Sunday, August 11, 2013

From Supermax to Chicken Condo

...I've had it backwards all these years. I'm not exploiting [chickens]. They're safe, happy, warm and fed. I'm the one who's miserable....Chickens have gotten humans to work for them. -Lierre Kieth on feeding her chickens on a frozen January morning

For seventeen years, my garage has been accumulating spiders, dust and junk. I've been dodging nails sticking out of the wall in near darkness. Yet after all that time, I spent the weekend cleaning it out and refurbishing it. I'm not moving, I haven't gotten more stuff to store in there, and it hasn't become a rat's nest (not literally, anyway). No, I'm getting it ready for chickens: chickens exploiting humans, indeed.

When the chickens move in, they'll need a way to get from the garden into their new condo. To that end, I took off the north window, ripped off two layers of screen with a hammer and smashed the louvers off. (It was just as well--the sill and part of the window framing were so rotten I threw them in the compost heap.)

Before: Supermax. (Different window, same setup.)
I took off another screen, cleaned up the window, pounded the frame straight, replaced a piece of the garage framing, and put back the window. It's held in place with a barrel latch at the top and some hardware that was above the window. If I need to clean it again, or take it off for more ventilation, it'll be easy. 

After: Even my view of the back yard isn't this good.
There used to be hinges on the window and I was excited to add them, but my hundred-year-old garage has settled and nothing is square. They wouldn't have worked. It might be just as well: an opening of almost nine square feet could let in too much weather. A few minutes after I got the window back in, a downpour came out of the north, the direction the window faces. There was even a little hail. The inside of the garage stayed pretty dry, even next to the window.

Next, I started taking out nails: mostly large, randomly placed, and sticking out with no apparent purpose other than to gouge someone. I literally needed a crowbar to get some of them out. They filled an eight-ounce plastic cup.

Louvre with nails that held the screen in place.
Not all of the nails were sticking out: some of them held shelf brackets to the studs. I had to swing my two-foot crowbar like a baseball bat to get them off. Didn't these people ever hear of pegboard or modular shelving? Or overconstraining? In any event, getting rid of the shelves made another foot of space down the length of the garage.

Nail-free zone.
I happen to like modular shelving. I also like saving money and re-using items, so the plan is to use five-gallon plastic buckets for nests and sturdy, stackable shelves for the condo.
Work in progress.
Next: I need to get more five-gallon buckets and shelves and then build a screen around the area so the chickens stay out of the rest of the garage. Then I need to enclose the chicken garden. My toe is feeling better, so I think I'll be up to it next weekend.


Lowcarb team member said...

Things are taking shape nicely, those chickens are going to love it. The view from the window looks good, I like looking at green it's quite soothing. As I type this the trees I can see out of my window are, yes, you've guessed it ... GREEN.
Those chickens are going to love it - they should reward you with plenty of eggs.

All the best Jan

Lori Miller said...

Thanks, Jan, I hope some chickens find a happy home there. The tree is a New Mexico locust: fast growing, with small leaves that come out late, drop early and break down easily, and fragrant white blooms. The tree doesn't take much water. The downside: it has inch-long thorns. Nature's nails!