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Q & A and a Chicken Update

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I’ve been getting lots of emails from folks wanting to know how The Girls have been doing. I’m always afraid of posting too much about them that I end up not doing so for months. So yesterday we wrangled them up and took a few photos. Here’s Ruby (above) our sweetest girl who sometimes acts like she’s our dog. And even though she’s the runt she lays the biggest eggs. Don’t know how she does it! She’s also the most curious and I’ve even found her perched on the family room mantle. We get a lot of laughs with that hen!

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The Twins, Marshmallow (left) and Souffle (right) have had quite the summer. Marshmallow is our broody bird, meaning she sits on the nest all day and will even settle on top of the other girls eggs. We’ve had to “quarantine” her in an outdoor airy pen for a day or two to stop the broodiness. It works like a charm and each time she goes back into the flock like nothing happened. Her twin Souffle is best friends with Lola (below right). They stick together all day and at night Lola will sleep on the perch with Souffle tucked underneath her wing. So cute!

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Butter (left) is still our squawker. She sort of acts like a grumpy old lady with her quiet clucking murmurs when you approach her. Sometimes I wonder what the heck she’s saying in her native chicken speak. She’s also very greedy and fast with the treats. The others have to be very quick or else Butter will get the worm…or carrot or corn kernel. But she is very reliable laying petite pinkish brown eggs almost daily.

Which brings us now to our dear Lola. You might remember my shocking discovery a few months back, well Lola is still laying eggs without shells. We’ve tried giving her more oyster shell, more sunshine, calcium, etc. and none of it seems to work. The Man wants to barbeque her and taunts me saying she’d be very delicious because she’s so big and plump. Terrible!

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The Girls and their home Chez Poulet also got a very nice little feature story in Country Living Magazine this summer! Looks like the chicken craze has really hit the nation. Go homesteading!

And lastly, we’ve decided to add a perimeter fence around the coop. To be honest, dealing with the droppings on my patio just wasn’t for me. We still need to level the dirt and add lots of plants for them to wander about. I’ll be sure to post photos when all the landscaping is complete!

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And since I get so many chicken email inquiries…I thought it would be fun to take your questions! Do you have something you’ve wanted to ask me about the chickens, coop or our suburban farm life? Just ask away in the comment section and I’ll answer them there!

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Our Chicken Coop

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Well, here’s the chicken coop we’ve been working on. Please take note this is a very long post. I tried to share as many photos (click to enlarge) as possible and will address all the details at the end. Hopefully I won’t forget anything. And keep in mind if I say “we” at any time during this post I usually mean him…THE MAN.

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The only real part I had in building it was in the design process, the painting and Home Depot runs. Other than that he gets full credit. So, here we go…The left side of the coop is where we have access to retrieve the eggs and store our supplies.

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The egg door swings down for easy access to the nesting boxes. There are raised edges along the bottom to keep the eggs from falling out.

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The barn doors below the nesting boxes are for storing supplies and such.

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I completely love how the copper plated cupola turned out. We were given some copper sheeting by a friend and look forward to watching it weather and patina over the years. The sides of the cupola were trimmed out with bead board and molding.

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The front barn doors open on the top and bottom. The upper area is the nesting house. Raising it up makes it easier to clean out and painting the inside makes it washable. Chickens are messy business. Below the nesting house are small access doors in order to let the chickens out into the yard to play.

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In the photo below left, you can see their roosting perches that were built at varying heights and the trio of arched entries to their nesting boxes.

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To let them into their pen a sliding door & pulley system was added with access from the outside of the coop. This way we can let them in and out without opening the larger barn doors. And here’s their little ladder to the pen, so cute!

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We added a used brick walkway going around the sides and back of the coop making for easy clean up… just hose it down. Once the bricks settle, sand will be added to make them more secure.

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And I added an antique French Agricultural Prize Plaque to the front. This one is for prized cows but I’m on the hunt for Poulets! I love how it gives a french farm feel to the coop.

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This is the only rooster allowed on the premises. All others will be escorted off.

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On the right side of the coop we planted pink camellias and japanese boxwood to fill in the bare corner. A few other boxwoods were planted in front of the pen for privacy and to hide the coop poop. 😉

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A full size self-closing screen door was added to the pen and we used heavy gauge small box wire instead of traditional chicken wire to enclose it.

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Now for the details of the coop and our adventure into raising backyard chickens.

The coop measures 11′ L by 7′ H by 4′ D. Not including the cupola.
The paint is Behr Ultra Premium Gloss Finish in Decorator White
All hardware & materials were purchased at Home Depot.
The coop sits on a concrete footing foundation.
Latches and locks were installed on all doors to prevent raccoons & predators from getting to our girls. (Our house backs up to a nature preserve).
The cost of supplies to build the coop were over $1,000. We stopped counting at about $975. Labor was free. It’s called Sweat Equity.
We purchased our chickens from My Pet Chicken because they allow small orders and you can choose the breeds. Our chicks came all the way from Connecticut!
We have two Easter Eggers, a Buff Orpington, a Barred Plymouth Rock and a Rhode Island Red.
Their names in order of above types are: Souffle, Marshmallow, ButterLola and Ruby.  
Our inspiration for raising backyard chickens came from our friends Joe & Jermonne and my favorite baker and friend Natalie. Who raise their own flocks and were very encouraging to us. Thank you.
Another big inspiration for raising our own chickens came from the movie Food, Inc. If you haven’t already seen this movie, please do. You will completely enjoy it. It’s available here.
We live in a residential neighborhood and our city allows us to have 5 hens, no roosters. 
I must add, the lot sizes in our neighborhood run from 1/3 acre to over an acre which is helpful in raising chickens and keeping happy neighbors.
The name: Chez Poulet is French for House of Chickens.

UPDATE: We’ve had a set of professional architectural plans drawn up of the coop. The set includes 7 pages (11×17) of drawings and diagrams, one page of coop photos and includes a material and hardware list. To purchase the plans visit: coopplans.bigcartel.com.

HERE IS A LINK TO THE MOST CURRENT PHOTOS OF THE COOP.

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And lastly, I leave you with this photo of the chicks inside their new abode. As you can see, it’s going to be plenty big for them.

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Thank you so much for all your interest and kind comments regarding our chicks. I hope I was able to inspire you to think about raising some as well. Since we’ve only had chickens for 13 days we still have a lot to learn but have been thoroughly enjoying the process and look forward to the rewards of all our labor. I mean his labor. Oh how I love that man. Big time.

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Scheduling Creative Time + Video

Heather Bullard | Flowering Branches You may recall from this post I’ve been yearning for some personal creative time. As an introvert, a quiet sabbatical at home seemed the perfect solution to renew my creative mojo. I have a tendency to work, work, work with a self imposed need to accomplish business tasks first and foremost in my day. I suppose if I were on a therapists couch (namely you at this moment) we would discuss why I embrace hard work over things that may or may not produce tangible assets – such as an empty calendar. And although it’s taken me years to realize the value of creative breaks (and be ok with the fact it’s basically “me” time) I firmly believe I should have been scheduling them all along and have plans to continue exploring this new routine without guilt or expectation.

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