08. July 2021 · 3 comments · Categories: Petaluma

You know those stories you read — the tales of fixer-upper glory, of DIY prowess where an old, decrepit thing seamlessly transforms into an object of beauty? This is not one of those stories.

We had an old out-building we saved in nostalgia for the property’s farming history. We called it “The Sheep Shack.” The previous owner had called it “The Pink Palace.” Historically, this had been a pig farm, so we suspect it was originally a farrowing shack. I also unearthed plenty of evidence that it was where the farmer or one of the farmhands went to drink. Pigs don’t judge, I guess.

I’d talked off & on for years about getting chickens, and this spring my neighbors and husband finally convinced me. They were fluffy and adorable, but I don’t have many pictures of their cuteness because we were too busy transforming the shack into a coop. I didn’t even have time or energy to post-in-progress, like the cool IG kids do.

Nothing was easy. I dug up animal carcasses, beer bottles, more bones, plastic shards, and I uncovered rodents’ nests when I pulled off the rotting old siding. (Yes, I wore a mask, and not a worthless disposable mask, a full-on anti-hanta-virus mask.)

I learned many things:

  • how to wield a jackhammer to remove the filthy and uneven floor
  • how to fix holes in cinder block walls
  • that old buildings pieced together through the years are never level or square
  • that T1-11 siding is SUPER hard to paint (trust me, buy a sprayer)
  • that jackhammering, digging, painting, etc., is hell on carpal tunnel syndrome
  • that every, single thing takes longer than you think it will

I toggled between “this is cool” and “I hate this project” like whiplash. I felt ALL the emotions, especially as the chickens got bigger by the day and the temperatures climbed. More than once, I’d wished we’d mowed the shack down before we moved in. We had joked about this being our learning project, and Coop 2.0 would be so much easier and better. There probably won’t be a Coop 2.0, and the chickens will have to do with a home kludged together with hardware cloth, washers, and many, many weird cuts of siding. Lucky for us, like pigs, chickens don’t seem to judge.

In the end, we have created a home for our brood that they like and keeps them safe. As we told our neighbor when he said it looks good, “don’t look too closely!” The Pink Palace is now El Palacio de Pollo, and I’m enjoying being “done” with this project. (Really only “done for now,” because the storage section of the building still needs siding and a door. Whatever, the chickens have a house and a yard. That’s success.)

First demolition — get rid of “dead critter platform.” I found two skeletons and a fresh, stinky possum corpse.

Side view. We had to move all that metal. Who needs CrossFit?

I loved prying off the old siding, very satisying.

Nothing says badass like camo and a pink air filters.

Chicks coming home! Now we really need to hurry.

So fun!

So teeny! But not for long.

This home lasted 2 weeks.

The chicks did NOT like their photo shoots.

We had to jack up the roof to replace studs.

New siding and an egg door.

Whole new front. Didn’t mean for it to look like a face, but there she is.

Where’s my house at, lady?

As good a pic as I could get with cleanup pending.

Done for now!

As I said, don’t look too closely, and “done for now.”



  1. Fantastic post and project. What a job. It looks great. Enjoy lots of omelets!

  2. Deidre Watson

    Impressive! You should be very proud of yourself. Those are very lucky hens (rooster? 😉)
    Congratulations on a job well done. 💕💕💕💕😘

  3. Cathi Salvatore

    What an accomplishment with satisfying results. Now the eggs!

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