Chicken Coop & Garden Tour

So, here’s what’s been happening in our yard.

chicken coop construction

Here is the framed chicken coop, with the interior wall about to go in. All window and vent openings are covered in hardware cloth. The main thing you need to know about building a chicken coop and run, if you’re into that sort of thing, is that when they’re inside, the chickens must be surrounded on all sides by a solid surface (such as wood) or hardware cloth. That includes above and under the ground of the run portion — yes, you have to dig up some dirt, install hardware cloth along the ground and attach it to something, be it other hardware cloth or a frame) and then put the dirt back in. Otherwise, you might have wildlife or Rottweilers digging into your chicken run, and nobody wants that. We used 1/2-inch hardware cloth from Amazon, because it was the best price we found.  (When the coop is finished, I’ll let you know how much it cost and provide links to stuff we bought online. For now, I’m living in denial.)

chicken coop construction

The triangle on top here is a vent. One thing I learned from my extensive perusal of backyardchickens.com is that your chicken coop needs more ventilation than you might think, even in winter. So we (well, Ben) put in lots.

chicken coop construction

Here is a view of the beautiful linoleum floor Ben got from Habitat for Humanity. It’s always good to visit places like H4H just to see if you can score any materials on the cheap, or cheep if you’re a chicken. (Sorry.) I was partial to the blue floral linoleum tiles, but we figured a big sheet would be cleaner.

chicken coop construction

Back of the coop, also with a big vent area. The big open space is where the nest boxes will go.

chicken coop construction

View of the other side wall, featuring one vent and one window.

Untitled

Looking toward the run.

Untitled

Here are the framed and linoleum-ed nest boxes. We certainly don’t need 3 nest boxes for 3 chickens, but we can have as many as 8 chickens in Denver, so Ben designed everything to accommodate as many as 8 chickens.

Untitled

Side view of nest boxes. The nest box roof is a door that opens upward, so we can reach in to gather eggs.

Untitled

This is the current state of the coop. This weekend, Ben did the flashing on the roof, put in a ton of insulation, and installed the windows (there’s another window across from this one on the other side) and the outer walls. The windows are shed windows, installed so they can be opened and closed from the outside.

From here you can see the human doors to the coop and, on the right, to the run. Both have locks, mainly because we don’t want to risk any child we know opening a door on his own.

Untitled

Here you can see the coop and run, as well as the main plot of our garden. Here’s what’s in there:

  • arugula (in a container)
  • mint (in a container — always put mint in a container because it is super aggressive)
  • spinach
  • onions
  • carrots
  • 3 kinds of lettuce
  • kale
  • tomatillos
  • jalapenos
  • Joe E. Parker peppers
  • pepperoncini
  • broccoli
  • brussel sprouts
  • tomatoes, including several heirloom varieties

Untitled

This looks like ass, but bear with me. When it comes to gardening, we are passionate about two things: spending as little money as possible and using what we already have. This giant thing used to be part of a trellis that Ben removed to make room for the chicken run. Rather than throw it out, we’re using it to keep the dogs off our plants. Here we have several varieties of cucumbers (marketmore, lemon, homemade pickles, something else, and maybe something else — I want to make pickles this year and cucumbers are great for juice, so I wanted to have as many cucumber plants as possible); edamame; zucchini; and mini eggplants. Way in back are a few more tomato plants in containers — Ben put our favorites in containers: peacevine (which are little), red pear, and early girl.

I planted a few things in the front yard, too: garlic (Soren and I planted some cloves in the late fall and they’re all growing), a few more tomatoes, and more zucchini.

We still have a bit more to plant: more tomatoes, basil, oregano, corn, and some kind of bush beans.

A cool thing about this year’s garden! With the exception of a few jalapeno plants, everything was grown from seed or acquired for free at an awesome neighborhood gardening festival. So if all goes well, we’ll get tons of food without spending much money (for once)!

Untitled

As you can see, Sadie is really interested in the chickens all day every day. And we’ve been pretty busy!

A New Tree

Our new tree!

I didn’t get to really enjoy the nice weather this weekend because I’ve been sick. It’s a horrible cold, although the good news is I haven’t (yet) had the hacking up-all-night cough Ben experienced. The worst part for me has been the awful cold/hot extremes at the same time. All day Saturday, my head felt hot and my body was freezing so much I was constantly covered in goosebumps and the feel of clothes on my skin was painful. By far the most enjoyable portion of the weekend was the time spent eating spicy red curry. The sitting-on-my-ass portion wasn’t too bad, either.

In cheerier news, we got a new tree (to replace the one destroyed when the neighbors’ tree fell on it last summer). I tried to make it look as majestic as possible in the photo but it’s teeny tiny. It’s an Autumn Gold Ginkgo. Ginkgo trees are the shit, even though I try to spell “Ginkgo” wrong every time I write it. They remind me of Oak Park.

Also, it’s snowing right now. Snowing! Again! And it’s gloomy as hell outside. This winter weather in late April can bite me!

My New Signature Pizza and the Cactus Show

I’m ready to declare this my signature pizza:Untitled

  • thin crust
  • olive oil
  • apricot preserves
  • roasted garlic
  • rainbow chard (heat a little olive oil over medium head, add chard, fry (covered, stirring occasionally) for approximately 10 minutes until pleasantly soft, add salt and pepper to taste)
  • a little parmesan
  • a little smoked gouda
  • thinly sliced brie (I remove the rind)

So good. It’s kind of similar to the last pizza I made with chard, although that one is a lot more work.

Sorry the only picture I have is the bad one I just took of the microwaved leftovers at work (the other slice has red sauce, roasted garlic, yellow peppers, onions, and parmesan/mozzarella/gouda).

We went to the Colorado Cactus and Succulent Society show at the Botanic Gardens yesterday. It was cool. We bought a cactus that’s winter hardy and will allegedly grow to be 5 feet tall. We also got the guy below, who was picked out by Soren. I have a thing for cacti/succulents in glass containers, if that can be considered a thing.

another silly photo of usat the Botanic GardensUntitledUntitled

Update: Veganize this pizza by omitting the parmesan, gouda, and brie. Instead, put some homemade parmesan substitute (use a food processor to process equal parts pine nuts and nutritional yeast, plus a little salt) and a very light dusting of vegan mozzarella (Follow Your Heart or Daiya, or homemade if you have it) on the pizza before baking. When the pizza is finished baking, allow it to cool a bit and cut into slices. Before eating a slice, add some homemade brie. (It’s important to add as you eat, because this brie melts right away. If you have leftovers, you’ll want to reheat and then add the brie.)

For homemade brie, follow the first brie recipe (on page 12) in Artisan Vegan Cheese (no affiliate link). It’s very good but be aware that you’ll need several days to make it.

Necklaces & Tomatoes

He's making a necklace

Earlier this evening, I made (another) necklace. Soren did, too. He loves necklaces and beads and I always start out telling him not to touch anything, but after a while I figure why not. (I should skip the “don’t touch nothin’”1 phase altogether, because what’s the point and it makes him (rightly) believe I’ll give in if he’s persistent.) I had no idea he could put a bunch of beads on a string, but he can.

My necklace was inspired by these little berries (we refer to them as “tree things,” because “berries” are something you eat and we don’t want anyone getting any ideas about eating things that grow in the yard and aren’t food, although even that has to be confusing because we grow food to eat in the yard, too) Soren picks from a bush in the yard. I’m not sure about it, but I’ll post a picture soon.

Inspiration

*****

Our garden is a little behind schedule, if gardens have schedules. Nothing we started from seeds indoors worked (I’m never doing this again — from now on, we’re either getting plants or directly sowing seeds in the ground; you never get anywhere starting seeds indoors when you have 100 cats). We have some peppers that are close to ready, one yellow squash (sadly, the zucchini plant we bought isn’t a zucchini plant at all — we’re not sure what it is, maybe acorn squash), and the occasional cherry tomato (although I’m not really a tomato person, I love leetle tomatoes named for fruit: cherry, pear, grape). The non-problem problem is that Soren also loves leetle tomatoes named for fruit.

We’re working on educating him that it’s never, ever a good idea to pick baby green tomatoes before they’re ready. He tried this a few times. Despite being told they’re not ready, he’d pluck a baby green tomato from the plant, look at it, and then pop it into his mouth, where it would stay for a while before reappearing and being tossed into the garden. Now he presses his nose against the figurative window of the garden, waiting for the tomatoes to be ready. Every day, he goes out to see if any “matoes” are ready. If they’re “kinda orange,” he says “Matoes ready?!” No, not yet. They have to be red. The other day there were two red cherry tomatoes on the plant, right next to each other. “Matoes ready!!” They sure might be, but you have to wait for daddy. (Ben is more of a tomato person than I am.) The second Ben got home it was all “Matoes ready! Matoes ready!” Later, Ben picked the two tomatoes and they cheersed and ate them.

I suspected gardens teach kids good things, and I guess for once I was right. Responsibility (Soren helps water and is learning “good plant/bad plant,” which is a precursor to effective weeding), patience (oh man that’s a hard one with toddlers), and an appreciation for fresh produce. It’s kind of cool.

_______
Note
1. Without fail, “Don’t touch nothin’” makes me think of one of the greatest songs of all time. As does “You a cutie still,” which comes up in life more than you’d think. I’m songy lately, aren’t I?

Random Monday Stuff

  • Here’s a much better view of the tree that fell in our yard. I have to say I’m not going to miss it when it’s gone.

bigtree

  • Do you remember that thing about the woman from J. Crew who painted her son’s toenails pink? I’m officially a member of team little boys with pink toenails, if that’s even a team. A few weeks ago when I was painting my toenails (I’ve never had a professional pedicure — how weird is that), I had Soren pick the color. I gave him three or four choices, and of course he picked pink. He loves pink. Then he wanted pink toes, too, so I just did his big toes. Yesterday I was bored with my pink nails and put a coat of pink glitter over them. Of course, Soren wanted pink glitter toenails, too. And so it came to be that he has pink glitter toenails. (For the record, I am better at doing my own toes than this hack job toddler pedicure would indicate.) I even painted my fingernails last night, which I’ve done, like, twice in the last 15 years or so. I’d post a picture, but my hands are fug and even Instagram doesn’t help.

skull shirt

  • I ran 6.54 miles in an hour yesterday. That’s fast for me. It was great, until I had runner’s tummy all afternoon.
  • Holy crap I’m boring today. Sorry. I’ll try to get a July 4 party playlist up before the 4th.

The Tree Catastrophe

So I got home from work today to find this madness (sorry about the as usual bad, unedited iPhone photos).

UntitledUntitledThe neighbors's tree fell on our yard.UntitledDowned power line!Untitledso a tree fell in our yardso a tree fell in our yard

Our neighbors had this tree that was gigantic and dying. Their landlord (she lived there when we moved in but now rents the house) had been trying to have the tree taken out, but there were bees living in it, so she had to have a guy come out and get rid of the bees before another guy would come out and get rid of the tree.

And so it came to be that while waiting for this to happen, nature was all, haha fuck you people and your plans, and that gigantic dying tree just snapped in two and the big part fell across our yard and the next neighbor’s yard. The good news is that no people or animals were hurt (Update: There were two pigeon casualties. :( ) and no houses or cars suffered any damage. And the downed power line was dead, having been snapped right off the live wires behind the houses (of course I didn’t know that as I mountain-goated in my platform shoes over the thing when I got home).

The bad news isn’t even all that bad. Neighbor landlord is awesome and has already been out to check out the damage and has offered to pay for anything that needs to be fixed. Her tree guy will take care of the tree within the next few days and we’ll get as much free mulch as we want. But, the bad news is that our little baby tree in our front yard was snapped like the little twig it pretty much was, and all that’s left is a little branch Ben broke off for me and one leaf and one set of bright red helicopters that I carefully placed between pages of the biggest book I have (Colorado Real Property Law, a book I cite checked back in my freelance days — it was a tossup between that and the Nowak and Rotunda constitutional law hornbook). One section of our fence was taken out, but it’s just chain link so easy to replace (and it wasn’t the section that’s now completely covered with ivy, so that’s awesome).

And — ugh, I don’t even want to talk about this part, but the most traumatic thing about having a gigantic tree fall in our yard is the fact that I had to see the freakishly gigantic beehive that had been lurking inside the tree for who knows how long. Our yard is swarming (no exaggeration — you can hear the yard buzzing — don’t go out there!) with bees. Wait, not just bees. Bees, wasps, hornets, whatever flying things that were living in the ecosystem of that crazy tree. And I don’t mind any of these guys themselves. It’s the nests. We’ve had wasps building nests on our fence every day for weeks and I’ve been traumatized by their nests, but gigantor beehive was even worse. Oh man that shit freaks me right out. It’s that same feeling people get about lotus seed pods — do you know what I’m talking about? There’s a word for that but I can’t google it because sometimes when you google shit like that, pictures come up and I can’t even. Now I’m getting the crawlies and I’m going to lie awake tonight thinking about beehives and that’s so stupid but damn those things freak me out. So anyway, let’s never speak of the nests of bugs again. Deal?

And I know this is silly, especially in light of the hundreds of people in Colorado who have lost their homes this week, but I’ll miss you, little tree.

our tree