Saturday, May 30, 2015

Chicken Feed Gauge

I've mentioned before how Jason is designing the chicken coop to be as functional as possible from the outside.  We have the egg-gettin' doors, the pulley system to open and close the chicken door and he moved the window so that it opens outside instead of in.  (You can check out all those cool features here!)  Now we don't even have to go inside the coop to see if the chickens need more food.  This is so genius!
First, Jason made feeders out of PVC pipe and mounted them inside the coop using galvanized steel pipe strapping. 

He then drilled a small hole about 1-2 feet above the feeders to the outside of the coop.
Using fishing line, he attached a small weight with a block of wood to the line inside and a weight with a bobber to the line outside.
The wood sits on top of the food in the feeder.  As the chickens eat the food, the wood lowers down, raising the bobber up.
Once the bobber is nearing the top of the door, we know it's time to fill up their feeders.
 Isn't this such a great idea?  We plan on doing something similar with their waterer too, but haven't quite figured out what will be their waterer yet.  Stay tuned!
~ Sara :)

Friday, May 29, 2015

Five on Friday!

Happy Friday everyone!!!  We have been on the go, go, go all week and I am pooped!  Why you may ask?  Because we've had a very special visitor all week.....
Every Memorial Day, my brother-in-law, his wife and his daughter come in to town from South Carolina.  This year my niece stayed through the week with my in-laws.  She is just four months older than Redmond and the kids have had so much fun spending time with her each day!  She's heading back home today.  We're going to miss her!
We've got seeds sprouting and strawberries blooming! 
One of the most satisfying sights of gardening is seeing those little shoots pop through the soil!

These are pumpkins and beans, but our corn, carrots and onions are all shooting up too!
My hubby has made an outside food gauge for the chicken coop.  This way we can see how much food the chickens have without going inside the coop.  So awesome!
I'll be posting a how-to in a day or so.  Be sure to come back and check it out!
I'll interrupt this post for a little dose of cuteness that I grabbed at the zoo yesterday:

The older they get the more and more they look like a mini me and a mini Jason.
Are you doing anything fun for Father's Day?  Crafts?  Outings?  Special Recipes?  If so, please consider joining my friend Marie and I on Thursday for our Monthly Meet Up link up party to share! 
For the month of June, we'll be all about Father's Day!  You can come and post as many times as you'd like.  We'd love for you to join us!!
Have a great, beautiful weekend everyone!  Thank you so much for stopping by!!
~ Sara :)
I'm linking up with, Darci, AprilNatasha, and Christina for the Five on Friday link-up Party!
I'm linking up with A Little Bit of EverythingMomfessionals, and Grace and Love for my Friday Favorites!
I'm linking up with September Farm and The Farmer's Wife for the Oh Hey Friday linky party!
I'm linking up with
Creative House Blog for the Friday Favorites Link Up Party!
I'm also linking up with The Diary of a Real Housewife!

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Coop Training

When we moved the chickens into their coop a little over a week ago, we just assumed that they would understand that that was their home and that's where they slept at night. 
I know, I know, we're na├»ve and totally clueless. 
Hey, this is our first time!
This was absolutely not the case!  We would go out at dusk to shut their coop door and they would all be huddled together in a corner outside.  Basically on top of one another.  I would get two inside and one would run out.  You know that saying 'one step forward and two steps back'?  Yeah, it was like that. 
It would take two of us to get them rounded up, inside and get the door shut before one of them escaped again.  We realized that if we turned on the red heat lamp inside the coop they'd all file in.  It was nice that we didn't have to fight to get them inside, but we didn't want them trained by the light.


So, after a little research, we realized that the chickens were confused.  Apparently, chickens do not handle change well and are prone to a little anxiety.  When you change their home, they don't understand where 'home' is and aren't sure where to go.  Those poor, dumb birds. 
 I kid!  I kid!
In order to teach the girls that the coop was their home and that's where they needed to roost at night, we coop trained them.  What that means is that we kept them inside the coop with no access to the outdoors so that they would learn that the coop was their home.
In order to coop train, the weather has to be mild.  Nothing is going to make your chicken more upset and anxious than you locking it inside a sauna for days.  Thankfully, we had some cool weather this past week so we were able to keep them inside the coop for 3 1/2 days.
You want to be sure that the temperature inside the coop does not exceed 70 degrees.  Chickens, since they don't have sweat glands, do not handle the heat well.  We, of course, went in the coop every day to give them fresh water and to make sure their food was full.
How long you have to coop train depends totally on the chickens and how long it takes for them to understand where their home is.  It may take a couple days or even a week; it could even take longer.  If they still are not going inside at dusk to roost, try, try again.
After being inside for three full days, I let our chickens out yesterday afternoon.  Jason went to go check on them last night (before dusk) and they were all inside the coop roosting.  Hopefully this wasn't just a coincidence and they continue with this!
~ Sara :)

Friday, May 22, 2015

It's Friday!

Hey everyone!  Hope you've had a great week!  We're gearing up for a busy, busy weekend!!
Here are five highlights from my week:
Our compost bin!  I'm so excited about this.  Jason put the finishing touches on it over the weekend and it's perfect!  We are getting so much use out of it.   It feels good knowing that all of that waste we were dumping in the trash will now be used to feed our garden. 

We headed back to the zoo this week and had a great time!  When we went there a few weeks ago, we didn't get to see all the animals.  This time we saw them all and we stopped to feed the giraffes.  This is the first time Ashlyn was willing to feed them - she was so excited!
We had a storm roll through here last weekend and, after it was over, I looked out in my backyard and was met by this view:
Nature is amazing.
Our garden is in and planted!  Yay!!!  We have so.much.planted.  We're so excited!  We planted a lot of things that we've never planted before.  And, we have four crops we're starting from seed - also a first for us.  Let the weeding and waiting begin!!

Jason added a couple more touches to the chicken coop this week.  He made rooster bars and feeders out of PVC pipe.  Stay tuned to the blog for a post on these, as well as an awesome trick we're using to keep track of how much feed is in the PVC pipes!
Hope you had a great week too!
~ Sara :)
I'm linking up with, Darci, AprilNatasha, and Christina for the Five on Friday link-up Party!
I'm linking up with A Little Bit of EverythingMomfessionals, and Grace and Love for my Friday Favorites!
I'm linking up with September Farm and The Farmer's Wife for the Oh Hey Friday linky party!
I'm linking up with
Creative House Blog for the Friday Favorites Link Up Party!
I'm also linking up with The Diary of a Real Housewife!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

DIY Compost Bin

"Let's talk about trash bay-bee, let's talk about com-post-ing!"
Turning trash into treasure!
(and yes, both salt and pepper are compostable.)
We really wanted needed a compost bin.  We talked about it for a couple weeks.  What kind did we want?  We knew we didn't want plastic (too unnatural), but did we want metal?  Wood?  Where did we want it?  Near the house?  Not really.  Convenient to dump compost into, but not convenient to dump compost into the garden.  So, we want it close to the garden, but where!?  We decided the perfect spot would be in the very back of the garden, next to our tool shed. 
Perfect spot.
So, we found the spot, now what?  Jason wanted to build our bin from things we already had on hand ('cause that's what we do!) and we had lots of lattice on hand.  We even used some for our chicken coop!
Next up, we talked about the design - I knew that I wanted an access door at the bottom to easily scoop out compost.  We also, obviously, needed the top to open.  After some measuring, we decided that the compost would be 8 feet wide, 4 feet tall and 3 feet deep.  Then, Jason got to work!

He began cutting the lattice to make the walls of the bin.  We only needed three sides since the garden fence would be used as the back of the compost.
He then attached some old fence poles we had (yes, one is shorter than the other) to the lattice to make the front of the bin. 

Using pole diggers, he dug the holes for the posts and placed the front piece of the compost bin into place.  He also put two posts on the back of the fence, a few inches higher than the front for the top to attach to.  Two sides down, two to go! 
He cut the next side and attached it to the front post and the back fence by nailing it into place.

Next step was the top.  Jason made it at a slight downward angle, attaching the lattice to the taller poles with hinges and, since the compost is so big and the lattice is quite heavy, he made it so that it is two doors. 

Final step - the last side and door! 

He cut the piece for the side of the bin and then cut it again to basically make three different pieces.  The top piece was attached and then he attached the two other pieces separately at the bottom.  The door he attached with small hinges. 

Not wanting our compost area to be a total eye sore, Jason fully weeded it, moved the rocks back a bit (making our garden path a bit wider too) and moved some flowers to the area.

He planted daffodils, a lily, a peony bush, and some purple flowers we have all over, but I don't know the name of :)  We also are going to plant some morning glories to cover the front and the west side of the compost.  That way, we will have color and brightness there from spring into summer!

 So, there it is!  Our 8'x4'x3' compost bin.  All finished and already being used a lot!  I'm amazed at how much less trash we have and how much lighter our trash bags are.  And, think of all that beautiful soil we will have to feed our garden with next spring! 


Until next time!

~ Sara :)