The quick growth of the chicks has necessitated finally starting work on the truck box conversion. If you remember, we purchased this 22′ truck box from a local seller who had posted it on eBay. It was a terrifying drive home hauling this huge thing on our trailer but we made it. Then we had to figure out how to get it off the trailer and onto the footings we put in for it. Another interesting operation!
So it’s been sitting in our back field since August. As there was no great need to expand into it, we neglected to work on it further. With the addition of our new generation of birds, though, we really need the space now. And so work has begun to get it ready for them.
Here’s what the inside looked like when I opened the back door – aluminum ceiling and walls, metal ribs, wood floor, some wooden and metal braces throughout the sides.
Our first step was to create some ventilation. To do this, we used the new pallet forks to raise us up high enough to cut into the sides with the grinder. We made a series of windows along the top edge, about 2′ tall and spanning the length of both sides.
Next we put some PVC boards up as trim, to hold the hardware cloth in place. This build is a little more difficult than our previous ones because you can’t just screw or staple things in place. With metal, everything has to held in place with bolts, washers and nuts. We put up the bottom piece of trim, slid the hardware cloth in place, put the top board on and tightened everything up.
It was a challenge but we got the windows complete. We soon realized (when it started raining) that, with no roof overhang, water comes right in. Since we needed the floor to stay dry to lay the waterproof flooring over it, we hung some plastic.
Next step – waterproof the floor. This is not essential, but will help ensure the floor doesn’t rot out from damp bedding sitting on it. We used this white sheet plastic in our other coop and it has held up wonderfully. You can get it at Lowes or Home Depot; it’s what you often see on the walls in public restrooms. Josh spread the glue then we worked together to get the sheets down straight.
I got the job of doing “the happy dance” on each sheet to help ensure it had good adhesion with the wood underneath.
Final step for the floor was adding a threshold piece and skirt board around the edges. I finished these on my own since my poor husband (still recovering from his surgery) was worn clear out from spreading glue. He has been a champ trying to help with projects but still gets tired easily.
That very same day, I hauled out bedding, food, water and a roost and got those birds moved outside. They look so small in the huge expanse of truck box but they really had outgrown the brooder at 5-weeks.
I was a little worried about putting them outside so soon since we have no power outside yet to provide heat lamps. Luckily, the truck box retains heat fairly well with the windows covered. If we get the least bit of sunshine in the afternoon, it stays plenty warm through the night. So far, it hasn’t been an issue. The little ones seem happy with their new digs.
One day this week it was near 70 in the afternoon so I made a “window” at the back where some fresh air could circulate and the babes could look out. I hung some black deer fence across the door opening and set some hay bales across the bottom. They really enjoyed this, hopping up to look out throughout the afternoon.
The coop certainly isn’t finished, but it feels good to have finally gotten started. Next project will be adding a pitched roof. After that: solar for power, a water collection system, built-in feeders and waterers, a larger roosting system, and an automated chicken door.