The new hen house at Terra Nova Community; a guest post

By Claire Garden

I wanted a hen house large enough to walk into because as I get older, I find it more difficult to lean into my coops that sit on posts two feet off the ground.  So I planned and built a hen house with 6′ x 6′ footprint, 6′ high on the lower east end and just high enough on the higher west end to accommodate a used full size door that I got from friends who were remodeling their house.  Instead of a foundation, I used concrete stepping stones. The roof is 6′ x 8′ to give it an overhang on the west side.

Claire by the north gate

For a large window on the east side, I used a panel from a discarded storm door with glass at the top and screen at the bottom.

The east window closed

I had a second glass panel from another discarded storm door that I mounted on hinges to be a rain shelter when opened and that could be closed over the screen if the temps get too cold.

Close up of the east window open

I had another smaller piece of glass that I used for a fixed window on the south side, just for added light.  Also on the south side is the pop hole for hen entry, with a closable door.
I wanted to be able to gather eggs without going inside, so I built a wide nest box protruding on the north side with a hinged cover.  It will provide two large nest areas accessible to the hens inside.

Nest box accessible from the outside for egg gathering

I wanted to provide the hens with a shaded area, so added a porch roof to the south side over the pop hole.  I may put their feed in the porch area, but plan to put their water pan inside the house on a raised platform just inside the human door for easy filling.  I’m hoping it will freeze less often inside, especially since I insulated the wall right behind it with a scrap piece of thick rigid foam.  Of course, I covered the studs with boards so the insulation is not available to hens to peck at.

South porch under construction

looking into the south porch

I built a 1″ chicken wire mesh fence on the east and south sides of the house, with the north and west sides outside the fenced area.  As all our predators can fly or climb, I always put a wire roof over the pens.  I built 2×4 gates just east of the house and just south of the house.  I put more than one kind of lock on gates and doors so that smart coons can’t figure out how to get them open.

west gate locks

double lock north gate

I don’t know if the photo makes it clear that a favorite way to lock our pens is to have a  2×2 board swinging on one screw with a hole drilled through it and through the post and a big nail or bolt pushed in that can be pulled out by hand, no tools.  So far, no coon has figured it out, so the second lock, a hook, may be superfluous.

double lock, coop

Most of my materials were repurposed, though I did buy 18  new 2x4s to add to the repurposed studs I had.  The wonderful people at Columbia’s roofing company out on Paris Rd. gave me a free bundle of shingles, which were just enough, since I still had part of the free bundle they gave me for my last coop.

West doors to coop and run (smaller one on right)

I think I may not have enough ventilation, though leaving the large window open even in winter (except for the coldest nights) may be adequate.  If necessary, I could cut a narrow high “window” and cover it with hardware cloth.  Speaking of hardware cloth, I bought a new piece of it 3′ x 5′ and cut it into three 1′ x 5′ pieces.  I bent up 4″ of one side with a hammer and 2×4 piece and fastened the 4″ side to the sill with chicken wire staples on the north and west sides. Then I laid posts on the 8″ part that extended on the ground.  This is to keep rodents from burrowing into the area under the floor boards.

hardware cloth edging

You can’t see the staples hammered through the hardware cloth into the sill and maybe can’t see the bend in the cloth with 4″ on the sill and 8″ on the ground with an old clothesline post on the west side and an old pipe on the north side.
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Wow Claire, what a great coop! Thanks for writing about it and letting me share it on my blog! I love the way you’ve reused so many parts into such a great looking structure.
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