Category Archives: backyard

Chicken Coop Progress

This post has been a looong time coming. I have really let you down, blog readers. I apologize for the lack of posting lately. Every year as the holidays approach I think about all the great holiday-related posts I could write. And every year, I fail. Maybe I should write my holiday-related posts in the summer in preparation, huh? ūüôā
Anyway, hopefully I’ll get back into the swing of things soon. In the meantime, here’s a post I’ve owed you for a long time. Rockstar husband¬†started building the coop back in October right after we got our chicks. He spent 3 or 4 weekends working all day on it. I helped with some small parts, but really this was his¬†project. He designed the coop after spending many hours researching coops on¬†www.backyardchickens.com. He’s almost done with it now. There are a few last things to finish that haven’t happened because it was rained almost every single weekend since he last worked seriously on it. We plan on painting it and sealing the wood once it dries out completely in the spring. Ideally, that would have been finished BEFORE the rain started, but oh well.
Now for pictures!
Work station
Rocks that little man¬†and I collected in the yard to backfill the trench. These are the make the run more “predator proof” because an animal trying to get in wont be able to dig through the rocks.
The footprint of the coop and run. Our goal was to make the run completely predator proof. That way, if we are away overnight, we can leave the coop door open and the chickens can let themselves out into the run in the morning. Without a predator-proof run, we’d have to make sure to be home everyday at nightfall to lock the chickens up.¬†
We borrowed a friend’s jackhammer to dig through some of the tougher parts of the dirt. Thank you friend! If you’re wondering why there’s a stump in the middle of what will be the run, it’s because we just cut down a tree that was there. We left the stump so that the chickens can perch on it.¬†
Framing out the run.
Rockstar husband demonstrating his jackhammering skills.
Lots of progress done at this point! It’s still missing a door for the coop, door for the run, nesting boxes, perching rack, welded wire on top of the run, and probably lots more.¬†
See that irrigation tube? We dug it up while digging the trench. Eventually we’d like to add a hose right by the coop to make filling water and cleaning easier. It’s not top priority but it’s on our list.
Here’s where the chickens will go in and out of the coop. And see how the coop is raised up, allowing extra run space under it? It’s perfect for rainy days and hot summer days so that the hens can get out of the elements but still be outside ¬† if they want to be.
Adding paneling over the welded wire so that¬†varmints¬†can’t rip it off and get in. You can’t see it here, but we also ran the welded wire down into the trench before backfilling. This adds to the predator protection.¬†
Nesting boxes done. A feature that most nesting boxes don’t have that I LOVE is that it is¬†designed to open UP instead of DOWN. Know why? So that little man¬†can eventually open it up himself to collect the eggs. If it opened down, it would be hard for him¬†to reach the eggs inside. I love that rockstar husband¬†thought of a little detail like that. What a good papa!¬†
Almost done! The run has a door now, there’s a ramp in place for the chickens to get up and down from the coop, the chicken door for the coop is in place. You can’t really tell because the ladder is blocking it, but the coop door is on a pulley system so that we can just run out and open or close the coop door from the outside of the run without having to unlock the run on a cold winter morning.
Chickens exploring their new home. I think they like it!

Baby chicks!

Well, my dreams of chicken ownership have finally come to fruition. I posted about our plans to take a chicken raising class months ago, and that day has finally come (and gone). In fact, we’ve had the chicks for 2 weeks now and I’m just now getting a chance to post about it. They’ve already moved out of their cute phase and into their “awkward teenage phase.” So sad, they grow up so fast. *sniff sniff*

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves blog-wise. Let’s pretend this is two weeks ago when they were 3 day old tiny fluff balls. We got 5 of them and they all fit into this little box. They kept each other warm for the drive home.

Here is our Buff Orpington. She will lay light brown eggs.

Here’s our Silver Cochlin. She’ll also lay light brown eggs.

We also got two Ameracauna’s (they lay light blue eggs) and a Wellsummer, who will lay chocolate brown eggs. Now we just have to wait 6 months for them to start laying! (We’re crossing our fingers that they’re all hens, since we have to get rid of roosters. The hatchery guarantees a 90% female rate, so there could be a rooster in there).

Work on their coop starts this weekend. I’m excited!

Summer tomatoes

Every time we head out to the backyard now, little man¬†goes straight for the tomato plants. We had a slow start to our tomatoes this year since we were in France from mid-May to early June. Even though we weren’t able to plant them until we got home, I knew we’d eventually have some tomatoes to enjoy thanks to our long warm season.
Well, they’re not as impressive as last year, but we have definitely been enjoying lots of cherry tomatoes. Most of them have been eaten right off the plant. This is little man’s¬†preferred method of tomato-consumption. In fact, there have been times when he’s eaten tomatoes voraciously while outside, only to flat out refuse the very same tomatoes in his high chair. I guess I officially have a toddler.
As long as the warm weather persists, I’ll at least be able to get him eating veggies on our trips out to the backyard. Next summer, he might even be know how to choose between green and red ripe tomatoes. What a wonderful way to learn your colors.
For now, we’re taking full advantage of our warm days while they last.
Get in my mouth!

Chicken dreams

I’ve been dreaming about raising chickens for years now and my dreams are finally about to become a reality! Just 2 months from today, my handsome (and accommodating) hubby¬†and I are taking a backyard chicken raising class at Love Apple Farm in Scotts Valley and will come home with 3 chicks each (actually, we might not take all 6, we’ll see what we decide we can handle).

I’m so excited I could squeal! Or cluck? Bad joke, I apologize. Anyway, we’ve both been combing the internet for coop plans and starting to look for sources of reclaimed wood. We already have some that we received from a freecycler, but we’ll need more as I’d like to use as much reclaimed wood for this project as we can.

I’m sure I’ll update more about this as it gets closer! For now, I will continue to dream of fluffy chicks and fresh eggs. But not for TOO much longer.

We think this coop is particularly awesome (from here). But we’ll see what we end up tackling.

 

Backyard Project: Tree Removal

We had a busy weekend. I would say I’m just now recovering from it, and I didn’t even do the heavy lifting.

When we bought our house a year ago, we knew right away that we weren’t thrilled with two of the three trees in our backyard. In each back corner, there stood a tall, messy, bushy tree. We eventually found out they were oak trees, which made me feel a tiny bit guilty that I hated them so much. But, it was already decided that they would eventually have to go. And by eventually, I mean as soon as possible. The plan was to replace them with fruit trees and since it always takes several years for fruit trees to be established and actually start producing fruit, we wanted to get them in the ground ASAP.

We went about finding a quote for a tree removal service. We were quoted $600 something dollars per tree. Egads…I guess I was actually expecting it to be even more, but still. It’s a lot of money. Then, our good friend Robert, who is a jack of all trades kind of guy and used to be an arborist told us that this tree removal project was “child’s play” and that he could have the tree down in an hour. We asked if he would help us in exchange for dinner, a bottle of scotch and our eternal gratitude. A deal was made and off to work we went.

We were lucky that Saturday was a gorgeous day. 75 degrees with barely a breeze. Lovely!

Robert prepared the chainsaw, borrowed from a neighbor.

Quentin helped mama document the adventure (but not the part when the chainsaw was on)

First few branches removed. We could tell at this point that the real work was going to be cleaning up all the branches and leaves after the tree was down.

You can’t see him, but Robert is up in the tree.

Quentin went down for a nap, so I got to work removing leaves from larger branches so we could keep those as kindling.

Trevor, hard at work.

Robert, cutting up our firewood for next winter.

Time to get the rest of it down…devising a game plan.

The guys, enjoying a well-deserved beer.

Meanwhile, Quentin and I prepared lunch. Quiche Lorraine with a salad on the side. Complete with espresso and chocolate for dessert.

And, because it was so beautiful, we ate out on the grass.

Quentin was excited for his avocado.

Getting a taste of what spring feels like for the first time.

The big pile of branches is still on our patio, but luckily, we borrowed a brush chipper from a friend. The plan is to make mulch out of the small branches/leaves, and to save the larger branches for kindling.

And done.

Having the tree out really changes the look of our backyard. I wouldn’t say it’s for the better at this point, but I think it will be really nice once we get the stump removed and plant a fruit tree. I’ve been dreaming about what kind of fruit tree we’re going to plant. I’m kind of thinking apricot right now, but my mind isn’t totally made up. Any suggestions?