Tag Archives: poultry house

Barn Raisin’

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We just finished a new barn on our property.  We needed a sheltered area for the goats and cattle for the winter as well as a predator-proof nighttime roost for our poultry to deter the extremely bold and clever minks.

We had one large barn from the 1940’s already but it leans pretty badly, is elevated off the ground (not predator proof), and doesn’t offer any sheltered areas for livestock that are secure.  We have 2 useful stalls that we use for quarantine purposes, but that old barn is really not useful for anything other than storage.

So with the help of Abe, one of our Amish neighbors, we designed a combination run-in shed and poultry roosting house to serve our purposes.  The completed structure is 20′ wide, 48′ long, and 8′ tall at the lowest point of the roof rising to 12′ tall at the apex.  The poultry roosting area is 16′ x 20′ (320 square feet) and the run-in shelter is 32′ by 20′ (640 square feet).

The poultry roosting section is completely enclosed with poplar boxing harvested from our woods at the top of the hill.  The boxing goes all the way up to the roof and spacers are attached to prevent any critter from climbing over the walls.  We also sunk hardwood boards a foot into the ground below the boxing to prevent digging critters.  As an extra measure of protection chicken wire will be stapled to the baseboards, buried beneath a thick layer of gravel planted with thorny cactus and multiflora rosebushes to form a (hopefully) impenetrable barrier to predators.  If any minks, raccoons, or stray cats can get through this, then we’ll just have to give up on raising chickens.  Inside the roosting house will be a bamboo roost, nesting boxes, and a feed bin with a rodent-deterring latching system all over an auto-composting deep bedding system.

The run-in shed serves as shade and shelter for the ruminants during stormy winter weather.  On the open front we will attach 2 16′ gates to span the open side.  One gate will open outwards and one gate will open into the shelter, allowing us to utilized the gate to help us corral goats for hoof trimmings.  We purposefully placed the shelter connected to the garden area to collect the fertility from the hay and manure for our crops.  Basically, the cows poop, we add some grain and cover it with straw or hay, the cows poop more, we add more grain and cover it with straw or hay, and the cows trample out all of the oxygen.  This binds all of the nutrients together and stores them until we’re ready.  No smell and no shoveling manure!

Once the cows and goats are back out on pasture in early April, we’ll buy a couple feeder pigs and turn them into the shelter and garden area.  The pigs will root through all that hay, straw, and manure in search of the grain we buried in there for them.  In the process, the pigs will inject oxygen into all that organic matter and the whole lot of it will begin to compost.  After a few weeks we will have a garden that has been fertilized and tilled as well as a couple of pigs to eat!

This shelter went up very quickly.  It took 3 men (2 Amish and 1 Geoff), 1 teenager, and 1 kid 5 days to complete it.  Very economical as well.  Abe gets good prices.  I priced out the materials at Lowe’s and the wood alone was only $700 less than we paid for the whole structure and the labor.  Plus, it’s built far more sturdily than I could have hope to build it alone.

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Gifts and a finished poultry house

Our wonderful housewarming gift from my parents!

Isn’t that a fantastic mailbox?

That’s one of the presents my parents got us as a housewarming/farmwarming gift.  Lindsey and I think it’s really beautiful, and it was up on the post within hours of arriving via UPS.  It’s a vast improvement over the old mailbox, but I’ll let you be the judge:



The postal worker should be delighted to put mail in that box!  My parents also got us a purple (Lindsey’s favorite color) bluebird nesting box – we have a lot of bluebirds that hang around, and we’d like to encourage them to stay.  The final gifts were 4 car magnets with our logo that we can put on the vehicles to drum up customers:

Now we look legit!

Don’t the magnets and the mailbox look great?  Next task:  find a good location for the bluebird box.

Yesterday Lindsey and I finally finished the poultry house / brood house.  I think it will be used to brood batches of poultry in the late spring and summer and then be used for turkey breeding during the late winter and early spring.  One bay of it will also be the guinea fowls permanent home.  Here are the front and side shots:

The front of the poultry house, viewed from the loft of the barn.

A 3/4 view of the new poultry house.

It looks crooked because the whole building is crooked.  It’s from the 1920’s and still standing, so I won’t gripe about it until I’m still standing at 90.  It has chicken wire across the top for sunlight and ventilation, separations inside to divide the birds into manageable groupings, and several tree branch perches of different diameters in each bay.  The bay on the left also has 5 milk crates attached to the back wall in which we hope our laying hens will make their daily deposits.

This took a lot longer than I thought it would because we had to measure everything so many ways and basically experiment to see what would fit where to make this coop as predator-proof as possible while still being comfy for the flocks.  Total cost to us = $219.37.  We did buy a lot of extra wood on accident.  The girl said the boards we bought for the front of the building were 6 feet long.  She meant to say that they were sixTEEN  feet long.  I was very confused when we pulled around to the side of the lumber yard to load the wood up and I saw the 16 foot boards.  I saw a lot of sawing in our future.

Well, it’s done!  Just add bedding, waterers, feeders, and birds!  Next project….. chicken tractor.

Putting up the board walls.

Still putting up boards.

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Building a Poultry House

2 blog entries in one day…

Can you tell it’s raining outside?  🙂  It’s good, though, because the garden could sure use the rain.

So, why have a poultry house?  Eventually we want our chickens, ducks, geese, and turkeys out on pasture anyway.  You can’t rotationally use a poultry house to keep diseases down and let the pasture around it rest.

Basically, we need something this year to put our laying chickens and turkeys into.  It’s a one-year bridge to the time where we have ruminants for the birds to follow around the pastures.  That doesn’t mean we won’t use the building anymore, though.  We plan on using this as our turkey breeding house so that we don’t have to order expensive poults every year and so that we can breed the turkeys that do well on our farm in order to produce the best animals for us.  Additionally, one “wing” of this house will be a permanent home for the guinea fowl.  They’ll be let out every morning to range around the garden, barn, and house areas and eat the ticks and squash bugs.  Right now Scooter is our tick finder, and he doesn’t make good use of them.  He just brings them into the house for us to pick off of him.

So really the house will be used all year by the guineas and for 2 months of the year by the turkeys.  And this year we’ll have some laying hens in there as well.

This old shed was used for miscellaneous storage by the previous owners.

The photo above shows what we are starting with.  A shed from the 1920s in which nothing is straight, level, or square anymore.  I will give the original carpenters the benefit of the doubt that building initially boasted all three of those qualities.  The plan is to frame up the outside and create 3 bays inside for the turkeys, chickens, and guineas with a door going to each of the bays from the outside.  Simple right?  That’s what I thought.  Unfortunately, I forgot how hard it is to modify a structure that is no longer straight, level, or square.

First order of business was cleaning out the shed, which I discussed in a previous post.  Along the way we also had to evict some other birds that were using the place, but at least we know that the doves like to lay their eggs there.  Hopefully that means the turkeys will too.

An active nest we found while cleaning.

The shed had some drainage problems, with several small arroyos running through the eastern side.  So we dug along the channels and installed a French drain using some leftover tubing and gravel from the stream.  This goes through the guinea fowl’s portion of the house, so hopefully it will keep their feet dry.

Lindsey digs a path for the new drainage system.

French drain laid in newly dug ditch.

Hopefully this will keep the water in the drain, otherwise the guinea fowl may donate their home to waterfowl.

Gravel over the French drain. The chicken wire on the bottom going into the ground is in place to discourage predators from digging under the walls to reach the birds.

As you can see, we also put in some 4” x 4” posts for structural stability.  Those things go 3 feet down into solid clay.  We also put on cross braces to help provide support and to attach the exterior boards to when the time comes.

The 4x4 posts and 2x4 braces on the south wall with chicken wire above for ventilation. Scooter is our quality control officer.

The same features as above, but on the interior of the north wall.

A closer view of the chicken wire around the roofline that provides ventilation while still protection the birds.

A trench along the exterior wall of the poultry house. We will sink chicken wire into this all the way around the exterior of the house for added peace of mind with regards to predation.

Here's a shot of the chicken wire trench going over the French drain.

As you can see in the pictures above, we also put 1” galvanized chicken wire on the top and bottom boards.  The chicken wire running from the top board to the rafters will allow sunlight and ventilation without putting the breeze directly on the poultry.  The chicken wire running from the bottom board and into the shallow ditch we dug around the perimeter is designed to stop predators from digging underneath the boards to get into the poultry house.  Hopefully they’ll give up if they just keep digging into chicken wire.

This was our supervisor on the job site.  Scooter likes to watch from the shade and occasionally roll around in the grass when he thinks we’ve got the job covered.

Supervisor Scooter, Sir

We also set some posts for doorways and framed out the front of the future poultry house.  Yes, I know the doorways get shorter as you move to the right.  Remember we already mentioned the lack of straight, level, and square?  This is what we mean.

Boards framing the south wall

Boards framing the front of the poultry house.

We cut some doors out of exterior grade plywood and coated it with some rubberized spray paint that the former owner left us.  I assume he used it for good grips on his machine guns and RPGs.  No, I’m not kidding.  We then hung the doors using regular old hinges and gate latches.

Lindsey cuts some chicken wire.

Our very professional-looking door.

All that actually took several days to accomplish.  Even though none of it sounds very hard, everything we put on this building has to be angle cut or leveled multiple times or double framed to make up for the lean in this old building.

What’s left to do?  Put all of the boards around the exterior and create the inner bays for the birds!

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Poultry Update

Our chicks, poults, and keets are growing so fast!  I’m hurrying on the poultry house so it’ll be ready for them in 2 short weeks.  Today we hauled gravel from the creek to complete the drainage system, finished the chicken wire portions, and made and hung the doors.  Tomorrow I’ll put the sides on it, and then start the interior work.

Here’s a video about the future inhabitants of the poultry house:

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What you can find in an old shed…

Shed cleaned out, mostly

Well, I finally got all of the old shed cleaned out and organized.  I still have to dispose of, recycle, or otherwise relocate some of the items that were stored in the shed, but I’ll take the small victory of simply having everything OUT of there so that I can start building the poultry house next week.

I imagine that there are some people out there reading this who might be looking at doing something like this themselves, so this post is for those people.  Nobody warned me about the things you can find in an old farm shed.  I’ve taken the liberty of classifying the found items as “cool” or “not cool.”  Here goes…

  1. Old soft drink bottles…  cool!
  2. Seed bag full of termites… not cool.
  3. Fire pit… cool!
  4. Functioning smoker… cool!
  5. Rusted-through corrugated metal… not cool.
  6. A stack of old barn wood… cool!
  7. The tons of exposed rusty nails left in that old barn wood… not cool.
  8. The fact that the scrap metal place for the nails is between here and town… cool!
  9. Old horseshoe… cool!
  10. Road work sign… not cool.
  11. 3’ diameter 4” thick sections of tree trunk… cool!
  12. 3’ sections of rusty barbed wire… not cool.
  13. Old lead tie-downs… cool!
  14. French drain sections… cool!
  15. Mounds and mounds of termite-infested wood… definitely not cool.
  16. A room’s worth of 8’ x 4’ beadboard… cool!
  17. The black mold remaining on the beadboard even after powerwashing it… not cool.
  18. Palette’s worth of good red bricks… cool!
  19. Loads of saltillo tile… cool!
  20. 8 million broken tile bits… not cool.
  21. 450 lbs of sand… cool!

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Along the way I also found earthworms, creepy crickets, toads, a kingsnake, spiders galore, a field mouse, an active dove nest, and set the county record for centipedes discovered under a single woodpile with 687.  There were also random cinder blocks, rickety sawhorses, sheets of black plastic in varying degrees of ripped, 2 half-functional palettes, styrofoam packing, and hoses.

Since we’re trying to go about things the right way around here, I’m trying to think of good things to do with all of this stuff.  Some of it’s easy.  Obviously, the smoker will be used to smoke meats.  The old horseshoe can get tacked up on the wall for luck.  Some of the other materials are a bit harder, though.  Here are the tentative plans:

I’m going to re-use the old barn wood to create the facing of the new poultry house.

The seed bag full of termites will be placed back in the poultry house after we have poultry.  Eat ‘em up!

The nails, corrugated metal, rusty barbed wire, etc will go to the scrap metal place.

The tile, beadboard, and tree trunk sections will be used to build Lifestyles Lane housing.

We’ll use the bricks for either an outdoor kitchen or Lifestyles Lane housing.

The sections of French drain can go to immediate use to alleviate the washouts in the shed area.

The old lead tie-downs can anchor the PVC frames in the gardens and soon, in the greenhouse.

Fire pit is already placed in the garden seating area.  Unassembled, but nobody’s perfect.

Styrofoam can help insulate some Lifestyles Lane structure.

The only things that will get outright disposed of are the termite-infested wood.  I’ll probably just burn those and spread the ashes on the crops or fields lightly unless someone emails me a better suggestion.

Onto the garden update…

Only 4 days after planting one raised bed and 3 days after planting the other, we have growth!!!  The thunderstorm that went through here yesterday came at the perfect time.


Another sprout!

The pole beans, bush beans, radishes, watermelons, cantaloupes, yellow squash, butternut squash, sunflowers, corn, and cucumbers had all sprouted by this morning.  Maybe we won’t go hungry after all!

The other cool thing about this time of year is the berries.  I love berries!  Judging from the looks of the plants we’re still a couple weeks out from the middle of the season, but we picked a small basket of berries for our dessert last night.

That’s right!  Within a short walk from the house we’ve got (clockwise from top) red raspberries, blueberries, golden raspberries, and blackberries.  It’s fun to work on the land all day and then have the land reward you at the end.  How fantastic is that?

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After 2 days of mowing…

Mowed area near gardens

As the title of this post suggests, we did get the mower fixed.  There’s a powerful little spring that tightens the blade belt that is attached on a bolt underneath the deck of the mower, and it apparently comes off anytime you hit a big enough bump.  Anyway, it’s an easy conceptual fix but a very difficult physical one.  It literally takes all of the strength I’ve got to pull the spring over the bolt, all while lying flat on my back so that I can reach under the mower deck where the spring is situated.  I had to reattach the thing 3 times to finish mowing the 10 or so acres that we need to keep cut in order to look presentable in case any of our new neighbors happen to stop by and say hello.  It took basically two 6-hour days to mow all of that, but I was going slowly so that I:

1)  learned where all the bumps, electrical boxes, and water lines were without destroying them.

2)  could effectively mow the grass that was over 3’ tall in places and between 12” and 24” all over.

We are never letting the grass get that high again!

Yesterday before fixing the mower and finishing the grass-cutting task we did get the other raised garden bed planted.  The one we planted gets sun literally all day long from the moment the sun comes up over Chicken Gizzard Ridge (yes, actual name – but I’m from Toad Suck/Pickles Gap so I can’t make fun) to the time it sets over Dry Creek.  This second bed gets full sun from 11 am or so until about an hour before sunset so this is where we put the leaf lettuces, arugula, broccoli, bush beans, turnips, cucumbers, carrots, leeks, onion, and parsnips.  I think this bed has the better soil, too.  Lots of crumbly black stuff with plenty of earthworms.  The other bed has mostly clay and rocks.  I put together some PVC frames that we can tie shade cloth over for the lettuce once it sprouts to keep it cooler.  I figured we could also lash it together with a network of ropes and strings and let the cucumbers grow over the top of them too.  But that’s assuming all of this sprouts and does well without us having had much of a chance to amend the soil in any way.

Gardens all planted

I also started two seed trays with jalapeño peppers, cayenne peppers, sweet basil, cilantro, thyme, chamomile, and marigolds.

After mowing I also weeded some of the flower beds and found lots of lilies and hollyhocks in bloom hiding under the weeds:



Pretty, huh?

I also ordered poultry yesterday – 25 White Rock cockerels to raise for broilers out on the pasture, 15 Black Australorp hens to free range from the poultry house (see below) and produce eggs for us eventually, 30 guinea fowl to help eat ticks and assorted bugs in the gardens, and 15 assorted heritage breed turkeys.  I don’t know what we’ll get but it should be at least three of the following breeds:  Bourbon Red, Narragansett, Chocolate, Blue Slate, Black Spanish, Royal Palm, and White Holland.  We also got one “free rare exotic chick” for some reason, so I clicked “ok” and we’ll see what manner of crested chicken they send us.  Hopefully an Araucana or something.  The poultry ship out on June 28, and I’ll take lots of pictures when they get here.

In the meantime, poultry need a home after they are done with the brooder.  We have this covered area behind the carport that the previous owners utilized as “miscellaneous storage”:

Miscellaneous storage area

The other end of the miscellaneous storage area

We went into town today and got a weed whacker to trim up around the house and garden and while at the hardware store I got some 2x4s to frame out this shed.  Then I can use some of the old barn wood you see piled under the storage area for the exterior with some chicken wire and hopefully make a serviceable, 3-bay poultry house for the personal-use hens, guinea fowl, and breeder turkeys.  These pics can serve as the before pictures and I do another post later on about building the whole thing.

I also got the composting system in place conveniently located near the back door to the kitchen.  That’ll make taking out our kitchen waste easy and there’s also easy access to the garden for both loading and unloading the bins.  Now I just need to put in a system to organize our recycling so we don’t waste anything!  Stay posted on that…

We also find time to take the dogs for walks/frolics in the evening.  Lindsey and I pick berries to eat while the dogs run all over the place enjoying the smells, going swimming, and rolling in the grass.


Sunset at the creek

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