Category Archives:Building Projects

Fencing for the future

When you have about 4 acres of pastureland, what do you do? Fence it in for that future horse, of course! And what a start for our journey to farm-dom.

When surveying our property, we had intended to fence in the entire parcel. The cost, however, was pricey at this time so we opted to fence in about an acre for our first horse pasture.

After getting a few (far above what we were thinking) quotes, we pulled up our britches and said, ‘Hey we can do this ourselves!’

In several trips to Blain’s Farm and Fleet and Menards’, we acquired 15- 9′ corner posts 8″ diameter, 35- 8′ posts 4.5″ diameter, and 34- 6’6″ metal T-posts.

We rented a post driver and a skid steer with a bucket that came in handy to move a burn pile that was composed mostly of roofing shingles.

We only had the heavy equipment for the weekend so getting all the posts in was the priority. Our neighbors had a Saturday morning wake up call to the sound of pounding posts. Ear protection is a must, for both driver and helpers!

Once we had measured where all the posts needed to be the post driving actually went quickly, first all four corners and fence gates, then the middle posts.

We used nylon mason line to rope around the posts making sure we were putting our fence up in a straight line.

And unfortunately we had a post driving mishap. 

This picture is of a broken post, and the post we set next to it.

We bought 5 spools of high tension coated wire 1320′ each of electric and non electric wire.

I recommend that if you are doing any kind of wire stretching with cable wiring that you purchase a wire de-reeler/spinning jenny. We didn’t buy this at first, and we had a lot of issues getting the wire uncoiled efficiently.

This is a spinning jenny- you put the spool of wire on and spin it off.

We started out with just 5 wires 12″ apart, two hot (electric) and three cold. We have added two lines of electric Polywire at 6″ and 18″ since deciding to purchase two meat goats before we purchase a horse. Springs were required to install the Polywire so we used the old springs from our broken washing machine!

These new lines will come in handy because this one gate is over a dip in the ground.

Stretching all that wire was definitely what took the most amount of time, weather permitting.

The last thing we have to do is get new hardware to transfer the 6′ gate from the pig pen to the horse/goat pen. Then we will be ready for our boys to arrive in June!

Winterizing a chicken coop

The time has come! Fall is here; pumpkin is everywhere in everything. And with all these changes comes that cold weather, so our chicken coop needs some winterizing!

Here is what it looks like now.
old-coop

We are going to change the way the nesting boxes are. We think that with the A frame style of the roof, the girls are having a hard time getting into the built-in nesting boxes.
inside-of-coop-nest
We started with adding a floor to prevent mice and other rodents from building nests inside the coop.
inserting-floor
We constructed the new nesting box on the back 24 X 12 X 12 X 14 so that the roof is angled to prevent water damage. Making sure to paint the complete inside and outside for ease of cleaning.


Adding the hole in the back of the coop for the nest entrance may seem complicated, but we used a circular saw. Placing the saw in the middle of the line to cut helped to make sure I didn’t cut past the size of the hole we wanted to make.

The last thing we did to winterize was put a piece of sack (from a seed bag) over the window to prevent drafts. dsc07126
Now our girls will be happy and dry this winter!
finished-coop

Coop for the girls!

Weekends are the only time we get things accomplished in large-scale. Hubby had to leave for two weeks so we needed to get the laying hens’ coop built in a hurry.

I found a book at Farm and Fleet which was really helpful, Reinventing the Chicken Coop by Kevin McElroy and Matthew Wolpe. A great reason to get this book if you are building a chicken coop, (and don’t have a lot of experience building things) is that this book gives you the entire shopping list of building materials and tools you will need for each version of coop. It also gives you instructions.
Some of the designs had great features that we will like to apply to a future chicken coop, but with the time crunch we had we needed to stick with the original plans. We decided one of the easy coops was the ice box version. It seemed easy to clean out, and it was tall enough to put our already made watering system inside the coop.
(Picture of waterer)

Hubby is such a wiz with getting things done that he got the main coop cut and built in about a day.

coop 1

coop 2

(Sides and bottom of coop)
coop roof 1
(frame for the coop roof)
coop roof 2

(Bar to support the nesting boxes and provide a roost)
inside 3
We will need to install another board on top of the nesting boxes to make them darker so the chickens feel more comfortable laying eggs.
inside 4 (supports for the nesting box walls)

We used an oil base outdoor paint on the coop to protect the wood, and it is water-resistant!
closed coop
(The front door and window)
They recommend using hardware cloth, which is tiny squares, but we happened to have the chicken wire left over from the meat bird coop. The hardware cloth is more durable, providing ventilation and protection from predators.
open coop
outside run
Since I am home, my girls usually go out in this run during the day. They can hunt for bugs to supplement their feed, and eventually they will be able to get in the yard and garden.

We do have a hawk in residence near by- happened to see it on the garage this morning. I took some fishing line and tied it to the posts across the run. I am hoping this will prevent the hawk from coming in and carrying off one of my chickens. In the future I would like to plant some shrubs and bushes that the girls can hide in when the hawk is around. We have some wild birds that chase the hawk, and I have read that martins are great at keeping hawks at bay. So I will be looking for plans to build a martin house next to my coop.

Lastly, pictures of my girls, they are getting so big!
the girls 1
girls 3
girl 1
Can’t wait to get some eggs!

Update: Upon further reflection and actual use of the coop, helpful additions to the icebox coop are:

Paint the inside of the drop down door- my ladies poop on it frequently so the oil-based paint will help keep the wood from getting damaged faster.

Buy a small brush and mount it on the side of the coop- I filled the inside of the coop with pine shavings and the girls drag heaps of shavings out with them during the day. The brush is handy for removing those shavings to prevent damage to the hinges of the drop down door.

Original post published on June 29, 2016

Chicken Tractor for Meat Birds

Chicken Tractor

May 5, 2016

We are expecting to pick up our chickens today. We are getting 10 meat chickens to butcher at the end of summer, and 5 Speckled Sussex laying hens.

Since we have our nice large piece of property, we wanted a cage that could be moved around for the Cornish meat birds. This way they can eat the bugs in one section of grass to help supplement feed we give them. We are hoping this method will cut back our cost on feed.

We built a chicken tractor. The dimensions are 3X10. After purchasing 6- 2X4X10 boards, we kept 4 of them intact to  frame the cage. The other two, we cut down as the sides and used the extras as reinforcement. Again we used the brad gun, and screws to put the cage together. The covered shelter area was built out of spare wood from two old useless cabinet we found in our basement. We added a hinged lid for easy access to the chickens.

In order to keep the wood from rotting, I used the left over paint from the bookshelf to cover the cage.

tractor 2

Originally we were going to use the black plastic fencing (salvaged from our garden two years ago) to cover the cage, but we decided to use proper chicken wire because while we unrolled the plastic we found holes bitten out by the squirrels. Using a staple gun, we attached the chicken wire, and used the brad gun to attach extra wood on the top to reinforce the wire.
tractor 4

To hopefully help deter predators, we draped the chicken wire down further than the cage with the cut edge sticking up a bit.
tractor 6

The only things we have left to do before we can put the meat birds in are to possibly add wheels and handles (like a wheel barrow) to aid in moving the cage around the yard, and to set up our water and feed so that we hopefully don’t have to open the cage all the time to refill. I will update with a final picture when it’s all put together.