Tag Archives: chicken coop

Garden Update & Dexter’s First Beach Day

It is so unusually hot here – we’re having our August weather in June…which makes me concerned a bit about August.  Never thought I’d miss the rain!  But the beans, tomatoes, and squash sure love the heat. I think I’ll be canning beans in under a week.

Good thing, too, as we only have three cans left from the beans I put up last summer. I LOVE home canned beans! They are so much tastier than store-bought.

We’ll be eating summer squash by next week, too. Beans and squash are my favorite summer foods.

It’s been so long since my last update, that I didn’t post the pics I took a few weeks ago. Here’s the front yard vegetable then:

And here it is now. It’s a jungle!

Though the biggest jungle is inside the greenhouse.

Look – we have the brick floor in! And there are SO MANY green tomatoes.  The melons in there are flowering now, too. I’m hopeful that I’ll actually get a bunch of homegrown melons this year.  Early on, I noticed the three peppers I have in there were getting attacked by aphids.  In the outdoor garden, this would be absolutely NO reason for concern, as within days, the beneficial insects would find them, and demolish them.  I never spray anything in my garden, not even soap solutions. Though those are not nearly so harmful as pesticides, they still disrupt the natural cycle of predator/prey in your garden.  If you let the aphids be for a year, you’ll allow the beneficials to establish a base in your garden, and then you’ll never need to spray anything, ever again.  It’s simply amazing to observe.

Inside the greenhouse, I wasn’t sure if a natural balance would be able to happen, but guess what?  After about a week of tolerating aphids on my peppers, the aphids just suddenly disappeared completely! If I’d had to keep the greenhouse door closed during the day, the beneficials probably wouldn’t have been able to find their way inside, but with this hot weather…yeah, it’s an awesome June for the garden and the good bugs!

We’ve done a few more improvements to the chicken coop/yard, with still more to come.

Inside the coop, mom tore out the upstairs loft. She had never been happy with it, and she finally managed to turn me around to her point of view.

Now the girls just have perches along the back wall, with a wind barrier of straw bales in front. Before winter, we’ll have to put in a little more protection, but it’s working for now.

I also got the signs I designed and painted up.

Each girl has her name, along with a picture of the egg she lays. Plus, a blackboard to write their requests/demands.

Outside in the yard, we’re working on making it more chicken-friendly (more shade, more secret nooks, more edible perennials for them and us). So far, we’ve put up two hog panel trellises.

One has two varieties of grapes growing up it:

And beyond that, to the side against the fence, is another with thornless blackberries and a (still-to-be-planted) rose.

Complete with bench, for sitting and holding chickens. Once the vines get a chance to grow up, it will be very nice for all of us.

The neighbor on the other side of the yard finally put up the fence he’s been talking about since he moved in. It’s probably the most white-trashy fence I’ve ever seen (the posts are all cut to different heights, and the boards are nailed on a definite slant), but it does the job. It’s so nice to have privacy again! And now we can tear down the falling-apart fence that used to be there.  We said we’d tear it down for him before he started building his, but he said he wanted to take it down himself.  Then, he just left it up, and built his new fence in further on his property. So he just gave us about ten inches more land!  Woot!  😉  He’s an very odd man.

The new fence extends into the side front, which is very nice. And from this view, you can see just how uneven those posts really are!

Anyway, now that there’s a fence, this just became prime real estate. I’m thinking a bunch of raised beds (the ground’s truly bad here) with raspberries? It gets excellent sun.

Yesterday, we took Dexter to the beach for the first time.

He loved it, but had serious concerns about the sea monsters that kept passing by in the water. We tried to explain what boats are, but he knows what a sea monster is when he sees it, and he knows it is part of his job to keep a wary eye out to sea.

He did love the water though – even though the waves did freak him out at first.

He was so exhausted on the way home. He just collapsed in the back seat, and didn’t move.

Last Post Before the Chicks Arrive

Lots of work was done on the coop today, and blood was shed. My brother got scrunched by a man-tall roll of sharp-edged wire (scratches over his back), and my mom punctured her head with a piece of equally sharp wire.  Just now, as I’m writing this, she said “I suppose you’re going to tell them about the ice bag!”  Well, yes, now that she reminded me! So after she punctured her head and doctored it up, it was still hurting.  She thought she should have put cold water on it, but because she didn’t want to take more time from building the coop, she put an ice bag on her head and continued to work; balancing it while climbing ladders and nailing.  Is that the chicken-coop way of building grace – similar to how girls walk around with books balanced on their heads?

But here’s the coop, nearly all wired in:

Pretty much all the wiring that’s left is a bit on the run’s door.  Also, the door on the coop itself was installed, as well as the chicken “pop door”.

The human-sized door is obviously the door on the right. The mini door on the left is the pop door.  This will be the exit/entrance for the chickens (there will be a ramp leading down to the ground).

Below is a “chicken” demonstrating it….

The final breed of chicken we’re getting is the Rhode Island Red. These are the chickens we used to have, years ago.  They were so sweet; we’d go out in the pen and they would circle us, waiting for us to sit down so they could sit on our laps and be petted.

My Pet Chicken says:

Rhode Island Reds are held in such high esteem that they’re the official Rhode Island state bird. They were once hugely popular in America, though they declined right along with the small farmer. Today they’re making a comeback due to small flock owners (like us!). They’re the do-everything bird: they lay exceptionally well, they’re valued for their meat, they’re extremely cold hardy, and hardy in general.

The eggs are your standard brown:

But marvelous things can be made from ordinary eggs!  I found this website of incredible eggs:

The next post will have actual, live chicken babies in it!!!!!

Ready for Baby Chicks!

No, the coop is not yet finished, but as the chicks will be spending their first weeks inside the house, we’re well on track for finishing by the time they need it.  We did add a decorative feature to the coop: curtains!

Pretty much all the major stuff that’s left to do on the coop is attach the doors and wire in the run.

Since it’s *possible* that the chicks could come as early as tomorrow (though most likely not until Weds), we set up their indoor quarters.  It’s an appliance box of some kind, with a lining of plastic, paper towels, and pine shavings.  We’re working on getting the temperature right, using the heat lamp.

The penultimate chicken breed we are getting is the Barnevelder.

Here’s what My Pet Chicken has to say:

The Barnevelder originates from the Barneveld region of Holland where it is so well-known that, according to the Barnevelder Club of North America, the Barnevelder name is synonymous with the word chicken. It is sought after there for its dark “chocolate” brown eggs, and while Barnevelder eggs in this country have lost some of that dark pigment, breeders here are working hard to change that. This beautiful bird is hardy and quiet and doesn’t mind being confined. In short, it makes a wonderful pet!

It seems to be quite rare and quite loved in North America; every chicken breeder we speak to is delighted that we’re getting one. We’ve had a couple of people say it is their favorite chicken!  This is the one breed that we almost didn’t get.  There is only a limited number available, and at first we were told they were all sold out.

Here’s two little Barnevelder chicks:

And here’s an egg:

Hopefully we’ll get even luckier and get a hen that lays the really dark eggs.

The Roof is On….

Well, most of the roof is, anyway!  It turned out my brother overlapped the Suntuf panels too far, thus making our calculations come out wrong.  We’re one panel shy, but no worries.  We’ll have it up soon!

You can see, above on the far right, the missing panel.  Below are a few in-progress pictures:

We’re getting there…and good thing too – our chicks are coming on June 30th! The Post Office will call us when they arrive, and we have get to go pick them up at 6:30 in the morning.  Even though I will be severely sleep-deprived, I hope to remember to take my camera and record the momentous occasion!

I have only three more breeds of chicken left to describe, and today’s is the Delaware.

Here’s what My Pet Chicken has to say:

The Delaware is a relatively new breed of chicken, having only been developed in 1940. They’re a cross between New Hampshire Reds and Barred Plymouth Rocks with the goal of maintaing the prolific egg production of these two breeds but increased meat value. They’re a lovely, calm white breed with black feathers around the neck and the tip of the tail, and with some black striations also working their way into the back. They perform well in the cold and will fare even better if their combs are protected from frostbite with the help of some petroleum jelly.

Here’s some Delaware chicks:

And here are their eggs:

And lastly, just because it’s so freakin’ cute, here’s a youtube video for you!

Chicken Coop Update

The weather here has been all over the map.  We’ve had torrential rain, and gorgeous sunshine.  And the way it’s been working out, is that the gorgeous sun happens on the days we’re either working, sick, or have something else that has to be done.  So progress on the coop has not been as rapid as expected.

Yup, not a great deal has changed since the last picture I posted.  However, I’ve been informed that the rest “won’t take long” to finish, so fingers crossed that the coop gets done before the chickens arrive.  There has been some work done, though:

While the attached run and roof are not done, the inside coop is looking really good.  It has walls, windows, and a window frame.

Now on to the chickens!  The fifth kind of chicken we are getting is the Welsummer.

Here’s the description from My Pet Chicken:

The Welsummer (sometimes spelled Welsumer) is named after the village of Welsum, Holland, and was first imported into this country in 1928. Welsummers are friendly, intelligent and easily handled birds that love to free range and forage for food but can also be kept in runs quite happily. Hens lay large, dark brown eggs that are often speckled, making them very lovely, indeed!  The coloring on the eggs is so thick that if you catch it while the egg is still wet, you can wipe off some of the brown with a clean cloth!

Don’t those eggs just look yummy?

A Little More Progress

Rafters up, one wall started.  Hopefully this Saturday we’ll get the roof completed!

The fourth variety chicken we have ordered is the Silver Laced Wyandotte.  This, I think, is one of the most beautifully feathered chickens I’ve ever seen.

Here’s a close up of the feather detail:

And the chicks (as always) are adorable too!

Here’s what My Pet Chicken has to say about the breed:

Silver Laced Wyandottes are the original Wyandotte variety, and a wonderful example of American breeding. They are beautiful and productive.

Wyandottes are a favorite amongst backyard flock owners for their dependable egg laying, easy going nature and cold hardiness. Each feather is silvery white edged in beetle black, similar to Silver Sebrights. The hens look as if they’re ladies dressed for a fancy ball! The Wyandotte roosters have the same laced feathers, but their hackles and capes are composed of glimmering silver, like a suit of armor. (We think roosters should be named after the Knights of the Round Table!)

Wyandottes have a heavy body and small rose comb which makes this breed perfect for cold climates because they are not prone to frostbite. The hens are hardy, energetic and faithful layers.

The eggs are a light brown.

The Coop Has Walls

Yesterday was the perfect weather to be outside.  Notice how happy my mom is to finally be out there building the coop!

This coop needs to get built, because the chicks are being mailed from My Pet Chicken the week of June 28th.  I already have a couple of ‘play dates’ lined up, because everyone wants to come and cuddle the babies!

We decided upon 11 chickens, 9 of which are all different breeds.  Besides the Cuckoo Maran and the Easter Egger I’d previously blogged about, we are getting THREE bantam silkies, two white ones and a buff.  They may not lay as many eggs as the other breeds, but they make up for it with sheer gorgeousness.

My Pet Chicken has this to say about Silkies:

Of all the ornamental chicken breeds, the Silkie Bantam is one of the most popular and beloved, and certainly one of the most entertaining to watch. Can’t you tell why? They’re the lap kitty of the chicken world, complete with hair-like plumage and an incredibly sweet temperament. We have heard it said that Silkies are like a “flock” of kittens… but unlike your other pets, your chickens can actually provide your breakfast! Silkies originated in the Far East, where they are still kept (and eaten) today. They have black skin and bones and 5 toes instead of the normal 4. In addition, Silkie hens make wonderful brooders and mothers, and are even known to adopt baby ducks if given the chance!

Here’s a video, so you can appreciate just how gorgeous they are:

I think they look like gryphons!

I’ve always wanted a bantam chicken just for the eggs.  I like miniature things!  Here’s a comparison, standard to bantam:

And lastly, the chicks are adorable as well:

What’s not to love?

Chicken Progress Update

After a massive amount of indecision over wire (who knew it came in so many different types!) we bought wire and materials for the foundation.

Trenches, where the soon-to-be-buried wire will keep rats and other critters from digging into the coop.

Nearly everyone I mention the future chickens to has one thing to say: “I want to buy your eggs!”  Seriously, it’s becoming pretty well known how horrible store-bought eggs are (even so called “free-range” or “organic” eggs.  Usually all that means is that instead of the laying hens being penned in wire cages the size of a sheet of paper, they’re given “free-range” in a barn.  Packed together so tightly that they can hardly move, much less find any grass or bugs to eat.  Cannibalism and deaths are rampant.  Today’s “frankenstein chicken” is genetically bred so that it grows up from chick to hen so quickly that its bones can’t keep up.  These chickens often can’t stand without the serious risk of snapping their bones.  It’s wrong, and really sad.  No wonder there’s no taste comparison between those eggs and eggs raised the right way.

Contrast that to this (and these are actually chickens rescued from a factory):

Here’s another of the breeds we are getting: the Easter Egger.

Here’s a chick (the Easter Egger is the one hamming it up for the camera!)

And, given their name, you might not be surprised to learn the color of their eggs.  Yes, these hens do lay blue or green eggs!

The World Needs More Chickens…

I’ve mentioned (possibly longer than a year ago) that we were planning to get a few backyard chickens.  Due to one member of the family being a coop-planning perfectionist with dreams of glory, we’re only now breaking ground.

One day, it will be gorgeous!  Right now, it has a moat, since rain has filled the foundation ditch with water since I took this picture!

Mom and Jacks out deepening the moat….

Jacks is supervising (while keeping a sharp eye out for earthworms):

And meanwhile, what’s the cat doing to help?

When the coop is finished, here’s the sign for the outside:

I’ve already chosen the breeds we’ll be getting, a selection of 8 or 10 different varieties, mostly all heritage/old-fashioned breeds.  Here’s the first on my list, the Silver Cuckoo Maran.

The babies look like this:

What’s notable about the Marans, is the deep chocolate color of their eggs: