I was raised in the suburbs in a middle class city. We always had a garden full of tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and beans. The animals I had responsibility for were my hamsters and tropical fish. So what would possess me to want to raise chickens?
My aunt lived in the country and had a few horses. We didn’t visit much, but I really enjoyed the farm when we went. This wasn’t the reason for me raising chickens though. For a while I have been interested in the self-sustaining living concept.. the off the grid type of lifestyle. Raising your own livestock, growing your own food and generating your own power have been very interesting to me. Why not try raising chickens?
I’ve never been around a chicken with the exception of seeing them at the county fair. So, with my wife’s permission and armed with a great book on raising chickens – Storey’s Guide to Raising Chickens – I made a plan.
Fortunately I live in a township that has a mix of small farms and regular city housing, so animals are allowed if you meet certain requirements. I also checked in with my neighbors to tell them what I was planning to do. I gave them every assurance that I would keep the coop clean and odors would be kept to a minimum. The enticement of free eggs also made it a win-win situation.
With all the permissions out of the way, I had to design and build a chicken coop! But wait a minute; How many chickens should I start with? What chicken breed(s) should I raise? How big should my chicken coop be? The size of your chicken coop is highly dependant on how many birds you want. You don’t want to overbuild by a bunch, but more importantly you want to give them enough room and not crowd them like the factory chicken farms do!
Grab a few copies of the hatchery catalogs to get an understanding of the different breeds and which are good for broilers (meat birds) or layers (egg production). I would take a trip online to McMurray Hatchery and do some browsing and reading. You will get a decent education in breeds.
If you are like me and were new to chickens and could not order their minimums, you might try finding a local chicken breeder or catch Tractor supply on their “chick days”. I planned ahead to get to “chick days” myself. Tractor supply’s minimum is six chicks which to me seemed just about enough to start with. Six chickens will produce about 6 eggs each day and you don’t need a monster sized chicken coop to raise them.
In my next post I will go over buying the chicks and building my coop. Please stay tuned.
Tim Ferriss wrote the book – The Four Hour Work Week in 2010. I finally got a chance to sit down and read this book, so here are my thoughts on the book.
I thought the book was going to be a very abstract and maybe perhaps a little over the top gimmicky. Well my thoughts were wrong. I enjoyed this book and considered the things presented to be very achievable. He presents some good ideas for you to consider whether you are an entrepeneur or an employee. The concept of the book is to delegate as much as you can and do only those tasks that produce results. Why wait till you retire to live the life you want? Do it now before you run out of time or are too frail to finally enjoy life.
The Pareto principle is the 80/20 rule that states 80% of results comes from only 20% of efforts. Ferriss suggests to consider all tasks as to whether they produce results. Why do it if it isn’t paying off? Delegate those things that aren’t putting money in your pocket. Shift your business and resources to those things that produce!
Another concept he brings up is how to negotiate more time out of the office if you are employed. The boss wants results, you want more time to do what you want. If you are efficient and put your time into the 20% while working offsite, you can maintain the lifestyle you want and keep your boss happy. He gives an example of a guy who travels around the world and his boss is none the wiser!
Another concept Ferriss brings up called the ‘Muse’. A Muse is a business that provides the owner the lifestyle they want and requires minimal maintenance. Tim says that using the Pareto principle, you can outsource your emailing, help desk, shipping and whatever other tasks that are unnecessary for you to do. This allows you to live the dream and work as little as you want.
I believe that if anyone is serious enough they can apply the principles in this book to live the life you want. I would recommend this book. I actually copied a few pages and gave them to a co-worker who was letting emails distract her way too much.
If I got anything out of this book it was this: Life is short, so don’t put off living your life. Create the lifestyle you want now and don’t wait.
The Project Car: 1972 Buick Skylark 350 Sport Coupe
Here is my project car sitting in my driveway. Many years had gone by since I have had an old muscle car to work on, about 13 years. Now I was in the position to start on a new project. I was excited to put it mildly!
My Buddy JD had just picked up a 1969 Firebird just 3 months earlier and I had been bitten by the old car bug. I was on and off looking for a project since checking out his ride. I say on and off because I looked but didn’t have the cash.
I had been looking at all sorts of cars on ebay and craigslist: Chevelles, Firebirds, GTOs, Skylarks, Novas. I was really in shock at how expensive a POC (piece of crap) GTO or Chevelle was! Back in high school I drove a 1971 Buick Skylark as my main transportation while I was working on a 1967 GTO. GTOs are just way too expensive and I had good times in my Skylark, so I looked at getting another Skylark.
The Skylark I ended up buying was one I had seen a few months earlier on craigslist of Detroit. The first time I saw it, the snow was flying and the guy had it buried in the garage, unwilling to pull it out for better pictures. I really wasn’t that serious when I made the first call, but I kept my notes.
It was March and I had decided to sell my 1987 Monte Carlo. This Monte SS was my Dad’s car and he gave it to me to have fun with. I did not drive it very much and I had thoughts on installing a 350 in it and restoring the interior and body, but it did not excite me. My Dad assured me I could do what I wanted to with the car, so I sold it to get something I wanted.
Now that I had some cash, I was in the market for an old car! I began the quest and looked at a few Skylarks locally, but they were not in any kind of condition I wanted. This time around, I wanted to start with a very solid project car! My GTO needed floors, quarters, fenders, and much more. I did not want to get into a project like that again, although it did teach me many of the restoration skills I now have.
I dialed up craigslist again and expanded my search into neighboring states and found that same Skylark I had seen months prior. I called the guy and found out that he was anxious to unload the car since he getting divorced and was moving. His ex-wife wanted the money and he was losing storage for the car.
My buddy and I rented a car trailer and drove up to Detroit. I struck up a great deal on the car since he was highly motivated to sell and was confident I was going to take care of the car.
That’s enough of the story for now. In my next post, I will tell you all about the condition of the car and my plans to rebuild her.