I'm Tonia and this is my family. There's Hubs, my wonderful partner; Bug, my darling daughter; and Boo, my charming son. We are the Collins clan. We are a homeschooling family who try our best to live out God's will for our lives every day. There are lots of stumbles along the way, but we love each other and this little life we're carving out for ourselves. Recently we found ourselves called to make some big changes in our lives so we're packing up the McMansion and moving out to a little farm in need of a lot of TLC. We have tons to learn and tons to do and we invite you to share the journey as we turn our not-so-new heap into a home.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

The Making of "Fort Knox"- Part 1

When we first started talking about moving I had one request: chickens. I have been smitten with the idea of them for a long time, ever since I started gardening really. Any chance I can provide something for my family without buying it, I'm all over it and chickens seemed like a no brainer- healthy products raised right where I can see them. Sign me up. Thankfully the Hubs was sold too and soon we were both reading books about chickens and planning the "perfect" coop.

Once we arrived at the Heap and knew we had outbuildings in place our planning shifted a bit. We decided to turn an old tin building into the coop and add a large run to it. We figured we could let the girls free range a lot of the time, but when that wasn't a possibility we wanted the run to be very large so that they would still be happy and have plenty of room. We quickly learned, though, that the dreaming and scheming were the easy part- getting it done was a whole lot harder.

This is the building we started with. The middle section is a wooden building- an outhouse in its past life, though not sitting over the expected potty pit. The tin building is built around it, using the outhouse as a portion of the support. The rooms you see on the right and left are actually connected in the back section. As you can see, the building was in rough shape. Dirt had built up in front of all three doors and had to be dug out in order to open the doors. Once the doors were opened we discovered that they were all in bad shape. The wooden frames were rotten and not holding the doors up properly. Worse than the building's condition was the trash in and around it.

I simply cannot describe this situation adequately. There was trash EVERYWHERE. Some of it was partially composted, lots of it was materials that aren't going to compost any time soon. It was literally a foot or more deep. Getting it out required raking and shoveling it into trash bags. The kids spent hours picking up little pieces of glass and metal. It was disgusting.

Once it was cleaned out, it was time to make it into a secure home for the girls. This was no small task. Critters will dig under the building in order to get in so along the back wall a 1 foot deep trench had to be dug, then chicken wire had to be attached and buried in that trench.


The Hubs then built the nesting boxes. These went behind the outhouse building to build a wall in between the two rooms. The back of the nesting boxes open up so that we can get eggs without going into the coop. The door is equipped with a fastener that requires two movements to open, this should keep even the smartest critters from being able to open it.

The area behind the new wall has a metal screen on the floor so that nothing can dig under if they should get into the building. This newly created room will be my gardening shed.

This is the view of the new wall from inside the coop. There are 4 nesting boxes, which is enough for 20 birds or so. We can build more if we decide to have more chickens at some point. Chicken wire extends from the top of the nesting boxes to the ceiling.

The Hubs repaired the door and laid a concrete threshold that will prevent anything from digging in from that direction.

By this time, I was dancing around like a giddy schoolgirl. Amazingly, the old tin building was actually looking like a chicken coop!

Finishing touches included a door and ramp out of the coop, into the run and a place for the girls to roost. Wood shavings on the floor and in the nesting boxes made the coop officially habitable.  The coop part of Fort Knox was finished!


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