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Chickens Coop Care DIY Projects

Leaky Roof

Peering in the front door

I love my chicken coop.  It has been wonderful for the girls and they are very happy in it.  The coop is well made.  However, one design flaw exists:  the nesting box roof leaks.  Cape Cod winters are very wet, snowy, and windy. Unfortunately, the coop has fallen victim to the weather. The leak has plagued me since the coop first arrived last Fall.

I worked so hard at trying to figure out where and how the water was seeping into the nesting boxes and surrounding walls.  I caulked.  I added weatherstripping.  I was continually changing the wet pine shavings in the nesting boxes.  Sometimes, even after waking in the night from the kids, I would return to bed, with my mind fully awake, and think about the leak.  It drove me nuts.  Finally, in the middle of winter last year, I covered the entire coop with plastic and waited.  The plastic solution that I had previously created in December cracked in the cold.  Spring would soon be here.  The freezing weather was no match for my bare hands and brittle frozen sheets of plastic.

Eventually Spring came, and after a trip to Home Depot, I came home with a roll of clear plastic carpet protector and shelf liner.  Over the course of an hour, I created a weatherproof barrier that worked like a charm.  Although it was not very pretty, it kept the girls dry and that to me, is what mattered the most.  I was happy with my solution, despite never getting to the root of the problem.

These past few weeks, the contractors have been in and out of our house, repairing our bathroom after a pipe in the wall leaked and required the bathroom to be gutted.  The finishing carpenters arrived and spent a couple of days at our house.  They were intrigued by the chickens.  When they took their breaks, I would find them both saying hello to the girls.  As they were visiting the girls on the last day, one of them asked me about the plastic.  I had explained the situation and he told me that he could fix it so that it didn’t leak.  Apparently, in addition to the design flaw, it was shingled incorrectly.  As I lured the girls out of the coop into the run with treats, the carpenter went to work.   Little did the girls know that their home was undergoing an “extreme makeover”.

 

 

Within no time, the nesting boxes’ roof was repaired.  It came out beautifully and the best part is that there is no more plastic covering the coop.  This labor day weekend the new roof will be put to the test.  Rain is in the forecast.  The carpenter was happy to help.  I think there was some novelty for him working on the coop.  I don’t quite think he had ever imagined coming to the rescue of our feathered ladies.

 

Photo Credits:  Tilly’s Nest

Chickens Coop Care DIY Projects Health Issues

Summer Day Spa

As we continue to endure this heat wave across New England, I have received many tips and suggestions on keeping the flock cool and not stressed from the soaring temperature and humidity.  I have, created a day spa for the chickens.  There are many options for them to keep cool and hydrated.  Today, I thought that I would share some of those with you.  Also, please be sure to check out Beat the Heat for other suggestions and ideas as well.

Chickens Coop Care DIY Projects Gardening

Composting for Chicken Owners

Starting out composting can sometimes seem overwhelming.  It means that, like recycling, a certain level of consciousness must occur when sorting out kitchen scraps.  However, with small changes, you can make a difference for the planet and for your gardens.  Naturally, composting makes sense for chicken owners.  This post will serve as an introduction to composting.  It is not a complicated science and can bring wonderful benefits to your home.

Composting starts by combining a mixture of green and brown materials with water.  Over time, beneficial bugs, worms and microbes take up residence and beautiful compost is formed over the course of weeks to months.

 

Green Material (Protein for Microbes):
Fresh green leaves
Chicken Manure
Kitchen Scraps~vegetables, melon rinds, egg shells, fruit
Coffee grounds with filter and tea bags
Fresh green grass clippings
Fine clippings of hair

Brown Material (Carbon Energy):

Dry yellow and brown leaves
Woody plant stalks
Pine Shavings
Straw
Cardboard
Shredded newspaper
Small amounts of wood ash
Dryer lint

When combining green and brown materials you will want to strive to achieve the ratio of 30 parts brown to 1 part green.  But, try not to become obsessed with this number.  It should only serve as a guideline and remind you to consciously always add more brown than green to your composting pile.  This is very easy to do, when cleaning out the chickens.  The pine shavings easily add to the amount of brown!  An easy way to think of this is add 6″ of brown then 3″ of green alternating layers of green and brown.

Add some water to your pile to moisten but not create a soggy mess.  Then naturally allow the microbes to move in and get to work.  Depending on certain variations, such as whether you keep the compost in the sun vs. shade, in a container vs. open, will play a role in how fast your compost is created.  The warmer the compost pile, the faster the breakdown of your green and brown materials.

Composting on a small scale for me with my flock of eight chickens is easy.  I find that I compost two ways.  The first, is that I get help from the chickens.  Sometimes, when the run is muddy after the rain when I am cleaning the coop, I just toss all of the dirty shavings in the run and replenish the coop with fresh ones.  This not only keeps the chickens entertained for hours, but also allows them to compost the shavings and their waste products together.  As time passes, matter that is composted the majority of the way will accumulate in the run.  About every 3 months, I rake out this excess material and set it aside in a pile.  I turn it now and then and let it cure.  This partially created compost sits for 3 months and then once cured is safe to spread amongst the garden plants.  Other times, instead tossing all of the soiled shavings in the run, I add them to the compost bin as needed.  This allows me to still compost items that the chickens cannot eat, such as garlic and citrus other items not beneficial to the chickens as well as left over melon rinds from the girls.

There are many other variables that I did not discuss but should be researched before you get started including location of the composter, open or closed system, covering the compost pile and turning your pile based upon your selected method of composting.

Composters are easy to create/build yourself and are also available to prepurchase.  Here are some resources for those of you interested in getting started in composting.

Composting Tips:

Keep your compost bin closer to the house with easy accessiblity.  This makes it less of a chore.

Pick a compost bin that is asthetically pleasing to you.

Do not compost meat.  It will attract predators.

Secure hardware cloth to the bottom of your compost bin to deter mice and rats.

Keeping two seperate containers on the counter while cooking makes sorting items for the chickens, the composter and the trash easier.

Have your children get involved.  This is a terrific experiment and learning experience for them.

Books:

How to Make and Use Compost~ Nicky Scott
Composting for Dummies~ Cathy Cromell

Internet:

How to Compost
Composting 101
Compost Guide

Supplies:
Build your own Beehive Composter  as featured on Tilly’s Nest.
Photo Credits:  The Trusty Gardener, Tilly’s Nest

Chickens DIY Projects Eggs

So You Want To Raise Backyard Chickens: 5 of a 5 Part Series

Well the flock will be one year old in June.  We have survived our first Northeast Winter and we just just hatched our own eggs.  I think it is now time that I write the final chapter in my guide to raising chickens. I’ve touched upon these topics now and then with some of the blogs over the past few months.  For some of these topics, I am going to refer to previous posts as added references for you.  I am by no means an expert in keeping chickens.  I am also positive that I am not going to cover all the ins and outs of keeping backyard chickens.  However, I do know what I have discovered along our journeys and I am happy to share them with you.

Chickens Coop Care DIY Projects Eggs Health Issues Predators Seasonal Care

So You Want to Raise Backyard Chickens: 2 of a 5 Part Series

Storey-KGTKC-MCaughey-photo11-1wp

GOING SHOPPING

Preparing for the arrival of the chicks was so exciting!  It was almost like Christmas.  We counted down and with each passing day, our anticipation rose!   In our household, it was a family affair.  I ordered the chicks in February for a June delivery date.  Why did I wait so long?  Well, I had a few reasons.  I wanted to do more research about their permanent coop and run.  I also knew that the chicks would grow very quickly.  In fact, at about 6 weeks they look like mini-chickens!  I wanted the kids participate in the experience as much as possible, so I waited until summer vacation.

Chickens Coop Care DIY Projects Eggs Health Issues Predators Seasonal Care

So You Want to Raise Backyard Chickens: 1 of a 5 Part Series

So, how do I go about this, you ask? Well if you’re like me you read everything you can get your hands on, check the internet and dive head first into something figuring you’ll just troubleshoot along the way.  However, there is some planning to optimize your chicken experiences that will make life easier.  So, lets start at the beginning.  How do I get the chickens?