Son #1 and Grandson #1 arrived around 2:30 a.m. Saturday morning and immediately fell in bed having gotten a little sleep on the bus. Morning was met with bacon, blueberry muffins, scrambled eggs, and coffee before we tackled the coop construction. He realized quickly that my guestimate of the reclaimed lumber was way off and some of the boards, not sound enough for construction as I had not unstacked the pile to do measurements.
We spread the lumber out to reassess it and his plan was immediately ditched and we retired to the table to come up with an alternate design that we could do with the materials on hand. Our alternate plan is a 13′ square foot print, A-frame construction. We measured the spot, not level, but nothing on our 30 acres is level, marked the 4 corner posts and he took off to the edges of the hay field to cut down a couple of cedar trees to use for the corner posts. I stayed at the site and started digging the post holes. As I have said before, I could get rich selling rocks and cedar trees and found my share of rocks digging the holes. Rocks that were the size of a deck of cards to one that was bowling ball size. The posts were placed and measurements made again and we realized the holes were too far apart. Pause for lunch and re-digging. Once we were finished, Daughter and family with Grandson #1 in tow returned from going to the local Aquatic Center where the kids had some pool time and she kicked in muscles to help us.
We mounted the two horizontal side joist boards and realized we had put them on the wrong sides. They were moved, the threshold board cut and I realized that we had erred again. Screws backed off, board moved, threshold shortened and the bottom 4 boards were in place. This sounds easy enough, but remember, I said nothing on this farm is level, thus the south end is higher off the ground than north end to make it level. This was the story of our day, do/undo/move/re-level/redo.
Three sets of rafters were screwed in place and the tractor kept it from listing until we got to the nailers on Sunday. The peak is 6 feet off the ground in the front, so I will have no difficulty entering to clean it out.
We have laughed about our missteps in our construction. Sunday started early for Son #1 and me, joined later by daughter and SIL. Son and I got the nailers in place, then all of us dragged metal roofing down from behind the barn where it has been stored for years. The circular saw was refitted with an old blade on backwards and roof cutting commenced. It took all four of us, the tractor used very unsafely as a work platform and an 8 foot ladder on unlevel ground, but we got the 10 panels of roofing in place.
Though I didn’t get a final photo last night after 7 p.m., we got the back on it except for the hardware cloth vent at the top, the front is framed and the door made and hung, though still lacking the hardware cloth on it. The triangles to the right and left of the door are still uncovered, but will have metal roofing material in place eventually and the triangular gaps from the horizontal joists to the ground will also have metal siding installed with the white underside exposed to close some of the interior gaps. Until the rest of the siding can be done, I will install hardware cloth in appropriate places and used garden fencing outside of plastic poultry net to close in those spaces as we will soon have about 25 chicks that will need housing for about 20 weeks. The inside of this palace, named the Hobbit House by son is 144 square feet, so we have plenty of space for meat chicks. I will have to do some re-fencing to have a significant run at the new coop and when he returns later in the summer we will finish the work on the new coop as well as restructuring the chicken tractor into a brooding coop, by mounting it on cedar posts, leveling it, and installing metal roofing extended down over the existing hardware cloth lower sides.
I started off with a few laying hens and now I feel like a chicken farmer, but as the new coop was reclaimed and leftover materials, we only had to buy screws and hinges, so it was cheap to build.
About noon, he decided to deliberately miss his bus with my blessing so we could get as far as we got. He, Grandson #1, and I set out in my car for Northern Virginia to get them home for school and work today. I spent the night and set out for home upon them leaving this morning, arriving home about an hour ago. A very long, but very productive weekend.