Freezing temperature not withstanding, I set to work on the chicken-house-from-recycled-materials bright and early last Saturday. It was a beautiful, clear morning, and since the wind was calm, the cold wasn’t difficult to take. Within a couple of hours, the temperature was in the 50s.
The first order of business was to frame the human-door end of the house. I used more scrap 2x6 material for that. Next, I cut and installed three purlins across the rafters. The purlins were roughly 1x6, although some boards were flitch sawn, so they followed the curves of the tree that provided the lumber. I needed roofing metal in pieces about 5 feet long, so I headed back to the pushed-in shed with a crowbar and brought several long pieces up to the barn to cut. My el-cheapo power sheet-metal shears made the cuts, although the old steel roofing is corrugated so it wasn’t as quick as it might have been. I used six pieces of roofing, and it went on without a hitch.
With the roof on, my attention turned to the human and chicken doors. Since this was supposed to be a project that used things we had on hand, my first task was to locate sufficient hinges. It took a while, but eventually, I found a box of old garage door hinges in the barn’s loft and picked out five. Next, I cut and hung the doors. I used an old piece of machinery chain to hold the chicken door open and an old homemade steel handle for the human-door latch.
The finishing touches, other than painting, included cutting and installing 1x4 and 1x3 material for the corner trim and knocking together a perch inside the house. I also cut 4-inch diameter hand holes for outside access to the nesting boxes. I haven’t created the “doors” for those yet, but I will soon.
Since the Kubota loader tractor is even more buried this week than last week, I decided to try something unconventional to move the chicken house to the chicken yard. I know the folks at Polar Trailer won’t recommend using their heavy-duty tandem trailers as jacks and house-moving dollies, but I can tell you that the trailer performed flawlessly as the primary tool for moving this 700-pound house.
Within minutes of setting the new chicken house, the hens were curious. Within an hour they had begun to claim it. During chores this morning, I heard a hen laying an egg in it. I can’t wait to paint both the chicken house and Mulefoot pig house … green with red roofs and white trim. Hopefully I’ll have at least one additional warm day to get that done this season.
Photos courtesy of Kate Will.
Hank Will raises hair sheep, heritage cattle and many varieties of open-pollinated corn with his wife, Karen, on their rural Osage County, Kansas farm. His home life is a perfect complement to his professional life as editor in chief at GRIT and Capper's Farmer magazines. Connect with him on Google+.