Time to join the chicken bandwagon: Part 2 - Designing the Coop

Skipping the box stores

There seem to be a lot of great sales on coops via the big box stores. But it seems that you get what you pay for. Reviews aren't too kind about the quality of the wood and construction.

Being the daughter, granddaughter, great-granddaughter (twice over), and sister of carpenters and craftsmen I feel determined to design and build our own. Besides, I'm kinda picky. The husband nods :-).

Pinterest and the vast universe of helpful, creative people

A marathon session of pinning has lead me to some beautiful coops, helpful tips, and a belief that humans are amazingly creative and willing to share ideas to advance our civilization.

Now that I have pinned the entire universe of chickenland. I've got a few key resources that are most useful in selecting a coop.

I'm putting them here for others, but mostly I'm sharing them here so I can remember!  More importantly, I'm summarizing them here for my darling co-designer-builder-husband instead of making him troll my pinterest list to see what the heck crazy idea I was talking about.

Granddaddy of all Chicken Checklists

My head stopped spinning and finally cleared when I read this super simple and informative checklist. It covers everything I needed to know in selecting a coop.

The list enabled me to decide
(1) the chicken coop will also have a run and
(2) the design should center around the deep litter method.

Seriously. READ THE CHECKLIST!

Design Features for Easier Cleaning and Caretaking

With that checklist in mind I looked at coops with these features:
Back doors open completely for cleaning, watering, and feeding


No baseplate on the floor that will serve as access to scoop litter

Marmoleum (natural alternative to linoleum) "bath tub" floor for hosing down
Hinged door on to allow removal of entire nest box for cleaning
(and nest box lid should also open to just reach in to get eggs.
Removable nest box liners from dish tubs

Dutch doors can provide access for providing food and water without full entry

Walk-in Run. I do not want to stoop!!
Hen house elevated for safety and for ease of reaching in to feed and water.
 Did I mention I do not want to stoop??!
Another way to enclose a walk-in run

Ventilation Methods (hardwire cloth over openings)

Window flaps hinged on the bottom held by chain


Window flaps hinged on top held open by wood bar

Another way of holding open the window flaps hinged at the top

Shutters that open and close

Cutouts with no coverings

Illustrated Building Guides

Backyard Chickens has a ton of different types of coops listed with varying degrees of specific plans. Among the categories included are small coops, tractors, and watering and feeding systems.

Projects by Trevor provided a wonderful overview of each step in the coop building process on his blog. The photos and instructions cover the basic designs that will apply to most coops. See all the steps: Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5.

4' x 8' Coop built by Trevor. I love all the design details.
Country Acres also has an photo illustrated guide to building the design below:
4' x 6' Coop plus run (Coop is 4' x 4') from Country Ares

Trictle also provides illustration and design guidelines:


Trictle's 4' x 4' design and plans

Free Complete Plans for Lean-to Coops

The amazing Ana White site has provided, as always, free plans for a couple of chicken coop designs that her design colleague Whitney built in 30 hours!:


Free plans for this 4' x 8' coop


Free plans for the run to go with it
(though the run would need to be taller for walk in access)
Very similar free plans for lean-to coops are available from the How to Specialist and My Outdoor Plans,

Complete plans from How to Specialist
Complete plans from My Outdoor Plans

Complete Plans to Order


For $34.95 you can order a set of downloadable plans for this 4' x 4' or the plan for the 4' x 8' coop that includes 37 pages of step by step instructions, detailed materials list, color coded images and pictures.
4' x 4'' coop with run
Back view of 4' x 4' coop shows door opens for complete access


4' x 8' Coop

4' x 8' Coop with run


Free Plans for Emergency Coop

And if you bought your impulse chickens and couldn't finish a coop quickly enough, this coop with nests in the roof can be built in a matter of hours for a hundred bucks using the Ana White site free plans.  I do wonder about the ventilation though.

Free plans from Ana White to build quickly and cheaply

Nice Touches to Consider


Beautiful pergola

Love the color and the white picket fence
Exterior Lanterns

Time to join the chicken bandwagon: Part 1 - Finding Chickens


Pent up longing for spring

I don't know if it is the fact that the sun finally came out or that the snow has finally gone, but I am obsessed with getting into the garden and adding some chickens and rabbits to our urban farm.

Yes, I'm on the verge of a impulse chicken purchase. And my kids are excited with me. My darling husband, who is used to my crazy escapades, is lovingly joining in our efforts. This is fantastic given that he has the engineering mind to build my vision of a chicken paradise.

Chickens!!! 


We're allowed 5 hens here in the city so here are the ones we are hoping to find:
  • Buff Orpington because of the honey color and their sweet personality (daughter's pick)
  • Dominque because it looks like a Zebra (son's pick)
  • Lavender Orpington because it's purple and Orpington's are so sweet (me)
  • 2 Easter Eggers because we get colored eggs and hopefully they each lay a different color (all of us)
The challenge now is to find someplace that 
  • has all of them 
  • can send them all at the same time 
  • can sell in small quantities.
Chicks need to be mailed in a minimum quantity to make sure they keep each other warm in transit. I've found places that will ship to us in minimums of 5 for this time in spring and the distance they have to travel. But some places require 16 to 25 to 30!

The chicks are cheap  (except my $35 rare purple girl) so I could order several of one kind at a time and find new owners for the extras in advance.

But dang, chicken shipping is expensive! You want to only mail order these ladies once!

So far it looks like our grouping would be available in 3 months :-( but I suppose that gives us enough time to build a coop, eh?

Lavender Orpington from www.meyerhatchery.com


Learning through Movies: The Hero's Journey

Teach with Movies is an educational website based on the philosophy that "carefully selected feature films could supplement curriculum and foster social-emotional learning". 

They have movies and lessons plans that touch on English, social studies, science, math, music, arts, sports, and more.

THE HERO'S JOURNEY

One of the topics in their recent newsletter was "The Hero's Journey" as key theme in stories throughout history and include these resources to use with several movie choices:


There are some great infographics at The Writing Cafe that help explain and visualize the path and stages of the hero on the journey.

THE HEROINE'S JOURNEY

Fan Girl points out that the traditional Hero's Journey has come out of a male oriented point of view and that the path is not compatible with the Heroine's journey.

In the series, The Heroine's Journey, Fan Girl and company lay out several concepts and features of a female hero as it is seen in several contemporary movies.

Gray Rose also discusses the difference between the male and female monomyth and how the Hero's journey does not fit within some literary traditions either.

So there is much to think about and compare when discussing the Hero's Journey and how storytelling can take a different path in other cultures and settings.









Breaking rules. I'm painting my trim white!!

It may take forever but, yes, I'm painting ALL the trim in our house white.

Having lived in a hundred year old house with gorgeous wood trim painted over a thousand times and walls plastered with millions of layers of paint and wall paper, I swore I would never (1) paint wood trim (2) wallpaper anything or (3) paint over wallpaper.

Believe me, I have tried to avoid it. But the time has come for me to break promise #1.

Why would I do such a fool hearty thing when we have perfectly good acceptable real wood trim?


1. MY OCD

We replaced our flimsy 1970's original windows with the best better replacement windows a few years ago.*

Unless you have a big budget you can choose replacement windows in white, white, white, or some really fake looking wood stuff.  Even my decor-challenged self knew that we would probably have more options with white.

I love the windows. They aren't drafty. They make the house so much quieter. And I can clean them from inside which makes me all giddy.

But the contrast between the wood trim and the white windows has always irked me.

I tried covering up all the white with with wood blinds but that didn't do the trick.


2. I LIVE IN A CAVE

The sun is blindingly bright outside and I have to turn on a light at 3:00 in the afternoon to see.

If I could paint every surface to reflect light I would probably do it.

White would probably beat out walnut trim in perking up my spirits any day.


3. OOPS.

Who can turn down their kids' enthusiastic efforts to learn how to paint and acquire a real world skill?Not me.

We had fun painting together. And now both kids KNOW why we think very hard about our color choices before painting.

Neither of them are anxious to paint another ceiling again anytime soon!

But somehow I missed all the cool marine blue on the trim until it was too late.

So if you are already sanding and having to fix the trim...


4. AS LONG AS YOU ARE AT IT...

The most dangerous home improvement words ever.

If I painted the wood trim around all the windows, then all the rest of the trim in the house wouldn't match, and that would annoy me.

And then the cabinets, doors, ceiling beams, and bookshelves that matched the trim wouldn't match.

So that first brushstroke would lead to a huge project that I couldn't knowingly undertake without some guidance.

My husband already calls me Lucy because of my big ideas and their low rate of success. hehehe


5.  DESIGNER MARIA KILLAM TO THE RESCUE!

She suggested that painting the trim white to match the windows is a good thing.

Her decorating blog assured me that I couldn't go wrong with a timeless white kitchen should I start down the path of transforming the trim and ending up painting cabinets.

Her blog and ebook even guided me to picking the right color white.

Armed with all the information and design advice, I'm ready to boldly and courageously begin the transformation.

Knowing this could take a while I'm really glad to know that white is timeless and will still be stylish whenever I do finish!


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Some tips:
-- How to paint trim when you have carpet
-- How to paint kitchen cabinets
-- How to select paint for kitchen cabinets

*Disclaimer. If this was an older home with historic windows I would have wanted to keep the character and charm and avoid the landfill by restoring them.  My friends have pointed out that it's not the old windows that leak, so much as it is the sealing around them. During any remodel please consider taking the old items to a local Habit for Humanity ReStore.

Obsessed with lights in DC

Sometimes when I travel I get fixated on one thing.  In Colonial Williamsburg I kept noticing gates and took lots of photos of them.

In a recent trip to DC I noticed light fixtures.

Capitol building outside

Capitol building inside

Library of Congress outside

Library of Congress


On the way to some Smithsonian Museum

On the way to another Smithsonian Museum

And then some natural lighting courtesy of mother nature on the way to those many Smithsonian treasures...



Space planning puzzle.... Can you solve this?

How would you like to be an interior designer for a moment and help us solve our space planning puzzle?

This is our living room.  It is fraught with challenges.

Three entryways; no overhead lights; floor vents and windows that prevent some furniture placement; asymmetrical placement of the fireplace, windows, overhead ceiling beams, and bookshelves.

Multiple Functions

  • Eating meals
  • Doing work at the table
  • Messy art projects
  • Lighting candles in the fireplace
  • Watching TV
  • Storing all our books, school supplies, and arts supplies

Ready? Here is the challenge:

1. Include at least these pieces of furniture

  • Dining room table - not fully extended
  • Dining room chairs - 4 regular ones, 2 captains chairs if possible
  • Sofa
  • Nature table for the crabs and fish
  • 4 Billy bookshelves for the homeschool stuff, books, art supplies
  • Small 27" Television
    • It currently sits on fireplace hearth/bench so it doesn't have its own cutout piece here
    • It could sit on top of the 2 drawer lateral file
2. Do not block windows with bookshelves

3. Do not block floor vents with bookshelves, sofa, or piano

4. Do not block bookshelves by the fireplace.

5. Place nature table near outlet and kitchen since we have to change fish water often.

6. Figure out TV placement
  • needs to be near one of the two cable outlets
  • needs to be seen from the table and the sofa
  • view cannot be blocked by tall dining room chairs
6. The dining room table needs to be more convenient for viewing the TV so people will not be inclined to eat meals on the sofa -- even though I completely agree that the sofa is much more comfortable!  Mission furniture is beautiful to look at and miserable to use.


Print out the pieces, cut 'em up and start placing!!

Take a picture, scan and image, or send an email :-)




Happy Moon Festival!

It's a night for celebrating with family and friends and lighting lanterns.

While not as beautiful as another part of Michigan this weekend whose art festival happened to coincide with the weekend of the moon festival, we had our own lantern celebration in the neighborhood.




A beautiful moon and street light


We followed that with the traditional eating of the moon cake!





We found shoes!

For anyone following the saga of the shoe disaster, I am please to report we finally, finally, FINALLY, found our daughter some shoes that fit.

We had been everywhere.  Even Stride Rite.  If you can't get fit at Stride Rite, it's probably a lost cause, eh?

But my husband (who was the one that kindly took that trip to Stride Rite with our daughter a few months ago) just recently wondered if there was another Stride Rite anywhere close.

Ours had closed so he had to go to the one in the "hoity toity" neighboring city.

Surprisingly, he said the sales clerks there were really inattentive and more interested in smoking out back than helping find shoes.

So, we decided to drive an hour to another Stride Rite.

What great service.  And yes, the clerk did in depth measurements confirmed my suspicions.  Our daughter has feet whose different parts belong to 4 different shoe sizes :-)

Heel, instep, toe box, and arch all needed different size shoes.

She told us what brands might work best, how to use heel inserts to fix the problem, and what sizes to start with.

Amazingly the 3rd shoe she tried fit!  No heel slippage. And it was the exact color our daughter
wanted.

It happened to hiding in the back and no one would have found it if we hadn't asked if there were more and the clerk hadn't been so gracious to go scrounge around.  I guess it was patiently waiting for us to arrive.

I feel immensely blessed.

Oh, and I found some clothes for my hard to fit self too!!  The clerk even hooked me up with a big discount.  Gotta love CJ Banks :-)

Here is our daughter happily breaking in her new shoes!






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