Making it a bit easier – Laying Boxs on the easy

Like it or not we all lead very busy lives and the amount time we can get things done in impacts on what else we can get done.

Time should be treated as, as much of a resource as water, soil or anything else required to live your life. And it is very much a non renewable resource, once gone it will not be back. The effective use of that time is what allows us to enjoy the sit down and the time spent with kids, family and friends.

I harp on about how every dollar is time out of your life the less you have to spend the less you have to make the more time you have to enjoy yourself. Pretty simple equation.

I try to tackle the regular jobs that need to be done as efficiently as I can. Getting the setup of this helps out a lot and I was reminded of this morning when I needed to clean out the chickens laying box’s before work.

needs to be cleaned

For a lot of years I had an old 44 gallon drum that I used to use as a chicken laying box in my chicken run. It was something I inherited from my sister with her chickens when she moved north. It sort of worked as the rest of my chicken run was from recycled hard waste. It kept the chickens out of the way and provided them with a space to lay in. The problem with it was that to clean it out was a pain. It meant that I had to reach all the way in and drag out the old straw. The task was messy and unpleasant as you ended covered in dust and chicken manure. It was also time consuming and the combination meant it happened a little less often than would be optimal.

The other big problem was that it was dark and had lots of nooks and crannies could easily lead to lice and other pests not being cleared out of the laying box allowing for reinfestation.  

When I mentioned this process clean out process to a girl at work she said her dad of Sicilian decent just used large plastic pots as laying boxes. Easy to clean easy to handle and can be washed out and left to dry in the sun giving the nasties a good dose of UV to kill them off.

I had no spare large pots but I did have some large plastic barrels used for importing olives that I had picked up.

So I cleared out the old 44 gallon drum out of the shed and cut the plastic barrel in half and washed it out thoroughly and viola as below I had laying box’s setup. A board at the front to stop the chicken kicking out the straw and it was finished.

Where as before the clean out took 15-20 minutes of messy work the clean out now takes 30 seconds dump the contents into the compost bin.

emptied out

Give them a quick squirt out with water if required and dry. emptie out and ready for straw

Fill with straw and done. Maybe two minutes on average and can be done in my work clothes without any worry of getting messed up.

all clean

Mine are on the ground as my birds seem to prefer not to roost but you could easily put them on a shelf up a bit higher if you wanted to as they weigh next to nothing.

I am going to be sharing a few ideas on my chicken run. Partially because i promised it when i started this blog but also my friend Libby from libby cooks is building a new chicken run so it seems like an opportune time to post on the subject.


Much to do …


I have the day off from my day time job and a list of things to do.

Sheds to clean up, wicking beds to build, shelves to make.

And yet I suffer from the dilemma that we all often feel of the flatness. I could blame the weather it has been all over the place and is currently quite cold. I could blame having travelled and competed in a martial arts seminar for 4 days or the running around we did yesterday with my family to make up for the 4 days. But at the end of the day there is little point in blaming anything. I am making some sourdough cheese toasties and making another coffee, writing this and then I will start.


sourdough toastie

I remember reading an article in which they had a quote from one of the rural class who moved to the greater cities in England in the early part of the industrial age. He discussed that the standard of his life had improved in a material sense. Material things he could never have afforded before, greater food security and education for his children. But one of the negatives that he mentioned struck a chord with me. He discussed the grinding shifts day and night, how on the land he could sit back and relax for 4 days and then for the last 3 work long hours to get everything done. The natural rhythm of his life of all of our lives. But in his industrial job he started by the clock and finished by the clock day in day out. Good days bad days productive days less so it was all driven by the machines he worked with. He found it tiring and draining.

So today I will eat my toasty drink my coffee and get what I can get done while I remind myself I am a man not a machine.

But it doesn’t look the same as the bought one…

Today I went looking for a meal to make. We will be getting the back area shelled in March and I need to clean out the freezer in preparation for this and my pig in the box experiment for next winter. I still had a frozen rooster I had killed dressed a while ago when my father had given me a few more than planned.


hile I cooked up a Spanish stew of chicken and chorizo (recipe below) and number one son watched me cook as mum and sis where at a party the look of the home butchered chicken caught my eye. Here was no plump rounded chicken of perfect proportions skin snow white and ready to roast. No here was lean rangy bird frozen out of perfect proportions but I knew that this less perfect frozen thing would have a taste that the perfect chicken could never surpass.

It reminded me of an article I had read on the waste of food in the world being as high as 50%. One of the items that caught my eye as a ‘reason’ for the waste was that the food was not perfect or umblemished. What is this word perfect? In a world where we waste 50% of our food on stuff like not perfect I think we need to take a nice big reality check here people. Sadly even those who have  claimed to have grasped the idea have looked at the less than perfect food the carrots not quite the right shape the marked fruit on the trees even the tomato not quite round and perfect and red or even this chicken and turned up their nose. Everyone wants to be good but be able to have their old ways and requirements at the same time. Doesn’t work that way I am afraid people.

But you can’t blame them. You see the celebrity chefs turning out perfect food with perfect ingredients that are same as those you can buy in the supermarket but are better, more organic more local more of everything but they look the same…

If we are going to be living more local then we are going to be eating a lot less perfect food but it will be a lot better for us and damn side better for the earth and the plants and beasts on it.

And the result is below. Tastes fantastic. Still not perfect to most people after all where else are you going to get the neck served up as part of your meal and boy if you have not eaten the neck cooked like this you have missed out.


Chicken and Chorizo Casserole

  • One chicken cut up or the equivalent in pieces
  • 5 chorizo sliced into pennies
  • 4-5 finely diced onions
  • 5-10 garlic gloves sliced thinly
  • 4-5 carrots diced
  • 4-5 bay leaves
  • 2 table spoons of good smoky paprika
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Chilli to taste
  • Can of tomato
  • 2 cups of white wine
  • 2 table spoons of plain flour in a cup of cold water.
  • Handfull of olives

Fry off chicken pieces in sunflower oil, put aside. Fry off the onions, add the diced carrots bay leaves, garlic and paprika fry until the onion just start to cover. Remove from the pot. Fry off the chorizo and when nicely browned add back in the chicken and onion mix. Add the other ingredients with the exception of the flour mix. Simmer for an hour or so then add the flour mix and simmer for another 10 minutes or so until the flour is cooked off and the sauce thickened. Serve with rice and few olives on top.