Chickens out!

Michelle and I spent the whole of the weekend readying the coop so the chicks could move outdoors. We managed to finish the coop with the exception of paint and the green roof. Saturday, while we put the back wall on, painted it, then placed the coop & run wiring, the chicks wandered around the yard with Barley watching intently. Sunday, we finished the side walls, nesting boxes, feeder, door, roof decking and impervious layer. The chicks did the same, though in the evening, when we knocked off to grill and relax, they entered their new coop. A terrarium pad, a heat light, and a straw floor kept them warm at night, though they didn’t stray far from the heating pad. A few comical highlights from the weekend:

  • Getting a bale of straw at the feed store with a station wagon. Straw bales are much bigger than the hay bales I remember. We bungied the gate closed.
  • The guy who helped us at the feed store has hay fever.
  • The chicks have learned they’re in greater danger from Ella than Barley.
  • It’ll take ~25 dozen eggs to realize the savings on fresh eggs
  • Since it was sunny, and we were noisy, we finally encountered some of our neighbors for the first time since October
  • Even for a chicken coop, you end up making 3 times as many runs to the store for parts as you expect

I’ve added some pictures

Coop Floor

The biggest reason I caved to Michelle’s desire to have chickens was the part where I got to design and build the coop. There was never any formal agreement, and I’m pretty sure the design has spiraled beyond what Michelle had anticipated. We’ve tried to use scrap and rebuilding center materials where we can, and new items only where it makes the most sense.

One aspect of the coop that I picked to include recycled material was the floor. The floor has to have spaces to allow feces (poop) to fall through. our neighbor’s coop had a a wooden grill similar to a cold air return from a 1940’s house. I liked the idea of using wood with ample space between the slats, so I picked up a bunch of old trim and laminate edges from Rebuilding Center, then cut them to the width of the coop. To seat them, I took some studs over to my dad’s shop and used his dado blade to cut notches for the slats. I was still uncertain as to how it would work until I finally assembled it last night. Looks like it should work, though the chickens will be the final test.
Chicken coop floor

Next – the green roof!


Michelle had a conference in Newport this weekend, so Ella and I tagged along to see the sights. We actually left Thursday night and got there in time for dinner with her boss overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

Friday while Michelle was at “work,” Ella and I went grocery shopping for lunch and snack items, then went to the Oregon Coast Aquarium. It was quite a treat for both of us, though by the time we got to the “passages of the deep” exhibit, a plexiglass tunnel through a massive tank, Ella preferred to run through the exhibit rather than look at the sharks and skates passing gracefully around us. Afterwards, we checked out the Yaquina Lighthouse, Rogue’s brewery, swam, walked to dinner, and swam again before settling down for a restful night. I’d already fallen asleep by the time Michelle got back, though she and her coworkers were socializing by this time, not strictly working.

Saturday Ella and I grabbed donuts then headed south in a hailstorm to Seal Rock. By the time we got there the weather had cleared and we were able to hike a bit and play in the foam created by the thrashing seas around the rocks. Then we checked out Ona Beach and played on the bridge before heading back to Newport to meet up with Michelle. Afterwards, we checked out the Aquarium again (it was really cool, and with the Bug, there was a lot that was missed) and went for an early dinner on the Bay and watched the massive sea lions on the docks.

Despite the on and off hail, there was plenty of sun, and was a delightful way to spend a weekend. I’ve not been to Newport for nearly 15 years, though I saw the store where my dad and I got our ideas for building skimmer boards for taking to Kalaloch. I definitely look forward to visiting again, though there are still many places on the list to visit first. I’ve added some pictures here.

Heckofa Weekend

Many weekends pass by unnoticed because you’re either busy doing some project the entire time, you’re traveling the entire time, or you’re hanging out and time just slips past. This weekend we managed to both tackle a number of projects and have some fun. While having dinner tonight, Michelle and I both realized we were exhausted, but satisfied with the weekend.

Saturday morning we hit up our big box lumber store to get lumber and pavers. I put an additional support beam beneath the living room floor because it had been sagging a bit, and we’re expecting to have a number of people over for a “meet the candidate” gathering and we didn’t want the floor to collapse. As much fun as it is scrounging around the crawl space, I was glad to get done quickly with my dad’s help. Saturday’s weather was too nice to stay indoors.

Michelle transplanted a rose plant and bricked in the rest of the patio, something that really makes the back yard more inviting. She, Ella and my mom did most of the work there, and the chicks (hens) got to play outdoors for a bit in the sun under Barley’s watchful eyes. To round out the day, Hilary watched Ella for a few hours while Michelle and I checked out HUB and Green Dragon.

Sunday morning we rode with my parents and sister over to the Flavor Spot on N. Lombard to grab some waffles, then rode back to Arbor Lodge park to savor, then play some tether ball. After that, Michelle and I split up and ran errands. Reconvening after lunch, we start building the chicken coop and continued with backyard arranging. By the time we hit dinner, we were all exhausted. Here are some photos – I’m trying out the new gallery feature in WordPress 2.5.

Play Here!

The Chinese restaurant across the street has been in the process of “updating” itself, since before we moved in. I was secretly excited to see a Chinese restaurant becuase its such a rare treat anymore to have Chinese cuisine. However, judging from the opinions of the neighborhood, and the 0.7 customer per day average, its not that fantastic a place.

Anyway, shortly after we moved in, the restaurant broke ground on an addition that would become a lounge. The liquor license was fought voraciously by the neighborhood, but was granted anyway. Construction was epilectic, and there were long stretches where nothing happened. Finally, after the construction permit expired, and a new liquor license was issued, construction ramped up again. The lounge finally opened up in January, and the owners even repainted the jade green building (mostly) to a subdued white. I say it was mostly painted because you can see where the ladders weren’t tall enough and the orignal green still shows. Some rather hasty landscaping has resulted in some doomed plant life such as this guy, who still has a “sold” tag on.

Plants still have sold tags

There hasn’t been much business for the lounge. There is usually one one car parked in the lot, and its the owners’. Since adding a cocktail lounge didn’t drum up business, what other addictive pastime might bring in some dollars? That’s right! Video Lottery!

Every side of the building now proudly displays that you can hang with the one-armed bandit. I’m sad to say, there are more cars in the parking lot now.

Bok Bok

Meet the CluckersMichelle finally got her wish to raise some chickens when we picked up 3 chicks from Pistils Nursery. We’re starting with 2 Jersey Giants and a Plymouth Rock, and the girls have already grown by 50% since they moved in. I’m not so keen on the chicks themselves since they kind of smell, but I’m excited to help make the coop and to have nervous pet birds walking around eating bugs and scraps.

Several of our friends have been raising hens for a couple years, so we’ve gotten a lot of helpful advice on all aspects of the process. Our neighbors 3 doors down showed us their coop this weekend (they have a brood of slightly older chicks now as well) and were eager to share both the design flaws and benefits of their coop design. Yesterday I spent a little over an hour using Google Sketch-Up to design a to-scale model, which we’ll need to start building soon.

We each got to name a chick. Michelle picked Layla, Michelle picked Boots (for Ella), and Michelle shortened my pick (Bitchzilla) to just Zilla. The Jersey Giants are already a head taller than the others and seem to have a bit of an attitude (hence Bitchzilla’s name).

Here’s another picture of the ladies in their temporary home:
Bitchzilla and Layla at the water

Spring Break!

Michelle, Barley, Ella and I recently spent the week in Port Orford, Oregon. It was a delightful escape from work and life, and a great change to spend time with my family. We stayed in a house on the head that sticks out into the Pacific Ocean, giving Port Orford a unique claim of being one of the few ports on the ocean itself.

The house was great and offered fantastic views of the beach, Cape Blanco and its lighthouse, Garrison Lake and the coastal range from one side, and a great view of the ocean to the other. With 3 stories and 4 decks, there was always a great place to sit. We had alternating hail and sun, so we had plenty of time to read and watch movies as well as time to explore the state park surrounding us and visit the beach. Barley got plenty of swimming in (including with a harbor seal at the mouth of the Rogue River), and Ella got to freeze her feet in the Pacific.

The trip was incredibly pleasant and therapeutic. We ate well and had a blast cooking because the kitchen was so nice. There were deer in the yard almost every time you looked out a window. Grey Whales were migrating off the coast so we could see them raise a lazy tail and spout from the deck. Plenty of birds – including several new species for me, like the Rufous hummingbird and tufted puffins. I finally saw my first newt as well.

Sadly, even when doing nothing, time passes quickly. Ella was ill the last couple days we were there but was incredibly sweet and cuddly because of it. We got home Sunday night and are now back to the grind. Here’s some pictures.