Garden, chicken coop, and solar project (lots of pictures)

Discuss lifestyle changes to better survive disasters. This category is for topics pertaining to being self reliant such as DIY, farming, alternative energy, autonomous solutions to water collection and waste removal, etc.

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Re: Garden, chicken coop, and solar project (lots of picture

Post by Blitzen2k5 » Mon Jun 10, 2013 12:41 pm

Benny wrote:
Dawgboy wrote:Sorry about the pink sock. Chicks mostly don't survive that. What breed of hens did you get?


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We got four different breeds... I know there are Rhode Island Reds, easter eggers, Orpingtons, and .. uh .. one other one. :)

The wife picked them out, she did all the research on the breeds. I'm just building the coop. ;) She was careful to select breeds with mild personalities, low tendencies for broodiness, and good egg production.
I have always loved the barred rock or plymouth rock breed. My grandmother had dozens. They were good dual purpose birds. Both egg and meat birds.
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Re: Garden, chicken coop, and solar project (lots of picture

Post by Benny » Fri Jun 14, 2013 11:42 pm

I've been bad about taking pictures this week, but I've been busy. I got all of the rafters cut and ready to go. Tonight was the night - after work, I hit the coop hard and started putting rafters up. They weren't perfect, but again, this is a chicken coop, not Trump Towers. Hand cutting the rafters actually turned out better than I expected.

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Once the rafters were up, I cut and installed blocks between them. This helps keep them plumb and adds stability so they won't twist. Notice that the rafters do not match up with the studs - I had the choice of either installing one less rafter and having them be over 16 inches on center, or add one more and have about 14.25" on center. I opted for overkill; seven rafters it is.

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That took quite a while, as I was gluing and screwing each one. When the Liquid Nails sets, those things aren't going to move anywhere. Once I got the blocks on the upper and lower plates installed, I moved onto a set of blocks running up the center of the span:

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These blocks serve two purposes: they add more stability to the rafters, and they give me another point to fasten the roofing panels to. The span on these rafters is very short, only about 4.5 feet, but I'm not very skilled at this, so any additional strength I can build in is good. :)

I finally ran out of daylight and called it quits, but I'm ready to go tomorrow - the roofing panels will go on, and hopefully some of the exterior sheathing as well!
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Re: Garden, chicken coop, and solar project (lots of picture

Post by Benny » Tue Jun 18, 2013 8:02 am

The past four days have been [mostly] productive. We got rained out on Saturday, but we were able to pick up almost all of the remaining materials for the coop itself. Certainly enough to get the roof finished, the walls sheathed, the windows in, and the exterior wrapped.

I got the overhangs framed out on both the east and west sides of the roof:

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Once the overhangs were done, we got the decking up. We used 15/32" plywood due to cost. I'd rather use 3/4", but that was twice the price. There's a little wave in the deck, but that'll smooth out a bit with the fascia boards, the roofing panels, and some extra blocking I'm going to add underneath to help support the seams a bit more.

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After cutting the roofing felt to length (plus a generous overlap), I got that installed. I actually rigged up a swiss seat and threw a rope over a temporary 2 x 4 on the high edge, and use the rope to both make sure I didn't slide screaming off the side, as well as to have something to lean back against as I nailed.

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We called it a night after the felt went up.

The next day, we sheathed the east and west walls. The window we found on Craigslist for the west wall pretty much IS the west wall, so we just sheathed that with scraps. The window went in without an issue, it's just tacked in until tonight when I'll level and shim it properly.

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The east wall was sheathed with a full sheet cut to shape, and I'll go back and cut out the opening for the nesting boxes later.

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Re: Garden, chicken coop, and solar project (lots of picture

Post by jdev » Tue Jun 18, 2013 12:11 pm

Lookin' good!

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Re: Garden, chicken coop, and solar project (lots of picture

Post by phalanx » Tue Jun 18, 2013 12:15 pm

Your chicken coop is better constructed than most houses.
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Re: Garden, chicken coop, and solar project (lots of picture

Post by Tobias05 » Tue Jun 18, 2013 12:24 pm

phalanx wrote:Your chicken coop is better constructed than most houses.
Yes. Excellent work.

...reminds me of the time I was working on our utility closet and I found out that new wall the PO built in the middle of the former living room had been secured to drywall, instead of a stud :clap:

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Re: Garden, chicken coop, and solar project (lots of picture

Post by Benny » Tue Jun 18, 2013 12:51 pm

Thanks for all the compliments, folks. :)

I'm farrrrr from an expert on this, but I try very hard to do it right (when I can afford it, and when I know how). I kick myself every day - my father was a carpenter that knew how to do *all* of this, and do it well. I kick myself because I should have paid more attention and learned from his trade before he passed away. But, back then, I wasn't interested in any of it...

Ah so, the 20/20 and the hindsight.
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Re: Garden, chicken coop, and solar project (lots of picture

Post by phalanx » Tue Jun 18, 2013 3:11 pm

Benny wrote:Thanks for all the compliments, folks. :)

I'm farrrrr from an expert on this, but I try very hard to do it right (when I can afford it, and when I know how). I kick myself every day - my father was a carpenter that knew how to do *all* of this, and do it well. I kick myself because I should have paid more attention and learned from his trade before he passed away. But, back then, I wasn't interested in any of it...

Ah so, the 20/20 and the hindsight.

I found myself in the same situation, but it seems like plenty of it sank in. Your electrical work looks very nice, and those overbuilt rafter blocks will probably last a few hundred years!
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Re: Garden, chicken coop, and solar project (lots of picture

Post by Benny » Tue Jun 18, 2013 3:53 pm

phalanx wrote:... Your electrical work looks very nice, ...
Electrical I can handle. :) While I never went through an apprenticeship, I did work on an electrician's crew for a while. So that particular arena is handled. I don't have much experience framing, just what little I absorbed from my father and what I've learned remodeling at home and working on the coop. So far so good.
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Re: Garden, chicken coop, and solar project (lots of picture

Post by Halfapint » Wed Jun 19, 2013 6:25 pm

stuff like this makes me so giddy! Cant wait to get out of an apartment and into a house. Would love to get a little land with a garden chickens and even some small goats or something. So for now I shall drool at everyones projects!
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Re: Garden, chicken coop, and solar project (lots of picture

Post by Benny » Mon Jun 24, 2013 10:31 am

OK, it's been a really busy week, so I haven't been good about posting updates. Probably four of the last seven days, I've worked until it was dark (or even later) on the coop, so that doesn't leave a lot of extra time for the updates.

Here we go!

We picked up a relatively new vinyl window on Craiglist for the west end, so that plus the one we already had gave us all the windows. I sheathed out the west wall with scraps of sheathing I had left over, no reason to waste a full sheet on a wall that's almost entirely window.

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I moved on to sheathing part of the north wall.

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I had to wait on the eastern end of the north wall, as that's where the convenience outlets are, and the box needs to be replaced. I can't really sheath it without removing the box, and I needed a solid block of time for that.

On to sheathing the east and south walls:

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Once I got the sheathing done and the power fastened back to the coop and re-energized, it was time to climb back up on the roof. When we bought the roofing panels, we weren't sure how much of an overhang we were going to build on the west side, so we ended up one panel short. We'll pick that up tonight, as well as more wiggle mold to help support the ends. There's more play in them than I like, and more support will help them stand up to some of the brutal winds we get. They look pretty .. ehem .. wobbly now, but that'll get better once I have the addtional supports in, and I cut off the excess length on the low end.

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After spidering around on the roof for a few hours breaking my back, I was ready for some smaller tasks. I started whittling away on some little jobs, like cutting out the hole on the east wall for the nesting boxes and the triangle-shaped ventilation at the top of the wall.

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I also added some foam rope weatherstripping around the windows, just to take care of drafts.

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The south and east walls are looking pretty decent!

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Tonight, I'll be finishing the roof, and I might have time to start wrapping the outside of the coop.
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Re: Garden, chicken coop, and solar project (lots of picture

Post by Benny » Wed Jun 26, 2013 2:03 pm

More pictures soon - it's hard to keep up with documenting this project, as I'm up at 4:30AM for work, and then lately I've been working on the coop until 9:00 - 9:45PM, well past my bedtime. ;) Doesn't leave a lot of time for pictures and posting and such.

But anyway, I have made significant progress since the last update:
  • The roof is done, all of the plastic roofing panels have been installed and screwed down, along with additional wiggle mold at the top and bottom edges to offer additional support.

    The ceiling has been insulated and sheathed, so other than the painting, it's finished.

    I have insulated and shreathed portions of the south wall.

    Because of the portions of the south wall that have been sheathed, I have roughed in much of the interior electrical for lighting, convenience outlets, and power for the IP camera too.

    The triangle-shaped ventilation "windows" at the tops of the east and west walls have been cleaned up a bit, and with the interior sheathing done on the ceiling, I can frame out the openings and get the hardware cloth in. I don't need to worry about sealing them up for now; they will remain open throughout the summer for ventilation. I will have matching triangle-shaped 3/4" plywood inserts made up and ready to go for winter, so they will be sealed and insulated for warmth.

    Part of the east wall has been insulated, until I ran out of insulation. I'm picking the rest up tonight. If you're into investing in the stock market, LOW (Lowe's) is a pretty good bet right now. ;)
Tonight, I'm going to get that inside power stuff finished and energized, so I'll have lighting. No more working after dark with an LED headlamp...
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Re: Garden, chicken coop, and solar project (lots of picture

Post by ray » Thu Jun 27, 2013 1:11 pm

Your chicken coop looks solid, well built. Nice work. I'm planning on getting some chickens also and will have to do something like this soon.

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Re: Garden, chicken coop, and solar project (lots of picture

Post by DannusMaximus » Thu Jun 27, 2013 4:13 pm

Looks great, amigo!

What part of the country are you in? You've included a LOT of glass, will you need to figure out a way to insulate things over the winter or do you usually get mild winters? I never had glass windows in my coop, just wire windows with shutters, and I rigged some insulation over the interior to seal them against drafts. Our winters aren't brutal, but below zero is possible and days at a time below freezing isn't unheard of. I didn't have power out to my coop, though, so no external heating.

Maybe some drapes made out of old wool blankets tacked up over the interior?
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Re: Garden, chicken coop, and solar project (lots of picture

Post by Benny » Thu Jun 27, 2013 10:04 pm

DannusMaximus wrote:What part of the country are you in? You've included a LOT of glass, will you need to figure out a way to insulate things over the winter or do you usually get mild winters?
We're in the Kansas City area... We typically have a lot more heat than cold, but it's not rare to hit 0 every now and again. As we've researched this whole adventure, we've seen it mentioned several times that chickens are actually very resilient to cold (depending on breed, of course), and as long as you keep the drafts to a minimum, they actually do well in winter without much supplemental heat.

As such, I designed the coop with more thought to keeping them cool and well-ventilated in the hot-ass summer. If the winter proves too cold for them, I have several options:

1) I will have pre-made "blanks" for the triangle-shaped ventilation openings on the east and west wall. They will be installed when it gets cold, to hold in heat and stop drafts dead.

2) I'm insulating the entire coop.

3) We have a 20A circuit for the coop, shed, and electric fence energizer, so if we need to pop in a heat lamp or a small heater, that will be no problem.

Bottom line: we'll see how it goes and adjust on the fly. :)
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Re: Garden, chicken coop, and solar project (lots of picture

Post by DannusMaximus » Fri Jun 28, 2013 9:30 am

Benny wrote:
DannusMaximus wrote:What part of the country are you in? You've included a LOT of glass, will you need to figure out a way to insulate things over the winter or do you usually get mild winters?
We're in the Kansas City area... We typically have a lot more heat than cold, but it's not rare to hit 0 every now and again. As we've researched this whole adventure, we've seen it mentioned several times that chickens are actually very resilient to cold (depending on breed, of course), and as long as you keep the drafts to a minimum, they actually do well in winter without much supplemental heat.

As such, I designed the coop with more thought to keeping them cool and well-ventilated in the hot-ass summer. If the winter proves too cold for them, I have several options:

1) I will have pre-made "blanks" for the triangle-shaped ventilation openings on the east and west wall. They will be installed when it gets cold, to hold in heat and stop drafts dead.

2) I'm insulating the entire coop.

3) We have a 20A circuit for the coop, shed, and electric fence energizer, so if we need to pop in a heat lamp or a small heater, that will be no problem.

Bottom line: we'll see how it goes and adjust on the fly. :)
Heat was definitely more of a concern for us as well. I rigged up a fan via extension cord (very trailer park fabulous) for some additional summer cooling of my birds. I had rhode island reds, buffs, and americaunas, all were supposed to be cold tolerant and seemed to get along just fine with some draft stopping. Since I never really had enough birds to create a lot of body heat (we only had four), I was concerned about winter, but it didn't seem to be a huge issue. They basically sat right on top of each other on their roost and seemed to get along just fine. In our humid, awful summers you could definitely tell they were pissed! Lots of laying under shrubs, panting and looking like they were going to wilt!
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Re: Garden, chicken coop, and solar project (lots of picture

Post by Benny » Fri Jun 28, 2013 10:30 am

DannusMaximus wrote:Heat was definitely more of a concern for us as well. I rigged up a fan via extension cord (very trailer park fabulous) for some additional summer cooling of my birds. I had rhode island reds, buffs, and americaunas, all were supposed to be cold tolerant and seemed to get along just fine with some draft stopping. Since I never really had enough birds to create a lot of body heat (we only had four), I was concerned about winter, but it didn't seem to be a huge issue. They basically sat right on top of each other on their roost and seemed to get along just fine. In our humid, awful summers you could definitely tell they were pissed! Lots of laying under shrubs, panting and looking like they were going to wilt!
Yeah... I'm a lot more worried about our 104 degree days. I have a lot more options to deal with the cold, probably starting with just a heat lamp to raise the temperature in the coop by 10-15 degrees, and incremental improvements if that's not sufficient.

As for summer, well, they'll be shaded all the time, they'll have pretty decent ventilation inside the coop, and the entire run will be hardware cloth with roof overhead so no direct sun. The coop is elevated by at least 18", so they can congregate in the shade underneath there, too. If it gets *really* beastly and they start to struggle, I have an always-charged garden hose running by for the garden, so I could conceivably provide them with a mist curtain or something if they need it.
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Re: Garden, chicken coop, and solar project (lots of picture

Post by ZombieGranny » Fri Jun 28, 2013 2:21 pm

We used to give them ice water, and have 'puddles' for them to sit or wade in if they wanted.
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Re: Garden, chicken coop, and solar project (lots of picture

Post by Benny » Fri Jun 28, 2013 2:50 pm

Two excellent ideas, thank you!


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Re: Garden, chicken coop, and solar project (lots of picture

Post by Benny » Mon Jul 01, 2013 8:39 am

Another week, lots of progress!

The roof is finally done, thank the gods above.

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You can see how I wrapped the east and west edges of the roofing material around the corner of the roof:

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I got the ceiling completely sheathed.

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I insulated enough of the south wall to get a strip of sheathing up, and get the light fixture up in a temporary manner. That way, at least I could have light (and bugs, oh god the bugs!) while I worked after dark.

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The next day, I picked up more insulation on the way home, then insulated the rest of the walls:

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The electrical I roughed in the other night wasn't doing it for me, so I cleaned that up considerably after getting the strip of the south wall sheathed. The box on the right is the light switch, and the box on the left is a convenience outlet. It's sooooo nice to have power inside the coop now.

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I got back into sheathing the inside walls the next day. Because the south wall is mostly door and window, I just puzzle-pieced scraps together.

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The next morning, the north wall got the same treatment.

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At some point, my wife and I talked about putting the IP camera in the southeast corner. We had since changed our minds, but apparently it was stuck in my brain so I inexplicably roughed in the Sealtite for it. Since it wasn't needed, I just capped it off in a four-square box in case we need it further down the road.

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I moved on to the triangle-shaped vents on the east and west walls. It took some time and careful measuring, but I got them framed out with 2x4 lumber so they look nice and I have a solid base to install the hardware cloth.

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I punched through the 3/4" conduit for the network run, but since my hole saw won't go all the way through the wall in one pass, I had to do half of the hole from one side, and half from the other. I didn't get them lined up, of course, so I need to clean that up a bit.

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Before I called it a night, I cut and installed the 1/4" hardware cloth in the east vent. The furring strips I used to fasten it in are made of crap wood, so I used 2" exterior-grade screws with fender washers. That way, if the strip of wood splits, the hardware cloth as a whole will still be secure.

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I took some more pictures this weekend, but I haven't gotten them uploaded yet. I'll try to do so tonight.
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Re: Garden, chicken coop, and solar project (lots of picture

Post by Benny » Wed Jul 03, 2013 9:06 am

OK, here are the pictures I didn't get uploaded the other night.

I got the west triangle-shaped vent fixed up with hardware cloth. Now, both vents are done and ready for primer and paint.

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Next, I cut short 2x4 blocks that I mounted perpendicular to the sheathing at the end of each rafter. This did two things for me - it gave me a solid horizontal surface for screwing the soffit to, and it gave me an easy way to trim the rafters to length.

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I got a little Sawzall-crazy at the west end of the roof - it was not easy to trim those rafters, as I had to cut everything while holding the Sawzall upside down. I'll get it fixed up with another screw and some Quad to seal it up.

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Once the blocking was up and the rafters were trimmed to a consistent length, I mounted the north fascia board.

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I commandeered the second 1x4 for the soffit on the north - it was supposed to be the south fascia board, but I decided it would be better to get the north side done. Is it perfect? Nope. It's for chickens.

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I went ahead and got a coat of primer on the fascia and soffit. Another few coats and I'll be able to put up the gutter.

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I finished up the sheathing on the side of the west wall - since the wall is window, it was just a few annoying strips around the ouside of the window frame.

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And then I got part of the north wall primed.

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Re: Garden, chicken coop, and solar project (lots of picture

Post by Benny » Mon Jul 08, 2013 10:12 am

It's been a long several days, but another good chunk of progress.

I got the rest of the inside of the coop primed with the second coat of Kilz... I also installed a few "trim" pieces made of furring strips, they're not fancy, but they'll help clean up the appearance a bit. I have a few more to install, but those are just easy little 20-minute jobs that I'll work into the project.

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Then I moved onto the north gutter - I started with snapping a chalk line across the width of the fascia board, with about a 1/4" of drop across the 10' of length. Using that, I mounted the PVC brackets, cut the gutter and installed the drop outlet, and eventually installed the entire gutter. A nice finishing touch was screen going in the gutter to help keep leaves and debris out.

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And of course the gutter was about 3-4" short, because of the west overhang. I stubbornly refuse to buy another full 10' section of gutter just to fix that. I may break down and do it when I gutter the south roof, as that one will be short as well.

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I started to finish up the network and power runs for the IP camera that will be inside the coop, but it looks like I didn't take into account just how much clearance the weatherproof covers for those boxes require. I'll have to move the network box out of the way, but I got the power taken care of and lit up.

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The next day was horrible - I had to dig the holes for the posts in the chicken run. The ground out there is terrible stuff - compacted clay, hard as a rock. It took me almost six hours to dig the six holes, and I just about had nine hernias. One of the holes was so bad, that I cold only get about 1/4" into the clay with each shovel stab. Bleah.

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Yet another Lowe's run for the treated lumber - if you folks haven't bought Lowe's stock yet, there's still time! While it doesn't look like it, this was another $300...

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And then it was R-Day, the day the chicken run was going up. Durbin came over (he's the coworker that bored the holes for the footings) to help, he has a lot of experience with this. The extra set of hands sped things up about 100%, and his experience was immeasurable. What we did in about 3.5 hours, I couldn't have done in ten.

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So there you have it - the framing of the run is up, with the exception of the rafters. We had to steal the lumber I had bought for those to finish the framing, so there's be yet another Lowe's run tonight for more treated lumber. I'll get them marked and start cutting them, hopefully I'll get them installed in the next day or three and I can move on to siding the coop!
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Re: Garden, chicken coop, and solar project (lots of picture

Post by jdev » Thu Jul 11, 2013 6:40 pm

Impressive craftsmanship, as usual! Lookin' good, man!

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Stercutus
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Re: Garden, chicken coop, and solar project (lots of picture

Post by Stercutus » Thu Jul 11, 2013 6:57 pm

Those chickens are going to live in style. I would suggest making your wiring stoop proof so they don't poop all over it.
You go 'round and around it
You go over and under
I go through

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