Sunday, April 25, 2010

We did it!

It was actually a very successful weekend here on the farm. Not only did we pick up the chicken coop, but we managed to paint it. Even Percy pitched in to paint. You can admire it below:

Freshly delivered and quickly (sloppily) primed.

This is not a chicken house it is a chickenhaus!

We're proud of the paint job, but it is screaming for some art.

We tested out colors we want to use on our own house. Any comments on the palette are welcome.

On top of that, we filled in most of the front flower bed with perennials. This was met with smiles and cheers by the walkers who frequently pass and watch us tear out clumps of grass.

Could this weekend be any more productive? Sure! We planted our seed potatoes, peas and pole beans. Billy even helped to dig out his "private" flower bed. Things are looking up at the farm.

We wish this sentiment was a little wider spread. Percy, our ever optimistic 10 year old, told us that when our vegetable farm fails, we should get a cow for the front yard. At least that would be worthwhile.

Friday, April 23, 2010

A Coop d'Etat

The chicken coop is ready and we are frantically running around (well, frantically surfing the web) in search of a vehicle big enough to haul our new coop home. After a few phone calls and some debating, we decided to rent one of those honking big pickup trucks instead of a U-haul. The builder is located in god-knows-where New Hampshire so finding them will be an adventure in itself. We figure a pickup may be easier to maneuver with a huge coop strapped in the bed.

You may ask why in the world are we going through all of this for a box to keep our chickens in? The bottom line is the bottom line; coops are very expensive. We went to the agriculture stores, read the poultry magazines, surfed the urban-chic backyard chicken sites, and followed up every kind of discounter for a deal. There are no deals when it comes to coops.

From what we've found most ready to take home chicken coops come in two standard forms:

This "A Frame" coop is designed so that you can move the coop around the yard giving the chickens a chance to peck at and fertilize different areas. We have no space for such nonsense.

The next option is the gigantic shed coop for a mini farm. This would leave us with no space for a run.

Building a chicken coop is another option. The internet is filled with low cost chicken coop plans enabling the average person with a miter saw and nail gun to put together a fine structure. We own neither and from all our research, we have learned is that it is really, I mean really, easy to make a hideous coop. Exhibit A:

If we were to build our own, the heap above is exactly how it would end up. That is unless we decided to use an existing structure. With stimulus money being offered to put toward buying green appliances to replace inefficient ones, we could get a new dryer and reuse the old one like this.

Here's a coop made from a trash can. This one is actually for sale and boasts its "stealth" nature for those of you whose zoning does not allow for pet poultry. This is the HenCondo and can be yours for the low, low price of $499.

There are many people out there who have the skills and tools, and in at least one case a hexagonical Ikea wrench, to build their own. Here are some of the more interesting coop designs that we have come across:

This one is for people who take their road trips seriously:

The Ikea home for chicks

This coop is built entirely from Ikea products including, but not limited to, a bunk bed, a storage unit and a bottle rack. You can click on the link above for more details about the coop and how it was constructed. Check out Ikea Hacker for more cool stuff you can do when your Swedish prefab furniture gives in. Many thanks to Amy for sending us the link.

Here's a chicken gazebo:

A chicken villa:

And a lovely little Dutch shed:

Of course no review of coops would be complete without a chicken oasis:

To be fair, this coop was designed by folk artist Lisa Rauter. It's well worth looking at her site here for her gorgeous gardens, intricate studio building and imaginative rabbit hutch.

Here are a couple of beautiful craftsman coops built with so much care and detail:

The above coop was constructed with all recycled materials. The one below is a true chicken palace.

If you are a busy urban farmer and you really don't want to be bothered with building and painting coop, or, heck, even picking out your chickens, you can simply order the Eglu from the good folks at Omlet.

It's not cheap, but as far as we can tell no option for housing chickens and pleasing neighbors is. We are currently counting on our first dozen eggs retailing at $28.67 to help offset cost of feeding, housing and entertaining our chickens.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

The Chicks are Chickens

Our coop can't be ready soon enough. The chicken room is getting crowded as the girls work on establishing hierarchies and generally flouncing around while they look for something to do. That means aspen shavings are flying everywhere and food mixes with poop on the ground.

It has happened. In a very short time our adorable chicks have transformed into mini-chickens. Mind you, we've only had the chickens for about six weeks. We are a little stunned by how quickly they have grown. They no longer resemble chicks, and we are still not certain that they will all end up hens.

Here's a quick before and after.

Ginger when we first got her:

Ginger last week:

Thelma then:

Thelma recently:


and now:

Lizzy was one of our prettiest chicks:

Today she is living proof of the chicken dinosaur connection. Watching her move is like an up close visit to the velociraptor section of Jurassic Park:


Louise is now top chicken. She has a huge single comb which is hard to see in the picture.

Maryann is missing from the photos. While she is a very nice little hen (she's the only one we are 100% sure is female), she doesn't stay still for her photo ops.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

An Update: Quiet on the Farm...

You might think with the last weekend being so beautiful followed by April showers things would be heating up at the farm. We had really good intentions. We had city folk come up to work, a shed to convert into a barn and a new crop of seedlings to tend to. But it was just so darn beautiful out.

We put work aside for a little bit of fun.

With the help of Uncle D. we did however come to the conclusion that if we actually went to work on the shed conversion, we'd be wrestling with that project for a bulk of the summer. That translates into having chickens in the basement until fall. We looked at coops and they are wicked expensive. Luckily we found someone on Craigslist who builds them locally and ordered this:

It's less expensive than what we have seen and they will custom build to the size we need.