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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The coop!

Earlier this summer we became chicken sitters.  We wanted to get chickens and had hemmed and hawed for quite a while. Finally some friends that live in the neighborhood who were about to embark on a year of travel asked if we'd like to watch their chickens for them.  And of course we jumped at the chance.  We ended up with a ready made coop, run, three friendly (mostly) layers and all the other accutromond that comes with raising chickens.  I already posted about the storage shed I built in preparation for said chickens and here we have the coop that came along with them.

This is the winter placement for the coop.  This is right where I had my potato boxes the last couple years and I'm not sure if the coop will stay here next year or we'll find a new place for it.  It was originally over behind the shed, but part of it was in the electrical easement and we decided to move it after the utility was snooping around.  They never told me I had to move it, but I'd rather them not have too.  We had moved it to a nook behind the house and our small addition, but moved it because it was right under the eaves  and I'd rather not have to worry  about a huge chunk of snow coming down on top of it.

The run is 4x8 and has a nice door on it.  The top is clear corrugated roofing.  I was going to improve it by raising it up so that water would drain off of it, but it was well secured on top so I just left it.  You can see the food tray and heated water fount.  The best thing about getting a whole set up like this is I realize if Steve and Abby come back to get their chickens and coop what I would build and improve upon.  Over all though the girls have a nice large space to scratch and bath and come spring the run detaches pretty easily and we'll clean it out really good.

Here we have a side view.  The coop is an old repurposed dog house.  The girls have a little ramp from the bottom into the coop.

The inside space is about 4x3x3.5 with a nice little loft.  More than enough room for just three chickens, now sadly only two right now.  You can see Apocalypse in the background out exploring.  When we're home we let the girls have the whole back yard since they don't try to escape.  I'm doing my monthly coop cleaning.  All that good compost.

Here we have a good look on the inside with fresh bedding.  The girls really like to lay up in the loft so I make sure to have lots of bedding up there so they can make a nice little nest.

I had made a nice nesting box for them but they didn't like it and never used it so I just took it out.

 I have since added a Thermocube plug to the heat lamp and a timer to the full spectrum light.  We had a very long cold snap where temperature we dipping into the negative teens so the heat lamp was on pretty much all the time and the girls didn't mind, however it's warmed up into the 20's and now the coop is way to hot for them, it's very well insulated..  As a matter of fact the last few nights Apocalypse has chosen to roost outside and sleep.
Here you can see the Thermocube and the light with timer.  I still think at our current temperatures the coops too hot with just the laying light. I've toyed with putting in a full spectrum fluorescent bulb in the light and let the Thermocube and heat lamp do their thing.

And of course this is what makes it all worth it.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Building a Barn or a shed

Alright not quite a barn.  I decided when we were first talking about getting some chickens that I might need an outside space to store chicken stuff, ie feed, grit, oystershells, bedding, ect ect.  So back in May 2012 I started planning on added a small lean too shed to the back our main shed.

I've been pretty lucky finding a great free source of quality non treated wood to build with.  It just takes a little time to clean the boards and pull out staples and you have a nice 1x4 piece of pine of varying lengths.

Anyways I had worked up my design, which sadly I've disposed of and decided on a one large door side and a two door multilevel side.

Started off building the base and side walls. I wasn't too concerened about gaps. I just wanted a water tight, sturdy shed.

Next I added the front frame.  See I've got my big door side and two smaller door side.

Here's a straight on shot of the front.  And my trusty Dewalt 18v cordless. One of the best investments I've ever made.

Next I added the floors and shelf

Then slowly added the outside planking for the walls.
Next I added the frame from the roof.  You can see by this time I've moved my composters too. We ended up putting the chicken coop where the composters were.  We have since moved them since they were in the utility right of way and the power company was snooping around.  But that's another post.

Next I added some old fiberglass roofing I had laying around from when I built the greenhouse and added the first door.
Here's a look at the door construction.
Here's a look at the completed project. Taken just a few minutes ago.
And inside. Room for a bucket of feed, oyster shell, grit and some bedding.

The best part about this shed is that almost everything was repurposed.  Except for the screws and the door latches everything was pretty much free or really cheap, not counting the gas it took to pick stuff up or the time it took to tear apart all those window crates. I got all the hinges from the Habitat for Humanity Restore in town.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012


Welcome to our humble little blog.  There are a few other Alaskan Farming blogs I've found, not many but a few and I've put those over on a side bar.  If you've got a blog or website dedicated to farming or sustainable or subsistence living up here or in a colder climate let me know I'll add you to the blog roll.  A little bit about us.  We bought our small home in December of 2010 and decided that in the spring we would start looking at putting in some raised beds and maybe building a greenhouse.  I'm proud to say that I got all those things done. Our first growing season in 2011 was pretty good and we had a bumper crop of cucumbers and cabbage.  I added another raised bed and window boxes this year for some more growing space, but this year was a dismal growing season in Anchorage with it being very cool and rainy almost the whole summer.  Not that we didn't have some good stuff grown, just not nearly as good a season as last year.

I'll be posting past progress and future progresses. Sharing some of the building and additions I've added to the "farm" and our successes and failures along the way.  Canning tips, recipes, ect are all in the mix. We aren't hippy dippy types, not that there's anything wrong with that, just some common folk looking to supplement the mediocre vegetables and fruits we get up here with some of our own, sharing and saving for the long winter months.  Thanks for joining us here.