Since chick days are nearly here again, I’ve started thinking about how we built our chicken coop by converting a barn stall. I know when I was originally planning my coop, I really wish I had seen more pictures of people who had larger coops and other converted stalls since I needed more inspiration, so I decided to share the love. When we bought our house, we were fortunate enough to buy a property that had an old barn. While it was unkept, mice were definitely living in the insulation around the roofing, only a single gutter that was half way down, and there was rot around a number of areas with a completely covered, leaky roof, it had good bones. On top of that, there was also a spot near the garage where the former owners had cut a giant hole through the siding and placed a dog run. Given that our dog is spoiled with walks, the run wasn’t really necessary, but it did provide us with free chicken fencing.
After weeks of research, purchasing a likely excessive number of chicken books and reading adamantly, having my husband beg and plead for me to wait longer despite my gluttony for fresh, organic, free range and pasture raised chicken eggs, I finally got chicks at the local feed store near the end of March. Saving for the fact my Ameraucana actually lays brown eggs instead of blue, they were all good egg layers, healthy (with the exception of some very sickly silkie chicks I bought from a store I won’t go to again), and docile. They were definitely more expensive than ordering from a hatchery online, but less expensive than going to the seemingly snooty hatchery in our area. While I hope to find breeders locally for when I attempt raising meat birds, there weren’t any that I could find originally.
To be clear, I was aware buying chickens wasn’t going to save me oodles of money. Just the start up costs alone (~$100 for chicks, feed, feeding containers, heating pads, etc, with roughly an additional $15-20 per chick to get it to the age of laying thanks to organic feed costs), was spending the equivalent of nearly a year’s worth of eggs at $5 a dozen, and since one happened to be a rooster he turned into a slightly expensive (albeit the most delicious broth I’ve ever made) dinner when he kept attacking the hens for sweet loving and me when I entered the coop.
My husband and I bought a delightful piece of property in February of 2016. You’ll notice this blog post is dated January of 2017. That’s right, it’s been nearly a year, so to give you some background, let me tell you a bit about our beautiful piece of property and the unfortunate things that rested inside.
Before I get on, though, I feel like I should include some useful advice from what we’ve learned since it’s a rather long post and all useful information will be buried inside. Mainly, I have two bits of advice since they were things we did that my former contractor father found surprising and helpful. We were fortunate enough to know someone who is super into recycling metal for his income, so we were able to recycle hundreds of pounds of metal from the old, broken appliances as well as the giant metal sink they had in place as well as nails and other assorted things. I also used the tresses to make my chicken’s roost in their coop. Most areas have people who recycle metal near them, so definitely look that up if you’re doing a major remodel. Second, thanks to craigslist, some strangers picked up all the cabinets and the questionable countertop that went with them, including the ones severely damaged from water, mice teeth, and fire. They were mainly going to be used in people’s shops, which is a good second use for old cabinets.
I gave them away for free, but in hindsight I likely could have charged something as well. My dad was just glad we were able to avoid taking them to the landfill, saved hundreds in dump fees not to mention the time we saved, and shocked people would want the old cabinets. I was grateful that since I wasn’t charging anything that when people flaked out, I left unclaimed cabinets outside under the porch without guilt and strangers came by and picked them up for me.
Now, back to our main focus!
Our house is on a lot just under 3 acres. Where we live (the greater Seattle area), this is nearly impossible to find anymore without handing the seller your bank account access information and giving them permission to take whatever they want for the rest of your life. We were fortunate enough to get it for a fairly reasonable price given it was a bank foreclosure after spending half a year looking for a property, offering on many, and failing to get a reasonable price every single time. That said, we also live in one of the few remaining rural communities in our area that still has fairly easy freeway access. While the commute is definitely less than ideal for my poor husband who has since started working in Seattle rather than the Eastside, it’s still not terrible considering we love our home.