Mavis Mail: Shaun Gives a DIY Chicken Coop Tutorial

A big THANK YOU to everyone who has sent in their photographs and stories. I hope by sharing other peoples pictures and stories here on One Hundred Dollars a Month we can all have a rock star garden this summer. Keep them coming!chicken coop

Today’s submission comes to us from the brother of my East Coast friend, Heather {who kindly shares all of her garden chores from the East coast with us!}:

Hi Mavis,

My wife Kori and I recently bought our first home. As soon as we moved in I began to plan the backyard. First on the list was a chicken coop; after talking to my sister Heather  and doing a bit of research we dove into the job.

chicken coop1I’ve worked in construction in the past so building this coop was an easy job. I began with a basic wall framing with the sub-floor. The garage provided a warm working environment and also a level surface for construction. We began this project on the same day that the first snow began to fall in Denver.

Each wall was temporarily held in place by 2 screws so we could dismantle it and carry it from the garage to the backyard. We then reassembled the coop with a lot more screws, while adding additional support and making everything plum and level.

chicken coop2Next we have installed the plywood sheets over the framing with the addition of 2 windows and 2 vents. Also note we paid careful attention to angle the roof for snow removal. In colder climates its important to make the structure sound to support heavy wet snow.

Surprisingly, we spent more time at the “big box store” looking at roofing than any other part of this project. Shingles would have worked but we wanted something sturdy since we were housing animals, not storing lawn equipment. We chose green instead of the less expensive plain aluminum since we didn’t want the sun to reflect and cause beams of sunlight to blast into our neighbors windows. This is a little more expensive but much more durable.

chicken coop3The camera view is through the coop door to the inside and you can see the perch and nesting box.

Finally the chickens are in their new home. The screws in the ceiling hold the food and water containers. The perch has been sanded to a smooth finish to prevent injury to their feet.

chicken coop4For shingling the side we used pallets that I cut into uniform pieces. This was fun because my wife and I laid out all the pellet strips and decided what combination looked good since each piece had its own color pattern. We also completed the nesting box and added a double hinge to the roof.

chicken coop5Its important to note that the door has double locks to prevent clever predators from accessing the coop. We also added a wooden horizontal strip of plywood to the bottom of the coop. This is made of redwood since its resistant to rot. If you use pellet siding don’t allow it to make direct contact with the soil or it will rot. The plywood strip also helps with the height because recycled pellets are only 40 inches tall.

chicken coop6Coop was done, chickens were happy, but now it was time for us to build the run. For this project, we had built the frame on our back patio and then carried the sections to the coop.

The run is 16 feet long, by 4 feet tall by 4 feet wide. We also added a wide door for making cleaning easier. We now know the reason why its called a “run” since they seem to get a kick out of running full speed back and forth. Happy chicken equals happy eggs. We do allow the chickens free range on nice days, but the run is essential for the long winters.

chicken coop7The coop and run were strategically placed around 2 maple trees to give shade in the summer and built next to the shed to provide a wind break. We also installed a bamboo roof over the run which provides shade and prevents snow from accumulating.

chicken coop8Final notes and some things we have learned:

1. Our dogs don’t care about sharing the yard with the chickens and Mooney the cat seems to think she can catch them. Silly cat.

2. Total project cost was just under $1,000. When we researched building the coop this seemed to be the price that other chicken owners had spent. You should also prepare for the project by purchasing materials before you start building, such as when wood or other supplies that you will need are on sale. Most of the “big box stores” have a section for discounted wood and since this was for the coop, the savings in the materials was an important factor. We cringe to think how much more this project could have cost if we paid full price for all the wood we used!

3. When building a coop project, the first thought should be “ease of cleaning.” We chose the “deep bed method” to create an inside coop compost. When its time to remove the deep bed you want it to be as easy as possible. We open the coop door, rake all the bedding onto a tarp, and carry the tarp to our compost bin and dump it. The run will also need to be cleaned since they seem to take the coop bedding with them each time they go into the run. A sturdy metal rake makes this a quick chore.

4. If you use a metal roof, the other disadvantage besides cost is the sharpness of the metal on the edges. If you have children you should consider using shingles instead.

5. We found that diatomaceous earth, also known as DE {this can be purchased at your local feed store}, should be placed in the coop to prevent mites and other pests. We learned this lesson the hard way – infestation. Be sure that you are purchasing FOOD GRADE.

6. Its really nice having a predator proof run that is open 24-7. Some chicken owners don’t mind unlocking their coops everyday, but we didn’t want the hassle. On bad weather days, the chickens have the option to go in and out as they please and we stay inside warm and dry. Then on really nice days, we can open the run and the coop door and they have free-range of the entire yard.

7. When you complete the framing of the run, be sure to allow about a foot of overhang of the chicken wire on the outside at the bottom. Then dig a trench around the outside perimeter of the run and flare out the chicken wire into the trench. Place bricks or pavers on the chicken wire and then fill in the trench. In the last 6 months we have had skunks and raccoons attempt to breach this barrier. Our most clever was the red tail fox that returned twice but hasn’t been able to gain access. When the predator attempts to dig into the run it will encounter the wire/brick barrier and after several digging attempts in different locations it will decide that this is a lost cause and move onto an easier prey. DO NOT put chicken wire on the floor of the run – the chickens love to dig holes and you could injure their feet with the wire. Also, after attaching the chicken wire to the frame of the run, place another piece of wood over each section of framing to sandwich the wire between the 2 pieces of wood. These clever predators can remove staples, spending the extra time now to make the run secure will be worth it.

8. If you choose to add the bamboo to the top of your run, after you install it add 1 inch thick pieces of wood every few feet across the top of the bamboo and screw them down. This will help prevent the wind from tearing of the bamboo roof off.

Wow, Shaun! Thanks so much for sharing.

~Mavis

Send Pictures of Your Garden For a Chance to Win a $20 Amazon Gift Card

If you would like to have your garden, chicken coop or something you’ve made featured on One Hundred Dollars a Month, here’s what I’m looking for:

  • Your Garden Pictures and Tips – I’d especially like to see your garden set ups, growing areas, and know if you are starting seeds indoors this year. If so,  show me some picture of how you are going about it.
  • Your Chicken and Chicken Related Stories – Coops, Chicks, Hen’s, Roosters, Eggs, you name it. If it clucks, send us some pictures to share with the world.
  • Cool Arts & Crafts – Made from your very own hands with detailed {and well photographed} pictures and instructions.
  • Your pictures and stories about your pets. The more pictures and details the better.
  • Garage Sale, Thrift Store and Dumpster Diving pictures and the stories behind the treasures you found including how much you paid for them.

If I feature your pictures and the stories behind them on One Hundred Dollars a Month, I will send you a $20.00 gift card to the greatest store in the world: Amazon.com.

Go  HERE for the official rules.

This post may contain affiliate links. These affiliate links help support this site. For more information, please see my disclosure policy. Thank you for supporting One Hundred Dollars a Month.

Mavis Mail – Lisa From Australia Impresses Again w/ Her Garden Pictures

A big THANK YOU to everyone who has sent in their photographs and stories. I hope by sharing other peoples pictures and stories here on One Hundred Dollars a Month we can all have a rock star garden this summer. Keep them coming!

~MavisLisa garden

I love hearing from reader, Lisa from Tasmania, Australia {She also introduced us to her adorable Aunt Ruby!}. She has an incredible garden and takes even more impressive pictures {and you know how OCD I am about pictures!} I might just have to add Tasmania to my travel docket next year! Buckle up you guys, here’s what Lisa has been up to:

Hi Mavis…

Lisa garden 1We have had a really great spring and summer! There is still lots of food out there to pick and process but I am feeling a little sad that its all winding down. {That’s why your blog is so great as while I am warming up by the fire with my knitting in hand I can see the gorgeous gardens flourishing up your way!}

Lisa garden 2We did a lot of new things in the garden this year, and tried to emphasize using collected materials rather than dashing down to the hardware shop. We decided to pull out the lined paths in the main vegetable plot and pretty much go with one massive area and just plant areas as needed. Actually it worked pretty well, and also gained some space that was used up as pathways last season.

Lisa garden  3The garlic of course was the first thing harvested… it grew really well over the winter and I was so pleased with my haul! Garlic is a main ingredient in my BBQ sauce as well as my Sweet Chilli sauce.

Lisa garden 4My second veggie patch proved a hassle last year fighting the weeds as I had raided some of the lawn to dig into. We used the timber that we had removed from the main patch and created a couple of raised garden beds… something I hadn’t done before and was dying to try out.
Lisa garden 5We filled them with a mixture of 50% topsoil and 50% mushroom compost and let me tell you, the plants loved it! Lisa garden 6I got countless buckets of tomatoes, huge capsicum, mad basil and a whole bunch of chillies that are about to ripen {I hope}. Was well worth the effort!!

Lisa garden 7I’d also been keen to build a ‘bean arch’ We had lots of apple tree prunings that we pieced together to make a nice climbing frame for the beans. They grew up the structure well, but didn’t quite go all the way over! Still, I planted 7 year beans so maybe next season they will be keen to grow all the way over.

Lisa garden 8A part of the ‘using what you have’ philosophy entailed getting hooked up to solar power! Basically the last bill was half the cost of the same time last year, so got to be happy with that!

Part of the summer is also devoted to collecting a good stash of kindling and pine cones. This lot of pine cones was free, only cost was a bit of my dignity as I misjudged an electric fence, got a severe zap and was sat on my backside with a very girlie scream! I was all about commando crawling to get back to the other side afterwards!!

We also fill up on seaweed from the local beach as mulch {pictured here in the trailer and not yet on the garden}.

Finally, the tanks. We have limited storage {and no town water} but bought the white tanks to fill when the weather was a lot soggier and they have been used on the garden and have helped us survive through the long summer.

Lisa garden 9We were so lucky with our fruit this year too… countless kilos of raspberries, plums, strawberries…

Lisa garden10 And now apples. Its divine to just constantly graze on fresh fruit!
Lisa garden 11Another job that was finally done was the herb garden. The original barrel of herbs was in an area of the property that you needed a cut lunch to take with you on the hike over to get your oregano… Okay, not that bad, but not at all convenient.

This patch is right out the back door, so we made a stick wall to cover the unused hot water system, put Budda’s head back on (he somehow lost it) and built him a little fence, finally used all the driftwood that I had been driving my husband crazy collecting to outline the garden areas and mulched with seaweed. Its been going well and I have used it frequently!
Lisa garden 12Harvesting is always great fun! We dug up about three boxes of potatoes and estimate we will be eating those well into the year.

Lisa garden 13The purple ones do your head in – they just don’t look right but taste identical to the normal ones!

Lisa garden 14 What corn we didn’t scoff is in the freezer and there are still carrots and beetroot in the garden to be pulled up as needed.

Lisa garden 15I love cooking as much of our own produce as possible… stuffed tomatoes are frequently on the menu, pavlova’s become less expensive to make when you collect heaps of eggs every day, and I have made, used and sold countless jars of jam, sauce and relish at the local market.

Lisa garden 16 Lisa garden 17I even bake special cakes for the chickens that they go mad over!

Lisa garden 18It’s been busy with {as usual} a constant stream of visitors {long and short term} who enjoy a taste of the ‘simple’ life, good food and the gorgeous Tasmanian countryside. Now to start planting winter veggies and think of a plan of attack for next spring!

Cheers,
Lisa

If you would like to have your garden, chicken coop or something you’ve made featured on One Hundred Dollars a Month, here’s what I’m looking for:

  • Your Garden Pictures and Tips – I’d especially like to see your garden set ups, growing areas, and know if you are starting seeds indoors this year. If so,  show me some picture of how you are going about it.
  • Your Chicken and Chicken Related Stories – Coops, Chicks, Hen’s, Roosters, Eggs, you name it. If it clucks, send us some pictures to share with the world.
  • Cool Arts & Crafts – Made from your very own hands with detailed {and well photographed} pictures and instructions.
  • Your pictures and stories about your pets. The more pictures and details the better.
  • Garage Sale, Thrift Store and Dumpster Diving pictures and the stories behind the treasures you found including how much you paid for them.

If I feature your pictures and the stories behind them on One Hundred Dollars a Month, I will send you a $20.00 gift card to the greatest store in the world: Amazon.com.

Go  HERE for the official rules.

This post may contain affiliate links. These affiliate links help support this site. For more information, please see my disclosure policy. Thank you for supporting One Hundred Dollars a Month.

Ask Mavis – You Asked, I Answered {Plus, a Knitting Challenge!}

ask mavis

Another round of inbox questions, and another round of answers. First up is one of my favorite emails I’ve ever received from a reader. Sure it’s not exactly a question, but it certainly deserves to be shared!!

Mavis – I want to share with you a challenge I just made to my friends and family on Facebook. I want to challenge all of my friends who craft to knit/crochet/whatever else you do one warm winter hat each month this year and donate it to a homeless shelter in your town.

No matter what winter weather is like where you are, people living on the streets even part of the day need warm hats. And, yes, you can buy them, but having something that another human being made for you warms the heart and the spirit as well as the head. This isn’t a huge investment of either time or materials, so grab your hooks and needles and join me! I’d love it if you were able to share this with your other readers.

~Mary Anna

Oh. My. Gosh. You are my new favorite person! This is the coolest idea ever, and I love that you not only came up with it and are implementing it, but that you are spreading it across the country. I’ll do my part and share away, and challenge my readers to do the same. If you knit, participate; if you don’t, spread the idea. This is one idea that should go viral!

kohlrabiYou are my idol!!! I happened to stumble on your website while looking for recipes for quinoa. Here is my question. I noticed that you grow kohlrabi and wheat grass, and I would love to know how you use it. I didn’t see any recipes for either.

~Allison

First, we need to talk about how you choose your idols! Ha. I feel like Mary Anna above would be much better suited for that title! Second, kohlrabi and wheat grass are fun to use. When it comes to kohlrabi, I like to roast it {my family’s favorite!} or add it to soups {it’s delish in any vegetable soup}. I know people who eat it raw or make some type of fritters out of it, but I’ve always just kept it simple.

Wheat grass is a whole different beast, though. The only way I’ve ever used it is to juice it in a juicer and add it to smoothies. It’s a great nutritional booster but if you don’t have a juicer, I wouldn’t recommend growing it!

035_optI was wondering how your strawberries did/do in the gutter year after year and whether the metal gutters get too hot in the summer sun?

~Brian

So this is tricky for me to answer because I didn’t grow my gutter strawberries outdoors, I grew them in my greenhouse. They thrived and grew like mad inside the greenhouse! I’m not sure how they would have done outside all year, but I do know that if you live in climates with extreme weather {super duper hot or super duper cold}, they normally don’t make it. Anyone out there have experience with gutter strawberries?

powder-room-remodle-before-and-afterFor some reason I stopped getting your daily blog last spring. I checked your blog online and realized I’ve missed so much from a blog I like a lot. How can I go back and catch up. I don’t see anyway to go to past blog postings? Particularly information on your move and remodel…..and your reasons…your garden. Wow, a lot to catch up on. Anyway to do that? Thanks.

~Paula

There are a few ways you can search the archives. On the right sidebar, you’ll see a lot of category option, from recipes to my Mornings with Mavis posts. If you don’t see what you’re looking for there, you can throw a search term into the search box in the upper right hand corner. Let’s say you are looking for all my posts on my remodel. Just type in “remodel,” hit enter and all the my posts on the remodel will pop up there. You can also find category and tag links at the bottom of each post. Click on the “kitchen remodel” tag for instance, and all the posts about my kitchen remodel will be there. Pretty neat stuff, huh?!

This post may contain affiliate links. These affiliate links help support this site. For more information, please see my disclosure policy. Thank you for supporting One Hundred Dollars a Month.

Great Aunt Ruby’s Garden in Tasmania, Australia

This past summer Lisa from Tasmania, Australia sent in pictures from her garden. Well, she’s back, and this time she is telling us about her Great Aunt Ruby… :) :) :) :) :) :)

aunt ruby

Meet my Great Aunt Ruby!

Ruby turned 98 last September, still lives by herself and tends to this amazing garden.

tasmania beach
She lives in a little town called Wynyard in Tasmania and her home is a stones throw from the beach.
Ruby trained as a nurse and has spent a lifetime taking care of people.

Right up until the last few months, Ruby has pretty much sorted out the garden by herself, with a bit of help here and there from her daughter Margaret who lives almost next door. This season she decided that she may need a bit of help with the heavy digging, so that’s where I come in!

using wire guards in the garden

This plot Ruby dug herself and planted carrot, beetroot and lettuce seeds, then used the high tech method of cat-digging prevention by covering the area with any and all wire guards!

vegetbale garden

And it worked! A few months later there was a lush garden happening. The peas were well on their way as well as the potatoes (destined for the Christmas dinner table).

beets

In her garden there are usually potatoes, tomatoes, zucchini, beetroot, carrot, lettuce, peas, beans, cabbage, broccoli, artichokes, parsnip, strawberries, pumpkin, cucumber, silver beet, garlic and herbs. Plus probably other stuff I have forgotten!! Enough to feed a small army if one happened on by!!

aunt ruby sitting on milk crate

Often when I go to visit, I’ll find Ruby sitting on her milk crate, wearing her gardening hat and pulling up weeds.

weeds in garden

The before…

weed free garden

And after efforts of the other days weeding! Not bad for someone who is almost 100 years old!!

aunt ruby in the garden
If she is pottering about the garden she will most likely be using an old mop to lean on, not as keen on the walking stick because if people see that, they might think she is “old.”

ripe tomato

There is always a bit of a competition for the first ripe tomato of the season. I thought I may have been first past the post this year, but nope… here is Ruby “skiting” (as she would say)(boasting) about the first red tomato in her hothouse!

aunt ruby in kitchen

Ruby is very used to feeding herself out of what she grows. There is always a big feed of vegetables and fruit on the table. Because she is nearly blind, it gives her a lot of independence to be able to go up into the garden and get what she needs rather than continually having to rely on someone else to shop for her.

aunt ruby scones
I might add that her scones (I think you call them biscuits in North America) are superb! (home-made jams to go on top of course!!)

purple hydrangea flowers

What I love about Ruby’s garden is the way she has pretty flowers here there and everywhere right throughout. You are never really sure what to expect to see blooming at different times of the year.

using seewee mulch
This plot of flowers is now covered in a seaweed mulch. Advantages of living by the ocean!! The council here allows residents to collect what they need from the beach, and apart from being free, it doesn’t introduce any unwanted weeds! In her younger years, Ruby would just take the wheelbarrow across the road and help herself!

old mother Hubbard

Ruby is adored by all her family, she is a wealth of information on gardening and cooking among other things, has great stories , she has a great sense of fun (for example: dressing up as Mother Hubbard for me when I needed a ‘Nursery Rhyme’ photo) and is always happy to put the kettle on for a cuppa when we drop in and I might add its nearly impossible to escape without an armful of food of some kind!!

aunt ruby

Well… there you go.
Cheers,
~ Lisa

Send Pictures of Your Garden For a Chance to Win a $20 Amazon Gift Card

If you would like to have your garden, chicken coop or something you’ve made featured on One Hundred Dollars a Month, here’s what I’m looking for:

  • Your Garden Pictures and Tips – I’d especially like to see your garden set ups, growing areas, and know if you are starting seeds indoors this year. If so,  show me some picture of how you are going about it.
  • Your Chicken and Chicken Related Stories – Coops, Chicks, Hen’s, Roosters, Eggs, you name it. If it clucks, send us some pictures to share with the world.
  • Cool Arts & Crafts – Made from your very own hands with detailed {and well photographed} pictures and instructions.
  • Your pictures and stories about your pets. The more pictures and details the better.
  • Garage Sale, Thrift Store and Dumpster Diving pictures and the stories behind the treasures you found including how much you paid for them.

If I feature your pictures and the stories behind them on One Hundred Dollars a Month, I will send you a $20.00 gift card to the greatest store in the world: Amazon.com.

Go  HERE for the official rules.

This post may contain affiliate links. These affiliate links help support this site. For more information, please see my disclosure policy. Thank you for supporting One Hundred Dollars a Month.

Mavis Mail – Melissa From Southern California Sends in Her Garden Photos

A big THANK YOU to everyone who has sent in their photographs and stories. I hope by sharing other peoples pictures and stories here on One Hundred Dollars a Month we can all have a rock star garden next summer. Keep them coming!

~Mavis

This week we get a peek at Melissa’s amazing garden in Southern California.

growing squash in southern california

Hi Mavis, I love your blog.My husband and I have been married for 41 years and we have always gardened, even when we lived in a trailer in TX while going to college.

growing pole beans with lattice

We have lived in Southern California {right by Disneyland} since 1978 and a year later we bought a house and started a garden. We have a HUGE compost pile that has been really helpful in amending our sandy river bed soil.

bunny eating cabbage leaves

We had indoor bunnies for pets for 12 years and the litter box contents were great for the compost and also to spread directly on the garden.

braided onions

We keep meaning to get chickens but have decided that traveling is more important to us than chickens. :)

squash spreading over the patioThe birds and bees love our backyard because of the garden and our fruit trees and because we are organic (except when the basil is still young – we would never have basil if we didn’t apply Sevin once or twice).

Every year I plant a basil plantation, from seed or pony packs from Lowe’s, and make pesto to eat, share, and freeze.

All the Best,
Melissa

purple flowering bush

If you would like to have your garden, chicken coop or something you’ve made featured on One Hundred Dollars a Month, here’s what I’m looking for:

  • Your Garden Pictures and Tips – I’d especially like to see your garden set ups, growing areas, and know if you are starting seeds indoors this year. If so,  show me some picture of how you are going about it.
  • Your Chicken and Chicken Related Stories – Coops, Chicks, Hen’s, Roosters, Eggs, you name it. If it clucks, send us some pictures to share with the world.
  • Cool Arts & Crafts – Made from your very own hands with detailed {and well photographed} pictures and instructions.
  • Your pictures and stories about your pets. The more pictures and details the better.
  • Garage Sale, Thrift Store and Dumpster Diving pictures and the stories behind the treasures you found including how much you paid for them.

Send Pictures of Your Garden For a Chance to Win a $20 Amazon Gift Card

If I feature your pictures and the stories behind them on One Hundred Dollars a Month, I will send you a $20.00 gift card to the greatest store in the world: Amazon.com. Go  HERE for the official rules.

This post may contain affiliate links. These affiliate links help support this site. For more information, please see my disclosure policy. Thank you for supporting One Hundred Dollars a Month.