The Combine

assembling the Combine (1)We built the Combine in order to house Poppy’s Horde, in the summer of 2010/11.

The name is a pun – our first ‘moveable’ house was the Chicken Tractor, and this one was a scaled up version – a Combine (Harvester). Plus it was made up entirely of salvage from previous constructions (especially from the old Loft-style Apartment), and hence it ‘Combined’ lots of other houses in its makeup.assembling the Combine (2)

The intention was for this house to be moveable, so that it could be shifted to fresh ground as needed. Our first big challenge, after making it, was shifting it through the orchard gate … we hadn’t quite taken enough consideration of the added width from the roofing. assembling the Combine (3)And while it’s true that both the clearlite and the corrugated iron can be folded down without breaking, it’s not always the easiest thing in the world to do, and especially not to hold them down while manoeuvring through a small space …

the combine – just add HordeWhen Patrick joined the flock, we converted the Combine slightly – shortened the perch, and added a dividing panel to make a nesting area (big enough – in theory – for two or even three hens).

The Horde in The Combine (end view) There are things about the design that aren’t perfect – the multiple joins are a haven for red mites to breed up, and the nestbox tends to be used by only one hen at a time. And it’s a bit heavy to move around easily – takes two sack-barrows and a lot of repositioning as you go. There also isn’t a good place to heave either end up from – we tried adding various things as handles, but the overhang of the iron roof makes a lot of that sort of thing a bit perilous, as it is exactly throat height.

But all in all, the combine has done sterling service for us. Hooray!the Combine, 16082011

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