Today my 15-year-old neighbor Zoe came to help me build my first paddock duck shelter. Zoe is home-schooled, so she gets to do all sorts of cool things with her time. And her parents were kind enough to let me borrow her for a while. She got to use the chop saw for the first time and learned how to harvest bamboo in exchange for her service. And I had someone to help me hold pallets in place while we figured out how to screw very out of square stuff into shapes that kind of seemed square.
Building this shelter is part of my master plan to have ponds, edible landscapes, permanent fencing, and fixed shelters in each of our five duck paddocks. You can read more about our plans for this year in my post Homestead Wish list – Full List.
We used three free pallets (thank you Ken and Kari at Round Peak!), five pressure treated 2 x 4’s, bamboo cut from our stand, left over roof scraps (from my layer duck house), a few scraps of wood including some plywood originally intended for Matt’s climbing wall, leftover stain, and screws.
I positioned the shelter so that the roof drains into a channel that leads to what will be a new pond (once I finish digging it out and seal it with bentonite). I cut out a door that I’ll hang tomorrow once the stain is dry. And I am going to add a few more decorative details to the front plywood for interest.
This paddock is located directly in front of our house, so I wanted it to give it a little charm. When I laid the leftover cuts of roofing like shingles and put up the bamboo this took on a kind of Asian feel. So, I’ll probably take it a little further in that direction with whatever I can scrounge around the farm or from friends.
The holes in the stained plywood were originally intended for hand holds for Matt’s climbing wall. But he decided to change his grid pattern, so we had a large sheet of plywood with lots of holes available for this project. So, I used it for the roof and the front face. I might make a few larger holes and maybe put some bottle ends in there for fun, once I get good a bottle cutting.
The pallets had big spaces between the slats. So we cut some bamboo and intermixed it with the boards to fill in the openings. I split a few bamboo posts when screwing them in place. (Note to self: Pre-drilling is necessary when working with bamboo). I plan to figure out something to use as trim to make sure the split bamboo doesn’t come loose as it dries out.
I still need to add some wire mesh at the top and bottom to make this predator proof for overnight protection. I also need to finish the pond and put in fencing before the ducklings are ready for pasture in early April. But that’s plenty of time to get it all done.
I have almost depleted our scrap supply, so my next paddock will probably require that I buy or source more free materials. But, I had a lot of fun trying to figure out a design plan for this shelter using mostly leftovers. The new 2 x 4’s will blend better once they’ve weathered a bit. Then I might stain them too.
Once the whole paddock is finished and the ducks move in, I’ll post an update.