Thursday, June 14, 2012

In Which The Non-Builder, Builds

I am not a builder by any possible stretch of the imagination. Shucks, I only just learned how to use a hammer back in January while at Polyface Farms! In the past, when I have attempted to make something, it would usually collapse in a dusty heap before an hour has passed. The things that did manage to stay together were always things that had been built with my favorite supplies: duct tape, zip ties. guerilla glue, and PVC. 

However, the broilers have been quickly outgrowing their tractor, and I knew I was going to need another one ASAP. But I also needed hay, and didn't have the funds for both things at the same time. So I did the next logical thing. I decided to build my own, and use only items found on our property.

Hoo boy.

In a book I had gotten from the library, the author had shown a small sketch of a chicken tractor that was covered with feed bags, so as to cut down on building costs. That idea caused a light bulb to turn on in this head o' mine, and the wheels started turning. After some scrounging, I had an odd assortment of things for this project that were by anyone's standards, quite laughable. But I was determined. I was going to build myself a chicken tractor. 

After four days and who knows how many hours, I had myself something to put chickens into.

It looks like this:

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Yes, you are allowed to laugh at it. 

The base is made of boards from an old bunk bed. The arch is made with PVC and Juniper branches. It's covered with feed bags, the screws I used were either too big or too small, and it has a braided piece of baling twine so that I can move this contraption. All in all, it is a typical specimen of my building style. Thank heavens the chickens don't care what it looks like!

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I believe it measures out as a 6'x6', which is smaller than I would have liked but oh well...

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But I at least succeeded in one mission: I did not spend a single penny on this thing! Everything has been re-used and recycled! 

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We had a good rain the day after the birds were put in the tractor, and I was delighted to see that everyone stayed toasty and dry in there! There wasn't a single leak with that feed bag roof! The only downside however is that the entire thing smells like, well, feed. The goats decided to try and eat it for the first few days, which was a pain to deal with. And now, Heidi has learned that there's chicken feed inside the tractor! That goat loves chicken feed above all else in life, so she has now crashed right through the structure 4 times. If she doesn't go galloping through the back, then she very cleverly snaps the wire on the front. I don't think goats should be this smart... But I seem to have the last laugh, as I've locked them out of the pasture that the chickens are in. Ha! Take that, Heidi! I can't believe I'm fighting with a goat...

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So there you have it folks. The non-builder has actually built something. I think I'm actually a little bit proud of myself! It hasn't fallen apart yet, so that's good. Let's see if it continues to stay that way...

8 comments:

Sarah G said...

:applauds: Well done! :D

Lindsey said...

You clever, resourceful girl you!

Brenda said...

It looks great! You did a really good job. I'm sure the chickens are much happier to have more room.

nancy said...

Good for you! We used flexible pvc pipe and glue, cheap and works. But free is always better!

Anonymous said...

That's really nice! Good on ya!
M.

sailorssmallfarm said...

It looks great, seriously. And the price can't be beat! I can see why you have it open above the wire on the one end, but I wonder if you might have predator issues of the non-caprine variety through there? I'm no builder myself, so I'm full of respect for your accomplishment.

Goat Song said...

@Sailorssmallfarm, I did think about doing something at the top of the front, to keep predators out, but 1. I couldn't think of anything that would still allow me to have easy access in there. And 2. I'm not super worried about predators (knock on wood!). If something had wanted to eat the chickens while they were all in the first tractor, and simple sneeze probably would have sufficed in making it fall apart. It's on its last season and is in need of some TLC once the birds are out! I'm also in the process of *ahem* getting a livestock guardian (but no one is supposed to know yet!), so that should help any possible problems as well.

If you have any ideas for the front though, I would love to hear them! The back already has wire stretched across is, but there's nothing on the front.

Stacey said...

I love the tractor...and best of all, it was free. If I was a chicken that only had 8 weeks on earth, I'd like to live there!