Our Coop Construction, 2007-Present

Are you thinking about raising chickens? It’s that “brand new flock” time of year again!  I thought I’d share this post that I wrote last year about the building and design process of our coop just in case you’re doing some research. Please be sure to leave your questions in the comments section and use the search box at the bottom of the page to find more chicken raising related posts!   We’re happy to help as much as we can.      Michele

Good almost spring morning!

I seem to be encountering lots of people who are planning to build or buy a chicken coop these days so I thought I’d share an overview of ours as it was constructed.

We didn’t exactly plan the coop before our first batch of chicks arrived in 2007 so our pullets (young chickens) lived in our basement for several months during construction. I don’t recommend that at all. You will save yourself a huge amount of anxiety by building or buying a coop before your chicks arrive. We kind of go with the flow around here but those few months were quite difficult. Fortunately we were totally in love with our brand new chickens so we all got through it together.

Okay, here goes:
IMG_0440The garden, pre chicken, around 2006.


The very beginning… The corner posts were placed into holes dug approximately two feet into the ground. Michael hit a lot of rock but says he put them in as far down as he could go. The floor is plywood, the main posts are 4×4, the floor and ceiling were constructed with 2×6 boards and the walls with 2x4s.


The roof going on..IMG_1511


The roof pitch echoes our house’s roofline. It doesn’t match but it coordinates nicely.


The walls are plywood attached to the frame with roofing paper applied over it to seal. The windows were mostly salvaged with the exception of the front window that my son is standing in. I think that one came from a building supply warehouse nearby (on the clearance rack I’m sure).


Looking at the front; long windows for lots of light, a nice wide front door for easy access and the little chicken door on the bottom right.


Here’s the back side. That overhang provides handy shelter for things like garden tools and wheelbarrows.You just have to watch that you don’t hit your head on the corner.

IMG_1622My little girl (who turned nine last week!)… windows and doors in. No screening on the run yet but that was in process.


Looking down at a habitable coop without siding. It took another year or two for siding to be added.


But then it was, and primer was applied to preserve the clapboard.


Painted and decorated, with flowers growing, of course.


It is a pretty little coop!

DSC01461Far back view in winter. The girls get afternoon sun through that window which helps to keep them cozy in the colder months.


Here’s the front door and porch area. The porch is great because it gives the chickens a dry place to spend time and there’s space under it so they can hide if needed. It also saves us from having to step into mud pits…


… like this one. Unless your a blogger who wants to take a picture of the front door of the chicken coop during mud season.

But who do you know who would do that? ;)

I realize that this is kind of a quick overview of our process and there’s lots of details missing. I took these photos as we went along but never with the idea that they would someday be used on my blog. So, I apologize for the gaps but hope it gives you an idea of what our coop exterior looks like and what our construction journey entailed. I’m going to do an inside tour in the next week or so.  I think I’ll include the head chicken keeper’s direct input as I write it to insure accuracy and probably some entertainment.

Leave me questions! Michael and I will be happy to answer them!

Happy Coop Building!


And We’re Off! Spring Has Sprung!

Yes we are!

It’s finally here….


The very first crocus of the year!

IMG_8435It lives right next to this pile of snow.

There will be more crocus on the way as soon as it melts.

… and there’s more good news!

IMG_8439 The first onion seedlings have popped through too!

I planted these last Sunday. Yesterday I checked them first thing in the morning and there was no change at all, just little cells full of seed starting mix.

Yesterday afternoon I saw Ed, one of my onion planting mentors, and he said that once they got going they’d just take off. I held onto that thought amid my worries about too  much moisture, not enough moisture, too much heat, not enough heat and maybe I should I have used a different seed starting mix.

I went back last night and voila… there were several little sprouts.

I am feeling encouraged, uplifted, excited, happy and most of all


Spring has officially reached Salem, Massachusetts my friends!  Woo hooo!!

How’s your garden growing? Has spring sprung? I hope so!


A Great Date at the Boston Flower and Garden Show 2015

We don’t get out on dates often, let alone for a whole day, so our day at the flower show was as romantic, relaxing and enjoyable as going to a spa.

It was all about spring. After our long, cold, difficult winter this little bit of spring felt absolutely decadent!
We were greated immediately by primroses.As we walked in to the Seaport World Trade Center the first thing we saw was this beautiful pop of spring color.

IMG_8284The primroses were circling this fire pit that we will be installing this summer…or not, but I think it’s a good idea :).

I love this settee! Who wouldn't want to sit upon a bed of moss?I love this settee! Who wouldn’t want to sit upon a bed of moss?

This light fixture hung just above the moss settee.. perfect!This light fixture was hung just above the moss settee.. perfect!BonsaiBonsai

Another beautiful seating area...Another beautiful seating area…

A whimsical birdhouseA whimsical birdhousea less whimsical but very interesting birdhouse..and a less whimsical but very interesting birdhouse…

and straight back to the whimsey!and straight back to whimsey!

I tend to like the whimsey…

There was spring everywhere!Spring was everywhere!The beautiful paper brideThe Newport Flower Show created a paper bride to publicize their upcoming show in June.

IMG_8315She was dressed with coffee filters, tissue paper, aisle runner and raffia.

It really felt like spring had sprung.Hello again spring!IMG_8324This fountain was lovely. The photo doesn’t really show it, but it’s about five feet across, so it resembles a small pond.

What's a garden show without a classic O'Keeffe peeking out?What’s a garden show without a classic O’Keeffe peeking out?I must have a bug hotel this year!I must have a bug hotel this year!And a beautiful fairy garden...And a beautiful fairy garden…

with felt birds.with felt birds,

the fairy gatea gated walkway.IMG_8342and a frog pond.

IMG_8334I loved these mushrooms. We saw them in the Marketplace at the show but Michael reminded that we have many children, many soccer balls and many pets in our garden so they would last for fifteen minutes, tops.On to bigger things... a sand sculpture..On to bigger things… a sand sculpture..

...was still being created. Love the head of broccoli!…was being created. Love the head of broccoli!

This was the first time I've seen helleborus in person.This was the first time I’ve seen helleborus in person.

IMG_8385Heres one of the first exhibits that we saw. Horticultural therapy is front and center! I love it!!Fast forward to the end of May!The Department of Corrections fast forwarded to the end of May. Thank you DOC! We needed that!

yes they do!yes, and out of air too.

IMG_8366There was a cranberry bog and farmer who explained the process of growing and harvesting cranberries, an interesting exhibit for all ages!

a lovely bouquet of rosesA lovely bouquet of roses..

IMG_8372Just behind the lovely bouquet was a hands on demonstration about arranging roses.

I was very impressed with the hands on opportunities available at the show.  It was much more interactive than I expected.

A flower birthday cakeI just had to take a photo of this pretty flower cake for my oldest daughter, the baker.

IMG_8379As the keeper of goldfish in two tanks in two locations I could only think that this interesting tank looked like a huge maintenance challenge. Really huge.

IMG_8389Here’s another interactive exhibit that was created by a group called PlantSomethingma.org. Plant Something’s goal is to encourage people to enjoy the benefits of growing things. Everyone who passed through their custom built greenhouse had the chance to plant a mystery seed to take home. The type of seed is revealed by color after visiting their web site. It’s a pretty creative way to draw people in.

IMG_8386The PlantSomethingMA.com greenhouse was decorated with cool features like this rain barrel…

and this guy.and this guy.

I love this use of succulents and ferns, an uncommon combination.I love this use of succulents and ferns, an uncommon combination. This arrangement was in the competition area which was full of beautiful arrangements.

IMG_8397Be sure to stop and see the witch hat that was decorated by our friend Dave Eng of Dave Eng’s Flowers.

It was a great way to spend the day. I agreed with Michael that we would have enjoyed seeing more garden vendors in the Market area, but those that were there had a nice selection of plants, tools and accessories. The quality of the lectures and exhibits was outstanding. I enjoyed talks by authors Neal Sanders, who blogs at The Principal Undergardener and Betsy-Ann Golon who spoke about herb garden design. They were both engaging and full of ideas and information. While the food selection was a little bit limited, the huge turkey sandwich that we shared for lunch was delicious.

All in all, it was a wonderful, inspiring, colorful spring-like day.

We couldn’t have asked for a better date than that!

Get to the flower show! It’s there through Sunday!

Take the kids, take your mom or your sweetie… there’s really something for everyone.

Happy almost spring!


Today’s Mail… the Pinetree Seed Order!

seed order

There are so may fun things to look forward to in this envelope.

I can’t even list them all. There’s herbs and vegetables and flowers… lots of everything that I love to grow.

Among the early starts that I need to plant asap are onions… I chose Alisa Craig Exhibition and Southport Red Globe.

I also ordered Green Magic Broccoli which can be started outdoors in early spring, or indoors now. I’m torn about that because my indoor space is tight. Is anyone else direct seeding broccoli here on the coast of New England?

I have a few varieties of peppers to get going this week along with impatiens and pansies. We grew both successfully at Bass River last year so I’m looking forward to trying it at home.

Not far behind are the ten varieties of tomato, the cucumbers, the basils, the beans… the list goes on!

As you can see I had fun with this order. Pinetree Seeds was highly recommended by my friends Ed and Betsey who grow the most beautiful garden I’ve ever seen. Remember their onions?

One of the things that I like about Pinetree Seeds is that you can order a smaller quantity of seed at a much lower price than most other companies. This is great for the home gardener like me who only needs twenty plants per variety at most. I can try lots of fun creative things and still stay well within budget. The cute packaging and unexpected free gift of velcro garden ties were an added bonus. Let’s just hope these seeds germinate and thrive!

My goal is to grow almost, if not all, of our garden from seed this year. I had such a good time with my seed starting adventure last year that I’m feeling pretty optimistic about the season that’s about to begin.

Yes, the season is beginning!


The garden may look like this, but spring is coming!

Woo Hooo!!!

Did you place your order yet? What are you thinking about growing this year?

Are you as excited as I am?


Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day from Incredibly Snowy Salem

We’ve received 87 inches of snow in Salem Massachusetts since January 23rd.

That’s a lot. 
IMG_8159Here’s the garden this morning. We’ve lost sight of the fence and picnic table. The chickens are in there somewhere.IMG_8158

The flowering plum tree is in danger of being completely covered.

IMG_8155Our front walk is a memory. It’s buried 89% of the time these days.

IMG_8156And I’m not sure that the Juneberry tree is going to make it. It’s always kind of fragile, even in good weather.

IMG_8152But we have puzzles to do.

IMG_8181And Michael gave me this pretty orchid for Valentine’s Day.

It’s still Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day, even with 87 inches of snow!

IMG_8170 I had a good time taking photos of it..



Different backgrounds, different camera settings…

Who knew that one day I’d enjoy photographing orchids?IMG_8137Maddie and I think that life is pretty great like that.

In other news, I came across these onion seeds in the basement…IMG_8168Their from last year but if I can find some seed starting mix I think I’ll get them planted!

Spring will be here before we know it!

Be sure to visit May Dreams Gardens to see blooms in gardens all over the world.

Those wonderful posts will fast forward you straight to springtime!

Stay warm and well,

Love,  Michele


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