Sunday, January 27, 2008

Building our Chicken House

Hold on a minute...I've gotta open my blog in another tab so I can see where I ended.

OK, I checked...I've gotta write about the roof and all the rest of the finish stuff. Not that it is even finished yet. We still have some aesthetic details to take care of.

Here is a close up view of the brackets that we used to attach the roof boards. They are called hurricane straps or something like that. Kevin is sleeping and I don't want to wake him up just to make sure that they are called "straps" and not "plates" or whatever.

After we sawed off the ends of the timbers and added the roof boards, he added these cap plates to the ends of the boards.

Kevin and I went to Home Depot to find some roofing material. There were basically two different kinds. He wanted the wavy type that lets light through so the chickens would have light all day if it was cold out and they stayed inside.We found a product called- "Suntuf — General purpose corrugated polycarbonate sheets"

The picture above shows a piece of it. It was kinda pricey but it is worth it. It lets the light in but not the damaging UV light. We got the "Solar Grey" color. It says it lets in 35% of the light. It was funny, the first really heavy snow that we had, we walked in and said uh oh... snow does not let light through. It was really dark in there despite being a sunny day. We did not plan on snow being so dense. It melts pretty quick around here so it's not dark for long. Plus we have two heat lamps set up. One that comes on at 3:00 pm and off at 9:00 pm that is a regular light and another that comes on at 9:00 pm and stays on all night that is red so they will sleep.

Here is a closeup of the roof when we were installing the "closure strips". Of course, they were installed on top of the boards as the picture below shows, not next to them . They were just laying there til Kevin attached them. The next picture shows a close-up of this.

This diagram is from the Palram website. It shows a much better installation diagram than I can ever describe.

I am going to go out and take a picture of the roof later today and add it so you can see the finished roof. I cannot find a picture anywhere. I also need to take some pictures of the little lean-to that we added to the side so the chickens and turkeys had somewhere dry to hang out and eat. It's funny, some of the chickens have decided that they would rather lay eggs outside in the lean to rather than in the chicken house.

OK, we went out and here is a picture of the finished roof. But guess what, there is snow all over it and you can't see a thing.

Here is the back side of the lean to and below is the inside. The chickens love it and hang out in there all day.

We keep the feeder, a bulk feed storage tub and we have the heated waterers in there too. The upper bucket has the nipple waterers in it but we are afraid that all of the chickens won't find the nipples so we have a regular bucket out there too. It is for horses and kinda tall but we keep a skid next to it the chickens are able to step up reach in and drink just fine. This way we only have to worry about watering them every few days or so. I feel for the people who have to carry water every day.

Here is the windows that Kevin cut in with a chain saw. We are going to add some more trim boards this summer. I put plexiglass over the this one and then covered it with cardboard when it got cold.

This one had poultry netting stapled onto it and when it got cold I added the plexiglass and then when it was really cold we put cardboard over that one too. With the roof letting light in we didn't have to worry about it being dark if we covered the windows to stop drafts. Eventually we want to make some kind of shutters to close for the winter.

Kevin made these nesting boxes out of 5 gal. buckets. The chickens love them so much they sleep in them and they are always dirty. He used two buckets for each one and cut a hole in one for the egg to roll back through and I got some fake grass stuff to line the bottom so it wouldn't be slippery. As you can see below it works pretty good although they all fight over the bottom right one. Sometimes there will be three chickens in it all at once.

See, works pretty good!

Here is one of the independent girls that have to lay outside under the lean to, so every day I have to climb through the fence and get the eggs. We have maybe five or six chickens that lay outside.

Here is the free standing unit before I built the wall around it. I built a pretty temporary wall between the two spaces in the chicken house because we were not sure of the final space and we didn't have any good lumber so I had to use scraps. It's not pretty but it works.

I went to the lumber yard and got this inexpensive screen door for about $25.00 and cut it down to fit. I stapled poultry netting to the bottom and covered the top half with plexiglass. I wanted to be able to see in but keep the draft out and most of the dust. The only thing I think I didn't cover was the fence. I didn't take any pictures while we were building it so I need to take some pictures of the fence and post them next time.

Earlier when we went outside we fed and watered the chickens. Everyone was happy except we seem to have a broody chicken. I just don't have the heart to take the eggs away but I guess we are going to later on today.

Here she is the poor thing. She's got 5 or 6 eggs under her. I have taken the eggs away a few times but she stays there anyway. I don't really want to take them away but it is way too early to have baby chickens. Besides that, our rooster is a Golden Phoenix and the chicks will be probably small, not too good for eggs or meat. We are going to get a larger rooster sometime soon. Our Phoenix is beautiful but he is kinda mean, always chasing the kids. He has attacked me a couple times but I chase him til I catch him and I kinda got him a little scared of me I think, maybe just respectful?

The other day I took all the eggs and lined them up to see how they compare. As you can see, we have more brown than the green, then white, then the small tan ones in front. The brown are from the R. I. Reds and Buffs, the green from the Americanas, the white from the Polish Crested and the tans are from the Golden Phoenix.

I held the largest Americana egg up and compared it with the smaller Phoenix... you can see why I am definitely getting a new rooster!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Onward with the Chicken House!

When we decided to construct this chicken house, we wanted something that was really low cost for the square footage but we also wanted it to be draft free and nice looking. We built it close to the house so it was important that we enjoyed looking at it. We ended up splitting the house into two sections, one for the chickens and the other half for us for storage and maybe to start some seeds in the spring. The roofing allows sunlight through so it will be perfect for some plants.

We always sit on our back deck and the chicken house is in full view so we can really enjoy watching the chickens and turkeys all day. Although today it is only 11 degrees with a -6 windchill. Brrrrrrrrr! The chickens and turkeys don't mind too much. They have been outside all day.
At this point in the construction, we added 2 x 4' s as a guide for the framing. It was really easy from then on and much faster than trying to use the level, constantly checking for straight lines.

When we priced different types of structures, all in all, this seemed to be the best for us. We love how it looks and the walls are already thick. In the end we put spray foam between the timbers to seal the cracks. We weren't sure how much air would get through and it ended being quite a lot because the timbers are far from perfect. We were also thinking about some type of rubber weatherstripping but the spray foam worked great, also acting like a glue. Next time we will definitely apply it between boards while we are building. We think it would take much less foam and would help to hold everything together.

By the end of the first day we had the wall up this far. At this point we went ahead and ordered the rest of the landscaping timbers. We had them delivered from Home Depot. They were on sale for $1.99 so we ended up spending about $350.00 for 170 timbers. (Plus $70. delivery fee.) Add another $50 dollars or so for the nails. I think we ended up getting 30lbs. of nails all together. We used three nails per timber.
Here is the second delivery of timbers. At first we weren't positively sure about the finished size but eventually we decided on the 8 x 16 foot size and we also decided to make the roof in a "shed" style so we ended up ordering more timbers. We were able to calculate exactly what we would need at this point. We had wanted to gather the runoff water with a gutter and run it into a watering system but the turkeys decided to spend time on the new roof and poop all over it. Not good for them to drink! We are still trying to come up with a good way to keep them off. Ideas anyone?

After we had a good start on the walls Kevin wanted to go ahead and lay the floor down so it would raise us up higher, making it easier to reach as the walls got higher. He had left an edge exposed when he laid the first timber down on the base so he could use it for a nailer for the floor.

We got the floor boards for free. We work at a place that gets steel delivered every day. The sheets of steel have 2 x 4 x 8's in between them as spacers. That was a real savings. The quality of wood is not high but it works for simple framing and definitely chicken house floors.

There were a lot of timbers with slight bends in them. We would nail one end in and then push as hard as we could and nail the center and then the other end. We put the most unsightly ones in the back, you can see some of the bulgy ones in this picture.

It was at this point that we started on the roof. I kinda wanted a peaked roof but it was more cost effective to go with the slanty one. Plus it fit with the idea of making a greenhouse/seed starting area and it seemed a good way to gather water. In this picture Kevin is checking the roof pitch and how many timbers we still had to add to get there. The sides are really high now and the timbers were getting heavier and heavier the higher it got.

I had to add this picture because I took it while we were building. I came across it in a folder with all the chicken house pictures. I love this plant. It is a Passiflora - Passion Vine, and it it the coolest flower I have ever seen. The three lobed leaves are different than most plants too. For those of you that have not seen these before, they are really quick growers and would cover a trellis their second year. I am going to train them up a trellis on the side of chicken house (to cover the seam between the sides) this summer. If you'd like to know more about these plants here is a link.

Here he is attaching the roof trusses... trusses?... yeah, I guess that is what they are called. He left the sides rough and he cut them off with a chain saw after he had the correct roof line.

Here is the front view. You can see the timbers sticking out in steps and below is the back side after he sawed them off. He used to work for a tree company so he is awesome with a chain saw. That is how he cut out the windows and the small chicken door too.

Below is the front view very nicely trimmed up too.

You can see our back deck in this picture. As soon as it warms up we will be sitting here every spare moment. We used to sit and watch the kids swim but now we watch kids play with chickens. As you can see, the house need painted and a new roof really bad. You may not be able to see but there is a large cooking pot over one of the old vent pipes in the roof. There is also a coffee cup over another small pipe. For some reason Kevin thinks we need a new roof and we also need to paint the house.

I really want a lean-to shed built onto our barn for some cattle. He thinks the house is more important. He said NO MORE ANIMAL PROJECTS until the house is done! Oh well, we will see. All I know is that when I'm on the deck early in the morning drinking a cup of coffee watching the animals I can't see the house. It's behind me.

But I've got my chicken house, I'm HAPPY! (You watch come this spring, he will be itching to work on the barn.)

Next Post: the roof goes on, we build an inside divider wall and door, nesting boxes, perches and a fence that no dog will ever get under!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Building Our Chicken House Part 2

The base for our chicken house measured 8' by 16' on the outside. The timbers overhang the base 3 1/2" all around so the final inside measurement will a roomy 7' plus feet by 15 plus feet giving my chickens plenty of space with some extra left over for me for storage. Since the timbers were 8' long we wanted to use the full length of the timbers and have less cutting.

After we had the base in place we started the walls. For these we used 5" pole barn spikes. We lined up the first timber with an offset that equaled the thickness of the timber. This enabled us to have an overlap nailing area that tied the walls together. As you can see in the next photo, the next timber will overlapped the base one and hang over by 3 1/2 inches.

We drove the spikes into the timbers and since the spikes were so long they made all the way through the second timber making a very strong tie. This created so much hammering and I am not very good at hammering so by the end of the day Kevin's arm was so sore that he decided for the next timber construction project we will invest in a palm nailer which most builder use when they build a pole barn. We did not find this out until we were close to being finished.
We also drilled a pilot hole for the spikes. I unfortunately had to do most of the drilling and remember it was 90 plus degrees out. I was very happy when the walls got too high for me to reach and he took that job over too. I set each timber in place and then pre-drilled them. It was hard to hold the timbers up and set them in place but I was (tried to be) a trooper and did as much as I could. A couple slid off and started to come crashing down and believe me all I did was yell "lookout" and run. I think they weighed about, oh, I don't know, about 35 pounds each. Seemed like 75 pounds after I picked 170 of them up and put them in place.
Some of them were a little warped so we had to hold them in place and push really hard and nail at the same time. Again, it was over 90 degrees and no shade the whole time. Plus, I don't really like to sweat so there ya go.

We precut a bunch of timbers for the doorway so it would go faster. We created a really big door about 4' wide cause Kevin wanted a wheelbarrow to fit in it. He said if he has to clean it it had better be easy!

Soon to came....Part 3

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Building Our Chicken House

In this video my turkey pecks me, hard! My sister laughs every time she watches it. (not funny)

(The chicken house building starts below, after I stop complaining about my video problem.)

I have been trying to upload a video to youtube for days now. I got a really cool Flip digital video camera for Christmas and I took a movie of my little barnyard but even though it's in youtube I can't get it to come over to my blog. Here is a picture of my Flip. I love it.

Frustrated does not even describe strongly enough how I feel. I am trying the blogger video upload, we'll see if it works. My fingers are crossed. (Update-it has not worked yet, I am trying again as I post this after work. If anyone has suggestions for me I will be eternally greatful!) OK, it did not work again so I am going to try to paste the URL from youtube, hopefully it will work. (I think it may have.) It did!

So, as I was saying a while ago, we built an awesome chicken house. Here is what Home Depot unloaded in July. We bought 100 landscape timbers when they were on sale for $1.99 each. They are 8' long and, I think, 3 1/2 inches thick.

We had a swimming pool that we never used and nobody wanted to clean so it was the perfect, spot. It was a 18' round and perfectly level. I know it was level because the first time we tried to fill the pool it wasn't level and all the water, ALL 5000 GALLONS OF IT, ended up washing over the side and down the hill. And we paid for that water too!

We left the blue tarp down to discourage weeds. And started with some 4 x 6 base timbers.

I will finish this and add some more pictures later today after work. (And by the doesn't look as if my video is going to work. I will try AGAIN when I get home.)
OK..... I am home and still frustrated with the videos but I need to move on!

Anyway.....We used 8" lag bolts and Kevin used his air compressor to bolt the whole thing together. He used a really long drill bit because it was the only one we had, we had purchased it to drill some holes for wiring and it definitly fit the bill for this job. He just marked it with a permanent marker at the depth he wanted and it worked great.

Then we checked for square and added some support timbers for the flooring. We chose to build this during August. We both took a week of vacation and had planned to get the chicken house done and also the fence but it was so hot (90s) that we could only work for a couple hours and then had to go inside. Misery does not describe it! The area only has a little shade and it was not close to where we were building at all.

That's why we put the pool there, no leaves to blow in and the sun would make it warm so the kids could swim. Actually the youngest tried to get in in April, I think it was. She was so excited to swim and bugging us incessantly that we finally told her, go ahead, get in, all the while thinking she would not even get her toes wet but she actually stayed in for a while. We couldn't believe it! She loves the water. We finally had to tell her to get out, we were worried she would turn blue. She was cold but did not want to admit it. But she did say that she would quit bugging us to swim and she did.

I have Daylilys that we transplanted this spring all along the edge of the work area and Kevin was not too happy to hear me constantly telling him to NOT stomp my flowers. I had babied them all summer and they had finally taken off and were blooming.

Again, if anyone has a suggestion as to what I'm doing wrong with my video please let me know. Thanks!

More next time! I think I got it although I would like it to be in a little box on the side but beggars can't be choosers!

(UPDATE) Here is the longer version that I finally uploaded. Skip it if you found the first one boring. This has more of the same except that darn turkey pecks me again and then tries to do it a third time. My sister has been bothering me to upload this longer version so she can laugh at me even more! Hope you are happy Amy!