Monday, May 30, 2011
Building a tractor that goes cluck, cluck
Here I am taking the newly built tractor out for a test drive. I was amazed how easy it was to drive. It was so easy I could have fallen asleep at the wheel and still got the garden ploughed.
This is the wonder of a chicken tractor. They dig the soil, eat the grass and weeds, eat unwanted seeds and bugs, and fertilise as they go. All for just a bit of love and care. In about a week this garden bed will be prepared, ready for planting better than I could ever do, and even better, no effort on my part.
On Sunday my garden group came over and we built a chook dome to use as a chicken tractor. The design is a slight adaptation from Linda Woodrow's to fit our smaller garden. So here is how to build a chook dome chicken tractor:
First we worked out the lengths of the bits of pipe we needed using a bit of high school maths. The circumference of a circle is pie times its diameter thus: pipe length = garden width x 3.14. Our garden bed width is 2.4 meters so our rings are 7.5 and 6 meters.
We used 15mm PVC pressure pipe. If the dome was a lot larger you would need to increase the pipe thickness. Knowing now how the pipe bends you wouldn't want to make the dome much smaller, a 2 meter diameter is about the smallest.
We then joined the rings together using PVC glue, and for extra strength we drilled a hole through the joins and thread a wire.
Next came the arches that were fastened to the inside of the rings by drilling a hole and threading a wire. Here you can see Brenden attempting to thread the wire through twice under my instruction. That was the first and last time we attempted that. Every other join is just a single thread of wire.
The PVC structure alone is a little flimsy so to make it ridged we used cross bracing. Believe it or not, a taut piece of string in a cross formation is a sturdy brace. I used builders string as it is long lasting.
Finally we wrapped it with chicken wire. Rolling the wire under the bottom ring and fastening with bits of wire. Getting the wire to wrap around the top is a bit tricky, you kind of just need to keep folding it on to itself. And that's it, well for now. There are a few more things needed before the dome is complete, and I will continue that in a follow on post.
With the awesome power of team work, 4 adults had this done in 2 hours. Once again the benefits of having a garden group have proven them selves. We then stuck the children in the coop and relaxed with a cup of tea and a chocolate beetroot brownie.
And what did the chickens think? Well I could tell they loved it.
Have you ever driven a chicken tractor?