The Coops of Snowy Brook Farm

These post segments are part of a series called “Life in the Coop”, and yet, up to this point there are ZERO coop pictures. Let’s alleviate this distressing realization now and share some photos. The media upload page says 16 photos to be exact, so buckle up. Fortunately, I’ve figured out the slideshow function, so no more 52 page posts.

Amish Shed

The Beverly Hills of the Snowy Brook Estate, Amish Shed is where the elite come to roost, home to the Named Chickens and any of our long-term favorites. This shed is one of our few imported works, built by Amish Valley Sheds. However, Amy made some additional modifications to it to add her own personal flair, and sectioned it off into 4 districts. Much to Amy’s dismay, Zach does not believe in chicken class segregation and added his own modifications: a series of secret holes and bridges to connect the different pens. By some miracle their little chicken brains figured out how to navigate the labyrinth and now all the chickens are free to sex each other up, just as nature intended.

Silky Shack Boulevard

Silky Shack Boulevard is a suburian offshoot of Snowy Brook Estates, nestled just across the driveway creek. All three structures were built onsite by the boss and come with a variety of basic amenities for the 21st century chicken, including nest boxes with easy human access, electricity for charging their smartphones, and even 24 hour surveillance with livestreaming capabilities. Originally intended for the tiniest of our chicken flock, wayward chickens from Amish shed keep finding their way to these coops, and now a mix of chickens in all shapes and sizes can be found roosting in Silky Shack Boulevard

Red Shed

Across the main brook from which Snowy Brook gets its name lies the reddest of all the sheds. Originally a dilapidated structure built in the 70s to protect the secrets of nitrogen technology, the shed was revamped and repurposed to host our main layer groups. As such, Red Shed is equipped with state-of-the-art nest boxes and a timed light to let the birds know when the sun should be out, even when it’s not. The chickens of Red Shed have a profound sense of mischief, and do all they can to route a path beyond the white fence and into the neighbor’s yard.

The Aviary

This once-struggling barn lies just to the north of Red Shed and has just finished  being renovated into a duck and chick paradise. The Aviary is one of our most spacious condos, with the left side home to our laying ducks and the right side hosting younger chicks. Though renovations are mostly complete, the duck housing in particular is lacking in personality. In due time, Zach plans to use money generated by the local community through the farm stand to improve the lives of these resident ducks, decorating the interior with portraits of famous ducks past to inspire its tenants.

The Projects

These miscellaneous structures lie scattered around the Estate and have served various purposes throughout time. Most of these projects have since been abandoned as larger, more coherent structures have emerged to take their place, but they’re still useful in times of emergencies. Despite their limited utility, you can still count on one or two of these unique structures to randomly generate itself somewhere in our yard each year.

You’ll notice some of them have wheels. The idea was simple: “What if coops could roll?” That was definitely one of the weirder phases the boss went through.

The Garage

The garage is not a coop. Do not encourage this behavior!

The Science of Naming Chickens

As you may have heard, Snowy Brook Farm has a lot of chickens. 7 gazillion to be exact. While we do not have the emotional capacity to develop a personal connection with every single chicken, it is true that at least some of our chickens have names. In fact, I’ve added a tab to the main page with photos of all of our named chickens! But how does a chicken become a “named” chicken? And how is that name decided on? Let’s explore the taxonomy of Snowy Brook chickens

At the dawn of the Snowy era in the year 0 BSB, all chickens were nameless. However, one day my brother and his wife sent us Home Depot gift card sleeves, in the form of miniature aprons.

These tiny aprons are supposed to be a cute gag referencing the outfits worn by the employees at Home Depot, but as it so happens, they also fit well on chickens. However, at the top, it says “Hi, I’m _______”. In order to wear the apron, you must have a name. It is the Law of the Apron. As such, to put these aprons on our chickens we started naming them. And thus, Clyde was born 

Why Clyde? I don’t know. The boss named him, and whenever I ask the boss why he’s named Clyde, she just gives a ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ and we carry on with our day. Understandably, I have mostly taken on chicken naming duties since, though Amy still participates when appropriate.

To earn a name, there must be something that sets a chicken apart from the flock. Once that happens, the name just naturally develops. For example, a chicken that poops a lot might just naturally start being called “Sir Poops a Lot”. And if it sticks, it becomes their name for life, and that chicken officially becomes a Named Chicken. Being a Named Chicken is a very prestigious status, often resulting in extra corn (they like this), and extra human attention (they do not like this). Additionally, a Named Chicken gains a form of immortality, for when they inevitably pass on to the great Yolk in the sky, a new chicken will one day come along with their same traits and personality, and they inherit the name and are treated as one-in-the-same with the original.

Deep stuff, huh…  A chicken name is a name that will be carried on the farm for life. Thus, it is of the upmost important that our names carry with them a level of thoughtfulness that is reflective of this farm’s high standards. And so to understand this process fully,  below I will go over each of the current Named Chickens of the farm and why they are the name they are.

Little Red Hen
Origin of Name:
She’s a little red hen
Why she’s Nameworthy: Hops to patio door and jumps at sliding door to come in house and eat chip crumbs on the floor

Jayne and/or April
Origin of Name: Michigan same-sex couple that helped legalize gay marriage
Why they’re nameworthy: Jayne and April were two Buff Orpingtons hens that were always grouped up. There was clearly some sort of AI manufacturing error, because both of their motions were completely identical all the time. One day, one of them was eaten. We have no idea which. So the remaining one is Jayne and/or April.

Origin of Name: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Why they’re nameworthy: You know that award that sometimes gets given out to the first person to do something, even if they didn’t necessarily do it well? Clyde was the first rooster. So he got a name just for existing. Fortunately, he did a good job living up to being a Named Chicken, and is probably the most regal rooster we have on the property.

Origin of Name: Dark thunderclouds. Sex worker who had an affair with a former president and got shortchanged on the bill.
Why they’re Nameworthy: This is another “early chicken gets name by default” accolade. Dark = Stormy. But unlike Clyde, she’s done very little to be a Nameworthy chicken, with no notable attributes other than being dark. An early blunder on our part.

Big Mama
Origin of Name: Absolutely stupid Metal Gear Solid reference
Why they’re Nameworthy: Big Mama is the best mama chicken. When she was broody, she would not give in to the egg collection, and her willpower was strong enough that we just sighed and let her go through with the whole motherhood thing. And she did a damn good job at it. No two chicks were safer than hers, much to the chagrin of neighboring hens that got too close.

Origin of Name: Hermaphradite
Why they’re Nameworthy: Hermes was a hen… until she wasn’t. Apparently that happens in the chicken world. I think Aphrodite made more sense if we were going with Greek mythology here, but I was overruled by the boss.

Shy Guy
Origin of Name: Common Mario nemesis
Why they’re Nameworthy: Back in the day, we had an emergency pen in the garage for chickens that couldn’t seem to… well.. survive well with the rest of the flock due to some defect. Shy Guy’s defect was that he was just too shy. He sat in a corner getting beat on by the other roosters, doing nothing to defend himself or make allies. He has since learned how to chicken better and has grown into a finely feathered rooster with plenty of friends.

Origin of
Name: That person that gets paid more than you to tell you what to do
Why they’re Nameworthy: Boss goes where she pleases. Often that involves following a human, because following a human often leads to food one way or another. This is especially true if your task involves a shovel. Shovels mean worms, and you can bet Boss will be the first one at the excavation site.

Heihei Chickenchicken
Origin of
Name: Chicken from Moana that looks like this thing
Why they’re Nameworthy: Heihei is the Yang to Clyde’s Yin. The two have lived in balance ever since being the first two roosters as Snowy Brook. And like any Yin/Yang relation, they are complete opposites. While Clyde is the stoic, regal chicken with all the ladies, Heihei is a coward. There isn’t a moment where he’s not screaming to let all the chickens know that danger is present. This danger takes many forms, including crows, rocks that tip over in the wind, dandelion growth, cold stares, 3 leaf clovers, sunshine breaking through a cloudy day, other chickens, fungus…

Origin of Name: Larry David, co-creator of Seinfeld and Curb.
Why they’re Nameworthy: Larry was our first naked-neck chicken. They say not to judge a book by its cover. You can do that here. Larry is as awkward as he looks, and rarely follows the societal norms set forth by chicken society. Despite this, he’s somehow the most prolific chicken on our farm. I hope people want naked-neck chickens.

Friendly Rooster
Origin of Name: It’s a friendly rooster
Why they’re Nameworthy: In a world where no other roosters want to put up with Larry’s schenanigans, Friendly Rooster came in to fill the void. He often tagged behind Larry on all his adventures towards social acceptance, providing clucks of encouragement after each of his failed courtship attempts. Eventually, without any sort of prompting, he started coming up to me for corn, making him Friendly Rooster.

Danny Bhanton
Origin of Name: Danny Phanton, Nickelodeon TV show in the early 2000s.
Why they’re Nameworthy: She’s a Bhantom. Danny Bhantom! I’m not going to turn down an easy pun when it’s gifted to me like that.

Bucket Buff
Origin of Name: Bucket + Buff Worpington chicken = Bucket Buff
Why they’re Nameworthy: In the early days, chickens used to have access to the garage where a nest box had naturally formed in the corner of the structure. This buff did not like the nest box in the corner. It preferred buckets.

Origin of Name: Quote from Amy, “I just made it up”
Why they’re Nameworthy: George is Polish. In the chicken world, that just means he needs a haircut. His long, stupid hair made him a target for other chickens to pick on, and he eventually found himself in the emergency pen with Shy Guy and CeCe. The three of them formed a close bond and together using the power of friendship, became three Named chickens

Origin of Name: Short for Crazy eyes Crazy eyes
Why they’re Nameworthy: CeCe was the runt of the litter, and lacked development in many areas, including the brain. Now chickens don’t have much to work with there to begin with, so CeCe spent her days in the emergency pen mostly trying to figure out how to function. But because her brain was already so tiny, that meant she had an even tinier head. This led to an interesting phenomenon where her eyeballs were larger than her head and she always looked like she was bugging out. Thus… crazy eyes! She eventually did figure out how to function to some extent, but her eyes were crazy till the end.

Origin of Name: Goose
Why they’re Nameworthy: It’s a goose, what’s our other option? Not name the goose?

Lady Goose
Origin of Name: Goose with lady parts
Why they’re Nameworthy: It’s Lady Goose.

Gregorina the Gimpy Goose
Origin of Name: It was Greg, but then she got broody one day and an emergency naming session was required.
Why they’re Nameworthy: It’s a gimpy goose. Also alliteration.



Posts from the previous two weeks were about HVAC. The Neilson ratings have come in and I’m concerned I may have permanently torpedoed our business. As an attempt to drive up viewership, today’s post will be about cats. There will be pictures. Cat pictures.

Snowy Brook Farm believes firmly in the Three Cat Doctrine. This principle states that the household can and must support three cats at all times to maintain an appropriate balance of mice carcass, carpet hairball stains, and nighttime wailing. Fewer than three cats and you risk not having enough throwaway photos for the annual Christmas card. More than three cats, and Amy gets put in charge of scooping poop. And so, the Three Cat Doctrine has been maintained at Snowy Brook, as well as our previous enterprises, for nearly a decade. With that out of the way, allow me to introduce to you to the three current cats of Snowy Brook Farm, in order of most to least obese (this also happens to be chronological. No correlation I’m sure).

Name: Pudge
Age: Old
Weight: A Lot

This is Pudge. I considered going with a picture that showed his face, but frankly, that’s not what Pudge is about. Pudge has one trick. That trick is belly rubs. There’s absolutely nothing else to this thing. In fact, let’s go through the 7 characteristics that define life and see if Pudge even qualifies.

  • Cellular Organization: Pudge is a unicellular organism composed of a single fat cell. Passes, but barely
  • Homeostasis: Should Pudge’s external environment change, he is unable to stay composed internally. Hard fail.
  • Metabolism: Pudge is able to convert food to poop. Pass
  • Growth: Pudge grows exponentially with time. Pass
  • Adaptation: Changing the cat food from pate to chunky took a few days for him to understand that both were a form of food, but he eventually figured it out. Pass
  • Response to stimuli: Touch Pudge, he flops. Sunbeam? Flop. Pile of clothes? Flop. A single response regardless of the form the stimuli takes. Pass, but only with like a C-
  • Capable of Reproducing: Nope

So there you have it. As far as life goes, Pudge probably falls more in that hazy virus category rather than a fully complex organism. We enjoy his presence nonetheless, but overall, he ranks 3rd on the cat tier list.

Name: Bird
Age: Increasing
Weight: Increasing

This is Bird. Her name is actually an Always Sunny reference, but everyone just assumes her name is Bird because we own 600 of them, and that fine. Bird follows the “scaredy cat” archetype. If you visit, you will never meet Bird, for every sound you make sounds to Bird like an attempt on her life. Despite this, she is adaptive to her surroundings and is the only cat that has shown a shred of intelligence in this household. Additionally, she is the only cat that does not scream at 3am. For this reason, Bird currently has the distinction of Best Cat.

Name: Pea (formerly known as Peacock)
Age: Also Increasing
Weight: Surprisingly healthy!

Pea is the newest member of the household, having been here approximately a year. Amy rescued him as a stray following a hit-and-run, nursed him back to health, and ever since he has loathed her for it and taken to me instead, who gives him very good pets. Suggested names originally included Roadkill, One Eyeball (he originally only had one working eye from the accident), and TongueStickyOutey. Ultimately we settled on Peacock due to his incessant screaming reminiscent of a bird in heat. Since then, he has been neutered, and so we dropped the cock and just call him Pea. Pea is a normal cat. Pea hunts. Pea screams. Pea sees fragile items and knocks them over. Though originally more aloof, Pea has been learning the ways of the flop from Pudge and is slowly transitioning from “wild feral” to “fat flopping cat”. His fear of pate is the only thing keeping him at a stable weight.

So those are our cats. But like any good sitcom, it’s the supporting roles that truly elevate the cast. Here are some of the supporting cats in our lives.

Poopsie is the queen. Dropped off on the side of the road as the runt some 10 years ago and found by Amy and her siblings, Poopsie took her runt status with prejudice and through hard work, became The Greatest Cat. Friendly, curious, regal, lethal, all while possessing the dumbest face, Poopsie combines all the best qualities of cats and shows that microevolution is possible in mammals. She is the mother of Pudge and many other popular kittens, and currently resides in Northeastern Pennsylvania where she can keep a close watch on Amy’s family.

This is CatSpar, the neighbor’s cat. Do not be fooled by his adorable looks and extremely pettable head, for CatSpar has a single purpose in life: To destroy the Snowy Brook cats and void the Three Cat Doctrine.  While upon first glance he may come across as a major antagonist to the Snowy Brook trio, there have been surprisingly fewer coyote attacks since he began making his presence known. Perhaps CatSpar is less of a villain and more of an antihero. Either way, very cute.

We’ve got (top-right) Plume, (bottom-left) Egg, (bottom-right) Marshmellow, and (top-left) We Paid $300 to Have You Neutered 2 Days Ago And Now You Decide to Die? These four cats were all once members of the Three Cat Doctrine at Snowy Brook Farm, but have moved on to other things for various, dead-related reasons. They were all good bois, and it is believed that in moments of dire stress, the current Snowy Brook trio calls upon the spirits of these past lives to help guide them, be it in discovering some sort of new yowl, finding new crevices to flee from scary guests, or learning to poop right on the edge of the litter box for maximum mess.

Alright, you got your animal pictures. Next week we’ll talk desuperheaters! No? More animal stories? Fine.


The Inevitable Heat Pump Post (Part 2)


-It was snowing
-There were some math equations
-These farmers have a whiteboard in their dining room?
-Heat pumps are a good way to save substantial money on heating costs and make the planet less sad


And now for the thrilling conclusion!


Up to this point, the heat pumps I have referred to are all “air-source” heat pumps. They extract heat from the air and move it into your home. Now there’s two issues with this when you’re a farm on the highest point in Erie County, NY, downwind of a Great Lake.

  1. There are days during the winter where extracting heat from the outdoor air becomes a bit difficult, as the outdoor air is -10F.
  2. These systems, just like a central air conditioner, require the compressor to be located outside 

Okay, maybe a heat pump isn’t ideal for this location.

But this is where “ground source” heat pumps come into play. Instead of transferring heat from the outside air, these units instead use heat from water in pipes buried underground, which run into a compressor in the basement. When the heat is extracted, the water cools, but as it circulates through the underground pipe, the ground recharges its temperature, serving as a method of creating a near-perpetual heat source. This type of system is typically referred to as “geothermal” systems because it’s a much cooler term to market, but in reality it’s just another type of heat pump, using water instead of air.

So how much underground pipe does it take to maintain a consistent loopfield temperature throughout the year?

Answer: A lot. For us, it was 5400 feet of slinky pipe buried 8 feet below the ground. All this to achieve a water temperature that varies from 32F in the winter to 60F in the summer. 

But did it work?

Like any completely normal human being, for the last 3 years I had been tracking our daily heating usage, originally with the propane furnace and later on with the heat pump. Here is a plot of the daily cost of heating our house in 2021 was using propane ($2.50 a gallon) versus the heat pump in 2023 ($0.10 per kWh)

Totally normal, human thing to do! Anyways, the end result is that our annual heating bill is $500 instead of $2500, and I don’t spend every evening in the basement sniffing the tiny leaks in our gas line and squirting the joints with soapy water, like normal people totally do. It also produces free hot water in the winter, which will be discussed in Heat Pumps Part 3  is neat!

So that’s it. That’s my tale on heat pumps. But is a heat pump right for you? In almost all situations, an air-source heat pump is a decent investment so long as you’re not currently using cheap natural gas, and you don’t live in New England or California where your electric prices are $0.30/kWh. In a few special circumstances where rebates are available and expert installers are prevalent, a ground source heat pump may even make financial sense. So if you think your situation is right for a heat pump, talk to your local HVAC contractor today and tell them Zach sent you! They won’t know what the hell you’re talking about.

You folks have been robbed of animal pictures for 2 weeks now. I will rectify that next week

The Inevitable Heat Pump Post (Part 1)

Hello again everyone!

Just a reminder that if you’re interested in posts that do not have math in them, please visit the Snowy Brook Facebook page for relevant, interesting farm stories, and not the ramblings of a middle-aged farmhand.

With that out of the way… since it’s snowing today, I think we’ll make today’s topic about HVAC! Buckle up folks

Northern Country Livin’ ™ has its advantages. Cheap land. Serene snowfalls. Waking up an hour before sunrise because your chickens want the world to know that they are both alive and sexually active. But one thing that’s not great about Northern Country Livin’ ™ is the heating bill. Rural areas don’t have access to cheap natural gas, and many homes around here are reliant on heating with propane (or worse, heating oil). At $2.50 for a gallon of propane, you’re looking at $2000+ a winter to heat a typical Buffalonian home to a reasonable temperature (my parents would make it clear that the 63F we heat it to here is NOT reasonable). But folks, it’s 2024. Technology has improved! That’s why we kicked our propane furnace to the curb and got a heat pump installed instead. WARNING! Math is coming

Yes, a heat pump! It’s exactly like an air conditioner, but with a reversing valve that lets it also heat in the winter. For decades, these devices weren’t really an option in northern climates. They work by extracting heat from the air outside and moving it into your home. In Buffalo, heat can be hard to find in the outdoor air in winter. But in the last decade, technology has vastly improved, and heat pumps can now work efficiently even in our climate. How efficiently? Math time!

Electrical resistance heating produces 3,412 Btus of heat per every kWh of electric consumed. In a climate like Buffalo, a typical modern air-source heat pump will run with a seasonally-averaged efficiency of ~3 (COP=3) times more efficient than electrical resistance heating over the course of a winter.

1 kWh of heat pump = 3,412 x 3 =  10236 Btus of heat

The cost of electric where we are is $0.138 per kWh.

So the cost to create one thousand Btus of heat with a heat pump is $0.138/10.236 = $0.0134

Let’s put that nifty result on the whiteboard and store it for later

(Yes, Snowy Brook Farm has a whiteboard. Yes, there does appear to be a list of favorite foods on the left. Yes a story on why we have a massive whiteboard and the top 10 food list would be much more interesting than unit conversion post. In due time, friends. In due time…)

Alright, let’s do the same for propane!

1 gallon of propane burned in a 95% efficient furnace = 87,000 Btus of heat

The cost of propane where we are is $2.50 per gallon.

So the cost to create one thousand Btus of heat with a propane furnace is $2.50/87 =$0.0287

Let’s add that nifty result to the whiteboard

There you have it! $0.0134 <<<< $0.0287. At current utility prices here, switching from propane to a heat pump will more than halve your heating bill. And so that’s exactly what Snowy Brook Farm did! Well, sort of…

Tune in next week for the thrilling conclusion of The Inevitable Heat Pump Post! If you enjoy trenches, digging trenches, or looking at trenches dug by someone else, you won’t want to miss this!

My Favorite Farm photo

Hello again everyone!

I bet you all thought you were getting one update and that was it for the next three years. Well let me assure you I plan to at least do 3-4 updates before forgetting about this page, so ha!

Today’s update is an easy one. While I could post pictures of all the new chicks that hatched yesterday all bundled together with their big beady eyes and photogenic beaks, that content is already readily available on the official Snowy Brook Facebook account. To keep the website feeling like a fresh experience, I will try to create exclusive content that has a more Zachesque flair to it, while constantly pointing you, the reader, to the Snowy Brook Farm Facebook account for actual, high-quality farm content.

Instead of cute chicks, I present you with my favorite farm photo in the 4 years we’ve been doing this shindig. BEHOLD

What makes this photo so good? Is it perfectly circular eye, fully exposed, with an equally perfectly circular black bead in the middle? Could it be the beak, which has the faintest hint of a smile but also the sinister goose teeth sticking through the gaps? Perhaps it’s the feather fluff, which starts out perfectly groomed at the bottom, but gets increasingly erratic as you get to the upper neck. Or perhaps it’s just because the pose reminds me of this Chocobo from my childhood.

Whatever it is, I think we can all agree that the goose photo is without question one of the greatest photos of the modern HD era. If you plan on using it for a photo contest, I only request a credit in the acknowledgements, and a 70% royalty fee.


Zach is taking over Life in the Coop!

Hello all!

Amy is clearly very busy running the actual business. Fortunately, Zach the farmhand has managed to guess the password to the website (it was chicken) and will be taking over this blogging series so that you can participate vicariously in all of our crazy adventures! (note: you can catch up on our adventures through Facebook too but in a more eloquent, controlled, business-friendly prose if that’s more your style)

So what’s changed since… Mud Season of 2021? Well… the Eagles almost won a Superbowl, Square Enix finally made a good video game, and most importantly, we have more avian animals than ever before! The biggest change since 2021 has been the addition of ducks. Many ducks. 50ish. Now some may wonder what one does with 50 ducks. We’re still working on figuring that part out. But in the meantime, we’ve built them a pond! The pond is situated just outside my office window, so naturally morale is at an all-time high and productivity is at an all-time low.

Lots of other things to update you (i.e. probably my parents) with, but we’ll make this a slow drip to keep the content rolling over the next few weeks and take in all that delicious ad revenue. Note to self… find ad sponsors for website.

Happy Monday! It’s almost spring

It’s Mud Season 4/8/21

The weather finally appears to be looking up. Even on the cold days, the sun shines warm. It’s starting to feel like we’re no longer in Washington state and more like we’re in the Northeast. The winters here are long, but the promise of spring is worth it.. All except for the fact that we have to go through mud season first. 


Mud season is one of my least favorite seasons, right up there with mid-February, where the wind blows so fiercely and the air is so cold that it feels like your very breath is being ripped from your chest. While it’s nice to see little blades of grass turning green, buds swelling, and daffodils peeking out from the mulch, every squelching step throws mud onto your boots and our favorite trails to the coops are pock-marked with boot and chicken prints. 


Normally, we move our mobile coops around the pasture every week to give the gals access to new grass directly around the pens (they otherwise can explore as far out as they desire), but just driving around with the Ranger causes rutting, so forget pulling a 300-400lb coop. We just have to be patient until the ground dries out. Until then, it’s a battle to keep the entrances to the coop dried out. The hens thankfully are good at keeping themselves clean through preening and hopping over muddy patches. We’re definitely buying our fair share of wood shavings, and every time I drive past a Tractor Supply, another 5 bags get packed into the trunk. The good news is that in another 6 months, we’ll have plentiful volumes of compost!


We also have some work that’s waiting on things to dry out. At the end of this month, we expect our order of 100 fruit and nut trees to come in, and we’ll need to use the tractor to move soil to plant the trees on mounds so that we don’t have trees drowning in our high spring water table this time around. We also will need to move a few tons of gravel to make the pad for our new “Home Flock” coop. Our berries also need mulched. Problem is, a 4 ton piece of equipment doesn’t mix well with sogged out ground. Just look at the fun thing I did a couple of weeks back…

Running a tractor through the backyard in early spring was not the smartest idea I’ve ever had. Backdragging this area has been added to the “to do” list for summer.

Unfortunately, time waits on no-one, and the trees and shed will come before the end of the month. We don’t dry out until June. The yard is going to get more of those beautiful ruts… which means that I’ll have alot of backdragging and reseeding work to do. That’s okay though. At least we have the equipment and seed to do it.

 “Just two more months” I keep telling myself. “Just two more months and it will dry out”.

We’re Back!! 3/23/21

Welcome back, everyone! I know this little blog has been on hiatus for the past 5 months, and to those dedicated readers, our most sincere “Thank you!” for hanging in there. Remember in our last post (all the way back in October!!!) where I shared that we were being pulled in 1,000 directions? Well, that didn’t let up. The shorter days and incessant snow, wind, and below freezing temperatures didn’t help matters any, either. It takes us about an hour and a half to plow ourselves out when it snows and cracking ice out of waterers 1-3 times a day and collecting eggs 4 times daily from 7 coops really eats up all the free time. Now, we should be in the free and clear, since night-time temperatures are getting above freezing and day time temperatures are high enough to solidify us into mud season.

Some exciting news! We’ve had some custom egg cartons made and will start selling eggs in the next week or two! Our ladies are laying up a storm. The groups include the breeder flocks and the ready-to-lay pullets. When Z and I collected eggs a few nights back, we counted, and got 10 dozen out of a little under 200 birds… Quite impressive for girls just getting into the swing of things. Everyone but the 13 birds in Home Flock are about 7.5 months old, which means that egg size has started out at a light medium, and has been steadily increasing to a light large. The eggs are simply beautiful. With the free ranging everyone is doing now as well as us offering free choice oyster shells to everyone, shells are shiny and tough. While there is little around in terms of grass, the girls are picking bugs and bits out of the field and leaf litter in the woods. This, in combination with the alfalfa in their feed, makes for strong yellow-orange yolks. The whites stand tall and hold together well.

These egg cartons are made of recycled materials. How awesome is that?!

This week, you’ll see a couple updates to our product inventory. We have some updated pictures of our ready-to-lay pullets as well as updated availability. Additionally, because we are getting more eggs than we can set every two weeks, we will be offering a few of our breeder birds for sale as ready-to-lay pullets. They, like the grow-outs, are around 7.5 months old and will lay steadily through the year before taking a break this coming winter. 

Finally, there will be two changes to the “Chicks” page. I’m going to be removing the estimated hatchling availability table because we have been having some trouble getting our incubators to hold temperature properly and the hatches are not meeting our estimates like we thought they would. Instead, we are going to offer a wait list for each of our hatch dates, and if you are interested, please reach out, let me know which breeds you’re interested in and how many, and I’ll contact you as soon as we have a hatch so that you can select your chicks.


The second change is that in addition to our pure breeds, we are going to offer some Home Flock babies for sale. These chicks will come in an assortment of colors, comb styles, and personalities, and will lay eggs that can be blue, green, light brown, and dark brown. We love our menagerie of Home Flock birds, and are looking forward to sharing them with any who want to add a little spice to their purebred flocks. For those who are not familiar with mixed breed hens, they are a delight. No two are exactly the same, and they get to take advantage of hybrid vigor, which means that they will be stronger and will very well likely be better producers than their parents. If you’re not particular about egg or feather color, these will be for you. We’ll also be raising out a few as started pullets and will do our best to put up photos of the individuals available.

Cats on Eggs
Plume and Egg loved laying on the incubators when we were using blankets to regulate their temperatures. However, after having inadvertently raised incubator temperatures, we have discontinued blanket use and crank up the incubator temps under close supervision.

That’s all for tonight! See you next week!

Waste Not, Want Not 10/27/2020

While we won’t spare expense for the welfare and happiness of our birds, we do like to take advantage of a good opportunity now and again. This saga starts with a deck on our sunroom that needed replaced. The 12’x15’ deck was constructed in two different phases by two different owners, and needed to be removed to allow for roof damage repair underneath. Unfortunately, it wasn’t constructed in such a way to allow for disassembly and reassembly, so we requested that the contractors remove it and put it aside for us to dismantle for storage and later use. They agreed, and we got more than we had ever hoped for; not only did the contracting team remove the boards, but they also removed the hardware and separated the boards in piles by size. AH-mazing. 


While the plan was to use the boards in the spring to build new mobile coops, We had to use them sooner than we had anticipated. It just so happened that we had a mink or weasel get into one of our grow-out coops by sliding through the poultry net and digging under 2 feet of perimeter mesh. That little devil killed 16 birds in one night, the wasteful, wanton thing. We knew then that our predator proofing solution was not going to work and that we’d have to put floors in the coops. That’s just what we did. Turns out, the deck took care of flooring for three of our mobile coops of 48 sqft, 48sqft, and 63 sqft with only a couple boards to spare.


Back in August when we built this, we were sure it was predator proof. How were we to know a mustelid could be so persistent?

New floor going in with supports made from railings of the old deck.

Beautiful pinewood floorboards = safe birds and no more nighttime chicken parent anxiety.

Although we hate to have the birds up off the ground for the fertility aspect in our pasture rotation program, we still allow the birds out in runs during the day to fertilize the earth, and we compost the bedding into a rich, fertile amendment to use in the garden.


Speaking of compost, the railings were one of those deck items that I wasn’t sure we’d have a use for. They were only 3.5 feet long and about an inch and a half wide. However, after the attack, it became clear that we needed to build the compost bin system we’d planned for next year asap to compost the mortalities. The evening after the coop floors were in, Amy went out and built the compost bins. We now have three – one for used bedding (to use as carbon for the composting process), one for a primary compost cycle, and one for a secondary compost cycle.


Classy and functional new compost bin!

I will say that last week was a whirlwind of essential and timely building projects. In the moment, it’s go-go-go. However, only a few days later, I can reflect happily on how we can breathe new life into old things and how we can save items that were destined for the landfill. 


All the chickens are to bed now, and I’m going to sleep well knowing everyone is safe and sound.


Until next week!