Chicken Coops Special Issue — The Playhouse Chicken Coop
The Playhouse Chicken Coop
Design by John, Elicia and John Austin Kirby
Wanting to raise chickens but not wanting to raise a huge price tag on their housing took a bit of thought. But we came up with a rather unusual way to put the three “R’s” to use and at the same time saving some of that green stuff in our pocketbook. We wanted a place for our chickens under our large oak trees since they provided shade in the summer, and plenty of sun in the winter. The solution? Our son’s playhouse. Yep, sadly the day had come that he had outgrown the swings and the slide! So we dismantled most of the structure, saving every bolt and screw, and put our heads together trying to figure out how to revamp, well, everything.
First things first, we had been quite busy clearing a lot of cedar trees on our property to make more pasture land for our future Texas Longhorns. This gave us a surplus of cedar logs. To build the pen, we used the logs as supporting posts on the sides and roof for attaching the chicken wire.
Now it was time to build the coop. We shortened the whole playhouse leaving a good foot of head clearance for the chickens under the house itself — we refer to it as their basement. The wood from the climbing structure, once part of the playhouse, became their “porch” and walkway into their house, as well as two separate nesting boxes.
Speaking of nest boxes, we also salvaged the green bendable plastic originally used for the crawling tunnel. We cut it to size and screwed it underneath the nesting box lids so no rain would drip or seep down onto the girls when they’re on the nests. The previous roofing of the playhouse extended over what is now their dusting box. We filled it with sand and grit from the river just down the road from us. And with it being covered they can, and do, play and dust themselves in the dry sand — be it rain or shine! We utilized nearly every piece of wood from the original playhouse, even build-ing the door entering the pen itself out of the salvaged wood. My husband also built windows and a door to the coop for cleaning it out.
Some of the playhouse pieces of wood had arches cut in them that he used on various areas on the coop, just to make it pretty. But my personal favorite part of the whole coop itself is the coop door! Using two pieces of wood, each with an arch, John (my husband) designed the door with an oblong opening making a place to put a window.
And being true to our nature of always wanting to customize and be creative, we spent a couple of days up in his shop designing and building a stained glass piece. We placed it in the oblong window opening of the door. And what design did we come up with? A stained glass chicken, of course! The best part is we didn’t spend a dime on any of the stained glass supplies either. We already had everything we needed left over from precious projects!
Last, but not least, we needed to discourage any predator from trying to dig under the bottom of the chicken wire to get in. We once again searched our surplus of cedar logs. We cut them into fireplace-length pieces and made a long rustic-style planting box for gardening. It runs along the side of their pen that is most vulnerable to unwelcome company!
One more word about the cedar that we used: we decided to leave the bark on the logs instead of stripping it off. Not only was it a time saver, but the girls get much entertainment in pulling it off themselves and finding a tasty morsel of a bug underneath. Yum!
I suppose in the life of a chicken, it doesn’t get much better than that!