Saturday, May 14, 2011

Middle Ridge gets a make-over

Middle Ridge
November 2008 - construction finished

When I first made Middle Ridge chicken coop - I envisaged a large flock of chickens. With that large flock however, soon came the need for more space. It wasn't long before I made another chicken coop. It was aptly named "Hilltop", because we built it on top of a hill.

September 2009 - construction finished

Going between the two coops (uphill and downhill) planting new plants, digging drainage trenches, fencing and dealing with the regular household things; it soon became apparent we had to love one chicken coop only! It was great to push the boundaries of our poultry empire, but there were other things vying for place of importance too.

The recent floods in January this year, really clinched the deal. I decided to give away all of my chickens and much of the building materials I'd saved for making chicken coops. Was it hard to do? Yes, and no...

It was time to turn that page towards other endeavours of self-reliance here. Not being made of money, we had to start divvying up resources. We had to allocate portions of importance, to other pursuits. One of the major ones lacking lately, has been plants. To buy the amounts required for our 5 acres, would take another small mortgage. Not something we'd like to do! So Middle Ridge was assigned our new propagating area, with ready shade-house attached.

I'm really glad I decided to give away much of my building materials, as it made me have to look harder for solutions. When I went looking, I discovered I still had plenty of "stuff" to re-purpose. Enter an old spring bed, a couple of pallets and some metal grates, and we have...

New propagation area - May 2011

...a new bench for plants to be propagated and eventually hardened off. The metal grates had been in our garden shed for a while, and meant for the driveway, but we soon realised these ones were too small for what we wanted.

Re-purposed drainage grates

Yet, they were the perfect size for the up-turned wooden pallet. Plus they had the added advantage of drainage holes built in. I was really happy how perfectly they fitted - the EXACT length! Too easy to put together. It wasn't long until I started rounding up the plants that had managed to survive on the verandah.

In use!

This is quite a lovely area inside the coop. There's minimal wind but plenty of ventilation, and the winter sun manages to come in at this angle too. The plants on the left were some natives/bushfoods I ordered from Daley's Fruit Trees recently. Many were purchased with the intention of feeding native animals and bank stabilisation for the gully.

Notice the tall white containers on the bench - these were 10 litre ice-cream containers we recycled from Dave's former work place. I have soil in one and hardwood cuttings in the other. There were other things lying around the place however, which needed a new purpose too. Like this metal frame!

More storage solutions

A few recycled pallet planks and the one grate I had left over, and I made more space for plants, empty pots, even drying potatoes! Less junk lying around the place, and more useful spaces to make gardening happen.

Affordable yet stylish!

What I loved about all of these structures, is I didn't have to use one power tool. All the pieces fitted together so well, plus it's easier to pull apart and move again if I want to.

Vertical space

The metal frames original purpose was for - you guessed it - a chicken tractor! But it had these sticky-out things that made it impossible to attach anything flat to it. Makes a great tool holder now, don't you think? There are two hooks to each side, and I'm imagining drying herbs or plaits of onions from them as well.

Of course, all this work inside gave us the opportunity to fix the area outside Middle Ridge as well.

...and then

But I think I'll save that adventure for another post! Oh yes, and we did keep three hens (so Hilltop Chicken Coop is not completely empty) but that story will have to wait for another day too.


  1. Hi Chris!
    I have nearly every single object you used for this project just sitting around in our shed at the farm including the cot frame! We even have grates. Since we hope to build our greenhouse this summer, I now have found some excellent ideas thanks to you.
    I recently asked a friend who works in a supermarket to save me five gallon buckets if he could. The supermarkets are first come first serve on these plus we have to get to them before they end up in the dumpster. He saved 12 so far. He is working on smaller buckets for me now. All for planting and food storage of course.
    Its wonderful to see your projects again. Thanks for sharing with us:)

  2. What luck to have the same stuff on hand, LOL. I thought I was the only person with a stash of completely useless metal grates. ;)

    If it all fits together, all the better!

    Go the recycling too - if it's food grade plastic and only had food stored in it, then it should be safe for use inside the house and in the garden.

    Sounds like you'll have a busy summer ahead! :)

  3. I thought it was funny too:) Thanks again for the ideas!

  4. Is amazing that as soon as you finish a chicken house you (i)know(i) how to build a better one.
    And suddenly you are trawling the roadside garbage pick up for materials - just like you said!
    I have made a commitment with my neighbour that I would keep our chicken house relatively mess free.
    Love your blog and will be lurking in the background.

  5. Sorry for the late reply - I've been doing a lot of gardening while the weather is fine.

    I'm not sure where I said I was trawling for roadside pick-ups, as we don't really have any in our rural area. It would be nice if we did, but gone are the days now, where you can even scavenge free stuff from the rubbish tip.

    The junk I speak of purely comes from our own collecting and giveaways from relatives, LOL. ;)

    Good luck with the chickens. It's nice when neighbours are happy to let you indulge in them. We don't have too many issues with our neighbours, thankfully.

    Anyway, thanks for stopping by. Off to finish my gardening now. :)


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