Duck house: ramp

The ducks are 7 weeks old, which is old enough to swim outside. So today I built a ramp from the duck house to the pond.

I used four 4′ lengths of 2×6 boards, with thin ripped strips for traction, to make a wide ramp:

Underneath, I attached some larger strips to help hold the boards together, plus a thin cinderblock attached to stop it from floating:

Attaching the traction strips with the finish air nailer, using a couple of boards for spacing, and a square to check that they’re straight:

Finished top:

I used untreated boards, and didn’t paint it, to avoid leeching chemicals into the pond. It’ll probably rot away eventually, but I can always make a new one if so.

A pile of stuff on the cart, for transport out to the duck house:

Attached some spare plastic liner over the concrete block, to help protect the pond’s liner:

The ramp mounted to the duck house:

I attached some welded wire fencing, to help prevent raccoons etc from getting into the duck house (I hope):

The finished ramp:

It was getting late by the time I finished, so I’ll let the ducks out for the first time tomorrow. Stay tuned for the next Flock Friday for that!

Preparing for chicks & ducklings

The new chicks and ducklings will arrive this week, so I have prepared the chicken coop and duck house for them.

I evicted the existing chickens out of the new coop and run, simply by giving them their usual morning treats in the old run, and closing the hole between the old and new runs while they were busy with that. There was one hen in a nesting box in the new coop, so I carried her into the old run.

The old coop and run is more than big enough to accommodate all of the existing chickens. Keeping them separate will avoid the older ones picking on the youngsters until they are grown, among other benefits. Eventually, they’ll be slowly integrated; probably around the end of the year.

I then removed the poop tray, water dispenser, feed tube, and all of the bedding from the new coop:

I also covered the nesting boxes with scraps of plywood, to prevent the new chicks from sleeping in there; I don’t want them using it until they are ready to start laying, probably around October:

I then added fresh bedding, a heat lamp, a thermometer to check the temperature, and the chick-sized roosts, feeder, and waterer:

In the duck house, I added shelf liner on top of paper as bedding (the shelf liner will give them traction, and the paper will adsorb water). This is just for the first week or so, then they’ll have straw bedding. I also turned on the heat lamp, and added a thermometer, a chick feeder & waterer that should work for the ducklings too, and the camera:

Here’s the mounted camera:

Wires going into the cupboard; the vents above the door are temporarily closed to retain the heat while the ducklings are small:

In the cupboard, all the wires are somewhat tidily arranged via hooks:

A view from the duck house cam:

Now all we need are the ducklings and chicks! As I write this, the chicks have shipped, and will probably arrive at the post office tomorrow; still waiting for the shipment of ducklings.

Duck house: installation!

The previous post for the duck house project was about installing the floor joists. This time, installing the house itself!

We used a cart to transport the duck house (without the roof) from the workshop to the pond edge. So to make it easier to get it onto the cart, I raised it up onto concrete blocks:

Duck house on blocks

I then backed the cart under the house, with some carpeting for padding:

Cart under duck house

Pulling the cart and house out of the shop:

Pulling cart out of shop

I pulled the cart down the driveway and across the grass to the destination, with Jenn’s help to keep it steady:

Pulling cart down driveway

Arriving at the destination, where we lifted it from the cart to the floor joists:

Arriving at destination

Next up was the roof. To make it easier, we loaded it into the bed of our truck, and Jenn drove it off-road to near the pond. I rode in the bed, just for fun:

David in truck bed with roof

We then carried it from the truck down the hill and onto the house walls:

Putting on roof

Many thanks to Jenn for her help transporting those heavy parts.

Next, I screwed the three parts together: floor joists, floor and walls, and roof:

Screw

I also added more hooks, including for the LED light strip:

Hooks for light

And to tidy the electrical cords (the two orange ones are temporary; the one going out through the wall goes to the pond pump, and will be replaced with a more subtle green cord later, and the one on the right is for the electric screwdriver):

Electrical

More cord hooks:

Electrical

Here’s the duck house, installed:

Duck house installed

Duck house installed

Duck house installed

Duck house installed

From further back:

Duck house installed

From across the pond:

Duck house across pond

Duck house across pond

An exciting milestone! There’s more to do: finishing the landscaping, adding the ramp, adding the bedding and food and such, and of course adding the ducklings. So there will no doubt be more posts about the duck house, and its future residents, but the building part is basically done now. Three weeks before the ducklings arrive!

Duck house: pond edge & floor joists

Over the weekend we installed the duck house! That seems like such a momentous milestone, I’m going to split it into two separate blog posts.

Firstly, I took the footing blocks and floor joists to the site, and determined the positions by temporarily resting the blocks on top:

Determining footing positions

I then dug out the bank of the pond a bit, repositioned the pond liner, and moved some of the rocks, to work better with the duck house:

Adjusting pond edge

Here’s a view from the pond cam of me wading in the pond, moving rocks. The pond is about 2 feet deep at that point, with a steep slope up to a small shelf at the edge:

Cam view

Here’s the adjusted pond edge:

Adjusted pond edge

I then dug in the concrete footings, using the level to make the floor joists flat:

Footings & floor joists

Here’s the footings & floor joists in their final position, with the footing holes filled in. There’s only about an inch of clearance between the joists and ground, as I wanted it to be as low as possible so the ramp into the pond doesn’t have to be any longer than necessary. The ramp will later be attached to the angled board at the front:

Footings & floor joists

A view from across the pond:

From across the pond

Next, I added scraps of wire hardware cloth to help keep small animals from going under the house. It won’t stop burrowing creatures like moles, but it’ll help:

Adding hardware cloth

The hardware cloth was stapled onto the inside of the boards, for tidiness, and buried a bit underground:

Hardware cloth

The final footings & floor joists:

Footings & floor joists

Next up: bringing over the house itself. Stay tuned!

Duck house: landscaping

Over the last week or so, in between paying work, I’ve been doing a different aspect of the duck house project: landscaping and earthmoving at the pond edge.

Here’s where the duck house will go, between these two rocks. So of course all these plants needed to be moved:

Plants

In order to make a path to the duck house, we also wanted to take out a very leaning and half-dead tree:

Leaning tree

So I used our chainsaw to chop it down and chop up the pieces:

Chainsaw

The tree removed, and starting to excavate around it:

Ex-tree

I moved the irises and such to next to the path location, as indicated by marker spray paint:

Moved plants

To get the wheelbarrow over the stream, I made a temporary bridge out of a pallet:

Temporary bridge

Later, I will make a nice arched bridge over the stream. Stay tuned for that project!

(The stream pump is usually turned off, since it loses a lot of water, but we turn it on occasionally.)

With the plants out of the way, I started excavating. I want the duck house to be as close as possible to the pond water level, so the duck ramp doesn’t have to be too long or steep. So there was a lot of dirt to dig out:

Excavating

More excavating. I did it all by hand; I could have hired someone to do it, either manually or with heavy equipment, but there’s a certain satisfaction to doing it myself, as silly as that is:

Excavating

Here’s a camera view of me digging:

Camera view

Getting close to the desired level. I marked the planned location of the duck house:

Excavating

Excavating the path:

Excavating

Those many barrowloads of dirt had to go somewhere. I put some in the chicken run grazing box, and some elsewhere, but the majority of it went onto the back lawn, to fill in the numerous holes and bumps, left from when the veggie garden used to be there, before a previous owner moved it. Once I’ve finished the excavations, I will add grass seed to the dirt:

Dirt on lawn

It’s me!

David

Contoured dirt for the path; we’ll wheel the duck house down this slope when moving it into place:

Contoured dirt

More of the path space; later I will add gravel to the path:

Contoured dirt

Looking down towards the pond:

Contoured dirt

The flat(ish) area next to the pond, with the duck house location marked:

Contoured dirt

Next up: installing the duck house!

Duck house: vinyl tiles

A small update on the duck house project: adding stick-on vinyl tiles.

Although the entire duck house (inside & out) is painted with exterior paint, I thought I’d add vinyl tiles to the floors and base of the walls to make it even more waterproof, since ducks are very damp.

I chose self-adhesive vinyl tiles that have a beachy look, to fit the theme of the duck house.

Here I’m adding them to the inner floor, marking where they need to be cut on the backing paper:

Stick-on vinyl tiles

The tiles are in nesting boxes too:

Vinyl tiles in nesting boxes

And the base of the walls:

Vinyl tiles in duck house

Here’s the inner floor in place; both floor levels are tiled:

Vinyl tiles in duck house

Other than a few minor tweaks, that concludes the construction of the duck house!

Next up: some earth moving at the pond edge where it’ll be installed.

Duck house: electrical & floor joists

A little more on the duck house project: electrical stuff, and floor joists.

I added a strip of LED lights to the central ceiling beam, plus a temporary heat lamp for the first few weeks of the ducklings:

LED lighting & heat lamp

The heat lamp is only needed when the ducklings are very young; they need about 95°F for the first few days, dropping about 5° per week until fully feathered. The lamp is red as that keeps them more calm.

I tested the heat lamp temperature with a couple of thermometers, to measure the temperature directly under the lamp, and a bit further away:

Testing heat lamp

I mounted the power strip and the timer for the LED lights in the cupboard. There’s another mount point for the timer for the pond pump (which is currently outside). The power strip also has an Eero Beacon to help extend the Wi-Fi range to the duck house (for the camera). The wires aren’t arranged tidily yet; I’ll add some hooks to make them a bit tidier later:

Electrical stuff

Next, I built the floor joists; beams that will go under the floor, resting on concrete footing blocks:

Floor joists

The cutout in the foreground is to allow for the plywood panel that the maintenance door roller catches are mounted on.

I also included an angled mount point for the ramp from the duck door into the pond, which will be added later:

Ramp mount

The ramp mount is angled at 20°, which seems a nice gentle slope, but I can tweak that when installing the ramp if necessary.

The ducks won’t be able to go into the pond until they’re old enough to swim without limits, so I could add the ramp after they’re living there, though will probably do it after installing the duck house.

Next up: vinyl floor tiles (I would have done that first, but they were only just delivered).

Duck house: roofing

Next on the duck house project: roofing.

But first, a delivery of materials from Home Depot:

Delivery of materials

This was mostly lumber for future projects, but also stuff needed for the duck house, including roofing shingles, drip edge flashing strips, and treated lumber.

The projects, from left to right, are: greenhouse shelving (some of the 1x2s, plus some spare), spare 2x4s (handy to have), duck house floor joists (treated 2x4s), duck house ramp (treated 2x6s, though most are spare), and bridge over the waterfall stream to the duck house (2x10s and some 2x4s):

Lumber

When I get a delivery, I always order more than I need, to allow for errors, replenish my stocks, and make the most of the delivery (since they charge a flat fee no matter how much I get). Fun fact: this was the first order from Home Depot for the duck house; all the plywood and boards I used to build it were stuff I already had on hand, spare from the cat house project.

Speaking of plywood, here’s the roof again, back on top:

Roof plywood

The first step for roofing is to add tar paper (also on hand from the chicken coop and cat house projects):

Roofing paper

Then the new drip edge flashing strip; it goes under the paper at the bottom, but over on the sides, so any moisture that reaches this level can run off:

Drip strip

Me attaching the drip strip with my air roofing nailer:

Me attaching drip strip

Next is a starter strip, which is an asphalt strip with an adhesive backing, which helps secure the bottom course of shingles:

Starter strip

On to the asphalt shingles, installed at 6.5″ offsets:

Roofing shingles

One side of the roof done:

Roofing shingles

I actually did the roof and the awning simultaneously, but I’ve grouped them separately for the blog post. So let’s take a look at the awning process, which is like a mini version of the roof.

Firstly the roofing paper:

Awning roofing paper

Awning drip strip:

Awning drip strip

Starter strip:

Awning starter strip

First course of shingles:

Awning shingles

Second course, trimmed a bit at the back:

Awning shingles

The third course is much shorter:

Awning shingles

Finally, I used construction adhesive to attach the trim board at the back of the awning, which hides the nails and prevents water from getting under them at the back:

Finished awning

Here’s me attaching the trim (with the air compressor and hose in the foreground):

Attaching trim

Back to the roof, the final step was the ridge cap, a series of small overlapping shingles along the peak of the roof:

Roof ridge cap

For the last shingle to cover the nails, I used construction adhesive to hold it in place. Once the roof is exposed to sun, the black sealant strips will melt and seal the shingles together, but this will suffice in the meantime:

Last shingle

To hold it in place, I used a bag of cat litter as a weight:

Weight

The roofing is now done! That was quicker than I had expected… I guess prior experience, and the right tools, makes all the difference.

Let’s take a look around it; from the northwest corner:

Roofing done

The northeast corner:

Roofing done

The southeast corner:

Roofing done

Finally, the southwest corner:

Roofing done

Next up: vinyl floor tiles for extra waterproofing inside (ducks are damp!), and electrical outfitting. Definitely getting much closer to being done! Good thing, too; it needs to be finished, installed, and ready in about a month.

Duck house: hardware

More progress on the duck house project.

I painted the underside of the floor. It won’t be seen, but the paint will help protect it from ground moisture:

Painting bottom

And painted under the awning:

Painting under awning

Righting it again, captured by the duck (aka Pepper) cam:

Righting

We bought a custom-painted sign from Etsy, from the same person that did the chicken coop sign. The sign says “The Boonducks, est. 2019”, with yellow duck images. Jenn chose that as the name of the duck house, as a duck pun on “boondocks”, since the duck house will be in the area of the homestead we refer to as “beyond the pond” or “the back 40”. I also installed the duck door opener:

The opener with the door closed:

Opener with door closed

The opener with the door open:

Opener with door open

Pepper strolling past the duck house while I was having lunch:

Pepper

I then stapled wire hardware cloth over the two vents:

Attaching hardware cloth

Here’s the hardware cloth on big vent:

Hardware cloth on vent

And the hardware cloth on the small vent above the maintenance doors:

Hardware cloth on vent

The view from outside:

Hardware cloth on vents

The big vent closed:

Vent closed

Partially open:

Vent partially open

A closer view of the vent and cover, showing the bolt and holes to enable opening to various levels:

Closer view of vent

The power cord cover, which is held in place with small tabs:

Cable cover

Next up was attaching hardware to the doors, starting with the small treat door; hinges, handle, and a roller catch to hold it closed:

Treat door

The same for the two cupboard doors; it has roller catches mounted under the shelf. I’m not going to add a bolt or gate latch on these doors, unless the roller catches prove inadequate (raccoons can be very clever, but I think this should be sufficient):

Cupboard

Attaching the four maintenance doors:

Attaching maintenance doors

Me attaching the maintenance doors:

Attaching maintenance doors

The maintenance doors installed and closed:

Maintenance doors closed

They are in four parts to allow a variety of access. Here’s one maintenance door open, by undoing one bolt, enabling a quick peek or dropping in treats etc:

One maintenance door open

The top two maintenance doors open, by undoing two bolts, which will be useful when the ducklings are young, preventing them from escaping:

Top maintenance doors open

The left two maintenance doors open as a single unit, by leaving their bolt closed, and just undoing the lower bolt. This will be useful for quickly reaching eggs not in the nesting boxes (ducks tend to lay anywhere… though admittedly so do our chickens):

Left maintenance doors open

All four maintenance doors open, enabling full access for cleaning out etc:

All maintenance doors open

I then put the inner floor in place, added the waterer, and installed the camera mount. Here’s the view from the camera:

Camera view

The camera & waterer, with the doors closed, and wires routed via hooks into the cupboard:

Camera & waterer

Next up: roofing!

Duck house: starting painting

Over the past few days I started painting the duck house.

But first, I removed the roof, so I could paint to the edges of the walls:

Removed the roof

The roof will be screwed to the walls on installation; it is kept separate for now to make moving it easier. Here’s the underside of the roof:

Roof

Some more caulking:

Caulking

Then it was time to start painting. I started with red paint on the walls. This is the same red as on the cat house (leftover paint):

Red paint

Then blue paint on the doors; again the same as on the cat house:

Blue paint

Then white paint on the trim around the doors:

White paint trim

And the trim and interior of the walls etc; here’s the south and east sides:

White paint

East and north sides:

White paint

North and west sides:

White paint

Inside, looking at the treat door and nesting boxes. I didn’t paint inside the chicken coop or cat house, but ducks are very damp, so I wanted to paint everything here, using outdoor paint, to help protect against moisture. Note that this is only the first coat of white paint, so is still a bit patchy; it’ll get a second coat later:

White paint

Inside, looking at the west wall with the duck door:

White paint

Next up: the second coat of white paint, which will conclude the painting.  Then I can attach the door hardware, and do the roofing. Once I buy some drip strip and shingles.