to celebrate the publication of my new book


Our colorful 1751 farmhouse will be open to the public. On view will be many of the projects that are featured in Crafting A Pattern Home along with many other things I have made over the years.

This event will be a celebration of the handmade. I hope the day will inspire you to add some pattern and color to your home.

The event is FREE. Books will be available along with some other things I have made. For more information and directions, see the EVENTBRITE PAGE HERE. Although tickets are not mandatory, it will help me get a count to know what to expect. Hope to see you here in western Massachusetts in May.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Chicken Coops and Recycling

I'm not sure what to say and perhaps you all know this but I just discovered that chi-chi Williams Sonoma is selling chicken coops and "keeping chickens" supplies and books. Is it over-saturation or are Americans still becoming interested in raising chickens?

The one above is called a Cedar Chicken Coop with Planter and Chicken Run and would look lovely in a suburban setting.  It costs $1499. and $150 for shipping. 

If you are thinking about getting some chickens, you don't need to go to this kind of expense. Last year I replaced our old falling down worn out chicken coop which came with the house. My chickens lived happily in it for 13 years. They didn't care what it looked like. My friend Kevin built my new "Chicken Palace" out of all the different lumber and plywood I had saved here at our farm from various building projects. My goal was to not spend more than the labor. I think the only supplies I paid for was the new metal roofing and the big beams that were sunk into the ground. I use the "litter on litter" method which means the coop sits on the ground with a dirt floor. I add shavings and leaves once in a while and then I clean it out and use it on my garden. The very nicest thing about the new Chicken Palace is I can stand up in it without being covered with spider webs while collecting eggs. 

I sized the coop to enclose this great old egg nesting box I had bought used for $25 over 20 years ago and used in my old chicken coop at our old house. Said nesting unit had been sitting around behind the smallish chicken coop in the weeds for 13 years just waiting to be put into use again. You can buy them new here. But really, a nesting box is not necessary. Wooden crates work fine.

Our friend Terri lives in an old farmhouse in town. She and her partner are always doing home improvement projects. Terri helps us out on the farm during lambing season sometimes. One day she said to me as we were feeding hay "Gee, now I see why I am always finding odd bits around our yard when I'm gardening". Stuff gets put down on a farm and not put away. And then sometimes it rains and it gets covered with mud and muck never to be found again. It drives me nuts looking for things that go "to the farm" and never return. Sometimes The Farmer knows just where he left it and the item (usually a hammer or pliers or some kind of tool) can be rescued. I assume that some of the things that never return are sinking deep into muck and mud.

Right now, we have several pieces of metal roofing sitting in the middle of the field. Aesthetically, it drives me nutty looking at it and shooting my photos around it. This metal came with the place - it had been on an old lean-to for the last people's horses but the lean-to wasn't even here when we arrived. Every time I mention getting rid of said metal roofing, I get the old "I might use it down at the farm for a shed sometime - it's still good." line. I shut up and try to look the other way. It is easier. 

When we moved in here, there was a pellet stove in the library room. It broke and we took it out and gave it to a friend who was able to fix it and get a couple years out of it. The stainless liner came out and it sat in the yard for at least 10 years, never moving and me always tripping over it. I put a fence up so I didn't have to look at all the other crap that sits back there with the flu liner - all kinds of metal and plastic buckets, old wood stoves in pieces, trash barrels, scraps of wood for kindling. 

A couple years ago, we had a chimney fire and the fire department told us we had better get the chimney lined or not use it anymore. Our chimney is 200 years old and has 3 flues and 3 fireplaces feeding into it. You can only imagine the engineering that went into this thing as they built it up with bricks in the 1700's when there wasn't much for building code. One of the fireplaces has a huge opening and it is the old cooking center for the house. There is even a bread oven that I use for our own "woodfired" pizza (behind the sign in the photo below). 

When we put the woodstove in, I remembered the old piece of pipe sitting out in the yard behind the fence. We were able to use the old stainless movable twisty pipe to line the chimney with again. Our friend Scott said it saved us at least $1000 by dropping it down the chimney. Good thing I saved it and didn't take it to the recycling center to get some little bit of money for it. 

You never know when you will need something again. What do you save? What do you have sitting around? Or do you toss or recycle things right away?


Michele said...

Love your post. Felt like I was walking the farm with you. M

gale (she shoots sheep shots) said...

So, what did you do with the $1400 you didn't spend on a chicken coop???!!!;-) That's pretty funny. It is good to have the space of a farm to hang onto things, I have the same habit but not the space and it can get me into a literal jam.
This summer I'm cleaning out storage in my office, and my helper keeps saying things like"WHY are you keeping this exactly?..and HOW do you think you'd reuse it?"

Marlaine said...

I used to keep a lot more stuff than I do now. As I get older (late 50's) I find I'm tending to toss more and more and keep only those things that I have a pretty good idea of what I want to do with it. This goes not only for fiberart supplies but papers and general stuff as well!

Kathy at Knitting Off The Grid said...

Now that we live in the country and also raise chickens, veggies & fruits, we save everything. Used chicken wire and wood of all kinds. Our daughter even brought up the grandkids' old wood swing set & fort.

And then, of course, there's the yarn! We won't even go there!

Anonymous said...

Dryer lint gets saved all year long along with cardboard tubes from toilet tissue, and cardboard egg cartons. Stuff the tubes or cartons with dryer lint and some broken candle and you have a great fire starter for the wood burner! Burns hot and slow!

auntiemichal said...

A couple of chickens came to live at my city home a few weeks ago; their coop is a cyclone fencing "run" on the back of the garage (former tenants include cats and rabbits), their hen house aka nest box is a dishpan in a converted plywood crate on cinder blocks, and their roost is the step side of an old 8-foot wood step ladder no longer safe for humans. I built a hanging feeder and waterer from well used plastic dishes, canisters, wire, rope, and "carabiner" hooks. The only things I've purchased new are feed items and some straw. "The girls" are happy laying eggs and munching on blackberry bushes, and my Reuse/Recycle instincts are happy because much of the building materials came from the country-raised neighbor's cluttered yard which is undergoing decluttering. Win-win! So, yes, people are still interested in chickens!

Adaliza said...

Ha - you've made me chuckle. Although we don't have a farm, we have farm-type buildings here and they're overflowing with 'things that may come in useful - one day'! It's amazing how something that's leaning up against a shed gets into every photograph of a quilt taken at the other end of the garden! It's a standing joke that things spend at least 3 months outside doing penance before they're finally chucked (or saved for longer). Most of it gets reused though - eventually.

Kate G said...

Backyard chickens are big here in the little city of San Francisco. I hope it's not a fad, but I fear it is, Kristin. Still the manure is great fo community gardens and the eggs are tasty. May it last!!

Melissa Morgan-Oakes said...

Cannot even imagine spending $1400 on a chicken coop. My first was an A-frame thing I built out of recycled pallets. It had wheels and you could move it around the yard with two people pulling. Then when we built them a bigger shed with a yard we sold the pallet "tractor" and significantly subsidized what we'd spent on the new shed.
Saddest thing about moving here - we gave away SO much useful stuff, like lumber and roofing and all - because we just did not have the time to move it. Horrible waste!!

Ann said...

This sounds just like Maine! I save birch bark, glass jars (raspberry jam now), flower pots, old barbed wire, shutters, and much else and sell it to the tourist hordes on coast. Now trying to figure out what to do with enormous trunk of pine I had to have taken down for big bucks. Tree guy said I could burn it in a pinch, but I'm not sure about that (heat with wood, have a liner). That will be my Big Decision in next few months. You know how it is--after the 4th you start winter prep!

shabby girl said...

Well, I have to say that I LOVE the Williams Sonoma Chicken Coop! However, it obviously is not big enough, and I am not a person that raises chickens!
Don't they need some space to move around and get exercise?

mary kate said...

We are the "collectors" in our family. I love old tyepwriters! After all, I am a teacher/librarian! My 12 year old son collects vinyl records. My 16 year old loves old cameras and sports gear. My husband collects cookbooks. As a result, everytime someone needs something a little quirky in our families, they call our house and it's usually here somewhere because we keep everything . . .
mary kate

Cheryl Rezendes said...

Wonderful post Kristin. Just down the street from you and the only animals we keep are dogs and cats. But the "barn" still has a mountain of stuff in it. Makes me crazy!


Joyce said...

One of my friends says chickens are a "gateway" farm animal - leads to wanting more - - - i.e. goats, sheep, etc. :) As I get older, I find I want less and less stuff and try to edit myself so I don't become a hoarder. I have limited space and so I try to find a place to send useful items that will do some good for someone. My exception seems to be books, especially my crafty ones. I just love my books and can't pass them on yet.

Susan Lea said...

Your coop is WAY better! Plastic milk crates and 5 gallon buckets all work as nest boxes, too. It's true that the jumble bugs my OCD nature a tiny bit, but the chickens don't care! And our coop looks nice from the outside because my husband built it. I agree those urban coops are ridiculously priced!

Crooked Coop Farm said...

Our coop was made out of an old horse shed and the nesting boxes out of a metal shelf we found. It's not as fancy as Williams and Sonoma but our chickens are happy! We can also stand in it which is very helpful.