Category Archives: Construction

What to do with a jacuzzi that you don’t use…

And the answer is…
Turn it into a tilapia pond!
Here’s our jacuzzi with hydroponics beds over the top ready to be filled with bags of clay pellets.  The plan is to pump the fish water up to the plants, allowing the plants to clean the water, then flowing back into the fish pond.
14_0831 aquaponics 5To protect the fish, we decided to build a geodesic dome greenhouse over the top.  We used PVC due to its ease of cutting and construction.  Here’s the 1st row being laid out.
14_0831 aquaponics 6The 2nd row going up.

14_0831 aquaponics 10Looking over the finished framework.

14_0901 aquaponics 4The covering is solar rated plastic covering.  We have a door cut on the north side.  And we ended up cutting two windows towards the top on the east and west sides to create more air flow.
14_0901 aquaponics 6Here’s the 10 or 12 tiny tilapia coming home in the ice cooler.


14_0901 aquaponics 9And here are the babies home in their new pond.
We completed this project over a month ago and the fish have grown tremendously.  About 2 weeks after this first group, we purchased 10 or so more.  And since then, we have 2 or 3 new babies.  In 14 months or so, we will have dinner!

Water Barrel Drinking System

Before we left for our 10 day vacation, we devised a watering system that could last the entire time without worrying about the chickens running out of water.

Water BarrelWe took a 55-gallon food-grade barrel and drilled three small holes in the bottom.  Water barrel nipplesWe then screwed in gravity-feed nipples.  These nipples are designed to move up and down.  When the chickens peck at the nipple, they move up and water is released.  We set the barrel up off the ground just high enough for the girls to reach.  When we got home, it didn’t seem like the barrel water was emptied at all.  Maybe the chickens hadn’t figured the system out yet.  I know with our African Grey Parrot and Cockatiel, it takes them a long time for them to approach anything new in their cage.  Maybe it’s the same with the chickens.

Today, when I was out in the run, Water Barrel drinkingalthough it’s a bit hard to see in this picture, Maggie Mae was drinking out of the nipples!  This will really help in the heat of our summers!!

roof, break, and life…

Since we constructed the run for the chickens that could potentially withstand an earthquake, which we do not have many of here, we re-roofed our house ourselves, planted the raised beds, crushed one foot, learned to walk with crutches, are in the beginning of a 2-week long trip to Australia (on crutches), and are getting caught up on some much needed rest!

We planted 4 blackberry bushes a few months ago that were about 6-8″ tall.  The largest of the four had one bloom on it, which, with a huge smile on my face is a nice little green blackberry!!!  Most of the fruit trees we planted 3 years ago have fruit on them.

The only challenge we continually face are aphids and these little tiny white mites…  anyone have any organic suggestions?

Sandboxes have never been so much fun!

Do you remember when you were last in a sandbox, playing?  I certainly don’t…  And, I don’t think I ever had so much fun as the girls are having.
14_0320 Sandbox 2The box is constructed out of 2x4s on edge and is approximately 2′ x 2′.  All 8 chickens are trying to fit in the box all at once.  It works if they all stand up.  But, of course, they want to lay and roll, and flap their wings.
A few of them went to check out their new DIY feeders, which left only 4 of the girls in the box.  OMG, what pleasure!!  They lowered themselves into the sand, and rolled over on their backs, just like our Jacks, and squirmed to get the sand all over.  As I am typing this, wondering about the motivation, I think it might feel good on all those new feathers coming in, maybe breaking up the quills.
It only lasted a little while.  The other girls returned and wanted their turn.  The returning chicks walked on top of the girls laying down, scratched at girls, and then lowered themselves and scooted around to claim their spot.
Such ecstasy in a few inches of contained sand.  I think we are going to have to build a new box at the other end of the run…

Moving Day!!

14_0312 chicken run front (north side)The run is done!!
The girls have moved in!!
The dogs are going crazy…

As we moved the girls from the half-way house to their new home one-by-one, they were panicked, until they saw one of the other girls waiting.
Punky went first.  She may be the smallest of the flock, but she has been nicknamed “Punky the Brave.”
14_0312 PunkyShe was the first to let me scratch her neck, sit on my knee, and always is right there waiting for the fresh food and water.  She’s also the one who plays tag with the other chickens.

14_0312 IsabellaIsabella, our other White Leghorn, was next. Look at that pose! What a beauty!
14_0312 Maggie MaeMaggie Mae let me capture her next.  She is reserved and a little shy, but not as much as Morgan.
Next were Buffy and then Sandy, the Buff Orpingtons.
14_0312 Buffy14_0312 Sandy


Then, Charlotte and Gracie, the Americaunas.  Charlotte has the dark stripe going from her beak through her eye and back to her neck.  Gracie’s head is mottled all over.
14_0312 Charlotte14_0312 Gracie



And finally, Morgan…
14_0312 Morgan




All together in their new home, exploring… one corner, at least.
14_0312 girls in their run 2

Day 2 Accomplishment

Well, we had high hopes that we would finish the chicken run on day two and be able to move the girls into their new digs!  But, securing the welded wire was quite the challenge.  We started with the roof pieces around the trees, knowing those sections would take the most time and thought.  We have roof rats in our area and wanted to make sure there were no holes around the tree trunk and branches that would allow a roof rat to slide in and devour the chicken food.
14_0309 Chicken run tree detail 4We placed the wire, cutting around the tree as close as possible without allowing the wire to cut into or scratch up the tree.  Then we came in with single strand wire and wove around the tree to close the gaps the cutting made.
Steel wool
The roof rats are pretty large and I am hoping that they will not be able to squeeze through.  We also thought about filling the holes with steel wool for a further deterrent.
So, here’s what we accomplished yesterday…
14_0309 Chicken run 1The roof is complete.  The top portion of all of the walls, except the one end is started.  Once these wall pieces are secured, we will dig narrow trenches along the bottom of each wall so the bottom pieces of the welded wire can be buried below grade.  After the welded wire is finished on the bottom sections, we will place 26″ wide corrugated metal (horizontal) in the same trench in front of the welded wire to deter the dogs even further.  Look for more progress soon!


Day 1 Accomplishment

As promised, here’s pictures of what we accomplished yesterday…
The overall dimensions of the run are 32′ long x 7′ deep x 6′ high (in the back) or 5′-6″ high (in the front).  The front posts are 8′ on center.  And the horizontal bridging is approximately 3′ down from the header.
14_0308 Chicken run compositeToday, we construct the door and secure the wire over the framing.
14_0308 Chicken run 10The roof framing is 2 x 4s 36″ on center.  We used this spacing because the width of the wire is 36″.  The most challenging aspect of the roof will be cutting the wire so it can go around the tree trunks without any holes for possible breach.

Building the new digs

We initially purchased the coop from our local ranch store.  14_0308 Chicken run 4Today was spent building the new run for the chickens. As you can see from the pictures on the side, we have many dogs that would just love to eat fresh chicken!  So, the run MUST be dog proof.  We also have coyotes in our neighborhood plus a pair of Great Horned owls.
The run was designed to go around the citrus trees and the coop.  The first thing we did was to secure the header on the back concrete block wall.  Then we dug holes to place the post piers. 14_0308 Chicken run 1 The posts are 4×4 Douglas Fir.  The string in the picture helped us to keep all the piers in a straight line.  After placing two of the five piers, we hung several roof joists to help stabilize everything.
14_0308 Chicken run 2Even though the roof will be 1/2 x 1″ wire, we still sloped the joists slightly, just in case we need to roof over part of the run.  14_0308 Chicken run 6
We worked will into the evening placing the bridging members between the posts so the wire could be secured.  It was too dark to take pictures of how far we got today.  Look for more pictures and more progress tomorrow morning!  To confirm we did not go overboard with the design of the run, one of the Great Horned owls swooped low over the back yard just as we were putting everything away…

Teenagers and the half-way house

With eight chickens, it doesn’t take long for them to grow out of a 30 gallon container…  So, we built this plywood container for our gangly teenagers.  I say gangly because there feathers are these little poofs of feather at the tips with the rest still in the quill.  Their crops are just forming on the tops of their skulls and look like baby mohawks.

14_0211 Halfwy houseThe box is approximately 3 feet wide by 5′ long by 4′ tall.  We included a 3/4″ dowel across the back about2 or 3″ off the ground so they could perch.  And the heat lamp is still mounted in one of the corners.  The front end that is shown in the picture is hinged to easily clean the shavings (loaded with chick poop) out about every 4-5 days.  They are so happy to have a lot more room!

Jack Russels & roof rats…

If only I could bottle Roxy’s energy & determination…  We have been in the process of pruning our older orange trees to help keep them healthy.  I was up on the ladder, pruning away, when i noticed the yard was very quiet…  Now, for those of you who have children, you know this is a tell-tell of trouble brewing.  I looked around the backyard, and sure enough Roxy was in with the tomatoes digging to her heart’s content.  AARRGGHH!

Well, we fixed her… and the roof rats who will soon be finished with dining on the oranges.

We constructed hinged screens for each of the beds out of 1×2 Douglas Fir studs and 1/2″ welded wire.

Hinging the screens allows me easy access to the beds to weed, add plants, or harvest.