Raising Chickens: From Rural to Urban Timber Frame Living

Timberpeg Farmhouse Built by Smith & Robertson, Inc. - www.smithandrobertson.com

A timber frame home can easily project a bucolic image, so it is no surprise that Timberpeg owners frequently keep magnificent gardens. While plant growing is popular everywhere, recently raising urban livestock has seen a resurgence in popularity. Urban livestock used to be more common; pigs, for example, could be kept in Manhattan before 1860. While most cities have banned livestock for health reasons, the raising of chickens is allowed in many communities. And since many Timberpeg homes are built in rural locations, we also find that our own customers look forward to having some of their own livestock. While roosters are usually forbidden in urban locations due to their noise, hens will lay eggs on their own with minimal noise, while eating bugs in the garden and providing fertilizer. If your community allows backyard chickens and the concept interests you, here are some items to consider before you start.

Select Your Breeds

Before rushing out to buy chickens, make sure you select an appropriate breed for your needs. Bantam birds are smaller varieties that need less space and feed, but will also produce less meat or eggs. You can also select birds for their markings or egg shell color if you desire. For all-around egg laying birds, the Rhode Island Red and Plymouth Rock are popular choices for their high output and hardiness.

Build A Coop

If you're not feeling so handy, many companies sell pre-made chicken coops, such as this one for sale from Williams-Sonoma.

While chickens can free-range in the yard during the day, they will need a shelter for egg-laying and protection from predators at night. The most popular choice for small lots is a coop with an attached run. Chickens need about four square feet inside and ten square feet of run per bird. The coop should be ventilated but not drafty, and must also feature a laying box. It helps if this area has outside access for harvesting eggs and cleaning the coop.

Another popular idea for a coop is what is known as a chicken tractor. This open-floored structure can be dragged through the yard so that the chickens can forage in different areas. This allows them to eat bugs and trim grass without over grazing, and their manure can help fertilize as well. Whichever coop design you decide upon, you can find plans online or order pre-built coops.

Use Appropriate Feed

When feeding laying hens, you will want to use “layer feed”. This type of feed is specially designed to meet hens’ needs when laying eggs. Nevertheless, hens may need supplementary calcium while laying, so providing them with crushed-up egg shells or bone meal can be beneficial. Also, if you wish for organic eggs make sure your feed is also organic. You can also feed the hens table scraps or grains like oats, but make sure to only feed them a small amount so their diet remains balanced.

Victory Barn at Callaway Gardens in Pine Mountain, GA

Does the idea of fresh laid eggs and a custom-designed timber frame home kitchen to cook them in sound exciting to you?  We’re hungry just thinking about all the omlettes, soufflés and eggs over easy right now!  If you’d like to learn more about designing a timber frame home complete with considerations for all your hobbies, including raising chickens, then contact the team at Timberpeg to learn more.  And, note that several of the team members have chicken raising experience, so feel free to leave a question in the comments as well.

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Efficiently Lighting Your Timber-Framed Home’s Exterior

Photo by Wesley H. Sterns - Artists Eye Photography - http://www.artisteyephotography.com/

Since great interior lighting can provide a large boost to your quality of living, we have spent a great deal of time on this blog discussing modern choices and design for interior lights that work well in a timber framed home. Exterior lighting, however, has also seen great advances in recent years. Maintaining great lighting outside enhances both the security and visual appeal of your timber frame home. Here are some general tips to consider when planning your outdoor lighting for new or existing construction.

Consider Low and Line-Voltage Systems

While individual solar lights may seem convenient for lights away from the home, these types of systems do not work well. It is much better to run a wired system for remote lights, but you must choose whether a line or low-voltage system is right for you. A line-voltage system runs at normal household voltages, so it requires less material to run. The downsides are that the underground cable must be protected, which increases installation costs.

Home Designed by Timberpeg Independent Rep Timberframe Design, Inc./Samyn-D'Elia Architects - www.sdarchitects.com - Photos by Joseph St. Pierre - www.jsphotography.us

A low-voltage system runs at 12 volts, which means it requires transformers and thicker cable, which increases upfront costs. However, the cable can be buried directly and is an easy job for any homeowner, lowering installation costs. Also, energy-efficient lights like LEDs require fewer electronics on a low-voltage system, so they are cheaper to buy than their line-voltage equivalents. Which system works best for you will depend on your individual situation.

Don’t Neglect Aesthetics

Even when using efficient lighting, you can and should tailor the fixtures to your home’s design. While wall-mounted lamps are the most well-known, flush-mounted and pendant ceiling lamps are also available in waterproof, exterior versions. All of these choices are available in a multitude of styles from rustic to modern, to fit in perfectly with any timber frame home.

Consider Deck and Stair Lights

Photos by Eric Crossan Studios - ericcrossan.com

One of the best ways to use lighting efficiently is to only light the areas that need illumination. Stair lights, for example, install in the rise of a stair and illuminate the step below. By providing a small amount of light to this critical area, you can provide safety without over illumination or expensive power bills. Similarly, lights are available for balusters and the under-side of rails, allowing you to provide a safe and visually appealing light defining the edge of your deck while still allowing you to see the stars at night.

Use Full-Cutoff Lights

Home Designed by Timberpeg Independent Rep Timberframe Design, Inc./Samyn-D'Elia Architects - www.sdarchitects.com - Photos by Joseph St. Pierre - www.jsphotography.us

Lights that point skyward are wasting energy and cause light pollution. To combat this, use full-cutoff lights that direct all of their light below the horizontal. By directing the light downward, you are only illuminating areas that need it while also reducing glare and energy use.

If you’re thinking about an upgrade to your home’s exterior lighting, it definitely is a great time of year to make some tweaks.  Not only is the weather still nice for working on installation, but you still have time to make your upgrades before the fall equinox and the nights get longer and longer.  If you have any questions about the timber frame homes featured in this post, please contact the team at Timberpeg to learn more.

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‘Au Naturel‘ or ‘Ooh, Color!’ Palette Choices for The Timber Frame Home

Home designed by Timberpeg Independent Rep Timberframe Design, Inc./Samyn-D'Elia Architects. Photo by Joseph St. Pierre.

There are so many choices when it comes to your timber frame home.  When working with a design team like Timberpeg, you’ll be able to customize the layout, material choices, and the style inside and out.  Of course one of the most noticeable, and sometimes nerve-wracking, choices you can make about the style of your timber frame home’s exterior, is the color.  We’ll walk through two major ways to handle the exterior color.

Home built by Timberpeg Independent Rep Smith & Robertson, Inc.

The first color camp is to minimally alter the building materials and present a natural and neutral color palette.  This color theme is actually dictated in some building developments.  But in general it’s a strong preference for home owners who want their home to feel as though it’s part of the landscape, and not a foreign addition to the land.  Neutral color themes range from deep red cedar tones, through yellow hued pine siding, right into the grays and tans of natural rock fascia.

Home designed by Timberpeg Independent Rep Timberframe Design, Inc./Samyn-D'Elia Architects. Photo by Joseph St. Pierre.

Of course where you are building your timber frame home will greatly influence what tones look natural for your area.  Natural red cedar siding may look right at home in the redwood forests of the pacific northwest, but it may not look as natural in some coastal areas.

The second school of thought on choosing a color for your timber frame home’s exterior  is to pick the colors that you’ll enjoy seeing every time you turn in the drive (whether or not they fit in, or are bold as bold as can be.)  From audacious azure and vibrant teal, to sage green and sunshine yellow, the choices are almost limitless.

Home built by Timberpeg Independent Rep Charles Southerland

Home designed by Timberpeg Independent Rep Erich Diller, Evolve Design Group. Photo by Jim Fuhrman. Built by Blansfield Builders.

Then there are those who choose to blend the natural with the colorful.  This is perhaps the most popular color choice for Timberpeg homeowners.  One of the most widely used approaches to accomplish this look is through the choice of a colorful trim.  And, green trim is one of the most popular color choices.  Granted, green and wood tones are a natural combination.  Additionally Timberpeg homeowners can choose to bring color to their home’s exterior through the choice of a vibrant front door, garage door and shutters.

Home built by Timberpeg Independent Rep David Anderson Hill, Inc.

So what style appeals to you?  Do you prefer the look of a timber frame home with natural colors that help the home fit in with the land?  Or do you prefer a bolder statement of color?  Feel free to leave a comment and let us know your thoughts. Contact Timberpeg today to learn more about designing a timber frame home, or if you have any questions about the homes featured here.

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Ski Chalet Easily Becomes Cape Cod Beach House

The Hawk Mountain is one of our most popular plans, and for good reason. This charming carriage house-style Timberpeg packs a great feature set into a small outline. In its original form, this charming house features a garage occupying the lower level, with a 970 square foot first level and 670 square foot upper level. This layout makes it a great fit for sloped mountain sites, where the garage can be accessed from the lower side of the slope while the main level can still have walk-up access. While this is a great use for the plan, we feel that the Hawk Mountain serves equally well as a posh beach house.

Since the dark brown board-and-batten siding of the original design seems a bit austere on the coast, we softened the exterior siding with the traditional grey (white cedar) shingles often seen on the Cape. The Cape Cod style thus seems especially at home on the New England coast, but would be a welcome addition to any shoreline property. In the rendering shown here, we’ve also replaced the multi-paned windows with a single-paned design, to evoke a more contemporary feel. Also, the stonework foundation has been replaced with smooth concrete, and the natural finish wood trim has been painted white. With these few minor changes, a wonderful ski home becomes a similarly wonderful beach house.

The benefits of the Hawk Mountain design as a beach house do not end with mere appearances. The carriage house design, by elevating the living quarters, has several practical advantages. First, elevating the living areas protects them from flooding and storm surge, making it possible to obtain flood insurance in an area where a house with ground level living quarters would not. Even when flood insurance is possible in a ground level house, houses with elevated living quarters very often have considerably lower insurance premiums. Second, by elevating the living quarters the house catches more of the sea breeze, a desirable feature for keeping your beach house naturally cool. Third, this design provides privacy throughout the house by removing your main level from the gaze of other beach-goers.

Finally, elevating the living quarters provides amazing views throughout the house. Since the main floor is elevated, the living room, dining room and kitchen all get great sea views. The master bedroom occupies most of the third floor, providing impressive views out to sea for spectacular sunrises or sunsets.

We hope this example helps illustrate that a truly great floor plan can help you feel at home in the mountains or on the coast.  If you have any questions about how a home can be re-imagined to suit your land, please contact the design team at Timberpeg.

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