Frankenfeeder.

Remember waaaaaay back in the first week of September when I was all fired up about creating reduced-labour, pest-proof, weather-resisitant, waste-resistant feeders for outside the barn? I wonder what ever happened to that…

I got stumped, is what happened, and you know what the law of bodies, rest and motion has to say about that.

Here’s the thing. The junction thingy at the bottom of the proposed feeder, on its own, is completely open at all three ends. The feed-storage tube fills the top opening; the chicken puts her head into the 45-degree side opening, with a cool pluggy thing for nighttime. But what of the bottom opening?

It needs to be sealed off, certainly, but is that enough? It seems to me that the hen can only reach into the side tube so far, and any feed beyond her reach will just sit there, unrotated, and, eventually…rot. That can’t be good. Am I right?

It seemed to me that there needed to be two separate “fillings” at the bottom of the junction: one horizontal, and one at 45 degrees, thusly:

This would assure smooth flowthrough of the feed from the top storage tube, and minimal stagnant feed, with the potential to ruin the contents of the tube. Are you with me?

This is all well and good, in theory, but how to apply this brilliance practically? I thought of two applications of concrete, one horizontal, the other at a 45-degree angle. Elegant, yes, but the weight! Some other kind of filler, perhaps? I turned to The Man, who is an endless source of I Would Never Have Thought Of That thinking.

What I hadn’t calculated was that The Man, rather than running some ideas by me, would just go ahead and do it, when I was away from the house. Which we love, honey; don’t get me wrong. I was just caught off guard.

The Man cannot be accused of conventional thinking. I don’t think you’re going to believe me when I tell you what he did; I barely believe it myself. He filled the horizontal section (“A”), with a roll of toilet paper. You heard me.

But, but…what is the blue, rubbery substance I see at the bottom of the tube? I hear you ask. It is the remains of a deflated Jumping Ball, così:

I was…speechless. I still had to find a way to deal with the troublesome “B” area, but “A” was well and truly filled. The Man further introduced the idea of portability, but I’ll get back to that later.

It took ages for me to get back to the project, and I finally took it on yesterday afternoon, with two small blocks of 2×4 and an old kitchen cutting board.

(Perhaps now might be a good moment to interject the following caveat: DO NOT ATTEMPT THIS AT HOME. This information is intended for entertainment purposes only, and is, in no way, intended to be educational or instructional. Do not attempt this tomfoolery yourself. There must be thousands of better ways to do this. Do one of those.)

I began work yesterday with a roll of toilet paper stuck down a 4″ PVC junction, covered by the skin of a dead Jumping Ball. The bottom was sealed with (say it with me) duct tape.

The Man and I were given two of those very thin, clear plastic cutting boards by his mother. I absolutely abhor them as cutting boards, but, I must confess, they’ve proved very valuable with the chickens. One went to divide the coop nesting box in half, and I cut up the other to create the “slide” for the ceiling of the “B” compartment.

It took time, patience, and swearing in three languages to determine into what shape, precisely, the plastic needed to be cut to serve this purpose. Once I did it for one, I traced around it for the other:

The weight of the feed would be too great for the thin plastic to uphold on its own, so some sort of support was called for. I found two small pieces of discarded 2×4, about 2.5″ across. I wedged one into the tube, on top of the Jumping Ball rubber, forming the 45-degree angle I needed to make the “B” section. I then overlayed the above plastic piece of cutting board, and drilled through the cutting board plastic, into the wood. From above:

Looking in through the feed hole:

Once the feed was in place, the plastic would lay flat against the inside of the PVC, preventing any feed from entering section “B”. Is that not ridiculous??!! I am mortified at how idiotic and inelegant this thing is. Please, don’t tell.

Back to portability…

When we discussed the issue, initially, The Man heard a word I didn’t say, and came away from the conversation thinking that portability was a big concern. The feeders must be portable. As I had originally intended to strap the tubes to the outer barn wall, this was, clearly, not the case. However…

When The Man pulled out a gorgeous, old little red wagon, with the idea of the two feed tubes being portable, I began to see the possibilities. The wagon can live outside in fair weather, and be easily pulled into the showroom of the barn for inclement weather. It can also be used to haul a large quantity of feed, if desired.

Cute, yes? I knew there was a reason I married him.

I used plastic cable zip ties to secure the two junctions to opposite corners of the wagon, leaving the feed storage tubes off, for the moment, until the flock became accustomed to the idea. I filled the junctions with scratch, rather than feed, to sweeten the deal.

I could have just waited for their natural curiousity to get the better of them, I suppose, but we all know that wasn’t going to happen. I called them all over with my treat call: “looklooklooklooklook!!!”, and they came barreling toward me. I was sure 1.0 could be counted upon to see it, get it, and spread the word.

I lifted Coraline up into the cart, then Tallulah, then Trixie, then Buffy, all to no avail. They couldn’t wait to get out of the wagon. Poopypants. I like my gratification instant, thank you very much.

So, I waited. And you could have knocked me over with a bi-coloured feather when it was Dorothy who lead the charge:

Jezebel was right behond her, because…chicken see, chicken do. It still seems to be 2.0 doing most of the feeding, but they’ll all catch on in time. Goodness knows, it didn’t take the local blue jays long. (Sigh.)

Come dusk, I inserted the feed storage tubes, top caps in place, and the caps for the feed holes. All caps were greased with a little vegetable shortening, because they can be brutal to pry off. I really hope our local raccoon thinks so, too.

I left the cart out overnight, as it was to be a fair night, and there it was this morning, unmolested. I did underestimate the impact dew might have on my new morning feed routine; the caps were hard to remove.

The finished project looks like this:

It is not at all what I had envisioned, and, yet, it exceeds what I had envisioned in some ways. I’m just rolling with it, people. So to speak.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, it’s beginning to rain, so I think I’ll go bring my little red wagon inside the barn…

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2 thoughts on “Frankenfeeder.

    • I know! I thought this would be the very model of elegant simplicity, and…now it’s MacGyver gone very, very wrong. Every time, dammit.

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