Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Chicken Coops

I was inspired by Ottawa Hortiphilia's ode to first tomatoes and thought I'd try to create a similar post, but with a chicken coop theme.

The first coop I found using a Google search of blogs was at Keeping Chickens in Your Backyard. What a wonderful site! There are pictures of subscribers' coops in the sidebar, too, so you'll be busy for a while! Here is another post that shows a beautiful chicken tractor. It's similar in design to the one I read about in Organic Gardening years ago--that article is what inspired us to raise chickens in the first place!


Over at macerating shallots, they had A Good Old Fashioned Chicken Coop Raising. back in May. And then Arise, Poultry Condo Development, Arise!

Suvir Saran has a post titled Chickens Finally in the Coop, with a link to some pictures of the coop, and if you read the archives, you'll find other talk of the chicks and the coop.

Then there's a Chicken Coop Upgrade and a follow-up post at SFrye732's blog.

At Dustpan Alley, we get to read about a coop for her friend's hens.

We get to see some major work being done at Our New Farmhouse in Germany, when they give the chicken coop a new wall, out of concrete.

There are step-by-step photos at Earthly Swallows from his recent coop construction.

I've posted about our coop before. Here is another link showing the painted floor.

And finally, this is a beautiful green chicken coop at Brood Awakenings.

If you've got a post about your chicken coop, please drop me a comment with a link!

Monday, July 23, 2007

Basement Living Room Nooks

Originally we were going to have a reading nook and dog area under the stairs.


It would have been with a nice stuffed chair, but this was to give perspective. I envisioned a wall-mounted reading lamp and a small shelf on the wall to hold a drink and a book. This side faces the window and the future door, so it would have been quite nice, I think. And someday, it might actually be used for this purpose. But for now, it's Eddie's computer nook. There is some small amount of trim to finish, so it's still not painted.

And this was for a while the dog's bedroom. I'm not sure when we decided to move him out of there, but Thomas has decided to make it his "office." I have no idea how he fits under there! He's even pinned up some fabric on either side and has one of those push lights that you can hang anywhere.

Basement Living Room--Carpeting

What a huge difference! The carpet was installed in March 2006. That was another project we didn't do ourselves. We chose a neutral Berber.
The stairs were carpeted as well.
You can see the newly finished ceiling from the old laundry room area on the top left of the picture, above.
The first (partial) doorway leads to the master bedroom. Then there's the half-bath, and the unfinished opening, where you can see the cinder block, is where we (still) plan to add an exterior door. I'm hoping that after we finish the rest of the siding and windows, we'll do that. Actually, we'll probably put the door in before we side the basement wall.
This is how we framed under the stairs, and where the bookcase will be.
From the other side of the stairs. Eddie nailed down the treads better to stop some squeaking, and so far, so good.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Basement Living Room--Finishing the Walls

I'm adding one picture with the sheetrock jack we rented to do the ceiling, then we'll move on to the finishing.



The next phase was to paint all the walls, and ceiling, including the old rec room space. We'd been using it as a living room for several years, with orange shag carpet and unpainted sheetrock walls. We tore that carpet up, moved most of the furniture out, and started painting everything. One concession we did make to doing it all ourselves was to hire someone to tape and mud the walls Eddie had just put up. The man we hired was a lot quicker than Eddie would have been, and Eddie hates doing that job. The guy had stilts so he could do the ceiling easily. That was fun to watch.

We primed with white paint first. This is the other half of the new living room, that we'd already been using.


The other end of it, toward our bedroom.


Same corner as above, painted light blue.


You can see where we had to frame in the ductwork we added when we put in the central heat. There was just concrete under the carpet. The new carpeting really made a big difference. That'll have to wait till tomorrow.

Basement Living Room

The basement had been divided by a wall where the stairs came down. To the left was the rec room and to the right a door that lead to the unfinished laundry room. If you went left, the rec room wrapped around behind the staircase. At that end of the house there was a fireplace and the wet bar that is now my office.

We took the section from where the top of the stairs was to the fireplace and added a wall--that closed the furnace off from the rec room.

The old laundry room area was closed off from the wet bar, and we took that dividing wall out. We moved the washer and dryer, water heater and a mop sink into that wet bar area (new office), which was also open to the furnace room at that point. It's hard to explain. I've drawn an approximate current floor-plan here (I think you'll have to click on it to see it well):
These are some pictures of the second half of the basement remodel project. Most of the work was done in January 2006.

This was before we did any work, other than to tear down the wall dividing the old rec room from the old laundry room. They had insulated these walls, but not put up any sheetrock or paneling. The flooring was that ugly brown vinyl tile that was in my office, as well. We hadn't removed the walls from the stairs yet.


Here we've removed the old insulation.


Eddie had to do some work on the gas pipes, and we'd taken down the old 2 by 4's and installed a new window. The kids had a lot of fun with the demolition phase.


In this picture, we've built a new 2 by 4 framed wall and added insulation and new wiring. We had to frame the ceiling, too, so we could put sheetrock on it. There had been no ceiling before in this area--it was exposed to the insulation between the basement and the floor above. The walls are gone on either side of the staircase here.


Now we've started the sheetrock. Yeah! I'll put the rest in another post.

Home Improvements list

We've been working on our house since we bought it over 7 years ago. It wasn't in bad shape; it was just built in the '70's and hadn't been updated, ever. So far, we've:

  • completely gutted the basement and added a dual-fuel furnace (I think it's the Eagle II), with all the associated duct work and vents and air intakes all over the house--there was just electric baseboard heat everywhere--and enclosed the furnace room to keep the noise down (if you're wondering, the furnace burns wood and liquid propane)
  • torn out all the dark, dark brown wood paneling that was everywhere
  • built our master bedroom down there--it's a walk-out and really sunny
  • built a master bath, and added a window to it
  • replaced all the windows that were already there with ones that worked :)
  • redone the half bath that was down there
  • moved the laundry room to what was the tool room--kind of an add-on room made of cinder block (the roof of it is our deck from the dining room upstairs), and painted it a lovely light orange, reminiscent of an orange pushup--it's also a mudroom, and holds the extra fridge (where the dozen eggs per day are kept, and Nute's raw food), and has a couple base cabinets to store extra food supplies
  • replaced the orange shag carpet with a nice Berber in the new basement living room
  • created an office where there used to be a wet bar, with a nice window that I can watch the chickens and other birds from
  • torn out the walls on either side of the stairs to make the room look less divided and increase light
  • created a nook under the stairs where Eddie now has a small computer desk for working at home, when not at his office

Yet to be added is a door to the backyard from the living room, and some painting. Oh yeah, and the stairs still need handrails. We also might put an enclosed entry when the new door goes in. Eddie's going to make a built-in bookcase to store DVDs and books and CDs in the living room on the wall where the stairs are, on the other side of the computer nook.

Up on the first floor we've done a lot of work also, including having:

  • replaced the front door, and more recently added a nice storm/screen door
  • remodeled the whole kitchen and dining area--new cabinets, appliances, even the ceiling was replaced
  • removed the door that lead to the basement
  • turned the wall in the kitchen that led to the stairs into a half-wall, to allow more light to go downstairs, and give the kitchen a more open look
  • added insulation to the attic
  • put up new gutters
  • added a/c!
  • replaced the dark brown wood paneling in the foyer and painted it a cheery yellow
  • removed the strange vertical wooden boards that were meant as a divider of some sort between the foyer and the living room (now the kids' rec room) and made a wall there instead
  • replaced the sliding glass door from the dining area to the back porch
  • started replacing all the first floor windows with new-construction windows--two double windows, two singles, and a huge picture window with attached side windows that open are done so far
  • started replacing the once-yellow aluminum siding with vinyl--again, the front of the house is done because it was an easy place to start with
  • gutted Emily's bathroom (she has the old master bedroom and tiny master bath original to the house), which started out as a small remodeling project to find and fix a leak in the shower stall area, put up new sheetrock (awful green wallpaper in there), and update her sink, which led to our discovering mold behind the shower wall tile, requiring us to pause and reflect on just what on earth it is we're doing, and put in a small window

We still have three windows to replace, and we'll need some kind of scaffolding or walk boards on jacks to do them and the siding. We've had great luck using freecycle http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Freecycle_Charlottesville/ to get rid of our old wood frame windows. Someone on that list is building a workshop for himself and can use all of them as we take them out. We've (really Eddie) done all the work ourselves, with the exception of the attic insulation and the drywall finishing in the basement living room. Thus the 7-plus years it has taken us!

We also:

  • built a workshop for Eddie that's 14 by 14 and still doesn't seem large enough for him!
  • built a chicken coop that's got electricity (ok, by extension cord at the moment, but someday it will be a buried line) and gutters leading to a rain barrel that waters the chickens automatically
  • fenced a big yard for them that is covered with bird netting to keep out the predators (mostly). They do roam during the day, but if we have to go somewhere for a couple days it's good to keep them enclosed.

I'll add pictures when I have more time!

Update: I've added links to some of the projects now so I thought I'd re-post this as a new article.

Basement Half-Bath

This is work we did back in 2002. We built the half-bath at the same time as our new master bathroom. There had originally been one bathroom in the basement, and it was rather large, but a waste of space and in the way when we were designing our master bedroom.
So when we started all the framing for the master bedroom and bathroom, we included the framing for the new half-bath. This one is much smaller but is really all that's needed. Here's what it looks like now, about 5 yrs after we finished it.
Simple oval mirror, basic sink and vanity, Formica laminate flooring (similar to the Sienna style, Torino Travertine color), all from Lowe's. Eddie says he'll never install Formica brand flooring again. We had used Armstrong for our master bedroom, and it was really easy to install. This stuff wasn't.

The window opening was in the original bathroom, but we replaced the window itself. New toilet, beadboard for the lower half of the wall and chair rail.


It's a tight squeeze--the door hits the toilet bowl when you open it too wide.


I like the little corner shelf, where I've put some old family photos.

This is the light fixture, also from Lowe's (similar to this one).

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Old Wet Bar Turned into Office Space

This area was a wet bar from the mid-'70's. Then we used it for the laundry room, and it also had the hot water heater. I have a new laundry room now, with hot water heater, mop sink, and small refrigerator to store the extra chicken eggs, frozen food, jugs of water just in case, etc.


The mess of items is in the future office--we were working on the rest of the basement too, at this point.

We tore off the dark wood paneling and firring strips to get to the bare wall.

We built new 2 by 4 walls, installed a new window, added insulation against the cinder blocks, wired the room, and started on the sheet rock. All in one day, I swear! :)

Once the sheet rock was installed we started on the floor. There was this lovely brown vinyl tile glued to the concrete floor. We decided to just leave it. Then we installed laminate flooring with a foam layment beneath it. That door leads to the furnace room.

We added chair rail to cover the seams--pretty clever, eh? Eddie hates mudding and taping and sanding. We also installed a drop ceiling.

This is a view from the furnace room doorway through the office and into the laundry room. That chest freezer now lives in Eddie's shop, and we installed a base cabinet in it's place.

This shows the painted walls--bright white! It was originally Eddie's office, but now it's mine and I haven't bothered to change the color. But there are a lot of pictures on the walls, and a couple shelves.

Replacing Windows on Front of House

We've been replacing all the windows on the first floor with new construction windows. These are pictures from when we started back in the fall.

Old window already removed.

New window being installed.


Emily and her new window.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Old Pictures of the House

This first picture was taken probably in 1999 or 2000. The previous owners had been crazy about hollies. We ended up digging them out with a small backhoe. They also had a lot of irises, which we also scooped out and I replanted in various parts of the yard. We still get lots of little holly twigs growing in those front beds. I guess we didn't get all the roots out. They're really prickly!
This is a shot of our backyard from the deck off the dining area. Sometime in late December 1999 or early in 2000. A comparison of the tree line is in the next picture.



This is a picture from before we moved in, but it's around December 1999. This is in the living room looking toward the front door, and there's that louvered wall-thing that we removed. I don't know what it's called, but it's gone now! We put in a real wall when we were re-doing the foyer.

No, we didn't buy that ATV. Eddie was hoping to persuade me, though. We ended up buying a more practical lawn tractor/riding mower instead. But this shot shows the front yard toward the driveway. There are holly bushes there that, by the time we took this picture in July 2000, we'd already cut down from about a height of 7 feet or more. They lined both sides of the driveway. Now we have a nice 4 board fence instead. The front yard felt like a secret garden, which was really kind of neat, but we needed more room for the kids to play. There were several large trees that we cut down later, as well, including the one to the right in this picture.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Chicken Coop Floor

I was feeling inspired on Thursday to paint the chicken coop floor (our storage area, not where the chickens live). Eddie had floor paint left over from his shop floor, so I used that and rolled on two coats.
I'm not sure what the chicks were thinking about all this, but they didn't seem too disturbed.
I'd like to paint the four hanging doors that open up for us to reach in and fill the feed and water, and where the nest boxes are, too. But I haven't decided if they'll be red or white yet.
The white will get totally covered in red clay dust, so probably red is better (plus we've got more of it). It doesn't bother me on the floor, because I can sweep that or hose it down once in a while.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Another Corner with New Siding


Whew! That part is done. Now we'll move to the back of the house and replace one bedroom window, one bathroom window and one kitchen window. Plus tear down the old siding and put up new siding. But only for what is technically the first floor, but because of the slope the house sits on, we have a full two stories above-ground. The basement level outside wall is cinder block that's been parged. And boy is it ugly! I don't even know what the original color was supposed to be, but it looks kind of off-white to tan now.
But before we can side it with the vinyl, we have to build a framed wall to attach it to, and fill between the studs with probably an insulation board. I think the wall will only be a couple inches thick, maybe 2 by 4's turned flat. So that's got to wait, according to Eddie, until we finish the "easier" part--working a full 2 stories up, over a concrete slab. Yeah, that's easier. Did I mention my fear of heights and falling?