Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Guess What? Chicken BUTT! Coop is DONE! It's a Chicken Tractor!

UPDATE ~ If you scroll all the way to end, I added the finished product ~ so the tractor is done ~ now for the real coop........... ( better not mention this to Wood Genius just yet... best to let it lie for a day or three..... hehehehe... BWAAAHAHAHAHA... ;-D )

WOO HOO!! SO ~ we got the chicken coop done!! Well, ok, ALLLLLmost done ~ the kids & I still have to paint it. And I am thinking that good ol' Barn Red with white accents is just gonna be IT ~ what do you all think? Afterall, that WOULD tie in with the shed & the treehouse.

So ~ I know what you all are waiting for ~ PICTURES!
And we DO have pictures!

This is meant to be the portable chicken tractor, or also known as the chicken arc. It is based loosely ( ever so loosely) on the boughton forsham models that can be found online. Since we have 16 chickens right now, and will have 10 after the fair, we needed to make our tractor a little larger.

We decided to go with the A-frame style, as it made up for less mass in the long run to transport. And with Wood Genius making it, we knew it could get complicated fast. Here is a pic of the basic frame with supports in the corners, so that nothing wracks when it is being transported.

oops ~ lazy blogging, sorry ~ sideways pic. Just a close-up of the joinery ~ easy sqeazy so far.

Here is a pic of the feeders, on extending drawer guide arms. Wood Genius used a 3/8 drill to drill through 3 times in a line so that the arms could extend out, thus saving your back. That way, the feeder & waterer can just be hooked on and slid back, or slid forward to remove & re-fill.

These are heavy-duty drawer guides, and will easily hold the weight of the galvanized metal 2 gallon double walled waterer & the five gallon feeder.

(Had to move it back into the shop to work on it, as it was getting quite dark out.) Here you can see the flooring going in. It should be mentioned that the wood being used is 2x2's, & I believe 3/8 material.

Here you can see the chicken ramp on hinges, plus the framework for the ramp.

This shows the nest boxes & the flooring installed. There are 3 nest boxes, and we made them a little larger inside, but still a nice snug hole to crawl through & feel safe with.

Now you can see the roosts installed, as well as the back and top of the tractor. You can also see the vents at the apex. We used a very strong wire for this. Also visible is the 1 1/2" gap between the inner melamine wall and the outer 3/8" sheeting wall. This, & the back side, is where Wood Genius installed 1 1/2" styrofoam core insulation. The door is also insulated.

Vents are a bit more visible here. Also visible is the pulley system to raise & lower the chicken ramp. There is the rope & the nail to hold it when the ramp is closed.

Follow the rope over, and down it goes through a hole drilled in the flooring.

This is the pulley in the roof. These pulleys make sure that the rope doesn't get run ragged by snagging on the wood. The pulley is just hanging by a screw screwed through.

oops, another sideways pic. The rope is shown here heading through the vent above the nest boxes, to another pulley.

Voila! A close-up of the outside pulley above the nest boxes.

Ok, this is just showing the foamcore.

And what have we here? A BUTT shot! Can't say "Guess what? Chicken BUTT!" without a butt shot at least SOMEwhere. heheheh. Wouldn't he be so annoyed if he saw this? :-D

However, I actually have a better reason for the pic. It is showing the door fitting on.

I forgot to add that this is actually one of those ~green~ coops, because almost every single bit of wood on here was harvested from left-overs, the dump ( see that pile of 2x4's?), old fence parts, and various other places.

And here is the door on. The handles are close enough together for one person to lift if they are bigger, & far enough apart for two smaller kids to lift off together. (It's good for them, makes them work as a team.....) :-D

Hmmmmm... trying to remember why I uploaded this pic... Maybe just to show the ramp in closed position. Also, see the rungs are spaced so that even with a fair amount of snow or chicken goo, the ramp can still be closed completely. Also showing the roosts, which are positioned higher than the nest boxes to discourage pooey eggs. ( The chickens will choose to roost in the nest boxes if they are higher... I don't know why, it's a chicken thing..)

Here's the whole contraption, alMOST all the way finished. From the side/back.

From the side/front. Note the wooden latches to make sure the nest boxes are all the way shut. The little doors will make egg gathering easy.

Latches secure the door as well, just for predators' sake. (Little kids in the neighborhood can't reach that high... that's pretty much the main concern.) Also, the vents open and latch shut... We get winters down to -20F, so the chickens will need to be warm. While not shown, the heat lamp will be able to be dropped down through a hole drilled in the roof, and we will just use an extension cord ( heavy duty, shop type) to either light the heat lamp or, when they are older, to extend their perception of daylight so that egg-laying continues through the winter.

Last night & today, Wood Genius installed the hardware fabric around the base. ( which, by the way, isn't really fabric at all ~ what a cruel joke to play on a's really just metal wire with a whole bunch of little bitty square holes in it. ) And now he is off buying the wheel set-up, which will consist of large lawn mower wheels, connected & used in the same manner as the boughton forsham chicken arc/tractor. These will be installed on the nest box side, as it is the heaviest. He will also install a large bar on the end opposite the nest boxes, so that we can reposition the tractor once a week. (During the winter, this will obviously not be easily moved, so we will add additional run space, connected to the bottom of the tractor, via the removable screen end.)

And the last thing to do will be to paint it up, and add chickens! {:>)=

Well, I am going to keep adding pics here as he finishes it up ~ I keep running out there to take pics for each phase.

Ok, so here you can kind of see the removable screen door there on the end, with a latch to close it up tightly. You might also notice the dolly and the suspiciously wet ground.

Yup, it's true! Here in Idaho, it could be shining one minute and literally SNOWING the next!! Where is the justice in that?!? See that? Green grass with a snowy blanket ~ AAARRGGHHHHH !!!!

UPDATE!!! ~ YEAH! It stopped snowing and actually got sunny enough that Bek painted the tractor ~ Next post ~ the Garden project!!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Tree House update!

Well folks (isn't that just so comfy-like-I-know-yah-all? :-D) I took a poll. and Barn Red won! SOOOO ~ here are some updated pics of the treehouse, sans all the white trim yet, but at least the barn red bit is done.

Wood Genius installed the windows, screens & doorways, as well as the deck railing.

Almost all of the wood in this treehouse is ~re-claimed~. Most of it has been endcuts or left-overs from jobs that Wood Genius had. Even the plexi-glass windows and screens are re-cycled. We didn't want to use actual plate glass, since this treehouse will be used by kids ~ LOTS of kids! :-D Also, the supports & framework are all of sound lumber. Again, just being on the safe side.

This is the little dutch door, with the secret hand-stuff-through-the-door cut-out on the lower half. Either the top or the bottom may be opened.

Here you can see a better view of the deck. This will also be in white accents. I suppose you can kind of see the french doors leading out to the deck as well.

This is the bald little kitchen(ette!) window, where Wood Genius intends to hang a flower box/battlement, depending on your gender. But it's gonna be a battlement with flowers in it! :-D We'll likely want to put the same under the dinette windows as well. Naturally once the leaves grow in, it will look much more treehouse-y.

And we all loved Corrie's idea of growing ivy up through the whole thing. I will have to see if it will choke out the tree too much. This old tree is a Dutch Elm, and it fell sick to that horrid nemesis, the dutch elm disease. However, through various loving efforts of extra nutrition, watering, clipping, removal of affected limbs, and basic pray-that-the-tree-house-tree-will-survive nursing tactics, it seems to bounce back to better health every year.

Now that the treehouse is almost finished, it's time ( it's REALLY time) to start looking at housing for the chicks. We have to clean out their brooder twice a day to make sure they don't stink up the house. But they are getting quite large. I swear they have already doubled in size, and they are only 2 weeks old today! Those little biddies grow like weeds! We have had a nice day or two, where temps were in the 60's to 70's, so the chicks got to go outside & play for a bit in the little ~play-yard~ Wood Genius made. I hope & pray that we continue to have decent weather, since I really don't want to keep these little ladies in the house any longer than necessary. If they were getting raised by a real hen ( instead of the brooder light/all of us), I am sure she would have had them tromping about the yard regardless of the weather. At any rate, I'll do the next post on them, and the coop.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Thomas Jefferson Homeschool Method

Well Folks ~
here is one more plug for homeschool ~ This is the method we use at our home, with the eclectic style of application. That means a Thomas Jefferson Education, applied eclectically. Also, once again, I would like to plug the best book I have ever read on homeschooling, called "A Thomas Jefferson Education", by Oliver Van DeMille. I went to a seminar by him once, a Math seminar. I am so NOT a math person~ but ~ at the end of that seminar, I can tell you I was interested enough in the subject to have taken well over 10 pgs of notes, got some excellently reccomended math classic books, & actually ENJOYED the heck out of it!
His book is the reason my husband & I decided to switch over to homeschooling in the first place.

Here is the plug for A Thomas Jefferson Education that CBS did on some folks who use the method:

Friday, April 04, 2008

Chicken Adventures ~ Baby Chicks!

So this is our latest homeschool adventure ~ we now have 12 little peeping balls of fuzz!!! And they are SOO cute!! And we are SOOO popular with all the neighborhood kids! And I'll be SOOOO impressed if half of them make it into adult-hood ~ cuz they are SOOOOOO loved!

Ok, so ~ enough of that ~ :-D ~ Let's look at the little ladies. {:^-- (<<<--isn't that a cute chicken-head?)

First, we read up on chickens, & egg-layers for our area, & what it takes to brood them, & raise pullets for laying, and all of that. Then we went to a wonderful little family-run farm (small world, turned out Wood Genius knew the gentleman who owned it through Scouting) where they let us go & look at their hens, along with all the other animals they had. ( There were goats, lambs, peacocks, & I think even a cow or two.)

They had mostly Rhode Island Reds & Sex-links, but they also said that some are ~indiscriminate mix & match~.

Our next step was to prepare a brooder, & order the chicks. On the day of their arrival, we heated up the brooder so it would be all nice & warm for the chicks, & then waited with baited breath. And finally, AT LAST ~ They came!

This is a Rhode Island Red, a Barred Rock, & an Auracauna.
Here you can also see the Buff Orpington's, and the White Leghorns. Also, notice that mason jar feeder. These little ladies are only on their second day of life, first day at our house, and they have already consumed almost an entire mason jar of medicated chick starter. AND, they have gone through an entire mason jar of water as well. Which makes for quite the lovely toodles ( or shall we say *chicken gravy*).

These are Liz's Buff Orpington's.

This is is Izzy's Auracauna.

Bek chose Barred Plymouth Rocks.

Aren't they SOOO SWEETTT??

And perky, too. So far, we haven't had any problems with mean chickens, but they have already established a pecking order.

Kat chose White Leghorns.

And Jess & I chose Rhode Island Red's.

This little lady is the only one I am worried about ~ She is sort of listless, sleeps more than the other chicks, & she is also tinier than the other ones. She toddles around with her wings sort of dragging. Here she is, ~ going.....


Gone! The next step, is where she lays her beak down on the ground and just sort of hunches there, snoring away.
Anyway, more on the Chicken Adventures soon! Hopefully, they make it through the night, other wise, we'll have 5 highly distraught youth, as well as about 7 sad little neighbors. (All of whom wish, on a regular basis, that they too could be homeschooled.)
(:^-- {;>)= (:^--