raising the coop walls

As in all barn-raisings, we went with the tradition of inviting neighbours round to help.

platform-stacked

Many hands made very light work of standing each wall,  right-wall

And bracing it in place once it was plumb. Just a temporary screw into the platform, and into the top of the wall, really.

east-west-walls

Tra -la. Thank you friends.

north-wall

I added another temporary piece across the top for extra strength while I set about framing in the north stud-wall. Can you see the jig-sawed arches for the nesting box pop-holes?

north-wall-sheathed

I’d already jigsawed the sheathing, and it wasn’t difficult to attach by myself. Never underestimate the friendly support of a few good clamps.

framed-south-wall

Here is my pride and joy, the south wall. I cut all of it by hand, as I had the whole coop to this point, with the exception of the jigsawed shapes. My father talked me through the principles of framing for a door, the layout of which produces such strength. My telephone support. How interesting, to build something the way it is properly, professionally, historically done, and to do it accurately, by hand. Quite satisfying. south-wall-preparation

I’ve framed this front wall to fit the cupboard doors that I found in the 1950’s house demolition. I wanted to be able to open wide doors, to easily get into the coop for cleaning and such. The height works well, too.

south-wall-clamped

Because I built the long walls out of pallets, connecting them at the corner was a bit tricky. Can you see those holes in the studs at the end of the walls? I predrilled the front wall so I could slip a bolt through on either side, and those holes allowed me to tighten a nut onto the bolts. The solutions are satisfying, but like any retro-fit, there are many solutions required! Luckily my father completely renovated his home from a 1950’s bungalow, so he’s my perfect mentor.

south-wall-door-framed

That’s it. Four walls for the chickens, and a thorough education for me. Next – there’s a roof to raise!

An excerpt from my journals of that time:


june 22

we have a third wall! the north wall, where the nest boxes will go. i am quite proud as it is reasonably plumb and all fit in nicely, though it took all afternoon with plenty of brain. it was very relaxed, however, and i had a nice chat with my neighbour as we pulled out a bit of lumber for the framing, and she gave me some sunchokes for the chicken garden. i am so pleased to have this wall framed in! tomorrow i’ll attach the plywood i’ve clamped after i cut the framing to match the jigsawed nest-box pop-holes.

i also mulched the poor currant and a potted tree, and weeded a fair bit. we tried a thistle on the chicks, no one was wild about it, but they sometimes need a couple of introductions. if they would eat my thistles i’d be delighted!
the chicks were blissful under the trees behind the coop, plenty of weeds and lots of earth to bathe in. i think they may have been out with me for three hours, so when i heard them singing their sleepytime song i called all the children to carry them in, and the chicks came to me gently, let me pick them up, only a couple ran away. now they are snoozing in the brooder after a nice cuddle with the girls and boys. they’re a month old.

storing eggs

Something I very much like about England is the tradition of storing eggs without refrigeration. In the shops eggs are found stacked on shelves, half a dozen in a box. At home I’ve become rather fond of keeping our eggs in a bowl on the counter. Brilliant design, eggs, hermetically sealed, no less. The children like to put them in carefully, choosing their favourites for the top. They pretend that they’ve gathered the eggs from our own hens. Imaginary hens with names; Lucy and Penny, most recently. Hmm. Maybe someday soon. You can keep hens in London, and you can keep them in Vancouver, and you certainly can keep them in the countryside where we’re headed, if all goes well, very soon. It might be time to have just a little peek at some plans for a very fox-proof henhouse. Though I suspect we’ll have enough work to keep the deer and the rabbits out of the vegetable patch!

bowl-of-eggs.jpg

I also rather like the wire baskets traditionally used for gathering and storing eggs. Tempting. We always buy organic eggs, hopefully from happy birds. Do you keep hens?