Saturday, March 4, 2017

Philosophy and a new hen house

We seriously thought about getting goats.  Mini Manchas to be specific.  And towards that goal Chris laid a foundation to the right of the shop using landscape brick, urbanite and fill dirt we had on hand. We purchased 10 panels of used wood fencing to achieve the same look as the garden shed he built over the winter.  He spent days dismantling the panels, stacking the boards into various piles for the length and quality.

Our hens, which numbered 8 when the current coop was designed and built is really too small for the 13 layers we have currently.  If we raise Cornish meat chickens again, we reasoned, that number would double for the summer.  The plan was to build a barn "wing" for the yet nonexistent goats and the very existent hens on the shed and turn the entire lower yard into a corral.

Then, maybe, level heads prevailed.

One idea that we have believed over the years is an urban farm has to be pretty.  There will always be people looking over your fence and curious about what you are doing so it is imperative that they like what they are seeing.  There will be city officials checking for misused water and utility companies taking pictures of meters with long range camera lenses.  If what they see is pleasing to their eye, they are less likely to notice what is going on.

And our yard is so not there.

Over the winter our front steps collapsed.  The berm of front landscape we worked so hard on was taken over by bindweed and other undesirable plants.  The lawn died after years of not watering it.

Our back yard is not much better.

Items we have collected of dubious use are piling up.  The raspberries, having never produced, are struggling amongst other less savory greenery.  There is bare dirt everywhere.  The back chain link fence, having been hit by cars and other vehicles is buckled in places - its plastic privacy strips tattered and faded.   Although Chris keeps the green strip mowed - it is an unsavory mix of Virginia Creeper, perennial sweet pea & Canadian thistle.  The lone fruit tree not killed by the hard frost 2 years ago struggles among the weeds and mint that chokes out anything we have planted.

And then there is the greenhouse.

The annual hailstorms have broken half the plastic windows - those that have been replaced are yellowed and the inside is a mess of weeds.  It never got used as much as we thought it would.  In short, it is an eyesore.

In the end we decided to put the barn on hold and focus on making the landscape pleasing to the eye.

But I did request a new hen house.

On the right is the roosting area, accessable for cleaning from the end.
On the the left is the nest boxes, also with a door on the end.
The floor and bottom of the walls are tiled for easy cleaning.

The 18" space under the coop gives the girls outside space protected
from the elements.  Also the lack of ramp is to discourage rodents
The landscape brick foundation for a barn.
I drew up an idea on paper and Chris made it a reality.  The old coop, roosts removed will become feed and hay storage.  He mostly used items we had on hand - including some of the used fence boards.  More screws and roofing to match the shop were purchased.

He said it is the last one he is building. (It is the 3rd one he has built since we moved here)

Nest boxes - of course they just use one.
Right now the hens are free ranging, but we will have to get them contained soon - as they seem to always scratch and dig where we don't want them to.

For right now it is the right decision.

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