May 1, 2012

Building a Duck House

I make stuff, but I don't really know how to build things.  I initially imagined building a simple house for our ducks on my own - armed with a circular saw, a miter, and a corded drill.  I bought a couple books on constructing chicken coops and farm buildings, and checked out plenty of designs online.  But once the ducklings were actually ordered, I realized I didn't have the time to spend weeks and weeks messing around with crappy tools, being inefficient, and becoming frustrated when I could really use another pair of hands and some better tools.  So I decided to hire a contractor friend to help and teach me how to build our duck house.  We had a good time working together, and I learned a lot from Helmut.  I now feel confident that I could build something like our duck house on my own - if I had two more hands, a table saw, a compressor, a nail gun, staple gun…hey let's face it, it's a two person job.  
This house and run are fairly luxurious - much more than I'd build if I lived in a more temperatate climate.  But here in the Hudson Valley, a lot of snow can fall - and it may stick around for months on end.  During those times, there will be nothing for the ducks to forage for in the yard, and they'll also be more vulnerable to predators.  I'm thinking they'll have to spend a lot of time in their run during the winter, which is why the design is so spacious.  
 




I positioned the duck house next to my garden so I could easily let them in and out of it.  Ducks are supposed to be great for exterminating garden pests.  

The most tedious part of building the house was leveling out the base.  It's 15 feet long and a little over 6 feet wide.  This is actually the flattest spot I could find, so it'll have to do.

Yeah, there's no way I could have done this without help.

Roofing.

Constructing the human door to ducky prison.

We built a screen door for the outdoor part of the run.

Cutting the duck door.

The door is on a pull chain, so I don't even have to go into the duck house to let them in or out of the run.  (Note: so far, I've always left it open)

Extravagant.

Hardware "cloth" (it's really heavy gauge wire) is a bitch to work with.  I did all the sheathing on my own.  I felt like crying a couple times.  I'm using these more expensive, heavy duty materials because there are so many different predators where we live.  Chicken wire ain't gonna cut it.  

I covered the floor with hardware cloth so no predators could dig under and into the duck house (I'm talking to you, raccoons!).

The hardware cloth was attached with staples, then I covered the seams with stripping.  The bare ends of hardware cloth will tear you - or a duck - to shreds.  

Someone shoot me!

Once the house was covered in wire, I loaded up some wood chips from neighbor.

This bedding should last a long time, and then I can throw it on the compost.

The house could definitely be cuter, but this design is practical and fits with the overall look of our tax lot.

The indoor part of the duck house is pretty smal - 40 inches wide - but we'll only keep 3 or 4 ducks in it.  I'll outfit it with bales of straw for insulation and coziness.  (Note: we've kept seven adult ducks and so far this indoor space is fine.  We'll see if that changes when they start to lay eggs.)

Duck's eye view.  The ducks will be put in this house every night to keep them safe from owls, hawks, snakes, opossum, skunk, coyotes, foxes, and the cleverest duck hunter of them all, the raccoon.  

My sketch for the duck house design, and the final building.  


5 comments:

  1. Great job Frankie.
    Michael Augden

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  2. That's such a great looking duck house. How do you keep it (both the screened in part and the enclosed part)clean? Or, how often to you clean it and how do you do it? We're going duck crazy here with little or no experience! Know anyone who wants a duck or two?? We have 7 right now and are being given 9 more juveniles this weekend!
    It's me again, Susan Langenes' friend,
    Annie Waugh

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  3. Great job going to use your design just going to make a couple of changes my ducks need a water feature but great job

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  4. Perfect. A design I can make myself. Looking forward to getting some baby ducks in a few weeks. Plenty of predators around here too. Many thanks.

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  5. I like this plan, do you have extra blue-print plans so I can make one myself. We are in our 70's and have 3 Kaki Campbell half grown ducks. Need to have a safe duck coop and warm for the winter months in Michigan. Thank you for your in-feed.

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