“HARD WORK BECOMES EASY WHEN YOUR WORK BECOMES YOUR PLAY.” – Paul Chucks
I think all farm buildings, at least those built by first time farmers, began their lives as something else. Funny thing is, the chicken coop actually started its life as a small goat barn. It was once we decided to increase the number of chickens we had, and create a more comfortable and permanent house to keep them through the winter that we decided it was the perfect size to house our growing chicken flock. With that decision made, we slapped some custom dutch doors on it, added some roosting bars, hung nesting boxes, and installed a small doggie door on the right side that leads into a protected solarium. Our chickens have complete freedom to move from coop to solarium to 24×24 foot open pen at their leisure. The coop has a cement floor and we use the deep-litter method to manage the chicken waste as it makes for great compost each time the coop is cleaned.
Oh, the duck house, probably my favorite animal shelter built to date. Again this shelter was built with no real plan, not even a rough sketch, just an image in my head. The crazy thing is that my wife and I started off building the base platforms for I think three or four of these beauties. We ended up with only one, as we decided ducks were way too messy, ate way too much food, and in the end did not taste good no matter how we prepared them. Nonetheless, it was enjoyable to build, and the fact that my wife loves to get in on my crazy makes it even more fun.
As with all the other shelters, the duck house was built out of leftover fencing material from the time my wife and I fenced our entire acre lot with a six-foot cedar privacy fence by hand; the one you can see in the background. The floor is covered by 12-inch square linoleum tiles meant for a kitchen or bathroom in order to protect the subfloor from the mess we knew our ducks would create, and it is a good thing we did, yuck! The coolest feature of the duck house is the fact that the enter left side of the roof opens upward with a roof cap that also swings up on hinges. I added this feature in order to make cleaning out the house and gathering duck eggs easier.
Bulk Watering System for the Birds
In the beginning filling up the three and five-gallon bird waterers from Cal Ranch was novel, but it quickly became a chore; especially when you have a flock of chickens, a rafter of turkeys, and a brace of ducks. It became even more painful when early one fine spring morning I found out my wife and kids had visited Cal Ranch without me (something they were forbidden to do as they just can’t control themselves when they get around baby animals), and needless to say, we ended up with a flock of 25 Cornish meat hens to add to our already ample poultry populace.
It was at that point that I got the idea to take one of our 50-gallon water drums, hook a four-way spigot to it, cut up an old garden hose, and purchase some water nipples. From that point good old ingenuity took over and I headed to Home Depot to raid the plumbing aisle. After a few hours of problem solving and intent focus, we ended up with two four-nipple watering contraptions that hooked up to the 50-gallon drum via the hose sections. The waterer worked amazingly and afforded us the freedom to go camping without worrying about the birds running out of way. In fact, I don’t think we had to fill up the bird’s water for several months.