Sunday, June 8, 2008

jane! stop this crazy thing!!!

who's driving here? saffron are you sure you've got control of the wheel?
wohhhha freckles, no jumping out of the window?
hey where are the seat belts?
chickens behind the wheel - look out!

i finished the chicken tractor. took me about 10 hours to get it figured out and togehter. i am no master carpenter but i did achieve the primary goal which was to make it from materials i had on hand/left over/hanging about from the big coop construction and from a multitude of garden/home projects.

it turned out pretty darn good. i thought it might be a good idea to take the girls out for test run to see what works and what needs adjusting. i have two adjustments to make.

the chick feeder mounted to the side of the tractor is no good
  • the edges are too sharp
    • i could put the multi-feeder top to it and see how that goes, stops the sharp edge issue but the inside of the multi-feeder holes might be sharp as well. best just to change it out.
      • alfie got a tiny cut on her foot while trying to high wire across the feeder
      • i then administered my first chicken first aide today
        • hydrogen peroxide wash
        • a calming chat through the process of application of a dry bandage and tape
lesson learned
if you build it, they will climb on it.

you can't really use hay in a nest on a chicken tractor if the nest does not have a lip on the open side. the chicken ladies jumped up there and just kicked it all out.
the hey looks great on the grass though, see!
    • a couple of options here
      • add a lip to edge
      • tack in a small straw mat or cushy something that can be easily washed and sanitized
a small bucket attached at the proper height works great as a waterer. i set it up so they would have less chance of tipping it over. i placed it next to the edge so that i could quickly top if off with the hose on hot days. the ladies approve. check!

so here is the basic tour
front entry
the door flips from the bottom up. i've got a small bungie cord attached to the top of the tractor to hold the door open for chicken herding. the water bucket is on your left (blue) and the feeder is on the right (chick feeder which will change out asap). there is a roost that is at the same height as the top of the door so you cannot see it from this view. there is a small nesting box in the back elevated off the floor.
you can see the roost from this view. it's the red stained roost from the chicken hutch i use in the big coop as a nesting box. they use big tree limbs in the coop for their roosting place so they don't need this bitty thing in there too.
the rear view
the skid structure is build with cedar fencing panels. i had three in the garage. i left two unchanged and chopped one in half. the arch structures are extra pvc pipes from my garden hoop house. i pre-drilled holes in those and attached them with screws. the ribbing structure is strap wood. i pre-drilled the strap wood and the pvc poles and attached with screws. the base for the nesting box is also strap wood, also pre-drilled.

fyi - everything is pre-drilled so the wood will not split. i am newly converted to the pre-drill process but i'll tell you, now that i've given it a shot, i'm never going back. it makes everything so much easier. it's worth the extra seconds i promise you.
i covered the roof with the extra 4' wide galvanized chicken wire i had left over from the big coop and i cracked open my last roll of fancy pants 24" rubber coated chicken wire for the bottom wrap around. i attached the chicken wire with a combination of staples and fender washers and screws. the roof is a two-ply process. first a double layer of clear plastic for rain protection. second a double layer of 60% shade cloth. it gets really darn hot here, i figure they can use all the shade help they can get. i know i'd want all the help i could get.

i attached two eye bolts the end of each sled piece and just ran a piece of rope through that i had on hand. i added a third eye bolt at the top center and tied the rope up at center. i found the tractor much easier to move with the three points of pull rather than two.

the door is also made of the strap wood. i made the door of double thickness and sandwiched the chicken wire between the two frames. the hinges are small strap hinges and i use a small lock ring at the bottom to secure the door once the girls are in.

i added one additional piece of strap above and below the doors to keep unwanted fingers from fidgeting with the door edges.

so there you have it, a chicken tractor made from joe shmoe home goods.
now i must master - chicken herding.
yeah, i got my first lesson in chicken chasing 101 today. freckles was the master escape artist and damn folks that girl can move! it was not too crazy, i got her in less than a minute but boy oh boy she gave me a run for my money and i was not sure in mind if i was going to win that challenge. it's amazing what goes through your mind when you're chasing a chicken.
  1. oh my, what if she flies?
  2. ok, she flies now what?
  3. what if she goes under the house?
  4. &^%!#$%@!!!!!!*** chicken
  5. i'm losing i'm losing
  6. aha! nope! damn!
  7. this is good exercise
  8. bad for the nerves
  9. this chicken might just be smarter than me
  10. i will catch this chicken!
and when all was said and done, i was just happy that she would soon be safe from harm. not to say that my chasing her gave her that impression. i knew it would be freckels i'd have to chase first but that's ok. she's just doing what she do.

and the big news is this
miss alfie sunshine celebrates her first egg today
she's was acting odd and stressed in the chicken tractor, so much so that i thought that the change might be too much for her and retrieved her out. she was willing and ready and let me pick her right out of the tractor. i noticed her foot bleeding and directly applied first aide then after a bit of hugging, i placed her back inside the big coop in the nesting area of which she's been frequenting. it was not a minute and she was calling. i went in to check to see if maybe i had hindered her movement with the application of the bandage but no, alfie girl had laid her first egg.

phfew! so that's what all the rigamaroll was about. chickenmama's bad timing. giving the girl a go in a brand new chicken tractor on the day of the first egg. what was i thinking? didn't i know?
nope i did not. but again i'm glad she's safe and happy back in the big coop.

i then thought it best to reunite the three so i walked saffron and freckles in the tractor back to the big coop and let them enter via the run. there was a bit of chatter, i think i ruffled some feathers today but at least they'll have something to talk about for the next few days.

tractor ride #1 accomplished
let's see if they ever want to do it again?

1 comment:

Ash said...