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Old and new

Posted by joeabbott on January 24, 2015

Sitting here typing up a blog post feels new but only because it’s been so long. For those who visit me here, apologies for the long delay … I’ve been recharging. And, as I get back into the swing of writing, I’ll relate two of the big things happening here in the last couple weeks.

The roof over our heads

WP_20141123_001When we expanded the house with the addition of Suzy’s office, we were quite excited: it has sweeping territorial views, it used a space that had been under-used as a deck, and the crew building it out did a nice job with bamboo floors and a sliding door. But that was three years ago and while it is still a pleasure, the novelty has mostly worn off.

But, when Suzy noted a dark stain on our entryway wall high at the ceiling, we started looking more closely.

WP_20141120_005The upshot was the crew who’d installed the room didn’t install proper flashing when they roofed that portion. There’s been a lot of back and forth with the builder, his crew, and “recollections”, but the guys who came out to repair things spent 3-4 hours on the roof, including a trip to a local hardware store to buy additional parts. I have no clue what was or wasn’t right, but from that alone it sounds like something big was missed.

Inside our house the issues manifested themselves in interior walls that were wet, finish work that bubbled, and flooring that started warping. From the end of November through mid-January we had a couple of industrial dehumidifiers roaring in our home, 24×7. And, in the final week of the repairs, Suzy’s office was taken over and we had scaffolding in our doorway keeping us from entering or leaving through the front door.

We’ve yet to sit down with the builder to work out who pays for what. On one side, the work was done three years ago on the addition and his warranty is a year; on the other side, the error was unmistakably the result of work his company completed and not following standard construction practices. His communication through email is often quick, but almost always incomplete and rarely includes appropriate follow-up. While we were discussing the repairs it was frustrating; now that we have to work out who pays what, it’s nice for a respite from the conversation.

The best news here is that, after literally hundreds of dollars in electricity for running the dehumidifiers, after all the inconveniences of service people and equipment over the holidays, and while the discussion of the final bill looms, we can sit snug and happy in our home, knowing we’re secure from the constant rain of a Seattle winter.


P1070194We’ve had chickens for quite a while now and their utility and the benefits we get from them exceed their costs. That’s a fairly clinical way of saying, “we like them”. And so, with another year coming on, we opted to get a small flock of chicks to bolster our older and somewhat less-productive hens.

P1070198We’re not only expanding the flock, but we’re doing so by enough that we will want to expand the coop. Those plans are in the works and will undoubtedly be the focus of another post or two, but let’s now talk about raising chicks.

First, we had no experience but I flatter myself in thinking we’re modestly intelligent, we’re committed to our pets’ well-being, and we’ve reserved appropriate funds to provide for them. I say that in introduction to the fact that, of the 13 chicks we’ve brought to our home, only 8 have survived. It is hard to type that and was harder to live through. Little animal lives we had for less than a day in a couple cases, but they died while in our care. That’s tough and has us asking all sorts of questions about what we did, didn’t, and should have done.

And yet those remaining are flourishing.

Daily we notice differences in their thistle-down coats, in their wing development, and how they’re socializing. While I’ll post about building out their brooder, Suzy will start posting chick pictures so you can get your fix of the chicks on her blog.

The brooder we had when they were less than a week old was an over-sized plastic storage box. Two, actually, as we nested one in another for better insulation properties … and managed to melt them together with one of the heat lamps we were using! The second brooder is really just a plywood box with high walls.

IP1070203 picked up a 4’x8’ sheet of OSB plywood and cut it into four 4’x2’ sections. Then I trimmed two of those sections to 3’x2’ so the final box would fit on a table we wanted to use. Now that I had the sides, I grabbed a few pieces of scrap hardwood and used that as blocking to hold the sides together. It’s a simple system so we just had a couple more steps!

P1070204For the floor, I cut a piece of flat 1” thick styrofoam insulation I had in a corner of the garage and laid that on the bottom. Because chickens scratch and peck, we form-fitted a piece of cardboard over it as snugly as possible. On top of that, Suzy would then lay in about 5” of wood chip. But we feel good about the floor.

The last piece was screwing two 1”x2” boards externally to the sidewall that stand about 15” over the top edge. These boards have holes in them every two inches and allow another 1”x2” board to span the entire top. From this spanning board we’re able to hang the necessary heating lamps to keep the inside of the brooder a nice 95°F right in the middle or a cooler 70°F off in the corners where the food and water is kept.

Oh, I also whipped up a couple of top panels, simple scrap wood screwed together in a frame with some coated chicken wire stretched over it. Those weren’t really works of art but they suffice.

P1070207    P1070210

And that’s it .. a home for our chickens while they’re tiny! They’re growing like sprouts so we’ll need another temp coop setup outside, but that will be a different chapter.



As always, thanks for dropping in and I’m hoping I have enough of a charge to keep this up and stay in touch. I hope your New Year has started out well and we’ll see you next time!


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