Hey FA Readers! Do you have a chicken coop on your property? Could it use some sprucing-up … or are you thinking of building one? We are pleased to share a chicken coop renovation project from our friend, Tiffany Noone of Fern Wood Farms. What makes it extra special? She enlisted the help of her brother, Brandon, and rolled it into a National Siblings Day celebration!
You’ve got to read her powerful story below! We hope it inspires you to get outdoors, tackle a project that you’ve been meaning to take-on, and — at the very least — call your brother or sister to say “I love you.” Tiffany and her brother are a testament that you can accomplish beautiful things when you come together in the spirit of family love that lasts forever.
Fern woods Farm Chicken Coop Renovation – A Special “Siblings Day” Celebration
As children, my brother and I would watch in amazement as my carpenter father would scale across the roofs of houses, entertaining us like a tightrope walker would enthrall onlookers at the circus. Our father could make something out of nothing, which we thought was just about the greatest thing in the world. He could build a house with his own two hands, a play set and a sandbox for us, and a window seat for my bedroom that sparked imagination.
I can remember going with him to jobs and he would set me up with a pile of books and snacks — plus, a hammer, a little pile of wood scraps, and nails. When my brother Brandon was old enough, he would join me in practicing hitting the nail without missing and building things like crooked little houses for squirrels. They were sad and haphazard little houses (sorry, squirrels), but it was the beginning of a passion for building and creating.
As we got older, we learned how to build things with my dad. He patiently showed us how to do things like properly hang drywall, use power tools safely, and build projects around our family’s home — the home in which he and my mother dreamed up and he built. Eventually these projects evolved into working on our own houses.
When our family moved to our homestead in the woods, our house came with chickens. Naturally, we had zero chicken experience and were furiously googling “how to raise chickens.” (Here are some tips!) We had a strong desire to homestead and knew we wanted chickens eventually, but weren’t really expecting to be thrown in quite so fast! Since the last owners couldn’t keep them and they were there anyway, we figure we would just wing it … no pun intended!
We were so excited that our new log cabin property came with a chicken coop, but the coop that was there was in super rough shape. The “fencing” around the coop was mismatched, falling down pieces of wood held together by a hope, a dream and some zipties. The coop itself was in even worse shape as the ceiling was caving in, wood was hanging carelessly with rusty nails just waiting to give someone tetanus, and the roof was covered in a cluster of blue and green tarps and some bungee cords. Let’s just say it was less Better Homes & Gardens and more a scene from a murder podcast. It needed a major makeover.
I very quickly became obsessed with chickens and was ready to grow our flock. For my birthday that year, I asked for some help restoring the coop. My dad and my brother Brandon came over in the pouring rain and helped get the project started. Brandon and I discovered a passion for demo work and had the best time swinging the sledgehammer to take down the dilapidated chicken run. It was amazingly satisfying work!
We kept the core of the coop because it was in surprisingly good shape but cleared out everything else. I remember trudging around in the mud and the rain, watching my brother doing the same without complaint and thinking, “He must really love me. Not just anyone would do this.” I don’t think I’ve actually ever heard him complain about helping anyone. He’s very much like my dad in that capacity — this selfless love and desire to help others. And when this help includes chicken poop (not just the coop), that love shows even more.
We spent a couple months working on the coop as we had time. Brandon would finish work and come over in evenings or on a Saturday. Sometimes I’d look out my window and he’d be out there stapling chicken wire when I didn’t even know he came over. He knew this was really important to me to have this chicken coop.
We constructed a new coop, a new door, new nesting boxes and roosting bars. I tore the roof of the base coop down and we rebuilt a new roof to have better ventilation and more space. My brother and I were raised to be resourceful, so we raided my wood piles, yard sales, Craigs List, ReStore and even my parent’s basement for supplies. It became a bit of a treasure hunt, which made it a fun adventure!
When designing our chicken coop, I had many things I worked to incorporate into the design.
- Good Coop Ventilation: We built the roof a few feet higher to allow for better air flow. Areas where the roof met the walls had some open areas covered with hardware cloth to keep predators out but air flow in.
- Low Maintenance Food: We wanted the chicken feed to be able to last a few days (and for it to be able to be capped off at night to keep farm pests from also chowing down). Building PVC tubes for the feeders and anchoring to the walls of the run has been amazing. We have had them for a few years and they work quite well!
- Repurposed Materials: Salvaging materials where we could and keeping the base of the coop intact helped keep costs down and helped to build this as sustainably as we could. A big old tire filled with our wood ash from the wood stove lives inside the run and serves as our dust bath for the chickens. Purchased for $20 off of Facebook Marketplace, it was an inexpensive way to make a durable and practical dust bath that stays nice and dry under the protection of the coop run roof. Plus, it kept one less thing out of the landfill.
- Hanging Bars: Easily consisted of two large fallen branches and some bungee cord, these are a favorite hangout for our chickens.
- Thinking Outside the Nesting Boxes: We have used all sorts of things over the years- dressers and shelves, wooden milk crates and cabinets. We have fun thinking of creative ways to make nesting boxes!
The coop was completed in about a month or two, with lots of work on the weekends and after work evenings. Over the past five years, we have changed out a few things like a new door (our salvaged one broke in a bad windstorm) and we have changed our coop from white to green. I actually brought one of my chicken eggs into the store to buy paint because I loved the green color so much!
Those Olive Eggers, Sapphire Gems and Easter Eggers just make all my green dreams come true. One might say I have a slight obsession with rainbow eggs. Egg color is the first priority when I’m choosing chicken breeds!
This month, Brandon and I have been working on revamping the inside of the coop. After a few years, it needed a refresher! We went treasure hunting and converted a shelf we found at ReStore into new nesting boxes. We were able to cut parts of it to revamp it to create 7 new boxes for the flock, and for $15, it felt like a reasonable investment.
We are also putting in new rubber matting flooring (scrap pieces from a friend’s company) and working to make an access door to the bottom of the coop wall to easily be able to scoop out the old bedding. I think this will save a ton of time with cleaning the coop! As each year goes by with chicken keeping, we keep evolving our coop into being as self-sufficient, healthy and fruitful as possible.
It has been so fun bonding with my brother over some of our homestead projects! We grew up working hard, but never in a farm environment. While Brandon has yet to embrace the homestead life (don’t worry — I’m working on him!), he has been really open to learning and helping on our property. I love watching him crack up when our baby goat frolics like a crazy pinball machine around our farm, his shock when he learns new chicken facts, and how he’s always willing to get his hands dirty.
For my birthday last year, I was so far behind with my flowerbeds that I said the only thing I wanted was help weeding (not actually expecting anyone to show up) and he and my family all showed up with buckets and weeded all my flower beds. Now that might not be your typical birthday present, but I bet a few people out there can appreciate just what an absolute GIFT that was to receive!
I am so grateful to have my brother and to be able to celebrate all the amazing adventures and milestones that we have been able to share in our life together for National Siblings Day. Life is not always easy, and I could not imagine going through it without this “little” brother of mine. My bond with him is unique. He has been there through our entire childhood, adolescence, married life, babies… and will likely be there longer than many of the older family members in our life.
We share our family, our hopes and dreams, and we share our memories. It is a special relationship that combines a joint history of the past, the joys and challenges of the present, and hope for the future for many memories to come. Each part of that past, present and future is interwoven into a beautiful quilt of a close family connection and a life well lived.
Join The Discussion!
Do you have a chicken coop on your property?
Thinking of building one? We hope these tips helped!
Are you planning to celebrate National Siblings Day this year?
Send this article to your brother or sister as inspiration!
Share with your community here in the comments below.
We are looking forward to hearing from you!
Celebrate National Siblings Day on April 10 – Join Us by adding a patch to our quilt!
Tiffany lives with her family at @FernWoodsFarm in a log cabin in the woods where she and her husband homestead and raise chickens, ducks, geese, dairy goats, pigs, turkeys, rabbit and inquisitive little children. Her family spends much of their time growing and raising their own food, encouraging others to homestead and having a ridiculous list of about ten DIY projects happening at any one given time. Tiffany loves photography, baking pies, collecting rainbow eggs from her chickens, gardening and playing music with her husband. She also has a passion for writing and her work has been published in The Homesteader Magazine.