Chicken Shade

We mentioned last week that our chickens have stopped laying. Most of this problem existed because we moved their coop a few weeks ago, to another area of the farm. We also needed to provide them with more shade, the coop wasn’t enough. So a week ago I built a simple A-frame shelter that was light enough it can be moved as needed. This took us less than $100 in materials and approximately 2 hours of labor (a second person does help for a couple of the steps).

Material List:

6 – 2 x 2 x 8′
1 – 2 x 4 x 8′
2 – 2 x 4 x 10′ (treated)
2 – 36″ x 8′ L Pro-Rib Steel Panel
1 – 1″ Wood Grip Galvanized Screw 1lb
1 – 2″ Galvanised wood screws
1 – 8′ Corner Flashing
2 – wheels (optional)
Axel (optional with wheels)


Chicken Run

Most summers here at Highland Heights are busy with different building projects, this year not with standing. One of the projects this year was to get the poultry moved out to a larger pasture. Quite frankly, while we loved the chickens near the house it became a constant battle cleaning up their mess, in the barn, on the porch or worse yet our picnic table. We needed to get them relocated.

With any project comes planning, so we spent a few weeks mapping out different possibilities. Adding fencing is always a big consideration, once built it becomes a permanent feature of the farm; not easily moved. We settled on dividing one of our pastures. This meant we could utilize two side of the existing fencing to save on cost. In the future we will be able to divide the remaining area of the pasture to make an area for our future goats and cattle.

With help of a friend and the use of his tractor and post pounder, we were able to put in the fence line in a few hours. We decided to put in standard farm fencing and over lapped it with a 24″ tall poultry wire to keep the chickens and ducks in and other predators out. Over the next few weeks we worked on stretching the wire around the new pasture. Our oldest daughter (4) and I then took a week putting up the poultry wire. We worked our way down the fence line with zip ties to secure it to the previously installed farm fence.

Hard Lessons Learned:

For the last six weeks our 30 chickens and 4 ducks have been enjoying their new digs. What I didn’t take into account for was how hard it is on the poultry to change their environment. Even if it was just a across our property. We quickly began to see a problem develop, our chickens stopped laying eggs. Normally for a short period of time this wouldn’t be a big deal but we have a lot of regular customers who stop by for their eggs, in addition to selling at the farmers market. At first we put it down to stress, but when it continued, we started doing some more reading and believe this is due to two things; first because of the move, we changed their environment causing stress to the birds, second their new pasture did not have enough shade. They had full access to their coop but that wasn’t enough to lounge outside and cool off in a dust bath.

The first problem will fix itself with time (6-8 weeks is not unusual). For the shade we build an a-frame shelter we are able to move around the pasture to give our poultry much needed respite from the hot sun. Watch for another post on how we built that shelter, including a full material list soon for anyone who would like to use it. Less than 2 hours of work and well under $75 in materials, making it cost effective and easy to make.

As we enter into fall I hope to see our egg production start to increase as the bird continue to get settled in. There are always lessons to be learned on the farm. Happy Farming!

All about bees

2 days and counting

We are on day 3 of our crowd funding campaign ( and we have already seen a wave of emotions. We were delayed launching because when we picked January 19th, we didn’t think about it being a holiday and that banks would be closed, so when we needed a verification code from the bank…well, all we could do was wait.

We launched on Wednesday instead of Monday, but we got off to a great start with several contributions coming in within minutes! It was fun. Then we started refreshing the screen and waiting for the next contribution. You start thinking of every detail that may have been overlooked. We’ve spent hours staring at the computer thinking we need to do something, but not wanting to over post either! It’s a balancing act of getting our information out there and waiting for people to make the leap from knowing about us to booking a nights stay.

We have had some good questions so far, so we want to address those here too, rather than multiple posts on Facebook.

  • When you contribute to the campaign, your card will be charged immediately. However, if our campaign is unsuccessful, you will get a full refund and we will get $0.
  • Several people have said it would be nice if we could get the money that people give, even if we don’t meet our goal. We could have set the campaign up that way, but that would actually not benefit those contributing. Why? Well, if we raise $50,000 we could build maybe 1 Yurt, but we could potentially have 100 bookings waiting to spend the night, and we would not be able to fulfil those bookings because we couldn’t open.
  • We want to fulfil our promises and more to you, our guests and our backers. So, we chose a campaign that we have to raise the full $200,000 by February 25th, 2015 or we get $0.

Help us reach this goal, by sharing our campaign, contributing and asking others to contribute to. We are thankful for your support.

And now we will leave you with a picture of some cute chickens, just for fun!




Duck eggs vs Chicken eggs

Duck Eggs are an Alkaline producing food – Anti cancer food

Farm Fresh eggs with a rich smooth orange yolk whether Chicken eggs or Duck eggs will surprise you if you have only experienced the colorless and flavorless supermarket versions. What most people do not know is that Duck eggs are far superior to Chicken eggs with the same taste and richer smoother consistency yet better than a chicken egg in many ways

1. Duck eggs have twice the nutritional value of a chicken egg and stay fresher longer due to their thicker shell.

2. Duck eggs are richer with more Albumen making cakes and pastries fluffier and richer.

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Move Over Chickens, Here’s Something Duckier For The Backyard

Quack Quack!! A new sound is frequently heard on our farm with the arrival of two year old ducks. Two months ago, we rescued our two ducks who might have otherwise found an untimely end. Long story short, ducks are fantastic to have and a great addition here at HHF. Expect to see more writing about the ducks in the future.

We came across this great article highlighting the benefit of ducks and the differences of duck eggs and chicken eggs. So we thought we would share.

Building a Hive

Picture of the Langstroth hive as well as a listing of the basic parts of the hive and what they are used for.

Picture of the Langstroth hive as well as a listing of the basic parts of the hive and what they are used for.

As we are getting into beekeeping, one of the largest hurdles I had to overcome was the terminology that goes along with anything new. The most common hive uses the Langstroth method, which is the standard beehive used in many parts of the world for beekeeping. The advantage of this hive is that the bees build honeycomb into frames, which can be moved with ease. The frames are designed to prevent bees from attaching honeycomb where they would either connect adjacent frames, or connect frames to the walls of the hive. The movable frames allow the beekeeper to manage the bees in a way which was formerly impossible. There are other hive designs used which I won’t get into but certainly each have their pros and cons.

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One of the overall goals that we have for our farm is that everything we do works together to help other areas of our farm. So, one of the things we have wanted to add for several years is honey bees. They would help pollinate our orchard and vegetable garden and would provide us with plenty of fresh honey sell.

We have read books, visited the bee stand at the State Fair, researched online and gathered lots of information. What we didn’t expect was a call from a good friend a few weeks ago asking if we still had an interest in bee-keeping. He has been a bee keeper for 25+ years, but had scaled back quite a bit and had some equipment that was in great shape, but was not being used any more. He did not want it to go to waste, so he offered it to us!
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