Measure Twice, Cluck Once

Despite years of formal engineering training, it’s immensely satisfying to build things out of what’s lying around my farm.

Yes, electrical engineering doesn’t help too much around the farm. My current engineering skill set (PowerPoint, earning SkyMiles, talking to geeks about firmware) is even less useful when it comes to hobby agriculture. But I do like to build things, and I am a bit frugal … so we end up trying to recycle the remnants of past endeavors.

A few weeks ago, we focused on the chickens.

I do love me some fresh eggs. Unfortunately, so do the rats that scrounge around our chicken coop. And occasionally raccoons go looking for the source of the eggs. It’s the ultimate “farm to table” setup, assuming the “table” is a patch of woods ten feet from my chicken coop. Various varmints and vermin seek access by digging under the edge of the chicken coop, or picking at the wire until they gain access at a seam. The coops we built years ago are still good, but they’re not quite tall enough and a bit too easy to dig under. There’s also no good place to put in a proper nest box, and the coop isn’t really big enough for our five hens.

So we applied redneck logic and put the whole thing up on blocks.

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Yes, the mighty cinderblock. We’ve got dozens of the damn things scattered across our property. Our original home at the GeekFarm was a 1200 square foot trailer, and most of the cinderblocks from the foundation are stacked up on various parts of the property. All we had to do was stack them two rows high and we had a fortified chicken enclosure.

Then came the second part of our recycling plan: expanding the henspace. For this, we annexed an old metal storage building that was also part of the original GeekFarm. The ancient do-it-yourself storage shed was wonderful when we first moved it, but sort of lost its shine after I got a garage and full basement. But if you remove a wall panel, leave a gap at the bottom of the cinderblock fortification and slide it up next to the recently elevated coop … voila!

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This, ladies and gentlemen, is our eggtopia. It’s low-tech, low-rent and about as elegant as drinking champagne out of a styrofoam cup. But my little chicken fort is a great way to recycle some of the junk lying around the farm. It’s nice to walk away from all of the high-tech nonsense in my life and solve problems more directly.

Plus I got to watch my wife drag a metal shed down the driveway using a truck and some rope. That’s definitely not something I get to do at a tradeshow.

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