Our Passive Solar Coop

The fall leaves started to fall, and I realized that our little cluckers’ ingenious A-frame coop wasn’t going to do them through the winter. Somehow my brother and I hadn’t even thought about insulating it for winter! So I started to think and think about what I could build for the birds to get though the frostier months.

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I’m hoping that our next house will be passive solar, so I thought, “what if I make a passive solar coop?” I’ve never seen such a thing, and couldn’t find one online, either. But I knew the basics: a southfacing window to magnify the sun’s heat and light, and a dark floor to retain it. Insulated walls to keep the passively heated air in.

I went over to the Habitat for Humanity Restore (second hand building materials) and the girls ran amok while I measured and hmmed and hawed. Finally, I loaded up a window (I returned for the countertop for the roof later) and headed off home.

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Then on Thanksgiving day, my husband and girlies and I put the thing together. We decided to situate it in one of our garden beds, and will scoop it all out and spread the poop around the yard next Spring.

We used the old solid woodcore door from upstairs and sawed it up into the coop sides. Then we cobbled the rest together. I used on old cabinet at one end, so we could use the shelves as a nesting box, and be able to open it from one side. I used Laughlin’s training pen as an outdoor run, and our old chloroplast sign from the previous clinic location. And voila! A passive solar coop for $45.

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It took Jason and I three nights to train the birds (in consultation with my crafty bird-savvy borther-in-law) and now they are hopping in at dark and going up to roost for the night. I still have to make a modification to the nesting box; they keep kicking out the bedding. But besides that – it works! And is a few measurable degrees warmer inside than out, already.

It’s so satisfying building something from scratch! The girls even got their Brownie woodworking badge out of it!

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Isn’t Keewee a good looking girl? We might enter her in the fair next year! (Not as nice of a personality as her sister, though. Do they have a Ms. Congeniality prize??)

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