An increasingly popular trend in neighborhoods across America is the introduction of the Little Free Library. As budget cut backs are closing public libraries, people are creating pop-up libraries to fill the gap and re-KINDLE a love of good old fashioned physical books. Only one year ago, Todd Bole built a doll house size box in front of his home in Wisconsin to honor his mother’s love of reading. With the message “Take a Book, Return a Book” this idea has blossomed and is now spread to at least 28 states and even other countries. You can register your Little Free Library at the official website and receive an official plaque and be located on their Google map.
Libraries are popping up at health clinics, bike paths, grocery stores, but mainly in front of personal residences. The delightful appeal of these is how they are bringing people together and promoting a sense of community. Suddenly, neighbors are getting to know one another and sharing. There is something revolutionary going on here too. In hard economic times, this is taking care of each other and spreading what is called “the gift economy”.
To learn more about these go the their official web site:
One of the wonderful things that happened at Creative Coops this spring was Josh Buist and Naomi Goodlin. They came to help at Creative Coops through Nevada Union High School’s Work Abilty program. This is a program that helps high school students learn employable skills by placing them in local businesses so they can be mentored into the work world.
Both of them worked hard and learned many usefull skills that they can take into the work world. They helped in many aspects of assembling coops. They did painting and cleaning and kit assembling for our Chicken Coops.
Josh brought an expertise in creating Stop Motions. Stop Motion is a video technique using small action figures to tell a story by taking pictures of the action figures and stringing them together in quick sequence much like the old cartoons must have been filmed.
Josh found chicken figures and made a mini Creative Coop out of cardboard and matchsticks. He then created a backround out of construction paper and combined everything to make a one minute stop motion for Creative Coops. Check it out!! http://youtu.be/TdIud9MBUwg
Josh is imaginative and inventive and he will be missed around Creative Coops now that the Work Ability program is finished.
Maybe Josh can help your business prosper by getting the word out by stop motion onto the internet.
Chicken Coops – Free food for chickens
This blog may turn out to contribute to the reluctant spouse syndrome that I wrote about recently, but I’ll let you judge that for yourselves.
Chickens eat vegetables, grains and protein. When you buy “Chicken Feed” at the “Feed Store” with a balance that is healthy for the chickens at their particular stage of growth. But you don’t have to buy commercial food products for your chickens to have a healthy diet. Free ranging your chickens will give them access to everything they need for a healthy diet. But it will also give them access to destroy everything you have planted in your garden. So Eventually you need to strike a balance between what you let your backyard chickens find themselves and what you find and bring to them for food.
I have mentioned before that compost piles are a chickens best friends (http://creativecoops.com/chickens/chicken-coops-should-go-near-the-compost-pile/). The other night I was out at the compost pile contributing my daily bucket of kitchen scraps and I decided to get a shovel and open up a hole to put my scraps into. Now, my pile is very young still and is mostly grass clippings (nitrogen) and very wet. I don’t yet have a lot of dry leaves (carbon) to balance it out with yet. So it is pretty mucky at the moment. After turning over a shovel of compost, I notice a sound. So I stood still to listen more carefully and what I heard was a kind of slurping sound. I looked closely with my flashlight in the dark and the inside of the hole I had dug was teeming with all kinds of night crawlers and bugs. Earwigs, worms, bugs, you name it. So many milling about in the slime that they actually made a slurping noise. This is what chickens are digging for in the ground. But the chickens have all gone home to roost in the chicken coop at night so they can be safe from their predators and besides chickens are also night blind. The worms and bugs now know it is safe to come near the surface (it is also cooler and more moist at night). What a wonderful balance of nature. Hence the expression “The early bird gets the worm”.
I took my shovel and scooped up a good amount of worm loaded sludge and put it in a bucket with a tight lid. In the morning, I dumped it in the chicken yard and viola, a high protein breakfast for your chickens for free. It is the protein that makes for those nice dark yokes. There are some interesting methods of producing sources of protein for chicken feed that you can do yourself for free. Consider this link. http://creativecoops.com/chickens/chicken-coops-should-go-near-the-compost-pile/
Let me know if decide to try a night time compost raid for free chicken feed yourself.
Chicken Coops – Back yard chickens and the reluctant spouse
While I am attending farmer’s markets and home and garden shows selling my chicken coops, I have noticed something interesting. It happens regularly every week at some point and the scenario goes something like this. A couple will arrive at my booth and one or the other of them will be so excited about the chicken coop. “Look honey!” etc. Meanwhile the other spouse is standing there, maybe with their arms crossed, stone faced, or with an expression on their face like “You’ve got to be kidding…” Or maybe someone is very enthusiastic, asking lots of questions about what it takes to keep backyard chickens. Then it ends with “I just need to talk to my partner and I will let you know.” That’s the last I ever hear from them. So far it is about 50/50 between males and females as to which one is the reluctant spouse.
I know my wife was very squeamish about our chickens initially. They seemed kind of scarey creatures. Not exactly like a warm cuddly cat for example. And then there is the added responsibility of caring for their well being, when its not clear what they need. She has come along way since our shaky beginnings, and the eggs are so delicious that we grow to appreciate our backyard chickens more and more.
But what can you say when you really want to keep chickens and your spouse just doesn’t get it? Here are some suggestions. “Our eggs will be delicious and healthy, trust me, you’ll love the omelets.” “It won’t be any more work than caring for a cat or a gold fish.” “It will be fun and educational for your children.”Our garden would flourish with rich soil.”
Do you have any conflicts with your spouse over the idea of keeping backyard chickens?
Chicken Coops – A Nest Solution for Broody backyard Chickens
A broody chicken is one that has decided it is time to raise some chicks. This is what happened to one of my backyard chickens. There was some kind of hormone change and she stopped laying eggs. She appeared all fluffed up and started sounding like a crow! It was a kind of deep growl rather than the usual cooing sound they make. All she would do is sit in the nest box. Hardly eat at all. She wants to sit on eggs until they hatch. But since they are not fertilize eggs, they are never going to hatch.
I tried many of the usual suggested things. I separated her from the flock, in a cage with her own water and food. But when I would let her out, she would just race back to the chicken coop and into the nest box. Its just that she has been doing this for 2 months now! Another thing that is suggested is to make sure that there is ventilation under their bottom. I guess it feels cold and they aren’t able to maintain that warmth for incubating the eggs, so things shift.
So I thought I would try it. Since she wouldn’t leave the nest box. I built a fenced bottom to the nest box. Since my chicken coops are modular, I just swapped out the solid bottom and put this in its place. It really did the trick. She stopped sitting in there and yet the other hens are still able to lay their eggs there. Now that a few days have passed and I feel she has really stopped brooding, I put some straw back on top of the fenced bottom that they can form into a nest. Once I find that the egg laying has returned to normal, I will probably swap the solid bottom back in its place again.
If you own one of my chicken coops, I will start selling these nest bottoms next week on my web site. I think I will call them “broody bottoms”.
Chicken Coops that expand with your flock of backyard chickens
Imagine that you are new to the idea of keeping backyard chickens. You have heard a lot about it, but are not sure if this is going to be something for you or not. So you figure that you will keep it small and simple to start with. Maybe just 2 or 3 chickens and you get one of those in expensive chicken coops (made in China). It turns out that it isn’t much work at all and the kids love it. You realize that you are only getting two eggs a day and it would be just as much work to keep more chickens and get more eggs.
Now you will have to replace that small coop with a larger more expensive one. Chickens feel safe when they sleep together in the same place. Furthermore, there isn’t much resale value to that (very) used chicken coop, is there?
By buying a Creative Coop you can save money in the long run, because you can just keep adding on to your coop as your flock grows.
Creative Coops offers a unique solution among chicken coops
By ordering an expansion kit, you will receive new components that you can combine with your existing hen house that will add more house space and more roosting space. (Click on this slide show) You can also expand the size of the pen from 4′x4′ to 4′x8′.
Later if you want even more chickens you can add more parts on to make your medium size hen house into a large hen house for more than 12 chickens.
Chicken Coops should go near your compost pile.
Yes. Backyard chickens and compost… they go together. A compost pile is an environment that is elaborately set up to attract all the right kind of bugs and microorganisms to break down plant material into new soil. This is also all the kinds of things that chickens like to eat. Bugs, worms, ants, yummy! So your chickens want to go a digging to find all those creatures. In doing so they are going to turn your compost pile for you and save you all that back breaking work with a pitch fork. Thank you chickens.
Not only that, but while that are digging and letting in all that air to the otherwise static pile of debris, they are adding their own chicken manure to the pile which is an excellent source of organic nitrogen and phosphorous. So you should locate your chicken coop in some relation to your compost pile. In our previous house, my wife and I had our chicken area just outside the kitchen window in the space between the back of the house and the back fence. We located the compost pile just under the kitchen window inside the chicken area. We didn’t have to have the old compost collection going in the bucket under the sink which we would need to bring out to the pile when it would start to stink. We would just open the window and throw the stuff out the window into the pile. Along would come the chickens to eat and pick through it all. Every morning I was at the kitchen sink, looking out the window at our chickens at the edge of the compost bin looking right back at me. We were both thinking… what’s for breakfast? It was very clean and expedient and we never turned our compost pile once in three years.
Now I am establishing a fenced corridor between the chicken coop and run and the compost pile. This way I can let them go to the pile and back without wondering around the garden. Since we are talking about backyard chickens, it also gives them access to rich grazing territory without needing to take up a lot of space. Think about it yourself when it’s time to locate your compost pile or chicken coop.
Were should I place my chicken coop?
Chickens are most comfortable in the same temperature conditions that we humans like. That is about 72 °F. If the temperature gets above 95° or 100° they can die of over heating. If it drops below freezing for long, they will get frost bite on their extremities such as their comb and claws. So keep these idea in mind when you consider where to locate your chicken coop on your property. By the way, the term “chicken coop” refers to the whole enable of hen house, fenced yard, and nest box.
When it comes to keeping backyard chickens, try to arrange for a variety of environments that your flock can use to self regulate the conditions they need. There should be some areas of shade and sun available for them to move between. The hen house should be located in an area that will be shaded in the summer time and sunny in the winter time. For example under a deciduous tree. Obviously, the more space you give them the happier they will be. Keep in mind if the rain water will drain away and not form a muddy puddle. Chickens don’t like to be pelted by rain drops, so provide some extended shelter other than just under the hen house where they can hang out if it is raining. You can always let them out to free range for a while too. I have been experimenting with letting them out in the afternoon, so by dusk they will come back into the pen on their own. This way I don’t need to chase them around to get them to return. (They are too smart to fall for the old food trick if they really don’t want to come back yet.)
There are many people need that you should also consider in your location. You will be going out to the chicken coop to retrieve eggs every morning. So you don’t want that to be too long of a trip. However, you may not want the smell and flies to be located too close to your house either. When placing a hen house inside of a fenced pen area, put it close to the gate where you will be entering the chicken yard so you can reach the nest box without walking across the manure filled yard every morning to get your eggs. You can choose to place the hen house along the perimeter of the fence with the nest box sticking out of the fence area. This way you can access your eggs without entering the chicken yard at all. The same goes for accessing the poop tray so you can easily clean out the manure. Be sure to make the gate entrance to the chicken yard wide enough for a wheel barrow. You will find it useful for cleaning out the litter on a regular basis.
There are a wide variety of possible situations for keeping chickens that can work great, just keep these factors in mind when you are observing your particular location.
Here is a fun video of what it is like at our house to have fresh eggs for breakfast. The chicken in this video was not brooding, she just was laying her egg that morning. How fresh is that? The chicken coop featured in this video can be seen in detail here.
This is my first blog from my new website. I hope to be posting more useful information about keeping back yard chickens and living a sustainable life.
Stay tuned for more to come.
Our coops make it fun, easy and attractive to keep a small flock of chickens in an urban backyard. While
offering a variety of different sized hen houses, and pens with wheels, all Creative Coop products are made of
interchangeable components which allow customers to transform the size and configuration of their coop to
accommodate the changing needs of their flock. All made in the U.S.A.