Hello fellow readers!

I have kept my promise and I have built something new with a few pallets. I recently came upon a great source of pallets that are in great shape. They are chemically treated, so they will last quite a while. They were used to haul cardboard so at least I know there aren’t any REALLY toxic chemicals on the wood other than what would be in regular pressure treated lumber.

12122653_10153702124083478_7960561557761858400_nSo anyway, I used about 5 pallets to build this coop. I also have a gracious neighbor who gave me two landscaping timbers to use as bottom rails. I mounted the bottom frame on cinder blocks and field stone.

I then bought some hardware cloth and stapled it across the bottom so that the chicken12115535_10153702124208478_6588436197097495638_n manure would fall right to the ground. I made sort of a lean-to roof out of 2X8 lumber I bought and left over 12107281_10153702124708478_5713115505629419724_nroofing that I STILL had leftover from my other pallet barn project. I had the roof sloping so that the west wind would not have a damaging effect should any storms come along.12049402_10153705627458478_136994185988808480_n

I cut out a small entrance door for the chickens, and a human door so we can access the inside. I also built one egg laying box. I will add two more as they all fight over getting a chance to use it. I placed it next to an area where I cut down some brush next to an 12140852_10153728626728478_4030075741522017953_novergrown field. I have a small area of that fenced in. Once I get more fencing, I will increase their forage area.

Ever since they started using it, 12074656_10153744043178478_4754959207487340399_nthey have been laying eggs MUCH better than they were. Although where they were prior wasn’t the most ideal for them, they really worked over our new garden area and turned hundreds of bags of leaves into fertilized, rich, soft soil!

12063333_10153744000423478_8519027066427334673_n 12046864_10153743999693478_4268920681116930929_n 12039496_10153743999198478_1620982966691752573_n


If you have read through my blog you will see a few posts on cheap but effective ways to raise animals on your own small property. One of the posts talked about an egg mobile.

Egg-Mobile 1.0

Egg-Mobile 1.0

This contraption that I built I will call Egg Mobile 1.0. It was modified from it’s original design according to the material I had on hand. I used a lot of wood which made it heavier than desired. Though its design made it relatively easy to pull along the grass for myself, it was a little more difficult for my wife.

I recently tore it down to the pressure treated base frame. I went to tractor supply and bought 2 cattle panels that were 16′ long and about 3.5′ wide. They were $20 each. I attached the bottom of one to the inside side rail, then flexed the other end over to the other side rail board and attached it also, forming a sort of hoop house shape. I made sure that the bottom edges were attached just above the bottom edge of the boards so as to not catch on the dirt and grass while being drug. You can attach the panels in whatever way works best; large staples, screws screwed in on an angle, nails bent over…etc.

Cattle panels attached.

Cattle panels attached.

Then I attached the next panel right next to the first and joined the two in the middle with zipties about every other square to firm up the panels. Then on either end I added chicken wire, also along the sides because the panel holes are large enough for the chickens to get out if they wanted.

For a door, I had saved the one from the previous build (Egg Mobile 1.0). However,

I didn’t want to add more wood for installing the door. My wife had a great idea! She asked if I just couldn’t hinge the door sideways, on the bottom, on the wooden rail. So thats what I did. I really like the way it has turned out. The only issue is that with the door turned sideways, it is difficult to get the waterer and feeder in with ease as they are taller than the opening, and heavy when full.

I then put a tarp over the top, slightly favoring one side (the west), and slid small lengths of wood across the inside corners for perching.

Egg Mobile 2.0

Egg Mobile 2.0

Egg Mobile 2.0

Egg Mobile 2.0 

Hillside Pasture

I was flipping through a “Hobby Farmer” magazine the other night and realized that the whole idea of hobby framing is really aimed at those who have an expendible income. The advertisements are full of expensive “farm toys”. The articles talk about high bloodlines and innovative ideas…if you have the money to implement them. You hear stories about “When we moved from our city house to our cute farmette in the country” or “we moved from our suburban 3,000 sq ft home to our country estate/cottage to enjoy country life”. I don’t know what part of farming was done for just enjoyment. Yes, an agricultural lifestyle can be enjoyable and fulfilling…due to the hard work. But it was mostly born from necessity.  Don’t get me wrong, it is a very interesting magazine and you can get many ideas from it.

I thought it was ironic though that hobby farming is basically for the “rich” these days, when in times past, that’s how the poor lived.  Making the most out of small rural acreage.  In these economically hard times, hobby farming should be aimed at doing more with less….less money that is. I can not say that I live on a farm, nor that I am a farmer. We only own less than 1.5 acres. I have a regular job that pays the bills…barely, and a side business to make extra money to fill in the gaps. We do live in a rural area but that is only because I made the choice to go to college in a rural area. It’s the first place I settled before I even had a family of my own. So we had that going for us from the beginning I guess. I don’t think we could have afforded to “move to a country lifestyle”.

That’s the whole reason that my wife and I decided to pursue raising our own food. At least as much as we could handle doing ourselves. Each year we have expanded to do a little more. We increase the garden every year, we are increasing the diversity of animals we raise as well. Each one has its own function in the process of raising healthy food. We have a garden, so compost and insect control are a must. We have chickens that take care of the bugs (and the tomatoes too unfortunately). We have goats that provide us meat, and milk will be flowing next year hopefully. The chickens also take care of mixing in the goat droppings with the grass and dirt. We take out the goat shed bedding to the compost pile since its basically hay, wood shavings, and goat droppings. The chickens provide us with eggs and an occasional chicken dinner. Hopefully in the spring we will also have two piglets to raise. They will be placed where our current garden is. Pigs do a great job mixing in compost while providing their own manure into the garden. We can fence in the current section of garden space for the pigs, then rotate the next year.

Pig/Garden Rotation (www.cricketbread.com)

All of this is done with minimal expense.  I use old second hand items when possible. For instance, our current goat shed is the old metal shed that came with the house. I asked a farmer about a broken calf hutch one day and he said I could have it for free…in fact I got two and let my friend have one. Two lengths of our electric net fencing were basically given to us as long as I went and ripped them out from being buried under tall over grown field grass…It was literally a treasure hunt! Our neighbor graciously lets us use the steep hillside along our house to pasture the goats. I think he is just glad to have the hillside mowed and rid of multiflora rose.

If anything needs to be bought, I ask around first to see if anyone nearby has the item and aren’t using it. If I cant find it, I search for used items on the internet. My last resort is to buy  something brand new. We cant afford tractors and other large motorized farm tools, nor do we have the room to store them. Once you can afford to buy the equipment, you have to afford to build outbuildings to store them in. So our work takes longer and gives us more exercise. It also will hopefully instill in our children a good work ethic. That is the second reason why we chose to start raising as much food for ourselves as we can on a low budget.

So, I think there needs to be a magazine focused on low budget hobby farming. I am sure there is one somewhere already.

In the military we were constantly reminded to be unpredictable in our daily travels and tasks to keep unknown threats confused. It seems that among the ranks of our chickens, Sgt. Rooster has been issuing the same orders to the hens.

Our hens starting laying eggs about a month ago. Nice brown eggs. One or two of our six hens were venturing in the coop and leaving the wonderful gift that I would later find and collect with my boys. About a week later, one hen decided to start laying in the pine shavings in the goats shed. Amazingly, the goats tiptoe around the eggs. I have not seen one crushed yet!

About 2 weeks ago, I was getting disappointed and frustrated that the hens had stopped laying eggs in the coop after what seemed to be a good start. They were laying maybe 3 eggs a day up to that point. I couldn’t figure out what caused the withholding of their dues. I starting randomly checking out the tall grasses nearby when going to feed the goats but never found any evidence of stashing. I figured either they aren’t getting enough nutrition, or water, or maybe the cold weather had turned off the production.

Last night I was getting my drill together so I could unscrew the roof of the coop for my daily check (I am working on fixing the roof so this isn’t such a laborious and inefficient task). I bent over to get the extension cord plug and saw a glimpse of what looked to be a white egg under the coop! I kneeled down and sure enough there were about 4 white and brown eggs! They had made a little nest UNDER the coop! Then my eyes saw just a foot further under the coop a large nest FULL of eggs! At least a dozen or more piled in the self made nest!!

I’m on to them now! Looks like I’ll have to screen around under the coop and make the inside of the coop more attractive. Oh…they all sleep in the tree OVER the coop every night too!

Egg Stash!

Our house

I thank God most everyday for the home he has given me. Not just the house itself, but all that encompasses our Home. The house is a large part of that. But add in the location, neighbors, the wife and children that fill the house, the animals in and around our home, and Gods presence in the midst of it all. Nothing is sweeter! Keep reading

OK, I am making slow progress on my goat situation, but quite speedy unforeseen progress on the chicken side of things. I was hoping to have our goats by now, but as things come along life’s road, priorities change. We still have 2 goats reserved for us. I just need to get the time to put up the fencing!

As for the chickens, I came hoe one day to see that my wife had bought two baby chicks! Things went well and they were growing. Friends gave us some necessities, like the mason jar caps that you can use for waterers and feeders. That was a big help in keeping things clean. They got to a point where they had all their feathers and were hanging out freely in the yard. Chubby (our dog) was always on a line or inside when the chicks were out. There were a few times when the chicks were in the cage that he got a chance to run around the cage and get them in a frenzy. I cant blame him, he’s a bird dog!

Well, one day, our back deck door didn’t shut all the way, the wind blew it open, we were taking a nap, and Chubby had a golden opportunity! We woke to realize what had taken place and found the chicks. Chubbs didn’t eat them, just played with them too hard. I knelt over one and Chubby stayed away knowing he had been bad….but I would hate for this to carry over  in the field when hunting for pheasant!!

So the need for a coop suddenly went high in the priority list. We were also given two older chickens by friends of ours. One is a young white rooster and the other an older red/brown hen. We decided to keep them in the future goat shed. I made a perch for them which they love. And I started building a coop on the side of the shed. So far so good. At night they make their way back to the perch and I close the shed up, then open it in the morning. The hen was laying an egg every other day at our friends place but she hasn’t here yet. We  filled a wagon up with grass clippings in the shed hoping she would nest there. So far she has no interest.

Happy Chickens

Happy Chickens

Coop framed

Coop framed

Chickens on the perch

Chickens on the perch