Cameron Acreage Chicken Coop
Apr 2022 – Oct 2022
In April 2022, my wife and I moved out to a rural acreage in Saskatchewan. Our reasons for moving were many, but one of the things we were most looking forward to was trying to live a more self-sufficient lifestyle. This included, of course, getting a bunch of chickens for eggs.
We got the chickens fairly early and raised them from chicks. We dove right in and got 3 chicks, and figured we would follow-up with the coop later. It wasn’t necessary for a while, because chicks can live in a plastic tote for quite some time.
To start, we picked up a rather cheap ~$500 coop from Peavey Mart, and this served as a pretty good coop for young and growing chickens. However, it was quite small. It also wouldn’t do in the winter because the materials were thin and uninsulated. It can get fairly cold in Saskatchewan, at times dipping below -30C.
So, then we had to design and plan a new coop. I figured that it would be best to use SketchUp for the initial plans. My wife had been watching hours and hours of YouTube videos, so she was the primary planner and requirements designator.
She wanted the main coop 9’×5’ with a 9’×12’ run. SketchUp was certainly an ordeal for both of us initially, but I learned some tips on using it. Once you start to make components and learn how to extrude/indent surfaces, it’s not bad at all.
SketchUp was extremely valuable. We were able to mockup the layout and get a feel for how things would work. Having never built any kind of structure before, it was very helpful for me to get a sense for how we’d lay out the studs. When it comes to cutting, you can easily measure against the diagram. We’d build a bit, then adjust our model as we built.
Building the coop was a good exercise in communication for us. It was interesting to reflect on how often we miscommunicated and the source of the communication failure.
The build was not without its mistakes and perils. At least once we placed studs in the wrong position, which really messed up plans for insulation and interior/exterior siding. Our plan for the roof was not optimal, and if we had to do it again, I’d do the supporting beams for the leftmost and rightmost overhang differently. The quality of wood was really poor, most boards requiring extensive clamping during the framing process to get any kind of satisfactory result. We both suffered minor injuries throughout the process, but nothing too serious.
Overall, it was an incredible experience. It’s still not quite done either, as you can see from the mismatching paint colors on the exterior. There are a few things we’d change if we had to build it again, but overall, we’re pretty proud of it. It seems to hold the heat in pretty well while still having proper ventilation, and has been nice and low-maintenance so far.
We both learned a lot about construction and chicken-keeping. It was also satisfying to build something with my own hands in the physical world. It can really make you miss the Undo function.
Chickens – especially roosters – get a bad rap, but they’re surprisingly smart, sweet, and entertaining creatures!
For more chicken videos, please check out my YouTube playlist!