The winter palace

Today’s project was upgrading the hendome.  The simple rebar and conduit structure served us well for years, but we wanted to make something a bit sturdier that would better able to withstand the snows.

We took a cue from the hoophouse and using a couple of 2″x4″s and some scrap lumber, we built a a 10’x8′ base frame and secured the hoops with conduit clamps.  We used a pipe connector to lengthen the pipe to 12 feet, and added a handle on the ends to help move the lightweight hoophouse about.  This allowed us to construct the hoophouse on the lawn near to tools.  Note the grass, amazingly green for December.

We used lightweight 4 mil plastic from the local hardware store as the cover.  A slightly heavier 6 mil cover would have been better, but this is what we could find.  Perfect is the enemy of good as they say, so we went with the 4 mil.  As with the hoopshouse, we secured the plastic to the frame with old plaster lathe (from a long ago project), and stapled to the base with the air compressor.

Once we had the cover on, we carried it to the hen yard, and set it down in a level spot, set up a perch for the girls’ afternoon naptime, and spread some mulch hay.  We’ll create an wind block with stacks of hay bales in the open end, leaving a small entrance for the hens.  This new hoop gives the hens about 80 square feet of covered area to roam during the winter months. 

We liked the idea so much we built another small hoop to cover the lawn tractor.

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11 Responses to “The winter palace”

  1. Robin Says:

    The girls are going to love their new winter palace!

  2. Kate@LivingTheFrugalLife Says:

    Cool! Looks like you got nice sturdy handles to move it too. Your lucky girls will be happy this winter, I’m sure.

  3. GrafixMuse Says:

    Looks like the girls will have a nice winter recreation area. Good idea to make one for the tractor as well. We have to take the mower deck off ours to get it to fit through the doorway of our shed.

    • Ali Says:

      We used to keep ours in the barn, but it took up so much space I hated having it in there. This will keep it nice and dry, and no colder than the barn is most of the time. This might work for you guys in future winters. We used a piece of scavenged plywood to make a floor, which I think will keep it even drier.

  4. Stevie Says:

    Nice! The girls will love that hay to snuggle in. Unfortunately my hens would use it as an excuse not to use the nest boxes and I’d be digging through hay for eggs. My girls lack discipline ;)
    Stevie @ ruffledfeathersandspilledmilk.com

    • Ali Says:

      Ssssh, don’t give them any ideas! We keep the food in the coop, and they are already used to the nest box, so I hope they stick to it, but free-range eggs are a possibility.

  5. Rick Says:

    Great idea, I may have to build one myself. We have had such a mild winter so far that our hens have been okay free ranging the yard unprotected. I’m sure that will change any time.

    • Ali Says:

      Rick, one of the great benefits is that it captures all the nice hen-generated fertilizer for the compost pile or the garden. That alone makes it work doing, plus, when the hens are warmer/drier, they need less food or are more productive as their energy isn’t being used to keep them warm.

  6. kitsapfg Says:

    Love it! That is inspired and because you can move it – should be very practical and useful for years to come. Where do you put the nest boxes?

  7. Spencer Says:

    Did you use the plastic conduit or the metal conduit? Great work and love the ideas.

    • Ali Says:

      Spencer, we used plastic conduit. When the plastic conduit fails we will probably switch to metal now that our local extension office has a conduit bender to loan out. Most of the conduit we have is over 5 years old and still looks good, though.

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