From GREENHOUSE to BIRDHOUSE

October 11, 2016

From GREENHOUSE to BIRDHOUSE

Another fun project for the kids and I… this time in the Garden area where we worked over the top of a planted area to erect a Winter home for our Freedom Ranger Meat Chickens. These are no ordinary birds, so they’re getting an extra-ordinary home.

We started with the foundation and framework by using 1-1/4” pvc pipe that we painted for solar protection and connected with 2 x 4 pressure-treated lumber. Those are 30 foot lengths of pipe that are spaced every 3 feet apart to make a 20’ wide by 60’ long house. We also put a 42” high wire fabric all around the edges to keep out any critters that seem to enjoy dining on the chickens as much as we do. This wire extends a few inches underground as well to inhibit the curious diggers.
Our next building step is to roll the Greenhouse fabric up on the edges to then pull it over the top of the framework, but it just so happened that the 9:30 bells rang to call us into a little break for prayer.  That turned out to be an important part of this project, because were about to need all the help we could get.
So here we are rolling up the fabric edge over a 64 foot long piece of 1” pvc pipe. We were going to glue the edge of the fabric to the pipe (which failed miserably), but changed over to using screws at every 18” along the pipe to fasten the fabric to it. The other side of the fabric will receive the same treatment with the pipe you can see laying there in the photo above. These pipes provide several practical functions which include the ability to roll the finished sides of the Greenhouse up and down. We roll up the sides during the day to receive the necessary ventilation, while closing up the sides at night and on rainy days to allow for a dry, warm climate inside the greenhouse when its cold or wet outside. The chickens are allowed to roam around and graze outside most of the time, while being offered a cozy home and sleeping area during inclement weather and/or cold nights.
Now for the big moment - Pulling the translucent fabric over the frame… This took all hands on deck as you can see. And good thing for those prayers, because we needed to stretch a fabric length of 60’ over a frame of 60’. That sounds correct, but actually we needed the fabric to be quite a bit longer in order to wrap the fabric around the end pieces of the frame to clamp it into place. That wouldn’t have been so difficult except that this fabric is a custom ordered, single piece of material that was shipped out to us from the East Coast and could not be lengthened. Well, I discovered the problem earlier but just continued along thinking that we’d have to figure something out when we got to it - and now we got to it… So how in the world were we going to fasten this giant, single piece of fabric to the ends of the frame?

As it turns out, the good folks who shipped us the material cut it a little long (Just in Case) - 60’-3” to be exact. But that still was oh - so close, but just not long enough… but before abandoning all hope, we then discovered that the frame length was just under the 60‘ length by 2 inches. So that gave us a total of 5 extra inches which turned out to be the perfect length for us to wrap the end-wall of the framework and clamp it to the fabric without even having to cut the fringe off the edge of the fabric. Wow!!! Okay - luck, karma, divine providence - you’re welcome to attach whatever name to that gift that you like, but for me…a sigh of relief along with a humble thank you seemed quite appropriate at the time.
And here we are all done with the new Greenhouse/Birdhouse. You can now get a good look at the rolled up sides allowing daytime ventilation for the chickens. Also interesting are the end-walls which received a separate piece of the special fabric, tucked under the top piece and clamped to the same end wall pvc framework so the rainwater will gracefully flow over the fabric, keeping everything clean and dry inside.

We built the greenhouse over an actual part of our garden, so you can see some greenery on the floor in the back area. These are summer squash and pumpkin plants that now provide organic veggies to the chickens while they’re inside, and they get grass and crickets around the garden when they’re outside. Another good example of working with the laws of nature to increase production while minimizing the need for chemical pesticides or fertilizers.
Family Farm Freedom, Freshness, and Flavor -
That's what we're going for here... Amen! 

Sent with Blessings and Peace from all of us to all of you, 
The Zeiter Family - Phil, Alicia, Ty, Zach, Tia, Ali, Joe, Mikee, and Nina -
Your Family Friendly Farmers



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