The Hen House

I’ve talked a little about our hen house. It originally was built to be attached to the barn but has since moved a foot away and down the hill. When we first moved in, we actually never even knew it was there. The blackberry vines were busy shielding the horror with their own horror- and our poor eyes could not get past the thorny foliage to see the structure behind them.

My husband’s first thought was, “Tear it down- it needs to be sneezed over.” Okay, so that reference was towards the whole barn- but I can assure you he meant the same for the chicken coop.

Chicken Coop

This was the chicken coop after we cleared some berries. It’s muddy and filled with goat berries (no relation to the berry vines outside). The windows were mostly cracked or broken and it looked like an animal had attempted to get in through the chicken wire on the back. Large gaping holes were left. Here is where J is assessing the floor and, really, where to begin. Note the support beams leaning where the structure was moving downhill.

Hen house floor

He took out most of the rotten floor and then dug out the bottom beams adding more support structure to it. You could still sneeze it over at this point if you tried really hard.


Here I am freezing my butt off, staring at J doing his magic. Yes I live in Oregon, but as I am a Californian transplant I still have never quite acclimatised to the cold. Yes, 65 degrees is cold.


This kind of works requires major sledge action. There is probably 2 feet of goat poop under there.


Here is the side of the barn where the coop (excuse me, goat house) was attached. All of that is ex-berry vines. Do you like the Queen-Anne’s Lace strewn about? Those will be so pretty when they pop up again. If something doesn’t eat them first.


You find wonderful things digging in the dirt. This would have made some bird/fish happy. Instead it gets to eat goat poop. For all you bug lovers, we found this attached to the light bulb inside the hen house. I didn’t realize it was there until after the bulb had been on for a few hours.


Now the hen house (chicken coop, goat shed- whatever it is until we actually finish it) is almost done. I decided to whitewash the inside and I am letting my painting arm rest, lest it become twice the size of my other one with the burly muscles I’ve been developing with Mr. Miyagi’s ‘brush up- brush down‘ technique we all learned in Karate Kid.


You can see here the back wall that one was a gaping opening, now enclosed. J filled in that wall and added a door to where the broken window once was. The boards that are darker are ones that are wet still because they’re old and gross. The white wash will help wick up the moisture- but we really probably need a good couple of summer days to fully dry them opaque.


The hen house door is made complete with steps down. I still have a lot of whitewashing to do.


When you white wash properly, you are basicly taking hydrated lime and adding water (some people add salt, flour, powdered milk, other things) to make a clear wash. I am not watering down white paint- so this is harmless for animals. It goes on thin and dries white. Which is why it isnt a paint- it’s a white wash. Get it? White. Wash.

I know, I’m brilliant.

But as you paint it on it does smell quite chalky, so my brilliant self decided that I would experiment and add something to make it smell fresher. Maybe something that would release over time, but not stink out the chickens or people who happen to be in the hen house.


What I did was take this soap, grate it, then boil it in some hot water and add it to my hydrated lime and then the bluing. The bluing will be fine- people have done it for centuries. I have no clue if the lye in the soap it- or anything else in it for that matter- is going to interfere with the curing or reliability of my white wash, but that is why I call it experimenting. I’m sure I will find out soon enough. Or you rocket scientists can tell me and put me out of my misery.

All this dirt and work has made me hungry.


Here’s a picture of Abbie and Justus sharing a hotdog last summer .

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