Posted in Building Projects by Mathieu-Andre with no comments yet.
Over the last few weekends, I have built a new model of mobile chicken coop that was designed to be wife-friendly. The previous model that I’ve built from last year was too heavy for Katie to move around, offered poor windbreak, and was offering poor protection from aerial strikes from hawks, eagles and owls. The new model is based on Joel Salatin’s design from his book “Pastured Poultry Profit” (1996), but smaller (6’x8′ instead of 8’x10′). Instead of leaving the chicks outside of the mobile coop, they stay sheltered with constant access to sunlight, shade, windbreak, protection from aerial strikes and most importantly: fresh air. Unfortunately for us, it means that we will have to move all of the mobile coops on a daily basis, maybe twice a day once they’re reaching their adulthood. So far, our chicks are very happy with their new home. We currently have two operational coops, but I still need to build two more because my goal was to have 25 chickens per mini-salatin mobile coop. Right now, it’s fine because the chicks are still small, but I really have to hurry because they grow really fast thanks to a high quality organic nutrition within an healthy environment : In the end, we’re still getting the tastiest chicken in the world! 😉
Posted in Building Projects, mobile coops by Mathieu-Andre with no comments yet.
Just a quick update about the seedling racks. The fluorescent tubes were on sale at the TSC Store in Arnprior last weekend. Here is how it looks now with all the lamps turned on:
Posted in Building Projects, Seedling racks by Mathieu-Andre with no comments yet.
I made very good progress yesterday. If you want to build a seedling rack of your own, feel free to ask me questions; I would be pleased to provide any answers I can. I will drop a few details and a few tips into this post just in case anyone feels like taking on a mini construction project.
I started by cutting all the lumber and plywood for all four racks. I made 16 five foot lengths with 2×4’s for the vertical posts, 24 two foot lengths with 2×4’s for the top and bottom beams and 24 four foot lengths with 2×3’s for the shelf support beams. I also cut three 4’x8′ plywood sheets of 1/2′ thickness into 12 2’x4′ shelves.
Tip: Make sure you wear eye protection while operating any power tools!
I assembled all eight end frames, each using two 5′ vertical posts and two 2′ top/bottom beams using a pair of 2.5″ wood screws (#10) per joint to create a “C” shape.
Tip: Always drill a hole before you put a screw. If you don’t drill holes, the wood will crack.
I attached two end frames using six 4′ shelf support beams starting from the bottom. This assembly step requires an extra pair of hands or a lot of creativity and flexibility 😉
Since certain vegetable seedlings get taller than others, I located the shelf support beams at different heights. The middle support beams are located 22.5″ above the bottom support beams. The top support beams are located 20″ above the middle support beams. This way, the taller seedlings will be placed on the bottom shelf, and the smaller plants will be placed on the top shelf. I don’t know if this configuration is going to fit our needs, but it’s always possible to modify the height later.
Afterward, I flipped the rack on one side to install the four casters at each corners, and I added a second 2′ beam beside each bottom cross-beam to create more surface on each corner for the casters.
Note that two of the four casters have built-in brakes to prevent the racks from rolling away. After the casters were installed, I performed some “rack surfing” within the limited space of our basement to test the caster’s performance – that was fun! 😉
I put on the plywood shelves onto the support beams. They fit nicely, but I didn’t bother securing them on the support beams because I want to have the flexibility to grow taller plants. Taking the top shelf out to give plants on the middle shelf more room could be very useful, because tomato and eggplant starts can get quite tall before it’s hot enough outside for them to be transplanted.
Once the racks were built, it was time to get started on hanging the lamps. Using an angular grinder with a regular cutting wheel, I cut the chain and secured two lengths on each end of the rack with screws. The ideal tool for this task would have been a bolt cutter but I don’t have one. Determination and imaginative substitution can work wonders!
Tip: If you are using a grinder or any handheld high-speed rotary tool (e.g. Dremel) to cut a link of a chain, make sure you sweep the floor before cutting the chain. Metal sparks can ignite the saw dust under your feet!
I hammered 3″ flat head nails on each end of three 3/4″ dowels measuring 4′ long, and attached three 48″ T8 lamp fixtures on each dowel. I finally hung the three dowel/lamp combos on the rack with the nail heads through chain links.
I installed a power bar with a built-in timer on the outside of one of the vertical posts. Half of the outlets on the power bar use the timer so we can turn the lamps on and off for ten or eight our periods. We can use the non-timed outlets for heating mats because the continuous heat will help our seeds germinate.
So far, I almost completely finished one rack. It only needs more light bulbs (we only had one set of T8s that we bought to test our setup).
Stay tuned! At this rate, it won’t be long before we’ve got peppers and onions and lots more germinating with the help of this awesome mini-construction project! 😉
Posted in Building Projects, Seedling racks by Mathieu-Andre with 2 comments.
Hi readers and eaters. This is my very first post on the Our Farm blog! So far, Katie has taken care of writing the blog posts, but this time I’d like to be the one sharing the news about Our Farm.
First, we’d like to extend our best wishes for 2011 to everyone. May the year 2011 bring all of you success, peace and especially good health. A good way to stay healthy is to stay away from processed food as much as possible and eat more vegetables. Do not neglect the food that you put in your mouth. It is one of the most important investment that you can make to stay healthy.
Winter has provided quite a nice rest from hard physical labor at Our Farm, but a lot of work is waiting ahead of us, and we have to get our crops going very soon. Today, I would like to share with you my plans and progress in building our seedling racks that will allow us to start planting our sustainable, organically-grown crops in advance of the 2011 season.
My plan for this week is to build seedling racks similar to the ones at Tiny Farm Blog. The main reason that made this model of seedling racks very attractive to us was the efficient and inexpensive adjustable lamp height. At first, we will have the lamps as low as possible. As the plants grow, we can raise the lamp fixtures. By the time the plants are going to be too big for the seedling racks, they will be ready for transplanting to our vegetable garden. For the size of our garden, we figured out that we will need a minimum of 12 shelves meaning four racks total.
Fortunately for us, the 2×4 and 2×3 lumber was on sale at Home Depot this week. Katie and I quickly grabbed the van, purchased and brought back the necessary lumber yesterday.
I just came back from at trip to Deka to get the rest of the necessary building components: sheets of ply wood, wood screws, chains, casters, dowels, etc. We are still missing a few casters and dowels, but I got a call this evening that the missing components will be ready for pickup tomorrow. I have enough to completely finish at least two seedling rack units right now, but they’ll all be done by the end of the week.
The store manager seemed very intrigued and asked me what I was trying to build. Not even thinking, I explained to him that I was planning to build seedling racks, with the adjustable lamp fixtures… You should have seen the look on his face! It was hilarious! Realizing that he got the wrong idea, I had to explain that my wife and I were operating a legitimate, and perfectly legal small organic market garden farm. We really should get business cards with our blog web site on it to prevent embarrassing moments like this.
Now I need to get started. Will take a few more pictures to show you the progress.
See you soon!
Posted in Building Projects, Seedling racks by Mathieu-Andre with no comments yet.