Last weekend was a busy one on the farm. With one part of the crew at farm classes in College Station (Dad), there was a big part of the workforce missing so the cavalry got called in to get some major projects completed and started. Now it’s summer still in Texas so with temperatures breaking the 90 mark, it was a hot weekend but thankfully, the farm has some great shady spots to work in. With the oldest and her husband as well as some helpful from Mel’s sister, spouse, cousin and mom a lot got done in a pretty short time.
Project #1 for the weekend was a new chicken house for the larger chickens so the current one can become the hatchery and brooding house. With chickens, one of the main components of the farm, the hatch rate and mortality rate are very important. Some chickens are easier to raise and heartier than others but there’s a mix of breeds at the farm right now.
Thankfully we got pictures of the projects, so you can see exactly how one of the easiest all-around structures is built on the farm. These houses can be for chickens, dogs, sheep, goats, small pigs. Pretty much anything can be housed and all you have to do is adjust the size of the building. For these we did half the size we did on our previous farm and it was a much easier size to move and a super-fast build. From start to finish I’d say it took about 2 hours which is not bad at all for a structure. Granted we didn’t get the tarp on or snake net but that would only take about another 45 minutes.
Anyways…. To start you need some nice boards for the bottom frame (we used 2x8x8), cattle panels (we needed 2), wood for the door/walkway frame and bottom supports (we used 2x4s cut to size). I would say tool wise a drill, table saw, and hammer are the must haves, but we also used a square to keep things nice and straight. Fasteners were lag bolts, fence post staples, screws, and baling wire.
We started with the bottom frame. This is the easiest part and could easily be done with one person but 2 makes it way easier. Lay out your 2x8x8 and just screw two lag bolts into each corner to connect them and ensure the best support so it can be moved around. To double the size, I just use a 16-foot piece for the longer section. Make sure you have your frame square as it makes the rest of the job easier.
Once you have your frame built you need cattle panels. For the size we built we used 2 and they fit perfectly. This part is going to take at least 2 people, but it is way better with 3 so there is someone supporting the middle and making the curve. Once the ends of the panel are against the ground on the inside of the frame the frame will hold it into place and allow you to either put the other panel in or start securing your first one. We did one panel at a time and hammered in fence post staples at every bracket of the cattle panel for the best amount of support. When the second panel was secured it was all about more support and braces were a must since this house needed to be able to be moved around and stay structurally sound.
To build the supports the table saw came into play and the 2×4 wood. We measured angles and adjusted the table saw to cut at that slant to ensure the tightest fit to the frame and the most support. One screw on each side was enough but would recommend 2 for added support.
The door frame or walkway in our case is the most complicated part but wasn’t too bad all things considered. Take a 2×4 and measure bottom of the base to the top of the hoop. In our case this was 69” and we decided to cut it on the slant of the curve and bevel the top, so the panel fit into the groove for more support. Screw the bottom in with 2 screws (toe nail them) and make the next one the mirror for the other side we screwed the frame into the inside of the base, so it was ‘prettier’. An additional support was needed for the door frame and it was easy enough to cut with an angled edge with a groove for the panel and two screws into the door frame.
To close off the back, scrap cattle paneling was used and trimmed to size from other projects and then the top was done in the deer/snake net as was the bottom all around. No one likes egg thieves so the best way to avoid them is to over secure the house and make sure the chickens can get in and out but nothing else can.
Project #2 for the weekend wasn’t completed but 2 big steps were made. You could say this was actually 2 projects but is clean up a project? Our next task was to clear out the covered patio where we host cookouts and gatherings and cute the fence panels taking up the space so that they can be used in garden boxes for the front yard. The panels were about 15 boards across and we cut them in 4 board sections with the scrap getting put to the side for other projects or parts of the boxes. There wasn’t really a way to avoid the excess not being a full panel but since it’s cedar wood it’s easy to find a project to use it for.
We’ll share more on this project as we get the next steps worked on. We will also be dressing up our little covered patio and sharing how we style and use it for things so stay tuned for that!
Written by Oldest Miki (Aug 30,2018)