Prefab Modern for the Barnyard Animal

Earlier this week we went looking for a framing nailer. With the shed and then a deck to build, and then a bunch of revisions to the pantry situation to work out, we wanted a nailer and had decided on one that attaches to an air compressor. That way, we can just get a new head when we want a finish nailer or brad nailer. Also, there are lots of really useful air tools.

But our attempts to find the right thing were in vain. We could either buy a combination of stuff that included a lot of things we don't need right now, or we could buy a set of stuff with a seriously undersized compressor. So we gave up, came home, and ordered online. So we are not going to be building anything until the package arrives in a week or so, because I just don't pay for overnight shipping on really heavy packages.

So that killed doing anything this weekend. And next weekend, we're jetting off to exotic Providence, Rhode Island for a family wedding, so that was right out. So the earliest we can get all the materials we need and have the tools to do the work is going to be the weekend after Memorial Day, which is two weeks away.

In the meantime, the chickens had totally outgrown their little cardboard habitat. They weren't complaining, or even exhibiting bad behaviour, but they had gotten big enough to occasionally knock over the feeder or their water, and it was clear things were pretty crowded in there. I certainly didn't want to leave them in the habitat all weekend while we went away, mostly in the dark and not able to run around.

So I arranged to borrow a rabbit hutch from my friend Elaine, who has a rabbit who does not care for the hutch and so was not using it at the moment (although we've had a discussion about possible modifications to make it more to his taste).

This morning I showed up at her place with the Geo, and she wondered how I was going to get the enormous hutch into the car. She had gotten it from friends who brought it over in a gigantic truck, and it clearly was not going to fit in the back of a teeny-tiny compact car. As we were looking at it, I saw wingnuts, which meant that it would come apart, and after we took it apart it fit into the back of the car with ease. In fact, in the back it fit exactly.

Rabbit hutch in the back seat of the Geo

And here it is assembled in the chicken yard. It went back together fast and easily. There's a metal pan that can slide in under the floor to catch poops, but I didn't want the chickens walking on a metal mesh floor so I'd covered the mesh with cardboard and pine bedding, and with that the metal pan was redundant, so it's elsewhere.

Nice new chicken house

Then I made a free-standing roost for them to sit on at night, and put in a little dish of scratch as a reward for going in the house (scratch is like candy for chickens). This is large enough that we could keep them closed up in here the whole weekend we are away without any guilt about how much room they have.

Fully furnished chicken house

Because the hutch is pretty high up, I made them a little walkway to go up and down on.

Board walkway

And I put their food and water under the hutch so they are in the shade. I'll also be running a sprinkler head out to a bowl so they are watered on schedule.

Feeders underneath

And finally, the chickens themselves came out to play in the yard. They were largely uninterested in being inside the hutch, but tonight they will get a little lesson in going inside.

Happy new residents

Now we have a bit of looseness in the chicken house construction schedule. Phew! Thanks, Elaine!

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posted by ayse on 05/17/08