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Poly Furniture in Ohio – A Great Alternative to Regular Furniture

Posted on October 28th, 2015

Today, many people are conscious about recycling and care about the earth. This includes reducing the need to cut down trees used to make items such as homes and furniture. Poly furniture is becoming more and more popular in the United States, and there are many reasons why.

This type of furniture is made with recycled materials, including recycled post-consumer waste and virgin raw materials. The poly used in outdoor furniture is treated with UV stabilizers, so it never needs to be brought indoors. Regardless of the weather, you can keep this furniture outside and it will never fade, mold, or mildew.

Finding poly furniture in Ohio is not difficult. Many companies make this excellent, well-built type of furniture. The furniture comes in a variety of types, sizes, and colors, and includes items, such as rocking chairs, porch swings, tables, benches, and footrests. Colors usually include basic black, green, brown, cherry wood, white, and gray. Plus, it is a fun product to own!

How is the Furniture Made?

The furniture usually begins with lumber that is made with high-density polyethylene (HDPE), a plastic polymer made with corn, natural gas, petroleum, and other ingredients. It is a high-quality wood and allows items made with it to be long-lasting and durable. This type of furniture is a must for any items that will be left outdoors on a long-term or permanent basis.

Furniture such as this is a great way to protect the environment and reduce the carbon footprint one leaves behind. It is easy to clean and requires little to no maintenance. It always looks good!

What Other Options are Available?

Furniture like this comes in a variety of styles and sizes. You can choose classic or contemporary designs, such as Adirondack porch swings, rockers, chairs, and gliders, in addition to a variety of table and chair sets in all sizes. Other designs include various types and styles of regular chairs, double-seat chairs, children’s chairs, high-back chairs, fan-back chairs, chaise lounges, and chairs available either with or without arms.

In addition to many traditional colors, poly furniture can often be found in colors, such as pine green, teal green, weathered wood look, dark red, purple, orange, pink, blue, and even striped patterns. There truly is something for everyone when looking to purchase this type of furniture.

Regardless of the color, style, shape, and price range, you can find exactly what you are looking for when it comes to furniture. Reducing a carbon footprint and the knowledge that you are helping the environment are just two of the reasons to choose this type of furniture.


Finding the Best Outdoor Storage Sheds in Ohio

Posted on October 28th, 2015

Households have various needs. Some families are large, some are small, but regardless of the size, most families have one thing in common—the need for more space. Whether the family’s home is small or large, many families find their houses fill up quickly with furniture, toys, and other belongings. These days, many families choose to clear up this problem by purchasing an outdoor shed.

What are the various options when looking for an outdoor storage sheds in Ohio? Plenty. There are many companies that make outdoor sheds, so finding one should not be difficult. What are sheds used for? What sizes are available? Can they be delivered? These are all excellent questions, but questions that are easily answered.

Types of Storage Sheds

Outdoor storage sheds come in all shapes and sizes, and when looking for the perfect storage shed, a family must first determine what its storage needs are. Does the family have a roomful of items to store, or simply a few outdoor items such as rakes and weed-eaters? Does the family live in an area with four seasons, or is it warm most of the time? These questions will affect both the size of the shed, and the type of material the shed is made of.

Storage sheds are custom built and can be manufactured in classic styles, colonial styles, or come in ready-made kits. Most are made of wood. A good quality company will offer a variety of sizes and types, but will make even the least expensive shed a sturdy, well-built one. The company should also offer a variety of prices. Classic styles include sheds made to resemble small homes—some even have a flower box attached—as well as those that look like barns and even workshops. Colonial style sheds are made to resemble the classic colonial look, and even include those that are unique in shape, such as round or octagonal.

Uses for a Storage Shed

Families can also choose to save a little money by purchasing a pre-made shed kit. You don’t have to be fooled by the name. These sheds are as high quality as others, but because they are pre-built, the sheds are a very cost-effective option. Outdoor storage sheds often are available pre-built, so this is a fairly common option.

Storage sheds do not have to be used only for storage, however. There are a lot of creative uses for a storage shed—including playhouses, game rooms, animal shelters, and storage for crafts materials. Since most sheds are available in sizes from eight up to twenty-four feet in length and diameter, it is easy to purchase a shed that fits most needs.


Homegrown Vs. Grocery Store: Which Veggies Are Actually Better?

Posted on October 27th, 2015

 

 

So you think you know which veggies are better, don’t you? Well, you are probably right. Homegrown veggies are better in every way, and below we will show you why. We think that if you actually knew the benefits of homegrown veggies, you might even start to grow them. (Crazy thought, I know.) Below are seven reasons to get started on your garden, today!

 

  1. More Flavor

Isn’t this the real reason you eat? Your tongue will thank you every single time you choose homegrown over store bought. The reason for this? There are actually several factors that we will get into later in the article, but the main one is that you are picking and (hopefully) eating the veggies on the same day. You pick veggies when they are ripe and ready to go, while national brands pick them before they are ripe and then attempt to ripen them during the travel from place to place and finally the supermarket.

 

  1. Higher Nutritional Value

I would guess that this would be an obvious one to anyone who knows what goes into getting produce from the farm to the store. The suprising thing is HOW MUCH nutritional value is lost by the time it is on display, waiting for you to buy it. One study done on this found that in 1951, an adult woman could meet her daily requirements of vitamin A by eating two peaches. By 2002, she would need to eat 53 peaches to obtain the same amount of vitamin A (Ramberg and McAnnelley, 2002). Commercial agriculture of the 21st century seems focused on enhancing shelf life of produce, often at the expense of taste and nutrition. This means that maximizing your nutrient dollar in our current grocery store climate is a daunting task and can result in produce lacking in both flavor and quality.

 

  1. Ripeness Effects Nutritional Value

Although we technically already covered this, the ripening of veggies and fruits has deep repercussions on the nutritional value as well as the taste. Although we should give props to those that are in charge of getting food ripe and fresh to the store, (because it isn’t easy) we can do ourselves a favor as well and get ripe food from the garden when it is ready.

 

  1. Species Used Are Based On Temperance

There are a myriad of choices when it comes to veggie specie choices. When a grower decides on a certain kind of tomatoes to grow for a large number of stores, what do you think goes into that decision? They always pick the species type that is the most flavorful and nutritious, right? Wrong. They pick the tomato types that will be the most forgiving in transport, that will stay ripe the longest, and will LOOK the most ripe/nutritious. If you want the most flavorful/nutritious veggies out there, you are going to have to make that happen yourself.

 

  1. Cheaper

When you take into account the time that you spend in the garden, it may not be as cheap of an option, but if you have the time or want to make the time, you will keep some dollar bills in your pocket. Buying seeds and starter plants is very cheap, and will afford you the option to “have it all” without burning a hole in your pocket.

 

  1. Preservation Problem

This is a little bit of an issue on both sides. The veggies that you grow in your own backyard will very likely not last nearly as long as the veggies that you get from the supermarket. Combine this with the fact that there is a very high chance that you will have a lot of the same plants ripe at the same time and you can very quickly have a problem. You may start to get very sick of eating carrots after day four and decide to throw the rest out. Here is the flip side though. Commercial growers often use chemicals and gases to preserve the produce for as long as possible in order to make it through transport, shelf time at the store, and finally the time it takes you to eat it after you bring it home. The downside of this is that you may be ingesting some things that are not good for your body; in fact they could be harmful.

 

  1. You Get To Decide What To Grow

Are you craving some Mortgage Lifter Tomatoes (The biggest tomatoes in the world)? Good luck finding them at your local grocery store unless you live in Jacksonville Texas. If you ever find yourself wanting a certain type of veggie, your best bet is to grow it. You can decide what to grow, how much of it to grow, and eat it at the most tasteful and nutritious time…the day you pick it.

Although a garden is not for everyone, it is certainly a great option for those that have the time and the area to cultivate one. You will save money, eat healthier, and most likely find your food to be a lot tastier!

 


Ultimate Guide On Growing With Greenhouses

Posted on October 2nd, 2015

1. Why Buy A Greenhouse?

So you think you may want to start growing your plants in a greenhouse, huh?

Cottage Kits has a wide variety of greenhouse kits to choose from, but first we need

to see what fits your needs and find out if a greenhouse is really right for you.

Some of the main benefits of a greenhouse are: 1. The ability to grow a wider range

of plants than was previously possible in your area. 2. The ability to extend the

growing season to year-round in areas where it may get very cold or very warm.

The resources below dive further into this topic and will give you a good start on

knowing all about greenhouses.

  • http://www.greenhousegrowing.co.uk/whyuseagreenhouse.html
  • http://www.livestrong.com/article/124424-advantages-greenhouse/
  • http://www.greenhousecatalog.com/why-a-greenhouse

2. Types Of Greenhouses

There are two different ways of differentiating greenhouses. The first is by size and

complexity of the greenhouse. When looking at the greenhouses this way there are

three types included: cold frames, starter greenhouses, and grower greenhouses.

The other way of differentiating greenhouses is by temperature level held inside of

the greenhouse: cool greenhouses, warm greenhouses, and hot house greenhouses.

The size and temperature level that you will need will be based on your climate and

the plants that you will be growing. The resources below will give you a better

understanding of the types of greenhouses and will show you what is ideal for your

situation.

  • http://eartheasy.com/how-to-buy-a-greenhouse.html
  • http://home.howstuffworks.com/lawn-garden/professional-
  • landscaping/alternative-methods/greenhouse3.htm

3. What Greenhouse is right for you?

Cottage Kits has a wide variety of greenhouse kits to fit each customer’s needs.  You can check them out here: http://www.cottagekits.com/greenhouse-kits/

4. What else do I need?

Now that you have the greenhouse, you are probably asking what else you will need

to start planting and tending the plants in your new greenhouse. Depending on how

serious you are going with this, you will need things like humitity monitoring tools,

heating adjustment tools, shelving, lighting, shading and temperature monitoring

tools, among many others. Find out what you need and where to get it below.

  • http://www.earthcaregreenhouses.com/blog/news/tools-materials-greenhouse/
  • http://www.greenhousemegastore.com/category/greenhouse-equipment
  • http://www.gardenandgreenhouse.net/index.php/past-issues-mainmenu-18/140-2013-garden-greenhouse/october-2013/1656-essential-greenhouse-tools

5. Picking a site

Site selection is often overlooked in this process, and ironically it is also one of the

most important factors. Elevation, pest factors, stability, flooding probability, and

many other factors can change within even a small backyard, so making this

decision is a big one.

  • http://www.growingproduce.com/vegetables/12-tips-on-choosing-the-best-

greenhouse-site/

  • http://newfarm.rodaleinstitute.org/features/2005/0305/gh1/
  • http://www.vegetable-garden-basics.com/vegetable-garden-planning/choosing-your-greenhouse-site.html

6. Tending A Greenhouse

Now we are getting to the good stuff! We have done a lot of research on what you

will need to get started, but now we want to get those plants growing! We have to

understand important factors that go into making a successful growing season in a

greenhouse, including: good air circulation, the correct levels of humidity, finding

the perfect levels of light, and buying the right soils and fertilizers.

  • http://www.rodalesorganiclife.com/garden/tending-greenhouse
  • http://www.motherearthnews.com/organic-gardening/greenhouse-growing-cultivation-zmaz11zsto.aspx

7. Flowers vs. Vegetables

What you are growing will make a big difference in what you need to do to cultivate

and tend the plants. Below are some general resources and tips on how to grow

flowers or vegetables and the different needs each will have.

Vegetables

  • http://www.ext.colostate.edu/mg/Gardennotes/723.html
  • http://www.douggreensgarden.com/greenhouse-vegetable-gardening.html

Flowers

  • www.youtube.com/watch?v=U982JIjOe6Q
  • http://www.proflowers.com/blog/greenhouse-gardening-guide

8. How To Clean A Greenhouse

Last but not least, we need to know how to clean out our new greenhouse. This will

ensure that enough sunlight is coming in, and help to keep any dust and harmful

pathogens from collecting over time and potentially contaminating the air that is

needed by the plants in the greenhouse.

  • https://extension.umass.edu/floriculture/fact-sheets/cleaning-and-

disinfecting-greenhouse

  • http://www.dummies.com/how-to/content/how-to-clean-and-maintain-

your-greenhouse.html


What Is Polywood And Why Use It?

Posted on October 2nd, 2015

If you decide to make the trip to Amish Country Ohio, you will start to notice a few things. First of all, it is a great place to relax and enjoy some of the most amazing views God has created. The other thing you will notice is that the Amish and Mennonite community takes great pride in creating handcrafted items. In recent years, there has been a resurgence of small shops in the United States that are bringing back manufacturing and jobs that had been pushed off to other countries to save money. The Amish, though, were at it long before this resurgence took place, and the experience and quality shows.

As you drive through the area, you will notice shop after shop after shop that specializes in some type of wood product, leather, or metal fabrication. One of the materials that has been on the rise in the area over the past few years has been Polywood. The million-dollar question, though, is what exactly IS Polywood, and why are these businesses using it?

I think that Wisegeek.com said it best, so I will just use their description here:

“Polywood is a composite building material made from thermoplastics. It is a plastic lumber that is designed to look like wood, and is used in many of the same types of applications as traditional wooden lumber. It’s made from plastic fibers that are pressed together under high heat and pressure levels to form solid planks, beams, and sheets of material.

Pure plastic lumber is made entirely from recycled plastic materials, which are shredded, melted, and molded into wood forms. Many companies also dye their products, offering several colors for consumers to choose from. Composite lumber typically includes wood chips or shavings, with the plastic providing structural support, making it sturdier than fiberboard and other products made from compressed shredded wood. Fiber-reinforced plastic lumber is made with recycled plastic and glass, and it is extremely strong and very durable.”

Ok, so now that we have answered the million-dollar question, we can answer the next question: why do companies use it? Here are the 5 biggest reasons it has become popular:

 

  1. It Is Weather Resistant

This is most likely the greatest reason that Polywood has become popular. Many of the shops that use this material use it for outdoor furniture. Because of the nature of the material, it will not break down, and can withstand most of the inclement weather that usually destroys wood. Rain, sun, snow, hail…it will not affect the Poly. This means that you will be able to enjoy the furniture long after you would have had to buy a new wooden piece for the back patio.

 

  1. It Is Extremely Sturdy

Wooden Adirondack chairs break. That is a fact. They are not known to be sturdy, rugged, or withstand large amounts of pressure. Polywood Adirondack chairs are. Good luck trying to break one of these things. They will not blow away in the wind, they will not splinter, and they will survive the majority of the things that are thrown its way. Gorilla recently released a commercial showing how to fix the wooden Adirondack chair problem, glue! Because that won’t look tacky…

 

  1. It Is Saving The Environment

Unlike its wood competitor, Polywood is actually saving the environment. As stated earlier, it is made from recycled plastics. Instead of polluting the earth with these plastics, they are made into usable furniture. Because the plastic is extremely sturdy, you will not have to buy new pieces of furniture anytime in the near future either. Some companies will go as far as to grant a lifetime warranty, showing the commitment and belief in the product itself.

  1. It Is Vibrant

One of the coolest parts about Polywood is that it can be dyed to any color you want. It is not painted or stained, so there won’t be any kind of chipping or loss of vibrance over time.

 

  1. It Is Low Maintenance

All of the previous reasons eventually lead to this great feature…it is low maintenance. Really, there is no maintenance as long as you don’t find a way to break it. You will not have to repaint it, restain it, or ensure that it stays out of the elements. It will stay vibrant, stay sturdy, and stay functional for as long as you do. You already have plenty of other things in your life that need constant maintenance, why add your outdoor furniture to that list?

So, are you ready for some peace of mind, along with more dollars in your pocket over the long run? This may be a small investment up front, but it will always pay off in the long run. Don’t take my word for it, though. Try it for yourself. Come out and visit the Little Cottage Company and try out one of our Polywood chairs, tables, or swings. It will not take long for you to see the difference.

Want to check them out online first? You can learn more here: http://www.cottagekits.com/polyfurniture/


9 Very Cool Backyards and Patios

Posted on October 2nd, 2015

So you bought some Polywood furniture from The Little Cottage Company. Now what(If you haven’t taken that step yet, you can here: http://www.cottagekits.com/polyfurniture/)? If your backyard is lacking the wow factor and fun that you want in a patio, we are here to help. Below are nine of the coolest ways to create a neat backyard setting that friends and family will never forget.

  1. Cool Fire pit areahttp://livedan330.com/2014/07/23/patio-design-ideas/

coolfirepitWhat better way to make your patio inviting than to showcase a fire pit in the middle of it.  The stone barrier and large stone flooring make it a perfect setup for an are out in the Rockies.  (As an Ohioan, I think that I would like it just as much.

2. Spool? http://www.hometalk.com/563626/small-backyard-this-spool-is-the-perfect-solution

spoolThese homeowners did not have enough space for a full size pool, so they went with a spool instead. This thing is cool on hot summer days so you can cool off after a long day’s work(Or maybe laying out).  It will also get hot for cool nights when you want to sit back, relax, and enjoy the night sky.  The stone waterfall also gives it a natural and inviting look, as if it is your own little hot spring.

3. Pergolahttp://backyardsclick.blogspot.com/2014/08/fantastic-design-for-narrow-patio.html

fantastic design for narrow patioHave a narrow patio?  Check out this neat pergola that spans the length of the backyard (Or lack thereof) of this house. It is a perfect way to add some character without making the space feel cluttered.

4. Outdoor kitchen- http://thegardeningcook.com/favorite-outdoor-kitchens/

outdoorkitchenYes, this is another pergola. But it is also much more than that.  This is a full-on outdoor kitchen.  This is a GREAT space to enjoy a meal with your spouse and kids during those beautiful summer nights.

5. Cool plant boxes

flowerboxes

These neat flower boxes not only brighten up the space, but they are also very functional.  They are perfect for the flowers to get plenty of sun, while keeping them in an easy to reach area for watering.

6. Neat Pathways- http://www.hometalk.com/180949/pathways-design-ideas-for-home-and-garden

neatpathway

The blog post above has some neat backyard pathways. It doesn’t take much to add one of these, but you may be surprised at the difference it makes to the look and feel you will get.

7. Large trees, lighting on patio- http://www.thegardenglove.com/12-inspiring-backyard-lighting-ideas/

treelightsThere are some very cool ideas on how to light up your backyard in the post above.  (I personally like the cracked logs with a lantern inside.) This picture is of a patio that has these lights on the tree year round to give character and utility to a place where family and friends gather.

8. Want a jungle backyard? http://www.hgtv.com/landscaping/tropical-garden-retreat/index.html

junglebackyardThe post above shows you exactly how to build a rainforest in your backyard…and it won’t even take hundreds of years to grow!  We know that privacy is important, and this is way cooler than a privacy fence.

9. Swings around a fire? http://www.diyncrafts.com/2122/homemade/fantastic-summer-diy-project-build-swings-around-a-campfire

swingsaroundfireThis may be a little much, but it would be a comfortable statement piece to all who come to visit for an evening bonfire.  Who wouldn’t want to swing while talking to others and roasting a s’more?

 


The Ultimate Guide To Raising Chickens

Posted on September 3rd, 2015

ultimate chicken-2

 

  1. Starting From Scratch

There are a lot of things to take into consideration when debating on whether or not you want to start raising some chickens in your backyard. It can be a bigger task than most people realize, but it can also be very rewarding on the other side. Here are a few tips to think about before buying your first chicks:

  1. Remember that it takes 4-6 months from the time a chicken is hatched for her to start laying eggs.
  2. You will need some sort of shelter for your chickens. This shelter will not only give them a place to lay, it will also give them protection from the weather as well as any predators that might want them for lunch.
  3. The natural food of chickens is bugs. They need space to move around outside that includes grass so that they can dig and find food.
  4. Although chickens cannot fly they can use their wings to get over small fences, so make sure you build accordingly.
  5. You will want to have feeders and waterers ready to go when you bring your chicks home.
  6. Once the hens are ready to lay, you will want to have nesting boxes for them to lay their eggs in.

 

Biggest Benefits of Chickens

People love Chickens for the free eggs! Raising chickens is a great way for someone who wants to have a farm to start because it is relatively easy and can be very low cost. Another benefit is that you are getting eggs as they are and fresh…they have not been tampered with like many of the eggs you will find at your grocery store.

 

Biggest Drawbacks

The smell. This is by far the biggest setback to those who may want to have chickens in their backyard. Chickens do not smell good. Another disadvantage to those who have close neighbors is that they may start to resent you for the noise that is coming from your house. Chickens can be loud, especially if you have a rooster. The most obvious setback is your time and energy. Although you will not have to do a lot, you will have to do more than if you just buy them at the store. Do you have the time to feed, water, and gather eggs?

 

Here is a great resource to help you make your decision to raise or not to raise chickens.

http://www.wilderness-survival.net/raising-chickens/

 

  1. Chicken choices

There are so many questions to answer when you finally decide to move forward with the chicken raising. How old will they be when I get them? What kind of chickens am I going to get? How many chickens do I want to have? Should I get a rooster? How many eggs will my type of chicken lay per day? The list goes on. Below are some resources to help you decide what type of chickens will best suite you and your environment.

  1. http://www.backyardchickens.com/products/category/chicken-breeds
  2. http://www.mypetchicken.com/chicken-breeds/breed-list.aspx
  3. http://www.small-farm-permaculture-and-sustainable-living.com/types_of_chickens.html

 

  1. Building a Home

So you decided you want to raise chickens, and now you know what type you want to bring to your little farm. Now it is time to buy or make the coop. Although there are a lot of resources out there that help you build your own, there are kits that will help you do the same thing much quicker and it will save you some headaches along the way (Not to mention your chickens will thank you for doing it the right way). Here are some resources about chicken coops, as well as a shameless link to our store where you will find the best chicken coop kits out there.

  1. This Old House
  2. http://www.cottagekits.com/chicken-coops/

 

  1. Raising chicks: The Beginning Stages

Finally, we have everything we need and we are ready to start raising our chickens. Now is not the time to get overwhelmed, because we are going to help you every step of the way here. The main three things you will need right now are a feeder, something to give them water, and a red brooder lamp. (Protection from predators is very important right now as well) Below are some extra tips to keep in mind in the beginning stages of your chicken career.

  1. http://www.almanac.com/blog/raising-chickens/raising-chickens-101-bring-baby-chicks
  2. http://www.tractorsupply.com/know-how_Chicken-Care_how-to-care-for-new-baby-chicks
  3. http://www.mypetchicken.com/backyard-chickens/chicken-care/chapter-4-caring-for-baby-chicks.aspx?t=1

 

  1. Gathering the Eggs

 It will be a long wait until your chicks will turn into hens, and your hens start to lay eggs…or at least you will think so. Like we said at the beginning, it usually takes around 4-6 months for chickens to start laying eggs. Because you are used to buying eggs at the store, you will have to learn what it takes to collect, clean, and store eggs that come from your backyard. (Don’t worry, though, it’s a pretty straightforward process.) Luckily, there are some helpful articles that talk in detail about this that were made just for you.

  1. http://www.almanac.com/blog/raising-chickens/raising-chickens-101-collecting-cleaning-and-storing-chicken-eggs
  2. http://www.backyardchickens.com/a/cleaning-and-storing-fresh-eggs
  3. http://theprepperproject.com/might-know-fresh-chicken-eggs/

 

  1. The Full Circle

Unfortunately, chickens, just like humans, are not immortal. Everything is fresh and exciting until you get to this point in the road. We have to answer the hard questions like: “when will my chickens stop laying eggs?” What should I do when my chickens can no longer lay?” “How long do chickens live?” Every good chicken owner has to face these questions at some point in the process. Below you will find some answers to these questions and hopefully be able to help your chickens live and lay for years to come.

  1. http://www.mypetchicken.com/backyard-chickens/chicken-help/How-long-do-hens-lay-eggs-H76.aspx
  2. http://www.almanac.com/blog/raising-chickens/raising-chickens-101-when-chickens-stop-laying-eggs
  3. http://www.opb.org/news/blog/ecotrope/what-to-do-when-backyard-chickens-stop-laying-eggs-/

 

Now that you have the information, go and use it! Dragging your feet because you are scared that you don’t know enough is no longer a good excuse. If you have the time, money, and place to raise your own flock of chickens, (And a desire of course) then today is the day to make a trip to find some baby chicks. Trust me, you will be glad you did.

 

 


Having Chickens In Your Own Backyard

Posted on September 3rd, 2015

Yes, you read that right! While many people only think of chickens clucking their way around farms, more and more are choosing to raise their own backyard chickens. Chickens require relatively little space to thrive, and can be a rewarding experience for any family. Why might you want to raise chickens?

Fresh Eggs

Clutch of freshly laid eggs in barn setting with straw

Clutch of freshly laid eggs 

Naturally, one of the main reasons for raising your own chickens is the fresh, delicious, and nutritious eggs you’ll find right in your backyard. Many breeds lay an egg a day, so depending on how many chickens you have and how many eggs you eat, you could be sharing with friends and family! Because backyard chickens eat a healthier, balanced, and varied diet, their eggs are higher in nutrients than store-bought eggs. Crack open a backyard egg next to a store egg and you’ll notice the deep, rich orange color of the yolk—that’s better for you and your birds, and you’ll even notice a difference in the taste. Want to know another great fact about backyard eggs? Depending on the breed of your chickens, their eggs may be white, brown, blue, green, or even speckled! The shell color doesn’t affect the taste or nutrition of the egg, but there are as many colors of eggs as there are chickens, and it sure is fun!

Fewer Bugs, Better Soil

Remember that varied diet we were just talking about? Chickens love to eat bugs, and your yard has plenty of those. They’ll eat any kind of insect or bug they can get their beaks on, including ants, grasshoppers, beetles, slugs, crickets, weevils, and just about anything else. That means fewer bugs in your garden eating your precious vegetables, and fewer bugs on you.

Speaking of gardens, all the healthy chicken feed, insects, and kitchen scraps your chickens will eat have to go somewhere, and that somewhere is right back into the soil. By scratching around in the dirt and making their own compost, your chickens will turn the earth rich and dark with soil nutrients, which is every gardener’s dream.

Education and Entertainment

While chickens are easy to raise, there’s a lot to be learned from keeping them. You’ll learn what your chickens like to eat, how they behave, and what their eggs look and taste like under different circumstances and seasons. Children, especially, love to learn about where their food comes from, and if you have an animal-lover in your family (we hope you do, if you’re thinking of raising chickens!), you’ll have double the fun watching your chickens grow, peck and scratch, run around, and chase insects. Looking for a replacement for your afternoon TV episode? Cut a watermelon in half, scoop out the flesh, and enjoy your snack while you watch a hen climb and jump around in the empty rind and peck at what you’ve left her. Chickens can be real comedians! 

Fresh Meat

Not everyone who raises chickens does so for meat, but pasture-raised (free-range, raised-on-grass) chickens are healthier for both you and the environment. Pastured chicken is richer in nutrients, won’t have chemicals, hormones, or steroids, and won’t be mistreated. Many chicken owners choose to cull their flock when the older hens stop laying. If you aren’t comfortable culling your own chickens, you can always find a local butcher to do it for you. If you just want to raise chickens for eggs and fun, that’s okay, too!

What Do Chickens Need?

Chickens will gladly roam a larger yard, but they only need a little bit of space to peck and scratch at the ground and look for bugs to eat. You might choose to keep your chickens corralled in a chicken run if you’d like them to stay out of the driveway, garage, garden, or anywhere else they might wander. However, many backyard chicken owners find that allowing their chickens to be free range (to wander freely without restrictions) helps to keep their gardens healthy, allows their chickens to search more widely for bugs to eat, and prevents the chickens from scratching too much in the same spot and turning it completely to soil.

Your chickens will also need a safe and comfortable place to sleep and lay their eggs. At night, they like to sleep in a coop, where they are safe from predators like foxes and other animals, where they can stay warm, and where they can protect their eggs. While some chickens don’t “roost” (make a nest to keep their eggs in), most hens like to lay their eggs in the same spot each day, and it’s best to provide them with nesting boxes filled with clean, soft bedding such as straw or wood shavings. You’ll need to clean and replace the bedding every so often to keep your flock healthy. Many chicken coops are set up with nesting boxes that are easily accessible, making egg-gathering quick and simple. Be careful, though, on your walk to the coop. Some hens will lay an egg right in the grass!

Backyard chickens will thrive and grow on a healthy diet of fruit and vegetable scraps, crushed eggshells (for calcium), bugs, and chicken feed specialized for laying hens. Your chickens will also happily eat oats or plain cooked rice, if you have them leftover! They are great composters. Give them your strawberry tops, corn cobs, and other scraps gone a little past their prime in the refrigerator, and they’ll happily much them up and return thm to the soil. You can find chicken feed for laying hens at your local feed store, and give it to your chickens according to the instructions.

What About Roosters?

Many chicken owners choose to keep hens only—you’ll have a quieter flock that way, certainly. But if you’d like to hatch your own chickens, you’ll need a rooster or two! Roosters can be slightly aggressive to people, which can be inconvenient when you need to collect eggs, but that also means they’ll protect your flock from predators.

What Are You Waiting For?

Raising backyard chickens is enjoyable and rewarding. While they’ll add a few extra chores to your list, you’ll find that caring for them is simple, fun, pays back in the form of delicious eggs, a healthy garden, and hours of endless fun. What are you waiting for? let’s get started!

If you want to learn more about raising your own chickens, check out the following helpful books and websites:

BackYardChickens.com

Chickens in Your Backyard: A Beginner’s Guide by Rick and Gail Luttman

Storey’s Guide to Raising Chickens by Gail Damerow


Chicken Coops 101

Posted on July 13th, 2015

GambrelBarnCoop

Do I need a chicken coop for my chickens? Well, not necessarily if you are ok with your chickens running over to your neighbor’s house, roosting in random trees and bushes, and just making a ruckus in general. Chicken coops usually become a necessity around the time the neighbors start calling and threatening to eat your chickens the next time they see them in their front yard (Predators wont even be that nice.) It’s ok, though, because there are some easy ways to get one of these shelters up for your chickens without a lot of hassle or a huge investment.

 

The Chicken Coop Kit

A chicken coop provides several benefits for your chickens. It is a central place for them to be while they lay their eggs and roost. It is also a great way to keep them safe from the elements as well as any predators that are in the area. We like to use kits because they are essentially the best of both worlds: done-for-you materials while still being easy on the wallet. You can check them out here: http://www.cottagekits.com/chicken-coops/

 

Cooped Up?

Just because your chickens have a coop does not mean that they need to be in it all the time. The best thing to do is to make sure that your chickens sleep in their new coop for the first few nights. Chickens have a homing instinct that will then keep bringing them back every night to roost in the coop. If you end up moving the coop, you may have to restart this procedure to get them acclimated and aware of the new location.

 

Making Sure Your Coop Makes The Cut

Next we will have some tips to make sure that you understand what all of the basic needs are for a chicken and its coop.

 

A Perch

Most birds will appreciate a good perch in order to roost on, and that includes your chickens. This needs to be something that is off the ground but still within reach for a chicken. It is good to have a few inside as well as a few on the outside so that there are places to perch, rain or shine. Most perches are simple designs that include a type of bar or something similar.

 

Protection From The Outside World

This is pretty obvious, but your chickens will need four walls and a roof for protection. Unfortunately, there are a lot of predators that would love to have your chickens for dinner and most of the time they will strike during the night. If your coop is secure, though, your chickens should be safe and sound on their roost.

 

Some Fresh Air

You will quickly find that chickens love to scratch the dirt and find themselves some bugs to eat. Providing an outside area, whether that means an attached fence or simply an outlet to go where they please, is important. You will find over time that your chickens will have better egg production when they can get some sun on a daily basis. If you have had troubles with predators in the past, a secure fence may be a good option to keep everyone safe.

 

A Lay Box

All of the chicken coops that we have on our site have lay boxes for your hens. These are important to have if you are planning on harvesting eggs from your chickens. Our classic coop is very easy to use because it has a side lid that opens up right to these lay boxes, giving you direct access to the eggs.

 


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