Out the Front Door

Snapshots and snippets of the beautiful, crazy world right out our front door.
If you’d like to share some of your own photos or a blog post,
please leave a link in the comments!


Chickens free range the property.  One of our year-old White Rocks, Broody, hatched a chick last week – our first farm-raised animal!  A few of the spring chicks are laying, giving us 2-3 eggs per day.  It’s so nice to once again eat our own eggs!


Ella’s first lemonade stand.  As she is very eager to have a horse, I suggested she start finding ways to earn money to care for said horse. Ella’s stand was “pay what you wish”, and she made over $6 towards her horse fund!  Her lemonade, enjoyed here by our neighbors Julia and Beth, was made with lemons from Grandma and Grandpa in Arizona, honey brought from our homestead in Oregon, and lots of ice (perfect for yesterday’s extreme heat!).  TentTrailerGoodbye

Before we left for California, we packed up the tent trailer and moved into a nice spacious 7 person tent.  The tent trailer was such a wonderful place to live for a few months, and we were so grateful for the loan.  The tent has been very breezy and cozy.


Out the Front Door

Snapshots of the beautiful, crazy world right out our front door.
If you’d like to share some of your own photos, please leave a link in the comments!


First Dozen!  When five out of ten of our spring chicks turned out to be roosters, we went back to the local hatchery for some older chicks, and came home with two (already laying) year-old White Rocks. After a two-week adjustment period, they resumed laying, and we’ve been happily collecting two eggs per day ever since!  Last night, one decided to get all broody on that day’s eggs, and Ella is really hoping for chicks.

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Some days, you just have to go with the flow (and I wonder why it’s so hard for me to make a “schedule”!). When our Amish neighbor Jacob dropped by in the morning, asking us if we wanted to buy sweet corn, how could we refuse?  Six dozen ears, and four hours later, I had prepared 8 quarts of corn for the freezer.

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Rigid foam insulation!  A new friend at Red Earth Farms Community Land Trust hooked us up with this (free!) reclaimed foam insulation for the living room and bedroom areas.  What a gift!  It has since been covered with local cottonwood sub-floor (full update next week).  With Brian’s dad here for a visit, work is going doubly fast, and for this we are so grateful!

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What is happening out your front door?

The Sexiest Chicken Coop Around

In between house building, blacksmith work, and all-around handyman activities, my husband Brian has been hard at work building our chickens a home. Back in Oregon, he envisioned a moveable chicken coop on wheels and created this:


Nest boxes on both sides that were easy to access from the outside for egg collection, a large fold-down door at the rear for bedding changes, bike wheels for easy transport, and a front door that led into their run.  Functional, very practical, but not really sexy.

Building this new coop provided Brian with a chance to create what he always envisioned – a gypsy caravanesque structure that is as adorable as it is functional.ChickenCoop1

A trailer tongue sticks out from the base of the coop for easy transport.  Ella stands in front of the door to the nest boxes…


…which folds down for easy access to eggs!


The chickens enter and exit from this ramp, which folds up at night to keep predators out.  Feed is hung to minimize scratching and wasting. The hanger came from a barn tear-down, and while we do not know what it is, it’s mighty cool looking!ChickenCoop5

The front door opens wide to allow us entry for cleaning, repair, etc.  The first few nights, we noticed that all the chickens wanted to be on the upper roost, so Brian has since added a second high perch.


Look how much they love their new home!

What I love about this coop is that it is really functional, super cute (with a blue roof that matches our house-in-the-making!), and was made almost entirely out of reclaimed barn wood.  The hardware and the roof were the only components that were purchased new.

Now we wait patiently for the not-soon-enough day when we’ll once again be collecting our own eggs, from this sexy little coop.

Out the Front Door: Chicken Love

Snapshots of the beautiful, crazy world right out our front door.  If you’d like to share some of your own photos, please leave a link in the comments! 

Chicken1 Chicken2

After months of living a small cardboard box and chicken tractor, our chickens are finally free ranging.  It is so nice to have their presence on the land and to benefit from their tick-eating!  The kids are completely enthralled, watching “chicken TV” for hours, holding them gently in their laps, and feeding them from their hands. Our little piece of land is slowly becoming a homestead.

Chick Days

Chickens truly are the gateway animal on a homestead, and ours is no exception.  Last week we drove out to a small hatchery, operated in a local family’s backyard, kitchen, and garage. Day old chicks peeped and chirped in boxes, and pens of turkeys, hens and game fowl stood in the yard. We got a small box of chicks – three Ameracaunas, two Rhode Island Reds, three Buff Orphingtons, and two Black Australorps.  At the last minute, I decided to exchange out a Buff Orphington pullet for a rooster, knowing that they tend to be docile and good around children.  So there it is, the start of our laying flock – 9 hens and one rooster.

For now they are in a box in the kitchen, where they can remain warm under a heat lamp, and where we can all watch “Chick TV.”  The kids are enamored with the chicks, of course, and all sorts of chick shenanigans have ensued, from truck and train rides around the house, to outdoor field trips.

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As we drove home, Brian remarked, “I feel like a real homesteader again,”  and it is so true.  Not having animals or a garden to tend has just felt incomplete.  I’m so happy to jump back into the daily routine of caring for the animals and plants that provide us with food and joy.

* This post shared with The Backyard Farming Connection, Homestead Barn Hop, Monday Menagerie, and Natural Living Monday.

May day

Ella and Snow Angel had been building quite the special relationship.  Even though the chicks had grown large enough to be moved into the main chicken run, she still insisted on daily visits to “her chicks” to hold them, coddle them, and feed them.  And Snow Angel seemed particularly open to her affection, letting Ella hold her and coo at her to her heart’s content.

Sadly, last night a raccoon got into the chicken run before we had closed the coop door, and Snow Angel and Tiny didn’t make it.  Brian found the carcasses when he went up to close the door.  My heart was so heavy – how was Ella going to take it?  When we gently broached the topic this morning, she did need a few moments under the covers by herself to process.  But after a minute or two, she popped up and asked, “Can we get some more baby chicks?”  Peck got an extra bunch of loving today, and I think she will become the new recipient of Ella’s unending love.  Just another reminder that children live in the moment, and that our expectation of their feelings is usually quite different than their reality.

On the baby goat front, we have been slowly introducing them to the rest of the herd, making sure that they don’t get hurt by the older does.  They are just so irresistible and soft and sproingy and sweet.  So capricious, if you will.  And just the perfect size for a goat photo shoot!

There has also been bed prepping and brassica planting, and mulching mulching mulching, and most exciting of all – tomato planting!  Yes – the first (15) tomatoes have gone in the ground, in the greenhouse!  I’m so eager to get the rest going. This year I have gone a bit overboard with 75 or so plants, but when I’m eating canned salsa next February, it will all be worth it!

It’s spring, my friends.  It is spring.

Peck, Tiny, and Snow Angel…

Are the names of our new chicks!  Ella has been asking for a “bird in a cage with a perch” for several weeks now. Chicks seemed like the perfect solution.  So we did a quick call around to our local feed stores and scurried on downtown to pick up a few chicks!

We came home with three cuties:  Peck, a Rhode Island Red, Snow Angel, an Americauna, and Tiny, a Speckled Sussex.  They are living happily right next to my desk in an old fish tank!  Not that they spend that much time in their tank.  Ella is perfectly happy being their human perch.

We’re all enjoying watching our “chick tv!”


Tour of the Homestead, Part II

Animals are an integral part of our homestead.  Over the years, we’ve cared for ducks, chickens, bees, goats, and pigs to supply us with meat, eggs, milk, honey, and companionship.  These days, we’ve pared it down to chickens, goats and bees.

First off, the chickens!  My handy husband created this awesome chicken house (the blue structure) that is mounted on bicycle tires, and fully movable.  Sticking out of the sides are easy-access nest boxes, and you can access the interior from a big fold-down door in the back, so mucking out the coop is a snap.  They have a little lean-to and a plastic covered tunnel in which to hide out from the rain and snow(!).  And the rest of the time, they are scratching and pecking in their big old grassy pasture.  Pretty sweet digs for chickens.

Our flock was just recently dramatic reduced by a series of kills by hawks and raccoons.  So we’re down to one handsome rooster, and three hens.