Posted by: juliegirl | April 16, 2009

following directions

The website said building this chicken coop was, “so simple, my wife could do it.” I’m capable of holding two opposing ideas in my head, so all at once I thought this statement was     

1. completely sexist, and
2. entirely inspirational.

I know, this reveals that at first I doubted my own ability and Mr. So-and-so’s apparently incompetent wife helped me believe that even an apparently incompetent woman like me could do it…but that’s basically the case. 

But the great thing about trying things is that you try things. I needed a project in October, and after several full days (and then letting it sit for a month) and then several more days, I had an amazing testimony to trying something completely new and getting it mostly right. 

At times I thought “Who is this wife of his? Is she a genius?” Figuring out this guy’s directions was SO HARD, mostly because I didn’t know what a miter saw was, hadn’t ever used an air compressor hooked up to a nail gun (kind of scary at first), and didn’t know the basic vocabulary around woodworking. I took Woodshop in junior high, but it’s one thing to use the electric jig saw in the shop, it’s another to use a handheld jig saw while balancing a twelve foot piece of wood between the patio table and an old door you set up on saw horses. And while trying not to accidentally take off a finger. 

Now that I’ve learned about all kinds of wood, sliced and diced every cut combination possible on a mitre and a circular saw, measured and re-measured, drilled and re-drilled, and improvised when nothing fit correctly, I have a new-found confidence in my ability to 

1. follow directions
2. cut anything 
3. transfer between drill bit and screwdriver bit in seconds
4. create a 3-D structure that works
5. try new, hard stuff (this is my favorite)
I can’t build you a new set of kitchen cabinets, and you shouldn’t enlist me to make anything needing excessive measuring (I’m not as interested in precision as I probably should have been) but I have a new home for six chickens right in my own backyard.

Many, many thanks to David Bissette of Catawba ConvertiCoops ( for the amazing plans. Check out his site to download your own plans or read about chickens and coop building–and you can see a picture of my coop on his site, too. 

Also, thanks to Cameron, who lent me all his tools and helped me get out of tight spots.

The coop in progress–December 2008 • (and a rare view of snow in New Orleans!)

The finished coop February 2009 • Notice the ramp up to the roost above. The side panels can be removed (hence the handles) to clean out the roost and nest area. 

The egg door opens to reveal the upstairs roost and the nesting areas (one on each side of the coop) for when the chicks are 6 months old and ready to lay!


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