Mail Call November/December 2014: How to Build a Chicken Coop Out of a Playhouse and More

Readers share their input from how to build a chicken coop to crabapple stories, using stock tanks for raised beds, memories of making hay in the old days, and more.

| November/December 2014

  • The chickens adapted well to the playhouse turned henhouse.
    Photo by the Kirby Family
  • A planting box made with cedar posts borders the pen to keep predators from getting to the flock.
    Photo by the Kirby Family
  • Their son had outgrown his playhouse, so the Kirbys transformed it into a chicken coop.
    Photo by the Kirby Family
  • Jeff Lukens managed some free crabapple fruit from his local golf course. That fruit soon became jelly.
    Photo by Jeff Lukens
  • Tad Brown's collection of home-canned produce in the basement.
    Photo by Tad Brown
  • Turns out GRIT has fans of all ages, including Logan, from Pennsylvania.
    Photo by Jim Widders
  • Stock tanks spend the summer months serving as excellent raised bed structures.
    Photo by Jeri Bonnette

Playhouse to Henhouse  

Our family loves your magazine. We’ve been faithful readers for years, and we enjoy the stories and wealth of information in each issue we receive. Our family has taken a turn to get back to the basics of life. Our GRIT magazines, along with Mother Earth News, have helped us in gaining the knowledge and confidence to do so.

In our journey to becoming more self-sufficient, we’ve discovered the importance of being frugal and using the resources that we have.

Wanting to raise chickens but not wanting to raise a huge price tag on their housing took a bit of thought. 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 when 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! But first things first.

We’ve been busy clearing a lot of cedar trees on our property to make more pasture land for our goats and Texas Longhorns. This gave us a surplus of cedar logs. So, 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 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 up into their house — and two separate nesting boxes.

Speaking of nesting boxes, we also salvaged the green bendable plastic originally used for the crawling tunnel. We cut it to size and screwed it up underneath the nesting box lids so no rain would drip or seep down onto the hens when they’re on the nests.

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