No knead bread v1.0

I love bread. I’ve been wanting to make it for a while now. Earlier this year I tried nurturing a sourdough starter. That didn’t go very well. It produced less-than-stellar bread, it was needy, and it eventually annoyed me so much that I threw it all away. I expected a nice pot of bubbly bacteria to make up for my lack of ability and knowledge. It didn’t.

It wasn’t sour enough, it wasn’t fully cooked, and It came out of the oven looking like a squished football. Basically, I was expecting heaven; I got Northern Virginia.

This weekend, the bread bug struck again. Shannon was out with her Mom and sister, so I went out and bought a dutch oven to bake some bread, and a serrated knife to cut it. After looking around for a while, I found a recipe that really hit the sweet spot: minimal-effort, maximum reward. It’s here if you’d like to skip my commentary.

Results: this recipe produced a nice loaf that took very little effort on my part. It had a nice crust, a good smell, and it was great with some goat cheese, salt, pepper, and olive oil. Butter and garlic also made it better. By itself, it wasn’t the best bread I’ve ever had. I don’t think it’s entirely my fault. This recipe is meant to be a jumping off point. A middle of the road, unoffensive boule that anyone can make. I’d say that it totally accomplished that goal. It produced a completely fine loaf. Just a little bland for my tastes. And it wasn’t fully cooked.

Next time I intend to take better photos of the entire process, up the salt, half the quantity, and up the baking time by about 5 min. I want to iterate on this recipe until I get the bread I want. It’s close – I’d eat the whole loaf tonight if Shannon wasn’t mean-mugging me every time I cut off a slice. I just need some time to perfect it. Once I can get a nice base, I’ll play with adding seeds, cheese, meat, etc. I hope to catalogue my experiments on this little blog, now that the chickens are fully grown and boring.

It’s entirely plausible that I’ll have to be crane-lifted from my home in a year’s time. Stay tuned.

Print Recipe
No knead Bread v1
Basic no knead bread. Recipe taken from: http://leitesculinaria.com/93789/recipes-5-minute-artisan-bread.html
Prep Time 10
Cook Time 50
Passive Time 2
Servings
loaves
Ingredients
Prep Time 10
Cook Time 50
Passive Time 2
Servings
loaves
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Mix Dry ingredients in a bowl.
  2. Add warm water. I used a digital meat thermometer. Try to aim for 100°F or 38°C. This feels just slightly warm.
  3. Mix with a spoon until loosely incorporated. I used a dough hook because I didn't want to be bothered with spoons.
  4. Let rest for 2 hours.
  5. Divide into two loaves.
  6. Wrap one slab of dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate. Bake within 14 days. You can probably freeze this, but I didn't.
  7. Flour a piece of parchment paper.
  8. Take remaining slab of dough and shape in to a ball. Dump on to parchment paper. Put paper (and dough) into a ball.
  9. Heat oven (with dutch oven inside of it) to 450. Let the dough rise while the oven is heating.
  10. Dump dough into dutch oven.
  11. Spray dough with water.
  12. Cover.
  13. Bake at 450 for 30 minutes.
  14. Remove dutch oven lid. Bake for 14 additional minutes.
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Almost a year later

A lot has happened in a year.

The last time I posted, I was getting an egg or two a day. Then we went through a period of 4-5 eggs a day. Then winter came and we only got 2 or so a day. Now that there’s more light, we get 3-4 eggs a day. Taylor and Violet have decided that they’re going to just sit on eggs that will never hatch. Those two are useless now.

But that’s all. Not much has changed with them. I still need to do a post on the electrical setup. Other than that, there isn’t much to write. They’re basically on autopilot now, so I may change the focus of this thing. I just spend about 10 hours moving it from one server to another; now that I’m invested, I may update more frequently.

I’ve learned a lot about programming, decided to start baking, and have been to some really cool places. Moving forward I’ll be writing about the things I love: food, traveling, and whatever else strikes my fancy. Or I’ll go another year without posting. Stay tuned.

-Brad

Now we’re cookin’

It’s been a while since I’ve updated. Once we were done building the coop, there wasn’t much left to do. The chickens just ate, pooped, and grew. Looking at the pictures from two posts ago is just crazy. It’s so easy to forget that they needed a stick to get on their roost. And I forgot how nice it was to be able to see inside of the run.

Personnel changes: Suzanne, Clem, and Aretha are out. Suzanne wasn’t producing eggs, but she was taking up a spot in the coop. So I took her to Newport News to live with Bryce. She’s not quite smart enough to free range unsupervised, so he collects her every night and puts her in a cage so she isn’t eaten by a fox or something. She’s made fast friends with one of his pigs.

Clem was just too loud. He started crowing at 5:30 in the morning, and would do it whenever you walked up to the run. He was so charming and beautiful, but at the end of the day, he went back to Bryce. He’s finally accepted his place below the turkey and other roosters there, and I hear that he spends most of his days just running around jumping on the backs of unsuspecting hens.

We thought Aretha was a rooster. She was huge, had long neck feathers, we thought she might be trying to crow, and she followed Clem everywhere. Turns out, she might just be a beautiful, giant hen. She remains in Newport News.

In the place of those fools are two new ones: McKenna, named after my favorite bourbon (McKenna 10 yr Bottled in Bond), and Ethyl. Ethyl is big, black, and beautiful. She reminds me of Aretha, but much more skittish. They were free range birds, so they’re a little behind our girls developmentally, even though they’re from the same group of eggs. It’s been interesting to see how they’ve responded to having a bucket of food around at all times.

Coop-related updates: My sensor is disconnected from the garden. Doesn’t matter, because I had to make it stop watering the plants. The solenoid that toggled water off/on was draining too much of my battery. It’s permanently damaged now, but it still opens and shuts the door.

Only improvements planned for the run is a pretty large pen out in the back of the yard. It’ll be covered with netting, and have big wire fencing on the sides. I’ve dug holes for the posts, it’s just been difficult finding a day without oppressive humidity and a short chore list. I plan to have it set up once they’re all consistently laying in the nest boxes. Right now, we have three or four that fit that criteria.

Ethyl on the ground, McKenna on the roost. And the rest of the girls on the ground. Not pictured: Taylor. She was in the coop or something.

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LOOK AT HOW MASSIVE THESE THINGS ARE. Tomatoes are easily 10 or 11 ft tall. Squash is out in the middle of the yard. We’ve had quite a nice harvest from these bushes.

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First egg! This was from Violet.

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Now they come more frequently. We’ve gotten 8 eggs in the past 4 days. It takes about 5 to make an omlette. We know for certain that Taylor, Violet, and Chicken Little are laying. The others should follow suit pretty soon.

All together, I put in about 10 minutes worth of work a week to get eggs. I’d say that it’s definitely worth it.

New Additions, and the first Egg

A week or two ago, Bryce let me know that there was going to be a giant poultry swap at Gilmanor Farms in Richmond. From the day I got these 5, I thought the flock would be better with 8. After calculating how much I spent on their coop, I decided I needed 8. So I went to the swap and picked up three more. Meet the new birds.

The picture above is us with Little Suzanne. She’s a Bantam Leghorn – a little more than a year old, and about the size of our 7 week old hens. I wanted a standard Leghorn because they tend to be the best laying breed you can get (300+ eggs a year). I also liked that their eggs were white. All of my girls are going to shoot out brown eggs (eventually). This poultry swap was massive. Well over 500 people there, cages everywhere. Chicken shit wafting about.

There was a row of cages next to a barn where I saw a bunch of healthy looking Leghorns going for about $10 a hen. After inspecting a couple, I saw Little Suzanne. My first thought was “That one doesn’t look quite full grown. Let me get her.” It wasn’t until I was putting her in the box that I realized that she was a Bantam. Bantams are basically half-size chickens that were bred for pets more than egg production (typically). They also don’t lay quite as often as their full-size brethren. But I had her by the legs and was shoving her into a cardboard box – I couldn’t toss her back in to her tiny cage.

So while I knew she was a Bantam, I didn’t know that she was kept in a cage for her entire life. I don’t KNOW that for certain. But her nails are really long, which suggests that she hasn’t been scratching around for food. She doesn’t forage very much. And she isn’t really sure about the whole leaving the coop thing. I took her out when I got home from work yesterday. When I went to check on them around 9PM, everyone was in the coop except Little Suzanne. She’d decided to roost on top of the food bucket. I’m hoping she’ll pick up some chicken behaviors from the rest of the group. If she hasn’t figured out how to leave the coop by Thursday, I’m going to just take her out in the morning and put her back at night until she gets a hang of it. She was definitely more curious today than yesterday. I think she’s just kind of stupid from a lack of stimulation. She did give us our first egg though!

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Little Suzanne’s egg – laid 5/8/16.

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Next to a ‘Large’ store bought egg from a standard Leghorn. Not quite as big. She hasn’t laid since Sunday, so I suspect we’ll have another by tomorrow or Thursday. Definitely not as many as I wanted. But she’s sweet, and when the other girls start laying, I’m sure we’ll be swimming in eggs. We aren’t eating anything she lays this week – don’t know if she was on any antibiotics before we got her. I’m really hoping that she figures it out. She has such a sweet personality. I’ll be over the moon if she figures out how to get out of the coop all on her own.

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These are the other two. The primary goal of going to the swap was to acquire some egg color diversity. These two are 12 week old Silverudd’s Blue chickens. I’m going to talk to the guy I bought them from soon to get more details. But they’re some kind of rare breed originally from Sweden. Oh, and they should lay beautiful green eggs!

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Violet in the foreground. She was named after Old Lady Grantham from Downton Abbey because of her gray feathers.

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Taylor in the background. She was named after Taylor Swift, because she’s the prettiest bird in the flock. And the real Taylor started wearing black lipstick. Guy at work is a huge fan and let me know.

Here’s a couple of updates for the rest of the flock.

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My Aretha. She’s a giant. She’s almost the size of Taylor and Violet, who are 5 weeks older than her.

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Abby really wanted the meat. Whenever we’re in the run, she takes up residence outside with her jealous face on. Here, Clem and Peepy sample beef for the first time.

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You can see a couple of others in the background of this photo. All of the babies came over and were on the edge of the crockpot just chowing down. When they’re full grown we won’t have any food waste. Can’t wait.

Food and Water

I added a roost today – a dead branch that’d fallen off of a huge tulip poplar in the back of the yard. Clementine really likes it – the others don’t really trust the tiny stick I found to give them access to the it. I have some glow in the dark (unnecessary) rope that should be delivered tomorrow. I’m going to take the roost that they had in their brooder and turn it into a couple of swings. I think I’ll die the first day I come home from work and see Aretha swinging to and fro.

So I finally got around to setting up their water today. I picked up a rain barrel on Tuesday. Wednesday I set up a gutter to fill it. With all the rain we’ve had this week, it’s full of nice, cold water. But after I got the gutter set up, it rained. And rained. So I didn’t get around to hooking up the chicken nipples to the rain barrel. Here are a couple of photos.

 

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Rain barrel and fantastic plumbing. It’s 55 gallons and filled up with about a quarter of an inch of rain that we had earlier this week. The black hose is for the overflow. I need to figure out a permanent way to attach it to the side of the barrel. Right now I just have some slate tiles laying on the ground. But I may get a splash thing that they make for downspouts. Anyway, the angle is wacky because I ran out of elbows. I did have a street elbow, though, so I made it work. This is temporary – should be a little tidier by next Sunday after I replace the spigot. That one is pretty awful. I want to get one that doesn’t leak and hook up a splitter. One for the chickens, one for hose that waters the garden.

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Cut a hole in the hardware cloth to get the pipe in the run. Was worried that there wouldn’t be enough pressure to get the water up that pipe, but luckily it all worked out.

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This is a pretty worthless shot – but you can see the bricks that I added so that they could reach the nipples. You can also see that the pipe isn’t level. I think the most important thing I’ve learned since I started this project is that they’re just birds. And they don’t care if my pipe is off by a quarter of an inch.

 

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Food! Did this earlier in the week. One 5 gallon bucket holds about 20 or 25 lbs of feed. That should hold them for 1-2 months. The design also keeps food waste to a minimum and keeps it nice and dry. I plan to move it over to the right and put a pipe coming from the inside of the coop that goes into the bucket. Then I can just fill it up from the back of the coop and I don’t have to go inside the run and get poop on my feet.

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This was before I added extra duct tape. There was a small gap on the left that they would peck and food would flow out for a half second or so. Then they’d just eat off of the ground. Fixed that, so now they actually put their heads inside the bucket to eat. Then when they shake their heads it stays in the bucket.

The flock. Clem is certainly a little rooster. Pretty sure the rest are hens. Hope to add 3 more this weekend and then just watch them grow. Eggs in T-minus 3 months!

Egg Palace Pt 2

It’s done!!!!! For the most part. I need to build their big girl feeder and waterer, but I should be able to get that done by the end of the weekend. For now they just have a bowl of food and a bowl of water outside of the coop that they can peck at. But I have 50 lbs of feed coming tomorrow, and I just installed a rain barrel tonight for their water. I hope to finish and give the drill a rest by Sunday.

The chicks are nice and safe, and seem to be adapting to coming to and leaving the coop. Here are some more photos. Shannon will take glamour shots with her camera when I can mow the lawn.

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Our tiny neighbor holding Chicken Little. The neighborhood kids love coming to play with the chicks. The chicks like it less than the children do.

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Added some paint, trimmed out the coop door. It looks real blue-y here. It’s more gray.

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Before I added shavings. If you look closely you can see that I have a 5W LED DC bulb that’s turned on; it’s currently off, but I went ahead and hooked it up to a timer so I can have it come on when the days get shorter. We don’t have any power out there so it runs off of the same battery that the door does. Shouldn’t draw too much and will hopefully keep these little money pits pushing out eggs in the cold months. You can also see the motor and the track for the coop door. The nest boxes are on the left. I have them boarded up because I don’t want them thinking that they can sleep in there.

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Added the nest box in this photo. Chickens have not moved in.

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Chickens have moved in by this point. I left them inside the coop for about 3 days before they could come outside. Gave me time to finish up odds and ends. It’s also supposed to teach them that the coop is home and that they should go back there to sleep. Had to round them up on Monday and Tuesday, but today they went in to go to sleep around 7:45.

I also redid the door to the run in this photo. The one in the prior picture was awful. It just felt flimsy when it closed. Our framing was also about half an inch off on the bottom, so there was a sizable gap in the door – I didn’t measure the bottom and the top. I assumed that they were the same size. Redid the entire thing and made it wider at the bottom. Much happier with this door. Feels sturdy, looks good. Had not finished hardware cloth at this point.

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First night.

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Roof is finished, ramp is in, landscaping has begun.

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Landscaping is done and hardware cloth is finished.

Hanging pots (L to R): 1) Swiss chard, 2) lettuce, 3) spicy basil, cilantro, 4) red cabbage, different kind of lettuce.

Left bed: Butterfly bush

Right front: Tomatoes (two kinds. some normal tomato and a ‘hillbilly’ tomato)

Right side (still need to level it off in the back): Poblano peppers, yellow beans, jalapeño peppers, green beans, habanero peppers, yellow beans, chives, green beans, butternut squash.

Plan is for the beans to grow up the run and give the chickens a bit of shade by the time that summer sets in. We’re also going to toss some sunflower seeds in the bed to add some additional shade. We won’t eat all of the lettuce, so they’ll get most of that. The peppers are mine though.

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Another angle, kind of gives an idea of how large the entire chicken complex is.

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Shannon collecting nails and screws while the chicks peck around.

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Just roosting.

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Jealous dog.

All in all, I’m very pleased with the coop. It looks great, it keeps the chickens dry, should be low maintenance when I’m done, and I think it’s pretty much predator proof unless a black bear wanders into Charlottesville. The doors don’t work as well as I’d like, so I might redo those. But the nest box opens well, it’s mostly level, and at the end of the day, it’s just a giant bird cage. Still have 1-3 hours worth of work left before I can finally stop. Expect posts on the electrical and the food/water situation this weekend. I may even get around to estimating how much I spent on this entire project. I kind of don’t want to know though, so we’ll have to see about that one.

To do:

  • Figure out drainage for rain barrel overflow. Need to keep it away from the foundation of the coop, so I’d like it to go 15-20 ft into the middle of the road. But I don’t want a hose just laying on the ground. I have no idea about that – might ask Bryce.
  • Build feeder.
  • Get rid of PVC waterer, create bucket waterer. Connect bucket to rain barrel.

 

Egg Palace Pt 1

I’ll need to update the subhead of this blog when I’m finished with this build. I think I surpassed the $500 mark a while ago. I took off last Friday to build the largest bird cage I’ve ever seen in a residential neighborhood. Progress was quick when I had an extra set of hands around! Now that it’s just me, things are a little more slow. Even so, I hope to have everything completed by the end of the weekend. Move out day for the chicks is hopefully Thursday. They’re only four weeks old, but they’re quite developed and I’m confident that they’ll be warm enough to sleep outside. I’ll probably run an extension cord for the heat lamp for a week or so.

The coop design changed from my last post. It actually changed a couple of times. I was trying to balance aesthetics and effort. In the end I think we came up with something that looks great – and when it’s done I’ll only have sunk about 60 hours in to it! (excluding all the time spent looking into coop design). Most of the inspiration came from this post on Backyardchickens.com. To the Crouches – thanks for having such a detailed plan! Without further ado, Le Egg Palace.

 

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This wasn’t the only trip we made to Lowe’s, but it was the first. It quickly became apparent that I slightly underestimated the cost of an egg at $500.

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Digging is so much fun! Here we’re setting up a level foundation for the coop and run.

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Foundation set and leveled

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Corners up

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Added braces along the top

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Square enough

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Added studs for the hardware cloth to attach to. they’re mostly 36 inches apart, except for the middle one on the left side, and the two spaces right next to where the coop will be.

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Great math on Bryce’s part.

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Saturday around noon. It’s amazing what two people can accomplish in a day and a half. At this point we were trying to finish up things that I needed Bryce’s help – he needed to scoot a little early so he could go work on his beehive at home and eat dinner with his parents.

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He left me in charge of the roof. I think I did a good job for never having done a roof before. He also did two or three rows to give me a solid starting point.

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Solar mounted – not hooked up at this point.

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End of Saturday – most of the hardware cloth is up, coop is framed in, roof is done.

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Sunday – Utility closet (on the left) and coop have been separated. The electrical, water for the chickens, and extra feed will be stored in there. In the actual coop I put some old linoleum that was in our basement – it was leftover from when the previous owner redid the bathroom. I added it to make cleaning super easy in case I ever need to bleach everything.

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End of Sunday – coming along

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Midway through Tuesday (4/19) – apparently I didn’t take any photos Monday night. I only worked for an hour and a half that night. Just got the back door and utility doors cut out and the front panels on. Tuesday was pretty eventful. Not pictured is paint and almost finished electrical. I watched as the door shut itself today at 8:30pm. It was a glorious sight.

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They’re getting ready to get out of that tote. It’s a bit too small for them, and their feathers have come in quite nicely – well, everyone except clementine. Only two more days if everything goes according to plan! Check back in this weekend for pt 2 – hopefully the final installment of “Brad will never retire”.

 

Day 13 – Coopdom Come

The chicks will be 3 weeks old on Tuesday! The weather didn’t cooperate in the second half of the week (too cold), but they did get to go outside for the first time this week. I think they’ll be kicked out of the house and into their coop in 2-3 weeks. It’s going to depend on the nighttime temps and how quickly their feathers fill in. This week I’ve noticed quite an increase in neck/back and chest feathers. They also grow like weeds – Aretha and Clementine are now bigger than almost every backyard bird that we have. They’re probably a little larger than starlings, but not as big as doves. I suspect that in two weeks they’ll be twice the size they currently are. Can’t wait to see them grow out of this awkward stage where they’re half fluff and half feathers. As cute as it is, I can’t wait until they look more like dinosaurs and less like peeps.

 

First: Updated photos.

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Aretha sizing up her surroundings. As soon as the top comes off she makes a break for the side of the tote.

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Edna and Chicken little roosting – Edna has some really pretty markings on her wings that Chicken Little doesn’t – so they’re a little easier to distinguish now. Peepy and Clementine watch as Queen Aretha perches atop the food.

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Hand for scale. Peepy and Aretha roosting on the edge of their home.

 

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Right after I put them outside last Monday – look at how much they’ve grown in a week! They weren’t quite sure what to do with the grass. Or what the stinky mutt was doing outside of the cage.

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Old baby coop design. This is a screenshot of the livestream before it decided it didn’t want to operate any more. The roost was half an inch off of the ground and it ran lengthwise. Not pictured is the watering system. It’s a gravity-fed PVC pipe that has little poultry nipples screwed in to it. They peck at the nipple, and water comes out (see below).

 

Poultry Nipple watering system. Mine isn’t quite as large because I only have 5 chickens…and they’re living in a 30 gallon tote. A system like this prevents them from pooping in their water. It also allows you to determine how large the water reservoir will be. Don’t want to change the water every day? Hook it up to a 5 gallon bucket. Don’t want to change the water every other week? Add another 5 gallon bucket. If you’re really lazy or want to make your chickens maintenance free, you can go as big as your space will allow. I’ve seen some pictures where people have connected 55g rain barrels to a system like that and it basically maintains itself. I think I’m going to go with a 20 or 30 gallon tote (if it’s food safe). If I can’t find one that’s food safe, I’ll either get a couple of 5 gallon buckets or a metal trashcan. I want to be able to leave for two weeks and know that the chickens will be fine.

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The old setup had the nipples so low that the chickens had to turn their heads to get water, which resulted in most of the water going in the bedding. I was cleaning their stuff out twice a day because it got so wet in there. Wet bedding can breed disease, and I want these suckers to make it to adulthood – so I raised it about 3 inches. Now the water goes in their beaks like its supposed to. I also raised the roost a couple of inches and raised the heat lamp to start getting them ready for the outdoors. This had the added benefit of giving them a lot more floor room to walk on. Clementine and Aretha roost quite a bit, but they’re all capable of getting up there.

Friday is Coop day

Bryce Clouatre, the guy who started all of this chicken nonsense (and one of my best friends) is coming up to Cville on Friday. We’re hoping to build the whole thing that day, but I suspect it may bleed in to Saturday. The coop will be a backyard ornament as much as it is a functional residence for the chickens. It’ll be visible from the back of our house and from the street, so it needs to be attractive. I looked far and wide for plans that were easy to follow and ended up with a nice looking coop. I eventually settled on this one:

 

 

It has a cut list and materials list, so I don’t have to spend hours guessing what I need (though it does have some incorrect specifications…you need 4 4x4s, not 2. We’ve chosen a nice slate gray instead of red, and we’re going to do shingles instead of metal roofing. I may also add a window or two. The entire back side opens up for cleaning, and it’s a handsome design.

I’m going to wall off a 2 ft section to house the watering buckets and the electrical system. So the chickens will have a 4×6 space to live in. So if I want I can get a couple more chickens and they’ll have plenty of room. From the coop we’re going to build an 8×8 run. Their food and water will be housed beneath the coop, so the total run space will be 12×12. They will have access to this space any time the coop door is open. I have plans to add tunnels and give them some additional space that I can rotate as they destroy the grass, but I want to get the coop and run done first.

I mentioned earlier that I wanted to be able to leave for two weeks and not have to worry about the chickens. I’ve already gone over the watering system and how that will be taken care of. Here’s a link to the maintenance free feeder I’m going to build. To give them access to the run, I’ve got a 25w solar panel, a 12v battery, and a little motor. The motor is hooked up to a timer, which is hooked up to the battery. The power cuts on at 6AM, and off at 6:01 AM. When the power is turned on, the motor rotates in one direction (raising the door). When the power is turned on at 8PM, it rotates in the opposite direction (closing the door). Should the solar panel fail while we’re on vacation, the battery should be able to power the timer for several weeks without help from the panel. I’ve got it all rigged up right now to see how much it drains the battery after one week of no charging. I think they’ll be fine. If I get nervous I can always just add another battery. The panel could charge the battery I have in 6 hours if it was completely drained. So I only really need half an hour or an hour a day to keep the battery topped off. The battery will also power two 3W LED bulbs for a couple of hours each day in the winter. This will hopefully keep them churning out eggs for us.

I plan on hanging a couple of pots off of the coop for chives, cilantro, basil. I also want to make plantar boxes around the coop for planting vegetables. I currently have 50 cups with seedlings on the dining room floor because it was below freezing last night. But we have two kinds of lettuce for Shannon and the chickens, beets, hot peppers, sweet peppers, green and yellow beans (for shade for the chickens), arugula, and probably something else that I’m forgetting. May even throw a sunflower or two out there.

Next week, tour of the (hopefully) completed coop – and more photos of the birds.

Day Six

Well, we’ve had them for a full week now. No one has died, no one has been sick, and they all seem to be enjoying their lives. It’s been interesting to see how their personalities have developed. They’re scratching around now – and they’re roosting for short periods of time. It seems like every time I come home from work they’ve gotten larger. Oh, and we named them.

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Chicken Little – the smallest of the birds
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Peepy, so named for her large voice. She’s discovering the joys of roosting.

 

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Clementine just relaxing. She’s the tamest of the bunch. They’re all mild mannered, but she jumped on my hand when I put it in the coop today
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Edna. She and Chicken Little basically the same, but Chicken Little has blacker and smaller feet.
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Aretha (in the background). Shannon was having a hard time focusing on the black birds with my dark blue shirt in the shot. Aretha is black with a yellow/gray chest. She’s probably the largest right now.

Next post: Coop Plans.

Day Zero

Today was the day. The day I waited on for a six whole days – I got some chickens.

I had some friends over last weekend and we turned on Ask This Old House (on a Sunday). They were building a chicken coop when my friend Bryce let it slip that he was about to hatch 30 little chicks. I commented that I’ve thought about having chickens before, but never followed through for whatever reason. Free animals meant that one barrier was removed. Another Barrier (Shannon), was in Waynesboro.

I decided to investigate. Over the next 4 days I spent about 20 hours between chicken forums and a book I bought. By Wednesday I’d decided that I wanted to get them.

They make awesome compost (I don’t have a compost pile), they’re supposedly funny, they make a pleasant sound, and THEY GIVE YOU EGGS.

Now, eggs aren’t expensive. $1.75 for a dozen Kroger brand eggs. By the end of this, I’ll probably spend somewhere around $500 on these goddamned chickens. I’d need 3572 eggs to recoup my investment – and that calculation doesn’t include the $10/month in food I’ll have to buy when they grow up.

So I started this blog to chronicle my life as a suburban chicken keeper. I have big plans for their coop and automating 80% of the maintenance. I’ll try to track my progress with posts, photos, and videos. I hope it doesn’t suck. And I hope they all live.