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One frustrating project, part 1 of 2

Posted by joeabbott on April 1, 2014

imageI’m taking this week off work and planning to knock out the little projects that have grown up from “we gotta do that someday” comments we made over the past year or so.

Suzy and I went out to breakfast this past weekend and used the time waiting for our meal to write down all the work we had on our backlog and put it into a list. It was surprisingly long. One item that has been on my list for a very long time but not really on Suzy’s has been our chicken coop downspout situation.

What was

Our chicken coop is a 4’x’’8’ structure with gutters that terminate in rain chains. So, while the nosey fella at Home Depot was telling me that you have to have a downspout that terminates in a round or rectangular end, I say, “bleh”.

imageThe idea with rain chains is that water will come out of the gutter, hit a hanging chain and cascade down along it. And they’re remarkably effective. Our chain, like many, have little cups (ours in the shape of tulip heads) along the chain to assist in capturing and funneling water downward. It’s a good system and does avoid the downspout tube that would otherwise look a little “heavy” compared to our small coop.

We originally had the rain chains terminate on a round concrete paver stone. Not pretty but effective at giving water a place to splash down without eroding the earth where it hit. This, however, had the negative effect of soaking the ground around it … meaning the floor of the coop run.

So we installed small “water barrels. and by “installed” I mean we placed the barrels on the paver stone.

Our water barrels were nothing more than planters that we found at a local hardware store that could hold probably 10 gallons of water. They would fill up and we’d dump into one of two “regulation” rain barrels we have on hand for assisting with watering plants during the late summer months when we don’t get much rain.

Like the paver stones, these worked great. In addition to keeping the water from soaking the coop run, they were decorative and small enough to be discrete.

Unfortunately, they created work.

While we didn’t think we’d mind emptying the rain barrels, it did become a chore and then one that sometimes would require us to head up during a shower to address. If the point was to avoid soaking the ground around them, we were missing the point if we let them overflow.

While it doesn’t happen often, Seattle can get gully washers and it seemed installing those barrels was something of a calling to the weather gods to send in the rain. And, finally, Suzy will often check on the chickens just before she goes to work and having her heft exceptionally heavy barrels of water while in her work clothes was out of the picture.

imageAnd so I came up with another idea: a self-draining system!

imageThis system was simple genius: drill a hole in the bottom of the rain barrel, attach a hose, let it drain! I have to admit this was one of my projects that just simply worked, I really wish I’d created a post on this because, from inception to execution, it went to plan and worked wonderfully.

To make this work, I ran to the hardware store and picked up a couple items: two cheap plastic (our previous barrels were hard resin: I didn’t’ want to use them and risk damaging them … and not having a system that worked!) planters and a couple of quick-attach hose coupling units: two were male and the other two were female. I had a couple of short hose sections laying around in the garage.

Once home, I drilled out the appropriate sized hole, from the outside I inserted the male quick coupler, and on the inside I tightened it down with the female coupler. After that I used another quick attach coupler on the hose section, inserted it into the external male coupler, and we had a self-draining system!

As I said: genius!

However … we now had  two hoses running along our path over the place that we walked regularly. While even I knew this wouldn’t work, it hurt to think that the project wasn’t over yet.

P1020198

What might be

The solution to what we could do wasn’t simple.

I’d run through a couple ideas for draining water off the coop and we still didn’t have something that worked well. Given all the things that bugged us in the past, we’d likely have to consider some sort of buried solution. Not a project I was looking forward to. What was good is that letting this solution sit a bit allowed me to see that rain coming out of those hoses didn’t really erode the grass they emptied onto. I was thinking I’d need to build some sort of drainage field but that didn’t appear necessary.

Anyhow, just as I sat around wondering what to do here, I’ll let you enjoy the same. Come back later and see what we ended up doing! And thanks for dropping by today.

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