Our chicken coop situation, project & video on YouTube!

When we moved to this property we knew we’d have animals in the future. We also knew there was an existing chicken coop attached to the shop and a detached tack shed but otherwise no other animal “structures” on the property. The coop hadn’t been used in years and the run was pretty demolished by who knows what.


So since I’ve spent the first 5-6 mths on this property cleaning up around the 8 acres, fixing up the house and doing minor repairs inside I decided it was time to start on animal projects. I’d love to get my chickens and pigs before we come out of winter just because I want to have them here and give them time to adapt to their new home before we go into summer, as I presume that will be the hardest time of year for them here in southern Arizona.


So last week I decided to go ahead and start doing something about this chicken cook situation. Below I’ll show you photos of what it looked like before and also some photos of the work we did on it last week PLUS a video tour I posted on YouTube! The link to that is near the bottom of this post!





This is the outside storage area, like a “carport” off the coop.



Inside the coop



Inside the coop



Inside the coop. It has a little shelf over there in the corner and there is power in here to YAY, I can add a light on an automatic timer switch if I need to give them either more light in the winter or put a heat lamp in there. In the summer I’ll have a fan on each size of the breeze way circulating air in there to try to keep them cooler.



Behind the coop, the old run. With a big desert bush in the middle.



I’m not sure what is up with that half way behind the storage area but it looks rough!



That bush.







Outside storage area as of about 2 weeks ago.



Over the last few months as I have been removing or trimming trees I have been saving certain limbs that I thought would be useful in the coop. I read an article about having some limbs attached to the inside of the coop and that the birds like to “chill” or “play” on them, lol! So that is what some of these are for!



I cleared out all the stuff I had in there and just raked out the whole area. It was just all nasty. I moved these little storage shelves I had in the shop out there as temporary storage. Then once I did that I got to thinking about how that opening faces the south and how this little area gets good sun exposure but not direct all day long. So I got to thinking this might be a good area for a temporary green house type experiment. Or maybe when I start seedlings inside I can bring them to this spot to transition to outdoors before I plant them outside. More research to be done on that though later!




Then the door wouldn’t open more than 1 foot…




So I started raking all the dirt out of the way blocking the door and quickly realized it wasn’t just that but 1 of the hinges on the door was broken.





I got the hinge repaired, added some support nails and got the dirt all cleared so now she opens 75% of the way and closes perfectly since it’s all level now! Yay!



I put some pots here because I’m just trying to envision really what it’s going to be like. I know there are a few herbs that are really good for chickens and since I’m also studying Permaculture at the same time I have decided there is at least 1 fruit tree that I’m going plant right beside the run so they can eat the fruit when it drops (plums) and then also I’m going to plant blueberry bushes along their fence line for them to eat as well and I can harvest the other side they can’t get to. But to start I’m going to plant some herbs in pots near the door so that those can start growing and I will use those to cut some off and give to them as treats as I walk by all the time.





What you see here is the coop in the middle, a covered storage area on the left, to the left of that is the wood fence to my backyard, on the far right is the outdoor storage area beside the coop that I showed you above and to the right of that is the gate that leads to my house and where I park. I had to tackle removing this big bush since it takes up (what I presume) is all of the OLD run. The new run will be much larger.





Before I started this project I put out a reqeust on Facebook on local farming/homesteading pages asking for advice on how to remove this bush/tree and if anybody knew what kind it was. Since this is the desert and that thing was surviving all by itself just fine without being watered or cared for I knew it had to have deep roots. Which would make it harder to remove.


Luckily, within a few minutes I had some very helpful people sharing great info with me! Turns out it is a Greasewood bush also known as a Desertbroom bush. These guys not only are natives to the Sonoran Desert and DO have super deep roots BUT they are also very beneficial! They need no maintenance technically and their leaves have medicinal purposes. So upon researching the type further and confirming it is in fact a Greasewood bush I found that the leaves when crushed and used in numerous ways are anti bacterial, anti viral, relieve muscle aches, help upset stomachs, you name it! I’m all about having “useful” plants on the property so I was very glad to learn all about this guy here on the farm and how really there is no reason for me to get rid of him. The birds will like some shade and might also want to play in some of the lower limbs so I decided to keep it.



Since it has a bunch of smaller limbs I didn’t think my chainsaw would work, I thought I’d have a lot of kickback. So I did first try my jig saw and a hand saw and neither went very well. So I went and got my chainsaw and Riley helped hold the smaller limbs down while I cut so that they weren’t popping back.



We got the majority of the bigger ones along the bottom cut out and pulled away.



Then got to work on the smaller ones around the bottom with the pruning sheers.



So we got a lot cut out but the run was still a mess and the sun was setting.



This is what this guy looks like close to the ground. Lots of big and lil limbs just going all over the place. I’ll have to make sure to prune this every few mths so it doesn’t get all wild again but that’s totally fine by me.



Finally got the whole area raked out of debris, trash, horse poo, etc.



She’s all cleaned up! The biggest thing left to do for the run is build all new fence around it, put in a gate/door, predator proof the bottom with hardware cloth, put netting over the top and add some features inside the run that I want to do like you’ll see below in my Pinterest inspiration photos. So yeah, still a lot to do but cleaning this up motivated me to keep at the project finally!









I’m still amazed at how it actually looks like a tree from a distance even though it’s just a bush. It is so tall it has to be at least 3-5 years old. And something that has survived that long on it’s own I just couldn’t dare remove.


Here is the video on YouTube I just published today talking about this chicken coop project, doing a tour of the inside, introducing my puppies to you all (lol!) and a photo collage at the end of all these photos I just shared on here!





I want a run built like this but with netting over the top!





I like the idea of having a super cute door like this on the run as a “gate” just because it’s so cute! And I may have an extra door or two I could use for this it is just a matter of making it work. But I do love the pop of color as well!



I’m going to plant some things in the run in boxes like this for the chickens to eat as they grow UP because I just think it’s such an awesome idea! So this will go outside in the run!



I’ve also read that chickens like to “play” on stumps and I have plenty of logs big enough for this so I’ll jam a few in the ground in the run for them to play on.



Not only am I in love with the “fresh eggs” sign and just have to have one but I also love that they have all these potted plants and flowers right outside the chicken coop. I probably won’t do any non edible flowers unless I’m trying to bring bees to the area (there’s an idea….) but I will definitely do herbs and cumfrey right outside the door and also along their fence line.



I love this PVC automatic chicken feeder idea!



I want the chicken coop to be on solar for the minimal things that will be running out there and not really because it needs to be because there is already power to the coop but just as a step to gradually move all structures on the property to solar and all NEW structures will be only on solar.



This is one of the ideas I saw where they use tree limbs in the coop for the chickens. In fact, I hope my coop looks a lot like this one because I’m going to paint it white in there and I also have to do the ceiling and I have enough limbs to do a setup just like this one for my chickens.


Well, thank you again for stopping by and checking it out! I hope you enjoyed the post and the video! If you have any suggestions on what I’m working on or what type of dual purpose bird to raise here in the Sonoran Desert that can handle the heat, I’m open to suggestions!


Please subscribe to stay up to date on what we’re doing here on our start up homestead! =D




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DIY twin bed frame FREE!

So a couple of weeks ago I decided Riley needed a new bed frame. Let me clarify, he has one…but it is at my ex’s house still and so when we moved here we just put his two mattresses on the floor and he didn’t care because…he’s a boy…and…he was glad he could go plop down or throw himself on his bed, lol, without having to worry about breaking anything! Ha! Boys! Well it got to bothering me and one day in the backyard taking clothes off the line the pile of old wood 1x4s caught my attention and I GOT AN IDEA!!!!


The idea to TRY to make a twin size bed frame totally out of just our mind’s creation was born! I could have looked it up online to get some guidance but I was just pumped to go at it, do it with Riley and us figure it out together along the way through good ol’ fashioned trial and error!




Here we go!



This is a pile of 1x4s we had laying around from a trellis we tore down.



This is a 2×2 post from what used to be part of a porch or something on the back of the house. Now it just hangs out there all alone so I cut that off with the chainsaw to use as the 6 feet or supports.



We did measure the mattresses and stuff to figure out what our final width and length would need to be once assembled, I let Riley do the math while explaining a few things to him and then we cut some pieces down to the size we needed.



I let him do A LOT. Because once we started the project he really got intrigued and had a genuine interest in building something tangible which is probably the first time he’s ever done that. Typically if I need something demolished, he’s my guy. But now, I’m fostering this love of building in him as we both have much to learn and it’s a very good thing!



I must say that he approached this project with this idea that (based on HIS experience in his video games and especially Minecraft) that he can just build and do anything. Even though in real life he lacked a lot of the actual skill and really had zero experience. And I quickly noticed his “Get it done attitude” quickly changed to “What in the world am I doing here” because he realized his ideals of what he thought he knew how to do were not really in line with reality. This was a beautiful thing for me to see as a Mother!!!! I took it as an opportunity not to criticize him on the false security his video games give him but rather to sit and show him how to properly hammer in a nail, ways to hold it, how to hit it in straight, how to fix it if it isn’t straight, etc. Once he realized he didn’t know a thing about it, lol, he was willing to listen to Mama Bear.



A frame is taking shape! AND we lost daylight. This idea was born at like 4 or 5pm and it got dark quick so we put the tools up and headed in and Riley himself (I totally was too) was super excited to work on this again the next day. Anything I can do to encourage him to be self motivated to get outside and especially work on a project (being as he’s home schooled, basically an only child with his younger brother living in Arkansas, we have no neighbor kids nearby and he’s an introvert anyway) then I’m all for it!



So Day 2 we set out and since he had gotten a handle on a lot of the basics on day 1 with just using a hammer and nails and putting stuff together, I did a lot of over-seeing. Proudly, might I add.



Max had to come out and meander around, wondering what we were up to. Once he laid down right in the middle here, lol, until he was in our way. Riley liked having his best buddy around to watch or “help”! 😉



Well now that is kinda lookin’ like a bed frame! =D



We measured our support pieces, nothing here is perfect, let me say that. I made sure that the frame was level, were the right final dimensions and all the feet were level. Beyond that, we left the wood that old peeling blue paint that was on that aged trellis for at least 10 years. We cleaned off each piece and actually came across a few pieces that had termites on it so those got pitched to maybe use later for something else. So these were all cleaned up, dust free (mostly) and bug free but definitely is not perfection, which we’re totally fine with.



He has a navy blue bed skirt somewhere but for life of me I couldn’t find it so temporarily so we could revel in the accomplishment of the completed project, I put this green one I had on there.



Tada!!!! <– As Riley would say! =D It is done! He has this Angry Birds blanket my Mom got him years ago and now that we have our sewing machine I plan to quickly learn how to quilt to make both of my boys awesome bed quilts in their favorites themes. Riley’s will be a Minecraft quilt and I’ve already picked out the inspiration and pattern so hopefully I’ll get that done this winter!



Here is an over view of the final few steps!


Riley, is SO happy with the project! Not only did he do probably 80% of the work but we did this in 2 days, just an hour or two each time, he learned a lot, I learned a lot, I immensely enjoyed watching my child’s knowledge and experience grow in a subject I’ve never been afforded the opportunity to teach him until NOW and he has a bed up off the floor.


Even though when I first mentioned this idea he wasn’t even sold on having a bed frame because he liked his mattresses on the floor NOW he is convinced. He loves it, our dog Max who sleeps with him loves it, everybody is happy!


I kid you not for days when I’d walk into Riley’s room and he’d be laying on his bed watching a video on his phone I’d just look at him and say “Omg, you’re on your bed! How awesome is that thing!” and we both would just beam with pride!!! That is a feeling INSIDE that you can’t replace and you sure can’t buy!!!





If YOU know of any other super, super easy wood working projects my son and I could try together please comment below here on the blog so that we can look into them! Thanks for reading! Don’t forget to subscribe so you don’t miss a post! <3

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07-01-15 Major tree trimming & first tree removal!

Miss Bella enjoys being outside with me when I’m working on the grounds. I like having her nearby so that she might alert me to any critters nearby that I don’t see myself first.

This is a midway picture of a tree that I cut down. 

On the left is a before shot of this pitiful, ugly dead tree. It was in the center, front of the house on the front side of the bamboo so it was the FIRST thing I saw every time I came home. I checked it out and there was no saving it. So I set out to chop it down. This was my first “tree removal” and just my 3rd time ever using a chainsaw.

Tree down!

Here are some pics of taking out that tree! Chain came off again but since I had figured out how to fix it last time I was able to quickly get it back on this time and proceed! A proud moment!

Before and after!

Then I took to the driveway area to trim the 4 trees to the right that lead to the house. Of them 3 looked pretty bad but salvageable and the one to the far left (which you can barely see because it has no green on it).

A lot done! Got it all gathered up into 2 piles. I was going to burn it like that then it dawned on me later that it all needs to be chopped up smaller before I can burn it and I should cut up some of it for fire wood!

Riley playing outside with his new airplane! I love anything that he does that gets him outside! =D

After getting the trees all trimmed up I fertilized them all!

Two of these trees have some root exposure which I can only assume is due to the aggressive east to west cross winds we get here regularly. So I’ll need to figure out how to fix that and prevent it!

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06-28-15 My first chainsaw & setting up the pool!

I got my first chainsaw!!! I had been wanting it for a few weeks itching to trim up some neglected trees around the property. I needed affordable so I went electric so that I could get brand new and a warranty. I was honestly a bit scared to use it with nobody around to help me, warn me, school me SO I read the ENTIRE owner’s manual! Then I changed from my normal summer yard work attire of a bathing suit and flip flops to jeans, a shirt, my boots and gloves! Safety first!!!

I set out to trim the pomegranate trees that are between the pergola and my car. I forgot to take a before picture but really it was just a little harder to see through it because half of the limbs were dead, brown limbs. So I cut those off so that the rest of each tree can thrive again.

Here is a before and during shot!

And a before and after! I LOVE the afters when the ground is all cleaned up and raked, makes me feel happy inside!

This is a before and after of the front of the front yard. By that I mean that of the front 2 acres of the property, there was a small front yard fenced in in front of the house. The front fence is under/behind that dead bamboo to the right (that is yellow). That fence isn’t entirely enclosed now but nonetheless, this is what I consider the “front yard”. There are 3 oddly placed trees (species undetermined) and then 1 tiny stump where one had died (originally there were 4). So I trimmed them up, pulled and raked up all the weeds! This is also an after shot of that lattice on the deck gone, yay! I hope to eventually put steps off the front of the deck because it looks odd to me that there aren’t any there and there are only steps over on the side. So I want to add steps off the front center of the deck for visitors. And of course, plant lovely flowers and bushes along those already established flower beds!

While working on the trees I got ALMOST done with what I was planning to do and the chain came off the chainsaw. I freaked out for a minute because I realized I had no clue how to put it back on. So I brought it in and resolved to figure that out later…by myself!!!

We also did our first fire. It isn’t like…a BIG deal or anything but I hadn’t been around a trash fire in several years, since I was a kid. Living in the city the last 15 years, people don’t burn their trash, only tree trimmings. I have had to make sure to sort out glass, certain plastics, cans, etc in the house and taking into consideration what goes in the trash CAN because that is what goes to the bin to be burned. This first fire we did was for all of our boxes from moving.

Riley, for some reason, enjoys fires. I’m not sure if that’s a warning sign or what, haha! So he manned the fire while I was elsewhere trimming the above trees.

Then we had another fire to do that was a bunch of tumble weeds I had gathered from the backyard. There were too many to move to another location so I decided to just burn those in the yard and that went fast, which was great!

Second successful burn pile! And…I have since done some research on interesting uses for ashes so in the future I’ll be saving these as well! #useandreuseeverything

That day, (I think you can tell we got a TON done outside) we also prepped the side of the backyard for the new above ground pool. I had wanted one as soon as we moved to the farm because I was raised either around water or with a pool and Riley has pretty much always had a pool to swim in, we just love it! So after doing some research on a good above ground pool we could put up this summer and leave up and maintain for 2-3 years, I found a good one a friend was selling at a yard sale. I got it for a good price and they also gifted me a bunch of accessories as well! Score!

So we had to rake and pull all the weeds so that the ground was flat. Then I got it wet and raked it again to try to level it out.

We put the pool up following the instructions on a YouTube video.

Riley was a big help, he was very excited!

I setup this cute thing outside on part of the pergola to hold towels and stuff for swimming. It’s a fun and cute idea but something I learned over the coming weeks was how all the wind, monsoon storms and haboobs we have out here…towels can’t stay out there in between each time we swim or else they end up in the yard.

Riley playing in the water hose while I’m standing in the shade taking pictures of the pool, lol!

We got the pool and pump all setup and the water hose in it to fill it up.

Some wrinkles in the bottom which honestly, I didn’t think were that big of a deal. Come to find out (who would have thought!?!) that once  you add more water getting those wrinkles out is impossible. The wrinkles suck because they hold dirt and they make the pool look, imperfect. So that was a big lesson learned this summer!

I put up 3 solar yard lights around the edge of the pool so that in the evening  you could see your way to the pool and it just looked cute! I also took a 4 ft tall white plastic shelf I had in the shop and put it beside the pool, right up against it, with a cement block on the bottom shelf. The purpose of this was to have a surface to place items on while in the pool like drinks, cell phones, sunglasses, etc. That worked out great for that! The cement block in the bottom did succeed in keeping the light weight shelf in place during the storms.

Riley had to get in the pool when it didn’t even have 2 feet to water in it! =)

Almost there….

Okay we couldn’t wait any longer. At this point we both dove in, aired up the floaties and had some fun!

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