Thursday, November 10, 2011

Hoop House!

Last weekend, Byron began building a hoop house that will be the winter home for our chickens and, we're thinking, our cows.  We're following the excellent plans found on this site, but are tweaking things a bit to suit our needs.  If you end up building one and follow these plans, be sure to check out the link at the bottom of the article to the post about the improvements he made to his original design.

I should also mention that this is going to be a multi-purpose structure, which is how we'd like to build most of our outbuildings.  Beside housing animals, we're planning on using it as a brooder and greenhouse in the spring, since the covering will be a semi-transparent poly that will allow sunlight in.  In the summer, we may roll the poly back and plant directly into the ground (after cleaning out the most recent droppings, obviously).

This is supposed to be a one-day/weekend project, but like everything else around here, it's taking us longer thanks to a full-time job and useless daylight saving time.  But here's the progress so far:
The hoop house will be accessed through the garden, at one end.
The PVC is installed over rebar.
We used 20' long 3/4" outdoor (schedule 40) PVC for the structure, which is supported by rebar. We have about 30" of rebar in the ground and about 15" above. Obviously, the rebar will not last forever, but it's a cheaper fix than ordering a multi-thousand dollar catalog greenhouse.

The perimeter is treated 2x12s.  We used deeper 2x's since we'll be housing animals and want to be able to add bedding throughout the season, as needed.

A surprise visitor came to check out the progress.  Our rooster spotted this eagle from several hundred yards away!

You may have noticed the cedar post in the middle of the structure a few photos ago.  Three posts will serve as columns for the 2x6 ridge board we're adding to support the hoops.  .

Installing post #???? on the property!
The posts at either end are about 2.5' from the ends, which will allow access but will mean that the ridge board will cantilever a bit. I'm pretty sure it will be fine; we don't anticipate major snow loads since the heat from the animals inside will (hopefully) cause any accumulation to melt and slide off quickly.

The end of the hoop house closest to the garden will be closed in with plastic panels and a door, and the other end will be open to allow the cows to come in and out as they please.  We'll build up a "wall" of hay bales and chicken wire to separate the chickens and cows, and we're going to reinforce the cows' end of the hoop house with wire so they don't destroy the poly.  Frankly, I'm a little nervous about the cows making their winter home in here, since they did this to their portable shelter:

Bad cows.
But then Byron reinforced it with leftover wire fencing from the garden:

Good cows.
Check back soon for more updates!

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