Les Farms


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The Rebuild of Les Farms

So where do I start.. at the beginning? How it came to be?

The STORY

I warn you.. To get where we are today we had to go through a tremendous tragedy. I have been through a lot in my life, but losing my barn, and all my animals was the worst. I am the type of person that connects more with animals than humans. The animals were my family. My love, my joy, my passion. When I get into something, I dive in, head first – giving it with my heart. My dream is to breed and raise poultry, goats, dogs, etc. I was right on track. We had finished building our first 12 pen breeding pen the night of the tragedy. I had separated my Houdans, Barred Plymouth Rocks, Silkies, Naked Necks, Easter Eggers, and Sizzles. We were exhausted. So tired..

I took a nice hot bath and went to bed. Our in-laws live with us for a few months of the year. I was awoken at 1:15am to my mother-in-law screaming “THE BARN IS ON FIRE!” Everything happened so fast. I ran up the stairs as fast as I could. Thinking she was obviously crazy. How could that be? And if it was, I could save them. Oh I was so wrong. I was so, so wrong.

When I look at these pictures my heart aches. My father-in-law documented the fire. He was doing it for insurance purposes, and for us to look back and see that, there is no way we could have done a thing to save them. This was probably 2 minutes after I came up stairs. The roof had just collapsed.

We lost roughly 150 chickens, 6 ducks, 4 turkeys, 4 geese, 2 sheep and our beloved Livestock Guardian Dog Clementine. Not one of them escaped the blaze.

It’s hard to explain the tremendous emptiness that accompanies a loss this large. Words don’t even make sense. Nothing makes sense. Not eating.. not sleeping.. No there weren’t any human lives lost in the fire, but that is no consolation to me at all. Some of those birds in there, and Clem, where my children. Honest.. and I grieved.. hard, but with darkness comes light. We have slowly come out of this tragedy and began to start all over again  – from scratch.

Oh and we had 12 chicks in the basement at the time of the fire, and one REALLY lucky hen with frost bite.. Luckiest frost bite ever… She was inside recovering when it happened. Margaret is very special to us, and is the one remaining chicken from our previous barn:

AppleMark

The fire Marshall determined the point of origin to be around the fuse box area. We had hay stored on top of a box next to a maze of extension cords. We didn’t know. We did not know how incredibly dangerous extension cords are.. The heat lamps we had going on chicks were not even close to the Point of Origin..

Anyway.. To read more on Fire Safety please do so by clicking HERE.

Watch Margaret’s video:

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Because I want to give you guys some perspective on what the barn looked like previously – it was beautiful. And large. It had an upstairs, and 5 different parts. It was bigger than our new barn if you consider the upstairs. We have maybe 3 feet extra on the end of our new barn’s foundation.

This barn was insured. So if you have taken nothing out of the importance of fire safety, at least take the “Properly insure!” advice. It does not cost a lot to insure an outbuilding. It is well worth it if anything happens… Some insurance plans have a cap for livestock. I suggest choosing one that does. Unfortunately our insurance did not. Next time fore sure. We lost over $5,000 worth of animals easily.

The REBUILD

Now that the beginning has been explained in detail, lets get to the light at the end of the tunnel – the NEW barn. There will be twists and turns through this article. Don’t expect your average coop page. I’ll try not to make it too confusing, but if I lose you, I apologize in advance hide.gif

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I drew out all the plans. I wanted it just so… But after the barn was laid out, the windows/doors moved around a bit…

This first image is the original drawing. The barn all put together. After that, I created separate drawings for each room on the computer…

Note that the entire barn will be insulated. 

Created with GIMP

The Chicken Barn. It’s going to be big. Roosts tucked away into a corner so they are out of the way. We will be able to remove each roost for easy cleaning. The entrance has a big sliding door. All of the breeding pens have pop doors for access to outside covered runs for breeding season. There will be two pop doors under the windows on the left wall so I can ‘try’ to keep the goats out of the chicken part of the barn. Still not sure how well that will work.

Created with GIMP

This is the only heated room in the barn. It will be heated with forced air (wall unit) as per the Fire Marshall’s suggestion. These units will need to be cleaned from dust, but are much safer than any other option we’ve checked on.

Created with GIMP

The Goat barn – We plan on having roughly 3 goats and one alpaca. This part of the barn looks plain in comparison with the chicken barn. Windows are smaller, and set higher so they can’t kick them out.

Created with GIMP

This is our Tractor Storage area. We need a place to keep our equipment… even if it is just a lawn tractor and small trailer for hauling. This is where it will stay. We also decided to put shelving units up for any extra supplies, such as extra feeders, waterers, etc.

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The first step was clearing the debris from the fire. Unfortunately we had a terrible, awful person do it. They did not do as they said they would, and our building contractor had to hire someone to finish the job the first guy was supposed to do.

The lesson in this: Get some references..

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This is what was left after they cleaned it up. They didn’t take everything, and they were supposed to level it out. They didn’t..

Watching the debris being removed was traumatic for us.

After that was done, we had to wait… wait for the darn snow to melt. At this time it was March, and we live in Eastern Canada.. It takes a long time for snow to melt.. and after it does, there is a sloppy wet mess that you have to wait for it to dry up.. The rain that comes with spring sure didn’t help the land dry up – and we have a very low sitting property. Water takes a long time to soak in. This is very beneficial in the summer. When we have a drought, and everyone has drying grass, our property is lush and full. In the spring, it is wet, soggy and slippery…

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If we were to wait for the property to fully dry up we would have to wait until summer to build, as they couldn’t bring a cement truck down in the muddy mess without it getting stuck.. So we hired someone to come in and put a road in. Best idea ever. They were GREAT contractors. Timely, efficient and very pleasant to speak with.

They scraped up all the sod that was muddy and messy, and created a road flush with the property. This picture is when they first did it.

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Late April – it was all packed firmly down. The re-build was able to be started!

Please notice the baby barn in the picture. After our barn fire, we needed immediate accommodations for the 12 chicks (and Margaret) that were currently living in pens FAR too small for them in our basement. We were going to put them in the barn the day of the fire, but due to the exhaustion from building the breeding pens – we decided to wait a day. Can you imagine? They would all be gone if it wasn’t for our laziness.

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This is the younger group in the playpen prior to getting our baby barn.

Thanks to everyone on our Facebook page who made housing these guys possible. We didn’t have any money to put into building them a coop, as we had JUST spent everything on a feed run, and on the beautiful breeding pens we worked so hard on. There was nothing we could build outside in the snow in February. We had another wonderful contractor build the baby barn inside their garage and deliver it.

Here it is the day we had it delivered. Still a lot of snow on the ground. It was delivered February 28th 2013. 17 days after the fire.

We will use this baby barn for something, though we can’t quite agree on what. I want to use it for chickens.. Susan wants to use it for the pigs or hay storage. Hard to say for sure yet. It will be put to good use, and was very well made. There is a pop door on the back.

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Which is quite large. I COULD use the baby barn for the geese…

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Anyway.. Let’s get back to the actual BARN barn. On May 1st 2013 the first load of gravel was delivered, and temporary power was set up. Rod Spirritts is our contractor of this barn, with Spirritts Construction Ltd. Rod is a Master Craftsman and has a degree or something in something making him better at what he does. He is VERY good at what he does. So, yes.. They rigged up power and delivered gravel. We discussed our next step as Rod said we would need to raise up the base and make it level. The clean up crew was supposed to do this, but they didn’t… so we had to hire the same guy that did our driveway, which made our end cost quite a bit more ($1,200 more) and we’ve already reached our insurance cap. Also our electrical was not up to code, another wham to our budget.

Breathe.. It will all be worth it in the end.

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The chickens like to think they are the real brains behind this project roll.png

The chickens inspecting the work they did on May 6th. They cut down a dead tree that was burnt from the fire, and levelled out the plot (still a bit more of that to go in the picture) and extended the base.

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Once they finished up with the plot, Rod’s crew constructed the footings. We are counting May 6th as the official DAY ONE – May 7th 2013 above. The concrete was poured on Thursday May 8th.

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and we drew Les Farms in the cement in the entrance of the hallway.

The concrete had to sit and harden over the weekend before the footings were removed. Counting the day of pouring the cement as day 3!

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I’m not counting the day they couldn’t work while waiting for the concrete to harden..

The fourth day they removed the footings and started framing up the walls. This is Monday May 13th 2013.

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On Tuesday, May 14th they finished the entire external frame. You can see where the windows are to be placed.

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At this point, everything looked incredibly tiny.

You will notice that we decided to have dirt floors in the livestock areas. We are big believers in deep litter, and it works so much better with dirt floors.

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Really starting to look like something at this point.

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The next day was incredibly rainy, so they set everything up that they would need to start putting up the trusses that Friday.

On Friday, May 17th the trusses were all put up and gorgeous.. So symmetrical….

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End of week two. The shell is all complete.

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I apologize for the quality of this picture. It was taken via cell phone.. On Tuesday May 21st they started putting up the steel roof (Note Monday May 20th was a Canadian Holiday), and on Wednesday May 22nd they finished the roof and put in all the windows!

The above picture shows the 4 windows in the breeding pens in the chicken part of the barn.

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The goat area.

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On Thursday May 23rd they worked on the siding. The back is complete! Oooo Pretty colour! and also started the trim work.

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On Friday May 24th it was raining cats and dogs. They couldn’t finish the siding until it let up, so they started building interior walls!

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Inserting the plan layout again so you can follow along without having to go back up to the beginning.. You can see the entrance leads to the exit. People area only.

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May 24th 2013

Entrance…

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May 24th 2013

The right wing – where it will open to the goat area. To the right you have the brooder/tack room.

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May 24th 2013

Like so. Looking bigger now!

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May 24th 2013

The Tractor & Storage area.

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May 24th 2013

The chicken part of the barn again.

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May 24th 2013

You can see they’ve also started putting insulation along the trusses. The entire barn will be insulated. He is also very aware of the ventilation needs of livestock, so no worries there.

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May 24th 2013

The big door in the chicken area. Because we will want to get our tractor in there for bedding clean up and what not. The door will be sliding, where we had thought at first to make it open by swinging.

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So this is the progress end of day Friday May 24th. 

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Monday May 27th 2013 – they have half the siding finished. You can really see that nice barn red from our sunroom windows in the house now!

AppleMark

Tuesday May 28th 2013 – They finished all the siding. Isn’t it beautiful? The electrician came and went over things with Susan. Rod is all good to start insulating 🙂

Friday May 31st 2013

The interior is all sided save a few places for the fuse box and wiring. Here is the Roost area in the chicken barn.. Koda will be your tour guide 😉

They worked on this part Wednesday, Thursday and Friday – May 29th, 30th & 31st. Rod says they are still right on track with a completion date of June 5th 2013!

AppleMark

Friday May 31st 2013

The hallway leading from the chicken barn to the goat barn is quite dark with the OSB board. We plan on painting this in the future. Above you can see where we will have access to the attic.

AppleMark

Friday May 31st 2013

The empty part is where they are putting the fuse box.. They will take a foot out of the breeding pen to allow for access to it safely. This room is also quite dark, and does not have any windows (but will have the dutch door that will stay open throughout the day).

Friday May 31st 2013

This is the side of the larger breeding pen Wall is still not framed in there.

AppleMark

Friday May 31st 2013

The brooder room. This is also quite dark. Especially in the evening. Going to paint this for sure. Maybe do a mural.. It’s going to be my favourite room after all 😀

Friday May 31st 2013

This is the goat part of the barn. Windows are higher so that they can’t directly kick them or anything.

Friday May 31st 2013

We realized we didn’t make this area big enough for our tractor and our trailer.. and it would be a good walk in a snowstorm to retrieve the snowblower, so now it will just be storage (or possibly an area for our meat kings!)

Friday May 31st 2013

The West side of the barn where the breeding pens exit to runs. Pop doors are constructed.

Monday June 3rd 2013

Breeding pen construction is underway. As you can see, they started with our 4×4 pens in the chicken part of the barn. This is where we will house trios or quads. That gives them 4 square feet of indoor space each. We will be constructing runs as well. In time….

AppleMark

Monday June 3rd 2013

The doors will slide up and hook. We’ll have to install some safety measures to ensure they are predator safe.

AppleMark

Monday June 3rd 2013

We painted this hallway/breeding room white over the weekend. Don’t ever do that.. Well, at least not with properly researching how to paint OSB first.. 5 gallons, and $80 worth of paint later we have one room painted.. My muscles ache. Took me 4 coats. OSB is a pain in the butt to paint. Prime first.. Yes.. Should have primed first..

Anyway, here are the large breeding runs framed out. Koda again leading the way 🙂

AppleMark

Monday June 3rd 2013

Here is the fuse panel area. They cut out a bit of the breeding pen, but not much.

Monday June 3rd 2013

Only one has chicken wire on it today. I believe I’ll use these to brood my layers and meaties until they can be free ranged – roughly 4 weeks for the layers and 2 weeks for the meaties. Pop doors will be situated on the outside wall.

Monday June 3rd 2013

We’ve decided that 4 feet deep is just too deep to clean properly. We are cutting it down to 3 feet and will have removable walls so that we can have 3 on the bottom, 3 on top, or one large brooder on each floor. Or 2 on each.. etc… Possibilities!

Thursday June 6th 2013

They have finished the brooders, small breeding pens and one of the large breeding pens. We are still waiting on doors and finishing touches. Delayed another week.

 

Here is the brooders after we painted them with two coats of primer. Still have to get the corners, but the paint has really made it look brighter, and this picture was taken at 9pm at night, so sun was down.

 

Note to self: Paint BEFORE pens are installed.. so much easier.

 

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Barn was completely finished June 20th 2013 with all finishing touches.

 

It ended differently than we initially wanted, but we went for practicality and functionality and decided against the slanted roof on one side because of the snow load we get in the winter.

 

 

Finally photographed the entire interior to show you guys!

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Starting here.. Hallway from the Exit to the Entrance door. Both are dutch style doors. We have them open 24/7 for air flow. Pens on left and right in the exit hallway.

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Hallway from the front entrance to the exit. We painted this entire area.. A whole lot of work and paint went into that.. 15 Gallons!

It was too white so we hung chicken decorations!

 

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The Juvenile grow out pen. Currently home to 20 Houdans, 10 Easter Eggers, 5 Ameraucanas, 18 Silkies, Sweet Brown the duck and Pickles & Patty. Only at night though. They free range all day. It’s the only room that is goat proof so far.. this is where everyone eats.

 

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The Juvenile grow out pen again. Dust bath pan on the right. They get their water outside. Sweet Brown makes a terrible mess. You can see how I’ve made the door super narrow. The goats can not get through this, but the chicks and the smart adults can squeeze through.

 

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The Meat King & Layer Chick pen. Once they are two weeks old I will open the pop door to the great big world. They are 11 days old right now, so this weekend it is!

 

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The Meat King & Layer Chick pen again. Room to run around.

 

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The pens from the hallway view. Susan installed shaving barriers all along them, but they like to roost and poop on the wrong side  Good thing we have a shop vac!

 

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The hallway that leads to the heated brooder room, and the goat room.

 

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The brooders. Ignore the fly tape. The flies and mosquitoes are bad right now, so we have set out traps.

There is a light in the bottom pen because it’s dark in there.

 

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Here is the bottom brooder with the two partitions removed. The top brooder is currently empty, but also looks very similar (except it’s taller of course).

 

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Storage room looking out to the brooder room.

 

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Storage Room. Can you spot anything special on the shelves?

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More of the storage room. Kittens get fed in here.

 

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The empty goat barn. The goats are living with the chickens right now. We have to dig a trench for the water in this room. We didn’t want to do that after the bedding.. so it’s being used for random things. Right now I have a very small hatch (4 chicks) in one of the playpens. I usually open this room up and the chickens lay in some boxes behind the light blue playpen. It’s the coolest room in the barn in terms of temperature

 

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Hallway that leads to chicken part of the barn. Henry has been spending his days inside the barn with the kittens instead of his kennel while we are at work. Trying to desensitize him to the chicks, and giving him something fun to do (play with his kittens). He loves it!

 

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The roosts.

Going to have to brace this soon. You can see it sagging in the middle. Also, its not staggered very well, but right now no one sleeps on the lower roost, so no biggie.

 

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The chicken barn (well, the geese and duck live in there too, so it’s really the poultry barn). Dust bath pool in corner. Geese have their own pool outside.

 

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Breeding pens in the Chicken Barn. Currently occupied by Margaret, and three different pens of silkies. Blue in one, White in the other two. The pen to the far right has two broody silkie hens with their chicks.

 

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Last picture – the chicken barn again. The goats’ feeding area. The chickens have taken to laying their eggs in the hay rack

See our sign: “Bless Our Farm”


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Walking in a Winter Wonderland


As promised, I am going to try to stay current with my blog entries. It won’t be every day, but I’ll aim for once a week at least. Even if it is just a few pictures or a little blurb of the going-ons at Les Farms.

It was a white Christmas this year. The world DID NOT end. Smiley

We’re under storm watch again today. Another 20 CM expected this afternoon and evening. It makes for a difficult time doing chores, but winter chores are typically a pain. With the birds refusing to come out, and my food freezing – it’s just happy joy joy all around. *sarcasm*


Our pathways are pure ice.. ice and poop.. and feathers.. and who knows what else, but it’s all frozen solid. Frozen and slippery. Thankfully we purchased shoe slip treads to facilitate walking and prevent falling.

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Like so. I highly recommend these if you slip and slide on your walk to the chicken coop. These babies are fabulous! Best $5.99 I ‘ve spent this year!


The slippery slopes are no match for hungry groupies. The birds don’t mind the ice.. even when they are doing the splits and giving us side pains from all the laughter. The Pennies still run out to greet me. Or mob me. Take your pick. They are most liable to mob me before bed, when it’s their second feeding time. As you can tell, they are not underfed Smiley


They sure make it hard to make my way to the barn without tripping over a chicken – which the shoe treads do not help against.


The barn has been winterized as much as it needs to be for the winter. No heat. No insulation. Their down is enough to keep them toasty warm this winter. I have Timothy hay hanging for the geese – as the majority of their diet during the spring, summer and fall is grass. The chickens enjoy swinging from their hay bale.


Have you guys met the bunnies? We have two that are free ranging… Can’t catch them.. They have a shelter under some pallets and a tarp. We feed them and they stick around. Here’s Frankle. He’s a little off. He has poor coordination. He’ll topple over when he’s walking slow. Maybe he has poor vision, or is just old.. I don’t know. He was given to us during the fall show.


Here is Frankle’s girlfriend Wanda. Who is spade. I am not keen on breeding rabbits. I don’t like confining them, and Frankle’s disability would not be a good idea to pass on. He’s happy though, and that’s all that matters.


Merry Christmas everyone!


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My New Nesting Boxes!

Things change on a daily basis in my coop.. The nesting boxes were built last weekend and have been moved around a few times. Right now we took one out completely and they share six nesting boxes in the main coop.. The boxes themselves are big enough for two hens to share.


Though Eedie would not approve of sharing.


Our coop received much needed TLC this weekend. Windows were cleaned, cobwebs removed. The storage part of the barn was organized and cleaned. The silkie coop was given a 5 ladder roost, and George received his very own pen. He has been in a big kennel until we fixed this up for him. The girls and boys beat up on him. Especially Penny and Marge. They just hate poor George..

More pictures to come of all the work we did later today!


Meanwhile.. Betty (or Mr. Betty) is enjoying quality time with his mama.