Chillin’ with my peeps….

Jul 25, 2008 by     6 Comments    Posted under: childhood memories, house, life

Ok, don’t laugh but this has been a childhood dream of mine – I want chickens.

Somewhere deep inside this city-born gal lurks a farmer. Maybe it was all those summers I spent on my uncle’s farm mucking out horse stalls or sitting on my grandma’s porch shelling peas that caused me to harbour this desire. I can’t say where the desire comes from but I do know that I’ve been the happiest I’ve ever been since moving out to the Lair.

This spring Lise and I decided to take a part of our yard and make it into a vegetable garden. Out of those plans, and with much research, we decided to raise composting worms (eisenia foetida) to use their castings as fertilizer in our garden.

We started with a couple of plastic totes and a few pounds of worms and now we have a 55 gallon barrel in our shed brimming with beautiful worms. We’re using the totes as incubators for the worm cocoons and baby worms and will be starting another 55 gallon barrel very soon. Our neighbours tease us and call us the worm farmers and ask when they can expect to see us taking the worms out for exercise.

We were a bit hesitant to tell the neighbours that we had worms (yuk, yuk) but when we told them about our little worm ranch, they smiled and said, “We’re zoned agricultural so you could have a cow in your yard if you wanted to.” At first I thought they were joking but when I dug up the tax bill and deciphered all the abbreviations on the page, sure enough, we ARE zoned agricultural. While a cow would provide all the manure we’d ever need to feed our worms, I think our neighbours would have something to say especially as soon as the wind blew a certain way. Anyway I started thinking – gee, maybe I could have those chickens I’ve always wanted.

Our property is more wide than it is deep so we don’t have much of a backyard. Having chickens would mean trying to figure out a way to keep them in a small space. Since we have more room to the front and side of the house, I thought I’d like to put them there. When Lise and I talked about that we discussed how chickens, if left in one place, can quickly turn a nice lawn into a not-so-nice lawn. So that meant we’d have to find some way to move the chickens around regularly.

The other thing we needed to consider was all of the feral cats in the area. Sure, we could nail a little coop together and let the chickens free-range in the fenced in portion of the yard but that idea seemed too much like tying a goat to a stake in the T-Rex paddock.

We’ve spent the last three weeks looking for solutions and finally decided we are going to build an ark. In North America this type of coop/run design is known as a “tractor” but in Britain, they call them “arks”.

We bought a set of plans from Catawba Convertible Coops upon which to base our design and then I saw The Henley and fell in love. So with graph paper and mechanical pencil in hand, Lise and I are going to design something that incorporates the features of both. We’re already arguing about the colour – she wants to paint it blue and I want to paint it barn-red with white trim so we may have some arm-wrestling to do.

The Harrow Fair is being held at the end of August and that’s where I’d like to find some hens, so I’d like to have our ark built before then. I’m not sure which breeds are available in our area but there are two breeds I’m particularly interested in: Ameraucanas and Barred Plymouth Rocks. I’ve already warned Lise that when we go to the fair I’ll be spending most of my time in the poultry barn chatting people up.

Meanwhile, I’ll be cutting up wood scraps trying to figure out if I can cut these angles with a protractor and circular saw or if I really need to rent a miter saw. If all goes well and we still have all ten digits in place, we could have next year’s spider problem solved and be eating our own eggs to boot.

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6 Comments + Add Comment

  • Chickens! Really?

    You need to visit this blog

  • woooohoooooo eggs freash eggs next time I visit lmao

  • I can just “hear” your neighbors’ jokes in my head! Good that you’re able to fulfill a dream, though. My Ex-Boy raised chickens. It didn’t look that hard, but then again, I didn’t actually live with him.

    I wanted some of those composting worms for my small outdoor container, but L’Ailee stamped her lethal little foot down *hard* at that, so I’m going without. :-)

  • For those interested in building their own coops, I have developed a set of plans based on a popular European design that area easy to build and use off-the-shelf lumber from your local home improvement center with little use of tools. You can check them out at – Dave

  • Hi Dave,
    I’ve already ordered your coop plans and will be using them as a basis for our own coop.
    If I can’t figure out how to change the roof line, the only major modification to your design that I will to do is change the sides of the coop to something hinged.
    It was your design that inspired me to build my own so thank you!

  • If you catch Sears on the right weekend you can buy a 10″ miter saw for less than $100 that will do some amazing things. From trim and picture frames to cutting whatever you’d like for your coop. I bought mine last summer while working on the garage and use it for most of the things my Dad used to do with his radial arm saw…

    I also have a Black and Decker “Firestorm” cordless drill I wouldn’t want to live without. Shooting screws or drilling things, it’s fantastic. Mine is a “cheapy” at only 14.4 volts, but does everything I’ve ever asked of it. I screwed the eves of the garage back together rather than nail them, hoping that the decking screws won’t have the loosening and corrosion problems that nails do.

    I have a friend in Colorado who is on his 3rd batch of chickens in 2 years, as he’s fighting stray dogs and coyotes along with other things. He got some geese to help and just lost one of them to a badger, though the badger didn’t get any chickens, either. You are definitely going to get to know your neighborhood wildlife!

    Best of luck with all of this! I remember my grandfather raising them in Texas and picking one for a pet when I was about 7; I would actually tie a kite string around his leg and take him for walks around the neighborhood…