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Hi, we’re  Ken and Andi, sixty-somethings who are beginning very different bucket lists.
We’ve been married since the ’70s, have three children and three grandchildren. A few years ago serious health issues forced Ken’s early retirement, so we’re navigating and building a new way of life for ourselves. It’s been a great challenge but we’ve been through worse.

We are polar opposites. Ken loves ocean cruises, I like cultural immersion and travel to villages and unusual places.  Ken loves everything mechanical, I love the earth, soil, growing a garden and have always wanted chickens. Ken is in bliss tinkering with old cars, fixing and building things. Ken is on board to build the Versailles of coops for me, so  I’m on board for the John Deere tractor and the next adventure for the dreamer and the doer.

Update: October 2016:
After looking into various types of coops we decided the shed conversion was the way to go. I wanted a coop I could walk into like the ones I grew up with on my Grandfather’s farm and our New Zealand home. Ken agreed, he wanted to tweak, not buy a coop kit. Luckily in Florida, sheds replace basements for storage, so they’re not hard to come by.  After acquiring the perfect little base shed, we began our conversion. To date, we have converted two coops and a barn into our little farm complex. Our coops can hold up to fifty chickens each, but we have fewer. The coops are a little different but they both have two wings each and a shared open courtyard for the chickens to free-range outside their covered thirty-six foot runs. We’ve also built a deck in front of the barn so we can enjoy our morning coffee listening to noisy hens crowing their laying songs. Update: We now have a super coop and a broody shed to raise baby chicks!

The garden is more challenging, the property was a citrus orchard years ago. My best luck so far was with large pots on concrete. We’ve had raised beds in Chicago made of cedar and railroad ties since the late ’70s, but Florida’s climate called for materials less prone to rot and easier to get.  Luckily there are many ideas on Pinterest, one in particular from Blueberry Hill Crafting which I admired. We could use the cutoffs and galvanized sheeting left over from the run construction. The garden will be a combination of raised galvanized beds, trellises, and large pots, and of course  in-ground planting for the chickens.

This is a dream come true for me, but also a new lease on life for Ken. We will be eternally grateful for the caring, efficient, life-saving first responders who are linked to Engine 27 in Valrico Florida, you have saved our lives (a few times) and this adventure could not be possible without you.