JustPicked Farms

  (Emporia, Kansas)
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Life and Death

March 22

Life and Death

This week has been dramatically eventful at JustPicked Farms.  Last week while I was at work, my daughter called to tell me that something had killed two of our free-range hens.  She didn’t see what killed them but at first she thought it was a hawk, because she saw one picking at one of the carcasses.  Personally, I believe the hawk was just getting an easy meal, and it was actually a dog that killed them (not mine, she was indoors).  Both chickens had been bitten at the necks and had their necks broken, and only one looked like anything had actually started to eat it.  This type of killing for sport rather than food seems like the work of a domestic dog to me, since coyotes or foxes would have eaten or carried off their meal.

With that sad event, I had to make the difficult decision to no longer let our hens free range while I’m away from home.  We quickly got one of our new hoop houses ready, since their existing henhouse would have been a little small for them to be spending so much time in.  This weekend we built nest boxes to go inside the hoop house.  I still plan to let the hens out whenever we’re home and working outdoors, but I’ll keep a shotgun a little nearer by in case of predators.

IMG_1272This past weekend we were back and forth to Kansas City on Friday, Saturday and Sunday for a conference, so we didn’t have much time to work on the high tunnel or poultry hoop houses, other than getting the nest boxes built.  However, while Martin was in his conference sessions, I was free to shop!  I stopped in a Tractor Supply store to buy some feed for the chickens, and found that they had chicks and ducklings for sale.  I couldn’t pass up the opportunity, so I bought 6 new ducklings.  The sign on the bin said “assorted”, so I don’t know for sure what type they are, but by their markings they look like Rouans, which when they grow up look like a large mallard.

Ducks should be a good addition to the garden, since in addition to eating slugs, snails, and other pests, they won’t damage the crops as much as chickens would.  And, they’ll give us occasional yummy duck eggs!

Mourning the loss of the hens, celebrating the arrival of the ducklings,  trying to keep all things in perspective -

Cheryl

 
 

Building a hoop house for pastured poultry - Part 2

March 15

Building a hoop house for pastured poultry – Part 2

vertical supportThe first part of this series covered building the base for the hoop house.  This part covers making the “hoop” part of the house.  The first step is to add a 1x4 vertically to the center of the back edge of the frame.  We used Gorilla Glue and screws to hold it in place.  We also set the end of the 1x4 flush against the floor, to make it easier to hold straight while we were gluing and screwing it.  Once we got the screws in, we cut the bottom of the 1x4 even with the bottom of the frame.

Fence staplesNext, we took a 4X16 cattle panel, available at the local farm and ranch store, bent it into an arch and aligned the back edge of it with the back edge of the hoop house base.  We fastened it to the outside of the hoop house base with fence staples.

A second cattle panel was bent into an arch and placed overlapping the first one slightly at the center of the house, and aligned with the front edge of the hoop house base.  This was also fastened to the base with fence staples.

Since the cattle panels had a tendency to want to spring back out to their original flat shape, we tied twine from one side to the other to keep them arched while we stapled them to the frame.string and hog rings

Where the two panels overlapped, we used hog rings to connect them together.

Pipe strappingWe adjusted the cattle panels so that the top of the arch visually aligned with the vertical 1x4 at the back, and attached them together with plumber’s strapping and a couple of screws.

In the next segment in this series, we’ll show how to build the end walls and door for the hoop house.  The chicks and turkey poults will be here in April, so we really need to keep moving with this project!

Until next time, have fun, and think Spring – Cheryl

 
 

Building a hoop house for pastured poultry - Part 1

February 13

Building a hoop house for pastured poultry – Part 1

JustPicked Farms is planning to raise chickens and turkeys for meat this summer, and we’re planning to pasture them in movable hoop houses, moving them each day to a fresh spot of pasture.  We did some investigation of others’ houses on the Internet, and used that as a basis for our design:

IMG_1128 In this post, we’ll show you how to build a sturdy, lightweight, easy to pull base for this hoop house, and we’ll continue in next week’s post.  To make the base, you will need:

(2) 2x4, 10 ft, and (2) 2x4, 8 ft treated lumber.  If you prefer to avoid treated lumber, you should use a rot-resistant lumber such as cedar, redwood, or cypress. 

(2) 10 ft pieces of 2” PVC drain pipe (optional, but recommended)

(4) 16 x 16 x 22 5/8 triangles made from 3/4 inch plywood

measuring tape

pencil

Jig saw or hand saw

Table saw

heat gun or propane torch

clamp

drill

screws

power screwdriver

Gorilla glue (a polyurethane-based glue that cures when exposed to moisture.  We’ve found this glue to be quite long-lasting, with excellent hold, and impervious to weather, making it great for outdoor projects.)

IMG_1232 1.  On the 10-foot pieces of treated lumber, mark 1 inch from the corner on one end, and 6 inches along one side.  Cut this off with the jigsaw or hand saw.  These will be the runners, like on a sled, that the hoop house will slide on.  Cutting off the corner keeps the runner from digging into the ground as you drag the hoop house to its new spot.  Repeat this for each end of the 10-foot pieces of lumber.IMG_1235

2.  On the table saw, cut a strip out of each of the pieces of PVC pipe, so the pipe will fit over the short side of the runner. 

 

 

 

3.  Clamp it down, and use the heat gun or torch to heat the pipe at the point where your board begins to angle.  Be IMG_1234careful if you use a torch to not heat it too much and burn it.  Once the pipe is warm, bend it to follow the board.  Do this at both ends of both boards.

IMG_12374.  To fasten the pipe to the board, drill through the pipe, and fasten it with a few screws.

 

 

 

IMG_12385.  Here’s what the bottom runner looks like with the pipe attached.  You can omit the pipe if you IMG_1239want, but I think it makes the hoop house slide across the grass more easily.

6.  Measure 6 inches from the one end of the runner board, and glue and screw one of the triangles onto the opposite side from the pipe.  Do the same with the remaining triangles.  If the weather is cold, set your glue bottle in a bowl of hot water to warm it.  It will squeeze out of the bottle much more easily and spread better.

7. Now you’ve got both your runner boards with the pipe and triangles on them.  Flip them over so that the pipe is facing up, and the triangles of one runner board are pointing to the triangles on the other runner board, and place them about 8 feet apart on a good flat floor.

 

8.   Take your 8 foot treated lumber, and place one on edge, underneath the triangles at one end of your runner boards.  Line up the IMG_1240edge of the triangle with the edge of the 8 foot board, and make sure the end of the 8 foot board is even with the outside edge of the runner board.  Glue and screw the triangles to this board.  Do the same with the other 8 foot board on the other end of your runner boards.IMG_1241

9.  Flip the whole thing over so the plastic pipes are once again on the bottom.  Now you have a sturdy, lightweight, smooth pulling base for your poultry hoop house.

Next week, we’ll continue with Part 2 of building our pastured poultry hoop house.  Stay tuned!

 
 
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