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Saturday, September 2, 2017

Building an Inexpensive Duck Run

We just finished the duck run. It's 8 feet by 16 feet that encloses the duck house and pond. The ducks don't even want to leave it when the door is open, and instead the chickens leave their coop and join the ducks. I have to admit the tire pond makes it look like poultry paradise.

The run is made of PVC pipe, treated 2 by 4s, and chicken wire. I know many of you will frown on chicken wire, but we wanted to keep the cost minimal. Hardware cloth would have made for a very expensive run. This run was built for under $100.

Tire Pond
There are still finishing touches that need to be added. This setup would be great in warm climates but will not withstand a Minnesota winter like this. It will need to be tweaked for winter. Hopefully green house plastic and more braces will keep it up through winter.

Friday, August 25, 2017

How to Build a Duck House for Free

My preschoolers and I fell in love with ducklings and started building a duck house after seeing baby ducklings at our last visit to purchase chickens. My kids love projects, and I proposed that we think creatively and design a duck house using stuff we already have. Luckily we have scraps from our chicken coop and house. We also searched Facebook garage sale groups. It was trial and error. Our first attempt was to build a house using old pallets that my parents had from building their house. Those turned into an additional compost bin instead of a duck house. I just tied four pallets together with wire to make a compost bin. We ended up with a duck house spending $10.70 for the outdoor pond, which we probably could have got for free if we took more time to search. The only expense was an old tractor tire found on a Facebook garage sale site for $10. I know a lot of people have to pay to get rid of them so it would be possible to find one for free.  However we were anxious to have a complete home for our new ducklings. We also bought a few sedums to plant around the pond for $0.70. Here is what we used and how we built our duck house for practically free.

We had some extra plywood and 2x4s, roll roofing, nails, screws, hardware cloth, paint, a tire, siding, trim, landscaping plastic, and tarps.  Luckily my five year old is handy and does an amazing job hammering nails. He stuck with me helping me for the 3 full days it took us to build it. My preschool daughter assisted as well. It was an awesome lesson about engineering, safety, teamwork,  and budgeting.

First we used plywood with 2x4s as a frame creating the floor and roof. We propped them up with 2x4s for support creating a lean-two. We nailed the 2x4s to the floor and roof. I did most of the hammering for his part because I had to hammer at an angle.

Next I used leftover siding and hammered it on the front. I had to add a few 2x4s inside in the floor and ceiling for extra support. I then painted the siding to match our house and chicken coop with leftover paint.

I used extra roll roofing for the roof. I actually took some from under our chicken coop so it isn't in perfect condition, but I don't think the ducklings will mind. I used extra trim to line the the bottom.

I sawed extra trim to line the front. I used extra white paint to paint the trim to match the house and chicken coop.For the sides of the duck house and I used hardware cloth for ventilation. Ducks need more ventilation than chickens. In the winter I plan to modify this. I might line the hardware cloth with plastic. I hammered plastic on the floor for an easier clean out. The door was made from a frame and hardware cloth fastened with clips.

I used some plastic bins for nesting boxes and sleeping areas. I put straw in the boxes. We found a tote for a swimming pool and created a ramp out of plywood and 2x4s. We took the top of the tote and used as a tray to put their feeder. We quickly discovered that ducklings are messier eaters than chickens. The cover makes for easy clean out.

Finally we made a pond from a tractor tire lined with a tarp. We lined the pond with rocks. This cost us $10 for the tractor tire. We added a few plants that we got for 79 cents.

We are in love with our ducklings. I'm sure we will adjust the setup as time goes on. We are in the process of building a pen to surround the duck house. Stay tuned for our next post on building a duck pen/run.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Can a Duck Drive a Truck in the Muck?

New children's book just released! Available in print and on Kindle!

Bud and Sis explore rhyming in the outdoors. They ask many silly questions and learn about the outdoors and rhyming. This funny interactive story with Bud and Sis is one you don't want to miss.

Get a copy here!

Sunday, August 6, 2017

15 Things to Consider When Building a Chicken Coop

Months after writing 10 Things to Consider When Building a Chicken Coop, I realized there is really 15 so here are 5 more things to consider. After losing one of our chickens to a neighbor dog we modified our coop to keep unwanted guests out. The neighbor dog charged through 1/4 inch hardware cloth that was nailed under the coop and grabbed a chicken, our favorite chicken. We thought our coop kept predators out, but we were mistaken. Here is what we changed about our original design.

Buried Hardware Cloth 

First it's important to use hardware cloth instead of chicken wire. Weasels and other small predators can sneak through chicken wire and it is not as strong. We also buried it and folded it in the back.

Barrier to Keep Predators Out

Plastic, shingles, cinder blocks filled with rock surround the coop to keep out predators. Two dogs were spotted in our yard this morning and couldn't get in the coop.

Sand in the Run

Mud was too muddy, straw too messy, so we are trying sand. The chickens love taking dust baths and playing in the kids' sandbox so I decided to make their run a sandbox. It's important that they have somewhere to take a dust bath, and sand is easy to clean with a kid sized rake.

Vaseline to Connect PVC Pipes in Feeders

PVC waterers and feeders need to be cleaned out so the best way to connect them is to use Vaseline. After cleaning reapply Vaseline to connect the bottom cap. See more about PVC Feeders.

Plywood for Easy Cleaning

I added a sheet of plywood covering the floor and nesting box for easy clean out. It's easy to lift the plywood out and dump in the neighboring compost bin.

See 10 Things to Consider When Building a Chicken Coop For 10 more things to consider. What other considerations do you have? We'd love more ideas.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

PVC Pipe Chicken Feeders and Waterers

Chicken chores have become easier after we installed a PVC pipe feeder and waterer.  We cut a hole in the roof about 3 3/4 inch in diameter on each side of the coop.  We then installed flashing for a tight seal. We put a PVC cap on the top of each feeder to keep rain and debris out. They can be taken off to refill and clean the feeders.

PVC Waterer

We ordered water cups from Beak Time.  We drilled into the PVC pipe and screwed the cups in.  The pullets caught on quickly and figured out that if they stick their heads into a cup their beak will hit the dispenser and dispense water into the cup.  I was worried about leaking, but it has been working great with no leaks.  We sealed the bottom with a PVC Cap sealed with duct seal.  Then we rested the bottom on two of 2 x 4s.  To prevent scum I pull off the cap and clean the pipe out as needed.  I can then seal it back up with more duct seal.  This has been awesome because we don't have to walk into the coop to fill up the waterer, and it doesn't need to be filled up every day.  It stays full and clean for a week although I check it daily just to make sure.  

PVC Pipe Feeder

We used two pieces of 3 inch PVC pipe connected with an elbow and caps on each side.  We cut a trough into the bottom pipe.  We sealed the elbow and pipes together with duct seal, and we put a few pieces of 2 x 4s underneath for extra stability. My son loves his chicken chores more than ever, and the girls always have plenty of food and water.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Bud and Sis are Coming Back Better Than Ever

My children love learning the alphabet with Explore Outdoor ABCs with Bud and Sis and can't wait for Outdoor Rhyme Time to be published. I realize that they are biased because I'm their mom, but they are part of the reason I started writing outdoor children's books.

Thank you for all who have supported my first book. If you have a copy feel free to write an honest review. You can now order Explore Outdoor ABCs with Bud and Sis on Amazon for print or kindle for $2 off list price.  I have many books started, and plan to have the next published and ready to purchase by September 1st.

I'm looking for reviewers that want to review Outdoor Rhyme Time before it is available for purchase. If you have any experience reviewing books and would like a free copy to review please email me at

Outdoor Rhyme Time incorporates humor and rhyming in the outdoors. My preschoolers gave it passing reviews (I know biased), but I need more adult reviews. I hope to inspire children everywhere to love the outdoors and reading.

We will have limited copies available for pre-sale at a discounted price. Please contact me at if you'd like to reserve a pre-sale copy.  Thank you!

Monday, July 10, 2017


Looking for a cheap unforgettable outdoor vacation? Consider taking a trip to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Here are some pictures of our last trip. No phones, no motors, no distractions. We also had great luck fishing.