Raising Backyard Chickens -Italian Style!

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What started out as a short video about raising backyard chickens really grew into an elaborate production from its inception 18 long months ago.  In the fall of 2012, I asked my cugino Davide (cousin Dave)  if he wanted to make a short video on raising backyard chickens. He not only accepted, but took the project to a level that I had never imagined.  What follows is a 9 minute video on how to raise backyard chickens – Italian Style.  Why Italian style?????????????  Well…….I’ve got Italian blood runnin’ through my veins; though it has been thinned out over the generations and I thought that some humor would bring a bit of flavor to the topic.

If you are just starting out with backyard chickens………… than I hope I can help you along the way.  If you’re a seasoned veteran…….well……… I hope I can bring a laugh to you day!

Thanks to cugino Davide for making this video.  You did a fantastic job!  Thanks also to cugino Dino for playing the mandolin, accordion and drums in the opening number.  You are a multi-talented musician.   Thanks to cugino Damiano for his rendition of an old family folk song at the close of the video.  That song still cracks me up!  But most of all, thanks Nono for the memory of those backyard hens you kept when I was a small boy.  Who would have thought that this childhood memory would have grown into City Boy Hens!!

I hope you all enjoy!

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How To Make Biscotti

009 - CopyBiscotti originates from the Latin word biscoctus, meaning “twice-baked”. Its origins date back to the Roman times when certain foods needed to be completely dried so that they could be stored for long periods of time.

Today, biscotti are made using many different ingredients. Almonds, pistachios, raisins, cranberries, and lemon & orange zest make for great flavors for this cookie. I really like this cookie because it is not terribly sweet, you won’t find an ingredient in this recipe that you can’t pronounce, and best of all………. it is sooooooooooo easy to make. Those 3 reasons are enough for me to make this my “sweet treat” of choice after our evening meal.  I hope you give it a try!

Ingredients

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1/3 cup butter (room temp.)

2/3 cup sugar

2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

2 farm fresh eggs

1 tsp. vanilla extract

2 cups All Purpose Flour

Zest of 1 orange

1 cup raisins

Directions:

Beat 1/3 cup of room temperature butter for 30 seconds.

Combine sugar, baking powder & salt with the butter.

Beat in 2 eggs and vanilla extract.

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Stir in flour, 1/3 at a time until completely mixed.Chickens2 042

Add zest, raisins & form into a ball.Chickens2 040

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Divide dough in half on lightly floured surface and flatten down into shape (about 1/2″ thick).Chickens2 045

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Transfer on to cookie sheet and bake for 22 minutes at 375 F. or until golden brown.chickens2-051[1]

Cool on rack for 20 minutes and then cut into pieces using a serrated knife.Chickens2 055

Transfer back on to the cookie sheet and bake at 325 F for another 8 minutes/ side.Chickens2 056

* Substitute anise for vanilla, lemon for orange, cranberries or dried cherries for raisins or add 1 cup of chopped almonds or pistachios to make your own biscotti.  Better still…….drop me a line and share your favorite biscotti recipe.

And The Chicken DREAMS of SPRING.

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It’s 5am IN THE DARK CITY BOY COOP……….

Rosie:  Swifer……you awake?

Swifer:  Ya…..I’m up. 

Rosie:  Hey Honda….where you at?

Honda: I’m…..up…….in the damn……..nest box……….pushin’ out this thing………that CB (City Boy) calls…….UHHHHHHHH………an …….egg!  Holy $#*!….that freakin’ kills!!!!

RosieHey, you guys want to hear about my dream?”   Last night I dreamt that all that white stuff out there disappeared and there was this tasty green stuff  growin’ everywhere and CB let us out to eat it.  It was amazing!  Man…I wish we could live in a place like that!”

Honda We do Rosie, it’s just that this has been the longest and coldest winter in the last 20 years!  Don’t you remember last year when CB use to let us out every day when he got home from work?001 

And don’t you remember gettin’ those tasty bugs and those delicious worms when he was makin’ that garden last spring?013 - Copy

And don’t you remember when the days got longer and a whole lot hotter and CB would give us watermelon to cool us down? 

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But, best of all, don’t you remember when CB would load us up in the van and take us up to the cottage with the Family?

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Don’t you remember goin’ down to the beach and searchin’ for stuff to eat in the sand?  Man those were good times.

Running Down To The Beach.

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Honda Spring is comin’ Rosie.  We just got to wait a bit more.  CB said that there’s only 8 more days until it arrives!  In the mean time, we’ll just have to settle for walkin’ in the snow!  That is…if you’re not too chicken!063

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RosieHey…. Swifer……..what’s that over there….underneath that tree?????????? Is that the green stuff????????? 

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Swifer It’s comin’ Rosie……….it’s comin!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

How To Make A Ventilated Gabled Beehive Roof

I spent a lot of time deciding on what type of cover I would build for my beehives.  I can’t say that I am too impressed with the look of a standard telescoping cover.  I guess that’s because it is designed to be functional and esthetics do not play a role in the business of professional beekeeping.  After searching for ideas, I came across an informative post at Honey Bee Suite on The Best Ventilated Gabled Roof.  This roof had the right combination of purpose and esthetics.  I liked the idea of incorporating ventilation into the roof and the look of a gabled roof on top of a hive looked great.  Now… I just had to give it a few City Boy extras in order to personalize my hive.

Safety

Make sure that you read and understand how to SAFELY operate your power equipment.  In  some of the pictures below, the safety guard has been removed so that you can get a better understanding of the photo.  NEVER operate your equipment without a guard in place!

End Gables

004 - CopyDress 2 pieces of pine to 3/4″ thick x 7-1/4″ wide x 18 1/8″ long.

Now layout the lines for the end gables by a) making a mark 1-1/2″ up from the sides of each gable and b)   making a mark at the peak of the roof.  Now connect these points and cut the gabled ends with a band saw or jig saw.

Now, draw out the design for your ventilation access.  I made a star because it ties in with the design on my chicken coop door, but you could give it your own personal touch.  A scroll saw makes for accurate work in cutting out the design.

Next, cut the sides of the roof to 3/4″ thick x 2″ wide x 20-1/4″ long.  Now set your table saw or bandsaw to 22-1/2 degrees and rip these 2 pieces to 1-1/2″ in width.( This will allow the plywood roof to rest perfectly on the sides).002 - Copy

Next, cut the 4 structural supports.  These supports will tie both gabled ends together and provide a nailing surface for your plywood top and shingles.  You don’t have to be too fussy about the width of this material because it won’t be seen.  Just make sure that they are at least 1-1/4″ wide and 20-1/4″ long.008 - Copy

Next drill (using a countersink bit) the screw locations into each gable end in order to attach the side pieces and structural supports.  A drill press works great, but a hand-held drill will work as well.  Use exterior glue and 1-1/2″ deck screws for assembly.  Now, fill each screwed hole with a wood plug and trim the plug with a japanese flush cutting saw.  This would be a good time to staple  screening over the inside of the ventilation star.  I saved this step until I made the entire project and it was a bit more challenging later  on.  004 - Copy

Roof

I made the roof from some scrap pieces of 1/2″ plywood.  One side will be 1/2″ x 12-1/2″ x 24″ and the other side will be 1/2″ x 12″ x 24″.  The reason for the difference in the width is for the overlap at the peak of the roof.  Now, rip  the length (edge) of each board at 22-1/2 degrees. 006 - Copy This will make for a tight peak.  Now flip the plywood over if it’s one solid piece and rip the other edge (bottom of the roof) at 22-1/2 degrees. If you are using 2 pieces for each side of the roof (like I did) than just rip the second board at the same degree.  The table saw or band saw works good for this step.  This is a good time to paint the exterior or the entire project.010 - Copy

Shingles

I used cedar shingles because I like the look and the hives will tie in nicely with my shed/chicken coop which is also shingled in cedar.  You can also use asphalt if you prefer.  Either way, just make sure to double your bottom course and not to have the gaps between shingles identical on all courses.  I used a pneumatic stapler to secure the shingles to the roof and marked my location in order to drive the staple into the plywood and structural supports.  * Note:  The shingles overhang the roof sides and bottom by 1″.

First start by stapling the first course and trim the shingles at the top of the peak with a fine tooth saw.002 - Copy

Now secure the next course right on top of the entire first course, making sure to not align this course over the sides of the previous course. This will help keep moisture from penetrating to the plywood.  Next, put your third course of shingles on, making sure to start them further up the roof.  Follow up by trimming the shingles at the roof peak.006 - Copy

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Peak Cap

I cut some repurposed coated metal roofing for a cap.  The measurements were 7-1/2″ wide x 26″ long.  I bent the metal on a sharp edge and attached it with 8 roofing nails.  Make sure to pre-drill each location first with a metal bit that is 1/16″ less than the diameter of the nail.024 - Copy

And there you have it.  I think the gabled roof is a great addition to my hives.  I hope you give it a try!  If you would like to learn how I built my hive boxes CLICK HEREIf you would like to learn how to build the elevated hive stand CLICK HERE.014 - Copy