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Sunday, May 15, 2011
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.
Friday, May 6, 2011
Thursday, May 5, 2011
|Saving the original wood floors has been the biggest challenge of the whole Greyshade Estate project to date, but it was also one that had to be done now or probably never. The logistics of it all once we fully moved in would have been nearly insurmountable. We would have had to put all our stuff in storage and tent camp in the backyard for a month or two. We’re tough people but I’m really glad we didn’t have to be that tough. As described previously the first step was to demolish the old tile, cementboard backing, mildewed carpet and cheap MDF baseboards. Then we removed the hundreds of screws, nails and staples that had been used secure the tile backing and carpeting. This was a big risk because the only thing we knew about the floors was what they were like in the master bedroom. For all we knew the rest of the flooring might have been ripped out and replaced with plywood. As it turned out we already saw the worst of it under the bathroom addition but all those patches will be inside closets eventually. The only other patches were a small one in a bedroom (shown post sanding next to the broom) and a large one were the original floor furnace used to be in the living room. This patch sagged whenever I stepped on it. You see it in the picture with the large dark area of the floor. That dark area turned out to be asphalt stain, one of the most hard to remove finishes ever put on floors. Next came the longest phase of the process, research. I knew almost nothing about floor refinishing four months ago. One of the first really good pieces of information I found was the video below.|
The first thing I figured out after this video was that I certainly had tongue and grove hardwood flooring. The second thing I figured out was that no tool rental place in town has ever heard of a Clark EZ-Sander. In fact, only one store had orbital floor sanders. Several people warned me that drum sanders will leave lots of dips and can leave gouges in unpracticed hands. The majority of people I spoke with who had refinished their own floors regretted it, but on our budget professional floor finishing was out of the question. I had a lot to think about.