I tell you the truth, I am the Fred Sanford of farming and I don't care who knows it.
I can build, fabricate, fashion, or make something useful out of just about anything -- especially if it looks destined for the junkyard. Reduce, reuse, and recycle aren't new environmentally friendly ideas, farmin' folks have used the concepts of "use it up, wear it out, and make do" for years. I grind these principles into the ground all the while being mocked by naysayers... but friends, really sometimes "good enough is good enough." And after the mocking dies down and they see some of my "projects" work.... well, there's a new tune playin'.
So it goes when you desperately need to hillbilly up some kind of quick housing for the farm critters. In the beginning The Big Man, who has sold some kind of construction materials his entire career, was horrified at the slapped-together, crap-tastic creations I've come up with to house various farm critters. He was variably shaking with "that's not how you do it" rage when I pulled together the Hog Hut 2008 with 3 pallets, some 2x4s, and some shingles that (I kid you not) I dug out of the ground. Its still standing and has kept pigs dry this whole time.
I'm telling you this not to brag on my cheapness (altho I do), but to encourage you to not let lack of materials stop you from getting the job done. Instead of heading to the big hardware store to pay top dollar for materials, check around and see what you have - then rip it apart, pull the nails out, and get down to business.
To that end, yesterday I built a new turkey brooder out of nothing but materials on hand and a little ingenuity. It took me about an hour and I used my favorite tools - the big hammer, the level, and the dog. Mostly the dog just kept me company but I like it when he's around. Here he is goosin' it up:
Back to business. The problem we needed to solve was shutting up one of the younger turkey hens. Literally. She has been screaming for days. Who knows where she was laying but some varmint kept getting her eggs. We figured if we could confine her, give her a safe place to nest, and oh.. about 8 or 10 eggs, she'd shut up and sit her fluffy bottom down. We had a little area outside of one of the turkey coops that was just wasted space so I framed in a little brooder for her. Here's how:
Using the level and the cordless screw gun, I put up some 2x4's to support the roof - remember that broody hens like to feel like they are hidden. Since this was in a little space between the big coop and the doorway I didn't have to worry about building walls.
I dug thru our pile of scrap lumber and $0.51 pieces from Home Depot's "cull" lumber bargain bin for something that I could use for a roof and screwed them in place.
I would have stopped there and just hung an old blanket or towel over the front to further "hide" her... but then I remembered that I had some old cabinet doors...... so
I looked around and dug a 4x4 out of the dirt and used it as a bottom "sill" or bottom piece, secured the door as a front panel with a few screws...
...and voila! One turkey brooder made to order. She will be inside, locked, safe, and dry. And the little ones can use the enclosed space outside the brooder to run around until they can go outside.
I put some straw in the brooder, added some turkey eggs that were laid outside, chased the turkey hen around the yard 3 times until she went INTO the turkey house....and she's out there right now. She hasn't sat on the nest yet but she fussed around all day arranging it just the way she wants it. And she's been quiet most of the day.
In other news, Little Nibbles gets an "F-" of mommy-ing. More on that tomorrow as we are still sorting out the situation. Luckily the mini-pops are OK and we figured out they aren't nursing enough in time before anyone fell over dead.
* Debbie and Vita are milking like demons. Vita has figured out that yes, she will have to get up ON the milking stand. Corn is for girls who get up ON the stand.
* Mollee had another run in with one of the Barred Rocks, we saved her tho and she got back on her nest.
* Talk about bad mommy's... I get an "F-" from Dash. I got her up today under the guise of getting a bath... but really I was distracting her so I could take up her duck eggs and replace them with the laying meat hen's eggs. Looks like May 7th we'll have more "mutt dinner chick." Dash, of course, knew her own eggs were replaced and gave me an unforgiving look. I was crushed.
* No luck with the trap for whatever is digging under the duck garage. We'll try again tonite.
* Re-secured the net-fencing for the Upper Garden East.. the hens had snuck in and dug around in the potatoes.
* Ginger continues to thrive and is just plain silly. She has graceful, long legs, and a sunny personality. Here she is being silly in a big tub. That's Vita's big nose.
And now we are ready for the storms that are coming. Hold onto your hats, folks, it gonna be a blow!