Monday, April 6, 2015

Best5Chickens 4/6/15

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I had my plate full over this long weekend. That's not even considering that we didn't have any kids games OR softball games. As usual, I accomplished a little less than half of what I wanted to do over the course of the weekend. That doesn't mean I was lazy and sat on my duff. I just ran out of time. As a bit of comic relief, let me just say that I am coming to grips with my age. By dark each night, I was ready for a soak in a hot bath with epsom salt and 8 to 10 solid hours of sleep. 

Ok. So, if you recall from last week, we bought a chicken coup and assembled it. The kids are slightly confused and think it's actually a miniature club house. If you didn't read about it, check it out. 


So, we are $200 in the whole and we don't have a fence built yet. Fun stuff. 

Saturday morning, we ate a hearty breakfast and I was out the door. While living in Madison, I became accustomed to having every store I needed within 5 miles. It ain't so, anymore. The nearest Lowe's/Home Depot is 20 minutes away. So, I made the list and visited the local Ace, which is only a few miles away. Not only did I need the raw materials for the fence, but I also wanted to build a home made feeder and water system. 

How was I going to do that? Well, the feeder would be PVC. And, we aren't done...so we will save that one for later. 

The water system, however, is completed and came out exactly how I planned. 

So, I bought all the fencing supplies, minus the fence...which might present a problem. But, that wasn't unexpected. I didn't think Ace would have everything I need. I needed right at 50 linear feet of fence. But, they did have the lumber, quickcrete, and misc hardware I needed. I left 3 bags of quickcrete, qty8 4x4s, qty6 2x4s and several bags of....stuff for the water and feeder. All of this shoved in the back of the Yukon. But, hey, it's paid off now. It's time to destroy it, right?

First thing we did was dig the holes for the posts. I planned on having one at each of the 4 corners, a door support, and maybe one on the midspan. We would be fabricating 3 of the sides with the 4th side being the back of my shop. Final dimensions were something like 190 inches by 280. 

So, with shovels and a post hole digger, Gavin and I got to work. 

Although I really wanted to dig the holes to 24 inches, time didn't exactly permit...nor did my energy. So, at 18 inches, I sat the tools aside and mixed up the quickcrete. I laid a fairly thick layer on the bottom, pounded the posts into place, and filled up around them. I used a spade to make sure that I worked the quickcrete in. It didn't take too long to get the posts set.

Though I didn't have the fence, and I could remedy that easily enough, I wanted the posts to set up for 24 hours. So, we began on our next project: the water collection system.

Alyse had found food-grade 55-gallon drums on a Facebook site for $14 apiece. But, we can't fit them in the Yukon (and I was too lazy to drive to Priceville for 1). So, we convinced the sellers to sell us and deliver 10 of them. Considering the cost of just 1 food-grade drum, 10 for $150 isn't a bad deal. I knew we could get rid of them, and surely enough, my dad wanted a few. I still have 5 or 6, which I plan to sell. I have to clean them up, since they came from a dairy farm who apparently flavors their own milk to the tune of cappuccino, mocha, and other flavors. So, now my shop smells awesome, even though I have significant work ahead of me. 

So, the idea was to build a rain barrel collection setup, similar to what you can buy on Amazon or wherever. However, those systems are designed to sit on the ground, which doesn't give you any head pressure. They also cost several hundred dollars. 

I wanted to set this one up as high as I could and achieve the maximum head pressure. That way I could water the garden or whatever. After a few measurements, we built a 36" tall stand, which puts the top of the barrel around 70 inches up. Even nearly empty, that will give me 3 feet of head pressure, or enough to water anything in my yard. 

With some help from my friend, Neil, we punched a 3" hole in the top of the barrel and ran a spare flexible gutter hose into the barrel. We caulked it up as tightly as we could, then attached the other end of the hose to the gutter run off. On the bottom end, we threaded in a metal spigot into a hole we punched. Another round of caulk and we had it done. I went ahead and threaded on some hangers on the side of the stand so that we could have a dedicated hose.

























I also plan to add a piece of plywood on the stand reinforcements so that we can add a simple shelf. Had I been smart, I would have screwed those on the INSIDE of the legs to make that easier. 

That wrapped up work for Saturday. Sunday, we headed to Lowe's and bought a 50-foot role of welded wire. Turns out, that was ALMOST exactly right, but we weren't able to stretch it tight enough, which resulted in a shortage. Always something, eh? Speaking of...turns out I am not so good with a hammer. I mean, I knew that. I never have been. So, Alyse put me to shame while swinging the hammer. 

That's ok. I took the time to go ahead and build the door, which came out a lot easier than expected. 

So, here is where we are. Never mind the kid. 

























Hopefully I can get the rest of the fence hung today and the feeder built. I will probably bury a good bit of wire on the ground to prevent predators. Check back for updates.