Failures are a part of life, and sometimes you just need to push through.
In my recent project for my chickens I designed a mobile cooling station for my chickens, and part of the designed worked out great. However, another part was almost a total failure.
In this episode I will walk you through the good, the annoying, and what I see as a fail in the project.
This is all about learning, and I think I have done a lot of that. My goal has always been to make mistakes, and let other people learn from them. So this is 100% an episode accomplishing just that.
Hello, and welcome to the 26th episode of the BudDIY podcast. I’m your host Buddy Lindsey. And today we’re going to talk about the project I’ve been working on for my chickens for the last week and how, while it was successful to a degree in one specific area, it was a failure, pretty bad, in another area. And I’ll get into that in the episode today.
But before that, if you haven’t visited the website in a while, visit B-U-D-D-I-Y.net and sign up for the email newsletter if you haven’t, and be notified when stuff comes out. We’re also available on most major podcasting platforms. So you can look in there and hit subscribe. And if you want to, go ahead and feel free to leave a review. Finally, if you’re on YouTube, go ahead and hit that subscribe button and that notification bell, so you know when new episodes are released.
So with that, let’s jump into today’s episode. So what’s been going on around here, which is the first segment, I just mostly been working on the chicken thing. Haven’t really had a lot of chance to do a lot. Still cleaning up family stuff, based on my grandmother dying. But that should be done completely this week, and I should be back to being able to work on projects. That is why I was able to actually finish the chicken mobile cooling, mobile watering station for the chickens.
And I got it out there yesterday for them to start getting used to. And so that was a really a lot of fun. I was able to jump in and start looking at where I left off on the bookshelf project on the weekend woodworker course, and just getting back into the swing of things.
I also did a lot of editing, actually on both videos, one for the chicken thing and one for the table, so that I can hopefully release a video for each of those inside the next couple of weeks, and get some more content out there. I feel like I’ve been a little sparse on content in a lot of different ways the last few weeks, but I’m hoping to just jump back into it and get into it and get going.
Especially, getting into some more of the woodworking stuff. I miss doing it and I want to just jump back in. Hopefully, I can do that and knock out a few things. So with that, let’s go ahead and jump into the episode today. I’m going to mix the main segment and a failure, because at the end of the day, part of the project was a failure, in the sense it didn’t accomplish one of the goals. But it’s a success because of the end of the day, this was an experiment to figure out a few things.
So with that in mind, let’s talk about the chicken tractor a little bit … the chicken tractor … the mobile cooling watering station, and where did things go right? Well, the thing that went well was getting the PVC pipes put into place and getting it connected across. I ordered some quarter-inch pipes that had a little premade threaded insert areas for some of these water nipples for the chickens.
That went extremely well. It worked out really well. Just connected them all together, screwed in the water nipples. Boom, good to go. Saved a lot of time of trying to drill holes into PVC and get everything lined up. It just went super smooth. I was super excited at how well that went. I mean, literally, I think doing all of that probably took a minute of effort, whereas it probably would have been an hour trying to get everything drilled out properly if I hadn’t gone ahead and bought it.
So that 12 bucks on Amazon was well worth the price to get those premade insert things for a quarter-inch … or it was a half-inch PVC pipe, to be able to screw the water nipples in. Totally go that … The other thing is, that I wasn’t really sure how to hold the pipes on under the four-by-fours. I actually think I ended up with a good solution.
I cut some 45s at 45-degree squares, put them up there and then did some outer plates on them to hold them in, and then was able to put the pipe on top of that. And then I strapped it with some strapping that has all those little holes in them and you screw them in and you wrap it … Anyway, that worked out really well.
I think it’s good and it holds incredibly well all the water. I’m really fortunate in how well it worked out. It’s slotted at the bottom, because at the bottom of the pipe, I have a little screw-in thing, so that I can undo that at some point and let water drain out and clean it all out, just to make sure things stay clean, because that was one of the goals in doing this is, I wanted to be able to seal the water in a sense to be able to keep clean water all the time, because with the bucket approach that I’ve been doing, water can get in there.
I have to clean it regularly about every other day. It just gets super frustrating and super time consuming in the end, whereas this is an opportunity for it to stay cleaner longer and less maintenance, which is always a good thing. Another one of the successes I had is, when I was looking through all the PVC stuff at Lowe’s, I was like, “We have the screw-on caps. And then we also have the regular caps I’ll just kind of pop on and pop off. And I wasn’t really sure what to use.”
Part of me was like, “Let’s seal it in and do the threaded calves.” And that’s actually, again, what I went through with the bottom. But on the top, I just did the end pieces that are a little round or whatever. You can just push it on top and it covers it, and that worked out great. I just slide it on. It goes on fairly easily. And I just slide it off. I have enough gap between the four-by-four that’s holding it up that it doesn’t really interfere. I mean, that worked out great.
I think doing the PVC system has actually worked out a lot better than I thought it would initially. I am super excited about how well things are going. It holds a ton of water. Took me “a while” to fill it up. I think it’s going to work out really, really well once I can get the chickens trained to actually drink from the thing. I think the final thing that went really well with the project that was part of the experiment, is, I think that the four-by-fours hold a good amount of shadow on the PVC pipes. And then the over area holds a shadow on the cross PVC pipe to make sure that sun isn’t directly hitting it all day.
So the water stays cooler, and the only thing that really heats it is ambient air around it. I think that worked out really well. I did a little bit of playing and SketchUp, just to double check everything, but in the end, it’s a four-by-four. And it’s a four-inch pipe on the front of the four-by-four, facing directly away from the sun. It was bound to work out pretty well.
Logically, it seemed like it should have it should’ve, and I’m thinking it’s going to do great. And then also where I put it next to the chicken tractor, it’s actually providing shade from a side angle in the afternoon and in the evening, where the sun is going to be its most intense. So I think that’s going to work out great on providing plenty of shadow for the PVC, so that it doesn’t go bad too soon. So again, another success. That part of the experiment was great.
So let’s jump into a couple of the hiccups that I ran across along the way, which, I mean, you can’t do a project without finding some kind of hiccup or something that stops you in your path. One of those was cutting the four-inch PVC pipe. I have these nice little cutters for half-inch, one-inch, two-inch PVC, which, you get much above that, and you got to get something else.
Well, I was originally going to use a Sawzall or reciprocating saw and I’m like, “You know what? It shouldn’t be too hard to do it with a Hacksaw,” so I just grabbed a hacksaw. While it cut great and cut pretty quick, man, that blade was all over the place and I have some pretty crazy cuts on there. So I do not recommend using a hacksaw.
I had to actually try to shape the end cut to get it a little bit flatter. That didn’t go so well either. So definitely use something else like a reciprocating saw or I don’t know, whatever you want to do, I don’t recommend doing a hacksaw at all. One of the other hiccups that I ran into was, when I put it all together, and I put it up and I filled it with water, the thing just started leaking like crazy.
And I’m like, “I have no idea what’s going on. Why is it … What’s going on?” I mean, it probably took me 20 minutes and finally realized that I didn’t put any Teflon tape on it. So make sure you have Teflon tape available. Just try to remember that. So once I unscrewed everything, because I had it cinched down tight, so I had to basically bear hug the thing and be able to pull on some vices to unscrew it.
Finally, got it done, done, put some Teflon tape, screw it back together, and boom, worked great. But man, that killed about 20 minutes trying to figure out what in the world was going on. And then undoing everything, because I was tightening it down so tight. And then finally, the hiccup that was there, while it was a success and I think it worked out really well in holding up the pipes, it was the little angled plate things that I built for the pipes.
I mean, I probably spent an hour and a half playing with a whole bunch of different ideas, because I wasn’t really sure how I want to do accomplish holding up the tubes against the four-by-four. Sometimes you just got to play with ideas and play with designs and different scrap wood that you have. But I think in the end, I turned out with something good. I mean, it works really, really well, but it was a hiccup because I didn’t know how I wanted to do it. And it ended up costing me a while.
So with that we, we’ve covered some of the good, some of the, eh, it was kind of annoying. Now let’s get to some of the failures of the project and this will be part of the failure of the week, even though it’s part of the main segment. And there’s a number of them. The first one is, the thing is too light. I was hoping that it wouldn’t be as light as it is.
Fortunately, when it’s weighed down with water, there is some extra weight, but at the end of the day, the thing is too light. I was hoping it would be heavier. I have a couple of ideas on where to add some more wood to make it a little bit heavier, but I think I’m going to have to come up with some sort of stakes to hold it down.
Honestly, if I’d use a different word, like if I treated two-by-fours or something, it would’ve added a bunch of extra weight. If I’d’ve made it bigger, it would have added more weight. And that actually leads me into my next one. In all honesty, I should’ve probably made it a little bit bigger. I already thought I was getting a little bit big, but I probably should’ve made it bigger, and not put as much of an angle on it for the roof, because that roof is a pretty good pitch.
I wasn’t sure what to do or how much to do, but I shouldn’t’ve done as much as I did, especially since this thing is mostly meant for the summer and not necessarily for the winter, that pitch is just too high. So it doesn’t allow as much shadow when the sun is basically right above it in the middle of the day. There’s just a small little spot and then there’s angles. You just don’t necessarily have a lot of shade.
So if I’d’ve gone a little bit wider, definitely deeper, and less of an angle, still want the angle because a lot of that is for blocking the PVC, then I think it would have turned out a lot better. It would have added more material, which would have made the thing a little more heavier. Also, as part of that, I think something else that I would have done is made the top actually probably a foot wider on each side of where the four-by-fours are, and potentially maybe a foot taller.
I mean, the taller isn’t necessarily that big of a deal, because it does overhang the PVC as it is, but I think it would’ve gone wider and that would’ve given more lateral, or side-to-side shadow over those PVC pipes as well, and given more shade opportunity available. But live and learn.
In reality, I could probably take it apart and make it wider at some point, and leave the main structure. But if I had to redo this, I would totally do something a little bit differently on the size and angles. So different things. The next little failure of it is not necessarily a failure per se, but it’s kind of annoying, is, the chickens are scared of it right now.
I have wheels on it. And so I just rolled it into the thing and put it in. And those chickens were trying to get as far away as possible from that stupid thing for most of the day, the first day I had it in there. Now that it’s been in there for a little bit, they’re walking around it. They’re like, “Eh, I don’t know what I think of this thing,” and just poking around.
Hopefully, over the next few days, they’ll get used to being around it and dealing with it and everything, so that I can go out there and start maybe trying to work on training them to the water nipples. The downside is, they’ve never used the water nipples before. And so I don’t know how you easy it is going to be to train them on it.
I’ve read a bunch of different suggestions to give it a shot. And so we’ll just see how that goes. But I don’t know of a better way to deal with the thing and them not be scared of it, other than having already had it built, and then when their chicks, they get it. The next batch of laying hens that I get, definitely not going to be a problem because it’s going to be there with them day one. So we’ll see how that goes. But that is definitely kind of an annoyance, not necessarily a failure.
If you have any ideas, having dealt with chickens, on how to overcome that kind of thing, please let me know. But since it is a bigger thing and they’re small, they were like, “What’s going on?” One of the other things that frustrated me. Once I got it together initially, I put water in it and it started leaking, is, I had to pull all the PVC stuff apart.
There wasn’t one really an easy way to do that. I did leave a few things not sealed, so that I can take it apart, because I don’t want to have to cut PVC every time we needed to take it apart. And that’s doing okay. I mean, it does have a very minor leak I can probably fix. But I mean, it’s like a drop every five minutes, and the thing holds a couple of gallons of water. So a drop every five minutes, I don’t really care. The chickens will drink faster than that.
Hopefully, they’ll see the water dripping there and they’ll get a little curious about what’s going on, and they’ll go play with it and see. Maybe there’ll be a side benefit that I just thought of. But it’s not necessarily easy to take that PVC portion apart so that I can clean it later. So that’s something else I would like to see about tweaking and designing on. And maybe something, if you want to build one, to think through as well, and see if it’s easier way to design how that all that PVC stuff fits together.
A final part to this is the cost. This wasn’t a failure, but a huge frustration in the whole thing, because it really should have been bigger, which, at the current rate, would’ve added more costs. However, if I had made it bigger and it was more successful as to what I was going for, then I wouldn’t have felt as bad on the costs. But considering one of the goals, I don’t even think it accomplishes very well, and that’s providing an extra area of shade. Then to me, the cost is kind of frustrating.
The PVC was a little bit expensive because PVC’s expensive. And trying to get all the connectors and playing with it all, and all that, it’s a little bit of a frustration. I went with cedar, so that’s adds a little bit to the cost, because I wanted to make sure it lasts a long time. I mean, overall, I felt like it was a little too expensive. It was about $350, but at the end of the day, it was an experiment, and I’m going to continue to experiment.
There’s still several things that I want to do with it and I want to tweak on the design some. And if I ever build a new one or another one, then I have ideas for how to actually improve it. And we’ll see how things go. On that, I will keep you up to date with it, chickens workout with it. If they ever figure out how to drink out of it, and moving it around, and other things like that after I’ve used it for a while. I will keep everyone updated and posted on it.
On that note, I thank you for your time. I thank you for your patience in listening to everything. Please, definitely stay tuned as I move on to more in future projects, because there’s a lot coming up and I’m super excited about that. Have a good day and we will see you next time.