Today, I’m going to discuss framing the box at the top of our modified Ussery shelter. We started by completely framing in the floor and nesting boxes, which you can see in yesterday’s post.
In order to close in the box and protect the girls at night, we designed two triangular panels to fit on either side of the floor (the roof being already secure in Ussery’s initial design). These ends screw flush against the back frame and the frame of the fifth rafter forward (when slid into place). I started by measuring the hypotenuse of the triangle at the very bottom of our support board, ensuring that I added the width that the rafters to this measurement. We then measured the height from the bottom of the support board to the apex of the roof at the midpoint. Finally, we used these measurements (plus an additional inch on either side of the top apex measurement since the ridgepole has a width of two inches) to trace a triangle onto our plywood. We cut out one, measured it against the frame (Victory!) and then traced a second. It’s important to remember when you trace your second to cut out a notch where it will have to slide up around the ridgepole (since what will become the front piece is inside the shelter, rather than attached flush against the front of the building.
Jason then made a template for the two doors (roughly 12” L x 18”W) that we planned to cut into each triangle – one for eggs on the back (which sits two inches above the bottom to ensure nothing rolls out when I open it) and one for cleaning in the front (which he put in the same place before cutting the door all the way to the bottom, to allow for sweeping out any unwanted chicken droppings (so there wouldn’t be a threshold in the way). He installed both doors with utility hinges before we screwed them onto the shelter.
The final step to completing the roosting box was to add in two roosts. We did this because we have a few girls who stubbornly insist on being as high as possible at night (through we can’t really blame them). We added two braces about a foot from the apex of the roof, their edges cut at 45 degree angles. In order to keep the ends from cracking, we drilled pilot holes before securing them in place.
Jason then added a final coat of white paint on exposed areas, while I began to attach a layer of hardware cloth to the back of the shelter. We chose to cover the ENTIRE structure in hardware cloth, as it provides superior poultry protection.
Finally, we installed the roofing. We were careful in placing an extra row of screws that drilled directly into the base to ensure that pests would be kept out, though I will likely still run two extra stringers along the bottom to close a few small gaps that remain.
Check back next weekend for finishing touches and the girls’ first time in their new home!