Make a Chicken Coop from a Garden Shed

Make a chicken coop from a garden shed

Make a Chicken Coop from a Garden Shed!

The day I brought home the first two chicks, I  went against all the advice I give to people thinking about getting chickens.  We had a farm but had no chicken coop or really any plan to build one.  But two chicks followed me home from work at a feed store and the future was changed forever.  Not long after, twelve more chicks arrived to keep the first two chicks company.   We now had fourteen baby chicks growing up in our house but they could not stay there forever.   It was very clear that in the near future we were going to need a chicken coop on the farm. 

 

Make a chicken coop from a garden shed

We had two garden sheds in our yard.  Downsizing was in order because having two sheds just meant that you saved and held onto twice as much “stuff”.  We would use one of the sheds for a coop but first it needed to be emptied and then moved to the barn area. 

Getting Things Started

chicken coop timbercreekfarmer.com

The first step in converting the shed into a coop happens before the shed even arrives.  Level the ground and get materials for elevating the coop off the ground several inches.  You could use 6 x 6  timbers or cinder blocks.  We opted to go with the treated lumber 6 x 6 timbers to raise the coop up from ground level. 

There are two main reasons to do this, one is to allow drainage and air flow under the coop and prohibit rotting. The second reason is to deter predators and pests from chewing into the coop from the ground. 

 

make a chicken coop from a garden shed

Inside the coop we spread a layer of cement and let it cure for a couple of days to dry completely.  This also deterred rodents from chewing into the coop from the ground level. 

Once that prep work is complete it is time to retrofit the shed and turn it into a coop.  Some things you will need to add are listed below.

What to Add To a Chicken Coop

make a chicken coop from a garden shed

Roosting bar /Roosting area– Many people use a 2 x 4 board as a roost.  This should be turned so that the 4 inch side is flat for the chickens to perch on and comfortably cover their own feet with their feathers during cold weather. 

make a chicken coop from a garden shed

Nesting Boxes–  There are many formulas on calculating how many nest boxes for the number of hens in the coop.  I will tell you that no matter how many nest boxes you have, all the hens will wait in line for the same box. Sometimes a few will crowd into one nest area.   I recommend having a few nest boxes in the coop but don’t be surprised if one nest  box becomes the popular nest.

make a chicken coop from a garden shed

Windows– Our shed did not  have any windows in it.  Before we could use it for a coop we added four windows in the back and two windows in the door.  This allowed  cross ventilation, and daylight to enter the coop.  Since chicken wire will not keep predators out, be sure to securely fasten quarter inch hardware cloth to any windows or ventilation  holes you cut into the coop.

 

Safety Concerns

Exterior latches–  We added a couple extra latches in addition to the door handle.  We have a wooded property and the racoons are literally everywhere.  Racoons have a lot of dexterity in their paws and can open doors and latches.  So we have a secure lock down situation for our chickens!

A fan– Hanging a box fan will keep the chickens more comfortable and help with air circulation during the hot humid summer days and nights.  We hang ours from the ceiling pointing towards the back windows.  It makes a big difference. Be sure to keep the fan clean because dust will build up quickly from being used in the coop, which can become a fire hazard.

make a chicken coop from a garden shed

Don’t Forget Regular Upkeep Inspections!

After building the perfect chicken coop from a garden shed, remember that upkeep is needed. Doing routine inspections, and repairs as outlined here, will help you get many years of wear out of the coop.

Necessary Coop Furnishings

Droppings board–  When this coop was first used, I didn’t know the importance of a dropping board under the roost bar. Stinky droppings accumulated under where the birds roosted at night, attracted flies and the chickens walked in the droppings! Ick!

The dropping board was very easily added and made a huge difference in keeping the coop clean and free of flies. You can read more specifically about our coop dropping boards in this post.  Basically, the board is installed under the roost bar and is removed to clean the droppings off of it. If the board is attached you would use something like a garden trowel or cat litter scoop to clean up the droppings and remove them to the compost pile.

 

make a chicken coop from a garden shed

Extras

Our coop is not fancy.  No frilly curtains, or interior paint.  I did paint the one nesting box in a very cute pattern and added lettering that stated “Farm Eggs”.  The girls still pooped all over it and decided to peck the lettering off of the top.  I still think it would be fun to paint the inside and add some wall art.  I’ll add that to this Spring’s To Do List!

make a chicken coop from a garden shed

Before the nest box was added to the coop

 

 

 

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after the nest box was used

 I hope you enjoy this short video tour of our chicken coop!

I poured a lot of Do it Yourself Information and detailed step by step projects into my book, 50 Do it Yourself Projects for Keeping Chickens (skyhorse publishing 2018)  You can grab a copy through local bookstores, Tractor Supply stores, Other garden and farm supply stores, and through my website.  

For more on building your own chicken coop take a look at these  posts –

Pallet Project – Build A Cheap Chicken Coop

Chicken Coop Expansion

How Much Space Does a Chicken Need Anyway

Coop Raising Day

Raising Chickens on a Budget




How to Make a Christmas Stocking

Handmade Christmas Stocking Homestead Style 

how to make a Christmas Stocking

Last year I finally made our family the Christmas stocking I always wanted them to have.  Each member of the family received a new Christmas stocking that was handmade and personally styled for them. The Christmas stockings all coordinated.  The Christmas stocking pattern I used was easy to follow and each one worked up quickly.   With our family growing, marrying and bringing on the next generation, I was happy to have a plan in place to make future family members a Christmas stocking, too.

My  inspiration for this project originally came from Angi over at Schneiderpeeps.  Last year she posted this DIY tutorial about making a new Christmas stocking for each member of her family.    This year I had the opportunity to test sew with some new fabrics from the Andover Fabrics Collection.  The new designs are inspired by the Little House on the Prairie books by Laura Ingalls Wilder and the popular television show based on the books.  

Inspiration for the Christmas Stocking 

I received a sampler pack of fat quarters and  instructions to let my creativity run free!  The first project that came to mind was the homestead style Christmas stocking that I made last year.  I thought it would be great to see how the Little House on the Prairie fabrics looked as the accents for the Christmas stocking.  

Christmas stocking

My sampler pack of fat quarters from Andover Fabrics LHOTP collection

The directions follow and please feel free to use your own creativity and ideas to adapt my Christmas stocking plan to meet your style and needs.  I didn’t have a paper pattern  of my own, but I did base mine on the link from Schneiderpeeps.  You can find it here.   If you have a favorite stocking already, you can trace the shape of the stocking onto sturdy paper to make your own pattern.  

After you make your Christmas stocking, there is fabric left to make a small soft toy, pin cushion, quilted coaster, or small hot pad.  I am sure you can come up with your own ideas, too.  And remember to save the scraps, just like Ma Ingalls would have done.  Future quilts can  have a patch in them using the same fabric that you used to style your Christmas stocking.

Materials 

Canvas fabric.  I purchased mine at the home improvement store (canvas drop cloth ) because it was economical and there is plenty to make as many stockings as I need.  

Thread – I used all purpose machine sewing thread

Sewing machine  or sturdy canvas sewing needle if sewing by hand

Sharp fabric scissors

1 fat quarter of print fabric  (one fat quarter is enough for two stocking cuffs.)

 

Step 1.

Cut out the Christmas stocking and the cuff pieces.  The outside pocket is optional but can be used to hold a gift card or cash. 

christmas stocking

 

Christmas stocking

Step 2.  Optional

Sew the fabric pocket onto the front of one of the stocking pieces.

Christmas stocking

 

Christmas stocking

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christmas stocking

 

Step 3. 

Sew around the outside of the stocking, right sides together, leaving the top open.

Christmas stocking

 

Christmas stocking

Almost there!

Step 4  

Turn the stocking right side out.

Christmas stocking

 

 

Step 5.   Making the cuff

Fold as shown in the picture.  Sew the cuff seam and flip the cuff right side out.

Tuck the cuff into the top of the stocking.  Match the seam to a side seam and align the tops.  

Stitch the top, using a quarter inch seam.   

Christmas stocking

 

Christmas stocking

 

Christmas stocking

Christmas stocking

Step 6.

Pull the cuff up and over the top of the stocking.

Christmas stocking

 

Christmas stocking

Step 7.

Attach a piece of ribbon, rope, twine or what ever you want to hang your stocking from, to the back seam of the stocking.

Christmas Stocking

 

I hope you are inspired to make your own handmade stockings and gifts this season.  As our family grows, I am finding it easier to fill a Christmas stocking with small gifts, tasty treats and gift cards than to shop for many larger gifts.  This adds a handmade touch to our Christmas celebration. When I see small items throughout the year that a family member might enjoy, it is easy to purchase it or make it then and store it for later.  

If you are wondering where to purchase the Little House on the Prairie Collection from Andover Fabrics, they have this convenient shopping locator here.  

Interested in purchasing copies of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s endearing series of books about growing up in a homesteading/farming family?

Click Here.

See more of what is being done with the Andover Fabrics Little House on the Prairie Collection 

Do you want to see what Angi from Schneiderpeeps did with her fat quarter collection from Andover Fabrics?  Doll Quilt and Teaching Children to Sew  

Chris, from Joybilee Farm used the fat quarters to make a patchwork pillow cover with an embroidered front panel.  It is beautiful!

 

Little House on the Prairie books

 

Christmas stocking pin image

 




5 Easy Gift Wrap Ideas

Easy Alternative Ways  to Wrap Your Gifts 

Easy Gift Wrap IdeasHere we are down to the wire on the Christmas preparations. I bet most of us still need easy gift wrap ideas. If you run out of wrapping paper are you really going to want to run out to the store at this point? Have you seen any easy alternative gift wrap ideas? What if the thought of all that wrapping paper, that can’t be composted or burned, piling up in your living room is too much to bear? When wrapping gifts I love to think outside the norm and I like the packaging to add value to the gift. Let me share some of my ideas with you.  I am sure you will be able to add your own ideas after you get started with these easy alternative gift wrap ideas.

My List of Gift Wrap Ideas

Books 

Wrap books in something related to the subject of the book. For example, use a pretty new dish towel as the “wrapping paper”gift wrap for cookbooks . The cooking section of the newspaper would be a another great idea. Use twine for the ribbon and tie on a couple of napkin rings for added impact. If you have children who want to help, let them cut out food pictures from magazines to glue to the newspaper wrappings. For a sports theme book, use the sports section.  A novel could be wrapped in the book review section.  You get the idea? Here’s a list of a few more recycled paper ideas for gift wrap.

Sewing and craft themed gifts 

Use a fat quarter of quilting fabric to wrap up a crafty theme gift. To take it up a notch, tie on a seamstress tape measure, or a package of pretty buttons. Maybe you have some older craft magazines around and could sacrifice some pages to use as wrapping paper. Or skip the wrap altogether and use a storage container or cute tote bag to hold the gift.  Crafters and makers always need more storage. 

gift wrap ideas

Garden Theme Books and Gifts   

Wrap up the gift in a piece of burlap.  Tie on a handmade ornament made from natural items or herbal sprigs. If you use gardening twine to tie it all up, the whole gift can end up in the garden next spring.

Clothing   

Grab a fashion magazine from the recycle bin and add some fashionable clothing pictures to the plain wrapping paper. Decorate an unneeded shoe box to use as a gift box. The box can later be used to store other items.

General Gift Wrapping 

I love to give practical gifts from our homestead and wrap them in my favorite paper.  Brown paper that comes on a big roll has many uses and I find myself turning to it all year long.  The paper is completely safe for recycling.  I buy this one and it lasts a long time.  I use it to cover the table for coloring projects with my granddaughters, too.  

Easy Gift Wrap Ideas

Wrapping gifts in plain brown paper allows me the freedom to write on the paper, decorate however I want, and customize the gift wrap to suit the gift recipient.  I use different types of twill ribbon, satin ribbon, rick rack, vintage lace, twine, and raffia for the ribbon.  Add on a tree ornament, or something useful, and a pretty tag.  

 

5 easy gift wrap ideas

I hope these ideas help you wrap up the season in style! Here are some additional articles on the same topic.

Urban Overalls – Making Boxes from Recycled Gift Boxes

A Farm Girl in the Making  Using Recycled Paper for Gift Wrap

Joybilee Farm  Using Fat Quarters for Gift Wrap

SchneiderPeeps  Making a Fabric Gift Bag

My Healthy Green Family Furoshiki




Recycled Nest Boxes – DIY Makeover

recycled nest boxes Other items can be recycled nest boxes too. Dresser draws, vegetable bins, wooden crates, and even vintage suitcases. Instead of searching just for standard farm nesting boxes, think outside the box. Here are some criteria I use to make sure an item will make a safe, sturdy nest box for my hensRecycled nest boxes can come from the flea market!  If you spy a good sturdy box or shelf. with some DIY makeover magic it can become a recycled nest box! I make no secret of the fact that I am a flea market addict. The love for picking through the stalls set up with other people’s treasures gets creative thoughts flowing. I am always on the lookout for things we can use around our farm and have found many used dog crates, rabbit hutches and other animal enclosures for just a few dollars each. These have come in handy when animals need to be quarantined or transported. That’s not the time to be looking for a crate!

I also am addicted to farmhouse kitchen tools and decor. I particularly love things from the 1920’s to the 1950’s. So, that is where my mind was when I spotted this little beauty. Ugly? Why yes, I agree. At this point I think it was rather hideous. A light purple paint covered this storage bin/shelf. I imagine it was used to hold a little girl’s toys or stuffed animals. It probably looked quite cute in her room, too. But now it sat here, in a field, at a tractor show and looked forlorn. So I took it home. I had an idea of what I could use it for.

recycled nest boxes

Old Book Shelf Transforms to New Recycled Nest Boxes

First, it needed a good cleaning. It was obvious that this shelf had been sitting in a dusty garage for some time. I let the shelf dry in the sun for a bit while I grabbed the paint.

 

I knew I wanted it to complement the rustic look of our Chicken coop. Soft colors and earth tones were in my mind. I am drawn to soft yellows and cream colors and as soon as I walked into the hardware store I saw these spray paints by Rust Oleum 280699 American Accents Ultra Cover 2X Spray Paint, Gloss Sun Yellow, 12-Ounce“>Rustoleum, the American Accents collection. I am glad that I chose this paint because it really did only need one coat of paint.

Recycled Nest Boxes

Recycled Nest Boxes

Recycled Nest Boxes

The Cream colored paint went on first. After it dried, it was time for the fun stuff. Have you heard of Frog Tape? It is painters tape but with a better grip for painting. It comes off clean and no paint seeping lines.

recycled nest boxes

How to Use Chevron Frog Tape

I chose the chevron shape of Frog Tape because I want my chickens to have a current decor style!

After the Chevron Frog Tape was put on the bookshelf, I sprayed the shelf top and sides with the yellow paint, leaving the inside of the chicken nest boxes openings the cream color.

After fifteen minutes, the paint was dry enough to remove the tape and see the chevrons! Perfect!

Recycled Nest Boxes

Recycled Nest Boxes

The bookshelf sat for a full 24 hours to allow the paint to completely dry and for the paint fumes to dissipate.

DSC_5914

Recycled Nest Boxes

For the final touch I added some scrap book letters to the top board, so the hens would know what this fine piece of furniture was to be used for.

Recycled Nest Boxes

A crowd begins to come in to see what is happening.

DSC_5937

Recycled Nest Boxes

I’ll let you know how they like the new nest boxes once I find an egg in there! It being molting season, eggs are scarce right now. Hope this gives the hens a little incentive to get back to the job.

** I placed a cinder block in front of the shelf to keep it from tipping over. I thought about screwing it into the wall but I wanted to be able to remove it easily for cleaning, so I chose to place the block in front to stabilize the shelf.**

Other Types of Recycled Nest Boxes

Other items can be recycled nest boxes too. Dresser draws, vegetable bins, wooden crates, and even vintage suitcases. Instead of searching just for standard farm nesting boxes, think outside the box. Here are some criteria I use to make sure an item will make a safe, sturdy nest box for my hens.

1.Is it heavy weight enough to not tip if the hen stands on the side.

2. Can it be cleaned easily

3. Are there any toxic paints or small parts that could be a hazard.

4. Does it smell musty and gross? I sure don’t need any additional bad smells added to the coop!

recycled nest boxes

Buying an old wooden crate can be a good deal and the crate can be given a quick coating of spray paint to repel mites from living in the old wood. Wire baskets may be a good choice if they can be secured to the wall or somehow prevented from tipping. 

recycled nest boxes

Wicker basket is wired to the back wall to ensure it doesn’t tip over

Use your imagination and think of safety. Then,your next trip to the flea market might find you bringing home a recycled nest box.

Pin this info for later!

Recycled nest boxes Other items can be recycled nest boxes too. Dresser draws, vegetable bins, wooden crates, and even vintage suitcases. Instead of searching just for standard farm nesting boxes, think outside the box. Here are some criteria I use to make sure an item will make a safe, sturdy nest box for my hens

Want to see even more photos of great recycled nest boxes?
Farmhouse 38

We’d love to see your hen house nesting boxes too. Please share with us in the comments.

There are affiliate links in this blog post. Clicking on them to learn more about a product or purchasing a product through my website, may earn me a small commission but does not affect the price you pay. Thank you for supporting my website with your purchase.



Self Sustaining Living -Reusing Chicken Coop Trash

 

self sustaining livingSelf Sustaining Living on our farm means I try to reduce the amount of waste that the farm sends to the landfill.  It’s not always easy and I try to think creatively in order to reduce the waste. 

Every week our chicken coop residents eat through two fifty pound bags of feed. Every week that is two poly bags that end up in the refuse pile waiting for trash pickup. The longer we farm, the more conscious I am of how much waste we produce.  I doubt I will ever get it down to zero, but if I can continually reduce the amount of stuff that comes from our homestead and goes to a landfill, I will be satisfied that I tried my best.  

Some things we naturally have always used at least twice before it heads to it’s final destiny.  Although newspapers are recyclable, I normally use them again to line the rabbit hutch floor, or the chick brooder in the spring.  Cardboard boxes usually are recycled through the chicken coop as a nest box or hiding spot for smaller chickens.  And then there is the issue of all those poly bags that are now the way chicken feed is sold.   Two bags a week, fifty two weeks per year, 104 feed bags total and that is just from the chicken feed!   

Extra tidbit > there are over 19 billion chickens in the world!  For more fun facts on chickens check this post.  That’s a lot of chickens and waste from chickens!

I see the pile of feed bags accumulate every week on our farm and it bothers me to send them to the landfill.

Coming up with some additional uses was fun and creative. Basically, many of the uses you  have for a purchased vinyl tarp can be replaced by using an empty poly vinyl feedbag. 

self sustaining living

Here are some ways you can reuse empty feed bags and increase your level of Self Sustaining Living

Tote bags and reusable shopping bags – Take these to the grocery store, library, any place that uses those tiny annoying plastic shopping bags that only hold three items. 

Reuse the  empty feed bags as trash bags,  instead of  garbage bags.  We always have an empty feed bag propped up in our feed room.  We use it to collect the tops from the feed bags, and any other trash.  

Use the poly fabric feed sack as you would any wipe clean fabric.  Make place mats, coasters,  stadium seats, covers for patio furniture cushions.

self sustaining living

self sustaining living

Around the farm or barnyard, reuse the feed sacks to line the nest boxes for ease of cleaning.  I also use the bags to cover open windows for storm protection, or to cover the duck house open space at the top during the coldest part of winter.  We do the same with the top parts of the rabbit house too.  The large wire covered “windows” are great for summer ventilation but leave too much space for cold winds during winter.  

Self sustaining living

Using Poly Feed Bags for other Animal Housing.  

In our rabbit hutch with runs we use the feed bags under a few inches of dirt and mulch or bedding.  The poly vinyl bags help protect the wooden floor in the hutch.  In the run, having the old chicken feed  sacks under the dirt, keeps the rabbits from digging out under the fencing. 

I haven’t thought of any ways to reuse the poly vinyl feed sack with any activities for the sheep and goats, but give me some time to think about it!  

At the end of the day, the important thought is that we should be aware of what we use and throw away.  Even if you are being careful about how much you consume and throw away, there is waste.  Thinking about the waste products and coming up with a way to replace another item with something recycled from the poly vinyl feed bags will help keep some trash out of the landfills.  

 

self sustaining living

 

Compost, the Ultimate Reusable Product from the Coop

Making sure we are responsibly caring for the coop manure and used bedding is very important.  Not only cleaning the coop out regularly, but turning the waste into dark healthy compost is the healthy way to control the waste.  After a year, the compost added to soil will provide nitrogen and other nutrients to the soil in your garden.  

What products do you reuse from the coop, to help control the amount of waste that heads to our landfills?  Share you experiences with farm style, self sustaining living in the comments.

Self sustaining living

This post first appeared on Backyard Poultry Mag.com

self sustaining living