Coop Deville, chicken coop from Valley Springs, California

Chicken-Coop-Valley-Springs-California

It’s Saturday night – which means it’s time to feature another chicken coop! Tonights chicken coop was sent in by Sam and Debbie from Valley Springs, California.

Here’s what Debbie says about her adorable coop:

I wanted something that looked like a doll house to match our house. We live in the Sierra Nevada foothills so it had to be predator proof. This is what my husband built. It was a joint effort with my vision and his carpentry skills. We wanted to use as many reclaimed materials as possible. He pulled nails from redwood boards, ripped used lumber from larger sizes to the sizes we needed. We wanted them to have as much natural light as possible and found the storm door at our local Habitat For Humanity Store. We just kept adding to it as we went.

This was a fun project and we get tons of compliments on it. We priced everything new and it would have cost well over $1,200. We spent just over $500. We currently have 10 hens and one rooster and get 10-15 eggs per day even in the winter which I attribute to the constant sunlight thanks to the storm door.

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This spring we are putting seamless gutters on our house and will reclaim the old ones to add to our coop. I hope you enjoy looking as much as we’ve enjoyed building it. My favorite feature is the front porch with our fun wooden sign we had a vendor create at our local county fair. It reads The Arledge “Coop” Deville…Farm Fresh Eggs.

Thanks for sending in your coop photos Debbie! I don’t know what I love more – the coop or the idea of all that sunshine. I love how it looks like a mini house and a storm door – that’s a fantastic idea. Way to go finding all the items on the cheap – that coop looks like a STEAL for $500!

Here are more photos of the coop:

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Sieera-Nevada-Foothills-Chicken-Coop

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This post is part of my weekly chicken coop tour,  featuring a different reader-submitted chicken coop every Saturday evening.  Debbie will get a $10 Amazon gift card for having her chicken coop featured on the site.

See previous chicken coops in the tour:

Do you have a chicken coop? If so, send me a photo! If I feature your coop you’ll get a $10 Amazon.com gift card! Here are all the details for sending in your coop.

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Red chicken coop with chandelier from Newport, Oregon

Newberg-Chicken-Coop-Red

I’m so excited to bring back our chicken coop features. Every Saturday I’ll be posting a new chicken coop. I think it’s fun to see all the styles and designs.

This week’s chicken coop is from Newberg, Oregon. Sent in by Karen, this coop is “her dream true!”

Here’s what Karens says about her chicken coop:

“This is my dream come true. I’d always wanted chickens. And my husband called on everyone who loves me to help out.

Framing-Chicken-Coop-Newberg

My friend’s husband is a carpenter and did the framing. My dad and husband did the roofing and coop. My father-in-law helped with the hardware cloth while my mother-in-law watched my two toddlers. 

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Send in photos of your chicken coop (earn a $10 Amazon gift card!)

Chicken-Coop-Photos-Theresa

Do you or someone you know have a backyard chicken coop? If so, send me a photo and I’ll feature it in the Queen Bee Chicken Coop tour! I featured chicken coops for a long time and then stopped (not sure why?) – but I miss featuring chicken coops and I want to start again!

Starting this week, I will feature a new chicken coop every Saturday. It’s so much fun to see the different kinds of chicken coops and backyard chicken set ups. The best part – if I feature your chicken coop you’re get a $10 Amazon gift card!

Here’s what to do:

  1. Take a photo (or multiple photos) of your chicken coop. Take the photo(s) during the day so you have good lighting, not blurry, etc. You want people to be able to see the coop. The better quality the photo(s), the better your chances of being featured. Send it HIGH Resolution. I can always make it smaller, but can’t make it bigger.
  2. Email the photo(s) to [email protected], subject line: Chicken Coop Tour
  3. Please include in the email: your name, your city/state, any details you want to share about your coop. . . .For example, Did you build it yourself? How much did it cost to build? What features are your favorite? How many chickens do you have? Do you have recommendations for new chicken owners? How many eggs do you get a day?

It has to be your coop, can’t belong to someone else. If you have a friend who has a coop, encourage them to send in their photos!. I’ll be providing Amazon gift cards only for coops featured here on the blog. 

Here are some of the chicken coops we have featured in the past:

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How to keep chickens warm in the winter

Frosty-chicken-wire

This morning in Olympia, Washington the temperature is hanging out right around 23 degrees. It’s getting cold with no plans to get warm anytime soon. I got this email from reader Karen asking – what should she do for her backyard chickens in the winter!?!

The weather is getting cold here in Vancouver, Washington. I imagine it is getting cold where you are too! We have a flock of 5 now. I was wondering what you were doing to keep your chickens warm (or at least happy). Our coop is a little bigger than yours, and we just use shavings on the floor. The windows are closed, and the one inch vents are all we leave open at night. I hope they survive. They must be heartier than I think? Here’s to surviving our first winter with the girls!

Happy December,
Karen

Keep-water-thawed-for-chickens

Well Karen, this will be only our second winter with our chickens, so I’m certainly not an expert. But I can share some thoughts and ideas based on what we do.

I think the most important thing to remember is - keep their water supply thawed at all times. Some of the ways you can do this include:

  • Bring the waterer inside at night time (while the chickens are sleeping) to keep it from freezing overnight. Just make sure to bring it out early – you know they like to wake up early!
  • Add hot water to the waterer to keep it from freezing and give your chickens a warm treat. You can do this a few times during the day.
  • Update your waterer to have a heated base. Example here: Farm Innovators Heated Base For Metal Poultry Founts Model HP-125, 125-Watt although I think you’ll find them cheaper at your local farm store. And I have seen tutorials online for making these which if you’re handy will cost you even less.

From what I’ve read chickens are marvelously hearty. I mean they are covered with feathers – the same things we fill our comforters with. At night they huddle together to stay warm. They are really very, very hearty chicks.

If you’re still worried, these are other options:

  • Reduce wind “chill” – During the summer an open coop with a breeze is a good thing to keep the air circulating – an important thing for a healthy coop. But during the winter, you can board up (or cover with a tarp) the sides of the coop that might be more prone to wind. You don’t want it completely closed up – you need the circulation, but you could provide an area outside of the wind for the chickens to go if they want.
  • Add a heat lamp – Depending on your coop style and the availability of electricity – a heat lamp might be a possibility. I think some people use heat lamps during the winter to keep egg production up. We haven’t added a lamp yet, but this might be something to check into! Just make sure it is safely installed and away from things like shavings that might catch fire. This is really important.
  • Make sure they have a roost - A roost, at least a few feet off the ground, is important so they are sleeping up off the ground. They huddle on the roosts and they will fluff their feathers to stay warm.
  • Deep litter method - We use the deep litter technique in our coop. We let the bedding (shavings) sort of compost in the bottom of the coop. You add layers of fresh bedding and it all just sort of works together. We clean in out every spring. The great thing about the deep litter method is the “composting” litter gives off a bit of natural heat.

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  • Feed them more scratch (corn product) because corn produces more energy when it’s digested – so they stay warmer (also why you want to give them less during HOT summer days). It’s always good to toss them a handful right before they go to bed as a bedtime snack and to keep them toasty during the coldest time of the night.
  • Keep an eye on the eggs – you don’t want them to freeze if you can help it. You can pick them up when you check on the chickens water throughout the day.

These are all the tips I have for you Karen. If anyone else has any other ideas for Karen, please leave a comment! 

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Saturday in the yard – Chickens enjoying the fall weather, lots of leaves to rake (someday)

Barred-Rock-Leghorn-Chickens-Fall-November-2

It’s been a long time since I’ve posted chicken photos. We’ve just been busy truckin’ along this fall and the chickens are doing the same. Thanks to the beautiful, dry, weather we’ve had here in the Northwest the chickens have spent a LOT of extra time running around the yard. I love looking out my kitchen window watching them peck and waddle around the yard. Combine that with the gorgeous fall leaves and it brings me joy to watch.  I still dream of having an actual farm someday and we are saving our pennies to someday make that dream a reality.

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Family photo. All eight chickens are here. Of course they are more interested in eating grass and finding grubs than they are about getting their photo taken.

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We have a double yolker! And other chicken ramblings

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Double yolker egg – can you spot it?

I’ve been bad about providing chicken updates this past month. You can bet that no update means everything is going just fine. Egg-cellent, some might say. Nothing fowl around here.

This week we got a double yolker! That’s right, my sweet girl came into the house with eyes as big as silver dollars, holding an egg about 2-3 times the size of the egg in her other hand. “Momma, it’s the biggest egg I’ve ever seen!” And it was.

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Saturday in the Garden – More tomatoes, all the baby chickens are laying!

Sweet-Girl-Sweet-Cherry-Tomatoes

Things are really winding down in our backyard. The grass is hibernating (dead and yellow), the raised beds are empty with the occasional weed or lettuce gone to seed. We didn’t plant pumpkins this year (see ours last year) and I’m regretting it badly now (I just never got around to it).

BUT this morning my sweet girl and I harvested nearly 2.5 pounds of cherry tomatoes. They are every size possible, down to the itsy bitsy. My kids will eat this raw all day long, so instead of doing another batch of roasted marinara sauce, I think we’ll just enjoy these raw in salads and as snacks.

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I find it slightly magical the way cherry tomatoes so naturally cascade in a rainbow.

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And although all my plants have fallen over and they are on the ground, they still seem to be thriving – by the grace of something other greater than myself, since I haven’t been paying them much attention. Lots of green ones left, so we’ll have another couple weeks of harvests, I think.

Tomatoes-Weighed-2-25-pounds

We probably picked 2.5 pounds after you figure all the ones we ate while picking.

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AND we are now getting TWO green eggs a day (for a total of 6-7 a day) so now we know all our baby chickens are now laying! So excited. Aren’t they glorious? We got these babies back in March, you can read more about there here.

So that’s what’s happening in my backyard. Humor me and tell me what’s happening in yours. . . . 

Beautiful-cherry-tomatoes-northwest

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Saturday in the Garden – Our first green egg from our Ameraucana chicken

ameraucana-green-egg

Today’s Saturday in the Garden is short and sweet. My lettuce has gone to seed, I picked a bunch of tomatoes and made Roasted Marinara Sauce and the chickens are all doing marvelously.

The most exciting news from the yard this week – happened this morning, when the kids and I went out to check the eggs. We found our first GREEN egg! Wahoo. I’m so proud of it, you would have think I laid it myself. This gem of an egg came from one of our Ameraucana chickens – which lay either blue or green eggs.  I think all but one of the baby chicks that we got back in March are now laying. We are still waiting on the other Ameraucana.

The white eggs are from our Leghorn. And we still have a Barred Rock that is laying next to the waterer, not sure what’s up with that. My daughter was telling the Barred Rocks this morning (in a rather mothering way) – “you gotta put your egg upstairs, k?!”  By upstairs she means the nesting boxes in the hen house. If it was only that easy. We’ll see if they get it figured out.

I will tell you – getting eggs from the coop never seems to get old. We’ve had chickens now for about 13 months and every single day feels like a blessing. I’m serious! We love our chickens and the eggs that they lay for us – and no matter how many times we open the nesting box, it still feels like opening a present on Christmas.

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This is one of our Ameraucanas. I’m not sure which one is laying, but I’m betting the other one isn’t far behind.

So that’s what’s happening in my backyard. Humor me and tell me what’s happening in yours. . . . 

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Saturday in the Garden – Harvested nearly 6 pounds of onions! Plus, how do I get baby chicks to lay in nesting box?

I-grew-walla-walla-onions-nw

The exciting news this week is I harvested five pounds 12 ounces of Sweet Walla Walla onions. It’s about 20 onions. And I’m still in shock that I was able to grow them. I have never seen better lookin’ onions. I suppose it’s like having babies – you always think your own are cute. And just like a new mom, I’ll be posting entirely too many onion photos in this post – hope that’s okay. I haven’t cut into the onions yet, so who knows just how they taste, but at this point, I’m not really sure I’d care.

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Right out of the ground they are dirty little buggers.

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I wiped them off with a dry towel to clean them up. I have no idea what I’m doing, I should probably Google it.

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Saturday in the Garden – Our baby chickens are finally laying eggs! Onions almost ready

Young_leghorn-barred-rock-eggs

This week was an exciting week in the chicken coop because we started getting eggs from at least TWO of our baby chickens. Sweet little Dora, our Leghorn laid her first egg and one of our Barred Rock laid on egg. We know because Dora’s eggs are white and she’s the only chicken that lays white eggs in our flock. The small brown egg must be from a Barred Rock because the Ameraucana will lay green or blue eggs – so they are still holding out.

Our chickens are just turning 21 weeks today. That’s pretty standard for when chickens start laying, although it depends on the breed. Pretty soon all six babies will be laying!

Looking at the photo above, you can see the size difference. The egg to the far left is from one of our second year chickens – meaning they just started laying last year. They are a typical “large” egg style that you’d find in the grocery store.

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You can see how much smaller the yokes are in this photo. The eggs, and yokes, will get bigger, as the hens grow. And in case you’re wondering there are extra egg whites in this photo, it’s not just two eggs. Notice how bright yellow the yolks are. This is standard for backyard, free range chickens. I should take a photo and compare it to a store bought egg – you’d be shocked the difference in color – all because of the freshness!

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After sending Apple (our Rooster) and two other chickens to our friend’s farm, here’s what we currently have in the flock, 8 chickens:

I don’t know why we haven’t named our Barred Rocks yet. What do you think we should name them?

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As for the garden, I’m letting my sweet Walla Walla onions dry out, like many of you suggested last week. I can’t believe I grew onions. :) Wonder what they taste like!

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My tomato plant is large and in charge. It’s completely overgrown and under watered. But the tomatoes seem to be growing and turning red – no thanks to my attention or love.

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Yummmm. . .how are your tomatoes doing this year? Seems like they are turning red earlier than last year, but I can’t be certain without checking. Do you recall?

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This would be two tomato plants. It’s one big mess. Do you think less of me now that you know I’m a horrible tomato mom? Hope not. :)

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We did a LOT of work cleaning up the back area of the yard where the kid’s stuff hangs out. We sprayed down the Step2 Neat & Tidy Cottage and used a rake and leaf blower to clean up the pine cones and needles that drop back in that area. We trimmed some of the bushes and returned all the big rocks to their spot (what is it with 6-year-old boys and rocks?). We picked up all the toys that were spread across the yard and I predict they’ll be “cleaned up” for about 24 hours before they put back into good use.  Even if it’s short lived, I’m glad to have it cleaned up.

Hobby-Farm-Home-Magazine

One of the highlights in our mail this week was the latest copy of Hobby Farm Home magazine. If you’re at all into gardening, urban farming, chickens, canning, recipes – this magazine is great. In fact, I like it so much I asked Discount Mags for an exclusive discount for you – and so this weekend only you can get it for $7.50/year with coupon code QUEENBEE at checkout. You can order up to one year at this price and his offer expires at Sunday 07/28/13 11:59 p.m. EST. You can find it here: Hobby Farm Home magazine

So that’s what’s happening in my backyard. Humor me and tell me what’s happening in yours. . . . 

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Saturday in the Garden – Apple moves to a “real” farm, growing lots of weeds, are my onions ready?

Rhode-Island-Red-Rooster

On Wednesday, after returning from a 10-day trip and flying all night, we fell into a deep sleep around 7:30 a.m. and literally woke up to this at 10 a.m.

(You’ll need to turn the volume up. If the video doesn’t display for you, click here.)

Our sweet Apple had found her his voice. We had debated whether Apple was a rooster for weeks – with my first post as early as April. Many of you said that Apple was going to be a rooster and I just was holding out hope that she had manly features. Ha! Not so much, our Apple has been a boy all along and he just now figured out how to tell us.

So what to do when you find out your hen is actually a him? Well if we lived in an area without close neighbors, it would be no problem, and although we live in the county (not city limits), we still do live in a neighborhood with bylaws and convenants. I didn’t want to risk the whole coop because of a rooster ruffling the feathers of our neighbors, so we made the hard decision to give Apple to my friend who has big ole farm, not too far from here.

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Our Rhode Island Red. . .finally crowed. We have ourselves a rooster, a beautiful one

Rhode-Island-Red-Apple-10days

Sigh. Ever been in denial about something? Or as I would like to say – hopeful!?! Well I was hopeful our little red hen Apple was NOT a rooster.   Of course, she has to be the one I got most attached to. Of course she was my favorite. :) Don’t you think she was a beautiful baby (see her one-week photos above)? The feed store thought they sold us a hen, we thought she was a hen. . .but over the weeks it became more apparent.

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Here is a photo of our Rhode Island Red at four weeks. That was an awkward stage, but I still thought she was beautiful. I still thought she was a HEN.

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