Last weekend was unusually nice weather-wise for early March. With shopping trips to town becoming exponentially less appealing with every passing day, we decided it was time to speed up the chicken coop and greenhouse projects.

No, the world is not going to end, but the disruption to just about everything will change things quite a bit (a lot) and the world will get even weirder than it is already. Much weirder. It’s a great time to re-prioritize many things, and question everything. Here’s where these two projects stand at present…

The center aisle of the greenhouse is finally underway! The soil I dig out of the center is being relocated to the exterior of the greenhouse to form a shallow berm around it. Once the aisle is fully excavated and the sides shored up with heavy plank walls, new soil (enriched with ancient chicken poop taken from the former location of the chicken coop) will be added on top of each planting bed to build up the height.

The berm begins to take form. After a wind storm ripped off some of the corrugated plastic (I stupidly never finished putting all of the screws in and then promptly forgot about it), I piled wood on as weights. So far it has worked, but I really need to get the rest of the screws in. Waiting for a warmer day!

This is where we stored the dismantled chicken coop. Roof boards are leaning against the tree while wall sections lean against the granary.

The chicken coop was built without a foundation — on a wood floor laying directly on the ground. After a century, the ends of the studs were quite deteriorated. We discussed sistering them to add back lost height, but in the interest of time decided to cut them off. The end result is that the coop will now be six inches shorter than it was originally, a compromise we can both accept. This will end up being more of a renovation than a restoration, but still very compatible with the farm’s original and surrounding outbuildings.

Jim built a new foundation of salvaged lumber, clad in recycled century-old flashing, which will keep the new floor off the ground.
It rests on a galvanized “footing” and is secured to the ground with spiral anchors. An old clothesline pole stands on the south side and its fate is undetermined at present.

These cupped boards are what was left of the original chicken coop floor. They have been chopped up and re-puposed as firewood! It is helpful to have a flat, cleanable, floor in a chicken coop — another compromise which chips away at the historic character of this structure.

Here Jim nails a new floor of wafer board in place… the only new material going into the structure. I like how the old metal covering the foundation mimics the old concrete of the granary’s foundation.

We stretched an old truck tarp over the new floor and nailed it taut. Leila inspects the first wall section prior to its installation.

The back wall goes up! It is temporarily braced here while being securely nailed in place.

This wall for the opposite end is upside down. As old guys with bad backs, we have to use various tricks to keep what’s left of our backs. Here a come-along helps us to position the wall section prior to rolling it on pipes up to the new floor. From there it is “walked” into place.

It’s starting to look like a chicken coop again! After all the walls are up, the overhanging bit of tarp flooring will be trimmed; the remaining flap will be concealed behind the bottom piece of wood siding.

We knew that the nice weather wouldn’t last! We have the original plank door (as well as an original screen door for the interior) which will fill the opening seen here. Jim is bracing the new wall to support it overnight. A small door will be added to the wall behind Jim to allow the chickens out into a fenced run in the yard. The run will have a roof of chicken wire to keep out predators.

The chickens will be allowed to run around outside of this run during the day. It will be interesting to see the cats’ reactions!

This is the south wall. This is not what it looked like originally. All of the original windows had been broken out, with damaged and missing muntins. They appear to have been fixed vertical sashes of eight panes each. In the interest of time and architectural frivolity, we have decided to use some nine-over-one windows salvaged from a Craftsman house in Nebraska. They are in fairly decent shape and will help to speed up our efforts. The Craftsman-style head casing matches that of adjacent outbuildings.

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