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Saturday, January 26, 2019

Don't do what I did

They say that you learn something new everyday - that certainly holds true on this farm.  Yesterday I learned that when I decide to build something, I need to take into account more than just - here is an empty spot, let's put it here.

Mother Nature gifted the farm with about two feet of snow last weekend.  Then she delivered a beautiful cleansing rain four days later.  We were reasonably prepared and had cleared snow away from primary drainage areas and dug out fences and waterers to ensure that we could both get to and leave the farm as well as get to and feed all the critters.  All except the rabbits.

A little better than a year ago someone dumped sixty or so rabbits on the side of the road in cold, rainy/snowy weather.  Some were just kits while others were older breeding stock.  I was lucky enough to be able to rescue most of them.  They were placed into temporary holds in the garage until I could build them a new shed.  I had rabbits in my garage once - I won't be doing that again.  We left an overhang of a couple of feet on both sides of the storage shed roof when it was built to store tools and supplies outside, but still protected from the weather.  I took one of those overhangs and with the help of Little man's father and a friend, threw up some walls, added a door and made a small shed to house the rabbits.

When siting the door, I figured in the middle of the long wall would provide the best access to the cages that would go inside.  What I didn't consider is that the snow from the entire south facing roof would drop right in front of that door.  The ground in front of the door was also a little higher than the bottom of the door so I dug out some of the soil in front of it to provide some additional clearance.  This was fine for three of the four seasons of the year, but when you combine a recessed landing in front of the door, rain and snow collect there.  When you get close to two feet of snow, you have to shovel both what fell on the ground and what fell off the roof out from that recessed landing in order to access the rabbits.  Then when it rains in January, it inevitably gets cold again and the standing water in front of the door freezes.  If you don't want your rabbits to go hungry you have to chip all the ice from in front of the door so that you can get inside your shed.  Chores that should have taken 15 - 20 minutes took almost an hour last night.

As I began construction of the new brooder coop for the baby chickens that will arrive on the farm this spring, I spent plenty of time looking at snow drifts, checking side and rear clearances and trying to think of every access and weather implication.  I am certain I didn't think of something, but at least this next piece of farm infrastructure stands a much better chance of being trouble free.