Barn Quilt – Working Together

My Lovely Wife (LW) is the best partner I could ask for here on the Ridge. She will suit up and go into an angry bee hive with me, process meat chickens, and pretty much go along with any crazy idea I am willing to try myself. The other side of that coin is I have to be willing to work with her when she decides to do something.

In this example, I wanted chickens and not only did she go along with it but she chipped in and help me build the coop. Of course that meant it was a much fancier coop than I first envisioned, but in the end it turned out great and workable for me and the birds. So now the other shoe drops. She has been going on about and pointing out barn quilts. If you dont know it is a quilt design that is usually painted on the top front of a barn for decoration purposes best I can tell.

So two weeks ago when my youngest daughter was visiting, they both got out the craft paints and made a barn quilt with the expectation it would be placed on the chicken coop. While I wasn’t 100% against it, I really didn’t want to climb a ladder to hang it in the 100 degree July heat. Yup, lost that one too. So here for your enjoyment is the end result.

Chicken Coop Barn Quilt

Chicken Coop Barn Quilt

The chickens couldn’t be prouder!

Homestead fitness – chicken run

The morning started out great! Woke up and watched a wild turkey crossing the hillside out my bedroom window. Got up and got ready. Strolled down the path the let the chickens out, taking pictures of new blooms (see below) and as I approached the coop I saw movement outside. And then I realized that the chicks I had moved to the coop this weekend had escaped and were running about!

I figured they would get out of the brooder box at some point, but the coop has a 8 inch step up to get out AND the door was closed!!!! Still no idea how they got out of the coop, but I didn’t have time to figure it out as I began chasing them around the coop. So the good news is that most of the chicks are cornish-cross meat birds and as expected when I dropped a little feed on the ground they came running to me. Snatched a couple up and returned them to the brooder box. Then it got interesting, the other chicks are barred rock roosters – to replace Kazooster RIP. These guys were not fooled so easily and I spent the next 10 minutes chasing them through the woods hoping they would tire out before I did! Finally cornered and captured them. With all of them back in the brooder box, I did some maintenance on the chicken wire cover that allowed the escape. Fingers crossed it will hold for two more weeks until I can release them on purpose.

Check out our Instagram account for pictures of the blooms I was enjoying before the chicken chase started!

Egg hunting – not just for Easter

When we built the chicken coop last winter, one feature we added was a loft for storage. We had a couple of random things up there at first, but a couple of weeks ago I bought 4 bales of hay to feed the rabbits. The loft was the perfect place to store them and keep them dry. I knew the chickens would eventually figure this out, but I stacked them in the loft so that it made it difficult to access. Earlier this week I noticed a missing hen and when I went looking realized she was in the loft. I chased her out and found 2 eggs. So I reshuffled things to try and keep them out and told me wife we need to build some sort of door or something to keep them out.

At this same time I have noticed a change to less and less day light and the expected drop in egg production. As the days get shorter the chickens naturally slow down laying eggs as nature intended. So much so that over the weekend we were actually out of eggs at the house, we only had whatever the girls had laid that day. Turned out to be a good day, 8 eggs from 12 layers. Side note here, there is an argument for either letting nature take its course and give the chickens a rest period from laying over the winter months. The other side is the by providing 12-16 hours of artificial light they can continue to lay through the winter. I have done both at our old house, but since we are here and in this for the long term we will let them rest this winter. There are breeds that are better winter layers than others like the Buff Orpingtons and Leghorns. I have also read that most breeds will continue to lay well the first year, but will molt and lay less the second winter. The fix to this is to stagger the age of your flock so you always have new layers going into each winter.

That leads us to this morning. I went to let the girls out and offered up some scratch. Then I proceeded to use one of the roost as a ladder to check the loft for any more random eggs. At first there were a couple near the edge, so I decided to rearrange the hay bales again to try and keep them out. This is when I discovered the mother-load on top of a hay bale. Ugh! There ended up being 27 eggs in the loft (that I found, might be more if I do a through cleaning). Good news is the egg shortage is over, but this does move up the schedule to build an access door to the loft.

Happy Egg Hunting!

Chicken Coop Build

As promised, here is the post on our chicken coop build. To start with let me give credit where credit is due. I am NOT a carpenter and don’t play one of TV, so I found these barn shed plans and winged it from there. My lovely wife helped and when a problem arose we sketched it out and made a decision and went with it. We chose this design as our house has gambrel ends and we wanted the coop to match in style.

So first problem we encountered was the area we chose looked almost level, but wasn’t even kind of. So the downhill side was raised almost 30 inches on pressure treated posts. Along with that we live at Stone Hill Ridge, with an emphasis on the “stone”, so digging holes for concrete supports was out. We decided to use concrete deck blocks like this one.

Concrete Deck Block

Concrete Deck Block


After that was settled, we build the floor deck and walls on our house deck which was flat and level. Really the whole build was done our deck and moved up the hill to the build site for assembly. Here are some picks of the deck and walls going up.
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Then the siding, roof, and sliding barn door went on. The trick we used to get the gambrel roof trusses to match was that after we cut the 2X4’s to the correct angles, we laid one on the deck and used scrap 2X4’s to create a jig. Then we built them by placing 2X4’s into the jig, gluing and screwing the gussets at each joint. The barn door was made from a 2X4 that I routed out the back of to make a lip dep enough to hold the siding. It has casters mounted top and bottom that slide in a 2X4 frame attached to the front wall.
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On the inside we added flooring, roost (made from fencing with some spindles removed), and a nest box. The flooring didnt go down well, it was cold and rainy, but we wanted to get it done. We used vinyl flooring which we will cover with wood shavings for easy cleanup. This worked well in our tiny city coop, so why not here. We built the feeder from scrap lumber. It sits in the corner and is gravity feed. It will easily hold 300 lbs of feed, which I have to watch or I will have a 300lb mouse to show for it. The nest boxes were ordered from eBay. The seller recommended a box for each 3-4 hens. I went with four because the size and shape fit well with the coop and I don’t plan to have more than 16 laying hens. The funny part was the hens started by laying eggs on top of the feeder, but the would roll off an break. I finally took a cardboard box with some straw and placed it on top of the feeder. They are slowly transitioning to “real” nest boxes, but I have one or two that still prefer the cardboard box.
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The final view of the outside. It is 8X10 foot and about 15 ft high at the roof peak. If I do the math right that is 80 sq ft and if you subscribe to having 4 sq ft per chicken I could have up to 20 birds. My birds free range some (see post on Chicken Lock Down) so could go more than 20. We currently have 11 layers, 1 rooster, and 2 guinea fowl. Short term as we raise meat birds we could add birds to the coop, but long term we cant even eat the eggs fast enough as it is with just 11 layers.
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