The Mansion.

Alright! I know you’ve been dying to hear about our chicken/duck coop/mansion.

Ever since Amelia passed away, I have been very lonely without birds around. So one of our big Springtime projects was to build a chicken/duck coop and fill it with quacking and pecking feathered ladies! We started this project in March.

I decided I wanted to build it out of pallets and re-use the panels from Amelia’s old enclosure. We collected all the pallets for free from various places around town (some in better shape than others, but all free nonetheless), and I did hours of measuring pallets, making lists, and designing on paper before we started even leveling the ground where it was to sit.


Starting the leveling process. You gotta start somewhere!

We picked the spot, and I hand-leveled a 10 ft x 12 ft plot where 9 pallets were going to be fastened together as the base for the coop. I decided the coop needed a sturdy floor, as opposed to having the coop just sit on the bare ground. We have so many predators around here that no chances are to be taken.


Still snow on the ground…

Once the 9 pallets were assembled and screwed together as much as possible, I laid 1/2″ hardware cloth over the entire thing and stapled/screwed it on. Then, with the help of my brother and his lady friend, the 4 of us flipped the whole thing over. So now the hardware cloth barrier is right up against the ground, which makes an excellent deterrent from hungry creatures trying to dig into the coop. I then hardware cloth’d and chicken wired the top side. Two barriers are better than one. We attached scrap 2x4s around around all the sides of the pallets to tie everything together, make the pallet base more sturdy, and keep all the wiring in place. Then it was a matter of building walls.



Walls going up!

With a whole lot of patience amongst the occasional frustration surrounding the fact that pallets are rarely exactly the same, we managed to put mostly-alike pallets together to form a back wall to the coop. The panels from Amelia’s enclosure serve as the front part of the coop. Next was the roof.

The back half of the coop is designed to be their nesting and roosting area, as well as their protection from harsh weather. I wanted a solid roof to protect from rain and snow, and the solid pallet wall protects them from wind. The front half of the coop would still be completely wired and predator-proof, but would allow a lot more air flow, sunshine, and weather to get in (ducks don’t mind a rainstorm!). The nice thing about using pallets is that they are not airtight. So even when I added extra scrap pieces to the pallets to make them more complete, there is still a lot of ventilation. Birds need lots of fresh, moving air for their sensitive respiratory systems. Even in the middle of Winter.



Turns out building a roof is really complicated! Lucky for me my talented woodworking handyman of a partner figured it out. He made me an A-frame style roof that sits on the back half of the coop. Attached to the top are clear plastic corrugated panels that will allow rain or snow to just run off the roof (and we can potentially collect rainwater off it), and they still let sunshine in. In the Winter it should act as a mini-greenhouse to keep them warm too. I decided not to completely enclose the outer sides of the A-frame for ventilation purposes.



The backside.


From the inside.



Love our scrap lumber mess?

After the inside roof was finished, we put up the rest of the walls on the front side, and made an open-style roof for the front half of the coop. Paint came next. I wanted the inside to be a nice sunny yellow, the outside a nice turquoise. We went through a LOT of spray paint. Probably $200 worth of paint, which was really the biggest expense out of the whole building.




Then I got to wiring the ENTIRE THING. And I mean every square inch of this thing is wired. There is an obscene amount of staples and screws in this coop it’s almost ridiculous. But, like I said before, lots of predators and no room for shortcuts. I’ve built bird enclosures in previous jobs, so I know how to look at any and every possible point of entry to make a solid structure safe for the birds living inside of it.


Being up there was sketchy.


You have no idea the relief I felt when the wiring was done. What a pain. My hands to my shoulders were sore from using the staple gun a million times, and climbing up and down that ladder was not the most pleasant task. And I went through a shit ton of chicken wire.

The fun part was next, building perches and nest boxes and getting the coop ready for its new inhabitants. I also built a box out of pallets as a spot to store their food, straw, and other things we just don’t have room for the house, since we don’t have a shed yet either.


Nest boxes!


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Food & straw storage.



Sneak peak of a chicken in the corner.

And what do you know, about 2 1/2 months later, it was finished! Total I spent around $400 to build it. Half of that was just on paint. The other expenses were hardware cloth, the roof panels, some lumber costs, staples, screws, and straw. Most of the coop was built from free or re-used materials, and all the chicken wire was free from my previous job. Now we have a 10×12 ft Mansion that could easily house 10 birds.


It’s done!

Then, about 2 weeks ago, we introduced 8 little ladies to their new home. 5 ducks, 3 chickens. You’ll get to meet them in the next post 🙂


Totally Cool.

Another Summery day!

So I have some totally cool, super rad things to tell you about! This is kind of a random post… but these things are too cool to NOT mention.

White radish!

Ok, so… about a month ago we started noticing this really trippy sound outside. It sounds like we’re under a powerline (which we are obviously not). It’s this really strange constant buzzing noise accompanied by a methodical chewing noise way up in our pine trees. We don’t remember this sound from last year, and it was really making us a little crazy.

Originally we thought pine beetles. Pine beetles are a big problem in this area, and destroy pine trees in quick time in CO, creating a massive fire hazard. But when I researched pine beetles, we didn’t have any of the “symptoms” in our trees. No sawdust piles on the ground, no holes in the bark, no yellowing of the trees. One of R’s co-workers suggested maybe the sap running through the trees is making the sound (now that they’ve thawed out from Winter), since we had done a lot of limbing of our trees recently. There is quite a bit of sap running down some of our trees. That seemed reasonable, until we took Loki for a long walk down one of our nearby roads, and the trippy sound was everywhere. Then someone mentioned cicadas.

Honestly I didn’t think too much of that idea at first. I had never heard of cicadas in this part of the country. That always seemed more of a mid-west kind of thing. It took a few days for me to finally sit down and do some research about cicadas. So I’m reading about cicadas, not really seeing anything significant, until I literally googled “electricity noise in pine trees” and cicadas came up! Then I saw a picture of their exoskeletons that they shed. We had these little skeletons EVERYWHERE in our garden about a month ago and couldn’t figure out what they were!

Cicada skeleton.

Ok, so now I’m reading all about cicadas, and learning that every 13 or 17 years (it’s very precise), they come up out of the ground, shed their skeletons, fly up into the pine trees, eat sap (that chewing noise) for a 4-6 weeks, then the females lay their eggs in the trees, the eggs hatch and the larve fall to the ground, at which point they dig deep into the Earth, attach to a tree root, stay there for 13 or 17 years, then dig up and do it all again. How weird, right?! I also found this random article from August 2016 from somewhere in Ohio I think, saying to prepare for cicadas this coming year because it’s been 17 years!

Then, if all this isn’t weird and cool enough, just the other day at my day job in town, this crazy looking bug flew into the lobby. I caught it in a clear cup and had no clue what it was, then one of my co-workers was all, “oh cool, a cicada.” Totally enthralled, I told him all about all the research I’d done about cicadas and about that crazy noise in our trees at our house. Then, get this, he tells me his family moved here 13 years ago, and he remembers hearing that noise when they first moved here, and hadn’t heard it again until this year. WHAT?! Cicadas are so freaking cool. I can’t even stand it. Ok, so that’s cool thing #1.

It’s hard to see him, but he’s so neat!

Cool thing #2. We’ve gotten pretty familiar with all the weeds that grow here, while pulling them from our garden beds. A couple of weeks ago, this weird thing popped out of the ground in our arugula bed that we didn’t recognize. It was just a pink spear. Not knowing what it was, we decided to let it grow. As it got bigger, it looked more and more like asparagus. Pink asparagus? And why just one random spear?

It kept growing and kept looking like asparagus, and it didn’t make any sense. So I sat down with google again. After quite a bit of online digging, discovered it’s actually a type of fungus called Pinedrops. They’re attached to ponderosa pine roots and come up as these weird asparagus-looking things. Ironically, one of my favorite seasonal beers from Deschutes is called Pinedrops. We’ve decided to let it grow. It’s pretty strange looking.

In other news, It’s hot and dry and buggy here. This is officially my least favorite time of year. The cedar gnats (or no-see-ums as they’re also known) are out in full force and totally destroying us. These freaking gnats are only out from about Memorial Day until monsoons come through, but my are they obnoxious. Instead of puncturing your skin like mosquitos do, they actually have little tiny saws for mouths and cut your skin open to suck your blood, while injecting anti-coagulant into your system. Isn’t that lovely. I appear to be allergic to their anti-coagulant. I’m so red and itchy and swollen and miserable right now. Poor Loki gets it bad around his hairless boy parts. We both get dopey on benadryl from time to time.

So uncomfortable.

They’re out during the hottest part of the day, which is like 10am to 6pm these days (which is why I’m inside blogging right now). Ugh. We can’t wait for monsoons to come. R’s Mom sent us this really awesome bug repellant from doTerra called TerraShield that works well, but even having them buzzing around your face isn’t all that pleasant. So outside chores are saved for early morning and evening these days.

This is what we do now.

And here’s some other pics from the homestead I think you’ll enjoy! While I drink beer and try not to scratch myself…

Completed hoophouse.

Inside the hoophouse: melons and cucumbers on the left, a tomato in the back, asparagus on the right.



Radishes just before harvest.

The snap peas that survived rot are starting to produce!


Kohlrabi growing fast.

Greenhouse tomatoes.


Under the leaves; kohlrabi forest.

Mustard greens & arugula.


Holy mustard greens!

We even have a resident lizard to represent the homestead.