the colonel, earth oven pizza

104 again today, not too hot to enjoy a mesquite fired earth oven pizza though.
The Colonel takes over the adirondack chair.
Grandson Drake does a fire dance, thankfully there hasn't been a fire in there in a while. Now if we can get him to do a rain dance instead. ( Joey looks on from a safe distance.)


house progress

Managed to work around the ridiculous heat and have most of the floor framing done. Triple digits for two weeks and it's only the third week of June. We've lost all three of our turkey chicks and a chicken to the heat. The survivors seem to be doing good in the new chicken ark though. The footprint and scale of the house project has hit home and, although small, it is 4 times the size of the camper that we've lived in for a year now and looks plenty big enough for the three of us. The house will be less than 900 square feet of conditioned space. There will be an attached screened porch and front deck for extended living area and the vintage camper where I am now will still be serving permanent office and guest bedroom duties. There may be several outbuildings including the storage shed, a separate studio and shop, a storm shelter / root cellar, tree house, chicken coop, junk gazebo, etc. Anyways... The pix show a pretty straight forward frame of 2x8s and a triple 2x8 treated sill on the concrete piers. This will put the finish floor about 2 to 3 feet off the sloping ground. Floor areas are blocked out for recesses that will hold vintage bricks under the woodstove and a thicker mesquite tiled floor in the bathroom so they will be flush with all the other floors. The floor cantilevers 30" all around to a total width of 14' and about 4' out for two extended bays in the bedrooms at each end which required some perpendicular framing to handle the overhangs. The chickens and dog will have free rein of the shade under the house and the floor underside will be sealed from critters and insulated. The composting toilet system will tuck under the back side and a grey water tank, plumbing, and electrical risers will also be under there. We plan on plenty of native grasses and planting to help hide some of the foundation although the board formed concrete was an intentional added texture. I want the floating and cantilevered effect to denote how the house sits lightly on the site. Will start floor decking in a few days and may try and raise the walls and roof framing in the next couple of weeks with some bartered help.


chicken ark / coopdiminium

We've built a portable chicken tractor (I prefer the more commonly euro term chicken ark; tractor sounds a little too industrial) to house 12 chicks and 3 turkey chicks. They are about 4 weeks old and getting along smashingly. The ark is framed with 2x2's all ripped from various salvage 2x material and sheathed in salvaged corrugated tin. Our only material cost was new poultry wire and a few hinges; we had plenty of old rusty wire but this new stuff is vinyl coated in a nice dark green color that goes away visually and has fewer sharp points. Two vintage tricycle wheels
(borrowed from our junk gazebo) at one end and a handle to lift at the other provides portability. We scoot it around every other day or so once the chicks have cleaned and fertilized the 4' x 8' footprint of the enclosure. Unlike most other designs we've seen with a coop at one end, I built the coop all down one side and completely elevated to provide more ground area and plenty of shade from the central Texas sun. The ramp up the back side lets them access the coop at night. We've been having to encourage them up to the roost at sundown every night but they are catching on, and come daylight they all come parading down by themselves cheeping for food and water. A popular place seems to be the perch under the coop that also holds up the end of the ramp, they hang out up there under the shade of the house above and scope out the action below for grasshopper activity. A gate on the pen side near the coop door lets Jeree change the water and two large doors on the front gives easy access to 12 nests inside to harvest eggs once they start laying. We don't expect to keep all 12 full grown chickens as layers, they came unsexed so we're not sure yet just how many hens or roosters we've got. We'll deal with harvesting and thinning the flock in a couple of months but expect the place will be plenty big enough for 8 or so full grown birds. The turkeys are just in the ark for their protection now and will be free range soon enough, supposedly the turkeys will not tolerate the chickens when they get bigger. So far their personalities seem to be that the turkeys are more clever and adventurous than the chickens despite all the stories we hear about how stupid the turkeys are. The chickens will be free range when full grown too but just like Motel 6, we'll leave the door open for them to roost.

It's no accident that the design is very similar to our own house design with the pen on the back reflecting the screened in porch. The house shape was derived from vernacular sheds (and chicken coops) with a one way sloping roof to gather breezes and provide natural ventilation, provide shade where it is needed most and to harvest rainwater most efficiently with a single straight gutter along the back edge.