We Built a Chicken House!

Heather and I have talked about raising chickens ever since we moved into our house 8 1/2 years ago. Not only will it be a great way to get fresh organic eggs, but I feel it’s important to be connected with our food and understand where it comes from. And to answer your question, yes, Heather raised chickens and goats when she lived in Michigan. So I’ve got a good teacher. The boys are excited to help too, and as you’ll see below, they helped in the construction of the coop.

The first thing we did was choose the site. Did we want the coop near the garden, next to the fruit trees or near the house. We knew that we weren’t going to have a rooster, so noise wouldn’t be an issue. Even though the chicken house wasn’t going to have a large footprint (4’x4′) , we did want the chickens to have enough space to move around outside. One day I saw Heather walking around our blackberry bushes about 200 feet behind our house. She walked forward a few steps, backed up, made a turn, put a stake in the ground and seemed satisfied with the location.

The next step was coming up with a design and obtaining the materials. For a little over a year, we’ve subscribed to Backyard Poultry Magazine. It gave us great ideas for building a coop, breeds of chickens, food, etc. Ultimately, Heather was inspired by a chicken house adjacent to Bruce’s pre-school last year. Regarding building materials, a friend gave us some old barn lumber plus we used some wood we kept from different outdoor projects. The hinges and shingles came from The Restore for just a few dollars. When you add up the cost for screws, caulk and cement for the posts, it came out to around $20. That’s roughly the same as 4 dozen organic eggs. So we’ll make our money back quickly.

I’ve enjoyed the building and researching process, but there’s still more to do. I’ll put up the wire fence in the spring to keep out predators then we’ll order the chickens (3-4 to start). If you have a suggestion for a hearty breed than can handle Wisconsin winters, let me know.

Like any building, we start with the foundation.
Kyle and Bruce help me dig holes for the four posts.

The posts are in the ground and I secure the floor.

Voila! Project completed. I also shingled the roof.

The chicken house sits about 200 feet from our home.

We Built a Chicken House!2013-01-02T13:45:12-06:00

Green Curry Chicken

Heather recently bought me The Complete Asian Cookbook by Charmaine Solomon. Last week I tried this recipe and it turned out great!

2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breast, chopped
2 cups coconut milk (I used low-fat)
1-2 tbsp green curry paste
1 green bell pepper, diced
2 tbsp fish sauce
4 tbsp finely chopped fresh basil or coriander leaves
4 tbsp finely chopped cilantro

Cook chicken pieces in 2 tbsp peanut oil. Once lightly browned, add coconut milk and curry paste. Cook for approx 15 minutes. Add fish sauce. Simmer for 30 minutes. Add basil simmer for 5 more minutes. Serve over rice.

Green Curry Chicken2012-02-28T18:01:43-06:00

Chicken-Pineapple Stir-Fry

If you are looking for some new pungent fall flavors to warm you up, try this delicious stir-fry flavored with Chinese 5 Spices and Hoisin Sauce!


3 Tbsp Hoisin Sauce
1 Tbsp cornstarch
1 1/2 tsp. Chinese Five Spices spice mix
1 1/2 lbs. chicken – cut up in small pieces
2 Tbsp peanut oil
2 Tbsp chopped ginger
1 green onion (chopped; separate green from white parts)
2-3 small carrots, chopped in small pieces
3 stalks celery, chopped in small pieces
1 red or green pepper, chopped in medium pieces or strips
5-6 mushrooms, sliced
2 cups pineapple, cut in slices or chunks 
Approx 1 cup water or can use chicken broth for more flavor
2 tsp rice vinegar (optional)

1. Combine first four ingredients in a mixing bowl. Cut up all veggies and have all other ingredients close at hand.
2. Heat oil in wok or stainless steel skillet on high heat until it begins to “smoke”.
3. Stir fry ginger and white parts of onion for 30-45 seconds
4. Add chicken and stir fry for 1-2 minutes.
5. Add hard veggies: carrot, celery – stir fry a minute or two
6. Add pepper, mushrooms, pineapple, and water or broth plus rice vinegar
7. Cover with a mesh screen and let steam for approx. five minutes. 
*If you don’t have a mesh screen, use a lid, but let some steam escape out the side.
8. When veggies are cooked to desired tenderness and sauce is reduced 
down a bit take from the heat and let sit for a minute or so to encourage the sauce to set up a little.
9. Serve over rice 
10. Sit back and savor the flavors as you admire the beautiful fall colors!

Chicken-Pineapple Stir-Fry2009-11-18T11:45:48-06:00
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