Sunday, August 24, 2014

Chicken Coop

When I picture rural living there are a few images that automatically come to mind.  Lush gardens filled with seasonal vegetables, a large stack of split wood next to a cast iron woodstove, and of course, chickens scratching at the raw land.   When we moved out to out little neighbourhood I knew immediately that I wanted hens.  Farm fresh eggs are a luxury that can cost you an arm and a leg in in the city.  Although there are many people around the neighbourhood that sell their extra eggs, I wanted to know that I am consuming a product that came from a well cared for bird.  Of course, there is also the amusement of keeping chickens that serves as a big draw.
Not being the types to throw something together, A and I have meticulously researched the style of coop we want.   I wanted to be certain that I would have a properly built home for my ladies.  I want them to be safe and warm, and I didn't want to be cursing myself while collecting eggs in the dark in the middle of winter.   It might seem silly to commit such effort and money towards a building to house chickens but we wanted to make sure that we were building something that would last.   We didn't want to be adding an eyesore to our home.
It has been a long process and it seems like it might never come to a finish but I figured I would share some of the progress we have made.


We decided on a Wichita style coop which has a raised hen house connected to a fully enclosed run.  The run will have a full height door which I will be able to gain access though.  The coop will have a pop style chicken door, larger entry door and overhanging nesting boxes which I will be able to access without going into the coop.   The rear of the coop will be closed off for storage of litter and food.   The extreme weather here has forced us to ensure the coop will stay warm in the winter and cool in the summer.   As it is a fair ways away from the house, and I will be no doubt tending to birds in the dark, we have decided to hard wire it in so that I can have a light to see by also the option to add a heat lamp or heated water dish.  The coop will be finished with the same siding and trim as our own home and it has a matching tin roof has already been installed.


Here we you see the small chicken entry door and a smaller vent near the roof.   The coop will have 2 small vents that can be removed in the summertime and a larger opening window above the nesting boxes.  A is also installing a small window in the main door so that I may be able to peek in on the ladies without disturbing them.   Its not uncommon to get temperatures near 40 in the summer and minus 25 in the winter so we have taken care to fully insulate the house itself.

Looks like someone is slacking on the job....

The back of the coop with extended nesting boxes.  I will be able to collect eggs by lifting the lid to the nest.  When I want to clean the coop the entire side of the nesting boxes can be dropped down so that I can easily scoop old littler out. 


The rear of the coop was made into a fairly large storage area.   Here I will have ample space for extra litter and food.   As a last minute thought A installed an electrical outlet just inside the door in case I ever want to hang a light.


Back of the coop with the sliding window installed.


Inside the coop we put down lino flooring to make clean up an easy job.   You can see my 3 nesting boxes on the floor and a full length roost.  The shelf under the roost is called a droppings board and will be filled with a layer of sand.  The idea is that the majority of chicken poop happens at night when the hens are roosting.  The close proximity between the roost and the shelf ensures the poop has lesser chance of hitting the walls.   This way you can easily scoop the poop out of the sand and the shavings on the floor stays cleaner, thus needing a full cleaning less often. 


I painted the interior of the coop with a latex paint so that it would be easier to clean.  I also thought it might help brighten the area with our limited winter daylight hours.   Although I am opposed to artificial light throughout the winter, I do want to maximize what natural light we do get. 

A installed an exterior electrical box so that I can control an outside light.  There is also an electrical outlet and interior light switch just inside the door.


Roost, droppings shelf, vent, and pop door.   A line will be ran from the pop door to just outside the coop so that I can let the ladies in and out without actually entering the house itself.  I plan on hanging the ladies' water under the shelf during the winter months.   In the summer it will change locations to the underside of the cabin.   I'm leaning towards a tube style feeder to be attached to the inside of the coop.   This way the ladies can have a late night snack and it also helps deter catering to the local wildlife.


This is what happens when you tie a bun on the top of your head while painting the low ceiling of a hen house.   Fortunately I was able to scrub the majority of it out.  The rest of it I will have to learn to live with.




So close, we just need siding, trim and fencing.   Oh, and chickens. 

I haven't actually decided if I want to get chickens so late in the year.  It seems silly to feed and house them over the winter for little to no eggs.   I might just wait and purchase a few hens early next spring.  Until then, I will continue to update with our progress. 

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Thrifting

I've talked about my love of thrift before and one of my favourite things to hunt for are vintage kitchen items.   Last week, after a hectic week of running the office solo, I stopped in at one of the larger thrift shops in town.   I was able to score a couple of Le Parfait canisters to add to my collection in the pantry and stoneware pottery container stamped from the mid 70s, which currently houses my dishwasher tabs besides the sink.  I love the earthy design on the lid, it reminds me of a full moon behind the hills.    My best find, of course, must be the old cast iron skillet I picked up for a song.   I've had my eye out for a good quality cast iron pan for quite a long time now.   I was hoping to snag an old griswold (still kicking myself for not buying a griswold cast iron muffin tin that was terribly over priced at Value Village) but my General Steel Wares is a decent make too.  GSW is a Canadian company based out of Ontario that stopped producing in the 1950s.    I gave my pan a one time wash with soap a recoated it with oil to maintain its seasoning.    The inside is silky smooth and amazingly non stick.   From breakfast to dinner, it seems like I've been using it non stop since I've bought it.

Assorted rice and sprouting seeds.  These canisters make it easy to spot my goods in the pantry. 

Blue and brown designs reminiscent of the moon. 

Skillet cornbread with dandelion jelly to top.

I can already tell this baby is going to be a major workhorse in my kitchen.