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The cage below the coop is accessed from the outside through a small gate which, when open, allows the chickens into the covered area for shade, and protection from the rain.
But more importantly, we designed it so that if we need to leave overnight, we open a trapdoor on the floor of the coop, and give the chickens full access to the coop and the outdoor cage beneath it while keeping them safe.
We used a hodgepodge of leftover, gifted, used, and new materials, and spent a few hundred dollars.
The wood for the walls is half inch plywood, which happens to have a stamped pattern on it (it is not T-111, which isn’t sturdy enough for wet Seattle weather).
Most days we don’t use the trap door at all–we just let them out in the yard during the day, and close them up in the coop at night.
But the trap door to “Guantanamo” works great when we need it, and we’ve been grateful for this setup many times.
Our coop design has two doors: a big “human door” in the front for easy access, egg gathering, ventilation, and cleaning, and a chicken door on the left side with a ramp. Though the chickens have a larger run, underneath the coop we built a cage Tom calls “Chicken Guantanamo,” where they can be outdoors and still be fully protected if we need to leave them for an extended period.The liquid released between a supermaket chicken and a free-range, locally-raised freshly butchered one can vary by a cup of liquid or more. If trying to wing it with liquid ratios doesn’t result in gummy rice, bone-in chicken’s 10 minute pressure cooking time will!This seven minute difference is almost an additional half hour of conventional cooking time.Feed stores will be getting their chicks in the next couple of months, and if you’re pondering the addition of a backyard flock this year (we hope you are! There’s still lots of time–this year’s chicks won’t be ready to go outside by themselves until May or June–but it doesn’t hurt to start gathering plans, ideas, and materials.So today: A soup-to-nuts look at our year-old coop.