Field Trip to a Farm!
A peek at a henhouse.

I took a field trip to a farm last week to check out what a real,  honest to goodness henhouse looks like.  ‘Cause I have to build one and all.  Ack.  In the next … 2 weeks.  Double ack.  I really need to build that thing.  Or at least think of building that thing.

So I went to my old family doctor’s farm.  Yup.  I had a farmer doctor growing up.  He would talk about how the cows were doing while looking up  your nose.

Dr. Richardson delivered me,  he gave me penicillin when I was sick and prescribed my very first round of birth control pills which I needed for “cramps”.   Yup.  He’s a good guy that Dr. R.

Dr. Richardson, who is now retired, was a family practitioner, but he was always a farmer at heart.  In the words of Lady Gaga,  I think you’re born that way.   And frankly, there isn’t much you can do about it.     If you’re a farm lover at heart and you happen to live in the city, life can be pretty miserable for you.

It would be like Chaz Bono being trapped in Chastity’s body.  Only it’s easier to tell your parents you’re buying a farm than having your boobs cut off.

I’m a farmer at heart.  I’m Laura Ingalls at heart.  I love the city and all the sparkle of it, but if given the choice I’d muck out a stall before I stood in line to see what the latest designer has to offer at H&M.  O.K., maybe that’s not true.  They have some astonishingly good guest designers at H&M.

Bad example.  But you get the point.

Farm living is the life for me.   Only problem?  I don’t live on a farm.  Yup.  I’m Chaz Bono.  I have 9 fish, a couple of cats, 5 chickens and 2 frogs.   I figure if I can somehow add a goat to the mix I’ll officially have created my own downtown Green Acres.  Plus it’ll have the added bonus of changing my nickname from “The Crazy Cat Lady on the Corner“, to just plain Crazy.  It’s more succinct.  I like it.

So back to the farm.  I took a trip up to Dr. Richardson’s farm last Wednesday  to check out his chickens.  If it were up to me I’d still be there.  But he kicked me out.

The 100 year old  bank barn …

 

The cats and the Clydesdales.

 

The 100 year old bank barn again …

Honestly, this is the most perfect barn ever.  Dr. Richardson holds dances and fundraisers in there with bands and pies and everything.  There’s twinkle lights strung around the whole place and it’s breathtaking.  If you’re into barns that is.  The posts holding up the barn,  which are older than the barn itself are all hand hewn. (that’s part of one of the posts in the below right picture)

It’s not a fancy barn.  It’s not a pristine barn.  It’s not a Martha Stewart barn.  It’s a real working barn.  And it’s beautiful.  Did I mention it’s beautiful?

Of course the point of this whole trip was to take a look at the chicken coop to see if I could get any pointers.  Pointer #1 was to built this cage type thing if I can.  The chickens roost on top of it, and all their poop falls below into an area that they can’t get into.  It makes for a clean coop and a clean chicken.  Chickens generally poop a lot when they’re asleep, you see.  Not unlike a really drunk person.

Granted, it looks disgusting, but what do you expect?  It’s a farm.  A LOT of things poop on a farm.  A LOT.

I love the metal feed buckets on chains so they can be lowered. Dr. Richardson’s chicken coop used to house a bull so it’s fairly large.  A lot larger than mine is ever going to be so there only a few ideas I’ll actually be able to use in my own coop.  The one I’m thinking about thinking about planning.   But I did find out some crucial information on the trip.

For instance, chickens don’t need a whole lot of heat.  I was terrified mine were going to freeze in the winter but he assures me they won’t.  Also, while Dr. Richardson spent days building a row of regulation sized nesting boxes (elevated boxes that hens lay their eggs in), day after day the hens kept laying eggs exactly where they wanted to;  in some old box stuck in the corner of the coop.  So the nesting box now sits empty, while the old wooden box is filled every day with eggs.   And as you can see the occasional egg escapes into the poop pile. Best to leave those there I would imagine.  Unless you plan on throwing them at someone’s house of course.

 

The chickens are a type of Rhode Island Reds, called Isa Browns.  They make a sort of cooing, dove-like sound that’s hypnotizing.  They’re remarkably relaxing, full grown chickens.

Because I was the guest of honour that day at the farm, I was allowed to take home the day’s eggs.  You ever get so excited you think you’re going to cry and pee all at the same time?  No?  Me either.  By the way, if anyone finds my upper lip, have it delivered to me as soon as possible, please.

 

Without a doubt the very best part of the field trip was this thing.  An egg scale, which I measured my eggs on.  All extra-large, thank you very much.  I am OBSESSED with this egg scale.  How couldn’t I be?

If you’re not obsessed with it I’m pretty sure we can’t be friends anymore.  I’m also pretty sure something’s wrong in your head and you probably spend most days wearing a helmet and licking brightly coloured nail polish off the wand like a popsicle.

After a couple of hours (I refused to leave)  I finally made my way down the driveway where I got a quick glimpse of the bees Dr. Richardson’s wife keeps.  They’re all in those boxes.  She’s an award winning honey maker.  I know.  The perfectness never ends.  (hence my refusing to leave)

And our tour guide through it all … Dr. Richardson.   The family farmer/doctor.

I finally left the farm after some kicking and screaming …

 

With these under my arm and a plan in my head.  Later that night …

 

Cheese Souffle.  Courtesy of Dr. R., the farm and the chickens.

 

If you’d like to see more of Dr. R.’s perfect farm life you can take a look at it here on Christie View Farm.

In the meantime, I have a coop to build.  I mean plan.  I mean think about planning to build.


64 Comments

  1. Pam'a says:

    Who could blame you for not wanting to leave? Did you offer to muck out the barn every single day if you could just sleep in the hay loft and gaze down upon those *magnificent* Clydesdales?!!

    Your Doc rocks!

    (I had a childhood doc too, which was my uncle. But he didn’t have a farm, and was *definitely* not the one to discuss “cramps” with.)

  2. Julie shinnick says:

    Yes agreed, that measurer is fantastic…..although it does remind me of a few years ago when i worked with medical aids/equipment etc…… ummmm…….

    There was a measuring aid…….to assist with……ummmmm…..getting the right size……. there is no delicate way to put this…… getting the right size for men when they need a catheter…….. yikes!

    I can’t wait to see this thing built and some new piccies of your chickies! cluck cluck

  3. CJ says:

    Oh my gosh – I’m so excited because you’re so excited…how happy are you on the farm! Bonus bit – I just get to enjoy your excitement while you have work to do. Don’t tell me making souffles wasn’t just a little about procrastination – get to it!

    • Karen says:

      CJ – I don’t wanna. 🙁 I’m great once I have a plan. I go gangbusters once I have a plan! No plan. ~ k

  4. Amber Lew says:

    What a lovely, lovely place; almost like paradise. And the egg scale is amazing!! Perhaps you should have asked him to swap the eggs for the egg scale. Or just put it under your shirt and made a run for it 🙂 I’ve been reading you for months now, but this is my first comment. You never cease to make me laugh, and my husband now knows you by name – Doing Stuff Karen – because I talk about your posts so often. Love it all, and thank you for giving us these wonderful gifts 5(?) days a week!

  5. mimi says:

    Looks like a idyllic life, (though not for me, poop, ugh!)
    The egg measuring thing is fabulous! I would love one of those in my kitchen, can imagine the talking point it would be!
    Forget the chicken coop, Karen, make an egg measurer! Sorry, I mean think about planning to make an egg measurer!

  6. Sarah says:

    Your posts are always so entertaining! 😀 And that cheese souffle looks DIVINE. Are you going to share the recipe?

  7. jonquil says:

    *sigh* how great.

    You think I could fit a couple of clydesdales in a 50m² walled garden?

  8. Amy Schmucker says:

    I am so the farmer. And I live on an acre. but the problem is I am in a neighborhood with restrictions. I had chickens. The racoons ate them. And its all the darn money to keep up the farm. My husband wants grass to mow. I want trees and dirt to plow. So I am the farmer with no money and he is the city boy wanting another car… But I love him.

  9. Tracy says:

    FYI…to feed your obsession, there are 18 vintage/antique egg scales on etsy right now !!! The green one is really cool, and natch the most expensive !
    And dontya just HATE the way spell check changes” etsy” to” easy” EVERY time ?!?!?!?!?!?

    • Karen says:

      Tracy – Oooo thanks for looking! I’ll have to go and see. I checked on Ebay and they have a few as well. ~ karen

  10. Susan S. says:

    This post kills me! I grew up on a working horse ranch with cats and chickens etc. I hated it. Mucking stalls, cleaning the coop, hoof picking–yuck.

    Now that I’m older, I miss it. The fresh eggs, the smell of hay, riding. I don’t miss mucking out the stalls and I’m far from ready to give up city life but as hard as farm life is, it also has it own sort of simple charm.

  11. tina says:

    there are 16 jiffy way egg scales on ebay right now…but i’ll bet you already knew that!

  12. marilyn says:

    oh karen we are kindred spirits, i totally love that whole farm thing too! might be why i dated so many farm boys and ended up marrying one only he didn’t want to farm so that didn’t work but by then i was in love with him so it kind’ve did. good luck with the coop i have to go check out christie farm as i am already planning to have my daughters wedding receptions there lol..

  13. Jeffrey Lee says:

    Amazing Clydesdales. Those were some great photographs. There is definitely something about being in or near a great old barn like that, that makes a soul want to start using words like Ma and Pa and sentences like “She went off that away down the holler toward the crick”.

  14. Marcy says:

    You had me at Jiffy-Way.

  15. Paulina J! says:

    This would be my dream! Those horses are gorgeous and those chickens looks so healthy. Do you know what he feeds them? Do they just roam around all day?

    • Karen says:

      Paulina! I believe he feeds them layer feed, plus the odd toss of “treat” grain. They also get kitchen scraps like lettuce and such. ~ karen!

  16. Judy says:

    You should have mentioned how beautiful the barn is–and the Clydes–Oh my!!! And fresh eggs–really fresh eggs!!! VBS!

  17. Heather says:

    Gorgeous photos Karen. That egg scale = amazing. Who knew such a thing existed? (Dr. R, I suppose.)

  18. Amanda says:

    I want to live on a farm!

  19. Kate S. says:

    That is sure a big horse.

    I want a goat, to make cheese, I think I would be boos at it.

    ~Kate

  20. Kate S. says:

    and by “boos” I obviously ment “boss” not that either is very good grammar…

  21. Oona says:

    Recipe for the cheese souffle, please?

    I would love to have a goat. Or a pig. But alas, I just moved out of the county where either of those would be possible. Unfortunate.

  22. bluephatmom says:

    I really can hardly wait for the chicken coop to come together! Those chickens must be getting awfully large by now – where are you keeping them??? A refrigerator box??? The cheese souffle is beyond perfection, by the way. Should be a cover for Bon Appetit.

  23. Natalie says:

    Beautiful post. So much excitement on the farm!

    I’m very interested in your cheese souffle and its contents.

    • Karen says:

      Natalie – LOL, O.K., I’ll put up the recipe some time soon. It’s just a basic, cheese souffle recipe out of The Good Housekeeping Cookbook. I’ve used it for years. ~ k!

  24. Cindy says:

    I’ve recently started following your blog and I have to tell you…YOU ARE ABSOLUTELY HILARIOUS!!! Your wit and your sarcasm combined with your brilliant ways of using random dollarstore finds, your love of barns and treestump tables, well, I love it all!

    • Karen says:

      LOL, thanks Cindy. Tell all your friends! I can use every single follower I can get. I’m glad you like the site. 🙂 ~ karen

  25. Jenn says:

    Yep. Chickens can deal with cold, but not with heat. Cross ventilating the coop for hot weather is a good idea. I’d consider this if your nights are hot or if your coop site gets late afternoon sun.

    • Karen says:

      Thanks for the advice Jenn! I’ve been thinking about how to add ventilation. I was going to do like you said with holes covered w/ hardware cloth on either side of the coop to get a cross breeze. But in the winter I’m afraid they’ll freeze! I found some cheap plexiglass to cover the holes up in the winter so they still get light (there won’t be any windows). But I assume they also need ventilation in the winter for fresh air. Maybe a roof vent? Keep giving the advice! ~ karen

  26. Stephanie says:

    I might be fighting you for an egg scale on eBay… we just moved to a house that had the “optional inclusion” of their 3 urban chickens (one of which is a Rhode Island Red), which we gladly adopted and now love so much. We even renamed them after the Golden Girls. That scale is AWESOME.

    As for coops, we have an A-frame coop that fits the 3 just perfectly. The backside opens completely to change the straw and add their food, and there’s an adorable little door through which you can access the eggs.

    Beforehand the chickens had free reign over the entire backyard, but we wanted a veggie garden and didn’t want to constantly dodge poop, so we built them a sizable enclosure/chicken run so they can scratch and sun and run around to their hearts’ content.

  27. Shauna says:

    Yay, a chicken post!!! And, combined with a farm post with a beautiful old barn? I’m in heaven!! There are two farms near our house, one is actually smack dab in the city and we go to them all the time to visit their chickens, goats, horses, turkeys, etc. We seriously need to get our coop built too because the farmer said the pullets will be ready to take home soon. I will likely stare dreamingly at your pictures all day today while I sit in my stuffy, sterile law office space. Thank you for another great post!

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Shauna! I sometimes worry when I post anything that doesn’t involve learning how to “Do Stuff”. Since that’s the point of my blog and all. Glad to know no one is going to hold the odd word and picture post against me. ~ karen!

  28. Jen says:

    SOOOOO jealous!!! Farms RULE! Love the horsie pics too! Clydesdale’s?

  29. Talia says:

    I am new here and can I say how fantastic this post is? (all of them actually. I am reading past posts as well)I am so jealous. Wow, it is a simply stunning barn. (can barns be stunning?!)

    Love your blog and have quickly added to my favorites!

    • Karen says:

      Thank you Talia. I appreciate you taking the time to comment. And yes, barns can be stunning. 😉 ~ karen

  30. OMG. May I please have a bite of that cheese souffle?!?

  31. Zom G. says:

    VERY excellent trip! There is nothing that sunshine, fresh eggs and farm poop won’t cure. NOTHING.

  32. Mindy says:

    I may need a new keyboard if I can’t get all this drool off of it. So pretty. And yet again, I was laughing out loud.

  33. sharon b. says:

    Your post for today was all about the “Art of Lifting Ones Spirit”. LOVE IT! Thanks!

  34. debbie mitchell says:

    Hi Karen, we had a visit ourselves from Doc R the other day. We too have a farm in Copetown, with an awesome barn (at one point featured in the Spec). They really are truly incredible buildings. Love your blog…..good luck with the chickens. We, at Doc’s recommendation, are adding a raised garden bed….you never know, we too, maybe getting chickens!

    • Karen says:

      Well Debbie – I may have a couple of Rhode Island Reds to give away to a good home in a few months! I’ll be announcing it on my site to see if there’s any takers around town, so keep watching! ~ karen

  35. marné says:

    *pout* I want a barn!

    Also, I need one of them egg scales, right now.

  36. Trysha says:

    Oh that barn. Le sigh.

  37. Carol says:

    I can’t get past the pictures of the 100 yr old bank barn. I’m obsessed with them,,,Its my dream to convert one into a modern barn house. Which might be easier to design than a chicken coop! ; ) I can totally understand why you didn’t want to leave,,,,,sigh.

  38. Rick Graham says:

    Hi Karen,

    Great pictures and prose. I too was a former patient of Dr.Richardson and as a great doctor and friend, he played a major role in my life as far back as 1968. We lost touch for 30 years but reconnected last August in Dundas at my aunt and uncle’s 65th wedding anniversary. My wife and I have visited CVR a few times since then and we have brought our grand children as well. I know how you feel. It is a wonderful place to be and yes, I don’t blame the good doctor and his lovely wife Dorothy for having to nudge you out the door! Dr. R. does not know it yet, but after I retire in June, I have offered to help with the chickens! Thanks for the inspiration.

  39. Eleanor Simmons says:

    Well I have to tell you about my chicken episode. Didn’t do it for eggs but the meat, I had bard rock (black and white chickens). We have horses and I was allowed one small shed behind the barn. I put rubber on the dirt floor so it would be easy to clean, I had a real chicken feeder which hung around for years, and it was a lot of fun until something happened . . . well this getting lengthy so I will write about it in my blog. It might take me a few days.
    http://eleanorsopinion.wordpress.com/

  40. George Vance says:

    I too have recently had the singular pleasure of Dr. Richardson’s gentle tutoring in the ancient art of heavy horses. My heavy horse high followed our serendipitous chat at my polling station in the recent Federal Election.

    Born and raised to the age of 4 on a farm (now the HQ of the Grand River Conservation Authority) on The Clyde Road in Galt (now Cambridge). I have clear memories of a dairy herd,steers, pigs, dogs, cats, and breaking my left leg in a sledding collision with the giant boulder in front of the hen house.

    Until our election night chat, my experience of Christieview Farm, was as a cyclist or motorist slowing to observe the magnificent Clydesdales in their lush pasture.

    So I, like Karen, could have peed my pants on getting up close and personal with Jack’s 1600 pounds of Clydesdale. Not being stepped on squashed against a barnstone wall, made grooming,guiding and treating Bonnie and Laddie just a tad shy of a lifetime ‘slam dunk.’

    Best wishes to all pursuing new stuff,
    George

  41. Lori May says:

    Oh my goodness, what beautiful photos! My family and I just visited a dairy farm on Saturday. Posting about it today!

    Have a good one!
    Lori
    http://www.lorimayinteriors.com/blog

    • Karen says:

      Sarah – Thanks! So funny, someone just told me about this one a couple of hours ago. I love it! But I need something bigger. And something that isn’t clear, LOL. Um, chicken poop accumulates very quickly. ~ karen

  42. Tiana says:

    Hey Karen! I thought you might be interested in looking at this chicken co-op I just came across…

    http://www.moderndesigntrends.com/?p=2499

  43. Jamie says:

    Oh my gosh! That is the cutest little chicken butt ever! What an amazing place.

  44. Natasa says:

    The thread was too long…did anyone remember to ask a recepie for that cheese souffle??? :)))

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