The Farm Report: Construction and Destruction, Part Deux

It’s raining today (Sunday), so my destruction of the wood pile is on an “operational pause” for now.  My buddy Jim from work will be here Saturday morning with the splitter.  I don’t know how much wood we can split in a day, but if we split everything I’ve cut so far, I’ll be happy.  I’ll get to the rest of wood pile later in the year.  Considering how overwhelming the pile was when I started, I’m satisfied with my progress.  Take a look at the before and after.

Meanwhile, Chareva is wrapping up the work on her first portable chicken house.  She did all this based on photos and drawings she found on the internet, with no help from me.  I’m impressed.

The gaps in the wire frame are big enough that a raccoon could squeeze through, and we already found out the hard way that raccoons like to eat chickens, so she put chicken wire over the frame.

She attached wheels to the house yesterday.  She tells me there’s a lever that raises the wheels up and down.  Nice.

The dogs could watch her construction project from one of the patios.  As you can see, they were suitably impressed.

The next step will be to transfer the chicks to the portable coop and let them start pecking away at the ground.  We’ll see how that works out.

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24 thoughts on “The Farm Report: Construction and Destruction, Part Deux

  1. Debra

    Congratulations on the progress with your wood pile! I’m impressed. That’s a LOT of hard labor.

    I like the looks of Chareva’s chicken pen. God bless livestock panels! I’ve used them for nearly everything. A few thoughts, though:

    1) Raccoons have sometimes been known to tear through chicken wire.

    2) I’ve had problems with poultry overheating in warm weather when cooped inside a pen covered with dark tarps or black plastic. The dark material can actually radiate a lot of heat inside the pen, even with excellent ventilation.

    3) I can’t tell from the photos if there is anything preventing predators from digging under the sides of the pen to attack the chickens at night. Does she have special night-time protection? I finally had to break down and create a portable night shelter (to use inside their daytime pen). This shelter is nearly 100% predator proof, with sturdy wood and heavy wire mesh with no more than 1/2″ spacing. I’ve lost poultry to numerous predators over the years, including bobcat.

    She’s done a really nice job on the construction! Good for her!

    Best wishes,
    Debra

    I appreciate the advice. I hope the combination of chicken wire and the wire frame it’s attached to will keep the raccoons out, but we’ll see. The tarps can be pulled back on hot days.

    Chareva tells me there’s nothing in the current design to keep predators from digging under. She’s looking into what she can do about that. When we put the chicks into the portable coop, I’m going to have my trail camera pointing at it so we can see what comes around at night. I hope the camera doesn’t capture a slaughter.

    Reply
    1. Michael Kovacs

      I had just 7 birds in my 8’x10′ portable pen and found I was moving it every day or every other day at the very least or the ground would be totally denuded of vegetation. I like your portable pen design. Would you share your plans and dimensions with us please? Thanks.

      We hope to be moving them frequently to fertilize the land. I’ll ask Chareva if she can explain how she built the thing.

      Reply
  2. Shannon

    Just totally curious but are your dogs still different weights or did they even out?

    Coco still weighs more, but the difference isn’t as dramatic. I believe it’s around five pounds.

    Reply
  3. Jeff Ballard

    Question for you, if it’s not too personal. You’ve got my wife thinking we should have our own land with some space for chickens, maybe a pig, etc. How much land do you have? Do you wish you had more? Less? Again, if it’s too personal and you don’t want to answer, I totally get it.

    Not too personal at all. We have a fraction under six acres. It’s enough for our purposes, but if I could buy more land, I would.

    Reply
  4. Debra

    Congratulations on the progress with your wood pile! I’m impressed. That’s a LOT of hard labor.

    I like the looks of Chareva’s chicken pen. God bless livestock panels! I’ve used them for nearly everything. A few thoughts, though:

    1) Raccoons have sometimes been known to tear through chicken wire.

    2) I’ve had problems with poultry overheating in warm weather when cooped inside a pen covered with dark tarps or black plastic. The dark material can actually radiate a lot of heat inside the pen, even with excellent ventilation.

    3) I can’t tell from the photos if there is anything preventing predators from digging under the sides of the pen to attack the chickens at night. Does she have special night-time protection? I finally had to break down and create a portable night shelter (to use inside their daytime pen). This shelter is nearly 100% predator proof, with sturdy wood and heavy wire mesh with no more than 1/2″ spacing. I’ve lost poultry to numerous predators over the years, including bobcat.

    She’s done a really nice job on the construction! Good for her!

    Best wishes,
    Debra

    I appreciate the advice. I hope the combination of chicken wire and the wire frame it’s attached to will keep the raccoons out, but we’ll see. The tarps can be pulled back on hot days.

    Chareva tells me there’s nothing in the current design to keep predators from digging under. She’s looking into what she can do about that. When we put the chicks into the portable coop, I’m going to have my trail camera pointing at it so we can see what comes around at night. I hope the camera doesn’t capture a slaughter.

    Reply
    1. Michael Kovacs

      I had just 7 birds in my 8’x10′ portable pen and found I was moving it every day or every other day at the very least or the ground would be totally denuded of vegetation. I like your portable pen design. Would you share your plans and dimensions with us please? Thanks.

      We hope to be moving them frequently to fertilize the land. I’ll ask Chareva if she can explain how she built the thing.

      Reply
  5. Jay Jay

    Wow, awesome progress!

    With two people working, you should be able to work through that wood pile in a day.
    Just trade off jobs every half hour or so, and don’t worry about stacking it as you split it.

    If you get a horizontal/vertical splitter, I recommend putting it in vertical mode, and using a stool (or a log piece of convenient length) so the operator can sit beside the splitter to run it.

    I do it all myself, and I can split wood for 10 hours a day. I can only saw wood for 4-5 hours before I’m beat!

    My work buddy told me it’s a vertical splitter. One of us will split, the other will bring up the next piece to be split. Chareva and the girls will stack the wood. Now I just hope it doesn’t rain on Saturday.

    Reply
  6. Shannon

    Just totally curious but are your dogs still different weights or did they even out?

    Coco still weighs more, but the difference isn’t as dramatic. I believe it’s around five pounds.

    Reply
  7. Jeff Ballard

    Question for you, if it’s not too personal. You’ve got my wife thinking we should have our own land with some space for chickens, maybe a pig, etc. How much land do you have? Do you wish you had more? Less? Again, if it’s too personal and you don’t want to answer, I totally get it.

    Not too personal at all. We have a fraction under six acres. It’s enough for our purposes, but if I could buy more land, I would.

    Reply
  8. Jay Jay

    Wow, awesome progress!

    With two people working, you should be able to work through that wood pile in a day.
    Just trade off jobs every half hour or so, and don’t worry about stacking it as you split it.

    If you get a horizontal/vertical splitter, I recommend putting it in vertical mode, and using a stool (or a log piece of convenient length) so the operator can sit beside the splitter to run it.

    I do it all myself, and I can split wood for 10 hours a day. I can only saw wood for 4-5 hours before I’m beat!

    My work buddy told me it’s a vertical splitter. One of us will split, the other will bring up the next piece to be split. Chareva and the girls will stack the wood. Now I just hope it doesn’t rain on Saturday.

    Reply
    1. Scott Burgess

      Thanks for the wheel design! Your coop looks a whole lot like ours, but I haven’t added wheels to it yet, because I didn’t want to leave any gap in the bottom to diggers any head start at all.

      Reply
    1. Scott Burgess

      Thanks for the wheel design! Your coop looks a whole lot like ours, but I haven’t added wheels to it yet, because I didn’t want to leave any gap in the bottom to diggers any head start at all.

      Reply
  9. Allen W. McDonnell

    Some of the Chicken Tractor designs I have seen are actually more of a sled frame than a wheeled frame, with the ends curled up like snow skies. You just hitch your lawn tractor to it and drag it one length each day. I have also seen designs with rabbit wire floors that allow the grass to stick up and the chickens to eat it but that limit the amount of scratching they can do through the 2 inch by 3 inch mesh, and it is also pretty good at stopping most digging predators. On the down side it makes the whole things heavier and makes rocky soil a problem because the larger rocks will push up on the rabbit fence bottom and stretch it or snag on it as you move it from spot to spot.

    We’re thinking some kind of mesh on the bottom would be a good idea. There aren’t many flat spots on our land, so it’s unlikely the bottom rails will sit firmly against the ground all the way around.

    Reply
    1. Allen W. McDonnell

      If you put chain link fence like you have on your dog pen sideways it will accordion fold to match the terrain it is on, I would suggest raising the fence up for moves and then dropping it back vertical when in your desired location.

      I would also recommend two or three cross bars for the chickens to roost on, in our coop growing up we built a 8 foot wide by 5 foot high frame with cross pieces every 18 inches leaning toward the back at an angle. That gave enough room for about 30 chickens to roost on three different height cross pieces. We used sapling wood because it was rounded and easier for them to perch on but 2″ by 2″ lumber would probably work. Chickens are actually native to Viet Nam, they are jungle tree fowl and like to perch off the ground when resting. They also have a natural body temperature of about 104 Fahrenheit so freezing is usually more of a threat than cooling in Michigan where I grew up. Tennessee is likely a lot warmer in the winter, we had to use electric heat lamps in the coop on cold winter nights.

      Good advice, thanks.

      Reply
  10. Allen W. McDonnell

    Some of the Chicken Tractor designs I have seen are actually more of a sled frame than a wheeled frame, with the ends curled up like snow skies. You just hitch your lawn tractor to it and drag it one length each day. I have also seen designs with rabbit wire floors that allow the grass to stick up and the chickens to eat it but that limit the amount of scratching they can do through the 2 inch by 3 inch mesh, and it is also pretty good at stopping most digging predators. On the down side it makes the whole things heavier and makes rocky soil a problem because the larger rocks will push up on the rabbit fence bottom and stretch it or snag on it as you move it from spot to spot.

    We’re thinking some kind of mesh on the bottom would be a good idea. There aren’t many flat spots on our land, so it’s unlikely the bottom rails will sit firmly against the ground all the way around.

    Reply
    1. Allen W. McDonnell

      If you put chain link fence like you have on your dog pen sideways it will accordion fold to match the terrain it is on, I would suggest raising the fence up for moves and then dropping it back vertical when in your desired location.

      I would also recommend two or three cross bars for the chickens to roost on, in our coop growing up we built a 8 foot wide by 5 foot high frame with cross pieces every 18 inches leaning toward the back at an angle. That gave enough room for about 30 chickens to roost on three different height cross pieces. We used sapling wood because it was rounded and easier for them to perch on but 2″ by 2″ lumber would probably work. Chickens are actually native to Viet Nam, they are jungle tree fowl and like to perch off the ground when resting. They also have a natural body temperature of about 104 Fahrenheit so freezing is usually more of a threat than cooling in Michigan where I grew up. Tennessee is likely a lot warmer in the winter, we had to use electric heat lamps in the coop on cold winter nights.

      Good advice, thanks.

      Reply
  11. Marilyn

    Being a “city girl” by nature, I don’t have anything to add to your farming discussions – I just have to let you know how much I love these rural updates! I still read your food-rants, too – but the Farming Adventures are a real treat to me! THANKS, Tom!

    Thanks, I’m glad you’re enjoying them.

    Reply
  12. Marilyn

    Being a “city girl” by nature, I don’t have anything to add to your farming discussions – I just have to let you know how much I love these rural updates! I still read your food-rants, too – but the Farming Adventures are a real treat to me! THANKS, Tom!

    Thanks, I’m glad you’re enjoying them.

    Reply
  13. Jake

    Given that it’s now fall and cooling off this isn’t so timely, but if you want to help keep your chickens cool and shaded in the summer you could consider using two tarps separated by a few inches so that air can easily flow between them. Ideally the tarps are light in color, but you’ll get a lot of benefit regardless of color. With one layer a lot of the heat from the tarp radiates down into your shade, the second layer “shades” your chickens from the radiation of the hot outer tarp, the gap between them allows for airflow to keep the inner tarp pretty close to the temperature of the air. A double-layered shade is common practice in desert conditions but the principle can be observed and applied just about anywhere that you’re trying to prevent heat flow via radiation. I have an attic lined with heavy-gauge aluminum foil that works on the same principle.

    Good advice. I’ll make sure the architect sees it.

    Reply
  14. Jake

    Given that it’s now fall and cooling off this isn’t so timely, but if you want to help keep your chickens cool and shaded in the summer you could consider using two tarps separated by a few inches so that air can easily flow between them. Ideally the tarps are light in color, but you’ll get a lot of benefit regardless of color. With one layer a lot of the heat from the tarp radiates down into your shade, the second layer “shades” your chickens from the radiation of the hot outer tarp, the gap between them allows for airflow to keep the inner tarp pretty close to the temperature of the air. A double-layered shade is common practice in desert conditions but the principle can be observed and applied just about anywhere that you’re trying to prevent heat flow via radiation. I have an attic lined with heavy-gauge aluminum foil that works on the same principle.

    Good advice. I’ll make sure the architect sees it.

    Reply
  15. SB

    Just wanted to compliment your good looking dogs, I’m super jealous that you can have two. They must be lots of fun.

    I’m glad we have two. They keep each other company.

    Reply
  16. SB

    Just wanted to compliment your good looking dogs, I’m super jealous that you can have two. They must be lots of fun.

    I’m glad we have two. They keep each other company.

    Reply

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