Thursday, June 11, 2009

shades of Tom Terrific...

Given the reality of life at Acorn Cottage, there is a lot of creative use of salvaged materials here. I decided to see if I could get a little further on the HennyPenny summerhouse project... (having mown the weeds down in the open back part of the yard, I want to move her into a chicken tractor for the summer, to give me a chance to deal with the VERY TALL and shrublike weeds in the current hen yard, which will need to be cut down with loppers rather than my weedwhacker).

I've been gradually putting together a small chicken tractor from the remnants of her original "homeless chicken" house. It still needs corner bracing, and a nice solid perch, but the biggest head-scratcher was that it needed a nest box. I've been cogitating on this for several weeks now, and today, having been thoroughly trounced by a studio project that was being extremely uncooperative, I had an idea for something completely different in both scale and materials, a project that may be the most goofy-looking thing I've built since I was a child.

I was inspired in part by this article on simple nest boxes, and also by the nest box sizing suggested here. I had initially thought of reusing an old kittylitter bucket, but was having some aesthetic qualms about looking at that all summer, when I saw a large black plastic flowerpot. Hmmm. the lid from the kittylitter bucket fits tidily just inside the flowerpot... It didn't take too long to cut a hen sized doorway into the side of the plant pot. But how to keep her from standing atop the nest box, with disagreeable consequences. I had tried out several possible materials to make barriers, when I realised that I could cut the bottoms out of two plant toting trays, and wire pieces of that heavy plastic grid into a conical topper for the lid, which was also wired tightly to the lid.

I often use bits of wire to connect things in the yard. All my small hen waterers have wire "harnesses" that wrap around the bottle and make a loop at the top so I can hang them in convenient places. (The big 3 gallon galvanised waterer just sits on a stack of bricks at a good height) And I've wired the panels of the chicken tractor together, as well as attaching the roof supports to the sides (a large hinged panel of heavy wire fencing, with the edges crimped back for reinforcement.

The whole contraption looks pretty kludged-together, but my final inspiration took it over the edge into the ridiculous - the top of the cone, where all these cut chunks of mesh come together, was really rough and awkward, so I added a plastic funnel to make a smoother "finial" and help hold the shape together. Now it looks goofy, in a way that reminds me of the
Tom Terrific cartoons that I watched in the morning as a very small child.

It is worthwhile to remember that clever thinking and scavenging will get you pretty far, when the piggybank is pretty empty

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