Thursday January 17, 2013 | 12:57 PM

Winners Announced for the 2013 Maine Poultry Coop Contest Co-sponsored by the Maine Poultry Growers Association and University of Maine Cooperative Extension

Nate & Jana Howard of Swanville, first place $200
G. Del and Jacqueline Merritt of Damariscotta, second place $100
Sandy Magnacca of Standish, third place $50
Mike & Melissa Hannon of Lebanon, fourth place, Backyard Poultry Magazine subscription
Sandra Lary & Albert Lane of Woolwich, fifth place, Backyard Poultry Magazine subscription

2nd Place winners G. Del and Jacqueline Merritt of Damariscotta designed and built their award-winning coop, which houses 18 Golden Comets, themselves.
The Merritts favorite feature of their coop is the roosting area. Chickens prefer sleeping on roosts, and poop a lot (especially at night), so the Merritts devised a roosting area that would keep droppings away from the chickens and be super easy to clean. The roosting area in their coop (see pic below) is built like a bump out in a camper – it is 2 feet above the rest of the coop, floor covered in 1 x2 inches hardware cloth (similar to fencing material) so everything falls through, and painted with a marine epoxy. The floor is hinged like a door, so when the Merritts want to empty it they just undo the latches and the outside floor falls down at a 45 degree angle. Because, they used epoxy the poop just slides off onto the ground. That allows the rest of the coop to be pretty clean.

3rd Place winner Sandy Magnacca of Standish built her coop and run for her four hens herself with some help from her husband. “I spent a year studying coop designs, both homemade and those for sale before finalizing my design,” Magnacca said. “It was a challenge to incorporate all the required components in such a small footprint, but it has proven to be very efficient and the "girls" seem very happy with all their space.”

Magnacca got the idea for the coop’s run after spending a lot on the coop, and looking for something inexpensive. “I was surfing the web and found the hoop design used for greenhouses,” Magnacca said. “I was easily able to adapt that design and cover it with chicken wire instead of plastic. In the winter I cover the wire with plastic to keep out the snow. Final cost on the wood for the foundation, PVC piping and chicken wire was under $50. It has worked out great.”

2013 MOGFA Common Ground Country Fair Poster Design Winner is Grace Keown

Keown moved to Maine in 2004 to start homesteading and living more sustainably and simply. She and her family have a farmstead in the Dixmont hills, where they are revitalizing the soil, bringing back a 90-year-old apple orchard (mostly Wolf River and cider apples), raising dairy goats, pigs and chickens, growing some of their own vegetables and berries organically, and supporting local agriculture and sustainability. Grace graduated from the State University of New York at Stony Brook with a B.A. in Studio Art and Art History. She is a member and co-founder of Dirigo Road Gallery, president of the Valley Arts Alliance, and has taught workshops in drawing and wire-jewelry making. Grace won MOFGA’s 2008 Common Ground Country Fair artwork contest with her Hay Barn illustration.

“This is the design that almost wasn't. I was trying to capture the look of an oxen team at work, when they're watching their handler and seem to ask, ok, now what? It finally came together after about a half-dozen preliminary sketches,” said Keown. “I also wanted to convey the absolute enormity and strength, but also gentleness, of these animals in an iconic way. One of my favorite mediums, scratchbord, fit the bill and was used for the original design. Oxen teams are a popular draw at the Fair. They are such impressive, magnificent animals, the original heavy farm equipment! They were at one time indispensable to farms in Maine and the Maritimes.”

According to Jim Ahearne, MOGFA’s Common Ground Country Fair Director, the juror selection is anonymous (the jurors don’t know the names of the artists), and it is uncommon to have the same artist win twice. He said MOGFA receives a lot of really creative entries, but they have to work in a variety of mediums both as a poster and printed on the t-shirt. The latter he said, presents more challenges because it is printed using hand (water-based) inks.

The poster for the 2013 Common Ground Country Fair will be available at the Common Ground Fair on Sept. 20, 21 and 22, 2013, and MOGFA's online store.


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About the Author

Sharon Kitchens is a neo-homesteader learning the ins and outs of country living by luck and pluck and a lot of expert advice. She writes about bees for The Huffington Post and stuff she loves on her personal blog,

When she is not writing, she enjoys edible gardening, reading books on food and/or thinking about food, hanging out by her beehives and patiently tracking down her chickens in the woods behind her old farmhouse.

In her blog, Sharon profiles farm families, reports on farm-based education and internships, conducts Q&A's with master beekeepers, offers tips on picking a CSA, and much more.

Sharon can be contacted at or on Twitter @deliciousmusing.

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