Harpo Jaeger dot com

Recent house projects

Image of yard, showing our run and coop. Over the last couple weeks I’ve been working on a number of house projects. The biggest is a coop and run for our new chickens! The run is about 8’ x 8’, and the (numerous) corner brackets ensure that it’ll remain quite sturdy even with untreated wood (which you can use out here in the desert). The uprights are sunk about 1’ into the ground. It took a lot of digging and pickaxing to get through the caliche layer, but that gives our run something akin to concrete footings, so I think it was worth it for the extra stability. This thing will probably outlast our actual house at this point.

A desert-adapted chicken coop

Closeup of corner of run and coop. The coop is an approximately 4’ x 4’ cube, with 1/4” plywood bottom and back. The right side and front (from these photos’ perspective) are simple poultry mesh with a corrugated synthetic sun guard material. The top and left side have 2x4 frames hinged to the coop. The top has poultry mesh under the corrugated tin, so it can be left open during the day for additional airflow. The left side opens into the run.

The fit between the run and the fence is quite tight, and we didn’t sink the cinder blocks the coop sits on quite low enough, so in another week or two we’re going to have to muscle the whole thing out of there and relevel the ground below it. This will also give the side and top hinges some more room, as they’re running up into the top beam of the run right now. But it works, and the chickens are doing great. Here’s a YouTube channel with videos of them when they were still inside.

Sauerkraut & bread

The most recent loaf of dutch-oven bread. I’ve started making sauerkraut! I’m using this recipe, and it really is as easy and delicious as it sounds. We are also developing a dutch oven bread recipe, based on the NYT’s outrageously popular no-knead bread. The modification that’s given us the best results so far is to double the yeast and add 1 tsp of sugar. Increasing the cook time in the dutch oven (that is, before taking the lid off to finish browning) gives a thicker crust, too.

Jar of sauerkraut & some bread too. Chloé with the bread. One of four jars of olives brine-curing.


There are olive trees all over Tucson, including a lot on the U of A campus. We picked about half a grocery bag full of them back in November and have been brine curing [PDF] them ever since. Here’s what they look like now (one of four jars). They’ll likely be ready within the next few weeks.