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Finishing up – Coop Details

Posted by joeabbott on April 8, 2010

Here’s a list, in no particular order, of projects that having a coop has spawned.

French Drain

French Drain behind coop These aren’t great pictures of the French drain but we didn’t take pictures while it was in progress. As I recall, it was frustrating, toiling work that took less time than I would have thought but was still a piece of work. And Suzy was working like a dog at the same time. No photo records of that day!
A week earlier, I bought three-10’ sections of 4” diameter corrugated landscaping pipe. The drainage pipe was slotted but not covered. I could have bought pre-covered, but I had a bunch of landscaping fabric already at home so I decided to “roll my own”. It was annoying work but not that bad. So we just waited until the rain stopped. How’s that for irony?
When we caught a bit of time without rain on a Saturday, I beat the earth into submission with a monster mattock that Suzy picked up for working around the yard; Suzy was busy installng edging along the path we had put in. I know she had a miserable job (that was a lotta path!) but digging a 30’ trench through glacial refuse is a lotta work, too.
I managed to get a pretty good trough that sloped downhill from around the back of the coop out into the middle of the back yard. I made sure it was smooth and there weren’t places where water could pool. I then cut sections of landscaping fabric, wrapped the pipe, and lashed it on in a couple places with twine.
I then lined the bottom of the trench with a bit of small, broken gravel. Not much be enough to keep it from sinking immediately into the clay-like mud. The three sections mated together nicely and I was able to lay them onto the gravel in the trench without disturbing the wrapping. I had it “end” in a small rocky drainage field but really know nothing about this sort of thing and just hope I hadn’t created a big problem for us to deal with later.

After that, I dumped rock around and on top of the pipe. It took a couple loads of stone to completely cover all 30’ of it! I don’t plan on keeping the rock clear … for all I care grass can grow back over it. As with all things here, it felt like a bit of overkill but I don’t believe I’ll be dealing with this issue again.
The picture above and to the left is behind the coop. The larger stones in the picture came out of the trench that I’d dug. Right now it looks messy but hoping it’ll “settle down” a bit and look better later in the summer or next year.
The following pictures are other parts of the drainage. Just looks like a path of river rock right now.
French Drain 002 French Drain 003 French Drain 004

Far Side Path

Path behind coopThe placement of the coop wasn’t perfect. At least not in the sense that we could walk around it comfortably. The ground on the house-ward side of the coop drops off a lot and the ground behind it slopes up almost immediately. On the house-ward side I’d brained myself several times on the eaves and so we decided we needed something to help us negotiate the area around the coop.
So we built a path on the far side.
Originally we’d picked up some square pavers to bury into the dirt around the outside of the coop to keep critters out. But at this point we just had them set against the bottom edge. That wasn’t a great plan but it was something of a deterrent. Anyhow, we pulled these up from the side of the coop, set them in a stepping-stone-like path on the far side, and then filled around them with crushed gravel.
coop projects 011Around the base of the coop we tamped down a bunch of the smaller stones I’d unearthed while creating the trench for the French drain. This seemed to work pretty good. If an animal was inclined to want chicken for dinner, it wouldn’t take a lot to dig in, under, and come up into the coop. Fortunately, most rodent-type animals of the sort we see in the back yard aren’t that smart. So, they’ll have to dig through crushed chip rock, pull aside river rock, go under the lower trim, and up through a bunch of sand. Nothing bulletproof, just enough deterrent that I think we’ll be safe.
Or at least the chickens will.
The picture to the left is from the rear of the coop; the one on the right is from the front … where the entry door is. As you can see, the pavers are set so they have a tilt to the outside. This is on purpose to encourage any drainage to funnel toward the French drain. I can say from walking on them that it feels a little steep.
Unfortunately, the French drain is near enough that walking on that side at all is a bit of a challenge … it’s just too narrow once you avoid the gutters and deal with the sloped stones. I don’t think I’ll ever widen it but I had considered putting a path into the hillside above the French drain. To which Suzanne commented, “what, are you just trying to make more work for yourself?” Good point.
Here’s a picture with chickens in it … just to prove we actually still have them. They seem to like it back there.
coop projects 008
And here’s a picture of the very back. We piled more of the unearthed river rock against the back, built up the back area with a lot of sandy soil, and added a few round pavers to stand on when collecting eggs. The round stones were a test for what we might do on the near side. As you’ll see, we went a completely different route there.
coop projects 010

Near Side Path

This is another project for which we don’t have pictures “in progress”.
coop projects 005coop projects 002When I started out I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. Or, I should say, I thought I knew what I wanted to do, wasn’t sure about how to do it, and was pretty sure I’d figure it out on the way to completion.
My initial thought was to build a path that sloped down from the back side to the front and then, where it turned toward the door, would take a step up. Because the hillside fell away, I’d need to stake out a path, cut the earth down and flatten it, and then dig out a shallow trough. I’d fill the bottom with sand to level some stepping stones, add the stones, and then fill around the stones with the same crushed rock I used on the far side of the coop. Simple.
On the way to doing this, things changed.
First, I was out of crushed rock and it had actually been somewhat pricey. Not terribly, but enough that I took pause. Then there was the fact that Marenakos, the place we got our natural stone (and the sand and the crushed rock) was only open on Saturdays until 4 PM or so. Not great hours for someone who is figuring things out as he goes. And finally, we had a bunch of sandy soil brought in for our raised planters and we still had a yard of it left unused.
So, I placed stakes in the ground where I wanted the path and started to cut away the soil. When I had the rough shape laid out, I started laying the pressure treated 4×4 members I picked up from Home Depot. I picked up four of them and thought that would be enough. Well, I made the deadly sin of leveling the first one I laid … and from there, all the others “wanted to be” level, too.
coop projects 003coop projects 004To lay the 4x4s, I’d set one in place, level it, and then drilled 3/8” holes in it … three per 8’ section. I then drove 2’ rebar stakes through it into the earth. When I doubled up on the 4x4s, I’d drive in 3’ lengths when I could.
I’m pretty sure they’ll stay put, as that was a lot of pounding.
When I got the first ones laid, I thought it looked good but I had a hard time figuring out the transitions and how I’d work the step into things. Suzy asked why I didn’t just build up a “wall” and it seemed like a reasonable way forward.
I ended up getting 12-4×4 timbers and setting them in. I also used the sandy soil to fill in around the rocks. I think a tighter pattern would have looked a little better but it saved me a trip to the rock center and I was able to finish in one day.
Overall, this project came out pretty good. From the house the wall doesn’t look bad and even provides a nice “base” for the coop when looking up at it. There was enough erosion around the lower edge of the wall that I now need to back fill a little dirt against it. But that’s fine, we have a lot more of the sandy soil and Suzy is interested in packing that slope so we can grow some shrubs or grassed there.


today 280This was certainly a love-hate project. I loved that it was finally done (and it’s working great) but I HATED doing it. What a pain in the behind! This project had me thinking I completely suck at construction stuff. Good for humility, bad for enjoyment.
Where to begin?
I had bought my pieces\parts at McClendon Hardware because they had the style I wanted. I tried two of the “big box” chains and one had two styles, both looked HUGE, the other store had a single style … HUGE. So I went to McClendon and they had a couple styles but one that appeared small enough to look OK on something like our coop.
I got all the parts, plus a few I later returned, and start the project by gluing the end caps to the 10’ troughs. Simple enough. I then drilled a hole in the bottom as I hadn’t inserted a “drain piece”. This is the part that would connect to a downspout. As we decided to use a “rain chain”, we wouldn’t need a downspout.
I made the hole using a “hole saw” … absolutely not the right tool to use for going through metal but it worked. And, as I bought my bit on the cheap from a foreign import hardware store, I wasn’t too worried about replacing it. All the hole took upon completion was a bit of work with a file and some metalwork sandpaper.
With the ends on and the hole in place, I headed up to the coop with a drill, my level, and the spikes for attaching the gutter. Suzy helped to hold one end, I set up the gutter with a bit of slope toward the hole, and drilled through the gutter. With that done, I pushed in a spike, added a space to avoid collapsing the gutter, and started pounding in.
today 278today 279And this is when the cursing started.
I sunk three spikes per side and nearly all of them went in OK. Some took a bit more pounding than others, most didn’t hit the support structure perfectly … but well enough to hold OK. One location, however, hit the support dead center and then stopped moving.
I bent three spikes and elongated a hole in the gutter. I split a spacer and needed lock pliers to remove the bent spikes. I howled and railed at the inanimate parts to no avail. I was thoroughly frustrated.
Finally, I pulled out my third bent spike, pulled down the gutter far enough to get a drill over the top, and pre-drilled a hole for the spike. This actually worked really well. But, by that time I was not a happy camper.
As you can see in the pictures above to the left, the spike end mostly covers the elongated hole but the gutter itself, compliments the spike following the drill path, has an upward tilt (picture upper right).
today 281today 277But, for the most part, the gutters are in perfectly. Or, in “just the way I want them”. They are placed a bit close to the roofing to be spec … but this is mostly because the roofing is long. I won’t have a lot of room to get my hand in for cleaning them out, but hopefully that means we’ll have less in there to get out.
Once I had them hung, we used a couple of spare spikes left over to support the chain for the rain chain Suzy bought, and then hung those down. In the pictures above under Near Side Pathyou can see the green “rain barrels” that we setup to catch the water. They aren’t big enough for heavy rains (we overflowed during the 1.5”-in-two-days rain that we saw earlier), but in the stuff we normally get, it’s not an issue.
And that’s it for my projects! I still need to get frames on the windows but that’s giving me something of a problem. And, it’s not really needed, so I’m not in too big a hurry. But I’m sure there’ll be more. Now that I think about it, I need to create a catch to hold up the nest box lid, need to plane down the tight doors, should lay in a little more sand, …

2 Responses to “Finishing up – Coop Details”

  1. galaxys3.devhub.Com said

    Great blog! Is your theme custom made or did you download it from somewhere?
    A theme like yours with a few simple adjustements would really make
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    • joeabbott said

      Thanks for the note!

      I’d like to take more credit for the theme, but it was one of the canned options I selected when first setting up my blog and I’ve never changed it. Here are the details I have on it:

      By Andreas Viklund and Ainslie Johnson A three-column theme with customizable colors and sidebars on the left and right.

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