Portable Chicken Coop / Tractor – Feeders

This really doesn’t need to be a separate post, but I didn’t want to combine it with my solar tire tub post since I consider that a failure.

My father-in-law gave me these feeders, so I decided to use them in the initial phase of the coop build.  My thought was to build a PVC feeder system that we could add feed from outside the coop.  This was because roosters are mean to little girls.

Now, we no longer have a rooster and I’ve grown to like the door feeders.  Having to open the door to feed the chickens is a bit more work.  And a time or two a chicken has escaped, as referenced in my aviary post; however, at this point I’m no longer interested in perusing a PVC solution .

As a bonus item, here’s my solution for providing calcium for the chickens.  I like the idea of providing a second feeder that they can get the calcium at-will instead of adding it directly to their feed.  For this I repurposed a broken brooder waterer and an old brooder feeder base I picked up.  The plastic waterer was cracked and not holding water, so I cut open the top to be able to fill it from the top, and drilled two holds for the hanger.  A scrap piece of house wire inserted into two drilled holes acts as a hanger.

Back to Portable Chicken Coop Main Page

Portable Chicken Coop / Tractor – Solar Tire Tub Waterer

Recently I realized I didn’t  do a post on my solar tire waterer and that it’s on the outline for my initial build.  In my opinion it was a failure and I guess why I overlooked it.  But, I want others to be able to learn from both my successes and failures so here goes.

I researched ways to keep water from freezing and the tire idea intrigued me so I built one.  I thought I had an ace up my sleeve, I’ll explain.

So I got a tire and put a board across the bottom for the pan to sit on.  This was to insulate the pan from the ground.  The instructions said to fill the tire with insulating material, plastic seemed to be the most common material so I filled the tire with old tarp scraps.  I got a black plastic oil pan that fit the tier pretty well and I was off to the races.

And my ace in the hole?  One of our small blue-ice bottles, unfrozen obviously.  I saw people putting a dark ball in the water to move the water and attract heat, thus helping to keep it from freezing.  If figured if my “ball” was also partly filled with salt water, which freezes at a lower temperature, it would help keep the water from freezing even more.

The results.  The chickens roosted on the tire during the day, frequently butt side toward the water, and made a mess in the water.  It was hard to keep the water clean.  The tire setup did help keep the water from freezing, a little.  It was fairly easy to dump frozen ice out of the pan or to melt it with hot water.  The blue ice bottle seemed to help, but I’m not sure if or how much better than just adding a ball.

Marshmallow seems to be my common companion

The end result was I finished the winter with it and moved back to a standard ground waterer as soon as I could.  The tire was thrown in a corner, pan and all, and I didn’t touch it until I grabbed a picture the following February for the solar water post.  It’s still sitting unused.

For a better solution, check out what I used last winter.  This is the best solution I’ve found.

Back to Portable Chicken Coop Main Page

Portable Chicken Coop / Tractor – Aviary

This was a part I didn’t plan out in great detail, but I’m used to that.  Even the well thought out plans I made for this coop got modified as I built.  Typically I’m building with various material, used and new, and I incorporate what I have to make what I want.  I like to think I’ve developed pretty decent system around this building process.

Just so happens, I watched this video on being more productive the morning I was going out to work on the Aviary.  It made me feel better about building the Aviary from just an idea in my mind.   Early in the video,  I like when he said “I think it’s easy to stand around and talk about how to do something better, when if you simply put your head down and went to work, it would be done, and well done, when discussion on the best possible method was just beginning to slow up enough for somebody to begin to pick up a tool.  Now I’m overstating that, but productivity is important.”

I also, I enjoyed the Frost poem, and finally CS Lewis’s quote,  “Two of a trade, never agree.” and his interpretation that Everyone does it different, so learn new things from that.

What’s Up? Chicken Butt. Laugh when you see it.

But on to the Aviary…

Building a coop on a trailer meant coming up with an aviary that can be lifted for movement.  I don’t have permanent perimeter fencing around the pasture to keep and protect the flock, so an aviary is necessary.

The aviary is easily detachable at the pivot/hinge, made from a caster with the wheel removed.  This is for three reasons.  I may use the coop with portable fencing as some point and not want the aviary attached.   The corners of the aviary drag when moving, so if I’m moving over large distances, removing the aviary makes the move easier.  It’s also necessary for me to use the windows as access portals to remove chickens when they are roosting in the middle, removing the aviary gives me access to the windows.

Nice to have a friend around when you work

Most of the frame is made out of some scrap aluminum wire track I picked up.  This helps keep it light.  The wooden pallet boards are for extra strength at the corners and pivot point, and to make it easier to tie everything together.  Chicken wire is zip tied to the frame and stapled to the wood where appropriate.

I turned one corner of the frame into a hatch.  This mainly allows us to water the chickens.  We’ve been using ground waterers in the warm months and my new solar heated waterer in the cold months.   I recently setup a PVC nipple system, but the weather turned cold before I could try it out; more to come on that.

My helper with running the cable.

The initial plan was to use a pulley system attached to the aviary to raise and lower it like a drawbridge and attach a motor or winch to raise and lower it.   Even though it’s pretty light, it a pretty hard pull to raise.  This is due to the shallow angle of lift I have from the roof and that I used cheap pulleys.  Even with double pulleys, it’s a struggle to lift by pulling the cables.

Currently, I raise the aviary by hand, prop it up with a bucket, then pull the slack out of the cable and tie it down, using a cleat hook on the inside.  I’m thinking I may scrap the whole pulley system and just have one cable on each end that is right length to hold the frame up once I’ve raised it on the bucket.

I’ve been told I should have designed the coop so that the aviary drags behind the coop when I move it.  This sounds like a good idea; however, it doesn’t make backing up easy and I’ve already built the coop.  I do think a redesign is in order, I have some ideas, so more to come when I’m finished.

Yes, she’s outside. The devil escaped while filling the food.

 

 

Back to Portable Chicken Coop Main Page

Outdoor Life

I love the outdoors; however, last couple of years, due to my weight and a knee injury, being active outdoors has been more of a chore than a joy.  Last fall I got serious about fixing that.  While I haven’t hit my goal weight yet, I’ve made significant progress and my knee stays un-swollen and pain free most of the time.  This means that I’m spending most of my free time outdoors catching up on projects and feeling the breeze and sun on my skin.

 

Seen on my daily hike in our woods

 

 

That’s my way of saying I’ve not spent much time on updating posts.  🙂  However, I have jotted down several notes and since it’s rainy this weekend, I’m going to get a post or two out.  Hope you enjoy.

It’s time for Turkey

No, these are not velociraptors; it’s Turkey time!

We’ve raised a small batch of turkeys to have more to offer.  We have a couple whole turkey, ground turkey, and turkey wings & drumsticks for sale starting this weekend.

 

Whole turkeys are frozen in a bag.  They’re $4.25/lb and weigh ~12 lbs.

Ground turkey is in 1lb bags and $10/lb

Turkey wings and drumsticks are $6.50/lb

 

We will have ground turkey and wings and drumsticks on hand at the Seymour Farmers Market starting 8/1 while supplies last.

** Preorder by 8pm  on Fridays until 8/8 and receive a 10% discount.   Deadline by 8pm 7/31 for 8/1 pickup or 8pm 8/7 for 8/8 pickup.  Pickup at Seymour Farmers Market, times in Eastern.

Whole turkeys are preorder only, we will only bring them to the market once they are sold.  *Preorder discount does not apply to whole turkeys.

Contact us via email or contact page if interested.  https://maplesmisc.com/about/contact-us/

Brothers M. Mondays in May 2020 – Week 4 Fun time

Brothers M. Mondays is our way of showing you how excited we are for the first Seymour Farmers Market, LESS THAN A WEEK AWAY!

It’s been a fun year so far and this week I thought I’d showcase some of it.

First is the dynamic between Matthew and Samantha.  Over the last year or so, these two have really come into their own and seem to bring out the good fun loving qualities in each other.

 

 

 

That attitude carried over into the care of the chickens.  It has been interesting and a pleasure to watch these two work together; everything from joking and encouraging the chickens, to war cries when moving them

 

 

 

 

 

 

…and of course running.

 

And then there was a cow

 

And as a bright spot for the future, Olivia has been joining in the fun.  She says she’s learning so she can help too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

-Jason

Brothers M. Mondays in May 2020 Week 2

Brothers M. Mondays is our way of showing you how excited we are for the first Seymour Farmers Market on May 30th and to get you psyched up for it too.

This week we’re showcasing replacing two rotting chicken tractor doors.  And of course the kids had to have their fun.  Hope you enjoy this video as much as I do.

 

 

 

Prep Test Time – Power Outage

Power outages can be a pain; however, most of the time they excite me. Not only do I get to enjoy the absolute quiet, without all the hum from electronics such as refrigerators, fans, dishwashers, computers, etc., but I get to play around with my preps.

Before I had much in the way of preps, when we lived in town, we had a unique situation where we were the only one on the block without power for 4 days. I get it, major storm, LOTS of people without power, and one house without power in the middle of many with power isn’t a high priority.

Since we moved to a rural area, fortunately or unfortunately depending on the way you look at it, we’ve not had a power outage that lasted more than a few hours. But that doesn’t stop me from frequently breaking out some of my preps and having fun when it happens.

Recently the power went out for about an hour. Since I didn’t know how long it would be out, I started the generator so we could continue cooking our crock-pot meal without worrying about it going bad. This spurred me to take some pictures of some basic preps and share.

#1) The generator. I understand, not every budget can afford a generator, but once you’ve been without power for 4 days, that’s not a place you want to be in again. Our current generator is a smaller 3200 watt unit, but I have plans to upgrade to a 5500+ watt generator when the budget allows.

Currently we just use extension cords and run them through a window, using towel(s) to seal the window cracks and keep cold air out.  With these we power the necessities such as FREEZERS for the Brothers M chickens, refrigerators, oven*, and I guess now a crock-pot. Of course we’ve run the coffee maker too; can’t live without coffee.

I mentioned oven. Our stove is gas on purpose. We can run the stove-top without electricity and if we want to run the oven, we only need enough power for the electronic controls. You cannot do that with an electric oven unless you have a much bigger generator than we have.

One last thing on generators, I use mine as an alternative to battery powered tools. There are frequent times where I need to do some work beyond where an extension cord will take me. I have a cordless drill, but have not invested in a lot of other cordless tools. I do have the essential power tools in a corded variety. Wheeling the generator to a remote part of the homestead to power tools is not as convenient as battery powered tools, but it has sure come in handy, especially when I built our mini-barn on our land before there was even a house or power.

#2) The fireplace. Our house is electric heat. This 74% efficient fireplace will heat the whole house, including the basement if we could force heat down there. It is much more efficient with the built-in electric fan, so in a long power out situation we would power the fan with the generator, but even without the fan, the radiant heat does a good job of heating the house, especially if close the  door to the upstairs and focus on the main level.

#3) Propane heater. I installed this propane heater in the basement to help with heating the downstairs when the fireplace is heating the upstairs floors. This one has a thermostat to kick it on and off and does not need electricity. If for some reason we didn’t have power and couldn’t use the fireplace, we could close off the upper levels of the house and use it to keep an area of the basement until power was restored.

#3.5) Emergency outlets. You may have noticed the odd grey outlet next to the heater. While I was finishing the upstairs and basement of our house, I wired the lights and these grey receptacles on their own circuit. They are all on one breaker circuit per floor, so that once I’ve properly bypassed the external power*, I can hook the generator into the breaker box, shut off all breakers except these lights and receptacles, and have lights and a place to plug in essentials. NOTHING is permanently plugged into these receptacles so we are not powering any phantom draws off the generator by accident.

*DO NOT just plug a generator in to your breaker box without properly disconnecting/bypassing it from the main power line. This poses a safety hazard for the linemen trying to restore power to you and in most places is illegal.

#4) Decorative wall sconces and candle/flame power, possibly my favorite. I’ve always liked wall sconces and candles as decorations, mood lighting, and fragrance. We have them in many rooms, especially the bathrooms. We keep a supply of cheap unscented tea lights on hand to put in the sconces when the power goes out to provide light. You want unscented because after a while the scented ones can become overpowering.

We also have scattered candles and oil lamps. I love the ambiance of an oil lamp, but I only pull them out when the power is out which is probably why I enjoy power outages so much. I also have this cool candle-powered LED lamp that is powered by a tea light candle. It’s somewhat expensive as just a prep, but it was a special birthday gift for me and it provides so much more clear light off just one tea light.

#5) Uninterruptible Power Supply(UPS). I picked up a cheap 1200 watt UPS that needed a new battery; batteries are not especially cheap, but not overly expensive either if you shop around. The 1200 model is designed to run a PC and monitor for 15+ minutes. I plug our internet router and Wifi router into it. The UPS will keep them running for at least 60 minutes. This enables us to surf the net on smart phone, laptops, or various other battery powered devices.

#6) A laptop. I started a draft of this post on my laptop while the power was out. It’s usually fully charged and can run off battery for a couple hours give or take. You don’t have to spend a fortune to get a good working laptop. I buy previous generation, refurbished business class equipment that is designed to last a long time for a fraction of the cost of a new piece of equipment.

Besides the obvious advantages of being connected to the internet through my router on UPS, it also can double as a power station to run/charge phones through the USB cable.

#7) Emergency radios and flashlights. We have several AM/FM/Weather band emergency radios. When the kids wanted their own radio, we purchased these emergency radios for them instead of just an AM/FM radio. Most can be charged with a crank, some can be charged via USB or Solar. Most also run off regular batteries and some have lights. My favorite is my eTon Scorpion(the black one) that I bought many years back to take with me on some hikes.

We also have some cheap crank flash lights, but they mostly just stay in the “storm box”. Periodically I’ll get them out and crank them to charge the batteries, but mostly we rely on regular flashlights.

I really like the little $1 flashlights from Wal-mart. They are much brighter than I expected from a cheap light. The also come with batteries, so you can store them unused and have them ready when you need them. Most of all, with 4 kids in the house, I find that no matter how many flashlights I have, nor how many death threats I give to not use them, they disappear. At this price I buy a bunch and let the kids use them, so my more expensive lights can stay where I want them to be.

#8) Rechargeable batteries. The last thing I’m going to mention is the rechargeable batteries and charger. We purchased these primarily to have batteries for all the game controllers and later purchased more batteries for some robotic building sets. However, they serve as a backup power source if we ever needed to go an extended period of time without power.

Running the generator constantly can get expensive, not to mention you’re limited to how much gas you have on hand or can get.  For example, in an ice storm we may find yourself in a rationed situation since there’s a fairly steep hill between us and town. A good strategy is to run the generator for an hour or two at a time, then shut it off for a few hours.

Refrigerators and Freezers can easily go 4 hours or more if you’re not opening them. Run them on the generator for an hour or so to keep them cold.   If you can charge the batteries as the same time, if the generator isn’t big enough, run it for another hour to charge up you rechargeable batteries, phones, and laptops. Then you can shut off generator to save gas and still function off the stored power you just saved. Several hours later, when you need to recharge batteries or cool your food, you start up the generator and repeat the process.

A lot more can be said about preps of all types, these were just a few that came to mind around power outages. There’s a lot of information out there. Hopefully you’ll find things that fit your situation and lifestyle to help you live a better life, even if you only ever use them for the “fun” times.