Shingles, Flooring, and more

Sam and I on the nearly finished roof of our chicken coop

Suffice it to say that I knew nothing about shingling a roof, absolutely nothing. I had to learn it all from youtube videos and asking questions. Luckily, it wasn’t exactly hard per se, but it was difficult, sweaty work. Also, I’m not particularly afraid of heights, but it did take a certain act of will to make myself go up to the peak, and in the end my son enjoyed that part more so I showed him what I had so recently learned and we shingled the roof together. Don’t tell our dog that we co-opted his snack bag to hold roofing nails!

A very cool thing was that I found out you can get hooked blades for a basic utility knife that cut shingles and linoleum. Invaluable!

Meanwhile, the first three chicks we had bought back in May were growing quickly and we needed to get them out of their brooder box and into their new home. In order for that to happen, I needed to finish what I began calling their first floor apartment. Installing linoleum was another thing I didn’t know much about, but in the end it wasn’t that different from making a clamshell portfolio. You measure and cut the linoleum to size, than glue it down. Only this was more forgiving, because the chickens don’t object much to imperfections that would ruin a portfolio for a suite of prints.

Sam inspecting the floor joists

By now I’m starting to get very interested in re-using as much material as possible. The original playset had a picnic table on the lower level that I dismantled and reused for the first floor floorboards. But first we need joists to support them, which came from the original structure as well.

These boards were sanded and stained before install

The apartment needed walls as well, and for this I cut down 4X8 foot sheets of plywood to size, being careful to sketch it out and make the best use of the plywood. In the Spring you could get plywood sheets for under $20, but by August they were $30 and up.

First floor apartment of our coop

I wanted linoleum floors for ease of cleaning later, and the linoleum was pretty reasonably priced, although I did have to buy more adhesive than I expected. Now that I’ve had to clean things out a few times, I’m very glad for this extra effort. The doors took some time, and at times it seemed like no matter how carefully I measured, I was forever fixing and finagling things that didn’t quite fit the way I expected.

But I was on deadline- I needed to finish the first floor before I left for an artist residency in Northampton for the last 2 weeks of July.

hinges and a handle for the side door

Gradually I figured out how to make doors that open and close and can be secured.

Inside view of egg laying boxes and front door

I had the first floor apartment ready before it was time to leave for Zea Mays Printmaking in Northamption. It was a bit hard for me to trust the chicken care to the young people who sleep in most of the summer, but they kept all three safe, fed, and watered while I was away. Meanwhile, I ordered 6 more chicks from Greenfire Farms, 4 55 flower hens and 2 cream legbars. I had my work cut out for me to finish up the 2nd floor and run before they arrived on September 1st. We were also planning to head to Gloucester for a few days at the end of the month so I would have about 3 weeks when I got back from the residency.

Patty, Silver laced wyandotte

As you can see, she’s not a chick anymore, but she wasn’t laying either at this point, and we had yet to realize that one of our first 3 chicks was not a hen.


Building a Roof for the Coop

New spruce roof before we shingled it. The other note here is that the original playset had a picnic table on the lower level, but I converted that to a slightly raised up first floor to allow for a shaded space underneath.
The new spruce roof before we shingled it. The other note here is that the original playset had a picnic table on the lower level, but I converted that to a first floor.

As a woman who didn’t grow up building things, lumber yards were unfamiliar territory. It was very confusing, and signage with prices and explanations was often confusing or non-existent. Add to the that the fact that you’re in a place where people might or might not be wearing their masks properly, and this introvert was doing some hyperventilating trying to figure out what to buy.

Sketchbook notes

The sketch above shows some of the math I worked out in the parking lot, occasionally calling into the salesperson inside to ask specific questions about dimensions (remember that in the Summer of 2020 we were in full on pandemic mode). One thing about buying wood is that a 2X4 piece of wood actually measures more like 1 3/4 X 3 1/2 inches, and I needed that figure to calculate how much wood to buy. I settled on rough planed 1X6 inch spruce, which was pretty sweet to work with. I stained it with the same Cordovan oil stain I ended up using on all the wood. Since I wasn’t using much pressure treated wood for multiple reasons, I opted to take the time to stain just about all of my wood on all sides before assembling. This took considerable time, and I also ended up buying a lot more stain that I anticipated, but I’m hoping it will lengthen the life of the coop.

Peak of the new roof with clamp

I bought my first power tool, a circular saw, in the Spring of 2020 in order to build a critique wall for my home studio. I used it a lot for making a coop. I’m going to be honest, I’m not a great candidate for power tools. I’ve always been much the absent minded professor type. To counteract this tendency, I am neurotically careful about taking the battery out when I’m done with a cut, and I had to get very strict with myself. If I got too aggravated, it was time for a break.

I bought my first power tool, a circular saw, in the Spring of 2020. I’ve always been a bit absent minded, so to counteract this tendency I am meticulous about removing the battery after pretty much every cut. I also have to notice when I’m getting aggravated, and take breaks lest I get careless.

The roof as it comes together, before we lift it to the top of the coop.

The next step was to figure out how to shingle the roof. I searched around for youtube videos and I found a great one for beginners with Isidro Sandoval here.