A Man’s Work is Never Done

So after tidying up the shelves and nearly splattering my finger everywhere, I’m not allowed to do any more work on the potting shed.

His Stern Face

MrT had another day off today so he has been building ther framework for the roof…

Yay!

It looks like its going to be something now!

It is looking pretty ace if I do say so myself. I’m rather proud of my fella and his ‘Mad DIY Skillz’.

Since my last post, I have managed to find a load of laminated glass going free – just had to pay £15 for a man in a van to transport the stuff. Its super thick, and even though a couple of panes are cracked the lamination means that they are still intact and can be used for the roof. The one downside is that they are SUPER heavy so will need a shedload of support.
AND we need to find some way of cutting them down or else we would have had one steep roof apex!
Anybody got any recommendations of how to cut it without power, heat, or a stable surface to work on? No, I thought not…

Its looking pretty good in there now though, so whilst he was doing that I decided to have a go at clearing up a bit. When MrT suddenly gave me an excited shout though I had to come and see what he had found.

Time Team Styl-ee

Look! A fully functional – and rather beautiful – path! It was covered by a hell of a lot of mud and muck but now that its dug out and has been rained on a bit it looks amazing. Plus there’s a few lovely steps that lead up to my orchard. Yet another awesome gift from the previous tenant.

So pretty… or they will be soon!
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Cinderella…

After his mad bout of destruction, the Mr has gone back to work.

And in the process, he has left me to deal with the mess left behind.

So today has been a nice sunny day cleaning up shedloads of junk from years of neglect. Yes I am still talking about the potting shed here – nothing else!

The potting shed’s remains

Luckily the weather was warm so it went pretty quickly.

Getting there

The worst part was trying to rip apart the shelving without damaging myself or the glass windows… Looks like I was only successful in one of those areas though. I’ve fully crushed my sweary-finger between the shelving and reckon my nail won’t last much longer.

Ouchy.

War wounds

But by the end of the day, the ground was clear and I had found a lovely solid path between the two beds.

I can’t wait to get using this place, although I reckon itll be a long time coming!

Ready for a new roof!

The Chick Inn – “Always room for one more”

So, this post has been a long time coming. You’ll remember from the end of last year my worries about the girls current living arrangements and how I wanted to get them in to a custom-built coop. Unfortunately, the best laid plans always fall through and it has taken us this long to get around to finishing off our ladies’ new digs.

I took a day off work and roped in MrT to help build the new palace. Turns out it took much longer than a day and has actually taken about 3 weeks of weekend and evening work, but that’s by-the-by. We had no strict plans, no measurements, nothing. I just knew what I wanted and had to try and relay this on to him. We were planning on using as much of the spare tongue and groove wood from our new log cabin at home as possible so that it was built with some thick, well treated wood and would last a long time yet.

Sawn up fence post ‘legs’

We started off by building the base. We simply picked the shortest lengths of wood, slotted them together and kept going until it got to the right size. We made sure that the smooth side of the finished wood would be inside the coop. This lends itself to easy cleaning and also reduces hidey holes for redmite and other nasties. We then screwed a wooden square to the base for strength and the floor was done. Simples!

A very blurry MrT

Because the wood is so thick and heavy, we really needed to put it in to place before we added any more to it. We attached six leg (three either side) made out of old fence posts cut to size. This will keep the floor off the ground and reduce hiding places for Ratty and Co. to live and chew through the floor like they have the shed. We dug six holes in the ground to sink the legs and when everything is built and settled we will postcrete this in to stop it sinking. We placed it in the corner of the run so that we still have optimal space for the girls, and up against the fencing so that I can have the laying box outside the run without compromising the girls safety.

A bit wonky, but they got straightened up when we put it in position
The girls loved the readymade dust baths!
The only part we made sure was level was the floor

Next up was to build the rough structure for the walls. Again, we had no particular measurements so we used the offcuts of the base to make a rough shape. Initially I had pictured an apex roof, but I soon realised that was way too much effort, even if MrT thought it would be easy enough to do. I knew that I would end up finishing this off by myself though so opted for the easiest option. We just used a longer length for the front elevation, a shorter one for the back, and an angled piece at the top to hold it all together and support the roof. It needed to be steep enough for the rain and snow to run off, but not so steep that it makes the living quarters too shallow for the girls.

This is how it’ll look from the side
Build one side then use that to make an exact copy for the other side

Next up, screw these to the base and put in two equal lengths of wood across the front and back to make a “wonky box”. Mr T cut and installed some lovely diagonal ‘bits’ to keep the walls from flopping over in the wind. We then installed a ‘H’ shaped structure which was the height of a chicken to create the pop-door. My descriptions are obviously very technical and in no way made-up.

Don’t do this on a windy day!
Our pretty little ‘wonky box’

I wanted to include a nice laying box set-up for the girls which stuck out of the side of the herras fencing run so that I didn’t have to go in and disturb them every morning or evening. We made this run the full length of the house so that the cladding would run smoothly and to provide three nice big spaces for the girls to lay. 3 of the older ladies no longer lay much and the new girls are Bantams so take up very little space so 3 laying boxes would be more than enough for our 10. I planned to make this have a lift up lid for ease of access but also to keep it as fox-proof as possible. Its hard to describe the shape of the structure we built so take a look at the photos below and if you’d like measurements and instructions get in touch and I can send them over.

I built it through the fencing and cut the bars right at the end to keep it fox proof during construction

The next problem was that I wanted a nice people-door and a window in the new chicken-abode. MrT thought we could build them, I thought we should use the readymade ones from Cluckingham Palace Mark 1.  After many minutes of heated marital discussion, it was decided that we would do it my way. Obviously.

Nice hot pink window frame
This’ll be their view from their bed

Mr T went back to work for the rest of the week and left me with struct instructions to leave it until he we next off, so of course I got all of his tools back out (sorry love!) and spent my weekend carrying on with exactly what he told me not to do.

Cutting around the window frame was so difficult as I had to work with what tools we had

So the nice hot pink door and window frame were installed and looked beautiful. I took the window home and removed the chicken wire to install some clear Perspex. They don’t need it for ventilation as they will have the permanently open pop-door as well as a ventilation hole in the top of the coop.

Cladding up the stairs

Then it was just a case of cladding up the sides front and back. Much more difficult than it sounds since we had to try and work through herras fencing on two sides, with one also covered in brambles and nettles. Thick trousers and a jumper were required but I still felt like Snow White in the woods when the brambles grabbed hold of my hair!

This was hard to do single handed I must say!

This took a lot longer than I though and I needed about size hands, but eventually I managed it just in time for MrT to be off again. We went out to the DIY shop in my lunch hour and spent an awful lot of dosh on some hinges, hooks, hasps and roof panels which just so happened to be the perfect width. He then spent the afternoon creating a lovely lift up hatch for the laying box.

Being the hard worker that he is he had to go back for another full-on week (or perhaps he just pretends to go to work to get out of chores?) so I carried on regardless. I installed some laying box dividers made from offcuts of the hatch. I sanded and painted and made it look beautiful in ‘Slate Grey’. I hinged the door, added a hasp lock so that I can keep them safe and added a small hook and loop to the door so that I can pin it open should I need to.

The girls weren’t happy with my mess

Then, on the windiest day of the year, I decided to put the roof on… by myself.

Sadly, this is where our lack of measuring and squaring up really hindered us as it turns of that the whole place isn’t square! I nearly flew away many times and could hardly lift the heavy wooden sheets, but I managed it in the end so sat and had a victory brew surveying my building skills.

I then had to put the roofing felt on top, which was even less fun as when the wind catches that it rips the felt out of your hands along with the skin on your fingertips. Don’t try this at home kids. But guess what? I managed it in the end so sat and had another victory brew surveying my building skills.

Late on Monday evening, I went to the pet shop and loaded up the car with some fresh bedding and went on a mission to move in my girls (and Jimmy the undercover rooster) in to their new digs.

We blocked up the door to the old house and installed a roosting bar and a ladder entrance to the pop-door, filled the new place with bedding and hay, added their food and water dispensers and snuck in to the old coop to move them in. MrT was on removal from the old roost, and I was on placing on the new roost. I definitely picked the right job, as MrT soon saw what I meant about Jimmy looking after his ladies when it gets dark. After a good few nips to the wrists, MrT soon learned the best way to pick up a rooster is quickly and from behind!

All of the girls have now moved in to their new digs and appear to be loving it! There is less space in there than the old one so they are much cosier and its really toasty in there. They still have enough space to spread out and section themselves into their groups, but there’s less area for Jimmy to have to patrol and they can now huddle up without having the tiptoe along the bar in the dark.

We went down there again last night and found that only two of the girls had figured out how to use the ladder. Bloody birds. So, we spent another evening putting them to bed. The last man standing was Jimmy and he couldn’t figure it out for the life of him. After almost an hour of trying to corral him up the ladder, he finally got on to it by accident. It was almost as if you could see the lightbulb!
Hopefully now that he has worked it out, he will show the other girls tonight, but it’ll be another trip down there later to make sure the last of the stragglers know where ‘bed’ is!

Now finally, welcome to The Chick Inn – “Where There Is Always Room For One More” ,

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;

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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;

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To this in less than a month;

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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!!

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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…

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


On the upside…

Look at these!!

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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!

What do you call a chicken with a piece of lettuce in it’s eye? A: Chicken Caeser Salad

Chickens eat everything.

Except, apparently, their own food when it has touched the floor.

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Mine drop food EVERYWHERE and with us having the abandoned plot next to us, rodents are eating more than they do when they’ve dropped it everywhere.

They were being fed using pet-shop feeders similar to the one below. They are great if you have a few hens and they are store inside the coop, but mine walked all over them and they ended up full of straw and chicken poo!

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So I decided I needed to find a way of being able to securely store enough food for my hens without the pests or rain getting to it. I also needed to be able to allow the chickens to eat but not drop food everywhere.

I did an internet search and found many versions of the same thing – PVC pipe feeders.

Many people used clear plastic tubs like those used to store things in the attic with pvc elbows glued in like this one here – http://blog.mypetchicken.com/2015/10/05/diy-no-waste-feeder/

I wanted something on a larger scale though for my 12 hens in the hope that I may be able to use a whole bag of feed at a time and reduce the tips to the storage shed.

So I got myself a big plastic water butt on a free site. It came with a lid, but also had taps on the bottom so I will remove these and plug up the holes… or maybe just leave them against the fence as a good “attachment point” to stop it falling over.
I also went to Screwfix and got some 55mm PVC elbows when I went to sort out my automatic drinker system. I had hoped for larger sized ones but apparently they are hard to come by at regular shops! I also saved some old thick card and shaped it in to a cone to direct the feed pellets.
Tool wise I needed a 60mm hole bore for MrT’s drill, and squishy tube of sealant. Job done.

It was a pretty simple task really. Lay out where you would like the openings and mark them, then drill the holes. I did mine all around the edge, but you can always use one or two on each side if it will sit in a corner. Make sure they are high enough up that you chickens don’t have to bend too much, but also low enough that they can peck at the food after the 90 degree bend.

Put your arm inside the barrel and poke the elbows through from the inside, leaving about 1.5cm outside the barrel. This will give the food protection from rain running down the barrel if I have to move it outside at any point.

Then use the sealant to secure the pipe from the inside and let this set. Then do the same on the outside! You can try and do them both at the same time but if you knock the pipe at any point you’ll end up with it everywhere. Not a good look.

Then use the thick cardboard to make a cone that fits in the middle of you barrel to direct the food towards the pipes. This isn’t desperately needed as the weight of the food above will push enough of it down, but it means that you don’t end up with food sat in the middle of the barrel between all of the pipes which goes stale having not been eaten.

Et, Voila!

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It takes a while for the girls to figure out that food is inside that little hole, but they get there eventually!

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No more messy floors and having to fill up tiny feeders in the shed every day…

Bliss.