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How I became a Chicken Rancher

17137 Views 91 Replies 16 Participants Last post by  kessy09
December 10, 2011.

Stop at Tractor Supply for a pond heater. See a chicken coop on display, walk over and look the coop over. Impressive.

December 14, 2011. Download to my Kindle Chickens for Dummies.

December 17, 2011. Back to tractor supply to look at Chicken coop again and see what type of chicken supplies TS carries. Call the builder of the coop.

December 19, 2011. Meet the coop builder in person. Discuss options, add a ridge vent and agree on a price. Shake hands on the deal and handover a deposit. Coop will be delivered in February. Im going to be a Chicken Rancher!

December 20, 2011. Order 9 Buff Orpington (1 Roster) from Meyer Hatchery with delivery scheduled for May. Order an auto chicken door closer from Automatic Chicken Coop Door . Order software and control units from X10 .

December 24, 2011. The Lazy L Ranch. Clear out a space in the back yard woods for the coop. Coop will be delivered in front of the overhead door. Im planning on using a come-a-long chained to trees and to the coop to move the coop over the wood board walk and to the cleared area.

Bridge and boardwalk back to the Lazy L.

Area brush cleared out for the coop (at the back, between the two trees in the center of picture).

Wifes cat cemetery maintain. Maybe expanded to handle chickens too?

December 22, 2011. Automatic chicken door arrives!

December 28, 2011. From (free shipping) I ordered a Hanging Feeder Cover , Miller 9112 12lb. Galvanized Hanging Poultry Feeder and a Little Giant2 Gallon Double Wall Fount 9832 . For when they are little a QT Jar Galv Feeder Base and a Miller Mfg. 9826 Steel Fountain Base

December 29, 2011. Decision is made to paint the coop Evergreen and Surrey Beige to match the existing building. During lunch pickup wood primer and paint for the Automatic Chicken door.
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10, 2012. Automatic Chicken door painted (Yep. I've got a chicken door and no coop). Loaded the automation software in computer and produced (I'll be keeping my day job) a video on how the Lazy L is planning on automated the coop.
January 24th

Wireless Web Cam for the chicken coop arrived!

Coop will be beside the shop which is about 100' from the house. The wireless network I have in the house doesn't reach that far

I do have a RG6 coaxial cable (CATV) that runs from the house to the shop that isn't in use. A quick web search show that there is a Ethernet to coaxial cable converter!
. Figure out the programing for the web cam. Pan, Tilt, email notification on alarm, sweet

Order the Ethernet to coaxial cable converter and wait

January 25th

I work for a small Independent Telephone Company. I asked out Internet Division for a static IP for my web cam (so I can monitor the coop from anywhere in the world. I get same day service,

But they start talking about port redirection and mapping

January 26th

Ethernet to coaxial cable converter arrives. It is really "plug & play" ! No programing to mess with and I ignored the CD that came with it and it works!

Figure out the "port redirection and mapping" in my DSL router and Guess I don't have it figured out

When I get the "port redirection and mapping" figured out I'll post the link so y'all can fall a sleep watching my auto chicken door (sitting on the my work bench) go up at dawn....zzzzzzzzzzzzz....door go down at dusk.

January 27th

The ground needs to be frozen in order for me to be able to get the coop back where I want it (using Planks/plywood, PVC pipe as rollers, chains to trees and a come-a-long
). So I order my coop to be delivered end of the month or February. With Al Bore's "global warming" ground barley freezes before it thaws out again. Think I'll call the Builder and tell him to go ahead and bring it ASAP. Then I can install the auto chicken door, electrical wiring and web cam.

Then come spring I can tie pontoons on the coop and float it out where I want it
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January 28th

I called the Builder today. Coop is almost done!

February 14th

Trying to get all the details worked out for when the coop arrives.

One thing I wanted was a thermometer in the coop. By panning the coop cam I could see both doors, roosting area and see what the temperature is.

Found a electronic one with hi-low, indoor and outdoor temp with LARGE LCD numbers for $25 at China-Mart. I bought it. Indoor temp would be the temperature of the coop and I would put the outside temp sensor...outside! Then I would know how much warmer the coop is compare with the outside temp.

Got home, ripped the box open and installed batteries. Reading the instructions I learn that the inside temp only registers down to 40 degrees! BUMMER! And when the coop cam is in night mode you can't read the LCD display. DOUBLE BUMMER.

Plan B.

I went to the local small town hardware store. Hanging all the top of the wall covered in years of dust is about a dozen circular thermometers. One has a cartoon picture of an owl. Clerk gets a ladder and brings it down. Made in 1998, $15 AND made in the USA!

When I get home tonight I'll put the thermometer beside my automatic chicken door. Hope the coop cam will be able to read it tonight.

Coop cam can be seen at: Username: visitor, password: coop (works with FireFox browser, IE if Active-X is enabled).
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February 24, 2012

I just called the Coop Builder. He has just a few finishing touches and wants to know if he can bring it out ... tomorrow morning?

Let me think about this....YES!

So everything is on schedule except for the ground being frozen.

I've got March and April to wench the coop into position, AC wiring, install the automatic chicken door and web cam. Build the 6' x 20' secured run.

And then wait till the middle of May for the call from USPS announcing the BOs have arrived!
February 27, 2012

Coop was delivered!
I was planing on dragging it (chain and come-along) and ramping it over the wood sidewalk and mud this evening to it's final resting place. Then install chicken door, camera and electrical.

Now I'm thinking about leaving it in the shop driveway to install the chicken door, camera and electrical. Why walk thru the mud back and forth 50 feet when I got a dry solid driveway to work off of?

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February 27, 2012

Ran a temporary extension cord for power out to the coop. Moved the coop camera, chicken door and thermometer from the "test bench" into the coop!

Wireless camera doesn't work now.

X10 remote open/close chicken door doesn't work now either.

Thermometer is hung crooked.

The new "No Trespassing" sign looks great (IMHO).


After supper it's getting dark quick! Found a looooong Ethernet cable, wired the camera direct, nope still doesn't work

Chicken Door closed when I plugged it into the extension cord so I know I got power...mmm...found the problem
You see people my age wear progressive lenses (young talk for tri focal) glasses. I plugged the power into the camera in the audio port instead of the power port. Camera works now!

Changed the permissions so viewers can now pan & tilt the camera. Username: visitor, password: coop (works with FireFox browser, IE if Active-X is enabled).

Trouble shooting the chicken door and straightening the thermometer will have to wait till tomorrow

I'm closer...getting closer...
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February 28.

Cut the hole in the wall and temporary installed the chicken door.

Thermometer is now straight.

Still can't get the chicken door to open/close automatically. Exact same setup and extension cord that I used when it was on my "test bench". Puzzlement. I'm using a electrical receipt at the other end of the shop...distance limitations?

Got the box for the overhead light switch mounted.

Dark and cold out. Time to stop. I've got till the middle of May when the BOs arrive.

March 1

Automated chicken door works!

Worked on the "test bench" doesn't work when installed in the coop

Used the exact same extension cord, same electrical outlet still didn't work

Replaced the X10 appliance module, still didn't work.

Hmmmm.........rebooted the computer and now it works!

Tomorrow night start working on the permanent wiring....
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March 6

Weather finally got above freezing!

I secured he chick door to the studs and temporally installed the outside trim. I want to take of the trim off when I paint the coop. Then when I reinstalled the trim I'll caulk around it so rain water does not follow a siding groove down and leak back into the coop.

I don't know what automatic chicken door is the best. I decided on the one offered by My only concern was how much I would have to customize the outside trim which was included with the door. Their installation video showed 1/2" plywood and my coop is 3/4" barn siding. No problem, trim was designed to fit varying thicknesses of siding.

Then I moved on to the electrical. I decided to use PVC conduit to help prevent any of the chickens from becoming "Kentucky Fried".

The gray box on the left will be the X10 light switch. I can control the lights from inside our house, let the computer control or manually flip them on/off.

Also from the left box a conduit will run down thru the floor. This will go back to my shop and will be the electrical feed for the coop.

The gray box above the window will one of the two coop light fixtures.

Gray box to the right of the camera will be a electrical receipt for the camera. I'm figuring higher the better, less chance the chickens can reach it to unplug surveillance for any great escape attempts.

The second light fixture above the other window. Then X10 electrical outlet to power the chicken door. I may put another outlet down further for a heated waterer, wide screen high definition flat screen TV or what ever else the ladies may require.

I've read in the chicken ranching business there are only 3 rules. Ventilation, ventilation and ventilation. Just above the electrical conduit you see a little outside light shining in? About a 1/4"" gap to allow fresh air. I can also open both front windows, back wall behind the roosting bars is a 4 foot by 8" screened vent that can be open/closed AND I added a roof ridge vent. Plus in warmer weather when drafts will not be as much as a problem the floor (under the roosting bars) opens up (screened) to allow more ventilation and let the chicken's night business to fall on through.

Tomorrow night I'll pull the wring in the conduit, wire in the electric receipts, light fixtures and light switch.

Then it's waiting for the ground to dry out so I can move the coop to it's final resting place.
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March 7

Got the wiring pulled through. 2 circuits, one for the lights and the second for the receipts. Used 14 gage solid copper, largest draw will be the waterer heater.

I did add a second receipt in the corner. Mounted both of them at a 45 degree angle to make it easier on me.

The PVC boxes have "ears" on each of the 4 corners for mounting. I didn't use them. Instead I drilled two holes through the backs so I could mount them on the 1 1/2" of the studs.

1/2" PVC conduit was left over from another project, thought I had some receipts laying around too, couldn't find them. Hate to buy stuff if I don't need to.

Weatherman is calling for dry and "warm" temperatures the rest of the week. If the ground drys out then perhaps I can get the coop winched back where it belongs this Saturday.

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March 13

Removed the "extra" 4 next boxes. Now I can move the feeder and waterer out of the main coop and have access to them from the nesting box access door. Now 2 nesting boxes left are in the low traffic area of the coop, by the peole door.

Next project is to figure out how to make a wood feeder that is installed semi-permanently and can be filled by just lifting the nesting box lid.

Unfornutately the waterer does not fit though the nesting box lid. But it does allow me to slide it over to the people door. Maybe home made waterer with a invert easy to exchange rubber bladder....

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March 14

I wired the Coop for two interior light fixtures.

And in the light fixtures I used two political correct CFL (compact fluorescent lamp). Something like a 14 watt equaling an unpolitical correct 60 watt incandescent.

Here's a picture of the coop at night with the interior lights on (think I might have over done it a bit on the lighting). Anyone know where you can get sunglasses for chickens?

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March 17

Here's the problem. I need to get the coop from here:

To here:

Step one. Call the Son to come and help!

Step two. Use a telephone pole choker around a strategic placed tree (good thing I live in a woods) and a come-a-long.

Step 3. Other end of the Come-a-long to the chain fastened to the one of the runners on the coop.

Step 4. Start cranking the come-a-long to turn the coop.

Step 5. Once the coop is turned 90 degrees re-hook the chain to both runners and continuing cranking the come-a-long as need to dragged coop west.

Step 6. Select another tree and turn the coop another 90 degrees (North) to get ready to go up and over the board sidewalk.

Step 7. Cement blocks and 2x8x8' planks to get over the side walk. BANZAI!

Step 8. Almost there.

Step 9. Home at last...home at last

Step 10. Hydraulic jack, a level, patio bricks and a few cement bricks level the coop. This view also shows where the secured run will be built.

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This entire thread is great. Thanks for sharing in detail!
This is so cool! I followed the link and scoped out the chickens too! That is awesome :D
What a tremendous resource and write-up! Thanks so much for sharing.
Chicken Rancher

I learned a bunch and gained some new ideals but most of all Laughed not at you but I had always though only I could have so many things happen to a person like did you. I do have a new worry and that is my wife read the thread and seen the pictures and loved it all so being that I'm still in the building mode I can see what I was going to build changing muchly......:rolleyes:

Great Thread hope to see more !
March 19

During lunch I stopped at the local provider of man tools and picked up the electrical "stuff" to run power to the coop.

Wife took her mother shopping so I have the whole evening to play.

I had previously wired the coop and stub out a 1/2" conduit.

And in the previous post I mentioned I was lucky for living in a woods, well lucky until I tried to dig a trench in the wet clay through all the tree roots. But I had only 15' to dig and being a bit on the stubborn side helped.

Got the trench dug. Since the distance between the coop and my shop is only 15' I directed buried the electrical cable. Depth of the cable should be below the frost level. Ran 14 gage (with ground) cable into the coop conduit and glued the fittings together and connected the wires.

Lay the cable in the trench and covered. Then ran conduit up the shop porch post on the backside (coop side) so it can't be seen from the house side of the post.

Now was a good time to provide for a electrical receipt that will come in handy when I build the secured chicken run. At this electrical receipt location is where I made the transition from buried electrical cable to interior cable.

VERY VERY IMPORTANT. For the receipt use a GFI. Think about it. A waterer sitting on top of a electrical water heater. Or a Nut with the bright idea of using a power saw to cut tree roots while standing in wet clay. It would be bad to have Kentucky fried chickens, it would be worse to 120 volts cursing thru your body as your life flashes (literally) before you.

Shop is 20' x 30' (NO IT WOULD NOT MAKE A GOOD COOP!). So I had purchased 50' of 14/2 electrical cable to go from the GFI receipt to the shop's circuit breaker panel. I was 2' too short. So on to Plan B which to installed electrical receipt inside the shop above the circuit breaker box. Tomorrow's lunch hour I'll walk up to the local hardware and see if I can buy 10' of 14/2.

Better idea! Anyone know where I can rent a cable stretcher?
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March 20

Local hardware had a scrap piece of 14/2!

Here's the receipt where I ran out of cable. New receipt will eliminate a extension cord I had used for extending wireless Internet out into the shop and for the future wall clock.

All I have to is pull the gray wire into the conduit down to the circuit breaker box, connect to the 15 AMP breaker and the electrical to the coop project is done!

Shoved the wire down from the top. It makes to the 90 degree bend and stops.

Pull the wire out, trim the end so it pointed and try again. Stops at the bend.

Pull the wire back out, shove it into the conduit at a different spot. Stops at the bend.

OK. Scratch the 5 minute project and bring in the big guns.

Run a fish tape in the the conduit from the circuit breaker box end. Connect fish tape to the center conductor on the electrical cable. Tape real good. Pull carefully so the metal fish tape doesn't touch anything "hot" in the breaker box. Cable gets almost thru the bend and...SNAP! Center conductor breaks off of the fish tape!

OK this is stupid. They make a special "soap" for lubricating electrical cable to help pulling cable into conduit, I don't have any. But the Wife has left for a hen (the other type of hen) party, I "borrow" her bottle of dish washing soap. (Disclaimer. I'm not a Electrician. I have NOT slept in any hotel lately and I think the year is 1868).

I push the fish tape back thru. Reattach the electrical cable to fish tape. I pour some dish washing soap into the conduit by the new receipt. Pull a foot of the fish tape back out, pour more dish washing soap, pull tape, dish washing soap, repeat until cable pops into the breaker box!

Connect the cable to the ground, neutral and to the 15 AMP worked! Now have permanent power out to the coop.

I even remember to wipe down the dish washing soap bottle and return it before the wife misses it!

Next project will be the secured coop.

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March 23

During lunch I picked up 50 2 x 4 x 8' treated.

March 24

I went to Mom's. Took off the snow blower, rolled her lawn, sharpen the mower blades and mounted the mower deck on the tractor. Did her taxes.

Then I used Dad's radial arm saw and cut 12 of the 2 x 4 x 8' in half for wall studs for the secured chicken run. Got home and unloaded the lumber. Too late to start building
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