Hen House Update

Hi friends, it's been a while since I've posted ~ and it's good to be back!
I've missed your company, and hope you are all well.
Spring and Summer are always a busy time here on our little homestead in the woods ~
the usual maintenance, caring for the pets, plus gardening to keep the forest from taking over the tamed sections of the property is nearly a full-time job. And this year especially busy with our new flock of chickens.
One of the things we have been busy with is the hen house which we designed and he, (Mr. OUaP) built. I'm heart-skippy happy with the results, one of the most fun gifts I've ever received and I want to share it with you.

With the exception of the exterior communal nest box and decorative finishing touches, it is nearly complete. Thankfully the hens will not begin laying until they are about 5 months old (late July, early August) so we have a few weeks to finish the nests.
I chose wood shingle siding for its rustic look which I think fits so well in the wooded forest.

Under Construction :
(The house is 6' x 8' -not including the exterior mounted nest box- and the pen is 15' x 16'.)

As I mentioned in an earlier post, we built the house and pen on the site of the old playground area, to the side of the back of the main house. The playset consisted of swings, a slide and "fort" structure; it was massive ~ constructed from utility poles, with the heavy duty metal slide bought at auction from a local school some 20 years ago.
Over time the structure had become compromised, and it was time to disassemble it. In the following picture, to the back of the pen, you can see the cross bar (utility pole) from which the swings were suspended to give you an idea of its' scale.
Our rural area is host to many predators who would do most anything for a chicken "dinner", so making the house and pen secure was a number one priority. All windows and openings, with the exception of the human door and the chicken door are screened with hardware cloth (19 gauge, sturdy metal 1/2" mesh screen.) The pen is also enclosed (top and sides) with the same hardware cloth.
Why not chicken wire for the enclosure?
I like the rustic and country look of chicken wire, but after doing some research I learned that is it NOT a secure method of keeping predators out ~ unless it is reinforced or used with live electrical wire/fencing.
After reading of some other's tragic experiences I learned traditional chicken wire is for keeping chicken fenced in, but not predators out.

The perimeter of the playground area was built from 10" x 10" redwood timbers and filled with pea gravel (which we left in place.)
Mr. OUaP excavated a portion of the pea gravel to build the hen house foundation and pen area, so the pea gravel became a walk way around the pen.
The perimeter of the pen foundation is made of 2"x 12" pressure treated wood and buried deeply beneath the pea gravel, but that is not deep enough to keep a determined predator from digging under. To keep critters from burrowing the pen edges hardware cloth was laid flat around the entire perimeter of the pen, and is buried beneath the pea gravel.
For the pen floor we had 2 truckloads of decomposed granite delivered which Mr. O
spread and compacted. It provides good drainage, and is easily raked clean each day.
Details of the exterior~

The doors and shutters are constructed of cedar ~ and I can't wait to see the wood shingle siding begin to age and darken for a nice contrast to the cedar.
I have a few ideas for container plantings near the the doors, and along the pen to add interest and color.

I wanted to carry out the rustic look so I chose hand forged iron hardware from Restorers (on line), with the exception of the human door. For reasons of practicality we went with these heavy duty self-closing gate hinges from Stanley, purchased locally.
I've had the rooster bell for years, and just moved it from one of the garden gates.
A peek inside:

One of the crucial factors to keep in mind when housing chickens is that they MUST have plenty of ventilation, but without drafts. We incorporated as much ventilation as possible while attempting to maintain the style of the structure.
What we thought would be a good idea for easy clean up ~a slide-out droppings board on the floor~ was not practical for a couple of reasons:
"We" ended up with substantially MORE chickens than the 5 we originally planned for (I couldn't resist adding a few more different breeds.) :D
This changed our plan as we realized we needed to free up as much floor space as possible, so we mounted a slide out droppings board a few inches beneath the roosts ~ a much better arrangement and easy to clean each day.
We're using the deep pine shaving method* on the floor of the hen house---I was skeptical at first, but it has been working out beautifully.
*(Fragrant pine shavings are layered approximately 4-inches deep, and simply fluffed up each day with a rake, then cleaned out and replaced as necessary.) Some find they only need to replace the shavings each 6 months or so ~ but I anticipate changing it out every 3 months due to the number of chickens and size of the house.
Out of view here, to each side of the human door are a hanging waterer and a hanging feeder.
Incidentally, we mounted hardware wire, attached to the rafters as a ceiling to prevent the chickens from roosting there~ chickens like to roost at the highest place they can find... which would be a nightmare when it comes the the "droppings" issue.
Still, we have one little renegade, Olive, who insists upon roosting in the sill of one of the eaves every night, so we eventually added a wider ledge up there for her.
(Her spot is the eave sill directly above the roost in the corner in the picture below.)

I have plans for livening up those walls to add some additional color ~
I'll update as things progress.
Currently this is the largest ventilation opening:
It provides a good cross draft when open, it also functions as a small awning when propped open ~ I leave it open every day, rain or shine.
(Eventually Mr. O will construct a hardware cloth screen door to fit inside the human door.)

If you know chickens, you know they are creatures of habit~

This little sweetie (a Silver Laced Wyandotte) jumps up on the sill every single morning to greet me when I open the window.
Of all the chickens she is the only one who does this, as if it is her assigned duty.
She and her Silver Laced sister are the youngest and most friendly of the flock.

And THIS is what follows when I open the chicken door/ramp:


A blur of chickens!
Hurrying out to get their morning treats.
There is Olive (the renegade who sleeps up high) leading the girls.

We kept the shutters simple~ one on the opposite end of the house from the human door, and one on the side, opposite the large window.
Mr. O wired the electricity~ which allows for a fan to keep the air moving on hot days, and a light to encourage them to continuing laying into the winter months, and an outlet for a heat lamp in cold weather.
So far everything has been working out very well. They have been in their new home for several weeks and I'm really pleased that the usual "aroma" (aka stinky, noxious fumes) associated with chicken coops hasn't been a problem, and the chickens seem happy and healthy.
Next time I'll share some shots of the girls, almost all grown up ~

Thank you SO much for stopping by ~ it's always a pleasure to hear from you.

Please note: If you have sent me an email in the past couple of weeks to which I have not responded ~ please bear with me, I'm getting to each one as time permits.
Thanks for your understanding.
Have a wonderful weekend everyone!
xoxo ~m.


  1. Thanks for the update, this is just so neat, what a beautiful coop, and so much detail on how to do it properly! So wish I could have chickens myself. I can't wait for the girls glam shots!

  2. You will be having freshly laid eggs every morning before you know it. I always wanted to mention again that the lovely cakestand arrived safe and sound and will look beautiful all dressed up with dessert on my blog Cari. Thank you for hosting the giveaway:D

  3. Hi Mari,
    My husband and I are admiring your chicken coup and stealing ideas to improve our own! I think I could live in that coup! We need to put a cover over our chicken yard as we've lost a few chickens and ducks to bobcats. Have fun with your feathered friends!

  4. what a beautiful job you two did! its the manshion of chicken coups. the chickens are so pretty. love the colors. i can see why you came home with more. that is so sweet that the bird says hello every morning to you :)

  5. Amazing!
    I love the chicken house!
    Glad you are ok....

  6. That is so gorgeous, thanks for sharing. It must be really neat to have

  7. love the bell, it all came out so cute~

    those are some lucky chicks. keep on enjoying your summer, time seams to fly by these days, you blink and its winter again!

  8. That has to be the single most beautiful hen house I have ever seen! Your girls are looking great!

  9. You were missed! What a fancy & thought-out chicken coup. You will be quite busy taking care of all the eggs, etc. Does that make you the Mother Hen?

  10. Marci,
    I know nothing of chickens but this is the prettiest place I've ever seen! I just love it! Sounds like you've thought of everything...I know you're having a great time with this new adventure. Your "girls" sure are pretty! Keep us posted on any new developments! Thanks for sharing!

  11. Very cute chicken house. Your chickens are very lucky to have such a great house to live and play in.


  12. Wow that is the most super hen house I have ever seen! All your planning certainly paid off. Do you have an Araucana chickens that lay the blue and green eggs? I think those are so nifty. Homegrown eggs are so flavorful.

  13. wow - that's some coop ! I love it !

    Better not let my free ranging girls see it or they'll want to move in with you :-)

  14. The cutest hen house I've ever seen!

    Good to see you back, Mari.

  15. What lucky chickens to have such a classy house! You will enjoy them so much.

  16. Oh, I've missed you, but I can see you've been busy! The chicken coop is adorable!

  17. To heck with the chickens, I would live in there. Wow. Lucky poultry. The city of Vancouver has just allowed homeowners in the city to keep a few chickens but no roosters. I don't think this will work well in the city. How many people will do this properly? You have shown how to do it right. Great job.
    What a beauty that chicken is.

  18. Thanks for the update. I believe your chickens have 5***** rated chicken coop. I can see you've already had alot of enjoyment out of this project. Having fresh eggs each day will certainly be a plus. It is absolutely adorable.
    hugs ~lynne~

  19. Everything you do, you do with class...these chickens are lucky to have a mom like you!

    Gorgeous photos!!


  20. Wow those chickens are living in style.

  21. Thank you for the "tour" of the coop! It is beautiful! Last night we had dinner with friends - they are enlarging their coop - I have to share your post with them. I told them their chickens were living in high style - but you've got them beat! Lucky chickens! They are beautiful creatures aren't they?

  22. This is amazing your hen house. I always told my husband if I win the Lottery I'm going to build a home for the chickens, but then I guess I'll have to move out of the city. Thanks for sharing your lovely photo's.

  23. I love the looks co darn cute

  24. We have been meaning to build a hen house for the last 3 months and haven't gotten around to it. I am sending his post to my love so he can get started! :) Your hen house looks amazing.

  25. Lucky chickens! That's probably the prettiest hen house I've ever seen, a perfect fit for the lovely little ladies you have.

  26. I ♥ your Chateau de Poulet!! Those are some lucky chicks!

    Glad to see you back :-)

  27. That's a handy man you have...the coop is beautiful.

  28. Absolutely beautiful. My Hub won't let me have chickens. Your coop is beautiful!

  29. I am in awe... the most perfect henhouse ever... Martha would be jealous... and those chickens... ooh la la... they are perfect!

  30. That isn't a coop, that's a chicken palace!! It's beautiful! I'm sure it cost quite a bit!!

  31. Love your chicken coop. We are starting one soon.

  32. Thanks for sharing, we're starting to plan a coop and I love the ideas and look of yours!


Thank you for your comments, friends ~ they make my day!

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