Sunday, 22 March 2015

A new home for the hens (well, some of them)

A few months ago I made some carved house signs for a friend and took payment in the form of what was described as a dismantled garden shed. When I collected 'it' there seemed to be parts from two different sheds, but closer examination revealed that, in fact, three sheds were represented. However, parts of all were missing.

For some time we had been intending to move our small flock of hens, as their enclosed patch had been pecked bare and we were concerned that the soil might become sour.  So I chose a corner of our field where there is some tree cover (which the hens love) and levelled out a base using some old concrete blocks and bricks. I salvaged a base for the shed, trimmed two sides to the same size and used the two matching ends.  My human cleat, Liz, held onto things until I had got the main parts screwed together.

I had to improvise the roof panels.  A couple of pieces from a salvaged wardrobe and a length of furniture board did the trick.  With the roof on, the structure was pretty stable.

One end had helpfully come with its door, which I fitted with some new(!) hinges.

Fortunately I had some roofing felt in the stable.  This was bought about 9 years ago while I was still used to repairing sections of the stable roof after every gale.  I soon gave up and invested in profile steel sheets, so the felt had stood unused till now.

It made a tidy job, and as the roof is small and the site reasonably sheltered from the biggest winds we get here, it should be fine. The window opening took a standard 2 foot by 2 foot sheet of greenhouse glass (thanks, Ian, for the half dozen or so you gave me ages ago).

Converting the shed to serve as a hen-house involved cutting and hingeing a pop door within the main door, mounting a couple of 2 by 1's as perches and cutting a hole to take the removable nesting box Liz suggested I borrow from the other hen-house.

So here we are: our cockerel and 4 hens have accepted the move (though chickens don't like change).  Four hens, including the three young Cream Legbars which have got used to roosting in our trees in the kitchen garden, have refused to move.  We may yet persuade the Welsumer to shift, but the Legbars will just have to look after themselves without the electrified fence, which has moved too.  If they continue to lay their beautiful blue eggs in the same place, all will be well.

Friday, 13 March 2015

A year in a kitchen

Just over a year ago, I offered to install a new kitchen for my older son and his wife in their newly acquired house in Stockport.  It was obvious from the start that the long distance nature of the task (round trip of 130 miles) and my other commitments meant that this would not be the work of a moment, but even I didn't expect it to take a year.

Memorable moments of a complete refurbishment:

  • a Saturday afternoon in Ikea, ordering every component of the furniture: cupboards, doors, worktops, appliances.  A long list, and always likely to be an arduous retail experience, but why did we have to choose the weekend when Ikea were changing their kitchen unit range (and dimensions) for the first time in a decade?  In the event, they did us proud with the delivery and didn't miss a single item.
  • removing the linoleum covering from a basically sound timber floor to discover a square metre of 'temporary' flooring where boards had been loose-laid over a concrete slab which years ago supported the heavy clothes-washing boiler.  Not a suitable foundation for the tile floor I was laying, so it had to be sorted.
  • finding an open fireplace and adjacent cupboard hidden behind a piece of plaster board where heavy cupboards were to be hung - wall rebuilding required.

Many new items, of course, went into this project.  However, all the tools came from stock, and certain bits and pieces came in very handy: a couple of light fittings, plumbing and electrical accessories, adhesives to mention a few.

The final job, the tiling, was completed just a few weeks ago.  Now, because as a growing family they need more space, the house has been sold (subject to contract) and someone else will enjoy their kitchen.  They are kind enough to say that my labours helped them to a quick sale.  Here are three images I've borrowed from the estate agent's website:

Now they are buying a new-build house which, I believe, has a kitchen already installed.  So I'll have to find something else to fill the next year.  No problem.