Tuesday, April 14, 2015

DIY Compost Bin for the Chicken Run

This simple compost bin began its life as a make-shift brooder for our little chickies.  To make the sides taller, we added old wire shelving. To keep our growing flock contained, we added bird netting across the top. 
It wasn't long (9 short weeks) before they were ready for their new coop.  This is what was left of the brooder after the Great Chicken Extraction...
We get a lot of our sustainable gardening ideas from concepts in the film Back To Eden.  One aspect we wanted to create was a compost area in the chicken run.

So we scooped up all the litter from the brooder and hauled it out to the run area.

Then we dismantled the brooder and reconstructed it. 
We've been dumping compost in it ever since.  We can't wait until the chickens are out there scratching through it.  We're hoping to have the worm population up by the time we get our fencing up and the chickens have run of the pasture.  Mmmm...protein.


Happy Chickens In Their New Home - Out of the Brooder and in to the Coop

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It was the big day! The chickens were moving out of their brooder and in to their new home!! All the preparations were made.  We built a Repurposed Chicken Palace for them from recycled materials we gathered from around the farmstead.
We put a deep layer of wood shavings down in the new coop and put up their handy recycled gallon jug feeders on a bungie cord (redneck, I know).

We placed two 1 gallon waterers in opposite corners - up on a grate so they wouldn't kick so much debris in them.

Then we fetched the chickens.  We didn't document this part of the adventure in pictures, but we have some stories to tell.  The brooder pretty much fell apart during the chicken extraction process and we had to catch a few in mid-air before they made their great escape. 
Somehow we managed to take two trips out to the coop with a Tupperware container full of (slightly traumatized) chickens.

Happy chickens in their new home.....


Hoop Coop Complete - The Repurposed Chicken Palace

In a mad rush to get the "stinky chickens" out of our garage and in to their proper home, we committed three full days to the completion of the coop.
We secured the front of the coop with hardware cloth ( a lot of it).
We wanted the back of the coop to be sheltered from the elements.  We found 5' x 10' Fiber Reinforced Panels (FRP) at a salvage shop for $10/each. 
We secured the fiberglass panels with wooden blocks on the inside.

We brought home 4 panels. We ran two horizontally along the sides, and then folded the other two over the top and overlapped the bottom panels.  In hindsight, we should have purchased a 5th as a rain cover for the front section by the door, but we can always go back.

We covered the 6" overhang over the back wall with the white panels.  We will eventually add the nesting boxes here and we wanted a little rain coverage.

We added a door latch...and a padlock (recommended for raccoon protection).



And ready for chickens!

For more details of the construction process you can read my "Framing the Hoop Coop" post.

Framing the Hoop Coop

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The "chicken dust" was becoming unbearable in our little garage and several of our roos had begun to practice their crowing. It was time to finish the coop and move them out!

We started with a simple base, added recycled flooring material (vinyl tiles) from another demo project, and built a frame for the cattle panels.

Three cattle panels (4' x 16') were bent over and secured to create a 12 foot long hoop.
Cattle fencing also comes in rolls (a little more convenient for transport and handling). I would recommend purchasing it from your local feed/hardware store.

We originally designed an extravagant plan for nesting boxes to fit in the horizontal gap....like this:

but.....the chicks were only 9 weeks old and we needed them out of the garage in a hurry, so we filled in the gap and decided to worry about the nesting boxes later.

The piece of board on top came from our kitchen ceiling. That hole originally held the hood vent pipe for the stove.  It ended up a little off-center, but it serves it's purpose (ironically) as coop ventilation.

The rest of the wood was reclaimed from the floor demo. We figured the chickens wouldn't mind a little wear, tear, and termite damage.

We put a wind wall across the center to separate the front of the coop (open run) from the back (roosts and nests).  We wanted there to be a lot of airflow without straight runs for drafts.

We pulled two branches from the burn pile and stripped the bark off of them for smooth roosting poles.

A little geometry, heavy duty hinges, and some scrap wood... and voila - a door!
The most tedious part of the project was working with the hardware cloth ( a necessary evil to keep predators out).

Cutting each little square was quite a chore. We took turns cutting rows with a good pair of Tin Snips.

We put a strip of hardware cloth around the perimeter of the back wall and secured it around the wood with washers and screws.
The hardware cloth overlapped the cattle panel (eventually covered by roofing material) and wrapped around the back.  We decided it had too many gaps and ended up with this fancy "trim job"....

So far, so good! 

Starting Spring Projects at Rehoboth Farm - 2015

The weather was still dreary and the ground was still soggy, but the calendar said spring, so we were ready!

  With 7 acres ready to sprout up after a dormant season, we thought we ought to be ready. So, our first spring purchase was a mower (thank you, craigslist!).
Our next project started was this little puzzle...
Which came together like this....
And eventually, like this...
The greenhouse is made by OGrow.
 We did have a particularly blustery day about a week after we put it up and I had to catch it in midair as it rolled across the yard like a tumbleweed.  Fortunately my tomato plants survived the commotion.  We decided to pound in t-posts on the outside of the greenhouse and secure the frame to them.  So far, no more wind acrobatics. =)

 Our last MAJOR project was the chicken coop. Here is the frame coming together...

We recycled flooring we had pulled from the farmhouse, lumber with termite damage, and leftover cattle panels from the fence.
After building the base, we set (hoisted, dragged, heaved) the frame on top and secured it to the foundation.

This project became an instant priority as the chickens were quickly outwearing their welcome in our overcrowded garage.  We blew through the construction in a matter of days and moved them in to their new home with squeals of delight!  Read more about the Chicken Coop in these posts:
Happy Spring!