I had my first house hunting letdown this week. We found a funky fixer upper on 10 acres in a good location and after 3 visits decided to put what I thought was a very attractive offer in. We gave the sellers an offer at the home’s assessed value and given that properties have been selling at way below the assessed value of late, I thought the offer was fair, generous even. We got back an almost immediate response that the offer was insulting and they refused to counter. The reason the offer was insulting is because the home had once been listed at almost double the assessed value, and now it’s at the bargain basement price of only 80% higher than the assessed value. Nothing has been touched on the place since the 70′s and the home has a funky layout, so we’ll see how smart a move that was for the both of us. I kept the door open with the seller’s agent that we can revisit the offer down the road if the property is still up for sale. (It’s been on the market since 2010, so like others, they aren’t very motivated to sell, despite the fact that the place is vacant and there aren’t many buyers out there that want to pay such a high price for a fixer). Once I get my mind clamped on something, I do tend to obsess about it until I make some progress and the initial push is over. It’s a blessing and a curse. I decided I needed something to take my mind off house hunting until additional properties came on the market.
All I have to say, is thank god for Babci’s neighbor because they provided the perfect diversion: chickens. In all the excitement of this news, I also found out that another neighbor on the street also has chickens. Babci and I have wanted chickens for years, and we’ve had to live vicariously through other chicken farming friends. My husband did not want chickens. He thinks they are dirty and would disturb the neighbors. Well, with 2 of Babci’s neighbors (3 actually if you count the people over the fence) with chickens, that argument just got thrown out the window. With my best puppy dog eyes and rationale that babci doesn’t ask for much and he’s denying her the one thing she covets, my husband relented and told me to go to town.
I immediately emailed my buddies at Mike and Molly’s house for advice. They have another site called Chickentopia, so they know a thing or two about chickens. I’ve been living vicariously through them for at least 2 years when it comes to chickens and beekeeping. After getting over the initial sticker shock of how much a pre-made coop costs ($500-$1500), I decided to buy their ChickenDIY plans and have a go at building a chicken tractor on the cheap. The only hard part is going to be finding the time to do it. Babci doesn’t want to bother unless it’s at least a dozen birds and she also wants Peking ducks too, so I think I’ll need to make 2 tractors. The other issue is that my scrap wood pile is anemic at the moment. I’ve maybe got a few boards that are useful, but will have to find the bulk of the raw materials somewhere on the cheap. I’m in love with my local Restore, so that may help, but I hate shelling out cash on something like this. I also have too many other unfinished projects right now to spent the time to make a proper permanent structure..which I don’t want to do anyway because we might be moving in the near future. I’m hoping I can find an old doghouse or something on craigslist that I can use as a ready made structure and modify. This should be cheaper than trying to build something from new wood. We’ll see what the second hand world will bring me for supplies.
My 6 year old son is excited about helping build the coop, so we’ll have to have a go at it soon. We’ve got weekend plans through the end of Easter so I don’t know how long it’ll be before we’re done but I’m super excited about finally getting some chooks. For you chicken lovers out there, do you have any advice on cold weather breeds? I love the cute little eggs that bantams lay. I tell my kids they are special kid sized eggs layed just for them.