Thursday, April 16, 2015

What did we learn from our first big hutch.

I'd like to start with an apology for the photo quality, I didn't have time to get photos with a real camera today so this is busted iPad photos. It'll work for getting the point across at least. Today I want to talk about a couple things, but the first thing I want to do is talk about what we've learned from our first grow out hutch, and the things that I want to do to modify it. If you haven't been following since then this was the construction post for the grow out hutch.
Before going on to talk about the grow out hutch, and learning experiences from it I'm going to touch on our seed starts. Obviously our peppers are doing well, and we started them very early given the short season. Just this past weekend we started the tomatoes, and last night when I took a look, a bunch of seedlings have started their thready sprouts. I'm really happy to see them coming up so quickly, and so many. Looks like I dropped some extra multiples beyond the two I intended to toss in to each seedling pot which is normal. No matter how closely I work to try to only drop one or two seeds in a hole I always end up with some extra seedlings per hole which is fine since I'm going to be splitting them out to larger pots anyhow. Just wanted to touch on that briefly, before going back to talking about learning from the grow out hutch.

Ok, so let's do an overview of the good things about the hutch first. 8' wide is a good size for the grow out hutch, and is one that I'd use again. Having the two private areas off to the extreme left and right worked out well, as did the Z pattern bracing on the back wall that you see holding the back wall together. It's a bit clunky looking, and it would make a shelf convenient, but that back wall is sturdy which has been important in keeping the rest of the hutch sturdy. The roof bracing has worked out very well and the roof isn't sagging at all despite the width of the hutch. The legs are also holding up well, and with the extra bracing they are very stable even when I've had to shimmy the hutch around which puts a lot of stress on the legs due to the weight.

This hutch has had more weight of rabbits in it than any other hutch we have at this time. It was the first hutch I tried putting in blocking to hold on the bottom wire, and that has worked out well. In fact given the number and activity of the rabbits in there I've been thrilled with the results of the bracing, and would emulate exactly that bracing again. The last nice thing about this hutch is the wide open access for humans to reach in and get at the rabbits inside that's provided by the wide double open doors.
Let's take a look at the bad things, and some of the things we've already learned from this hutch. A lot of the learning experiences from the grow out went into Twilight and her daughter's 6' hutch Left. First of all, the roof not extending beyond the edges of the hutch is a problem. It's led to wet food many times which is a really wasteful problem. The interior bracing for private spaces to the left and right fell apart rapidly due to improperly measured roof to floor support placement meaning that the interior walls fell out fast. The kits didn't mind because it gave them a lot of space to run. As I'm renovating this hutch I'm going to be changing things to allow those interior walls though for the next problem. With all of that wide open space to run, when reaching in it gave rabbits no fully safe feeling place to hide which meant that getting them involved a rabbit rodeo which can lead to injuries, and definitely adds to fear. The lack of a raised area has been unfortunate, but not definitely problematic. As I'm renovating the hutch I am going to be putting in shelves to the Left and Right.
The last big problem is actually those nice big double fold doors. I designed the doors like that to allow easy access to anywhere in the hutch so I could move across the middle. Unfortunately that's led to floppy, uneven doors that either don't stay closed or stick hard. Having the doors be a problem makes it that much harder to reach into the hutch which really needs to be a smooth process at all times. The doors are going to have to come off, I'm going to put in a center brace like in Twilight's hutch, and turn the double fold doors into less complex doors of some kind. I'm not entirely certain about how I'm going to do that, but I'll have to figure that out as I go. As soon as I get that done, the hutch sanded down, and painted, Dawn and her daughter will be going in there. Of course with moving them in there I'm going to need to make a new large grow out hutch. I think that with one more grow out hutch we're going to be hitting the size level we don't need to grow beyond unless something changes. I look forward to updating you with how the changes to the grow out go.

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