The idea to demolish the chicken coop was laid (see what I did there?) when I was writing my 2022 Home Goals mid-year report last summer. Usually, I have a list in my mind of what renovations or projects are next. So the coop kind of surprised me when it snuck in. But once it was there, I couldn’t forget it.
So as our last project of 2022, we took down the old coop.
The timing is right for a few reasons. The patio is on the list for 2023. That means there will be equipment here that is capable of removing the foundation for the old coop and levelling the ground.
Also, we’ve been here for 11 years. It’s time to have birds already!
If you need a bit of background, this post gives you an introduction to the old coop. While the coop was a good size, it was run down. Rehabbing it (and mucking it out) was more than I wanted to take on. Plus it wasn’t what I was looking for when I thought about how I would handle our birds. I decided to start fresh.
First step was cutting the trees that had grown up around the coop. Matt’s Dad and nephew came out and gave us a day of work to clear them out of the way. In the process, we learned that the coop was sturdier than it looked. One of the trees that was particularly close and leaning in an inconvenient direction ended up on the roof. Despite the weight of the large tree, the coop didn’t budge.
A few weeks later, my cousin and his daughter’s boyfriend came out for the official demo day and my Mom came to take care of Ellie.
Aside: I am so fortunate to have help with so many things around the farm. I want to be able to continue to live here, and I want to make it the way Matt and I always envisioned. But it’s a huge job. Taking care of this property and doing the work that’s needed (and wanted) is a lot. In cases like the coop, it’s more than I can handle. Asking for help is essential. Having people who willingly and happily say yes is incredibly meaningful. It’s more than a coop. It’s a vision and a life, and they help me make it happen.
Back to demo.
We started with popping off the old siding. I wanted to work from the outside as much as possible, as the coop was full of old manure, critter mess and who knows what else. Nothing we should be breathing.
As we progressed to the roof, it became obvious that the coop was, in fact, very sturdy. Even with major support posts cut, the structure wasn’t going anywhere. So my cousin climbed up, peeled back the metal sheathing and sliced the roof with his chainsaw. Then we hooked up a rope, connected it to the winch on his ATV (he brought all the tools, which turned out to be so helpful) and pulled the roof down. We did that three more times and ended up with four huge sections of roof spread around on the ground.
This was also the point when it became clear that the coop was its own freestanding structure and wasn’t actually attached to the barn. I had planned to leave the one wall intact where it joined the barn, so that we didn’t have a huge gaping hole in the side of the barn all winter. But the wall was part of the coop and down it came.
By the end of the day, the coop was gone–aside from huge piles of wood and a foundation covered in half a metre of manure.
We saved a lot of pieces of wood that are long enough or solid enough to be reused. Matt’s Dad again came to the rescue and took care of burning the rest of the old lumber. He also helped me cover the huge gaping hole in the side of the barn.
He and my sister came out again to help take apart the roofs. These were beasts. The rafters and beams were round sections of trees. Then there was a layer of sheathing boards. On top of that was a layer of wooden shakes. Then another layer of boards that were strapping for the metal panels that were the final layer. Prying them all apart, saving what was useable and then burning the rest took a full day.
From what we uncovered during demo, I am guessing that the coop was built in 1919. The walls were a double layer of barnboard, and between the planks were old newspapers. They were very well preserved and dates were very clear. The coop has obviously been renovated over the years. Metal was added to the roof over the original shakes. A layer of concrete was poured over the original floor. But the core structure seems to be more than 100 years old.
Part of me felt a bit bad for taking it down. But as I said at the beginning of the post, it would have taken a lot of work to fix it up and it still wouldn’t have been what I was looking for in a coop. I’ve come to realize that living at the farm comes with history and also means adapting the property to us and now.
So that’s where I’m looking now. I’m planning for our new coop and looking forward to starting to rebuild. I’ll share my plans soon.