I can hear the wheels of old man winter's truck coming down the driveway. He drives real slow. But when he arrives, its not just a stay for dinner kinda situation. It's a long one. This is the time of year that I can never have enough of. Never enough time to get the wood done. Never enough time to get all of the animals set exactly the way we want them. Never enough time to get all of the "stuff" cleared off the yard before it gets buried--until the unsightly spring thaw.
Sunday, determined to have easily accessed eggs through the winter, I took matters into my own hands. You see, we have gone through many different set ups with our layers. We have had as many as 60 hens at one time and some large portable and stationary layer housing. But, now, with a nice homestead sized flock of 8, our ladies are a bit lost in their large range house. It offers limited protection from the winter elements and they lack the mass population body heat to keep it cozy.
I surveyed the yard junk (which proliferates everywhere) and turned up several lengths of re-bar, a bunch of scrap lumber, various fasteners...a plan. I decided to build a mini 10' x 10' hoop house just outside our back door. Right along the path to our woodpile which gets regularly shoveled! An easy run for an extention cord for a little extended fake daylight to keep the eggs coming. A quick slipper run for eggs in the morning. Because last year it was a long slog out into the pasture to get to the ladies, ok, as its on the way to the pigs...but not ideal.
We laid out the location and the base. I snagged the learning opportunity. How do we know if this thing is square? The two girls and I did some pythagorean theorem. Well, the little one raked leaves. Then we pounded holes and bent poles. Having a 7 year old partner proved crucial. We divided 10' into three equal sections using leaves to represent each foot and dividing 10 leaves into three equal piles. "Three and one third!" She proudly announced. Then the elder took a swing break and the little took up the pencil...drew me some lines and other various artwork on lumber not related to cut lines. The moment of truth..we lifted the endwall together. Not bad.
We called it a day as no one had injured themselves on the job. A sure sign of success. We turned in to make soup and bread for dinner. A little more framing and a sheet of plastic and the hens will be tucked in for his arrival. And everyone will be happy for those short egg runs when I yell that we're out of eggs in the middle of holiday baking season.