England may have won 6-1, but I was on the bench

I’ve got myself a lawn, but not a bench to put on it…

I did have a pallet though!

So I made one from the other;

35989871_471145059996607_6311985651617103872_n

First up, find yourself a pallet that you would not mind sitting on. Nobody wants splinters in the bum so a new one would be best. Even better still if it is treated already as it saves you a job.

Gather up your tools, a brew and a length of timber for the legs.

36062853_471145303329916_3489315943341883392_n

Measure how big you want the seat, and the remainder will be the back rest. I was really technical about this… I sat on the pallet until it felt right.

The saw the pallet in the right spot, across the middle of two cross-beams.

34963231_471145499996563_8961010751238045696_n

Then, make it look like a seat! Lots of screws in the bottom and a few through the sides and hopefully the seat shouldn’t fall off when you plonk down after a long days work.

35932359_471145706663209_8428020449564164096_n35971194_471145883329858_2981393372909928448_n

Use some proper screws!! Nothing too short that will rip out as soon as the weather turns.

Then decide how long you want your legs and cut the wood. I did two pieces at the right length, and two slightly longer so that I could have an arm rest.

36114111_471146103329836_2312266188639436800_n

Then guess what, screw them on too.

 

You know how a bench should look, so I hope i don’t have to explain this part, but if I do let me know and ill send you my plans! It all depends on how long your legs are!

36003020_471146449996468_1988216433779146752_n

Three screws in each leg should hold it.

Next up, measure the distance between the two legs as well as the length you would like the arm rests to be and cut the wood appropriately.

35892316_471146253329821_1135060479379505152_n

This will help keep the bench square as well as stopping the legs from falling out from under you when you sit down like a bad jenga tower.

Screw ‘um in.

36003277_471147356663044_5660307824253599744_n ^Bench^ !

I think it looks pretty good for something done on a wing and a prayer to solve my seating problem. I don’t think my 20+ year old deck chairs will last much longer so it’s just in time!

35162088_471146696663110_4898131981696499712_n

I’ve just got to get MrT to mow the lawn now and it’ll be ready for summer BBQ’s and picnics!

 

MrT can easily take A-Fence sometimes

The “Captial Spend Plot” is actually the bane of my life.
It makes everything so much more difficult!
Brambles and nettles are spreading like wildfire through the roots and no matter how much I dig they always return.

The same glorious weather that has helped my spuds grow has also helped the nettles sprout up, so the path to the shed is getting very stingy.

It has gone from this;

Image may contain: 1 person, shoes, outdoor and nature

 

 

To this in less than a month;

Image may contain: plant, tree, outdoor and nature

 

So MrT decided it was time to stop the top growth from spreading any further before we dealt with the under-ground-problems of roots.

I managed to find us some lovely old railway sleepers for free online. They were intended to use as steps up to the log cabin at home but we ended up with too many!

These because the base of our fence. Because it was to be built on decades old concrete, we needed something strong and heavy that wouldn’t topple over easily and could be drilled in to.

He also decided to make use of the scrap pallets we seem to have collected from around the plot over winter.

Image may contain: outdoor and nature

He dug the sleepers in as far as possible into the bank of mud, old roots, glass and plastic bags and then wedged it behind an existing concreted fence post hidden inside an ivy hedge. The plan was to then screw battons of wood into the sleeper and attach pallets to these.

Image may contain: plant, tree and outdoor

It took lots of wrangling and some swear words, but its in!

Unfortunately we had to call it a day here on Tuesday evening because he didn’t have his electric drill and the sleepers were too difficult to screw into without pilot holes. So after sawing the rest of the battons, we went home and had dinner like civilised people.

Last night i thought i would go back up and do what i could without his help, and I was actually rather proud of myself!

Image may contain: plant, outdoor and nature

We used some old corrugated plastic signs from MrT’s old work to stop the nettles from winding through the gaps in the pallets. These were just simply stapled on the back of the fence. They really help to cover up all the mess next door too!!

Image may contain: plant, tree, outdoor and nature

Next step is to carry the fence along behind the greenhouse and as far as we can manage! Hopefully by next year we may be able to enjoy the spring without worrying about stopping the bramble branches from dropping over and rooting…

Image may contain: plant, tree, shoes, outdoor and nature

Just to stop them travelling UNDER the fence now!! Hmmm… more thinking required on that one.


On the upside…

Look at these!!

Image may contain: plant, flower, nature and outdoor

Need to make sure i go up there every morning and water them now.

At least the upside to having missing windows is that they have some ventilation through this heat wave!

Cluckingham Place gets new plumbing

I love my chickens, I really do, but they eat and drink you out of house and home.

Every day I am down there filling up the food and water troughs (twice in the summer!) and every day I end up covered in chicken poo and overspray from the enthusiastic hose attachment.

I needed to find a better way of doing things.

I searched everywhere online for different ways of watering my chickens using rainwater collected from their coop, and nowhere could I find a suitable solution.

Image result for chicken waterer

I looked in to using chicken nipples or drinkers, but these are either very expensive (over £5 each on Ebay!) or have very bad longevity reviews. Plus my chickens are stupid. They would NEVER figure out those little knobly bits held water.

I then looked in to a system which looked perfect. It was a tupperware tub bolted on to a tank with a bit of pipe. Hydrodynamics kept it from overflowing. However these only seemed to work with catering buckets and HAD to be airtight. Plus I don’t think it would work with such a large container as air is too stretch-able and squash-able for a good enough vacuum to be created. Overflowing and losing all the water is not good when watering 12 hens daily.

There are a few specialist products out there too; cups, drinkers, pipes, bowls… however all of these had one issue – EXPENSE.

Everything had to be cheap.

So I did some creative thinking and while I was in the bathroom one evening (TMI I know!) I had a brainwave.

I need my system to run like the toilet. A big tank full of water supplying a little bowl of water which turns off without input from opposable thumbs.

So I went to Screwfix – leading supplier of all things toilet.

35267160_463426714101775_8098166162367447040_n

Here I picked up some PTFE tape (12 rolls for £4!), a toilet float valve, some rubber washers to fit the float and 6 55mm PVC 90degree elbows (for my next project – operation food waste). I also found a large blue barrel on Gumtree going for free. The final thing I needed was a tub that could fit the float in, but wasn’t too big for the chickens to drink from and would hopefully not fill with poo and shavings (a girl can dream).

35145159_463426404101806_597989533572661248_n

We have got an IBC that MrT helped me to collect, so if this goes well I will make another one. My hens will never have to worry about being a bit parched. As long as it doesn’t freeze but I will come to that in the autumn…

I could find nothing similar on the internet before so hopefully this will make sense, but if not feel free to message me you questions!

It is environmentally friendly, uses less water, wastes less time and also feeds my constant need to ‘upcycle’ and re-use

Blue Barrel

My first step was to clean out the old tank. From the smell of it (and experience of being a Chef Widow) this barrel used to contain some sort of veg oil. This is edible so it isn’t too big of a deal, but oil can quickly go gross so best to clean it now. The amount of times I have washed this from MrT’s work clothes has taught me that the best way of getting this out is the good old fashioned way.

  1. Fill the barrel with warmish water. I used a hose from the outside tap mixed with a couple of kettles just boiled!
  2. Add a really CHEAP dish soap. The expensive “moisturising” ones are rubbish for this. The good old 25 ones that make your hands feel like stones are perfect.
  3. Screw the tops on the barrel.
  4. Roll it on its side up and down the driveway for a few minutes. Good way of finding leaks too.
  5. Avoid stares from confused neighbours.
  6. Tip content of barrel away (safely!!).
  7. Stop dogs from playing in oily bubbles.
  8. Repeat.
  9. Rinse with clean cool water.

35243345_463427827434997_6406702634115268608_n

I then drilled a hole large enough for the threads of my float valve, but not so large that it would flap about and let water leak. 20mm did it for me.

35328317_463426950768418_2537155757204307968_n

I also did the same thing in the tub that the chickens will drink from. Plastic can be quite hard to cut through, so it is worth drilling a pilot hole and then allowing the cutter to spin and melt the plastic slightly as it cuts. Don’t force it, you’ll split the drum or stab yourself with flying plastic/drill bit. And definitely don’t touch it straight away.

35300530_463426494101797_1617690459851718656_n

Remember physics; Friction=Hot

When (if!) I do this with the IBC, I will add some PVC connecting pipe between the tank and the float, just simply because the IBC has a tap already installed which I will use as an emergency cutoff for cleaning and if the valve fails.

35402351_463427194101727_2195472984045518848_n

My barrel conveniently had a screw cap at the top which was the perfect size for a click-on hose adaptor, so I added this on there for when the rains don’t come (HA! We live in the UK, so not likely!). On the other side will be my downpipe for the guttering when i have fitted it, but that will be a weekend job so ill be hose-pipe filled for now.

35293369_463427330768380_6316979113739419648_n

Next up, I screwed the float valve in to the drum. There is a nut to use on the inside, but there was no way i was getting my hand in that barrel so I just screwed it in and will use sealant to keep it watertight. Then unscrew it again when you realise you forgot the water container. I was very careful this whole time not to damage the threads but also not to strip the hole I had just drilled. This would hopefully add some extra water resistance.

35289475_463427464101700_6337977913224200192_n

Then put it all together and pray.

The order is this; Nut (if you can get it in there), washer, barrel, washer, tub, washer, float valve. The float valve sits inside the tub where the chickens will drink. Use the float valve screw to wedge all of these parts together like a big BLT.

35225643_463427724101674_2174441791917391872_n

Add some water and its time to test! Maybe put waterproof shoes on for this and don’t do it on your kitchen floor – you know, just in case.

The way it SHOULD work is that when the water flows out of the barrel and in to the tub the float rises to close the valve and shuts off the water at the correct level. When the chickens drink and lower the level the valve opens again.

You may need to have a play around to try and get the water level just right. Mine is on its lowest setting, and i will cut the plastic tub into a more “easy to drink from” shape when i know it is all working properly.

35430699_463427600768353_3600084472755650560_n

Remember that small chicks can and WILL get in the water and drown, so this should not be used for young babies. This is for my ExBatt hens for laying (about 2 years old) so if they fall in it is because they are thick.

Hopefully this will save me getting soggy shoes and poo covered hands, as well as keeping my hens hydrated in the summer months!

They love it!

I will let you know in winter how it fares with freezing, but I have a feeling that I may need to resort to some sort of heating mechanism or just fill them up daily, especially if using pipes!

Have you heard my under construction joke? It’s not done yet.

Two days off in a week, means two demolition/fire/destruction/smashing jobs done in a week.

I should have known really when the sledgehammer ended up in the boot of the car that something dramatic was about to happen.

This ‘building’, or ricketty pile of bricks, is built in the most inconvenient place in the allotment. It blocks access to a good 20sqm of space which could otherwise be useful.

45

Very inconvenient old walls

I mentioned my wish to have this *eventually* removed to MrT a while ago.

So while I was planting my spuds, MrT was making some smashing and grunting noises around the back of my greenhouse. I would have been worried if I couldn’t hear his grumbles.

0213

Smashing away

 

He didn’t move anything, he just wacked it.

 

0220

Gone!

We did, however, find out that those walls were supporting my greenhouse… Bugger. Now thats got to come down to as all of the wood is rotten and its being held up by its shelving!

Soon enough he had got it all down and stacked up the bricks nice and neatly while I finished putting my spuds in.

Just out of curiosity, who mounds theirs up and who doesn’t?

I just dig a hole, push my shovel forwards so that it makes a deeper hole, drop my spud in and then removed the spade and fill in the hole.
I don’t bother mounding them up unless a spud sticks above the surface and always seem to get as much of a crop as everyone else.
I also don’t faff about with worrying which are First, Second or Main crops. I just plonk them all in and harvest them when the plant tells me they need harvesting.

0217

Spuds are in

I have put 6 rows in, some of red King Edwards and some of Maris Pipers. I am waiting on the complaints and criticisms of the other plot holders on my site about my lack of lines and mounds, but to be honest the less work the better.

At least I got to use my adorable signs that I bought in the sales last year!

Wilkos Signs

MrT The Pyromaniac!

I leave him alone for ONE DAY and he sets fire to the plot!

30706793_10156513478583296_7515443463710572544_n

Fire Bug

He went down to fix my shed roof, but unfortunately we didn’t have enough roofing felt left… things look a lot smaller when they are higher up!

So he saw a big pile of scrap wood and decided to ‘get rid of it’ for me. What a diamond.

I decided that i would pop down in my lunch hour to see how it was going and treated my little worker to a chippy lunch. So civilised.

30703798_10156513479788296_3306361937238949888_n

Rest Break

He is a good egg though, and by the time I finished work for the afternoon he had done so much hard work!

I know it doesn’t look like much, but he has managed to clear our so much rubbish and has even discovered a concrete path and plinth which appears to have once had a shed on it.

30727555_10156513477638296_6129194935875796992_n

Proud little man

Sadly all of those nettles and weeds behind him are part of the abandoned “wildlife plot” next door. This is great for hedgehogs, but is awful for us to try and keep the weeds away and the foxes out of the chicken coop. His next job will be to build a nice pallet fence to keep out all of the big brambles and make it look a bit neater.

That big brick structure is connected to our old rotten potting shed (which we will one day repair!) and it blocks off a nice big space behind it.

30739858_10156513473333296_5922355658862100480_n

So much wasted space!!

This will be all knocked down as soon as MrT gets himself a sledgehammer and will hopefully be the site of a new brewing shed for those cold winter days when a bacon cob is required.

30724723_10156513474898296_7115663157565063168_n

No more stings!

He has managed to clear the path around the back really well, and has dug up tonnes of broken glass which seems to have been dumped inside the old (now demolished) air raid shelter.

Now its just a waiting game for his next few days off to get smashing and crashing his way through that old building!

Wooden it be nice…?

One day he will regret setting eyes on me, if he doesn’t already.

0171

Today’s job

This was MrT’s chore for today. We had a break-in a few days ago and my gates were already battered and rotten so it didn’t take much for them to break completely. Luckily nothing went missing (they were disturbed) but it gave me an excuse to get a new gate sorted.

0154

Loaded up the car

Since we had bought a log cabin at the end of 2017, we had loads of spare tongue and groove wood. MrT found a use for it here!

His first job was to remove the old gates and save as much of the furniture as possible. We wanted to use these big hinges on the new gates. Recycle and reuse!

0156

Gate ‘bits’

Next up, unload all of the bits you’ll need, along with lots of things you won’t and stand looking confused for a while.

0157

Planning stages

The first real step in the actual construction was to build a rectangle from the thicker pieces of wood. It is really important to make sure that the corners are all square at this stage, as otherwise your gate will be squiffy! We used metal heavy duty right angles to hold it together, as the wood was too thick for screws to go through square and we didn’t want to faff about cutting angles in the rain!

0158

Fag break. 

Then its just a matter of screwing the tongue and groove slats on to the rectangle.

0160

Screw in the boards, while I clean up the hinges

0161

Ain’t he a cutie!?

It took three of us to lift the gate into place when the hinges were on.

One good tip is to place the top hinge bracket upside down. This will stop potential bad-guys from just lifting your gate off its hinges! It’s more of a faff but its worth it.

0162

Brew Break

He also boxed in the bit of wood at the top of my posts which stops them from bowing inwards over time. He is a good egg.

We decided that for extra piece of mind we would add an additional horizontal bar to attach another hinge to. Unfortunately by this point MrT was hungry and grumbly so put it level with the floor instead of gravity…

It might look odd, but never mind, i can;t complain when he has done all of this for me on his day off!

0164

Just cosmetics left now

I then started on the painting. Because we had used leftover wood, some were red (horrendous!) and some plain, so I had to pick a colour which would cover it.

We used Cuprinol Ducksback in Silver Copse. It took three coats to cover but it got there.

0165

Hmm that’s not MrT!

After he had eaten and was less Hangry, he put the lock latch on to keep the people out and chickens in. I passed the painting over to him while I supervised and ate chicken sandwiches. We are a good team… sort of!

0166

Painting

A neighbour bought over some barbed wire he had just put around his gate after the break-in. We decided against it though as its awful stuff for the dogs and wildlife and sods law says the only person it will keep out is me when I forget to pick up my key before locking the padlock!!

0169

Almost there

Hasn’t this been a great days work!? My dogs will now be safely enclosed while I’m digging away and all the snoopy people can lean over and look but not just wander up and down and terrify the life out of me!

0175

Job well done i think

Welcome to Cluckingham Palace

Now has come the time to move my 6 hens into their permanent home. I have been keeping an eye out for the items I need and have finally collected them all up!

  • Shed – Any size, ours is 6ftx8ft from the garden at home.
  • Herras fencing – old tatty stuff from the builders, I got 6 panels, but 4 would do.
  • Several bags of gravel. Old school folks use smashed glass, but gravel works too.
  • Postcrete or Quickset Concrete – One bag for each panel.
  • Large cable-ties.
  • Small cable-ties.
  • Soft netting for the roof – I used pea nets at first, but have now replaced this with game netting.
  • Chicken/aviary wire – enough to cover any shed windows and the bottom of the shed.
  • A gate/door – I used the one from my current run

First things first was to get our old shed from home down to the plot. Now THAT was a faff. However, when we finally got it there and up, everything is pretty easy from here.

59

New chicken house

MrT used some of his wonderful man-skills to cut me a rectangular hole in the left-hand wall of the shed with the windows on. This fitted just perfectly between the two vertical supports for the wall of the shed, so that was a success.

I took the perspex out of the roof vent and out of the windows and filled this with aviary wire for ventilation. This means the hens wont cook in summer, but the windows can be put back or covered with fleece in the winter. I just used my staple gun for this, quick and simple.

I also put some aviary wire across the floor to stop the rats from chewing through from underneath, however to be honest this didn’t help much.

Next up i screwed the old wooden ladder i found in the greenhouse to the wall of the shed. I took the sawn ladder out of the current coop and used this as a ramp up to the other longer section of ladder. This would become my hen’s roost perch.

chicken shed

Roost in! 

I then covered the floor in dust-free shavings to make everything nice and comfortable for them. It also means that i can just scoop this out and replace it when they have ‘messed’ everywhere.

I moved my laying boxes across into this new shed and “voila!”.

Next up was the run. This was the most time consuming part but was super satisfying when done. Remember I was doing this alone, so if i can do it, anyone can!

First step for the run was to lay out my fencing around the shed in the layout i wanted. I winged this, but here’s a rough plan of what i did. You can do any layout you like!

chicken run

I dug trenches where i wanted the panels to sit. About a foot and a half deep, and a shovel width. The corners and midway through the long side I dug down much deeper to allow room to concrete them in. This took so long!

I then put my gravel in the trenches, just a few inches deep. Make sure you leave the corners clear though! This is the first step to stop Mr Fox. If (when!) he digs under the fencing, he hits the gravel layer and doesn’t like the feeling of it so gives up. The old school Flatcaps use smashed glass, but in my view the foxes are only hungry and trying to eat, so the last thing I want to do is hurt them and make their life even harder! I just don’t want them eating my chickens!

Now since I was still on my lonesome, the next part was quite a juggling act. I filled up two large buckets with the amount of water recommended on the bag of concrete, and had them on standby. I opened up my bag of postcrete and had that at the ready. These fence panels have one ‘top’ which is level and smooth, and a ‘bottom’ with extended posts which usually fit into concrete bases. I lifted my first panel into place, top up, bottom down, and pushed it into the gravel as far as I could. Now these fence panels are super heavy, super broken, and super sharp, so if you are doing it PLEASE get someone to help you. I am just impatient and stubborn.

Trenches.jpg

Hard digging through weeds! 

I then held one corner, and completely left the other corner to do what it wanted. I poured in my postcrete powder, made sure it fully enclosed the end corner of my panel and poured in the water needed as per the packet. I then had about 2 minutes to make sure this corner was plumb and level before everything started to set. I was doing this on a crazily hot day, so everything was pretty hard in about 15 minutes. During this time just keep holding it firm, even if you think it is set it might not be.

Then you’ve got to lift up panel 2 and do the same thing with that panel, but marrying it up to the un-concreted corner of panel 1. Does that make sense? I used large cable-ties to keep the corners together while i concreted them in. This way the corners are concreted next door to each other, leaving no gaps between the two panels. Its just like putting up a fence at home, just without putting the posts and panels in separately.

Work your way around doing this for all of the panels.

Then have a rest. You’ve earned it, and if you haven’t crushed yourself with a Herras panel, you’ve done better than I did!

 

108

Phew! 

Next up was to fill in the trenches. I had a bit of gravel left so topped this up in places, but then plonked my soil back over.

107

A different view

Now how do humans get in to the run? At this point it was pretty dark, so all my hens were in the roost sleeping but just to make sure they were safe i locked them in the coop.

I took the gate off the temporary wooden run, along with the posts the gate was attached to as installed these in Panel 1 of the Herras Fencing. To do this, I basically cut down the Herras panel, cable-tied the gatepost to it for the time being, and the screwed the other gate post in the other side. These cable-ties were industrial ones my mum sourced, but you could always concrete this post in when you do Panel 1. The next day I did bolt the post to the Herras post, but i wasn’t in the mood to be drilling through metal that late in the evening!

chicken run

Gate is in! 

Just a side note here, but if you haven’t read my first chicken run post, the same tip still applies… sink a slab under the gate or lift it slightly, as otherwise it will drag on the floor on every lump and bump!

Home time!!

The next morning I went down to finish off and make sure that everything was still standing. That was the most tense walk down the allotment lane I’ve ever had!

Yay, it made it!! Although now in the daylight i can see just how damaged my second hand panels were. None were straight and they were all a little bit bent, but what is perfect in my life?

109

The joys of recycling – nothing is perfect!

I removed the old run and let my hens explore.

Then I realised that they have wings and fly.
While Mr PigeonMan returned my escapee chicken, I stretched some netting across the top. This also means that it is compliant should we get another bird-flu scare.

The chickens seem to like it so that’s good!

62

Proud Sue!


Sucker for a sob story

I can never say no to a creature in need. Unless its MrT, in which case he can fend for himself.

So when i got tagged in a post about ex-battery hens, I went with a clear mission to get 4. Only 4.

The mistake I made was taking my mother.

We came home with 7.

So now i had 13 chickens.

120

Poor girls

They had hardly any feathers and didn’t know how to be ‘chickens’. They stood around in the rain without taking shelter. They didn’t know how to scratch, and couldn’t eat food off the floor. They didn’t know what grass was. They didn’t even move for the first hour.

How anyone can keep animals like this i don’t know.

The next day I went in to work and found this!!

111

Guess what – Its not shredding.

And guess what was in the box – and it isn’t shredding…

110

Meet Rhianna.

This sorry looking hen was bought in by a Director at my work. She and another hen had lived with him for many years, but unfortunately her companion had left her the day before.

So what was his first thought – I know who has chickens!

And thus, I now have 14.

Welcome to Cluckingham Palace Rhianna.

In a world without walls and fences – who needs Windows and Gates?

My plot gates were naff. Lets be honest.

They didn’t open, and when they eventually did, bits of glass rained down of your from above. They hid me away from the world and they stopped nice flatcaps and ladies from saying hello to me.

I think they reckon I am as antisocial as MrT looks, and he isn’t exactly a bundle of joy and sparkles!

47

Large, heavy, stuck, and collapsing gates – not to mention the broken glass panes

So went went on another internet mission, and came up with some replacements.

Off MrT went to fetch them for me. Poor suffering bloke. Since then he has made matters worse by asking me to get married, god knows why. He must be a sucker for punishment.

31

God knows why he is so happy!

Here he is with his new acquisitions. Look at that smile…It’s almost as if he KNEW he was going to leave me to put these up by myself. Oh wait…He did.

Little did I know that this wasn’t a simple replacement job. Oh no, it was a whole digging, lifting, trapping fingers job.

Turns out my gate post was rotten. So off I went on another trip to the DIY shop. Its a good job i have a big car isn’t it?

I had the most embarrassing trip to the DIY shop. If you have ever been to the shop in leggings and a tank top, you will know that all of a sudden there are people there to assist you. Well I didn’t know this (being the sheltered little one I am) so I immediately went into Strong Independant Woman mode. As the shop assistants gathered, I tried to pick up a bag of postcrete. As soon as I stood upright, I keeled over backwards. Big explosion of dust and a crunch later and they are all keeling over too, expect for they were doing it in laughter. I could’ve had the world swallow me up right there. So i let them help me. Two new posts and a few back of postcrete later and I was back at my allotment to hide from the world.

A women may be misinformed, mislead, unclear, misguided, and even downright stupid..but she is never ever wrong.

By this point on a Saturday morning, all the flatcaps had finished their shed-fryups and had surfaced to see what That New Girl was up to today. So around they stood while I used all of my embarrassment adrenaline to rip out a fence post. I was like the hulk that day. Nothing could’ve stopped me.

Mr AcrossTheLane tootled over with a funny shaped spade and ‘let me borrow it’. I thanked him and waited until he left before googling it. Turns out it was a post hole spade, and it helped a bunch! I recommend them to anyone who has a big fencing project on, but I do have to say that I don’t think I would’ve used it since.

Suddenly my phone began buzzing, and Mother Dearest on the other side wanted to come and see my new chickens.
“Brilliant”, I thought, “just in time to hold my posts”.
So up rocks my mum and stepdad, oblivious of what lie ahead for them.

A hour later, my posts were in, and were plumb, and were nowhere near matching in height, but who cares. I can be flippant about these things, I was too tired to carry on digging as I had hit rubble.

So we sat and had a little relax and a brew, chilling out with my chickens.

chicken

Strutting her stuff

After Mum had made off with my eggs, I gave up resisting temptation and hung my gates. I did install a bar across the top of the two posts to make sure that the posts didn’t pull inwards while the concrete was still hardening up nicely. I could wait any longer though as I really didn’t want to leave my plot open and accessible all night as we often get kids hopping over to go ferreting through the shed and none of mine are locked yet!

I probably wouldn’t recommend it to anyone else, because it could’ve gone horribly horribly wrong if the posts hadn’t set fully yet, but do what I say and not as I do.

These gates already had different hinges to the old gate, and I had never done these before. It was pretty easy though, I put the bottom hinge on the post, offered a gate up to it and marked where the second hinge sat, and then screwed it in! Simples!

Soon enough, both gates were hung! They weren’t level and they certainly weren’t perfect, but they were our and they were beautiful.

63

They are up!

You can just about see Mr AcrossTheLane’s plot there. Look how infuriatingly perfect it is… grumble. One day, eventually, mine will be that pretty.

In the meantime I might settle with just cutting those hedges though…

Girl, if you were a chicken you’d be impeccable.

The whole point of getting an allotment was to make something to eat. But at this stage of the game, that’s a long way off.

So if I cant grow anything, and I can’t sow anything, then maybe Mother Nature can help.

CHICKENS!

Now yet again, MrT was working. So I was going it alone. I had a very vague plan and a very big dream, with not much in the way of strength or money.

I figured that I would make a temporary run and coop, and gradually update it as and when I had more of a plan and had done a little bit more research into the best ideas. Since I couldn’t find much info on how best to keep chickens at an allotment, I just adapted what I could from all of those posh folks who have big enough houses to keep them at home (not jealous at all!!).

So my plan was to put the chickens by the front gates, in the hope that then my pigeon keeper neighbour would be able to look in on them while I was working.

32

The chicken ‘area’

So this is where they are going to go. That pallet block up a space in the hedging which goes through to the abandoned waste ground next door. This plot is impossible for the council to clear so they have left it as a ‘Wildlife Area’ – also known as a dumping ground. It does mean though that the tree overhanging that corner cant be accessed from anywhere but on my plot, and what is that tree? An Elderflower! Champers here we come!

Not yet though, before drinking comes building. So onto the internet I hopped in the hope of finding a potential ‘chicken house’.

playhouse

Look what I found!

And thus, the temporary chicken hut was found. I took out the window panels and put in some chicken wire for ventilation and put up an old wooden ladder cut in half as a roost. I built a nesting box out of some scrap ply and hoped they would like it!

So next up was building my little chickys a run. This would be the ‘interesting’ part. I powered up the cordless drill and gathered up my supplies early Saturday morning in the hope of getting everything done in a day.

I began by journeying to the local DIY shop to buy myself some treated wooden posts, and soon realised that I needed to edit the size of the run so that i could fit it in my car. Not a great start.

Having managed to haul it all home, I spread out my ‘posts’ and began to build a cube. As the daughter of an engineer dad and a mother who asked for a compound mitre saw for her birthday, I knew reasonably well how to work a drill.

Having built my giant cube, I then added two beams the same height to one side to act as a door frame. I didn’t cut this down to sit flush with the walls, as I wanted to make sure that I could attach a hasp and lock to it so that I can keep it closed when I’m inside the run with them. It also means that it can only open outwards, not inwards. I thought this would be easier to stop the girls from escaping when I am going in and out. If you wanted to make it open both ways, just shorten the beams so that they sit flush with the cube sides, and shorten the gate to fit later on in the steps. If you’d like me to send you over the rough drawn napkin plans I made for both scenarios, just leave me a comment with your email.

Next up was to cover my  cube in aviary wire. We found a roll of this at the allotment during the Mass Mow and I got some more by scouring online freebie sites, but I still didn’t have enough to do the whole thing. I used the thicker aviary wire around the bottom of the run as foxes can chew through normal chicken wire! This was stapled on with a heavy duty stapler I already had at home and some galvanised staples, in the hope that they wouldn’t rust away. I didn’t cover the gate opening for obvious reasons! I made sure to leave a ‘L’ shaped overhang at the bottom of the run to stop critters from digging under the fence too.

Next step was to finish off enclosing the sides with chicken wire. I also used so scaffolding net to cover the top of the run, as I didn’t want to have to clip my hens’ wings.

Then I had a well earned brew and admired my handiwork.

22

Break time.

While the kettle was boiling, I quickly made up a rectangle the same height and width as the door frame. At this point, make sure that you leave half a cm either side so that the door can swing open and closed easily, even when cold and wet and the wood has swollen. I put a brace across the middle to keep it square. Usually this would be diagonal, but I really didn’t have the brain power this late in the game to work out the angles, so this would do for now. It also aids as an extra place to add my handle/bolt.

Time for another brew.

Next up, cover the gate in the same mix of aviary wire/chicken wire as the rest of the run. This was so easy, but make sure that you wear gloves when cutting the aviary wire. It is blinking sharp and hurts when it catches you!

Now it all comes together. I used two hinges top and bottom, and a bolt to keep my girlies safe. This was where I made a boo-boo. Make sure that you lift the gate off the floor slightly with a bit of wood or a slab, as otherwise your gate will catch when you open it!

23

Almost ready!

My final step was to add a nice handle either side and make sure that everything was tight and secure, then add my chickens!!

We decided to buy 6 young hens from a local breeder. They came vaccinated, well socialised and a week or two away from laying.

11

Arent they adorable!

So they are now moved in and happy, but I am already planning their permanent home…just to source the parts now.

I will keep you updated when I begin the next stage!