A New Door for the Chickens

When i first put the chicken area together i knew there were a few problems. I’m still working on ironing out all of them but one problem stood out above the others. I bought orpingtons. full grown, they would be 8 to 10 lb chickens. I had to put the front of the coop towards the door of the kennel so that i could access the human sized door to clean the coop out. However, that left the side of the coop with the chicken sized door in it facing the wall of the kennel. There were only a few inches between the kennel wall and the coop. That meant the chickens had to squeeze through a narrow passageway to get into the coop. They weren’t even half the size they would be as adults. Something had to be done because soon they wouldn’t be able to get in or out through that side of the coop. A small door would have to be cut within the larger door that i used to get in and clean the coop.

I had no idea how to do this. I just figured there was only one way to figure it out; draw a sketch and go to home depot. So i did.

This is what the Home Depot employees have to put up with on a regular basis.

Home Depot made pretty quick sense out of my diagram and they did sell me a saw that i could use to cut through the middle of an existing vertical piece of wood. I had the guy show me how to use it on the display example tethered to the shelf with wire before i left the store. I was nearly drooling as i carried my new tool to the car. Every tool i acquired represented one more thing i could do on the homestead. I thought of all the things i could cut with such a saw, all the projects that were now within my capability. I coveted new tools the way most women coveted their kylie lip kits. I thought of all the different types of interchangeable blades i would one day buy to accessorize my new treasure. One day.

The first problem was actually making the hole. I ended up having to get my power drill and put the biggest bit i owned on there. I then made a series of exactly adjacent holes in the door until i had a line of space that the saw blade could fit through. Then i ditched the drill and took over with the electric saw. It rattled the door too much and it threatened to take it off the hinges so i ditched it and tried the manual saw. I was getting nowhere with the manual saw because the door was bowing and swinging wildly and i couldn’t apply the force i needed to make the manual saw cut without snapping the door in half. So, i went to get the circular saw. I tried not to use the circular saw unless absolutely necessary. It didn’t play. Also, because of the safety, the view of where the cutting was happening was obscured. That meant the user never really knew where the saw was going. It was hard to be precise, though it did make very straight lines. I said a prayer and asked God to keep me from cutting my fingers off. Then i used the circular saw to finish the job the electric saw had started.

To my surprise, the coop cleaning door was not one piece of wood but many long skinny pieces of wood sitting together in a track. That meant, when i cut through them, the top pieces didn’t stay put but instead fell down. I suddenly realized that they were held in the tracks by staples. i didn’t have a staple gun. I used a hammer to try to drive the staples back in but the edges of the staples were not especially sharp and it was the momentum of the nail gun that had driven them in initially. I tabled the fixing the staples idea and decided to make my own. I cut the heads off picture hanging nails and filed them into points with my knife sharpening stone. Now i had two-sided pointy metal sticks. I used the hammer to drive them into the track and then placed the wood pieces into the track and hammered them upwards. It held for about a minute and then they all fell down.

The cleaning door of the coop was now in pieces and i had no way to put them back together, as i had cut a hole in the part that was being held in the track by gravity. Making my own staples had not worked. Perhaps i could glue it. I had only a few hours to figure it out and get the job done and cleaned up so i could put the chickens back in. They were in the stock tank in the back of the shed and around 10 am the temperature was set to become hot. The chickens would fry in the shed. I hustled the dogs inside the house, jumped in the car, and drove to the only store we had in town; the dollar general. There i made a beeline for the aisle with the tools and light bulbs. Sure enough, they had glue. Obviously, i needed something a little stronger than elmer’s glue. I was looking for wood glue but it wasn’t a hardware store and they didn’t have any. They did have gorilla glue. I thought, “that might work.” There was one package of gorilla glue that listed “wood” as one of the surfaces it worked on. It had two tubes of goo, one clear and one yellow. One was apparently resin and the other “hardener”. The customer was meant to dispense equal amounts of each goo into the tray provided and mix thoroughly for 60 seconds with a tongue depressor. It seemed like my best bet. I bought two of them. I rushed home to try my new solution.

I followed the instructions on the package and mixed the resin and hardener as instructed. Then i applied it to the boards of wood and stuck them up in the track where they had been. I had to wedge objects underneath them to hold them in place as it said it took 5 minutes to set initially and 25 to 35 minutes to dry completely.

When i had first realized that i was going to have to make another door in the chicken coop i had gone online and ordered a metal door and track. When the parts arrived in the mail i examined them and set them aside for a day when i had the time and the gumption to get it done. The holes were not pre-deilled. That meant, i had to drill holes in the metal; smaller holes than the size of the screws i’d be using. I drilled small holes through the metal and then switched the bit in the drill so i could push the screws into the holes, pinning the metal tracks against the wood door. The door wasn’t completely flat. There were some raised pieces of wood. So i had to screw in raised scraps of wood around them so the area i was driving screws into was level with the raised boards in the middle. I used the pieces i had cut out of the door since they were the same height as the ones i was trying to match. After i had gotten the tracks on i was quite proud of myself. The glue was holding and everything. However, there was a problem. The metal door kept falling out the bottom of the track. I needed something to catch it. I went to the shed and got a large piece of rectangular wood. It was meant to be a support beam for the porch railing a year ago but it never got incorporated. It was too heavy to put on the door as it was. The tiny screws wouldn’t hold the weight of the big piece of wood and a 10 lb chicken standing on it. I used the manual hand saw to cut a slimmer length of wood from it to go under the bottoms of the metal tracks. I then used the drill to attach it to the coop door horizontally with screws. The ledge caught the metal door and prevented it from falling through to the ground. It also served as a place for the chickens to stand, gripping the piece of wood with their talons.

i put the chickens back in their pen exactly one hour from application of resin to the boards of wood. I felt it with my fingers and it was solidified.

It was at this moment that i let myself breathe and realized what i had done. No instructions, no blueprint…i had gotten an idea in my head, ordered the parts, scrambled around, and made it work. There was nothing i couldn’t jimmy rig now. My mind was made up. If anything ever broke or needed building, i was going to do it, and furthermore, i was going to do it my way. It wouldn’t be pretty or fancified, but it would be functional. Putting a second door on the chicken coop was a learning experience for me. I learned that i could get where i was going if i stayed on the paved road and i could get there just as well if i veered off into the woods. It was the first project i had done without instructions. I had solved the problem of the behemoth chickens and the too-narrow alleyway.

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