Tag Archives: design

The wheels on the coop go round and round

Silkieland, the new coop, has optional wheels now.  I’d been moving it along laterally to give them fresh turf every couple days.  I could scoot it sideways by running back and forth, back and forth, end to end, shifting it a few inches at a time.  Moving it longways was out of question – it is not drag-able. I just ran out of room to move it sideways, moving it from one tree barrier to another.

Just in time, a treasured  friend swooped in, and listening to me talk about how I had to get wheels on this imminently, took action, taking away my scrap piece of galvanized conduit and old wheelbarrow wheels, boring holes for stop bolts and “cotter pins”, making it all work and coming back with a completed axle.  Awesome:)All I had to do was cut a notch in the bottom board, on the light end.  I lift that end enough to roll the axle in to the notch. Then that end is up 5″ ish off the ground.

Then I lift the (heavy with birds) coop end, and roll the whole thing.  Then I knock out the axle, unless I want all the birds oozing out underneath the gap  (which is ok sometimes) It works awesome!

The heavy end got a whole lot heavier though, like the fulcrum shifted majorly.  It was hard before, but with wheels nearly impossible.  I roped a loop and put that over my shoulders to get the difficulty level back down to hard.  It’s only for a few seconds, because it rolls admirably, even with the flat blown out tires.   This made me consider putting the axle notch on the heavy end, but then it still has to be lifted to get the axle under it.  Hmmm – more thought.  There’s options.

I want that axle to be fully and effortlessly detachable so that I can also use it on the next coop I build, which will be exactly like this one.

Just in time for the heat wave, I got the coop rolled under their fave pine tree for shade.

This coop/tractor is definitely my best design yet.  HW laughed and laughed when he looked inside.  He said it’s “like an apartment building!  You go down the hall and there’s rooms off to the side”.  But I know the birds like it because they lay eggs in all three “rooms”.  There isn’t a preferred suite, like the other coops all have- three nest boxes and they all want to use the same one.

Mini Coop’r

IMGP7159I’d been holding out for getting some steel to put a roof on the mini coop because I really wanted to make the roof/access significantly lighter.  No more heavy lifting.  But then, Arthur came through, and the first coop endured the storm without a hint of difficulty or damage.  Yay, sturdy and heavy – did not blow open or over.   I decided that weight is great, and put the same lead roof on the mini: wood, flat asphalt, and shakes.  Materials at hand win out again.  The whole coop is a little lighter because smaller and the lid is easier to open because it’s hinged at the low side of the slope.  Even though I slapped this one together more carelessly, it looks a bit nicer.  It certainly went together much faster – building a second version usually does.  I like the design- simple, secure, portable, does what it needs to.  How we are going to swap the birds into this coop is what could get a bit interesting.

(Mini coop complete, with shakes, not pictured)

Accessory shelves

Here are some little shelves we made for the kitchen.  So simple.

Curved piece of plywood with a little strip of Corex on the edge to hold stuff in, carved into the hard foam, and attached at one point to the window frame.  That’s all.

After it was all dry fit, I shot a squirt of expanding foam in the cut in the foam, then put the wood in to stay.  I figure since that stuff’s basically glue, it’s there to stay when it dries, and it oozes out around the edges and fills all the voids.

We made bigger ones on the other side anchored to the fridge side cabinet, and H.W. made a couple for his little zone.
The rest of the camper project

5-star Compost Accommodation


H.W. built a deluxe compost bin for our current hosts.

The wood was salvaged from twisted, warped and collapsing old raised beds, but it cooperated very well when cut down into shorter lengths.

Yes, pressure treated wood is not good for contacting any dirt you grow food in, but it was available, “up”-cyclable, and probably already finished its nasty copper leaching after some years of exposure.

The boxes are 5’, 4’, and 3’, based on the idea that the ideal volume for compost to reach cooking temperatures is 4’ cubed.  However, the initial box always reduces in the first weeks before it’s time to move to the second, so making that box bigger means you’ll more likely get a full second box.  The third box is more storage than active, so if it gets utilized, it will handily hold the reduced volume of the cooked-down second box.

Altogether, a beautifully executed design for a closed compost.  The front pieces lift out one at a time, and the lid for holding in moisture is loose boards, also easily removable.

I think it’s funny because it looks like a big dresser.  Take the bucket of food scraps out and throw them into the backyard sock drawer!

The Five-Pallet Compost rather on the opposite end of the luxury spectrum, but still functional.

Buttoning up the cupboards


Shelves look pretty scrappy loaded with stuff without doors.  Frantic with the visual noise of all our belongings in such a little living space, we had to get doors on all the cupboards.

I had the idea that we could use Coroplast for everything that would otherwise be a thin panel board, like all the side walls of the cupboards.  I got the idea from Ikea.  I’d seen coroplast used in the door panels of one of their cupboard choices.  At the time I was annoyed with it.  “That stuff’s so cheap, and they’re selling it for how much?”  But it did look sleek.  We’re talking about the corrugated plastic that’s used for election campaign signs everywhere.

I had to sell H.W. on it, since it’s a plastic product.  I figured it would be extremely lightweight, plenty strong, attractive in its simplicity, easy to wipe clean, wouldn’t harbour or spread mold, and perhaps above all, installing it would be dreamy.  It was flexible, and it could be cut up with a knife, instead of taking multiple runs at it with a jigsaw (making all the curves).

It was all those things and more.  Oh, it was so easy to install.  I didn’t have to move.  I’d cut my piece, that took about 10 seconds, then carve away at the foam to make a slit to fit it in, then shave my piece a little (repeat, repeat), get it all snug in, and then slice off the outer edge if it was proud, all in situ.  Wow.  I was thrilled with that, thinking of the back and forthing with the saw if we were using wood- worse even than I’d imagined.  It was finicky work, but still went smooth and faster than anything else had.  I have a lot of respect for the original builders who were working with an uninsulated shell.  I screwed it on with wafer screws, which look flashy and modern.

The thing I didn’t expect, that I realized as soon as I got a couple sides up, was that it lets light through!  Instead of creating little caves when the sides go up, the insides of the cabinets are flooded with natural light still.  Continue reading Buttoning up the cupboards

Moving right along to the inside- camper floor and framing


It’s more comfortable to be working with wood again, that’s for sure. I hated the bondo and fiberglass. Unnatural stuff.

Now we’re into things that I recognize, we’re hitting the ReStore hard for various bits of wood. On this nearly dollhouse scale, scrap leftovers are more than adequate. For instance, we got our lovely countertop out of a partial box of bamboo floor.

The actual floor H.W. put together at the same time out of four pieces of salvaged hardwood click- the good kind, 3/16 of real hardwood, refinishable, on a plywood T+G base (as opposed to a digital photograph of wood glued onto a piece of composite plastic, like most laminate floor is).

H.W. glued the four pieces together and clamped them with truck straps, and then we had the central floor, floating on the rigid styrofoam.

Total cost for fabulous countertop and hardwood floor? $10. Such is the glorious bounty of the Re-store. Continue reading Moving right along to the inside- camper floor and framing