The weekend went by in a bit of a blur. Ever have one of those? It wasn’t unpleasant, just very busy, some of it productive, some of it the general busyness of life. It was very much the weekend of the chicken coop. I realize that I’ve said precious little about our chickens since writing about their impending arrival some weeks ago. We have nine Americaunas – a mama (Esme) and eight babies, who are rapidly gaining in size. They will be layers (well, except for a couple of boy chicks for whom we will have to come up with an alternate game plan), and a proper coop was high on the list after their arrival (we’d been expecting two chicks, not an instant flock!). With the weather closing in on us, we feel the clock ticking.
Unlike so many of our projects, we didn’t go for a completely from scratch solution with the coop. We felt overwhelmed by the timeline and just didn’t have the time or energy to think through a coop entirely of our own construction. We were thrilled to find a new storage shed made of rough boards and a metal roof that fit the bill: at 11 x 7 feet, it’s just about ideal for our mini flock. With some basic insulation, metal sheathing to keep out chewing critters, and the infrastructure needed for a roost and nesting boxes, we could call it done. And we’re nearly there.
This shot shows a wall that has been insulated and sheathed with plywood (metal still to go on top), next to a wall, under the window, that has yet to be given the same treatment.
The R-factor isn’t great here: 3.75 is all we’re adding through the insulation, plus whatever extra warmth we’ll gain from the plywood and metal sheath layers. Chickens don’t need a lot of additional warmth, but a draught-free abode will be essential here in the frozen north of Eastern Ontario.
Oldest son was kind enough to pitch in throughout the weekend, in spite of a schedule that saw him work a six-hour shift at the library on Saturday. He’s pictured here on Saturday evening.
Other weekend highlights included:
A trip to the last local farmers’ market of the main harvest season with our dog, Reggie, and our youngest son. We picked up a bunch of butternut squash to round out our own homegrown stash in the root cellar, two huge bags of heirloom carrots, a gorgeous head of red cabbage, and some dried corn on the cob for popping right in the microwave. Youngest son loved popping the first cob later that night for a well-earned movie evening, but suggested that we intersperse it with ‘regular popcorn’ (from our jar of kernels) to make the cobs last longer.
A number of quickly-thrown together meals including the last tomatoes from our own garden tossed in a saute pan with some shredded zucchini and garlic (it was delicious!).
A bit of baking, mainly the really delightful Easy Pumpkin Cranberry Pear Cake from Green Pocket Protector, which I’d been keen to try since reading about it last week. It was every bit as yummy as I thought it would be, and I must encourage anyone who loves a good tea cake or pound cake to give it a try. While Libby’s recipe calls for dried cranberries, I used fresh (as they are abundant here at the moment), and I combined spelt and regular unbleached flour in a 2:1 ratio, but otherwise my cake is completely true to Libby’s version.
A bit of preserving, after a self-imposed break from the same. The beautiful head of red cabbage that I picked up at the farmers’ market on Saturday was shredded, salted, rinsed, and then packed in brine and placed in a water bath this evening as my youngest hummed and hawed about going to bed. No comment on the bedtime antics, but the lovely and simple cabbage treatment can be found at Canning Homemade!
A bit of pumpkin carving, in preparation for Hallowe’en later this week. Not pictured is oldest son, who fashioned a pumpkin with multiple faces. I promise to post final pictures on Hallowe’en (if I remember!).
Also in the line-up were multiple loads of laundry and battening down the hatches for the expected rains and high winds related to Hurricane Sandy, neither of which was terribly photogenic. We are a good 10-hour drive from New York City, but Eastern Ontario is expected to get hit by Monday evening, so we’ve taken sensible precautions. Otherwise, it’s business as usual as we head into another busy week, and a bit of Halloween madness.