Sunday, February 8, 2015

Creating New Chicken Coop and Duck Houses

So, I've been aiming to get new housing for the chickens and the ducks. I was able to get 3 dog kennels off of Craiglist and the question was --  "How to put a roof on them?"

The answer to that question depended on whether I would have help or not. Just two weeks ago, I thought I had help in the form of a young man with time on his hands. He was going to build a "carport" style cover for the kennels that would allow for moving the kennels under the roof if desired. Nice. Cost: $300 including his labor. I planned to pay more like $350 as he was underpricing his labor.

But, he decided that hangin' with his friends was more his cup-of-tea and he backed out. Gave an excuse that I actually believed until his mother gave a different excuse to our friend who had made the connection between us and the young man. Ah, so they both were being dishonest. Shame on them.

So, I was left without assistance and no more patience for trying to find someone with the desire to work. I decided to do what I could do single-handed. So, I decided to go with cattle panels and highway advertising vinyls. The upside of this is that not only will I grow my self-confidence but I will get these three kennels covered AND the larger kennel that will be the new rabbitry done for about $400 including two extra panels for using as trellis in the garden. A very good bargain!

Cattle Panels (aka Feedlot Panels) are 16 feet long by 3.5 feet wide. They are commonly used to make hoophouses and field housing for goats and pigs. The challenge is in transporting them from the Tractor Supply Store in Whiteville to the house. I have one friend with a good sized trailer that I could call on to help--hopefully. I offered to pay him for his gas and time to assist me in the transport and he took me up on it. So, 15 panels made their way to the homestead last weekend.

Highway advertising vinyls are the used advertising signs you see on the highway billboards. They are made of thick vinyl and are...well...big! I have three that are 10'x32' that I got free from a local sign shop. Expect to pay for them, though. My source realized after they gave me these for free that there is a market for them and now they charge $25 each.

Yesterday was a warm, sunny Saturday and I could actually walk around without sinking in mud so it was time to get started. I was on my own. My goal was to get the three kennels destined to be a chicken coop and duck houses ready to be covered with the billboard vinyls.

The first kennel is 6'x9' and the the gate is on the 6 foot side making the only direction a cattle panel roof could run would be from 9' wall to 9'wall. That would be too sharp a curve for the cattle panels. Fortunately, I had an extra kennel wall section that came with the kennel. This would become the roof support for this kennel. I wanted a slant to the roof so I fetched an extra metal fence post I had and strapped it to one of the 9' top bars. Then, lifted the extra kennel panel up and strapped it down -- one side lifted by the extra fence post. Then it was time to start working with the cattle panels.

Cattle Panels on the Chicken Coop
Cattle panels are not heavy so much as unwieldy.  The first couple in the 8x12 kennel were pretty easy. The panels would run from 8' wall to 8'wall which is the ideal "bend" for these when doing hoophouses. I was thinking that there should be room to easily fit three panels with a bit of space between them. Either the kennel is not truly 12 feet long or the panels are wider than the 3.5' because I had to overlap panel two and three. Thus, the third one was more of a challenge because it required trying to get it up and over the top, under the second one, and into position to attach and it was a tight fit. I got it with a bit of effort and once done, I was winded and needed a rest.

Then, it was time to do the 10x10 kennel. Panel 4 (1st panel in the 10x10) was ridiculously hard. First, I approached it from the wrong side and trying to turn the panel 90degrees was annoyingly harder than it should have been. Perhaps I was just getting tired. I didn't give up and finally got it into position and strapped in place. The bow was a bit odd for reasons I don't know but that won't affect it's job as roof support. Another rest to catch my breath and then on to panel 5, the last one of the day.

About this time, my redneck neighbor strolls over being nosy. Never offers to help me. Just talks about how many eggs his hens are giving him daily while I am dragging the panel around -- to the correct side this time -- and then up and over the top of the kennel. Somewhere in that process he fades off and leaves and I continue with my task at hand. Strap it down--it has a more normal bow shape-- and I'm done.

Last night, we lost Gracie the Pekin duck I rescued a few months ago. She was out free ranging with the Muscovies. When they came back, she couldn't figure out how to get back in the gate with them. When I tried to direct her, she panicked and went into the woods. This morning, all that was left was white feathers. I am aiming to order some ducklings but this was a harsh reminder of why I am working to get the duck houses built. I will put up some yard fencing around their new area as well and then get a portable electric fence for when I want to let them free range. And, my new ducklings will be trained not to be afraid of me and to let me herd them. Poor Gracie was too traumatized by her previous owner to let me close and too dumb to follow the muscovies lead.

No comments:

Post a Comment