Friday, 22 February 2013

Building a tile top side table

This was our entrance way before. I wanted a tall side table so we can leave keys and coins on it when we come home. I'd read about other people making tiled top coffee tables, so I decided to have a go at making a tile top side table for this space in our entrance way. 

Here is a close-up of the finished table top. Its a faux marble ceramic tile. Its difficult to see in the photo, but its white with grey marbled lines running through it and it has a high shine on the surface which makes the entrance way look brighter.

The tile is 300x600mm (one foot by two feet) and it only cost about $7 at the hardware store. I built the side table base especially to fit it. I made the table 90cm tall (3 feet) because that is a standard height for bench tops and I find that height comfortable.
Close-up of the marbled tile top table

I won't go into detail about how I built the actual timber table because this was the first table I'd ever built so I am no expert at explaining the best way to build a table. I didn't follow any plans when I built this, and I mainly tried to use up timber I already had but I bought the timber for the legs.

I used dressed radiata pine for this table and stained it in a dark stain before spraying it lightly with an acrylic lacquer. I had started using polyurethane over the stain but it went it on unevenly and left some lumps, so I sanded that back off and went with the spray lacquer after the stain had dried and it was so much easier to apply :)

I used tile adhesive to fix the tile onto the table top. I did a bit of research and some people say to use tile adhesive since its designed to fix tile onto plywood etc, but other people say they prefer Liquid Nails because it can flex as timber expands. I went with tile adhesive because I'd built the top of my table with two slats of timber, allowing a gap in between them in case of any expansion. Because I am only dealing with one tile, its not as problematic as tiles fixed between several others where movement is limited.

I also stained the faded mirror in the same colour as the table to create a match. This wall will look much better once we paint it a calming dusky blue and add some colourful items to the table top. I'll add some more photos after we paint the wall :)

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Build an old farmhouse style outdoor seat

We had some materials left over from when we built our fence, so I decided to build a rustic "old farmhouse" bench seat to sit under the magnolia tree next to the Buddha statue.

This is a very simple design and it didn't take me long to put this together. For the top I've used two old fence palings that I had kept after we replaced parts of the front fence. The fence palings are 1.2m (4 foot) in length and were painted black. For the legs and the horizontal seat supports, I used left over "two by fours" - 100x50mm rough sawn fence railing timber.

It didn't cost me anything to make this since I had used left over materials, but if you had to buy new materials it wouldn't cost more than $10 to $15. Make sure all of the timber is treated for exterior use.

You will need:
- a mitre saw
- a hammer
- tape measure and pencil
- a drill to pre-drill the nail holes
- 2.4m (8 feet) of "two by four" (100 x 50mm) rough sawn timber.
- two 1.2m (4 foot) fence palings
- 100mm (4 inch) fence nails (flat head galvanised nails)
- 50mm (2 inch) fence paling nails. These have grooves along the shaft to give better hold for the nail.
- white exterior paint and a paint brush

1. First I cut my seat support pieces. My fence palings are 150mm wide (half a foot) so together they are 300mm (1 foot). I wanted my support pieces to be just a little smaller than the seat width so I cut the two support pieces at 280mm (11 inches) using 90 degrees on the mitre saw. I then cut the bottom corners off at 45 degrees.

2. I then set the mitre saw to cut 10 degree angles for the legs. The legs are 450mm each (1.5 feet). The 10 degree angle gives the legs a bit more stability on uneven ground compared to straight cut legs. And that is all the cutting that is required.
3. I marked the mid-point of the support pieces with pencil and then lined up the legs so that they meet at the mid-point and the tops of the legs were flush with the top edge of the support pieces.
I pre-drilled four nail holes and then used the hammer to drive the 100mm (4 inch) nails through the support piece and into the legs.
Do the same for the other side.

4. Now its a simple matter of attaching the two 1.2m palings to the top. I allowed 150mm (half a foot) of clearance on each end.
The two palings will need a slight gap between them to allow to for expansion. Lightly bang a small nail in between the two palings to create a small spacing before nailing them down. Remove the spacing nails after nailing the palings in properly.
I used two of the 50mm (2 inch) paling nails on each end of the palings. I placed one nail  through the horizontal support piece and one through the top of the leg like this:
5. I mixed up two thirds of exterior white paint with one third of water to create a white wash for my seat. The old fence palings were faded black with lichen on them, but I didn't bother with sanding before painting since I wanted a weathered look.

I did one coat of paint and left it in the sun to try. And here is the finished "old farmhouse" look:

If you want it more shabby chic, then just sand along the edges and rub some diluted dark stain into the edges.

Building a closet organiser

In my previous post I wrote about building a shoe organiser for our entranceway closet, and mentioned that I'd bought extra timber to build a closet organiser for my bedroom. Here is the original link with the instructions for building the shoe organiser:

The closet organiser was built in the same way, except that I cut the MDF to make two 1.5m (5 foot) lengths for the sides and then cut four shelves at 30cm (1 foot) each so that they are 30cm squared.

This organiser is great for storing jeans, winter clothing, socks, handbags etc. My photo looks a bit dark but once I put a closet light and some more colourful clothes in there, it should brighten things up. I've only got my dark winter clothes in there at the moment.
After (except I haven't finished painting the right side of the closet)
This is what the closet looked like before:
The closet was just unpainted plasterboard before so I had to plaster up the corners and plaster over the nail heads (all of the closets in the house look like this incidentally). On the right side there was a 1cm gap along the whole edge where the plasterboard had been poorly fitted, so I had to use a fair bit of plaster and plastering tape to cover the gap. It took a while for it dry so I sanded and painted the left side and left the right side for later.

Constructing the closet organiser:

I placed the bottom shelf 30cm (1 foot) from the bottom to create a space for handbags or shoes. I spaced the other shelves 40cm apart. I was originally thinking I'd build this so that it had five 30cm (1 foot) square cubby holes, but it makes it harder to reach your hand into a small gap so I allowed 40cm instead and did four shelves.

I used a roller this time to paint the organiser and I found it gave it a better finish than using paint brush, plus it was a bit quicker that way too.

How to build a shoe organiser to tame a messy closet

This was our entrance-way closet before:

So I decided it was time to build a shoe organiser to tame this mess. Here is the finished product (sorry about the darkness - we don't have a light in that closet yet). I've added hooks on right side of the closet to hang our dog leashes and bags on too. 
Our entrance-way closet is under the stairs so its one of those Harry Potter style walk-in closets that is fairly spacious so I decided to build a 1.2m (4 feet) wide shoe organiser that is 90cm (3 feet) tall, with four shelves. If you don't have a Harry Potter style under-the-stairs closet, this shoe organiser would also look good just placed in the hallway/ entrance-way.

I made this using MDF because it is cheaper than using plywood or pine. It was also cheaper to buy MDF in 2.4m (8 foot) lengths and cut it to size using my sliding mitre saw than to buy it in several smaller lengths (such a buying four of the 1.2m lengths, two of the 90cm lengths etc). I bought four of the 2.4m lengths for this project  and used the left-overs to build a closet organiser in my room.

Difficulty: This is fairly easy to assemble, providing that you have cut everything exactly right or it won't fit together properly.

- Four 1.2m (4 foot) long pieces of MDF that are 30cm wide (1 foot) and 18mm thick (3/4 inch thick). These are the horizontal shelves.
- Two 90cm (3 foot) pieces of MDF, also 30cm wide and 18mm thick. These are the vertical sides of the shoe organiser.
- 1.8m (6 foot) length of MDF, 30cm (1 foot) wide and 18mm thick. This is to build the six shelf dividers. Do not cut this yet. Because the middle shelves are 18mm thick, the dividers will not be 30cm high each - they'll be closer to 27cm-28cm high.
- a sliding mitre saw, capable of sliding to cut 30cm (1 foot) wide MDF panels.
- screws. I used 50mm (2 inch) screws to attach the horizontal shelving, and to fix each shelf divider in place I used 38mm (1.5 inch) screws.
- a cordless drill to pre-drill your holes.
- a counter-sinking drill bit is best, but using one small (the size of the screw body) and one large drill bit (the same size as the head of the screw) is fine instead. 
- a tape measure and pencil
- white paint and a paint brush

1. I started out by making a rectangle using two of the 1.2m MDF pieces and the two 90cm pieces:
I used two 50mm screws to connect each corner together, pre-drilling the holes. I don't have a counter-sinking drill bit, so I just used a small drill bit (the size of the screw body) to drill the holes and a large drill bit (the same size as the head of the screw) to drill 2mm into the top of the hole so that the screw head could sit slightly under the surface of the MDF. This means it is completely hidden once the wood filler has been added later on.
Counter-sink the screws
2. The next step is to connect the first of the two 1.2m middle shelves. Use the tape measure and pencil to mark out 30cm on each of the two 90cm side pieces. Pre-drill two countersunk holes on each side and attach the shelf using 50mm screws.
3. When I measured the distance between this shelf and the bottom shelf, it measured 27cm so that is the height to cut the first three shelf dividers. Double check yours before cutting because it depends on how all of the other pieces have been measured, cut and assembled - you might find you actually need to cut them at 27.5cm or 28cm. If I had measured everything with rocket science precision then technically each shelf divider should be 27.6cm high each (and that's assuming the manufacturer has produced these at exactly 18mm thick). This is why I wait to cut them, rather than cutting them all at the start. If your divider height is larger on the bottom, it just means that the other shelves will need shorter dividers to compensate.
4. Measure and mark where each divider will go. I placed the middle one in first, at 60cm from the edge, then attached the other two 30cm from the centre divider. Attach the dividers using the 38mm screws - two screws at the top and two at the bottom.
I find it easier to work on the shoe organiser when it is lying down, but I just stood it up for this photo.
5. The next shelf is a similar process. I marked out 60cm from the bottom of the side pieces and placed the shelf there. I then measured the distance between the two shelves and found that this time it was 28cm, so I cut the two dividers at 28cm and attached these.
5. I measured and cut the top divider at 27.5cm and attached this, then applied wood filler to all of the screw holes. I had drilled a couple of mistake holes in the wrong places too, but this is no drama because with wood filler added its completely unnoticeable.
After the wood filler had dried, I sanded it down and it was ready to be painted:
6. I used a paint brush for this one, but a small roller actually work really well on this type of project. I used the same white paint that I used to paint our fence because the paint was designed to withstand exterior conditions such as rain. I'm not planning on putting wet shoes on this shoe organiser, but just in case someone does put muddy, wet shoes on it, I'd rather have a waterproof paint on it that will protect the MDF from turning to mush.
I used white paint because our closet is dark but I think this shoe organiser would look really good if it was painted in a more fun purple or blue colour. If you are planning to place this in a hallway where it would be seen by other people, I'd recommend using a more interesting colour.

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Shabby chic style dollar store photo frames

I've seen a few blogs where people have made their own photo frames using left-over pieces of timber moulding. The main problem with building your own photo frame is that you'll need to purchase glass or perspex to go into your frame, and this can be a bit expensive. I find its cheaper to buy dollar store photo frames and fix them up so they no longer look like a plastic dollar store frame.

I had a few of these frames lying around already and decided to try out spray painting them with a creamy white coloured spray paint and then sanding back the edges to get a bit of a shabby chic look.

Both frames are made of plastic - one is silver coloured plastic and the other is a fake timber plastic with gold painted on the inner edge. I removed the glass and backings and gave them a clean before spray painting. I did two coats to get it even, and to get all the sides.

Once it had thoroughly dried, I used 150 grit sandpaper to rub the edges to get the silvery colour showing on the right side one and the gold and timber colour showing on the other one. If you want it to look a bit less scratchy, a sanding block would achieve a finer result (one of those foam sanding pads).

Close-up of the sanded back edges

After sanding, I dusted off all the sand dust and added a photo of my grandmother into one and in the other I put one of our wedding thank you cards. The photo doesn't show up the silver and gold bits very well.

The frames are a big improvement over the plastic look.

Saturday, 9 February 2013

How to build a timber bath caddy


I love the relaxed look of bath caddies in a bathroom. They look so inviting with candles and a vase of flowers on them, and they add a touch of luxury to a bathroom. I couldn't find any bath caddy plans on the internet so I just made this design up and thought I'd share it with anyone else who wants to make one. Its a fairly simple woodworking project so its a good one to try if you're new to woodwork or haven't done any woodworking since back in school. This was my first project using a mitre saw. If you don't have a power mitre saw, you can make this project with a hand saw and mitre box.
I chose to stain mine with a dark chocolate stain, so I've used good quality dressed pine with no joins (since any joins will show with stained timber). If you're planning to build a bath caddy and paint it an off-white or cream colour, then instead of buying the more expensive clear timber, you can buy finger jointed timber. A finger joint is when pieces of timber are glued together with zig-zagged edges. Timber that is made up of these little zig-zags is cheaper than timber that has been cut from one piece only. Paint will hide the joins anyway.
The first step before buying the timber is to measure the width of your bath. I wanted my bath caddy to sit just inside the outer rim of the bath, so my measurement was 74cm (30 inches). You can adapt the instructions below to suit the timber sizes that are available in your area. You don't have to use the same widths and gap sizes as mine.
- timber. For the top I used dressed pine that was 3cm wide and 1cm thick (1.2 inches wide and 0.4 inches thick). These were available in 1.8m lengths (72 inches) so I bought three of these to get two cuts from each with a bit left over. For the supports underneath, I bought one 1.2m (48 inches) piece of dressed pine timber that was 2.5cm x 2.5cm (one inch squared).
- a mitre saw or hand saw with mitre box.
- safety equipment such as safety glasses and hearing protection if you are using power tools. Please follow all of the safety instructions that came with your power tools.
- a measuring tape.
- a pencil to mark out your measurements.
- wood glue. I used an exterior PVA wood glue that is designed to withstand rain and sun. It needs to withstand moisture and the humidity of a bathroom.
- 24 screws 28mm long each.
- fine sandpaper. I used 150 grit.
- a drill. I use a Black and Decker cordless drill.
- a clamp or two to hold the timber together while you are cutting and gluing.
- a timber stain of your choice (mine is in the colour "Terra" by Wattyl Colourwood).
- a finish to seal and waterproof it. I've used a spray-on clear lacquer, but you can use polyurethane or even a mineral oil if you prefer. Note that if you're painting it white, polyurethane will give white paint a yellowish finish so choose something else.
1. First I started cutting the pieces for the top. I wanted six pieces that were 74cm each (30 inches). The trouble with mitre saws is that its difficult to cut pieces to an identical length unless you place all six down at once and cut together (otherwise they'll always be a little be out and it looks bad). Since I bought my timber in three lengths, I clamped the three together and cut 74.5cm (allowing a tiny bit extra), and then did this again so that I had six pieces, all 74.5cm long. I then clamped the six of them together and cut them at 74cm. This ensures that all of the top pieces will be exactly the same.
I ended up with three off-cuts left over (shown on the left of the photo). I'll be using these to make a hot pad to protect the table from hot food.
2. Now it was time to cut four of the 2.5cm squared (one inch) pieces for supports. To do this I had to calculate how long they would be, based on the width of the top of the caddy. Since I had chosen to use six pieces for the top that are 3cm wide, then I knew that the combined width would be 18cm (6 pieces x 3cm wide each =18cm). But I also wanted to add a 1cm gap between each of the six pieces, so that is five 1cm gaps (5cm). So the total width of the top would be 5cm + 18cm = 23cm. So 23cm was the length I had to cut each of the four supports.
I used the same method as above - cutting them a bit longer and then cutting the four together at 23cm to ensure the four pieces were the same.
3. Now that everything had been cut, I lightly sanded the edges to get rid of any sharp bits that were created during sawing so that they don't look like this:
4. The reason I chose to do 1cm gaps between each of my top pieces was because its much easier to use off-cuts to place in the gaps during assembly to get even spacing than it is to try to measure and mark the gap width without spacers. My off-cuts were 1cm thick on the sides, so I used these to keep the spacing even and used a clamp to hold it all together when I glued and screwed the supports on. The photo on the right shows how I've clamped the pieces together, but I've left a gap at the bottom for where the support piece will be glued and screwed on.
One other thing that makes this job much easier is to attach two bits of wood onto your work table to create a right angle (if it doesn't have this already). That way you know everything will be square. It also gives your clamp something to hold onto. My wood working table is just an old dining table so unlike many of the bought wood working tables, it didn't come with a timber right angle already fitted.
5. Before gluing, I used the fine grit sandpaper and gently sanded the sides that would be glued to give the glue a rougher edge to adhere to. I only added a bit of glue to my timber and smeared it around with my finger. Any more and it will squeeze out and leave glue globs.
6. I've used 28mm screws on timber supports that are 25mm thick. I have countersunk the screws in by 2mm, so each screw goes in about 5mm into the top slats. Countersinking is when you pre-drill a hole for your screw as usual and then use a wide drill bit (the same size as your screw head) to drill into the top of the hole, allowing the screw head to be buried a bit below the timber surface. You can buy countersinking drill bits, but I've just used a larger drill bit to do this. It means you can fill the hole over with timber filler and make it invisible. It also means that my screws are going into the top slats of timber enough to hold the pieces together while the glue dries but without coming out the other side and damaging the top of my bath caddy.
Adding a drop or two of glue into the pre-drilled hole before putting the screw in will help the screw to hold securely once the glue has dried. You may like to add another clamp to create downward pressure while the glue dries.
Note: be very careful not to pre-drill too far so that you've drilled through the top of the caddy. You shouldn't see any drill holes or screws on the top side.
7. After gluing and screwing the first support in, I placed the next one 10cm (4 inches) from the first. I chose this distance because I had an off-cut of wood lying around that was 10cm wide, so I placed this into the gap to use as my spacer while I glued and screwed the support on.
8. After the glue on these two supports had dried, I turned the caddy around and repeated the same thing on the other end (using the right angle to glue one support piece to the caddy and another support piece 10cm in from that).
9. Now the screw holes will need to be filled in with wood filler. My wood filler came with a handy scraper to scrape the filler into the holes. Once the filler is dry, it needs to be sanded flat so it looks like this:
10. Brush all the sanding dust off and its ready to be painted or stained. I mixed my stain 50/50 with turps in a jar and applied it with an old paint brush.
11. After it had dried, I wanted a bit more of the wood grain to show through rather than having the whole caddy stained in a solid chocolate colour as in the photo above. So I mixed up some mineral oil diluted with turps and rubbed it on in some places to rub back some of the dark stain to show the timber grain underneath.
I finished it off by spraying two coats of clear waterproofing lacquer over the whole bath caddy (including the bottom and sides). This protects it and gives it a good glossy finish. After leaving it for a few hours to dry, I placed it over the bath and added some lovely candles :)

Friday, 8 February 2013

Creating an old French farmhouse look on a dresser

My dresser - after
The old French farmhouse look (shabby chic distressed look) is very popular these days. My favourite thing about this look is that if we move house and it gets bashed around a bit, it just adds to the look. No more worrying that the furniture is "ruined" because of a big scratch down one side.

There are two main ways (that I know of) to achieve this wonderful antique look. Both involve sanding back the edges to create a worn look.

1. diluting your paint 50% and painting a wash over the furniture to create the impression that the furniture has been faded by the sun over the years. This look uses a lot less paint, and it allows the natural timber grain to show through the paint wash. You can still rub a darker paint stain or other colour into the exposed edges.

2. applying two coats of paint and once its dried and sanded, work a darker colour into the "scars" (sanded bits). Or alternatively, paint the darker colour first, then the lighter colour, then sand gently to expose the first layer. This way uses more paint than using a colour wash and it will hide your natural wood grain, but the advantage is that your piece of furniture doesn't have to be real timber - MDF can be painted white and then sanded to make it appear like there is real wood underneath.
Close-up of the new look

I've used the paint wash technique on an old pine dresser that I bought when I was a poor graduate. Its cheaper to buy timber furniture that is unfinished, so I thought I'd stain it myself when I got it home, but that was almost 10 years ago.

I already had paint left over in "Buttery White" (an off-white colour) so I decided to use that, and I purchased these new handles from the hardware store for $4.30 each:

- an old rag. I've used a microfibre cleaning cloth because I find the softness of the microfibre works the paint in well.
- sandpaper. I've used 150 grit (fine), but if you'd like a stronger distressed look, you'll also need a medium or coarse sandpaper.
- paint of your choice. I've used a water-based off-white. If you want that dirtier distressed look on the edges, then you'll also need a brown paint or a paint stain.
- new handles for your draws or doors (if applicable).
- a finishing sealer to protect it and give it some shine. I've used an oil-based satin polyurethane, but please note that all polyurethanes will cause a yellowed finish on white. Oil-based is worse than water-based, but both will yellow white paint a bit. I wasn't too worried about this because I'm going for the "old" look anyway, but if you really don't want your lovely creamy white paint tainted by a yellowish tinge then you'll need to choose a varnish or something else to finish it with (some people use tung oil, Danish oil, shellac etc).
- a good quality paint brush to apply the sealer. Don't use a cheap brush or the bristles will fall out and ruin the finish.

1. First I removed the old wooden handles and then sanded the dresser with the 150 grit sandpaper to create a clean, even surface to paint.

2. I mixed my water-based paint 50/50 with water. If you're using an oil-based paint, then you'll need to add 50% turps instead of water.

3. I rubbed the paint wash into the timber using the microfibre cloth, working it into the grain. I've left little patches here and there to give the appearance that the paint has flaked off in parts.

4. After letting the paint completely dry, I took the 150 grit sandpaper and rubbed along the edges and also sanded a few random places on the surface of the new paint coat to give it the appearance that it had been scuffed. My dresser is already old so it had many scratches and bumps on it, but you can easily create more distressed parts with medium to coarse sandpaper or even take it further by dragging the claw end of a hammer along some edges.

5. This is the point where you would rub very diluted brown paint or stain into the scarred bits (the sanded and bruised bits). I've chosen not to do this on my dresser because the room that it lives in is already a bit dark so I wanted to keep the look a bit lighter.

6. This is the hardest part. Apply the polyurethane using long, sweeping brush strokes along the timber grain. This has to be done thinly and evenly or you end up with stronger yellowish patches where the finish has been applied more thickly. If this happens, you can sand the worst bits back down using fine sandpaper once it has dried, but it is best to avoid this in the first place. You can add 10% turps to an oil-based polyurethane to thin it down a little if preferred (or add water if it is water-based).
The instructions on mine say to add two coats, but that would ruin the white paint (it will look sickly yellow instead) so only use one thin coat. Be careful not to shake the can vigorously beforehand to avoid air bubbles on the finish.
I find polyurethane makes me feel light headed due to the strong chemical smell, so I only apply it outside, but you should find it is ok to apply it in the garage with the garage door open.

7. After the sealer had dried, I added the new handles. Mine came with a screw that needed to be trimmed to the right length. This is easy using bolt cutters, but make sure you cut on the groove.

And here is the finished dresser. I then completed the French farmhouse look with a few accessories that I already had - an old candle, a vintage tea cup and saucer, a doily and a crystal vase tied with a pink ribbon and filled with dried lavender and a couple of fresh lavender flowers that I picked from my garden.

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

How to feed chickens on the cheap

My Brown Shaver chicks at 3 months old

I love keeping pet chickens. Its not just the fresh supply of eggs every day, they're also cute and fun to have around. To ensure a good supply of eggs, its mandatory that hens are given a layer's mix containing the right amount of protein and calcium required for egg production. They need constant access to the layer's mix and water to produce eggs. Having said that, there are many things you can do to supplement their feed with little cost.

1. To state the obvious, they'll eat kitchen scraps such as stale bread and cake, or vegetable peelings.

2. Many people buy wheat to feed their chickens, which they love. But to get real value for money out of wheat, I plant it and let it grow into wheat grass. I just use an old icecream container and add a little compost to the bottom, add water then add the wheat kernels. When the wheat grass gets to about 20cm high (8 inches), I put the container in the hen house and let them demolish it. They love it and they get about 50 times more food out of a 20cm high wheat grass plant than from an ungerminated wheat kernel.

3. Something else they go nuts for is the leafy tops on radishes. Radishes are incredibly fast growing and take 4-6 weeks to grow from seed to a full grown radish (providing they receive plenty of sun). I plant out lots of radishes to use them in my cooking (they're great raw and thinly sliced in potato salad because they have a slightly hot, spicy taste and crunchiness). When I dig them out I take the tops straight over to the chickens and they just love them. If I put them in the chicken scrap bucket in the kitchen, I find they shrivel up very quickly so its best to pick the radishes and give the fresh tops straight to the hens.

4. Weeds are a great source of free food. I get plenty of weeds in my vegetable garden so I pull them all out and gather them into a bundle to give to the hens.

5. Grass clippings. After mowing the lawn, we throw a big pile of lawn clippings into the chicken coup and let them scratch around eating the blades of grass and lawn weeds.

6. After harvesting corn, I just throw the whole corn stalk into the chicken coup. They rip the leaves up into pieces to eat, and enjoy the tassels on the top of the corn.

7. You can use up egg shells by baking them in the oven (they need to be baked to kill any bacteria residing on the shell), crushing them up and then adding them into the chicken feed for an extra source of calcium.

8. For protein, a lot of people give their hens a cheap can of dog food or dog roll. They love meat (they're omnivorous  they like both plants and meat) so its a good treat now and again. I don't do this too often because I find dog meat isn't very cheap, but if there is a sale on dog meat I'll buy some for them.

9. Grow "chicken greens". I had some plastic pots lying around that I wasn't using, so I filled these with soil from my garden and let the weeds grow into them. Its important to just use soil from your yard rather than potting mix, because you want the soil to be full of weed seeds. Once the weeds are ready, simply pick up the container and put it in the chicken coup. After a few hours the chickens will have ripped most of the leaves and flowers off, so I take it back out and let the weeds recover for a few weeks. I keep about six of these going so the hens can have one every few days while the others are recovering.
Instead of waiting for the weeds to grow in, you can buy seeds such as clover, mustard seed etc to plant into your chicken greens containers. These seeds are cheap to buy.
If you don't have any spare garden pots lying around, I also use old plastic buckets with four holes drilled into the bottom. These are very easy to carry because buckets have a handle on them.

9. Fallen fruit. I've planted two grape vines and a crab apple tree next to the chicken coup so any fruit we don't pick will fall on the ground where the hens can eat it or I can rake it up and put it in their coup. There are numerous fruit trees that hens will enjoy the fallen fruit from, such as plums, peaches, pears, apples.