Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘found materials

Taking Shape

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We are getting close. This weekend we got wallboard nailed on the frame of the chicken coop. That closed it up except for the people-door (because we ran out of pieces long enough to use for that opening).dscn5294e

Elysa and Ande stopped by, surprising us with a visit yesterday. They provided some key assistance toward getting all the gaps filled. It was a bit of a Tetris game to match the boards and the spaces over the studs.

Just having additional hands to hold something in place or hand me another nail helped immensely to keep things humming along. My process involves a lot of pauses to plot several steps ahead and then measure, mark, and cut the pieces.

I had a limited number of large boards that I was trying to match with the best possible spaces. When we didn’t have a long enough piece available, the alternative was to use multiples of the shorter boards. There were a lot more of them from which we could choose.

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In one of our design-on-the-fly decisions, Cyndie and I decided to have two horizontal hinged openings on the wall of the nest boxes. The lower one will open downward and create a little shelf to place cartons while collecting eggs. I decided to use the space above the nests, where there will be a slanted board to keep the chickens from perching, as a small, angled storage area.

The upper opening will be hinged at the top and swing upwards to provide full access to the cubby space.

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When we excitedly got one of the boards mounted on the backside, I realized I’d forgotten about cutting the slot opening for the access door to the poop-board. Now I’ll be doing that after the fact.

That’s the kind of thing that happens when you are making things up as you go along.

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Written by johnwhays

October 17, 2016 at 6:00 am

Decisions Aplenty

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By the end of the weekend last night I was mentally exhausted. The chicken coop project was an exercise in repeating waves of cascading decisions. It was giving me a headache. Or maybe that was coming from the muscle fatigue in my neck and shoulders from all the power tool use overhead and at odd angles.

Over and over again I found myself trying to determine precise dimensions, proper positions, ultimate functionality, potential environmental stresses, and likely physical pressures the structure will face.

dscn5273eHow high should this be? What support should this have? Will this withstand stormy weather? How will I attach the next board? How will we enclose all the odd openings of our panel roof design?

If all that weren’t complicated enough, by the end of the day yesterday, when I couldn’t get the roof framework equally centered on all the walls, it occurred to me why all my calculations had me constantly confused. Building with scraps of salvaged lumber means working with a lot of warped, bowed, and twisted boards.

It was a great exercise for tempering perfectionistic tendencies.

“Close enough” became a common refrain that grew increasingly easy to accept.

There were so many little steps involved in finalizing the framing of openings in each wall and securely fastening the 4 walls to each other that I ran out of time for the ultimate reward of screwing the panels onto the roof. We got close, but finished just short of that milestone.

Guess what I can’t wait to work on when I get home from work today.

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Written by johnwhays

October 10, 2016 at 6:00 am

Coop Framing

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We worked on framing the walls of our chicken coop yesterday under October conditions that changed from cold to warm and alternated between sunny and gray. Twice we received sprinkles of very light rain, yet at a time when there weren’t any clouds in sight that looked like they could possibly be the source.

The weather didn’t slow us down from the task at hand, though, as we designed on the fly to figure out a way to use on-hand 2x4s from a variety of salvaged day-job pallets to frame up the four walls.

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With the addition of a couple long boards I found stored in the rafters over the shop, we were able to come up with everything we needed.

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We are hoping to get away with using some plexiglass that has been lying around since we moved here, for windows to provide plenty of light. That will be augmented by translucent polycarbonate panels we purchased for the slanted roof.

The roof is today’s project. Then we need to figure out the ventilation openings that will be covered with hardware cloth to keep out unwanted critters. Siding will follow that. Somewhere in there will be the creation of 4 different hinged openings for access: to collect eggs, to pull out a poop board from under the roost for cleaning, and for chickens and humans to get in and out.

No problem. It only took me a few years to get this far. I’m sure I can have it ready for occupation by…

Never mind that. I’m living in this moment.

The future doesn’t need me trying to tell it what will be.

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Written by johnwhays

October 9, 2016 at 8:25 am

Coop Foundation

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Just in case we someday get chickens, I have continued to chip away at a snails pace to design and construct a homemade coop out of mostly found materials. As of this weekend, I have now completed the foundation posts and laid the first floor.

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I’ve reached the point where I should probably commit to the floor plan and figure out how I’m going to build the walls, including the desired doors and windows. The roof is already figured out, as I intend to make it very similar to the one I constructed for the wood shed. The roofing panels are one of the few things we chose to buy for the project.

Most of the lumber for this coop is coming from pallets and shipping crates I have salvaged from the day-job. It’s a benefit for both parties, since the material needs to be removed from our warehouse due to limited storage space.

The foundation posts are from old fencing that was removed shortly after we moved here. Having the coop up on stilts will keep me from needing to sandbag it in protection against the unrelenting downpours that have been turning our soil to soup this year in this new climate we seem to be facing.

The progress of getting the floor in place is a nice milestone, but based on past behaviors, it’s going to be a while before I achieve the next step. There is a lot of uncertainty about construction detail that I need to resolve before I go throwing up walls willy nilly.

That, and the fact that I have yet to settle on an actual design for where doors and windows will be, and how I will construct them.

Details, details.

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Written by johnwhays

September 26, 2016 at 6:00 am

Planning Again

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Sometimes, between the daily chores and ongoing projects that never seem to be finished here, we allow ourselves to imagine new things we could be doing to benefit our operation. One specific vision we have held from the very early stage of arriving on this property is to have chickens, but it just keeps not happening for us.

Initially, it was seen as a way to naturally control flies and break up piles of manure. That benefit alone was enough reason for me to look beyond the details involved in actually caring for and protecting a flock of birds. We could sure do with less flies.

One early delay in our acting on that vision was that we didn’t yet have horses, and we instead brought home a very carnivorous young dog that required a lot of time and attention. When the horses finally arrived, our attention was consumed by the combination of orienting ourselves with actually owning and caring for the 4 very large creatures, as well as the puppy dog and 2 cats.

Now, as we have become more acclimated with our animals and the surroundings, and have grown more familiar with our neighbors, the subject of owning chickens gets discussed as a natural given. We should have chickens. George has even offered to give us some of his.

When someone else we met reported that, in addition to having less flies, they haven’t seen any ticks since they got chickens, it was a lock. We need chickens.

ManyPlansAll we have to do is build a coop.

Do you know how you would build a chicken coop? There are as many versions as there are people in the world. As is usual for me, I would like to accomplish it using as much found material as possible. I searched for plans using pallets. There are as many versions of plans for chicken coops built out of pallets as there are flies in a barnyard.

I am now at the point where I have a real good general idea of what I would like to do. That just leaves an unending number of actual details that need to be figured out and executed.

Yesterday, Cyndie helped me prepare 5 more pallets that I brought home from work. They have 4 extra blocks nailed on top that I remove to get a flat platform. We experimented with several orientations to see if there was a natural fit that would work easily. She then disappeared to the back of the shop garage for a minute and returned with 3 perfect clear vinyl panels that could be used for windows.

I had forgotten about those. The previous owners had screwed them on the sliding screen doors for protection from their small dog. I had completely forgotten of their existence.

A few more baby steps toward building a coop so we can get chickens.

One of these days, it might happen. It will be just like we have been envisioning throughout the last 4 years.

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Written by johnwhays

June 11, 2016 at 9:33 am