Swinging Chickens! DIY Chicken Toy.

Believe it or not, there is a chicken swing on the market. Once the chickens  get used to the swing, they seem to really enjoy it. But I was not willing to pay for something I could make myself!

What you need:
3″+/- diameter, straight(ish) Branch
Outdoor rope
Drill
Drill bit large enough to accommodate the rope

image

Here’s how to do it:
Drill a hole, about an inch from the end of each end of the branch. Try to keep them linear so the branch will hang straight.

image

Insert rope through drilled hole. Tie a tight knot on bottom side of branch.

image

I like to melt the fibers of the rope just a bit so be sure the knot doesn’t slip.

image

Leave the rope long enough to hang your swing about 6″ from the ground PLUS at least 3 feet for tying the swing to the desired branch.

Repeat this process on the other side of the branch. You may need to melt the threads at the end of the rope to help it get through the drilled holes easily.

Tie the swing to the branch. Here’s how I did it, but with 3 loops rather than 4.

image

Trim the rope with about 2″ of excess. Melt the end of the rope threads to give it a nice finish.

image

image

image

I bribed my girls to try out the swing by tying a bunch of lemon balm to the ropes of the swing. They weren’t buying it.

image

Update:
Today was day 2 of the swing introduction. I didn’t see the girls on the swing but I did see them scratching the ground around it. Later in the day I noticed the lemon balm missing. Someone had to climb up there to get it!

Update:
Today is day 4. They are finally giving it a try!
image

Advertisements

DIY Hose Reel

Photo Collage Maker_SUAUkO With summer in full swing here in Georgia, we’ve been utilizing the hose a lot around our homestead. I got tired of seeing my hose piled in a big knotted mess, so with help from the hubby, I put together this unique hose reel. The only thing we had to purchase to make this fantastic piece of yard art is the spray paint! Woot Woot! IMG_20140710_154917569_HDR (1)

Here’s how to do it:

Remove the tread and tube from the rim of an old tire.There are multiple ways to do this, we cut ours off with a saws all.

IMG_20140706_145406709

      Weld the rim to a metal T post. Don’t have a welder? You can JB weld it (you can buy it here , or at walmart). As long as you follow JB weld’s directions it should last a long time. IMG_20140706_150736648 (1)           Weld the rim, top and bottom, to the T post. IMG_20140706_145618611           Sand the rim and remove any dust. Clean it well so you will have a good bond with the spray paint. IMG_20140710_115804052_HDR (1)           Paint that bad boy. Re-coat if needed. IMG_20140710_120711726 (1)           Allow the paint to dry. IMG_20140710_154119748_HDR (1)             Stick that puppy in the ground where you want it. IMG_20140710_154917569_HDR (1)             TA-DA! Instant improvement!

Design Your Own Rain Boots

We love rain boots. They are our choice of foot wear on this homestead.

My youngest daughter wanted a pair of Boston Terrier rain boots but I wasn’t willing to pay the prices some companies were charging. We decided to make our own.

First I found a pair of cheap, plain black, rubber rain boots. The boots have to have a mat finish. No glossy surfaces.

Then I did some research. I read a few blogs that gave directions on how to do it but all the reviews said that the paint peels off or cracks very easy. It became obvious that acrylic paint won’t work. I needed rubber paint.

I researched rubber paint. Which lead me to LIQUID ELECTRIC TAPE!

I made a trip to Home Depot and found a small selection of 3 colors of liquid electrical tape. White, green and red. I was a little disappointed because I really wanted black (how can you have a Boston Terrier without black?) but they were sold out. I grabbed a bottle of white.

Next I drew my design on a piece of card stock. I carefully cut the design out with an exacto-knife. I now had a template.

I positioned the template where I wanted them on the boot, and traced it with a pencil.

Since I didn’t have black, I filled the entire tracing in with the white liquid electrical tape and added black details with a Sharpie. I used a paint brush to apply the liquid electrical tape. It worked just like acrylic paint, but a little thicker and I had to work quickly because it dried fairly quick.

We have had these boots now for 6 months and the liquid electrical tape is still right where I put it. No cracking or peeling. They’ve waded through puddles and ran through grass. They’ve had chickens pecking at them and dogs scratching them. Still attached perfectly The Sharpie has faded a bit. I would definitely use the black liquid electrical tape if I weren’t too cheap and lazy to go buy a bottle.

You can make any design you choose! Have fun! Please share a picture with me when your done!

Building a Chicken Coop

1404100291398

Building my first chicken coop was a challenge. I had never build a structure before. I am also a tiny bit of a perfectionist and I detest when I make something to later wish I had done it differently. So I took a lot of time and put a lot of thought into how I wanted my chicken coop to work. I did research on What makes a good chicken coop. I drew up lots of plans, threw them away and drew more.

I had some supplies on hand already. I try to reuse/re-purpose items as much as possible. I hate wasting things, money included. I wanted this coop to be the best coop possible for the smallest amount of money.

I consider myself a handy person. I do much more than I used to before I got over my irrational fear of power tools, that most women seem to have. But I confess, I was nervous to build this coop.

All of my plans were thrown out the window when I found this at the thrift store.IMG_20140321_155910

I know, right!

Seriously, weeks of planning, OUT THE WINDOW.

Now some people, like my husband, would look at this armorer and think “Man, that is ugly!”. But a chicken person would go crazy once they saw the inside:IMG_20140321_165506-1BAM! How can you NOT see nesting boxes?!

My husband couldn’t see the potential but I went with it anyways. I redrew the plans and then I got to work!

Here it is painted. Still ugly??????IMG_20140411_172115

First things first, the foundation. I’m worried about predators around our homestead so I wanted my coop build up off the ground. I’m also, admittedly, cheap and decided that I wanted to use the fence as one of the walls of the coop (free wall!). These things helped me to decide that I wanted one roof for the entire coop and pen. Which gave me the base of my foundation.

I decided where I wanted to position the coop and installed the 4×4 posts. I had never installed posts before. I dug the post holes with a post hole digger, installed, leveled and braced the posts. Then cemented them in.

Proud of my post work.

Proud of my post work.

I measured the pitch I wanted for the roof and marked the angels on the posts. My husband cut them for me. After that I installed the support beams for the roof and floor.

The next step was the floor of the coop. It took a little finagling (because I built it off a crooked fence) but I got it done.

Then came the walls.  I had a few items I had been saving to use on the coop. I basically built the walls around the items. One was the face of an old kitchen cabinet I had found on the side of the road.

IMG_20140421_130409 (1)IMG_20140422_140512 (1)

 

 

 

 

 

 

I measured the width of the cabinet and installed two 2×4 posts that width apart from each other, from the floor of the coop to the ceiling, where I wanted the cabinet positioned.

I decided to spend a little extra money to have a good roof over the coop. We live in a heavily wooded ares and I was afraid of limbs and branches falling on the coop. I also only want to build this thing one time, so a good roof will keep it dry and help it last longer.

The roof was special ordered and I had to wait for it to come in before I would install the cabinet. It took about 2 weeks but it was well worth the wait. I installed the roof in about an hour by myself. I siliconed the screws to make a water tight seal.

Finally, the cabinet was moved into place. I tacked trim, to both the cabinet and the coop, around the connection point.

After all 4 walls were solid I climbed into the coop and stapled in bright aluminum bug screen and then stapled 1/4″ hardware cloth over it. I was sure to use heavy-duty staples and hammered them in to set them nicely. I them checked for any protruding nails or staples that my birds could possibly hurt themselves on and set them as well.

The final touches like safety hooks and a perch, for access to the nesting boxes, were added. As well as adding a door to the pen and enclosing the pen with chicken wire.

It took me about 2 weeks to build the coop and I have made a few improvements since then. This was a fantastic experience for me. I have always known that I could do anything I put my mind to. My Mom taught me that I was just as capable as any one else and I could do anything a man could do. But believing that and actually doing it are two different things. I built this coop entirely by myself (minus my husband cutting the 4×4 posts because he was worried I would hurt myself 🙂 ). It was hard work and it wore me out, but I did it. Now I feel like I can build anything! (Insert Super woman photo here!)

20140425_193518

Front view

20140425_193544

Left side

20140425_193700

Left side optional chicken door

20140425_193605

Left side door interior view

 

20140425_193746

Observation window/center door

20140425_193837

Chicken’s coop access door with stained glass above

20140425_193810

Center chicken door/main coop access from pen

20140425_193903 (1)

Center door/observation window

 

 

IMG_20140518_192940

Right side door

 

 

 

20140425_194030

Right interior view

20140425_194014

No coop is complete without stained glass windows.

20140501_110506 (1)

Happy chickens!

 

Do you have any questions on building a coop? I’m no expert BUT I FEEL LIKE ONE! 🙂

 

 

What Makes a Good Chicken Coop?

When I first started trying to figure out how to build a chicken coop I was a little overwhelmed.  Dimensions and positions and wire gauges. How the heck can you fit 9 chickens in 3 nesting boxes?! I drew up plans. I drew more plans. Ultimately what happened is I just got out there and started building it and worked on design as I built it. I did do research on requirements for a good coop.

– It has to be safe. If your worried about predators (like I am) then you need to take extra precautions to protect your fluffy butts.Consider building the coop raised off the ground. This will prevent predators from digging into the coop. If your design is built on the ground, bury 1/4″ hardware cloth below the coop floor before building.Use 1/4″ hardware cloth on all coop openings.  This is the hardest material for predators to claw through.Use double motion locks such as safety gate hooks. Single motion locks are very easy for raccoons (and other wise guys) to open.

-It has to be dry. I invested in the coop roof above all other materials. I went with a galvalume metal roof. It had to be special ordered. Its a bit thicker than whats available on the home improvement store shelves. We live in a heavily wooded area and I was concerned about tree limbs. Originally I wanted the clear corrugated roofing, but I read many reviews stating that they cracked, leaked and broke easily when branches landed on them. Here is what I bought.

-It has to have ventilation. The more ventilation the better!  Proper ventilation reduces ammonia build up which is a major cause of respiratory irritation for chickens. Also make plans on how to close off those ventilation windows during inclement weather.  It could be as simple as a tarp as long as it gets the job done.

-It has to have light. Chickens need light to produce eggs. Natural light cycles also promote healthy sleep habits which is important for over all health. Sun light also kills bacteria.

-It has to have room. A coop needs to supply a minimum of square 3′ of floor space per chicken. I have 5. I need a minimum of 15’of floor space. But I read over and over to build it bigger than you think you need it because chickens are addictive and they end up multiplying. Also, the more space they have the less squabbles there will be. They chickens has room to mine their own business. My coop has 32′ of floor space. I hate squabbling. Those are the Have to’s of chicken coops. Thats it. Chickens will lay eggs whether they have a nesting box or not. They can sleep on the floor. I’m not saying thats the BEST for them, its just not required.

-It should have a roost. Look, my chickens still huddle in the corner of the coop on the floor. Is it going to kill them? No, but it’s not whats best for them. Roosting, basically, keeps them from sleeping in poop. Chickens poop a lot. Even when they are sleeping. On a roost, the chicken’s poop will fall to the floor, and they stay out of it. Simple.

-It should have nesting boxes. Nesting boxes provide a secluded, reserved spot for laying eggs. If you train your chicken to not sleep in the boxes, the eggs will stay clean. Having a nesting box also keeps eggs from getting broken which prevents chickens from eating eggs (which is a whole nother problem you’ll have to solve). If you really want to give your girls the best, add curtains to the front of the boxes. This gives them extra privacy. Yes, chickens appreciate privacy when laying. The size of the nesting box depends on the size of the bird. Also, chickens share nests. Thats why you can get 9 chickens into 3 nesting boxes. 3 chickens per nest.

-It should have an attached run. Unless you are free ranging your birds, you really should have a run. The run gives them space to scratch, sun bathe and take dust bathes. It also gives them fresh air and access to bugs. It gets them “out of the house” so they aren’t “all cooped up”. I would say that even if you are free ranging, you should have a run. Sometimes the chickens need to stay safe and confined. Please keep in mind that most predators can tear through chicken wire. Chicken wire is made to keep chickens in, not to keep predators out.

-Food and water? I don’t keep food in the coop or the run during the night. I feed my girls fermented feed in a dish, twice a day. They eat every crumb which keeps the mice from being tempted to visit. I keep water in both the run and the coop. I made drinking jars with watering nipples. They were made properly so they don’t leak and the chickens can’t knock them over or spill them. The jars are also closed containers so the water stays clean. Your chickens should always have access to water. No discussion on that.

Here are a few things I learned on how to make your coop the most functional. Build the coop tall enough to stand in. Don’t build it so you will be hunched over. You will be in there a lot. Take care of yourself.  If you are building it off the ground, make it waist heigh so that you aren’t hunched over when your cleaning it out. Have access doors that allow you to reach every part of the coop. My coop has a door on 3 of the 4 walls for easy cleaning. Use Laminate to cover the floor of the coop. This makes cleaning easy. This is the best investment I made in the coop after the roofing. Screen the coop with bug screen as well as hardware cloth. I know that sounds crazy but mosquitoes and flys can make you chickens ill. I’ve even read of a story where a flock were killed over night by biting flies. You can get screening for next to nothing. I suggest aluminum screening to prevent tearing. You can buy it here.  One last tip, the human entrances and exits need to open into the coop/pen as opposed to opening outward. Having the doors open inwards will help prevent the chickens from escaping.

 

Here are a few photos of my chicken coop set up. The lack of poop and dust shows that this is before the chickens moved in. It is not perfect. I find myself improving it often. What does your set up look like?20140425_193518

 

20140425_193700 20140425_193605 Do you have any tips for building a coop? Please share by commenting 20140425_19381020140425_194030below!