Thursday, January 12, 2012

pen parts

During the Future Harvest/CASA conference Homer will conduct a 3 hour workshop on pen building.

Pens are a funny thing. It seems simple enough to put something together, load your chickens or laying hens or turkeys or pigs into the thing and then move it daily. Animals don't live on their waste the ground has time to absorb what they leave behind..native dung beetles appear and use the animal waste to make more dung is a beautiful thing.

But then there are days of 65 mile per hour winds. Or days of 6-7 inches of rain. Or 3 feet of snow. Or torrential rain followed by freezing temperatures, causing everything to be coated in ice.

And the water lines freeze up. The pen lifts up with the strong wind and smashes down. A fox digs under the pen and carries away every chicken inside, leaving the pen empty overnight.

Pens are heavy, requiring more than one person to move each one. And if, like us, you have 17 pens of chickens, 5 pens of turkeys, 5 pens of laying hens and a bunch of pens full of pigs..they need to be heavy and yet light and nimble. They must be easy to move or your knees and back will..break!

Homer, who worked at Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab, Westinghouse and a few other places on projects requiring a security clearance level, has redesigned the pens from what existed before. They are moved from the front of the pen, not the back. I love not walking through the animal waste, and how the pens can easily change direction when a rock outcropping or tree is in the way.

He will explain the design, the blueprint, the parts selection, the subassemblies and the final assembly while putting a pen together with the group. Inside, thank is predicted to be cold and wet during the time of his workshop.

This photo will be a part of what he does, to serve as a visual reminder to accompany the parts list. Any engineers in the group? I only know these terms because I hear Homer say them, if I had to build these..oh my!

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