Monday, 28 April 2014

Operation: Chicken Fort - Fundamental Foundations of our Fortification

We are always looking for ways to maximize the use of our farm. At the end of the day, it is the use of the farm that provides the money which allows us to live here. Some ideas are crazy. Some ideas are good. A few are excellent and need to be pursued.

We are in the business of wholesaling laying hens (layers). We have a supplier which raises them up island. We pick-up our batches four times a year and they are often sold out well before the pick-up date. Cliff and Susan own a number of layers at their place and make a decent profit selling their eggs to local restaurants. Locally grown food is the bread and butter of what we do as a farm, and Victoria is big on it's locally grown food.

So Cliff put forth the idea to have laying hens. We decided on a number which was both manageable and profitable and set to work. We needed somewhere to put them though and we needed it fast as the next batch is arriving in May.

We decided that the area of land adjacent to our backyard is the ideal location. We can access it from the back yard and the chickens would have a large run which is heavily wooded. He came out a few weeks back and drew up the plans for a chicken coop. This weekend we started on it.

The plan was to place level footings and post up a level base to build on. When I came out to start with the others on Saturday morning, we had already laid a few footings. The plan for the morning was to lay the rest. I believe we had fourteen in total to lay on varying grades.

Here is where we started. The first few footings are laid.
Josh and I proceeded to work on this until Cliff arrive. He picked up the truck and headed out to Slegg's to pick up the base materials we would need. Josh and I went about putting in the footings and were later joined by a tired Marc, who was just wrapping up his series of night shifts at a local bakery.

Using gravel, sand, and dirt, we were able to create a level footing.
By the time lunch rolled around we just wrapped up the footings. Cliff arrived and after lunch we unloaded the materials and started laying the actual footings.

It looks off but they are still being adjusted.
We proceeded to square up the footings by starting at our high point and working across. There were many adjustments but we got the posts framed in to a point of being almost perfectly square. Across the whole base we maintained a level grade. We finished up framing and further secured the frame with more screws.

Once we were satisfied with the frame, we began cutting and placing the joists. This would provide the strength to the structure, as well as give us a way to secure the plywood to the base frame.

Our joists went in cleanly with little deviation in length.
We came in from both sides to the middle to address a slight bow in the back side.
When we framed it in, we realized that the initial measurements did not account for the outside boards. This would make our 12' x 24' main chamber 3" longer on each side. Despite this we proceeded, but it cost us one of our long floor joist boards when we framed the small entry/feed room. This left us one board short of completing the joists. So we wrapped up Saturday with one long joist and the 4 short ones to go.

Our nearly completed base.
Sunday is always a busy day. Church takes up the morning for all of us so work would have to wait until later. By late afternoon, Cliff managed to make another Slegg's trip and pick up the remaining joist and all of the framing materials. He could not stay as it was almost time for some dinner plans so he left.

I popped down to finish up the joists. Marc joined me and we were able to wrap up that part of the floor. Unfortunately, the mis-measurement from before prevented us from laying the flooring. This would make our floor 3" shy of  fully covering the base. So we rounded off our weekend having completed the most crucial part... a solid, square, and level base.

The base with all joists installed and a few plywood sections laid out to measure.

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