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Farmette 1769

by Monica Melograna-Ward

Tag Archives: building

LittleSketchCoop

Despite being a generally patient person, there are a few things that test this quality for me. One of them is in building things. Creating a functional item is my focus when I am doing this type of task. I have the tendency to work quickly and get a bit sloppy. As long as the item is sturdy in the beginning, I am satisfied. I just want to get it done and move on to another project.

But, rushed structures have a tendency to come apart and don’t hold up in the long run. And they are also not visually pleasing. Since I want the new, super predator proof chicken coop to work as intended, last a long time and look great, I am taking my time. Meanwhile, my chickens are busy growing larger in their temporary housing in the garage. I need to get this done, but it is 11 degrees outside here in NC. I do not work well with frozen hands.

Note: This blog will post on Monday, but I am writing it on Saturday, January 6, 2018 and it is COLD.

I slowed this project down even more since working on a table top project with my brother over his Thanksgiving and New Years visits. He is a good influence on me in reference to project patience. I also learned that you have to be willing to take things apart and make adjustments if you want things to turn out really well. The photo below shows the result of about $100.00 total of materials, supplies and small, specialty tools for a nice farm-friendly table top.

Note: The metal table frame with legs came from Freecycle for $0.00.

TableProject

The following pics are of the general coop plan that I sketched out. In addition to being a safe and healthy environment, I also want it to be easy to maintain and move. The plan is modular. The floor, walls and top will be separate pieces that fit together. The roof and ventilation will keep it dry – that is a big requirement for chickens. Cold it OK, but wet/moist is not. The food, water and egg nesting box will be accessible from outside the coop. Water will be rainwater driven from the roof gutter. The wood floor provides safety from diggers (fox, raccoon and weasels). The skids make it moveable. And you will also be able to remove the roof, keep the walls together and remove them from the floor for a thorough, periodic cleaning.

CoopSketch1

CoopSketch2

Happy Building!

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Yesterday, on my husband’s day off, he got on a mission to take on the old barn. He started off removing boards for us to cut into sizes for the exterior of the new barnette. He just kept going. I joined in as his assistant (I have gotten more careful about my healing from surgery vs. how far to push my limits). That worked well since today I am not paying for doing too much.

I really should have gotten a pic of Jamie. He was decked out in a very sexy outfit of shorts and rubber boots (LOL). Although not much of a fashion statement, I often wear the same thing in the warmer weather when working outside.

The only thing that went wrong was that this raw enthusiasm happened as rain was coming in. I looked out the window this morning at Big Man (dressed in his raincoat luckily) to see torrential rain with nothing for him to seek shelter in. Luckily, the temperature is in the 60’s on this 7th day of December here in NC.

But, the temperature is going to drop as the day progresses all the way down to 30 degrees. The last pic shows our two car garage with only one thing parked in it until we get those boards up on the new shelter.

YESTERDAY

Just a frame left now

Going down

Bigs is confused. (Also, note the giant hole in Bigs's jacket that Rocky, the grumpy Shetland pony, tore open. Thanx Rocky!)

Getting materials out of the pasture

Back to the garage for sizing...

TODAY

Bigs being a good boy - in the garage.

Luckily, Rocky fits in the fenced back yard nicely with our goats.

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This blog has been neglected for a few months. I am now getting back in the saddle again. I thought I might have to give up on the Farmette as pain took hold of my life here. But, after many types of treatments, medications, therapies and a lot of different doctor’s offices, I found a Neurosurgeon that was willing to help repair my damaged neck.

Our Chiropractor, Dr Robert Floyd, had helped as much as possible and the most of anyone in my 2+ years of constant pain. But, in my case, alternative medicine could only do so much. The problem was not one that would ever heal.

My Neurosurgeon, Dr. Gudeman, is not known for his bedside manners, but for being very good at his job. I myself found him pleasant, interesting and happy to answer all of my very particular questions. He was the only doctor in this specialty (that I had met) that had respect for Chiropractic work and other alternative approaches to health care – not reacting to them as a threat. When I found that he also wore Birkenstocks in his free time, I knew I had the right guy. Someone with a sharp mind with an earthy twist was the one to trust to replace a badly worn disc (only 5% left) and fuse two vertebrae together (C5 & C6).

I am still recovering and sometimes have some bad days, but the brunt of the healing is done, just in time for pre-Winter preparations here. We are trying to quickly finish a new equine run-in barn before the really bad weather hits.

Framework for new run-in barn

We will be re-using the siding wood from the old run-in. The original was built in a hurry and has a structural design flaw that is making it slowly bend in half. The new framing is staged next to the garage. We have one more wall and another door skeleton to build. Then we will move the new structure out to the pasture and transfer the covering from the old structure. There will be new roofing material and paint comparable to our top bar bee hive which has a fairly clean (but not manicured) appearance.

Old run-in - in the distance

Since we have a 10 hand high Shetland pony and a 14 hand high large quarter pony/small horse (his proportions are that of a horse), we don’t need to think big on the first stage of this project. It is 8′ x 8′ x 8′ with about 1.5′ extra to the peak of the roof.

Our two equine - Bigs & Rocky

The back wall will be solid and the front wall will be covered to 4′ or 5′ high so that, from the front of our house, we can see the horses inside. Both sides will have a 2/3  door and a 1/3 wall. When snow and ice storms come in, we can close it up. We will also be adding 3 flip up doors on the front wall that will act as shade canopies when open and weather shields when closed.

Run-in Diagram/Sketch

This is the first of, hopefully, many modules that will make up the horse barn area. It will not be too hard to add on to this starter piece. We will eventually have a place for hay and tack/equipment storage, a covered grooming station with cross-tie posts and some individual stalls.

Our lovely & beautiful blind quarter pony - "The Big Man Dakota"

Even though our quarter stallion is blind, he is claustrophobic and knows when he is closed up. On his trip here, I thought he would kick his way out of the trailer. This is the main reason that we will have several different ways to enter and close up the new shelter in the event of nasty weather.

Big Man is very calm in comparison to his arrival here at the Farmette, but we still need to introduce him to some things slowly. We’ll leave the doors open until necessity forces us to keep the freezing precipitation out. Hopefully, by then, he will understand the boundaries of this barn and adjust to the closed space without panic setting in.

Both the Shetland pony (Rocky) and “Bigs” have nice winter coats. Rocky is made for the seasonal changes being that his fur is short & shiny in the Summer and long & thick in the Winter.

Rocky - Head Shot

Big Man has a good coat too, but as much as he likes to stay out pastured day and night, I still worry about him getting cold. North Carolina Winters have days that start off warm and wet before turning to cold and icy. This is the crucial time to keep equine in blankets or in their shelter. Other than this time of year, leaving a barn open and available is a good way to keep your horses happy.

Happy Trails

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Buy some, Gather some, Re-Use some… Build! Everyone is on a budget, but it should not stop you from have the kind of homestead you want. We all have our priorities. Ours are paying bills. 🙂

But, we do have priorities that diverge from basic living needs. For my husband it is everything music. He is always dreaming of the next piece of equipment or a guitar. Right now, I am trying to work some art supplies into the mix. We want to take our son to some swimming lessons at the YMCA over the Summer and maybe British Soccer Camp for a week (shhhh!). And sometimes we will actually all go out to eat! All these are necessities in my book. Why bother working so hard if you aren’t going to be able to enjoy yourself?

So, back to the dilemma. How do you go about building when materials are so pricey? My motto is “Trash Picking!”. I am always processing uses for things I see along the roadside. Freecycle and craig’s list “Free” section are possibilities too.

Recently, making sure I had time to kill and some energy in pocket, I went to the DIY store (in this case – Lowes). I went back and forth looking at all the edge glued wood pieces. There were paint and premium grades. So, of course, I start looking at the lower priced paint quality boards. There were certainly very different levels of quality to choose from within the pile of boards – all priced the same.

I found (the last time I was shopping) 1′ x 2″ pine that was one price in the trimming board section and less than half that price on the construction side of the lumber section. These strips of wood were not warped and looked fine.

Craig’s list had yielded me an old table a while back. The top was worn and warped, but the leg stand was heavy metal and solid. It has these holes all around the frame edge for screws. I took the old top off.

The following shows the 4 edge glued boards that I purchase for $6.90 each (3 boards were pressure-glued together to make each whole piece). The framing strips were 88 cents each (these will end up on the underside of the table). I have some polyurethane in the garage. Or we could use Old English furniture oil or regular linseed oil from the farm supply store. Again, the base was free.

Old top on floor to the right

New table in progress

My favorite part is that this is an EASY project. A bit of carpenters glue between each of the 4 large pieces that will make up the length of the table, screws for the strips/frame and wood conditioner will complete the task. (PS: Our Ryobi miter saw was cheap and is an extremely handy tool. The stabilizer strips will be cut to size in seconds.)

Hopefully, this big farm table will turn out well – and under $50.00.

Note: If you would rather just buy something, IKEA a great place for basic funiture. We do not get the particle board pieces. If you want something to last a while, go for the solid wood pieces like the BJURSTA dining table.

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I have always been a big fan of recycling. When it was not available curb side, we’d haul all we could to recycling centers. Between the recycling centers and Goodwill, the land fills have been relieved of a lot of stuff.

Lack of funds for supplies and green living go together. Reusing requires more imagination. Since I have all these pictures of structures in my head and no materials, why not expand on the reclaimed wood idea that has been used on some of our animal shelters?

Coming up with ideas that do not take a great amount of physical strength is a challenge. I have to work in short spurts and without heavy lifting due to a medical issue. There is a balance to be held between activity and rest. If I do too little, I will lose muscle. If I do too much, the inflammation takes hold. Holding power tools can also present a problem. So, I have been wracking my brain to come up with solutions for my limitations. I need to create a building style that is easy on the body.

I always liked those candle holders made of little pieces of glass. Tiffany lamps are great also. The thoughts in my head today revolve around reusing glass bottles. I have been saving wine and beer bottles to make into hummingbird feeders, but I may build a chicken shelter with them. There is a great site about glass bottle houses with lots of pics on it: http://popsop.com/6571. I particularly like the Buddhist temple and Artist’s studio. Bottles allow some light through and add color to structures.

I also found how to make filler that is natural: http://www.wikihow.com/Build-an-Adobe-Wall. We have plenty of clay soil available (not sure yet where to get sand without a trip to the beach with a dump truck). Cement may have to be an added ingredient since the area that we live in is not dry like that of regular, adobe, housing locations.

Some sort of basic wooden frame seems necessary. Two by Fours are inexpensive and easy to work with. It would probably help quite a bit to have a skeleton shell to help the project along.

How Big?

Having a barn that is large enough to walk into without bending is my first thought. As I started to draw, I realized that an entrance way would be great. If there were a 45 degree turn, the wind and weather could be kept out while keeping the building door-less. Supplies could be kept in the entry way, up in cabinets.

Shelter Sketch A

Obviously, this is a long term project if it were to be made exclusively from bottles. Maybe just part of it will be glass inspired. Hmm?

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