Brick by Brick

These hard working hands were often sore at the end of the day
These hard working hands were often sore at the end of the day
Design plans for the coop
Design plans for the coop

Months ago we started the project of building a chicken coop. When we first arrived we scouted out the various options of places where to put the coop. Once we had decided where we staked out the site and drew up the design for the coop. We looked into the building materials available here and the prices and landed on using the local-made bricks for the outer walls, set on top of a foundation of rocks and cement. Wood, the local Mahogany, would be more expensive and the local bamboo wasn’t as long-lasting as we wanted. So we landed on bricks.

Before we could lay the bricks though we needed a foundation. That meant digging it out, laying large rocks in the ditch, pouring cement over those and then repeating that process until the foundation was level, as marked out by some stakes and string. After the foundation you had to poor the cement slab and allow that to cure. Then, after all of that you could start laying bricks.

IMG_8737When laying bricks you always start with the corners, build those up, allow them to set and then build the middle. It’s for durability and strength. Here, the bricks are made out of clay dug from the ground about 2-3′ down and then baked. You can purchase them from a local place and load them up on a trailer to bring back.

IMG_8801All cement is mixed by hand here including the concrete for the foundation, the cement slab and the mortar. The mortar is fine sand and cement mixed together. You use a trowel to place the mortar in between the bricks. After all of the bricks have been laid you then have to create a frame and poor the lentil around the entire thing to strengthen and bind it together. The concrete for that is also hand mixed and then poured into the frame.

Here is how the chicken coop has progressed over the last couple of months until today.

The sod dug up after marking out the coop area.
The sod dug up after marking out the coop area.
String is then added marking out the area to be dug for the foundation
String is then added marking out the area to be dug for the foundation
Digging out the foundation ditch
Digging out the foundation ditch
Mixing cement
Mixing cement
Rocks laid in the prepared foundation ditch
Rocks laid in the prepared foundation ditch
Cement being added on top of the rocks before another layer of rocks is added
Cement being added on top of the rocks before another layer of rocks is added
The level guide lines in place for the foundation
The level guide lines in place for the foundation

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Once the foundation is created the dirt dug up gets leveled out in the center of it
Once the foundation is created the dirt dug up gets leveled out in the center of it
Rocks are then added on top of the dirt and then pounded down
Rocks are then added on top of the dirt and then pounded down
The pile of bricks ready and waiting
The pile of bricks ready and waiting
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Sand delivery to make concrete for the coop
Our Congolese friend Nono has been teaching and helping Dave all along the way
Our Congolese friend Nono has been teaching and helping Dave all along the way
Smoothing out the surface of the slab
Smoothing out the surface of the slab

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Cement powder is sprinkled over concrete and then smoothed using a trowel to create a smooth surface
Cement powder is sprinkled over concrete and then smoothed using a trowel to create a smooth surface
The finishing touch
The finishing touch
Covering the slab to protect it from the rain as it cures for a few days.
Covering the slab to protect it from the rain as it cures for a few days.

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The posts for the run are in
The posts for the run are in
Line is used to ensure the bricks are laid straight and even.
Line is used to ensure the bricks are laid straight and even.
Building up a corner
Building up a corner
A local Congolese brick and mortar
A local Congolese brick and mortar

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The chicken door
The chicken door
Covering your work to protect it from the rain is a must here.
Covering your work to protect it from the rain is a must here.
The walls are growing row by row
The walls are growing row by row

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A level is used to double check that the bricks are even.
A level is used to double check that the bricks are even.

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One of the windows is taking shape
One of the windows is taking shape

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The final corner is finished at last
The final corner is finished at last

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The frame for the lentil is screwed together in place
The frame for the lentil is screwed together in place
Rebar is welded together and placed in the frame before the concrete is poured
Rebar is welded together and placed in the frame before the concrete is poured
The lentil is then poured
The lentil is then poured
Following the line
Filling the lentil frame
The cured lentil with beams for the roof
The cured lentil with beams for the roof

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Pounding in the roofing nails
Pounding in the roofing nails
It's a delicate process
It’s a delicate process
The boards around the run are being dug in
The boards around the run are being dug in
The roof is complete
The roof is complete
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The door frames going in
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Securing the frame

IMG_9246So here we are at last with the foundation, floor, walls, roof and door jams done! It has been a lot of work to finally get to this point after several months. It took many hours of work on the weekends, in the evenings after flying and even in thunderstorms to finally get here. There is still work to be done on the inside of the house and we need to complete the run but getting the roof on is certainly a milestone to celebrate. We should be ready to order chicks from Uganda by the end of the month! Such excitement around that, and I’ll explain why we are ordering them from Uganda in a future post soon.

One comment

  1. We are there enjoying the experience with you! However, one could feel as if they had a lot in common with “The Little Red Hen” that we here have no sweat equity in the project BUT can’t wait for the finished product! God bless and keep you!

    Like

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