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Taking Things Up a Notch

Benjamin BaerWell, here we go. More changes are in order — we are moving. Not across the country this time, fortunately, but about 15 minutes from where we currently live. We’re moving off the mountain to the rolling hills.

I won’t bore you with the specifics of our reasoning for the move; it is bittersweet, and leaving the mountain is difficult, but our new place will provide plenty of new adventures. It’s on 15 acres, has a barn, fenced-in pastures, and a creek running through it. It’s pretty fantastic. The house itself is a work in progress. It’s definitely a nice place but has been left vacant for about the last six years, so a little love and care is overdue. We are replacing the roof, the siding, completely renovating the kitchen and two bathrooms, and completing plenty of various DIY projects around the place.

We took possession on 3/20, but we won’t spend our first night there until 4/16. We have spent plenty of time at the new place, though, doing different projects. So far, we have ...

1. Replaced a toilet.
2. Replaced all electrical outlets.
3. Replaced a ceiling fan.
4. Fixed the garage door.
5. Replaced an overhead light.
6. Installed a filter system to the well.
7. Replaced several light/fan switches.
8. Patched drywall  .
9. Painted our daughter’s bedroom (pink, of course).

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PKB doing her fair share.

I can’t say we’ve done it alone; we’ve had help from a bunch of great people. And while I appreciate their time and effort helping, I think more than anything I appreciate the education. A month ago I had no clue how to replace a toilet or switch out an electric socket. Now I feel like I can replace a toilet with ease, and as for electric sockets, I can replace those in my sleep!

And now, for the third time in the last four years, I am building a chicken coop. I never imagined I would get to a point where I would have built three chicken coops, but here I am. This one will be a little different from the previous two as I am going to use a stable in the barn as the coop rather than build one.

This new house is really going to allow us to take our goals up a notch ... more chickens, more pets, honeybees, goats? Should be plenty to blog about in the near future.

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Current stable, but soon to be chicken coop.

Reflecting On The Year

Benjamin BaerI hope everyone had a merry Christmas, is enjoying a festive Chanukkah, and is gearing up for a happy New Year!

There are exactly three things I do at the end of every single year:

1. Review my current budget and plan the budget for the coming year.
2. Prepare a list of goals, both personal and professional, to accomplish during the coming year.
3. Take a minute to reflect on the past year and wonder about the coming year.

I’d like to focus on the third item — thinking about the past year’s highs and lows and wondering what the new year has in store.

Compared to the last few years, 2016 has been one of the more ordinary years for us. We didn’t start any new jobs, didn’t introduce any new family members, and didn’t move anywhere. All of which I’m happy about; we weren’t planning to change careers, weren’t trying for another child, and weren’t hoping to move. So I guess 2016 pretty much went as expected. We did start our flock and built a chicken coop, as documented here, and the ladies are thriving, producing a daily stream of eggs. I couldn’t be more proud of them. And I did quite a bit of traveling, visiting the Southwest and camping in Yosemite. It was an awesome experience, one I daydream about quite often, and I can’t wait to go back. We introduced our daughter to the beach and she loved it, as you can see from her face below.

Photo Jul 07  4 02 14 PM

I feel like my daughter did more growing up this year than she did in the previous two years combined. I’m sure I’ll think that each subsequent year as well, but this year has really been a game-changer. She’s potty-trained, she can feed and clothe herself, you can actually have conversations with her and tell her to do something, and she’ll do it ... most of the time. She tells stories and has opinions; she will talk your ear off sometimes. And some of the things she says have me just cracking up!

Recently, I put on some funky sunglasses, so I pointed to my face and said, “Hey PKB, check it out!” And she looked at me and said, “What? Your big nose?” I guess she didn’t think the sunglasses where as cool as I did, and yes, I do have a pretty large nose.

Christmas night we were all eating dinner and, out of the blue, she said, “Excuse me, excuse me, I just want to thank you all for making this dinner.” I think our hearts instantly melted. We were definitely touched by the moment, and surprised by it.

Overall, it was a good year. No big surprises or major life events, but that’s okay. I don’t think I could handle those every year, and we had plenty of them from about 2010-2015. I expect 2017 to have a few significant changes up its sleeve for us. Nothing to report at this time, but I’m anticipating 2017 being a pretty big year for us. Time will tell ...

Why I Don't Heat My Coop

Benjamin BaerThere is a never-ending debate over whether you should provide heat for your chickens during the winter. You could probably read ten very legitimate sources, and five would say you should heat while five would say you shouldn’t. And that’s okay! I support everyone raising their chickens the way they see fit. Personally, I choose not to heat, and here’s why:

1. First and foremost, for me, it’s unnatural. My philosophy is to raise my chickens in the most natural way possible, free from any outside intervention. A lot of people might want to call me a hippie, and so be it — that’s my choice, and I try to abide by it. For this reason, I think it would be a little hypocritical if I put a giant heat lamp in their coop so that they'll lay eggs all winter. The way I see it, the ladies work hard all year each providing about an egg a day; they deserve a little time off in the winter.

2. Someone once told me that if you start heating them and then you stop for some reason — such as your power goes out — the girls will freeze to death. I don’t know if that’s totally true, and it probably doesn’t happen as quickly as that sounds, but it’s a risk I’d rather not run. It makes sense, though, because you’re teaching them to be dependent on the lamp for heat. So if that lamp suddenly goes out, and it’s a bitter cold night, they may not immediately know to start snuggling up together, which could definitely make them more likely to freeze. We live in an area that is susceptible to power outages ... and I’m not about to hook up the generator to the chicken coop.

3. It’s dangerous. A friend of mine provided a heat lamp in the coop for her seven birds. A few days ago, the heat lamp fell in the middle of the night, caught fire, and burnt the entire coop to the ground. She walked out the next morning to literally find everything was gone; there was a ten-foot circle of charred ground remaining. It was as if the coop and birds were never there. How crazy is that? I am already paranoid, worrying about bears and the wind blowing my structure over. I do not need another thing to worry about! If something like that happened in our coop then there’s a strong possibility it could start a forest fire, which would not only be devastating for myself, obviously, but a lot of other people.

4. They don’t need it. I don’t know if my girls think, “Oh man, winter is coming, going to be a lot of uncomfortable nights,” but I do know that their coop is structured for them to survive those nights without a supplemental heat source. I can’t guarantee perfect comfort, but I can guarantee they’ll survive. And that’s what’s most important.

I’m fortunate that I live in an area where it gets cold, but it’s pretty rare for us to see subzero temperatures or anything crazy. I depend on what I believe is a pretty well-built coop and the ladies knowing to huddle up on those cold nights to survive the winter. We’ve had a few nights below freezing so far, and each night when I’ve gone out to close up the coop the ladies are huddled together on their perch; it seems they know what to do. We shall see how it goes once winter officially gets here.

My biggest issue with the cold temperatures so far has been their water freezing up. I utilize the bottle system, which I love, but the little nozzles where the water comes out are the first things to freeze. Not sure what I’m going to do when the high for the day is 25 F and I have to go to work. Obviously I’ll put fresh water out in the morning, but that is going to freeze rather quickly in those temperatures ...

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The girls were enjoying some free-range time and wandered up onto the porch. Hope they were thinking of coming inside for some warmth ...

Case of the Mistaken Hens

Benjamin BaerAs previously blogged, I started off with three Rhode Island Reds; the chicks were about a week old when we got them. About a month later, I saw an ad for some Barred Plymouth Rock pullets. That’s my favorite breed, and while I was only aiming for four, I figured we could handle a flock of five. So I went ahead and pulled the trigger. I kept them separated from the Reds for about the first month. I knew I was going to have to finesse the introductions, and wanted to wait until the BPRs were old enough to hold their own versus the older — and already established — flock of Reds.

I introduced them slowly and only left them together for short periods of time. There was the initial, “Who the heck are these two?” from my Reds, but for the most part they seemed fine. I was surprised to see the BPRs weren’t backing down. As a matter of fact, it almost seemed like the BPRs strolled into the coop ready to own the place.

“Okay,” I thought, “I guess these BPRs are some alpha ladies and the Reds aren’t so much. That’s okay.” Over time, stark differences presented themselves between the Reds and the BPRs. The Reds were outgoing and social, liked to be petted and held, and greeted me at the coop door. Meanwhile, the BPRs wanted nothing to do with me and always seemed bothered by my presence in the coop. They also weren’t exactly friendly with the three Reds. In addition, I started to notice that, despite being a few weeks younger than the Reds, the BPRs were taller, and each of their combs and waddles were noticeably larger and darker than the Reds. At this point, I started to become concerned that a couple of cockerels had infiltrated my flock.

Then one morning when I had just fed them and was walking back to the house, I heard a soft “cock-a-doodle-dooooo.” At that point, my fears were realized: I’ve got at least one rooster. I did go into a state of denial for about a week or so, thinking, “Maybe this is just a hen acting like a rooster? That happens, right?” And I’ve read it actually does happen, but it doesn’t happen often. The crowing continued, however, so I decided to take pictures of the BPRs and get the opinions of some folks who know far more than I about chickens. And much to my surprise, I didn’t have one rooster ... I actually had two roosters.

Now let me say, I would love to have one rooster — not so much two, but one rooster would be a great addition to the flock. However, my neighbors would kill me. As much as I wanted to keep at least one of them, I knew it wasn’t an option. So came decision time: what to do with them. I didn’t want to butcher them; I plan to get to a point where I can safely and humanely butcher a chicken, but I’m not there yet. And my biggest fears were not killing it correctly, where it suffered, or not butchering it correctly, where I ended up spoiling the meat and it went to waste. Expecting the worst, I immediately started researching butchering chickens. I watched videos on YouTube (it’s amazing how you can learn anything through the internet) and started contacting local farms, asking if I could come watch them butcher some chickens.

But, before I put on my apron on and started sharpening my knives, I decided to contact the person I bought them from and see if she could take them back. I reached out via email, and within a few days she responded apologizing for mistaking their gender and said she was happy to take them back. I breathed a giant sigh of relief — I don’t have to learn to and successfully butcher two roosters. Not yet at least.

I drove out to her farm early on a Saturday morning to find she was running a bird paradise. She had peacocks, turkeys, roosters, hens, you name it. Those two boys probably felt like they were moving from a trailer in the woods to the Biltmore on nice, green, rolling pastures. I told her, “Be careful, these guys are a little feisty.” And she gave me a look as if to say, “I know just the thing.” She had several chicken coops and took me to one behind her house that included several birds, one of which was the largest rooster I have ever seen. She said, “This guy will teach these two boys how to behave.” I let the two BPRs in, and they immediately went up to test the big guy. They probably won’t be doing that again for a while, as he was quick to put them in their place.

It turned out to be quite the learning experience for me. It was my first dealing with roosters, and I had great conversations with the woman that owned the farm. She definitely knew her stuff, and gave me some free education.

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The two roosters before their departure ... probably plotting to take-over the coop from me ...

Road-Tripping the Wild, Wild West

Benjamin BaerIf you follow @BackyardBaers on Twitter, then you know I just got done traveling the West on a pretty serious road trip. A good friend and I embarked on a ten-day road trip that spanned through Austin, TX, Albuquerque, NM, Sedona, AZ, Las Vegas, NV, Yosemite National Park, and back to Las Vegas. I’m not someone that does a ton of traveling; I always feel like I’m much too busy to get away for any significant amount of time. This length of a getaway was completely unknown to me; I don’t recall the last time I was away from home for more than a few days. So, I originally had reservations about being away for so long. But it didn’t take long to get over that and start enjoying the open road.  

Day 0:

I flew from Central Virginia to Austin, Texas bright and early on a Thursday morning. Got into Austin around 9 a.m., and we immediately ran errands to pick up a few items for the trip. Then, of course, I spent the rest of the day strolling down memory lane, since I used to live in ATX. I had to visit the old house to see how the new owners are taking care of my once-prized lawn (not very well), and then I stopped at a few of my favorite places. We had lunch at one of my favorite tex-mex restaurants, grabbed a beer at my favorite happy hour bar, and then had dinner at my favorite BBQ joint. It was essentially all my favorite ATX places packed into one day … and it was great!

Day 1:

We left at about 6 a.m. on a Friday and spent the day driving. This was the only day of the trip that was essentially driving all day. It was a pretty uneventful drive, but I think we were so excited about what was to come and the idea of beginning this epic trip that it went by pretty quick. We saw quite a few wind farms, which was pretty neat. I had never seen wind turbines before, but we saw tons of them on our first day of travel. They looked like something from the future — which I guess makes sense, since that’s supposed to be one of the up-and-coming energy sources of the future. Late in the afternoon, we made it to Amarillo, TX, where we stopped and checked out Cadillac Ranch to take a few pictures and then continued to Albuquerque. We had dinner at a local brewery, and then relaxed to get ready for the next day of travel.

Day 2:

We started off the next morning for the Painted Desert/Petrified Forest National Park. It was awesome. The Painted Desert was intense; I had never seen anything like it. The Petrified Forest was not quite what I was expecting. I was thinking there would be a lot more petrified wood; I suspect people have been stealing it over the years, and it’s just not what it used to be. Still, it is hard to believe at what time it was a thriving forest, and now it’s a desert with chunks of petrified wood lying around. How our land changes; it’s truly amazing. We continued driving from there until we got to the Meteor Crater in Arizona. This meteor crater is the result of a giant asteroid that hit Earth an estimated 50,000 years ago. It measures 550 feet deep, 2.4 miles in circumference and almost one mile across. You don’t necessarily expect a giant hole in the ground to be so impressive, but when you think about it and stand there at the top; it’s pretty mind blowing to think about the action of an asteroid hitting the planet. From the Meteor Crater, we continued west until we got to Sedona, Arizona.

Painted Desert and Petrified Forest
View in the magnificent Painted Desert and Petrified Forest National Park.

Days 3 and 4:

We spent 2 days in Sedona, and it was amazing. I wasn’t expecting to fall in love with it so much, but it was truly a cool place. The first night we just took it easy, had a good dinner at a little hole-in-the-wall restaurant, and then just relaxed with a few brews. The next morning, we got up and went off-roading to Schnebly Hill Vista. It was about a six-mile trip on a winding, rocky, steep road to an overlook with a view you’ll never forget. After pulling out some lawn chairs and relaxing while taking in the view, we traveled back down the mountain to visit the ancient ruins of Palatki in the Coconino National Forest. The Palatki site was quite the historical experience, with cliff dwellings, petroglyphs, and pictographs. These ruins were built by the Sinagua Indians, who inhabited the area from 500 to 1450 AD.

After leaving the ruins, we spent the evening doing some of the more touristy things. We walked around the downtown area, sampled some unique jerky, talked to different people (met a really interesting guy that looked just like Joe Pesci), and had bison burgers at a local restaurant.

Schenbly Hill Vista
View from Schnebly Hill Vista in Sedona, Arizona.

Day 5:

We left Sedona to get to Bearizona in Williams, Arizona just as they opened, as we read that was the best time to drive through because the animals are being fed and pretty active. That turned out not to be true for the wolves, who were mostly still asleep, but the bears were certainly active. Bearizona is a wildlife park in Williams, Arizona, which offers a drive-thru experience with wolves, bears, mountain goats, and bison. It was a pretty unique experience given that you can literally roll down your window and reach out and touch a bear (of course, that is strictly forbidden). I will admit, perhaps my hopes were a little too high, as I did feel a little underwhelmed afterwards — maybe because I feel like I see bears all the time now — but I still recommend it to anyone. I’m definitely glad we made the stop.

From Bearizona, we continued northwest to good ol’ Las Vegas. Other than Austin, this was the only part of the trip that I was already pretty familiar with, as I’ve been to Vegas quite a few times. And let me tell you, it hasn’t really changed other than adding a few taller and flashier hotel/casinos. One thing that has changed is my perception. Going to Vegas as a family guy has a completely different feel than going as a cocky, ready-to-conquer-the-world, 23-year-old. How age (and children) change us! Regardless, we still managed to have a pretty great time, but steered clear of any of the bad decisions that can occur pretty easily in the one and only Sin City.

Day 6:

The next morning we headed northwest to Yosemite National Park, the original highlight of the trip. The drive from Vegas to Yosemite Valley, which is where we were camping, was about 7 hours. However, it was probably about the longest 7 hours I’ve ever experienced. It was the type of driving where you are literally driving through desert. Where there are signs that say no services of any kind for the next 90 miles. It was also ridiculously hot. The temperature stayed between 105 and 110 degrees Fahrenheit for most of the trip. But the drive from the entrance to Yosemite to Yosemite Valley probably had the most amazing scenic views I have ever seen, and I have seen quite a few in the Shenandoah National Park as previously described. We made it to Yosemite Valley — where it was much cooler, fortunately — around 4 p.m. and checked in to the campground. The temps in the park were great, probably mid 80s during the day and then low 50s at night.

View in Yosemitie
One of the many fantastic views upon entering the Yosemite National Park.

Day 7:

It didn’t take me long to fall in love with Yosemite. And while I will always be a homer for the SNP, Yosemite was probably the most impressive national park I’ve ever seen. The views, the trails, and the staff were all phenomenal and surpassed my expectations. Half Dome Village was pretty cool, and while it didn’t seem much like a campground, it still had a fun atmosphere. Honestly, it wasn’t much of camping at all, as the village had shops, restaurants, and a bar, but it was still a great outdoor atmosphere. Once we had breakfast, we headed to the visitor’s center to pick up a little knowledge, and then made the hike to see Lower Yosemite Falls, which had already run dry. From there we headed to Vernal Falls, which was a five-mile hike there and back with an elevation gain of about 1,000 feet. The views from the bottom and the top of the falls were phenomenal.

The park was extremely crowded. I didn’t know folks from outside the US were so impressed by our National Park system. We turned into a couple of social butterflies and ended up talking to a ton of people. We had great conversations with people from the UK, Boston, Orlando, New York, and had dinner with a couple from South France and another from San Francisco. We discussed current events, the park, parenting, traveling, all sorts of things. It was an element of the trip I didn’t expect, but really enjoyed.

Vernal Falls
Vernal Falls near Half Dome in the Yosemite National Park

Day 8:

We ventured out of Yosemite on the 8th morning to check out Mono Lake: a shallow, saline, soda lake in California. From there we headed to Bodie, where we spent most of the day. Bodie was so interesting, and eerie, and turned out to be an unexpected highlight of the trip. It’s a Wild West ghost town, preserved in a state of arrested decay, but at its peak had a population of 9,000 people. It was a booming mining town from 1859 until about 1940. Now, all that remains are abandoned buildings, still stocked with goods and various items, just as they were left several years ago. Of the once 2,000 structures, only about 10 percent remain.

Bodie, California
The remains of Bodie, California.

That evening we returned to Yosemite for dinner and an evening hike. That night was a full moon, and I had been adamant we had to go out and get a good look from the Yosemite wilderness. And it did not disappoint. Of course, I managed to forget my camera, but seeing the full moon rise over Half Dome was spectacular. It’s a view I’m pretty sure I’ll think about every time I see another full moon.  

Day 9 and 10:

On day 9 we started the trek back to Las Vegas, where we stayed pretty low-key, and then I flew back to Central Virginia first thing the next morning.

What an experience! Yosemite was the original highlight of the trip, and I believe it remained so, but in a way, Bodie stole the show. It was just such an odd feeling to be walking the streets of a town, which once was a hustling, bustling, Wild-West mining hot spot, and is now reduced to abandoned structures full of people’s belongings that they just up and left. It just made you wonder, if walls could talk, the stories they would have ...

That Time We Almost Went Camping

Benjamin BaerI’ve always enjoyed camping; we used to go all the time when I was a kid. Of course, it was a different setting growing up in Florida compared to the mountains of Virginia, but regardless, camping has always been a favorite summer getaway of mine.

When my daughter was born almost 3 years ago, we decided it was probably necessary to take a break from camping. I’m sure there are plenty of families out there, braver than I, that take an infant or toddler out into the woods and sleep in a tent and all, but I just felt I’d make up for those years in the future when she was older. She’ll enjoy it more and actually know what’s going on, and I’ll definitely enjoy it more. Well, how quickly time passes! I guess she’s older, because a few weeks ago we got a wild hair and spontaneously decided to pack up and go camping for a night.

We went to Sherando Lake, which is a state park about 30 minutes from our house. The park was awesome. I had heard of it, had never been, but I’m now in love. The camp lots were perfect, cleared out and nice and flat with a picnic table, a fire ring, and tons of surrounding trees to hang a hammock and give you a little privacy. We got there that morning and had a great day. Set up our tent while PKB hung out and played with her shovel and bucket, and then unpacked the vehicle. Once we had everything set up, we all walked to the lake to hang out for a while. It was ridiculously crowded, but PKB loved it nonetheless. We got on a float and went out into the water, and she thought it was about the coolest thing ever. I think she was equally fascinated with being out in the water on a float and watching all the kids running around having a ball.

Afterwards we went for a walk, taking in the sights of the wilderness and the lake, and then headed back to the campsite to relax and hang out in the hammocks. We took the easy route for dinner and just grilled hot-dogs over the fire, followed up with roasted marshmallows. Everything was going great, but the real test was going to be putting her down for bed.

We started talking about bedtime around 7, how I would put her down and read her a story, but then I was going to go back outside and she was going to go to sleep. Around 7:30 we climbed into the tent and started reading our goodnight book. Once we finished, it was quiet time; we laid in a pretty warm tent, me trying to be quiet and her, apparently, thinking it’s time for the PKB social hour as she decided she wanted to talk about anything and everything.

Do you think the deer is outside? (we had seen a deer near the camp spot a little earlier.)
No, I think she ran away.

I want to go to the lake.
No, it’s dark, we can’t.

I love you, Daddy.
I love you too, PKB.

I want to read another book.
No, we only brought one; it’s time to go night-night.

Where’s Cutie-Pie? (that’s what she calls one of our dogs — his name is actually Brownford.)
He’s at home. Probably sleeping, like you should be.

Etc, etc, etc.

Finally, we hear a noise outside the tent (probably just someone moving around), and she asks what the noise was. I said, “I don’t know … but, it may have been a bear. We should probably be very quiet.”

As soon as I finished saying that, I thought to myself, this could be a colossal mistake. She may now be thinking there’s a bear outside and is going to be scared to death all night and not want me to leave her side. Way to go. Well, I lucked out this one time; after saying that, she was totally silent and was sound asleep within a few minutes. As quietly as possible, I sneaked out of the tent. Mission accomplished, time to enjoy a cold brew!

Ten minutes later, I’m sitting by the fire, enjoying my brew and good conversation, and I suddenly feel a drop on my arm ... don’t tell me. Within a few minutes, we are all huddled in the tent listening to it pour outside. PKB is wide awake. No big deal, we will wait this out, PKB will go back to sleep, and we can go back to enjoying the peaceful outdoors. Suddenly, I feel something wet. I realize all the bedding in the tent is soaking wet. The tent is leaking. Okay, camping trip is over, time to go home.

And in the pouring rain, we take down the tent, gather all the supplies and clothes, and throw them in the vehicle to head home.

That will forever be known as the time we almost went camping. Up until that point, we had a great time though. And I am anxious to give it another go … hopefully for a lot longer than a day.

camping
Not sure how to interpret that look, but I THINK she's having fun.

Where Do You Want Me to Put These Eggs

Benjamin BaerI was pretty focused on getting my chicken coop finished, and the hens were young enough that I knew they weren’t ready to start laying, so I wasn't worried about having a nesting box ready. Well, the much-anticipated eggs should start arriving soon, as three of my ladies could start laying as early as next week.

I’ve learned there are quite a few misconceptions around nesting boxes. For example, it’s easy to assume that each hen needs her own nesting box; it almost seems obvious that each hen needs her own space to lay eggs. Well, turns out, that’s not true at all, and there really is no exact answer. If you asked ten different people, you may very well get ten different answers as to how many nesting boxes you should have. One thing is for certain though, each lady does not need her own nesting box. I did quite a bit of research, and the general consensus seems to be about one box per four hens is appropriate.

Another misconception I’ve found is that more nesting boxes equals more eggs. That is completely false. The only way you can increase egg production is with more chickens, which will then likely require another nesting box. Adding nesting boxes in no way, shape, or form changes a hen’s egg production. I wish it were that easy.

You also don’t want your hens sleeping in their nesting box. The nesting boxes are strictly for laying eggs. Your ladies should be sleeping on their roosting bar, and laying eggs in their nesting box. Hens sleeping in their nesting box will yield a giant mess and eggs covered in feces, which isn’t exactly preferred. If your hens aren’t of laying age, you really should have their nesting box off-limits. I just finished adding my nesting box over July 4th weekend, but I have it closed off because they won’t be of laying age until July 19th. I will probably open it up and add a clean, white golf ball around July 17th, unless I see signs that someone is ready to start laying early. At this point, though, I have not seen any signs that anyone is ready to start laying.

My nesting box is very simple. I have five ladies, so I only have one, and it is just a wooden box added to the outside of the coop with an old plastic cat litter container inside. The cat litter container sits on its side, and I cut off the top. This way, I can open the wooden box and reach inside to grab eggs. I opted to attach my nesting box to the side of the coop on the inside of the run. That isn’t exactly the most convenient place; it would be nice not to have to go inside the run to check for eggs. But, I felt it was necessary for two reasons:

1. It gives another layer of defense against predators.

2. That area is under the roof panels, so it won’t get too much rain or snow on top of it.

Since adding the nesting box, I have found one con to this location. The nesting box is just to the right of the entrance of their coop, and a few of the ladies have jumped from there to the top of the nesting box. Which, isn’t that big of a deal, they can’t go anywhere from there, but it’s going to make the top of the nesting box dirty (as they will inevitably defecate all over it) and it might be a little noisy if a lady is in there trying to lay eggs and another is hanging out on top of the nesting box.

This is look at the front of the coop where the nesting box is situated. 

side view

The below photo is looking down into the box with the top open. I have some pine shavings left over from when they were chicks, so I will put that in the bottom along with some herb blend. The herb blend is something else everyone has their own opinion on. We have plenty of mint, lavender and roses growing; so I will probably just use some combination of those. 

open view

And, of course, for a blog post to be complete, I have to include a picture of my daughter ... Once I had the box put together, PKB decided to help paint it. Ya know, you have to start kids early with chores! She did a pretty good job. As you can see in the photo, she insisted on wearing her red cowgirl boots. 

pkb painting