In 2010 a family of four sold their charming little condo in the increasingly fashionable neighborhood of University Heights. With the money they bought a stripped out house in East San Diego previously owned by human smugglers. Their goal was a radical change in lifestyle that would allow DIY Makerism, self reliance, alternative technology, permaculture, and urban homesteading into their lives in ways their HOA would have never allowed. The ideas that lead them to take this plunge came from the steampunk movement as it was during a brief shining period when art and philosophy seemed at least as important as brass, and great essays, speeches, and letters were written. These days they don't worry so much about what people call "steampunk." They call what they're doing the Greyshade Estate.
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Sunday, May 15, 2011
Fledgling chicken farmers
Chickens are the most numerous species of bird on the planet with a global population of at least 24 billion. There is no nation on earth where chickens are not raised and their eggs and meat eaten. Yet somehow raising chickens is seen by many urban Americans as wildly eccentric or even unbelievable behavior.
“Do you really have chickens?” “Really?” “Nah you don’t really have chickens do you?”
Maybe its because people think they're illegal. Well that varies from city to city but in San Diego they have been legal since 2008. (See page two under fowl rabbits and pigeons)
Of course chickens need a home. A shipping crate in the garage was enough for the four-week-old fluff balls we brought home from City Farmers but they grow up fast. Fortunately we already found a free coop on Craigslist. The reason it was free was that the builder did not know rule number one of raising chickens. Chickens taste good, and not just to humans. The overall design of the coop was good but he had no means of securing the roof/lid. So something came in the night pushed the lid off and ate his birds. I invested in good strong hinges and hasps so this should not happen again.
The coop needed to be placed in the lowest part of the yard and after this year’s cold rainy winter I was uncomfortable with the idea of my flock sitting in the mud. So gave it a floor of half-inch plywood. I also didn’t like the coop being on the ground. I used sheets of concrete board salvaged from the demolition of the tile floor and stacked them to create a level spot and foundation. I placed a shipping crate and on top and painted it with some wood protector. The paint splattered concrete board I disguised with gravel. I put the coop on top of the crate, screwed it place and added two by fours to shore up the front. Within days there were eggs in it. Okay thats because it was Easter. My seven-year-old son thought it was funny anyway. We don't really expect eggs from our hens until September or October.
The coop also was only lined with window screen. That’s enough to keep blowing rain off your birds but again, chickens taste good, and Coyotes can make pretty short work of window screen. I lined the three ventilated walls with half inch welded hardware cloth. Not chicken wire. Chicken wire has wide enough gaps so raccoons can get theirs snouts in and bite the heads off your birds. I learned that at Maker Faire. Lastly I built a ramp and gave it all a fresh coat of paint. Next I plan of building a run for them but that’s another post.