It’s Chicken Day

Beautiful sunny December 1st.

Chicken Coop and Fenced Area

Since I finished the chicken coop and outside fencing (a.k.a. “run”), I decided to obtain some adult Rhode Island Reds and/or Barred Plymouth Rocks. Both are cold hardy heritage that have been around for 2 centuries.

Chicken Pen
Nesting Boxes with Bedding from Old Feather Pillow

This area already had old, tough metal fencing panels, grape vines and scrubby trees. The area must have been home to some sort of small animal years ago, maybe a pig (?). The trees had grown into and through the fence and would have been very difficult to remove, so I decided to reuse the resources at hand and make this the home for chickens. The trees should protect chickens from the many hawks around here. (I’ve seen as many as 5 hawks at a time scanning the pasture for meals.) Hawks like to swoop down in open spaces.

I have used some of my copious supply of oak leaves as initial coop bedding and feathers from an old pillow the cats ripped up for the nesting boxes. It seems like a chicken should like nestling into a feather bed to lay eggs, right? Sorta of like nestling into Mama.

Walk-in Door and Chicken Door with Ramp

I found a local person on the dreaded CraigsList with a few 14 week old Rhode Island Red pullets and a rooster for sale at a reasonable price ($10 for hens, $5 for rooster). I’m going to get them at 3:00.

Exciting day! My first livestock on the Small Calm Farm!

Success! You're on the list.

Chicken Coop

I don’t know what I’m doing. But I did it all by myself.

Walk-in door and chicken door.

It’s… rustic. Repurposed siding and other materials from barn. Frame, flooring, roof sheathing and shingles built with new material.

Broken window and nesting box.

Used a repurposed barn window, cracked it during installation and broke it while nailing siding. Will repair that with a piece of plexiglass, also from the demolished barn.

I was going to put a hinged door on the outside of the nesting box, but that was a pain and not necessary, so I closed it up with siding and studs.

I wouldn’t want to be graded on this, but it’s solid. Setting trusses by myself, though small, was really difficult. They’re not lined up precisely or perfectly square, but I made 5 trusses for an 8′ x 8′ box frame, so it should be sturdy. Sheathing was hard to put in place, too, and it’s a bit saggy in one spot, but, well…

Did I say I don’t know what I’m doing? I’m an incompetent carpenter.

Inside of coop. 2 x 4 perches. One 2 x 4 is parallel with truss for chickens who want to roost high up.
3 wooden nesting boxes plus milk crate for a 4th option.

I will paint it when it’s warm enough. So it will look decent from a distance.

I think it will be functional. The chickens can’t complain. Can they?

Success! You're on the list.

Sparrows Like Twisted Metal

Not the music, I assume, but who knows. I haven’t listened to metal in decades. It’s not on the play list out here.

This pile of twisted metal fencing is greatly favored by 15-20 sparrows. They congregate there regularly. I imagine you can barely see them in this photo which, I suppose, is the attraction for the birds. They can roost together and be very well protected visually and physically by whatever might want to prey upon them.

I have to cut up and dispose of this mess of wire and metal at some point. I sorta feel bad about doing so since these humble birds like the spot so much. They’re going to miss it when it’s gone

They have plenty of trees around here to go to, but nothing quite like this pile of twisted old fencing. Maybe I’ll plant some shrubs or something (like lilacs) in or near this spot after I haul away the twisted metal.

When In Doubt, Set It On Fire

One of the leftovers from the barn demolition is this big pile of uprooted trees, twisted metal fence, dirt, and ancient manure.

The Pile

I have to cut up the twisted metal into manageable pieces before I can properly dispose of it. One of the uprooted trees had grown around, into and through the solid metal fence. I can’t suss how to separate the tough metal panels from the rock-hard wood and don’t have the right tool to cut the metal.

I have a reciprocating saw (a.k.a. Sawzall) and metal blades. Nope. Didn’t work at all. So I spent a good portion of this morning’s coffee / wake up time browsing the dreaded internet for tools to cut metal. An angle grinder seems to be the consensus choice, but I read or watched so many sources filled with warnings of the danger of such tools and what I watched or read involved cutting clean or straight metal. Nothing I found demonstrated or guided me through the cutting of twisted, thick, tough, rusty metal around which trees had grown. And I didn’t feel like using good late November daylight going to town to shop for tools which may or may not work and with which a novice like me might cut off some fingers or put out an eye or two. Not in the mood for that today.

Twisted mess of wood and metal.

So, what to do? Well… Do what I am capable of doing. Do something I know how to do. Do something I’m good at. Set in on fire!

Step one: Burn it up

I’ll cut up the metal another day.

When in doubt, set it on fire. This may be my new motto.

Chicken Coop Progress

I had originally planned to use reclaimed barn wood to build the chicken coop, but I used most of the old, true 2″ x 4″ wood on converting the pergola into a barn swallow house and covered shelter and most of the other wood from the demolished old barn is much bigger than I need for an 8’x8’x6′ high coop.

The cost of wood is much higher than a couple years ago! A basic 8 foot 2×4 stud is $4.98 each! Add the 3/4″ plywood for the floor, 1/2″ sheathing for gabled roof, nails, screws, etc. and I’ve spent almost $500 so far. Oh well… The coop will look nicer and should be a comfy home for chickens.

I was able to use reclaimed barn siding for at least some of the coop. It will better when it’s painted.

Dylan is going to come help me attach the trusses and start on the roof today. That’s a difficult one man job.


The thunderstorm came hours later than predicted, so I was able to wield the chain saw (one of my favorite tools!) and fell the unwanted trees that poke out into the pasture today.

Pasture will continue past these felled trees and 7 foot tall weeds come Spring.
The black walnut tree remains.

The pasture turns to the right past this tree-weed space. Those 7 foot tall weeds with thick stalks and burrs have to go. Will knock them down before winter and cut the trees into firewood by spring.

Imagine a straighter line from grass on the east back through to the green past the trees.

Of 12.77 acres, about 6.5 is already woods. This little bit of woods doesn’t fit.

More Pasture, Less Woods

Weather forecast predicted thunderstorms today, so I didn’t set trusses on chicken coop frame. Cut down trees instead.

This Black Walnut will stay.

This group of trees — and tall, stalky weeds — (pictured below) juts out into into what can be pasture.

So, today they’re coming down, with the exception of the valuable black walnut.

Scootch (tail up) supervises my work.


I’m no fan of bugs, as long as they stay outside, but I kinda like this one. Looks kinda pre-historic. Can’t fly or move very fast. Need to identify it. I have a few of these in the house, too, but they seem harmless, so I’ve let them be (thus far).

Bug I don’t dislike