Thursday, May 16, 2013

Constructing the new hutch.

Among all of the other things going on, every time I have a spare hour when it's not raining, I work on the new hutch. By other things going on I mean 4 does who will be giving birth in the next week or so, plants growing, preparing for the Hilltown Seed Saving Network seedling swap on Saturday, and failing to dig enough new beds fast enough. But, the new hutch is important and progress is being made, and for once we're getting progress photos!
Step one for building any hutch is the base, and that's the frame holding the wire. To minimize how much disgusting build up we end up with we attach the wire to the bottom of the floor rectangle. The first hutches we did this using staples, and for about 3 months this was fine. Since then we've moved on to small blocks of 2x4 waste nailed regularly around the bottom of the frame to hold the wire on. It works well, and while there is some give it isn't so much as to be a problem, and the wire doesn't pop off. Something I've learned from experience is don't drive any of the nails on the blocks holding the wire in fully until you have the whole bottom stretched and properly in place. Trying to pull things apart is more of a pain in the ass than it is to go around securing the screen.
Unfortunately what we didn't get photos of is the attaching the various cross supports step of the process, which is a gigantic pain in the ass, and a big object lesson in measure twice, cut once. I remembered to do that for all of the more complex angled cuts for the verticals, but the photo Left shows where I didn't. You'll note the somewhat scattered layout of the pallet bits that are making up the second level. That is because I completely botched measuring the length the wood blocking off the nesting area needed to be, by exactly the width of the support structure. Fortunately I was able to find a place to put those errant bits of wood, but it definitely made me feel like a bit of an idiot. Sometimes the right thing to do is put down your tools, and walk away because you're just not paying enough attention. That's what I did with covering that shelf.
Speaking of the second level that's another set of photos that didn't come out. Unfortunately I was the one taking those instead of the Lady of the House and they were too dark to salvage for the blog. We will get more photos of that at another point, but the concept is a second level over the planned nesting area.  You can get a good look at the inside of the nesting area Right. It is a narrow tunnel running the depth of the hutch with a narrow entrance up at the front. One of the things we've learned is that the private areas actually have a bit more space than the rabbits really want most of the time, so this is smaller, and is in concept designed to simulate a breeding tunnel. The design complication with that is, it's now too small for us to reasonably get in to check on the kits, especially without putting our faces right at "please chomp on my face" level for Twilight who this larger hutch is intended for. To compensate for that, I'm going to be putting a lift door to get into the nesting area on the facing side in the photo Right. Convenience is really important for us to keep in mind at all times when designing a hutch because we do have to make sure cleaning isn't so onerous that we don't have time to do it.
Left is a photo demonstrating why you should make damn sure you're not getting hideously warped lumber for your projects. Notice that the top of the back is nice and flush with the edge of the top 2x4, and notice how the bottom has a bit of pallet flush with the edge of the 2x4 so I could secure the board in place. I grabbed wood quickly at the lumber yard, and ended up with one good board and one bad. The good one is ending up being used for the door that people will be seeing, and the bad one is going on the back. It'll do fine, but I'm a bit of a perfectionist and it definitely bugged me as I was putting it on.

 Speaking of the door, Right is a good progress photo of it. There will be one more 1x12 fitted into the door, and the rest of it will be wire so we can see in. One of the big things I've been learning is lightening doors is really important BUT (big but) the weight to strength ratio has to be good enough they don't play the games one of the doors on the growing out hutch does where you have to use a lot of force to open or close it. I'm figuring using real angle bracing on the inside, and heavy hinges on a light weight frame should help. We'll see where that actually goes with this hutch. Another major difference with this hutch and the doors is the central structural support. It'll make moving around inside the hutch a little more of a pain for humans, but I think it'll make the doors less likely to stick, jam, and warp. All a learning experience. As you can see it isn't done yet, but I'm making good progress day by day.
This new hutch isn't being built near any of the older hutches, and is actually in the edge of the woods line. It's there for a specific reason. Last summer Umbra got heat sterility. Initially we'd thought the house would provide good enough sun shelter, and that turned out to just be flat out incorrect. So this year we're moving the hutches into the edge of the woods where they get good shade, and a cooler micro climate since they're right by moving water. I don't have specific temperature measurements but it is noticeably cooler. The biggest challenge with this is getting the hutches positioned so they are stable on the rough ground which will mostly consist of me kicking and hammering areas flat. The second is carrying the hutches. The Lady of the House isn't strong enough to get a fully built hutch far. To deal with this, I'm asking friends who are up semi regularly to help move the hutches. Hopefully we'll be able to get photos of the operation. So for today, enjoy our woodland morning, and Tuesday we will check back in on the bunnies and the aftermath of the seedling swap.

1 comment:

  1. Looking great!

    Might I add that reading white print on a black page is really taxing on my forty-mumble eyes? Black on white would be ever so much easier for your, erm, more venerable readers.