"Finished" Coop and Run
1. I LIKE building things! Ok, so this wasn't so much of a lesson as it was a reminder. But I really do like sawing and sanding and hammering. Painting isn't my favorite but it sure looks nice when it's done. It reminded me of shop class in Middle School and I loved that. I had forgotten how much I like it. And in fact I'd be pretty surprised if many people knew that about me.
Adjusting one of the locks
2. It's important to have vision! As soon as I knew that our friends would be giving us their old dog house/coop, the wheels began turning. In my mind's eye I saw the coop with an added nesting box, painted red, oriented a certain way, right off the corner of the garage with a run going back along the side of the garage. I saw the run being about 3 feet high with a flat "top" of fencing. Then to provide some shelter from rain, snow, and sun I pictured a removable wooden peaked roof similar to what people in New England use to protect their shrubs from heavy snow fall. That was my vision - and it was very clear.
Coop before it was hit by "The Vision"
Mid Revising of the Coop
3. You must trust your vision! There was much discussion at our house about coop paint color. The girls voted purple. Not! Scott just looked skeptical when I said Barn Red with White trim. But we stuck to my vision. Then when it came to me painting the trim white, again some raised eyebrows. But I stuck with it. And it matched my vision exactly!!!
First part of "The Vision" becomes real.
4. Be able to change your vision! I don't mean toss it out totally. It was my vision for a reason. But sometimes the vision doesn't take into account some other important factors. Like whether you will end up crippled. My vision was of a run with a flat roof at 3 feet. That was until we got the sides of the run up and I realized that while I am short, I am a good deal taller than 3 feet. And if I was going to need to get in that run at all, without crippling myself, we were going to have to adjust the vision (and the construction) to allow me in there. And so the vision shifted to include an arched roof to the run. My back is thankful!
Completed Run with Arched Roof
5. Measure twice, Cut once. I think I learned this lesson repeatedly in this project. And it's something I knew anyway. But sometimes you get cocky.... Repeat after me, measure twice, cut once!
6. There are many types of fencing. And now I can tell you the difference between welded wire, hardware cloth, and chicken wire. Not sure when that will come in handy but I know it now! Interesting factoid - Chicken Wire is for keeping poultry in not for keeping other things out. Hence the need for multiple types of fencing.
7. Wire fencing is sharp! I'm going to have some nice scars to remember the run building piece of this project. And just as one heals up, I somehow manage to cut myself somewhere else.
8. When you don't have a true work bench, you can make one out of almost anything. For instance, two folding chairs works quite well. And for a vice to hold the wood as you saw, the butt of a 10 or 12 year old is perfect!
9. If you have a good power drill/screwdriver (preferably a rechargeable battery one), you are a lucky lady. Mine is my favorite tool. I had misplaced it sometime before construction began. All plans went on hold until we found it. I could probably have done this without a great saw but The Ladies would still be coop-less if I didn't have a power screwdriver.
10. Bungee Cords are the Bomb! Let's see I've used them to hold up the doors while I painted, attach a temporary rain cover to the run, hang water bottles on the run fence, and hold up the rolled side piece of the cover.
11. Zip Ties are even better than Bungees. And more fun! All our run fencing is attached with zip ties. They are quick, easy, cheap, come in all sorts of strengths and colors, and are easily replaceable (once you get the old one off - which is not easy, nor should it be). And if we ever have the need for handcuffs.....
12. Always get more fasteners than you think you need. This includes every type of fastener. I have had to make restocking trips to Home Depot for screws, zip ties, hinges, hook and eyes and slide bolts. I always think I get a good count first but then I find that in the case of locking down the coop for predator proofing, more is better.
13. Grommetting (is that a word?) is fun! And easy. When my friend Kristie agreed to help me with the waterproof fabric cover, I made her promise to show me how to put in grommets. She's a whiz with all things fabric related so I expected she'd show me and I'd only sort of get it. But voila, I am now a grommetting professional. If you need any grommets, I'm your girl! Now I spend my time trying to think up another project that might require grommets.
14. Burying the welded wire fencing to help deter predators is HARD work. There's rocks in this New England soil, you know! In order to prevent dehydration and heat exhaustion, this job should not be undertaken on a hot sunny afternoon, no matter how excited you are about getting it done.
15. And lastly.... I have discovered that this is a job that will never be done. As I type I am already thinking about other things the Ladies will need. Won't they want an outdoor perch that is closer to the coop so they don't have to hike out from under the snow cover into 3 feet of snow to get to a perch where they can dry their cold feet? Come spring won't they want new grass to much on? And they've already eaten it down to the roots, so they'll need a grazing frame. I wonder what they will want next.