Berry cage: finished!

This post has been waiting for a few days to be published, since the blog has been busy with snow photos this week. Hence the lack of snow in these pictures. With the snow on the ground this week, it’s almost hard to remember what the place was like without snow!

I have now completed the berry cage project.

The last step was to replace the old fencing wire with the new, narrower gauge stuff.

So I started by removing the old wire:

Fence wire

I left the nails that were holding the old wire, so I could reuse them to attach the new wire:

Fence without wire

Here’s the berry cage portion of the fence without any wire:

Fence without wire

I could then add the bottom course of new welded wire. I also kept the second layer chicken wire at the bottom, which is to keep smaller animals like rabbits out of the garden:

Adding wire

Attaching the wire:

Adding wire

The bottom course completed. The wire curves out onto the ground, anchored by rocks, to avoid any gap at the bottom:

Adding wire

A close-up of the wire and nails after adding the second course:

Closeup

The door area, with the completed fence:

Door

The completed berry cage fence:

Finished berry cage

It is always very satisfying to complete a project. On to the next one!

Sunny snow

We haven’t had any more snow for a couple of days, but it’s been below freezing most of the time, so what’s here isn’t significantly melting. The forecast calls for more snow this weekend, so the current stuff will solidify into a layer of ice, with fresh snow on top.

Here are a few more snowy pictures, from yesterday and today.

Gobs of snow on a dogwood tree:

Snow on dogwood tree

Snow on the beehives, with icicles hanging off the roof. The snow is melting above the brown one in the foreground, which is a good sign of warm bees inside. It isn’t melting as much on the other hive, which may mean they aren’t doing so well, or the roof might just be a better insulator:

Snow on beehives

Looking up at the ceiling of the berry cage. It’s holding up nicely so far, though I worry about its capacity to cope with lots more snow. But I’m not going to try cleaning it off; I want to see what it can handle, and will repair later if needed:

Snow on berry cage

A close-up:

Snow on berry cage

Some interesting graupel patterns on the frozen pond:

Pond

The pond and snow-covered trees beyond:

Pond & trees

Me shoveling the snow from the driveway, so Jenn could go out (the car is parked inside the shop, for now, though she’ll start parking it in the breezeway next to the shop, so I can work on the duck house in there):

Clearing driveway

Snow shovel:

Clearing driveway

Icebergs sliding off the hoop house:

Snow sliding off hoop house

Morning sun through the trees:

Sun

Sparkly snow:

Sparkly snow

Frozen garden ornament, with the brown gazebo in the background:

Garden ornament

Interesting morning light, with sparkly snow, and snow-covered trees beyond the field:

Sparkly snow

Frozen small pond:

Frozen small pond

Berry cage: roof wire

Over the weekend I did a bit more work on the berry cage project: installing the welded wire on the roof. That will keep birds from flying into that area of the veggie garden.

Some of the chickens couldn’t resist perching on a ladder:

Chicken on a ladder

Measuring out the wire on the ground:

Measuring wire

I rolled up the wire again to take it up to the roof:

Wire

Having it rolled up also enabled me to nail the right edge at the same time as the left edge of the previous row:

Wire

A partially-installed row from below:

Wire from below

Completed, from above:

Wire done from above

Completed, from below:

Wire done from below

And from the other side:

Wire done from below

Next up, removing the old wire from the fence walls, and replacing with the narrower gauge stuff.

Gate between chicken run & veggie garden

This past weekend I built a doorway and gate to make it easier to go between the veggie garden and the chicken run. Something I do a lot, especially in summer, when giving the chickens treats of kale, tomatoes, etc grown in our garden.

Here’s the new doorway, built by adding the new left pole and top plate, cutting away the fencing, and cutting out the horizontal rails:

I also moved the grazing box in the chicken run, to clear a path by the door. The chickens love having direct access to the grass, which will probably be all scratched away in a matter of days. I’ll seed new grass in the new box position in spring:

Building the gate frame; the fourth and last one:

Door hardware installation:

The completed gate, closed:

And open:

I added a hook & eye to hold the gate open during winter:

I also permanently closed the small holes through the fence that the chickens were using to access the veggie garden, so now they go through this doorway.

That concludes building the gates for the veggie garden and berry cage. Next up: replacing the old fencing wire around the berry cage.

Berry cage: more gates

Over the last couple of days, I took advantage of some fine weather to build another couple of gates for the berry cage project.

Firstly, the middle gate, in the new fence that divides the veggie garden:

Close-up of the bottom hinge:

The gate latch and handle:

After adding the wire:

The finished middle gate:

Then the same again for the front gate, to replace the old disintegrating one:

I also moved the dirt from the potato planters, so the chickens wouldn’t spread it all over the garden:

Surprise! I found a soil scoop buried in the dirt; I’d wondered where that had gotten to:

I dumped the dirt into the new bed; we’ll add more on top later:

I stacked some boards to make a roosting bar, so the chickens can safely get to the top of the potato planters if they want to roost there:

This morning, I opened up the small holes in the fence to let the chickens into the veggie garden. These holes had been closed with zip ties since last spring. Here’s the hole into the new run:

And the old run:

The chickens will enjoy eating the remaining vegetation, and rooting around for bugs and such. Fun for the them, and helpful for us to clean out the beds for spring planting:

I took a bunch of photos of them in the veggie garden, which I’ll post another day (probably Sunday, since tomorrow is Caturday). Stay tuned!

Next up: one last gate between the chicken run and veggie garden, that will replace those small holes, and let me get between the two more easily.

Berry cage: back gate

Another few hours on the berry cage project yesterday.

Despite what I said at the end of the last post on this project, I decided to make the gates before finishing off the wire, since I suspect I might need more materials. Okay, I know I do, unless I decide to sacrifice my spare 10′ or 12′ 2x4s. I don’t need that long for the gates, and like to preserve them, since those lengths are too long to bring home in my truck, whereas I can always pick up more 8′ lumber.

Yesterday, I built the new back gate.

Here’s the assembled lumber portion, using much the same design as I used for the chicken run (though a little different):

Here’s the gate mounted, with the hinges, latch, and handle (despite what it might look like, the gate is level; the angle at the top is because the top rail and roof slopes gently):

A close-up of a hinge:

And the latch and handle:

I then added the fencing wire to it, including the chicken wire layer at the bottom (that helps keep smaller animals out):

To make it easier to open from inside, I added a wire pull cord to the latch:

The finished latch etc:

The old front door of the veggie garden is slowly disintegrating; it will be replaced with a new one like the above:

Next up: another gate!

Berry cage: starting fencing wire

Just a few hours on the berry cage construction this weekend: installing the welded wire on the new fence portion, that divides the berry cage from the rest of the veggie garden.

The rightmost portion has an angle to accommodate the slope:

Right side done; working on the left side:

All done:

A view through the doorways:

The left side also has interesting angles for the slope:

Next up: replacing the wire on the old portion of the fence, with this smaller gauge wire.

Berry cage: poles and rails

The weather last weekend wasn’t great, and it’s going to pack in again next week, so I decided to spend some days this week on building the berry cage in the veggie garden. An advantage of being self-employed is that I can shift my time around as needed, in this case to take advantage of decent weather during the week.

I ended up doing four days (Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday), which is equivalent to two weekends, so all works out. I’m working on the weekends to offset that time.

Anyway, I started by making a simple wooden stand out of scrap wood, to help support the 10′ lumber when cutting it with my table saw:

Then I continued installing the poles and roof beams, starting work in rather frosty mornings (and the highs were only around 45° F / 7° C):

Here’s a pole in a hole. The 10′ poles are about 2′ underground, 8′ above ground:

As before, I used boards and clamps to hold the poles straight:

I also added a post level, that is tied onto the pole, which is much more convenient than using a straight level, plus a string to line up the posts:

Here’s a view down a pole, showing a temporary block clamped to the pole, making it easier to position each horizontal rail board by myself:

Here’s a board resting on the block, ready to be nailed:

Another new acquisition was another stop ladder; a new 8′ one, in addition to the older 6′ one, very kindly picked up from Home Depot by Jenn. Having two ladders really saved a lot of time when measuring, positioning, and nailing two ends of a rail, and no doubt had safety benefits, not having to move a ladder as often:

The last pole:

I didn’t want to bother with covering my tools with a tarp, or carrying them individually back to the hoop house shelter at the end of each day, so I put them in one of our carts. Including keeping the air nailer compressor in the cart, which makes it easier to move around as needed, too. Here it’s all loaded up, ready to go back to the hoop house for the night (you can see the hoop house in the background):

A view of the roof beams:

Completed poles and roof beams:

Adding bottom and middle rails on the front fence:

I brought the welded wire over to check the position of the middle rail:

An extra rail on the sloped part of the fence:

Fence rails done:

A view of the front and back doorways:

Another view of the finished poles and roof beams:

Next up: adding the welded wire fencing!

Berry cage: top beam, first pole

A little more progress on the berry cage project.

I started by moving some of the holes a little, as was mentioned last week, to position them better. Here’s my earth auger, which makes digging holes much easier:

I then temporarily placed poles in the holes:

Next I removed the top course of wire from the existing fence, since I need to add boards to attach the top of the new wire, and the roofing wire:

I also extended some of the poles that were a bit short:

Here’s the new top beam; that will be the height of the roof (about 8′):

Finally, I carefully positioned the first new pole, bracing it with boards and clamps, and attaching the two roofing beams — one with the board in a vertical orientation, attached to the side of the new post and an original fence post, another with the board in a horizontal orientation, 5′ from the old fence (for the width of the fencing wire):

Here’s a closer view of those roof boards:

Next time I will continue placing posts and their roofing beams.

Berry cage: new bed, back doorway, moving tap

Last week I posted about the start of a new building project: a berry cage in the veggie garden.

This past weekend I continued work on it, starting with a bit of prep stuff: taking the table saw, circular saw, air compressor, nailer, and various other tools to the hoop house and veggie garden, and re-stacking the delivered lumber to access the bits I need first.

8′ and 10′ 2×4 pressure-treated boards:

10′ treated posts, and welded wire fencing:

Next, I took the new untreated lumber to the veggie garden, and built a new garden bed in what will be inside the berry cage. I decided it’d be easier to do this before the enclosure is built, rather than after. In progress:

This bed is the same size as the others, 10×4′, though is on a slope, so has extra lumber shaped to the contour of the ground, to make it level:

Thusly:

The veggie garden is fenced, and had only one entrance, which was fine, but a little inconvenient at times. Especially now that there’s a greenhouse behind the garden. As part of the decision to place it there, I planned to add a back door to the veggie garden, to make it easier to get to the greenhouse.

So I started adding the new doorway; removing the fencing wire, and adding a new pole:

I then cut the fence boards to make the doorway (3.5′ wide):

The opposite view, showing how convenient it’ll be for the greenhouse:

One issue was that there was a tap in the doorway, so I also moved that (I do enjoy the garden plumbing!):

The new tap position:

Hole filled (a little mounded at present, but it’ll settle flat):

I also placed some boards on the ground to help visualize where the roof beams will go. You can see two short vertical posts marking where the poles will go, boards standing on their edges that will be attached to the posts, and boards lying flat between those, that’ll be spaced for the roofing wire. Basically the same design as in the chicken run.

I do need to move some of the holes a little for optimal placement. I had measured the holes based on centering them between the beds, but this arrangement will work better, having the poles in the center of the cage next to a bed instead of in the middle of the walkway:

Finally, I temporarily closed the back doorway with a spare gate panel; I will build a proper gate later (in the same style as the chicken run gates):

Next up, I will tweak the holes, and start installing the poles and beams.