Monthly Archives: November 2010

>A New Home

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The chicken coop and pen are nearly done. The first couple of pictures above are self-explanatory; the third shows a number of fishing lines that we strung up over top the pen area to psychologically thwart raptors from eating chicken for dinner.

I began installing interior and perimeter fencing yesterday. The perimeter will be 2 courses of 4′ stucco wire for 8′ total height. It’s cheaper than official 7.5′ high tensile deer barrier and a lot easier to work with. Unlike my experience with polyethylene, deer won’t push through underneath. To keep the chickens from entering the row crop area, I redeployed some of the 7.5′ poly fencing that I previously bought. I’m also using it to break the chicken area into 2 or 3 large pens, to enable rotational grazing. Chickens will go underneath this fencing, too, unless a foot or so of it is bent 90 degrees at the bottom along the ground and weight placed upon it. This apparently will work for deer as well especially after grass has grown through the holes. Stucco wire and plastic end up being the same price per foot but the plastic fence will be a lot shorter since it starts out being 6″ narrower and it loses a foot at the bottom, leaving only 6.5′ of height which I feel is too tempting for a deer.

My head threatens to explode when I think about all the possible permutations of fence configurations that might be nice to have next summer. But they all entail visualizing where human, chicken and vehicle movement will be and how many and how wide gates have to be. Right now we have a grand total of one 5′ gate. I plan to install another gate that width right next to it to allow the passage of a truck. Of course, that will mean more dual gates like that if the truck is to pass to other sections of the farm such as the portion way down below where the greenhouses will be going.

For now, I’ll concentrate on only the portions that need to be done to contain the chickens and to exclude the deer from the veggies. After our winter vacation, I’ll begin building our first greenhouse. Then I’ll complete the required perimeter fencing before reconsidering other interior chicken pen configurations. In this calculus, we’ll have to determine where our wash area will be. We might be able to fit it into the garage with some careful space management or, for the price, it might be wise to erect another of those garages since the first one hasn’t blown away even though we’ve have some substantial winds.

But, for tomorrow, I might have a fairly large order of salad greens to harvest since, apparently, we’re the only ones on the island who have any.

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>On building codes

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First, the weather. We got another dump of snow yesterday which I was able to remove around noon. More snow came later yesterday but not enough to cause a problem. And, at 8C, we’re in full natural melt mode now so we’ll be ok for at least a week.

And now to the regularly scheduled rant.

It seems to be a popular past time in every place I’ve lived to build or re-build stuff with no government oversight … or its inherent cost. My landlord seems to be an exception to the rule where he actively involves the building inspectors for every facet of his new and reno projects. He says that the inspectors take lots of time on multiple trips to make sure everything is done according to current standards. If he ever sells his property, he’ll have lots of paperwork proving his diligence and, for that, he’ll likely be rewarded financially in excess of his expenses.

For the construction of small outbuildings, most people figure that nothing bad could happen so why bother? Examples of these abound on the property used by our farm. I sometimes imagine Mike Holmes showing up and, hours later, presiding over the torn-down ruins of virtually everything on the property. A tractor shack sheathed with rain-soaked particle board (who knew it rained in a rain forest?); a bike shack whose bottom 4′ is comically overbuilt but whose poorly-home-built-extruck-cap roof was greatly strengthened recently by a double ply of 6 mil polyethylene; and, of course, a kids’ playhouse cum chicken coop which seemed to have been well-built … until the appropriate lumber ran out and the builder had to make do with 1X4.

The visible parts inside the structure are a combination of decent construction and sketchiness. Some 1X4 at the ends but mostly 2X4. Or so I thought. Yesterday I decided to pull off an interior sheet of 1/8″ wood panelling so I could use the extra 3.5″ stud space to recess some nesting boxes (the nesting boxes were originally … nesting boxes in the chicken coop cum tractor shack, before I hung them on a wall for use as small-object storage). The “space” part of stud space better describes what I found behind the panelling. A couple of mouse nests, miscellaneous dirt and wood chips and 3 sticks of 1X4, randomly spaced and oriented. I would be embarrassed to show that too. The visible open wall above and on either side of the panelling is 2X4 but the portion inside the wall, not so much.

My 10 minute job hanging the nesting boxes turned into more than an hour as I had to scrounge for 2X4’s all the while working in the very confined quarters of the chicken coop. I’m guessing that the other lower side wall, which is covered end to end with panelling, is of similar construction. The question is weather I want to deconstruct the perches I built onto that panelling and then rebuild that wall, too. After all, the playhouse, despite its dubious structure, has held up for many years of wind-, snow- and kid-load. It’s much sturdier now than before even if not uniformly so. I think I’ll leave it as is, at least for now.

Best not to think about the house…