there. When we arrived, we quickly realized that the doghouse was a lot bigger and a lot heavier than we thought it would be. Later measurements showed it to be 6’4″ feet long by 4’3″ feet wide. Standard backyard chicken keeping advice is to have at least 4 square feet of floor space per standard sized chicken. That means our soon-to-be coop was big enough for 6 chickens!
It ended up taking about 5 strong men to barely be able to lift it and struggle their way to put it in the back of our truck. David tried to help, but it was difficult to be coordinated about it because the other men at the house only spoke Spanish.
We got the coop back to the house and drove the truck to the yard where we wanted it, but then were faced with the task of lowering it from the truck bed onto the ground. There was no way that David, Ann and I could do it by ourselves, so we got both of Ann’s parents to come, one of Ann’s friends, and one of David’s friends. Eventually we succeeded in getting the coop off the truck, but it was quite an ordeal, even for four men and three women.
So that’s how we ended up with a fantastic deal on our chicken coop. It still needed some work like a good coat of paint to protect it somewhat from the elements, more doors for the humans to collect eggs and get inside to clean it, and areas at the top for ventilation. But most of the work and materials had already been provided for us, for free!
More on what was going on with all the digging, in the next post!