the new chicken box

What do you call it? A roost? A home? A box? I have no idea. But I’ve made our segregated couple a new home. These two live in Stalag 13 – a dog run converted to a chook pen.

Why are they segregated you may ask. Well, basically the rooster needed to be put in a safe place or his son was going to kill him. Then I couldn’t leave him lonely, so I got him a hen from the feed store. I didn’t want to pen one of our free range hens as I thought it’d be cruel to cage a girl who’s known freedom. This little girl was born and bred in cages so I figure that she’s happy not having to share her space with a lot of other girls.
So here are the steps to making this wonderful creation. In case you were wondering. If not just skip this post.
Believe it or not, I started by making a nesting box. I was dreaming of the day I’d open a lid and reach in to a clean poop-free box and remove fresh, clean eggs, without having to get down on creaky knees and grope through chicken droppings to get them.
Here is my box. I’m so proud. Don’t ask me for a tutorial on this. You really don’t want to make anything the way I do… But let me just say I only cut one piece of timber wrong! Honestly. That’s a new one for me. Especially working on angles ..I failed geometry. And the teacher was right… I did need it…
NOTE: This nesting box and roost is made up entirely of offcuts of wood I had in my workshop.
Let me try to walk you through it, I cut a base the size I thought the hen would appreciate. Then I put a front and a back on it, the front high enough to hold in bedding, the back high enough to give the hen head space. Since I really suck at putting sides on things I used brackets to put the back on. I’m a cheat. I’m comfortable with that.
To make the sloping sides, I held a piece of plywood up and kind of drew where I thought the sides would meet the back and front. Then I used a ruler to draw a line between them and cut along those lines. Once I was happy with side #1, I traced it onto another piece of plywood and cut that too. I used screws to join them together. 
I added a piece of pine to the top and to the front for the lid to swing off. This is how the box was looking at that stage.
I used some offcut pieces of cedar cladding for the roof. I had to add a thin strip of pine at the top in order to hold the screws. Turns out cedar is really soft and breaks easy. Who knew?
Result, a stylish nesting box. I hope the hen is pleased. I gave it couple of coats of the same self priming exterior paint that I used on the house, except for the roof which I simply gave a coat of polyurethane. 
So there I was, nice nesting box, nowhere to put it. I was trying to think of how to make a home for the chickens in Stalag 13 when I had a revelation. In the middle of the night of course. Lying in bed, not able to sleep cause of nesting boxes and angles going through my mind, when suddenly it was KAPOW.
The wood box!
We’ve been using this as our wood box for the last 7 years. I think it may have been a feed bin in a previous life. I’d given it a coat of paint and Wayne cut half the front out so we could reach in for our wood and put it on the back porch. We used to keep the smaller, kindling type of wood in there. But we now have air conditioning. And a broken wood heater… so… we don’t need the wood box! 
In my sleep deprived state I knew it was the answer to my prayers. I didn’t have to make a home from scratch!
First step, I took the front off. I had planned to just turn it upside down, leaving the opening on the bottom. 
Then I thought, why leave the ‘wings’ at the bottom? I cut it straight across and down the middle, creating doors. Which I had all kinds of trouble hanging on my own. Those suckers were heavy and its hard to hold the drill, screws, hinges and doors all at the same time. The lost screws under the deck are proof of that.
Plus, I was thinking it might be too enclosed. So I took them off again.
Meanwhile inside the box I put in a long branch as a roost. I sure hope its thick enough… I did this by drilling out two large holes with the hole saw (yes, I own a set of those!), pushing the branch through and then putting a screw through to hold it in place. You don’t want it spinning when the chickens get on it!
I also cut a hole out for the nesting box and attached it to the outside with screws. I admit, I googled how to make nesting boxes and chicken homes. The nesting box has to be lower than the roost or the hens will sleep in the nesting boxes. Since chickens poop in their sleep, if they roost in the nesting box, they’ll poop in the nesting box. YUCK.
Now I was thinking, can they get up onto the roost? Is the box too small? Is the roost too high? I have no idea.
So to be safe, I made a little ladder. A friend thinks its too steep. Maybe it is. I’m hoping they’ll use it. They’ve been living on the ground for so long…
Oh, and I added more cedar to the roof to make it match. Looking good!

Since the outside of the box had already been painted, I just gave it one coat of house paint to freshen it up. Then I decided the inside needed painting too.

In the end I decided to use a piece of trellis I found and make a single door. A bit of privacy, and more air circulation. Remember, these chickens have been sleeping in an old dog kennel till now. This has got to be a step up in the world!
Here is the other side. Pretty plain huh? I thought a little porch would look nice, balance it out, you know. I’m all about curb appeal. 
I used some brackets and some timber wedges to achieve an angle, added more cladding and voila! An undercover area for eating.
Ok, the reason behind the porch is that I had planned on demolishing the dog kennel. I hated that thing, it was stinky and hard to clean out. And I was over reaching into it for eggs.
Well, when I started pulling it apart I had another idea. I pulled off the cladding on 2 sides, making it into a kind of summer house. How many chooks have a summer house? huh?
Its actually a great place for the food dish too. You can see the hen is having a peck at the shell grit while the rooster is having a snack of grain under the porch.
I didn’t think I was going to be able to get the new home into Stalag 13 till next week as there was no way I could move that thing off the porch on my own. However a nice man gave me a hand today and its done! I’m not above playing the weak female card. 
I cleaned out old bedding and put down some new stuff, put some hay in the bottom of their new roost and in the nesting box, and here they are…
Stalag 13 has never looked so good!
I’m so pleased. I love the new look. Now, if they would only use the roost…
Next job – the chicken coop. Ugh. Don’t remind me.
z

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storing fabric

Sometimes all it takes to get creative is to have a need.
For instance, a need to store fabric. Or a need to get piles of fabric off the floor, hence a need for a place to store it.
The whole idea of storing fabric is to be able to find the bits you need quickly. The fabric has to be visible, not hidden in boxes and, ideally, sorted by colour.

I needed shelves. I needed narrow shelves. Or a bookcase. 
I didn’t have either. But I had a box.
I had this box, which I’d used as a dog bed when we first moved to the farm, for Barney and Mischa. It was a solid timber box I found somewhere which I cleaned up and gave a lick of paint. The post on how I did this is here.

I made my own dog bed cushions for it and put it in the entrance which is where Mischa and Barney slept as they’d always been outside dogs and I was introducing them to living inside.

After we lost Mischa it didn’t seem right that Barney slept by himself. He moved into the living room with the poodles and the box was put into the store room. Which is where I found it again while looking for something to make my fabric storage shelves from.

It was a very simple re-do. All I did was put small bits of timber on the sides as ledges to sit the shelves on. The shelves were cut from leftover bits of plywood. Easy peasy.
I sat it on the little side table in the office and now I have all my fabrics in one place…. or most of my fabrics… or some of my fabrics… Ok! You got me. I have a large basket full of small offcuts cause I can’t waste anything, a wire basket with real and faux leather bits and a large plastic container with fabrics for doll costumes.
But I do have all my colourful cotton fabrics for things like my anti-bunnies sorted!
z

string holders and evicting bats

Phew. The day is over. A good day, but SO tiring. I got a ton done which is great. I failed at a couple of things too, but hey, you can’t win ’em all.
So, what did I do today that was so exhausing? Well, I started with the plan of putting up the new grooming sign. I worked on that for about 30 minutes before giving up. It was just not working. Good thing too really, cause in the end I decided I needed to rethink the position. More on that soon.
I did 3 loads of washing and the usual chores of feeding and caring for all the animals, and I did a little garden work. Then I decided it was time to clean out the carport. 
Background: We used to keep our chicken feed in the carport and that encouraged mice and rats to live in there. Which encouraged the dogs to dig at the walls and generally cause trouble. About a month ago I started the car and a mouse jumped out of the engine bay. I’ve been parking out in the yard since. 
So, I decided the carport needed a makeover, more to make it safe than to make it look nice. Trust me, its a pretty basic farm carport… Not much I could have done to make it look pretty.
Anyway, I ripped off the sagging plywood which had been put over the barn wood and in the process evicted two rats and one tiny bat.
Yep, a tiny bat! Not a typo! I was so excited when I saw it. At first I thought I’d uncovered a hairless baby rat but then saw its cute little face and wings. I wanted to keep it! I wasn’t quick enough to catch it, it escaped under the wall and out near the dam. I was worried the geese would eat it – I mean, it was full daylight… what do bats do if they’re out in the day? I looked for it but couldn’t find it so I hope it was ok. The geese weren’t around so I know it wasn’t lunch at least.
I threw out a ton of rubbish and rat infested nests and then I nailed a thick particle board to the bottom section of the wall – Its not about keeping rats out as much as its about keeping any small animals (ducklings, chickens, natives) out of our yard. The finished carport is so much neater and I like the exposed slatted wood back wall. And bonus – there is nowhere for rats to nest any more!
After the carport was cleaned up, I opened up a small area I’ve had penned off to keep the dogs from digging. Hopefully now the rats have been banished the dogs won’t need to dig for them and destroy my plants. And I’ll be able to pull weeds. Yeah. I live to pull weeds.

ha.

Anyway, that’s not what I wanted to share with you today. I wanted to share my new rustic string holder. 

I was inspired by this lovely makeover of a thrift shop find by Carlene at Organised Clutter. When I saw it I thought what a great idea, I have to make one of those!

Yeah. Ok. Mine looks nothing like that. 
I had spindles. I had a ton of string. I didn’t have a fancy wall sconce. I also didn’t really have a wall spot to put it. So I just grabbed a piece of timber from my offcut pile and put them together. It’ll do for now.

Its not pretty, but it works. Its not for the office, its for the workshop so it doesn’t need to be pretty. The workshop leans more towards a more rustic-farmhouse-hoarder design style.
Thanks for the inspiration Carlene, and sorry I killed your idea. 
z

DIY wire hanging hooks

An observant reader noticed these cute hooks Wayne made for me. He made them to go on driftwood sticks and I’d use them when I went to markets, for hanging my windchimes.
They really are quite sweet, and they’re easy to make. I know cause I’ve made them myself. Only I make them with thinner wire than Wayne does.

All you’ll need is:
1. Wire thick enough to hold the weight of what you plan to hang. And as thick as you feel comfortable working with – ie you have to be able to bend it and cut it. If you’re anything like me (a weakling) you’ll want to stick to a not too hard wire…
2. Needle nose pliers and wire cutters. In case you don’t know what they are, here is a visual aid:
And here are the instructions. 

So, if you followed that, and if I didn’t do a bad job with the instructions, you should have something like this at the end of it.

Have fun! 🙂
z

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one chair-back, three ways

What do you do with a broken chair? Fix it or throw it away, right? Or… you can re-use it as something else. For instance, you can make it into a shelf, a photo display or a coat rack. I know. Just look at Pinterest. There’s tons of ideas there. 
I couldn’t make up my mind what I wanted mine to be, but I found the bits to make it into an adaptable chair-back – it’ll adapt to any situation you put it in! Just pick a room and it’ll fit in with what you need it to do. Or be.
The best bit, I think, is the antique curtain rod holders I found. I’ve had these rusted and bent things for a few years, just waiting for the perfect project to use them on. They’re just so cute with their little flower topped screws for holding in the curtain rod.
I got a couple of bulldog clips – with the requisite amount of rust on them – and added those to the back to hold things… 
So, here are some options: 
1.  Kitchen utensil hanger. It can hold handy kitchen tools and recipes.

2. Garden tool hanger. The bulldog clips are a handy place for seed packets and gardening gloves.

3. Hand towel holder. The clips can hold shopping lists or notes.

I also tried the variation of a tea towel on the rod… it works, but the I think it works best as a hand towel roll holder. Hand rolls really struggle to look good in a kitchen and this kind of dresses it up in my opinion.

So where will it live? I’m not sure. I have to think about it. All three ideas work.
Till then it waits to find its home…
z

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electric heater mantle clock?

Some time ago I picked up this old electric heater. I can’t remember where, but I do remember why. It was the shape. I loved the shape of it. I saw it and thought “hey, I can make something out of this”.
I brought it home and snuck it past Wayne so I didn’t have to listen to a lecture about bringing home more junk.
Then I proceeded to bury it under a ton of crap in my shed. Not in order to hide it.

So, when I started my whole ‘clean out the shed, get organised, streamline my life, find the circular saw’ kick, I found this little beauty and briefly considered tossing it out.

Briefly. Very briefly.

I just couldn’t do it. Sometimes a vision is worth pursuing.

I was seeing it as a lamp. Or a clock.

A clock doesn’t need wiring so that won out. I bought a clock mechanism on ebay and proceeded to rip the guts out of the heater. Actually, I didn’t rip it all out. I loved the coiled springs so I kept those, just took out all the wiring.

I had to drill a hole in the front mesh to fit in the clock, then put it all back together.

Then promptly pulled it all apart again… The clock mechanism I got came with simple black hands which just didn’t work. Too dark.

I took it apart and sprayed the hands with Antique White USA gloss. Much better.

I put it all back together. Admired it a while. Then daylight savings ended. Now I avoid looking at it cause I have to take it apart again to change the time.

I really like it. Its a mantle clock with a difference. I mean, how many people have a retro heater which is now a clock?
And its not that hard to open up… I just have to get out the screwdriver and take out 4 small screws. How hard is that? Not hard at all.
…When I find the screwdriver. I know its on the bench. Somewhere…
z
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new grooming room… almost done!

My new grooming room is almost finished. I mean I’ve been using it for weeks, but I’ve almost got it how I want it now. Not that I’ll ever stop making small adjustments and changes – I am who I am, after all. Being able to say its finished is a big thing for me.
Last week Wayne made me a ‘portico’ for the entrance. I love it. I just wanted a plain old canopy over the door but he created this wonderful little space which protects the door (and room!) from the wind and rain. He used materials we already had – some cedar boards a friend gave us, leftover bits of laserlite and treated pine from the stable makeover.

You can see where I’ve put flashing to stop water from seeping into the concrete. Hopefully that works… we’ll see when we get the next big rainfall.
Of course, you may have noticed there was one problem with this design… Its dark. Too dark. The three single fluoro lights in the grooming room didn’t seem bright enough any more. But I have a cunning plan…. watch this space.

The outside area is almost finished. I put two large pots out there with cuttings from my white hydrangeas in them. Both are doing well even while the original bush the cuttings came from seems to be dying. Even if its not dying it will die soon as I plan to dig it up. Its just not doing well at all.
Anyway, back to the groom room yard… last week, feeling energetic, I decided it was time to fill the yard with pine bark. I’d already lined the ground with newspapers, old rugs, old carpet, whatever I had lying around to stop weeds coming up. I’d ordered a load of pine bark which was sitting in the driveway… I had a shovel and a wheel barrow… what more could I want?

I’ll tell you what: a younger back. 
Or more sense.
I did something like 24 wheelbarrow loads of pine bark. I was breathing hard. I was tired. I was aching. But I kept pushing on. I kept thinking ‘not much more to go and it’ll be finished’…
Big mistake. I stopped about 3 loads short of finishing cause by then I was too sore to move.
I couldn’t walk for a week.
The original plan had been to put some sweet peas along the fence but I’ve decided against it. With the snake incident I’ve become a little bit too scared to let my dogs outside unless I’m home… However the snake lady who came to visit gave me some advice I’m following. She basically said two things: 1. get rid of the food source (ie keep all horse and chicken feed in sealed containers which won’t attract mice and rats) and 2. don’t try to keep snakes out – they will get in anyway if they want to – allow them a way out if they do get in. ie The one thing you don’t want is a snake trapped in with your dog.
So, I’m not putting plants in the ground in my little yard. I’ll let the sweet peas grow on the outside of the fence so if a snake wants to rest in a cool spot, its outside the fence. And if one gets in somehow, it will have plenty of gaps to escape through.
As for the embankment with the tyres – where the snake was – the snake lady suggested we fence it off. Again, using what we have, we decided to put an electric fence across it, thus stopping dogs from climbing onto it, and again, allowing any snakes that may get into our yard a way out.
Lets hope no snakes come into our yard again.
Its looking good though, isn’t it? I have little metal poodles which will have arrows on them to point the way, and a large sign on the wall. Hopefully people will then know where the grooming room is…
Inside is still a work in progress. I have hooks for my dremmel and clippers. I have paintings and photos on the walls. The door has a window and a handle!

Okay, not in this photo, but it does. My first ever door handle! I’m so proud of myself! 
I still have tools lying around everywhere so excuse the mess.

I even made myself a scissor rack. What self respecting groomer doesn’t have a scissor rack?

I have a cute little stool for visitors…

Of course I have a cd player, and a cute poodle planter holds my business cards.

Pictures, paintings, old ads featuring poodles… my aprons on a huge nail and a plaque painted by a friend many years ago.

I bought this mantlepiece years ago and have never had anywhere to put it. I decided I’ll use it as a shelf for now – to display some of my poodle items.

Eventually I’ll have all my poodle collection on display in there, along with items for sale. Since I now have a separate area for drying dogs things don’t get covered in dog hair in the room. Its such a relief!
Anyway, I’ll take more photos soon, as things progress – like the signs and the change to the portico…
z

grooming room leash storage

The grooming room is slowly taking shape. I’m moulding it into ‘my’ space.

And by ‘my’ space I mean I’m slowly filling it with things which I love, I made or which suit my needs.

Don’t know if you remember the tap coat rack I made a couple of months ago…

Well, I really liked it. And I needed somewhere to hang dog leads in the grooming room. Ideally somewhere near the door so I wouldn’t forget to hand people their leads as they leave with their dogs.
I’m notorious for forgetting. I still have some leads left over from last year…
Another thing I needed was a chalkboard on which to write dog names so I would know which lead belongs to which dog.

So I made this quick chalkboard, lead hanging thingy.

Ok, the spacing between the taps is off. No idea how I managed that as I actually did measure it all out before drilling holes… But I’m talented that way.

The chalkboard part is part of a box I’d pulled apart. I made a key storage out of one part, and I still had one door and a couple of box sides left.

I used the door for the chalkboard and one of the sides for the tap rack. I had a bit of the green paint I used on my meat safe towel cabinet left over…. it was almost dry but I managed to dry bush it onto the timber piece.

Do you get a sneaky feeling I like green? That antiquey greyish, bluish green?

Why on earth would you think that?

z

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my new towel cupboard (in my new grooming room)

Yes! I’m in the new grooming room!

Its not finished. Well, not entirely. But then again, is anything ever really finished?

Ok. So the grooming room is usable-finished. I began using it as soon as I got the vinyl down on the floor. Even before I had most of my stuff moved in there. Or the door finished. But I have a new cupboard for my towels!

I’m sorry I don’t have any before photos – cause when the urge to paint hits, well, its all I can do to put on painting clothes!

***** I found the before photos. Well, more like the ‘almost before’ photos. Here it is with legs and masking tape…

And here it is with the painting just finished.

I got this little meatsafe/cupboard from a tip shop a few years ago. It had no top or legs, and was a stained and varnished wood colour. But the metal screen was fine.

I used a piece of pine I had to make a top for it and searched my leg collection for some legs that would work with it. I wanted it tall enough to be out of ‘pee’ reach.

It IS a grooming room after all!

I had some old green paint from a room I painted long ago (it was a hideous colour, no idea what I was thinking!). I poured some of it into a plastic container, added a bit of light blue I’d made up for another project and voila: the perfect antique green!
Being the lazy sod I am, the only prep work I did was mask off the handle, hinges and metal screen.

Since I chose not to sand, I mixed some fine grout into the paint, making it a chalk-like paint and just slapped it on. It took 2 coats. Once dry I gave it a light sand to encourage a chippy look.

The new towel cupboard sits behind the inner door of the grooming room. Its not big enough really, but its pretty. I might one day make a base for it, another cupboard… Who knows? For now it holds clean towels and my cd player.

So here’s a pic of the other side of the new grooming room, in use! Erik lies on the table with the dryer on him. Such a good boy. He didn’t move while I changed cds and took the pic!

There’s a lot to do but I’m taking my time. The old grooming room wasn’t perfect by any stretch, but I got used to it – I worked in there for 7 years! It kind of grew around me. It’ll take a while for this room to grow around me too. I’ll need shelves and hooks for my tools. I’ll need pictures on the wall and hooks for leads…

I’ll need to put the window on the door! And a door handle!

Its a work in progress.

z

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progress in the grooming room

Its been slow. I mean, its been months! A project I thought would take me a couple of weeks… ok, a month or so… has taken ages. Partly cause it was a bigger job than I thought (ain’t it always?) and secondly cause I haven’t actually been working on it as regularly as I’d planned.
Things happen. I get busy. You know how it goes. Sometimes a book just has to be read, or a TV show becomes an addiction you can’t ignore.
Despite that, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel now.
This last week I finished the walls and ceiling. Those were the big things. 

The ceiling was the hardest. I used 3mm MDF sheets to cover the flakey, gappy, holey baltic pine ceilings. I’d have loved to remove the baltic pine to reuse but the job would have been way too big. I opted to just cover it, last thing I wanted was stuff falling down on me every time I groomed a dog. Now I have a smooth surface to paint.

The electrician is coming tomorrow to put my lights in – fluoros so I can see! There are no windows, just the one in the door, so I need plenty of artificial light.

Speaking of windows, I’ve made the window/door frame and have perspex to put in it, it just needs to be painted.

As you may remember, the right hand wall is covered in recycled masonite. It needs a good wash before painting. And everything needs undercoating before I paint the entire space white.

I’m leaving the center panel with its shabby paint look. I love it.

It was really hard to do this room cause nothing is straight. The ceiling and walls don’t have straight edges. Look at the gaps! I did all kinds of dodgey patches to try to minimise gaps. I also ended up lining the back wall which I thought I’d leave as it was (ie old) but I had pine left over. Not enough to go all the way up the ceiling though. I used leftover bits of MDF at the top. Very unevenly. I figure once the entire space is painted white and I put things on and against the walls no one will notice.

I hope.

Don’t look at the mess in the workshop outside the inner door.

This is better. Forget you saw that mess.

The room is clean now, swept, tools and rubbish cleared out. I just have to wash walls and move the compressor back to its spot in the garage and I’m ready to paint.

Outside in the tiny yard I’ve put flashing against the bottom weather boards to stop rain soaking in over the concrete slab. Hopefully that will stop any dampness – not so much in the new grooming room but in the old one.

I’ve sprayed weeds and have cardboard and newspaper to spread over the ground, then I’ll get pine bark to fill the space which will keep it from getting muddy.

Meanwhile, it’s been so windy here that I’ve had to go to extreme measures to save my little silver birch. There was a huge cosmos flowering to the left of it but it was broken by the wind. So sad.

The garden is looking awful right now. Everything that flowered in early spring has died (or gone to seed). I now have to find the time to cut back the dead stuff and pull out weeds. Then all I can do is wait for the summer flowering stuff to start looking good. 
z