Well this is my third attempt at a chicken tractor. This time I used new lumber, not water rotted wood scraps, so that helped immensely. I totally believe in re-purposing old lumber, but I learned the hard way that if you want to use your old lumber scraps, you have to keep them safe from the elements.
My parents were visiting while I was working on this. So my father helped me with the chicken tractor. He held boards for me as I hammered in nails and screwed in screws. That helped too. It is difficult to both hold your pieces together and screw in your screws. That’s why you almost always see a woodworker working with an assistant. If only I knew how important my help had been to all those men I held boards for over the years…
My dad also gave me some advice on how I could make the assembly easier or the structure sturdier. For example, having a top bar along the roof where the aides meet, and measuring angles first, then attaching the boards while they were lying on the ground, instead of trying to hold it up to assemble the triangular frame. When you are a novice at woodworking, and have not been taught these things, it helps greatly to get advice like this. My father also graciously purchased me my own set of tools, which I needed to get these projects done. My husband has all the tools, but he often has them with him or loans them to friends, which makes it really hard to get a project done.
So, here it is:
Using the feed bin as a surface on which to balance my boards as I sawed them. I got a female sized saw, perhaps 5 inches shorter than your average hand saw. If is easier for me to hold up and control. I am 5 foot 2 1/2 inches, and have a small frame, so smaller tools work better for me.
Always let your girls play with tools.
My grandfather’s drill, given to me by my father. My grandfather passed away the first year that my husband an I were together, over six years ago now. So this is a special, and sentimental, gift.
Our chicken tractor had a mohawk! I used zip ties to attach the two swaths of chicken wire that cover the frame.
Looking down through the chicken tractor just before I put the last patch of wire on the back.
Putting in the door frame… In the door frame… I literally just pulled the chicken tractor up to our back door and attached the door frame for it there. If I remember correctly I did that because that’s how far my extension cord would reach.
Here is the piece I was going to use for the door. Can I tell you a sad story though folks? As I started pounding in my staples to attach the chicken wire to this rectangle, the wood broke. There is my lesson again about rain rotted wood.
Well I wish this pot ended with ‘Now the chicken tractor is complete and everything is perfect.’ Here is how it really ends – now the chicken tractor is complete, all but the door. Since that wooden rectangle broke I have changed the design slightly. I will now use a piece of plywood for the door. This mean hauling the plywood out of the shed, setting up my work bench, and sawing away. Doesn’t sound like much, but with an almost two year old as a helper, it can feel like a lit of sketchy steps to have to undertake. I hope to goodness that I do take those steps very soon and finish up this tractor. For now, this is how we use it-
We brace a dog kennel against the door opening. Not the classiest, but it works.
Here is Spunky making use of the chicken tractor. Spunky is our new little chicken who still needs to grow her feathers back. She is sweet and friendly. She eats out of hands and lets us easily pick her up. She came to us without a name, and I decided that she needed a name that said ‘don’t pick on me.’
So ladies, I strongly encourage you to pick up those tools and start building. It can be intimidating for those of us who haven’t been taught these carpentry skills. But it is well worth it to gain these skills at any point in life. Good luck to you, and let’s hope I get that door on!