I can’t believe it’s Sunday Farm Update time already! I really have no idea where the days of this past week went…that is, until I look in the garage. Yes, that’s right – the same garage that had just been “cleaned out” for Mary’s vehicle to comfortably park inside after the last round of projects in November and December. Well, it is once again filled with projects of the last week, including sections of our new chicken coop and another table made from some leftover wood. Just in time, of course, for her vehicle to sit outside during the upcoming week’s forecast of near zero temps. I might actually be needing to build a doghouse for myself somewhere in there too! :). Actually, we are both more than happy to give up some garage space as we start to work on some of this year’s goals for the farm.
The New Coop
We started work this past week on the new coop that will be erected in the early spring. Our original coop was perfect for the 9 hens we have kept to this point – but we want to create a large enough space to comfortably house about 15 to 20 hens. It seems we can never have enough eggs now that our friends and family have become customers.
We spent a lot of time the last few months designing a coop that can not only stand the test of time, but blend in with the surroundings of the farm. After sketching out a lot of designs and ideas, we settled on building a replica version of the vintage coops that dotted farms around the mid-west in the early 1900’s – with some updates and modifications of course. The main coop will be 12′ x 10′ – with an attached 12′ x 16′ outdoor run for them to have plenty of protected space to roam and scratch. In addition, they will also have large free range areas that are rotated around the farm.
To keep with the “recycled” theme in the building process and to keep the building cost down, we’re using a ton of salvaged materials we have saved from our past projects. Reclaimed cement blocks from the old barn foundation will make up the new foundation. We are also using reclaimed wood for most of the framing and interior walls. Left over panels from our barn roof will be used to roof the coop, along with a couple of solar panels attached to provide power for a few interior lights.
So with a break in the temps the last week, we set about putting the plans into action. With the winter and cold, it’s much easier to build the majority of it here at the house in sections. We were able to frame up the front and back two sections this past week, and hopefully can get the two sides finished up before the end of January. The plan is to have all of the sections finished and ready to go, so that once the foundation goes in, we can assemble it all in a day or two. With the new baby chicks arriving in late February – we will only have around 8 weeks until they are ready to move into the new “coop”.
One of our goals this year is to set up a hive. Not only will it help our vegetables, flowers, fruit trees and grapes – but we would love to have some fresh honey! This past Saturday morning was spent at our first “bee”class, with a longtime area beekeeper named Mike. We have both spent the last 6 months reading up in every way possible about everything to do with bees – but nothing substitutes hands on knowledge from an experienced beekeeper. You can tell after just a few minutes talking to Mike how much passion he has for the art of keeping bees – and that he truly enjoys passing that knowledge and passion on to others.
We talk about it a lot, but the generosity and helpfulness of people never seems to amaze me. As we spoke to him at the end of class, he even offered to help us release our first bees into the hive this spring. Over the course of the next week we will be ordering our hive box and beginners tool kit – and hopefully this spring, we can add bees to diversity of the farm! Here is to Spring getting here sooner rather than later!
– Jim and Mary
If you would like to receive our weekly DIY, Gardening and Sunday Farm updates – you can sign up to follow our blog via email, Twitter or Facebook in the right hand column.