Thursday, 27 April 2017

the new chicken box

What do you call it? A roost? A home? A box? I have no idea. But I've made our segregated couple a new home. These two live in Stalag 13 - a dog run converted to a chook pen.


Why are they segregated you may ask. Well, basically the rooster needed to be put in a safe place or his son was going to kill him. Then I couldn't leave him lonely, so I got him a hen from the feed store. I didn't want to pen one of our free range hens as I thought it'd be cruel to cage a girl who's known freedom. This little girl was born and bred in cages so I figure that she's happy not having to share her space with a lot of other girls.

So here are the steps to making this wonderful creation. In case you were wondering. If not just skip this post.

Believe it or not, I started by making a nesting box. I was dreaming of the day I'd open a lid and reach in to a clean poop-free box and remove fresh, clean eggs, without having to get down on creaky knees and grope through chicken droppings to get them.

Here is my box. I'm so proud. Don't ask me for a tutorial on this. You really don't want to make anything the way I do... But let me just say I only cut one piece of timber wrong! Honestly. That's a new one for me. Especially working on angles ..I failed geometry. And the teacher was right... I did need it...

NOTE: This nesting box and roost is made up entirely of offcuts of wood I had in my workshop.


Let me try to walk you through it, I cut a base the size I thought the hen would appreciate. Then I put a front and a back on it, the front high enough to hold in bedding, the back high enough to give the hen head space. Since I really suck at putting sides on things I used brackets to put the back on. I'm a cheat. I'm comfortable with that.

To make the sloping sides, I held a piece of plywood up and kind of drew where I thought the sides would meet the back and front. Then I used a ruler to draw a line between them and cut along those lines. Once I was happy with side #1, I traced it onto another piece of plywood and cut that too. I used screws to join them together. 


I added a piece of pine to the top and to the front for the lid to swing off. This is how the box was looking at that stage.


I used some offcut pieces of cedar cladding for the roof. I had to add a thin strip of pine at the top in order to hold the screws. Turns out cedar is really soft and breaks easy. Who knew?


Result, a stylish nesting box. I hope the hen is pleased. I gave it couple of coats of the same self priming exterior paint that I used on the house, except for the roof which I simply gave a coat of polyurethane. 

So there I was, nice nesting box, nowhere to put it. I was trying to think of how to make a home for the chickens in Stalag 13 when I had a revelation. In the middle of the night of course. Lying in bed, not able to sleep cause of nesting boxes and angles going through my mind, when suddenly it was KAPOW.

The wood box!

We've been using this as our wood box for the last 7 years. I think it may have been a feed bin in a previous life. I'd given it a coat of paint and Wayne cut half the front out so we could reach in for our wood and put it on the back porch. We used to keep the smaller, kindling type of wood in there. But we now have air conditioning. And a broken wood heater... so... we don't need the wood box! 

In my sleep deprived state I knew it was the answer to my prayers. I didn't have to make a home from scratch!



First step, I took the front off. I had planned to just turn it upside down, leaving the opening on the bottom. 


Then I thought, why leave the 'wings' at the bottom? I cut it straight across and down the middle, creating doors. Which I had all kinds of trouble hanging on my own. Those suckers were heavy and its hard to hold the drill, screws, hinges and doors all at the same time. The lost screws under the deck are proof of that.


Plus, I was thinking it might be too enclosed. So I took them off again.

Meanwhile inside the box I put in a long branch as a roost. I sure hope its thick enough... I did this by drilling out two large holes with the hole saw (yes, I own a set of those!), pushing the branch through and then putting a screw through to hold it in place. You don't want it spinning when the chickens get on it!


I also cut a hole out for the nesting box and attached it to the outside with screws. I admit, I googled how to make nesting boxes and chicken homes. The nesting box has to be lower than the roost or the hens will sleep in the nesting boxes. Since chickens poop in their sleep, if they roost in the nesting box, they'll poop in the nesting box. YUCK.


Now I was thinking, can they get up onto the roost? Is the box too small? Is the roost too high? I have no idea.

So to be safe, I made a little ladder. A friend thinks its too steep. Maybe it is. I'm hoping they'll use it. They've been living on the ground for so long...

Oh, and I added more cedar to the roof to make it match. Looking good!


Since the outside of the box had already been painted, I just gave it one coat of house paint to freshen it up. Then I decided the inside needed painting too.


In the end I decided to use a piece of trellis I found and make a single door. A bit of privacy, and more air circulation. Remember, these chickens have been sleeping in an old dog kennel till now. This has got to be a step up in the world!


Here is the other side. Pretty plain huh? I thought a little porch would look nice, balance it out, you know. I'm all about curb appeal. 


I used some brackets and some timber wedges to achieve an angle, added more cladding and voila! An undercover area for eating.


Ok, the reason behind the porch is that I had planned on demolishing the dog kennel. I hated that thing, it was stinky and hard to clean out. And I was over reaching into it for eggs.

Well, when I started pulling it apart I had another idea. I pulled off the cladding on 2 sides, making it into a kind of summer house. How many chooks have a summer house? huh?


Its actually a great place for the food dish too. You can see the hen is having a peck at the shell grit while the rooster is having a snack of grain under the porch.


I didn't think I was going to be able to get the new home into Stalag 13 till next week as there was no way I could move that thing off the porch on my own. However a nice man gave me a hand today and its done! I'm not above playing the weak female card. 

I cleaned out old bedding and put down some new stuff, put some hay in the bottom of their new roost and in the nesting box, and here they are...


Stalag 13 has never looked so good!

I'm so pleased. I love the new look. Now, if they would only use the roost...

Next job - the chicken coop. Ugh. Don't remind me.

z

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Tuesday, 25 April 2017

light switches - a starter collection



What do you call 4 light switches?

A collection!

In my opinion, anything over 3 of something is a collection. It means you have to buy/find/get more, otherwise you just have a pathetically small collection.

This is my small collection of old light switches. The first one, the one above the new light switch, is the original one that was on the wall of the grooming room. I have another 2 old light switches similar but so far they actually work so I'm leaving them where they are.

The others were my pathetically small light switch collection, scattered throughout my junk piles. One was a gift, the other two were things I picked up along the way.

Now I find I need more. I want to fill this section of wall in my new grooming room with vintage light switches.

Anyone have any old light switches they don't want?

I've been working hard on a new home for our rooster and his hen - the ones who have to live in a pen for their own safety. Well, the rooster is in there for his safety as his son got bigger than him and his time on this earth was looking pitifully short. I got him a girlfriend and now they live in Stalag 13 (which used to be a dog run in a previous life).

I'm hoping it'll be finished tomorrow so I can share photos. Not sure when I'll be able to move it into the pen though, as there's no way I can move it on my own. And I'm a weakling.

We'll see. Necessity is the mother of invention, they say.

z

Sunday, 23 April 2017

storing fabric

Sometimes all it takes to get creative is to have a need.

For instance, a need to store fabric. Or a need to get piles of fabric off the floor, hence a need for a place to store it.

The whole idea of storing fabric is to be able to find the bits you need quickly. The fabric has to be visible, not hidden in boxes and, ideally, sorted by colour.



I needed shelves. I needed narrow shelves. Or a bookcase. 

I didn't have either. But I had a box.

I had this box, which I'd used as a dog bed when we first moved to the farm, for Barney and Mischa. It was a solid timber box I found somewhere which I cleaned up and gave a lick of paint. The post on how I did this is here.






I made my own dog bed cushions for it and put it in the entrance which is where Mischa and Barney slept as they'd always been outside dogs and I was introducing them to living inside.



After we lost Mischa it didn't seem right that Barney slept by himself. He moved into the living room with the poodles and the box was put into the store room. Which is where I found it again while looking for something to make my fabric storage shelves from.



It was a very simple re-do. All I did was put small bits of timber on the sides as ledges to sit the shelves on. The shelves were cut from leftover bits of plywood. Easy peasy.

I sat it on the little side table in the office and now I have all my fabrics in one place.... or most of my fabrics... or some of my fabrics... Ok! You got me. I have a large basket full of small offcuts cause I can't waste anything, a wire basket with real and faux leather bits and a large plastic container with fabrics for doll costumes.

But I do have all my colourful cotton fabrics for things like my anti-bunnies sorted!

z

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

string holders and evicting bats

Phew. The day is over. A good day, but SO tiring. I got a ton done which is great. I failed at a couple of things too, but hey, you can't win 'em all.

So, what did I do today that was so exhausing? Well, I started with the plan of putting up the new grooming sign. I worked on that for about 30 minutes before giving up. It was just not working. Good thing too really, cause in the end I decided I needed to rethink the position. More on that soon.

I did 3 loads of washing and the usual chores of feeding and caring for all the animals, and I did a little garden work. Then I decided it was time to clean out the carport. 

Background: We used to keep our chicken feed in the carport and that encouraged mice and rats to live in there. Which encouraged the dogs to dig at the walls and generally cause trouble. About a month ago I started the car and a mouse jumped out of the engine bay. I've been parking out in the yard since. 

So, I decided the carport needed a makeover, more to make it safe than to make it look nice. Trust me, its a pretty basic farm carport... Not much I could have done to make it look pretty.

Anyway, I ripped off the sagging plywood which had been put over the barn wood and in the process evicted two rats and one tiny bat.

Yep, a tiny bat! Not a typo! I was so excited when I saw it. At first I thought I'd uncovered a hairless baby rat but then saw its cute little face and wings. I wanted to keep it! I wasn't quick enough to catch it, it escaped under the wall and out near the dam. I was worried the geese would eat it - I mean, it was full daylight... what do bats do if they're out in the day? I looked for it but couldn't find it so I hope it was ok. The geese weren't around so I know it wasn't lunch at least.

I threw out a ton of rubbish and rat infested nests and then I nailed a thick particle board to the bottom section of the wall - Its not about keeping rats out as much as its about keeping any small animals (ducklings, chickens, natives) out of our yard. The finished carport is so much neater and I like the exposed slatted wood back wall. And bonus - there is nowhere for rats to nest any more!

After the carport was cleaned up, I opened up a small area I've had penned off to keep the dogs from digging. Hopefully now the rats have been banished the dogs won't need to dig for them and destroy my plants. And I'll be able to pull weeds. Yeah. I live to pull weeds.

ha.

Anyway, that's not what I wanted to share with you today. I wanted to share my new rustic string holder. 


I was inspired by this lovely makeover of a thrift shop find by Carlene at Organised Clutter. When I saw it I thought what a great idea, I have to make one of those!


Yeah. Ok. Mine looks nothing like that. 

I had spindles. I had a ton of string. I didn't have a fancy wall sconce. I also didn't really have a wall spot to put it. So I just grabbed a piece of timber from my offcut pile and put them together. It'll do for now.




Its not pretty, but it works. Its not for the office, its for the workshop so it doesn't need to be pretty. The workshop leans more towards a more rustic-farmhouse-hoarder design style.

Thanks for the inspiration Carlene, and sorry I killed your idea. 

z