The Great Cleanup – Chicken Coop Restoration Part 2

March 4, 2017 at 8:01 pm

Welcome to Part 2 of the Coop Restoration series. In this post, I’ll go over the cleanup that I did this past weekend. The coop started out in rough shape. There were rolls of old insulation, mouse nests, mold… It had been used as a storage space for transient garbage for years. Below are some pictures after I pulled out the worst of the insulation. You can see some of the nest in the back left corner behind the cabinets and dog crate.

Once the big items were moved, sorted, and mostly thrown in the garbage, I did a preliminary sweep up. Turns out that half of the coop has unfinished hardwood floors! Bonus! After inspecting the chicken wire, I saw lots of rust, holes, and filth. There was no way to clean and reinforce it, so off it came. I also pulled off the old roosts and low panels as well.

I debated pulling out the old flooring and walls, but there’s only so much I can do in two weeks. The plan right now will be to disinfect them thoroughly, and lay some washable hardboard over them. This is the same material that I’ll be using for the lower two feet of wall as it’s easily cleanable and a great draft blocker.

After another sweep up, and vacuum, the place looked a lot better. The door was in pretty good shape, so that got left in place. I may have to pull it in the long run, though, as it currently swings inward and the wife and I are thinking about deep litter, but that’s an easy change at a later date.

Next up, in part 3: Framing and Re-Chicken-Wiring the coop!

Chicken Coop Restoration Part 1

February 28, 2017 at 6:01 pm

 

One of the wonderful things about our homestead is that we inherited several outbuildings. We have a large post-and-beam barn (40 x 60), equipment shed (16 x 24), storage shed (14 x 24 + lean-to), and a rather large chicken coop turned racing pigeon coop (14 x 24). Yes, you read that right. The previous owners really loved their racing pigeons and converted a perfectly good chicken coop into a palatial (for a pigeon) loft! Unfortunatly, the barn is the only structure in good shape, having been rebuilt by the previous owner. The rest of the outbuildings are in various states of disrepair.

Since we’re starting the new year off with a focus on sustainability, it’s time to look at our outbuildings and restore them to their former glory! Or at least, to a usable state. The first project will be to rebuild the chicken coop and get some birds in!

About the Chicken Coop

External view of the chicken coop

The Coop is a semi-insulated structure, elevated on piers, with a door on the short end closest to the house. It has several windows along the south wall, electricity, and a freeze-proof yard hydrant, and is in desperate need of a paint job amongst other things. Inside, there are two large rooms separated by wall. Each of those rooms has a wired off coop area and an open area. The previous owners must really have loved their racing pigeons to build such a large structure for them!

Original layout of chicken coop

Plan for the Chicken Coop

In addition to the basic cleanup of the building, the goal for the coop project is to make it able to hold a brooder in two weeks. As part of that, we want to do three main things: extend the interior coop wall to include the exterior chicken door, create removable roosting space, and build exterior-accessible nesting boxes.

  1. By extending just one section of the coop to include the exterior chicken door, we can keep more room for storage of supplies for the birds and other critters. If we end up running more birds than this space allows, I can always extend the entire wall.
  2. The roost space will be angled and removable. When brooding chicks, the roost will come out and the hover-brooder will go in the corner.
  3. Finally, having nesting boxes that we can access without having to go into the coop itself is just easier in the long run. I would very much like to have roll-out nesting boxes, but they tend to be expensive and we already have enough expenses rehabbing the coop this year.

Planned layout for chicken coop

So, what do you think?

Next Up, in part 2: The Great Cleanup!

What to do with an old Christmas tree farm?

October 21, 2015 at 4:29 pm
It's dark in there...

It’s dark in there…

As the missus and I sit and talk about our new homestead and the directions that we are thinking about taking it, one problem keeps coming up: the old Christmas tree stand. You see, dear reader, our homestead used to be a Christmas tree farm back in the 80s. Unfortunatly, the previous owners decided not to keep the farm going and let the trees grow up. On the surface this may not appear to be an issue, that is, until you consider planting densities.

Normal pine tree stands are planted at about 400-500 trees per acre. This allows for them to grow straight and healthy. Stands like that can be used for lumber and wood pulp and can net a good amount of money when they mature. However, Christmas tree farms are planted at 1,000 – 1,500 trees per acre. This is no problem if trees are kept small and regularly trimmed… Unfortunatly, that’s no the case here. Our stand is dense. It’s dark in there. This level of density leads to really unhealthy trees, and from the research I’ve been doing, it appears that there is not much that can be done.

It seems that our options are limited to the following:

  • Leave it be – The trees will keep growing, and will start dying off. This will likely result in a bad situation for both domestic and wild animals, not to mention the lack of productivity of that patch of the homestead.
  • Selective thinning – This would involve either getting a lumber/pulp company in to selectively harvest every other row of trees. This may not be an option because of the density. You can’t really get equipment in there. That means it might just be me with a chainsaw.
  • Harvest the whole thing – This is the option that I really don’t like, but seems to be the best all around. It would net some cash from the sale of the wood and would allow us to plant a new, healthy, forest and silvopasture using permaculture principles. The main problem here would be handling the stumps and the time it would take for a new forest to establish itself.

In case anyone is interested, I’ve also compiled a few links on the topic.

And here is a are some additional photos:

Finding a Home(stead)

July 12, 2015 at 3:36 pm

Finding a place to call your own is quite a step in life. To me, it means you’re ready to settle in, put down some roots, and potentially create a legacy. After discussing various options with my wife, we decided now would be a good time to consider buying a home. I thought would document the reasons for a the move for posterity’s sake.

Reasons

Investment

The thing that started us down this path was a simple realization: we pay a lot out in rent, and it would be really nice to “invest” that money instead. My wife and I currently live in a nice townhouse, in a good planned development near Princeton, NJ. Though we live within our means, we still pay out quite a bit for rent. For that, we get three bedrooms (really one bedroom and two offices), access to a pool, and lots of restrictions (including a no-charcoal-grill policy).

At the time, it made sense for us to move in to the development and not worry about anything. We could concentrate on paying off our debts, saving money, and helping my mother sell her old home in Queens, NY. Now that we’re done with all of that, though, it’s time to move on. Although many don’t consider a home an investment, putting equity in our pocket is certainly better than having it leave the family entirely.

Healthy, Self-Sufficient Lifestyle

My wife and I have recently started to adopt a “healthy lifestyle”. For us, that means eating more natural foods with fewer carbs and processed junk. The first thing we realized after making these changes was that the cost of high-quality food adds up quick. Then next thing we noticed was that we really did feel a lot better, so the premium was worth it.

Aside from food, we spend a lot of time commuting. Currently, my wife is commuting two hours, one way, by public transit, daily. This just isn’t healthy for so many reasons. I am in a better position, commuting a little over an hour one-way, by car, twice a day, but this takes quite a toll on us in many ways.

We don’t eat until 8:30-9:00 PM most nights. When you go to bed at 10 PM, this is a really bad thing. Second, we don’t have time for each other. Having an hour, two if you’re lucky, to catch up with your significant other is a terrible way to live a life. I love my wife, it’s why I married her! Finally, we don’t have time for our hobbies. My wife is a bit luckier in this regard as her hobby, knitting, is portable. I have taken to listening to podcasts on my commute as no one wants to listen to a table saw going at 9:30PM.

A Base of Operations with a Sense of Permanence

Living in a development has taught me two things: I love having someone else mow the lawn / shovel snow, and I hate not having a back yard to do projects in. Even with two offices, there’s no place for a shop, garden, or sheep. Yes, you read that right: sheep.

My wife is a knitter and she loves her hobby. She wants sheep, and I want her to be happy, so we need a place for sheep. My hobby is woodworking and building things. I’ve always been limited to a corner of a garage or basement, when I’ve been lucky enough to have a place at all. So room for a shop is a must for me. Finally there’s the garden. We had one in the past, and it was a wonderful experience. Now that we are focusing on healthier eating, what better way to get the best produce at the best prices than to grow it ourselves?

So on to the home search!

PermaEthos PDC

May 23, 2014 at 3:39 pm

PermaEthos LogoJack Spirko, of The Survival Podcast fame, is a visionary in many ways. His most recent endeavor is a little project called PermaEthos, which aims to create a worldwide network of farms based on Permaculture Principles and Libertarian Ideals. As part of this effort, Jack and his team will be putting on an online PDC at the first PermaEthos farm. Needless to say, the wife and I are taking a PDC!

For more information on the PermaEthos model, and how it came to be, listen to Episode 1335 The PermaEthos Model 3.0.

As part of this, I created a profile over at Permaculture Global to help track what I’ve done. If you’re on that network, feel free to connect with me!
Direct Link to Profile on Permaculture Global