I suppose it’s inevitable, with one of the longest and most severe Winters for many years, that the local rat population is going to get more desperate and brazen in finding food. But it was a bit of a shock when I popped up to the allotment mid morning last week to find two large specimens helping themselves to the chicken feed.
I’d naively thought suspending the feeding globe between some sticks would put them off. Silly me. If they’re desperate rats will overcome most obstacles. Tried moving the feeder and suspending it higher but another morning visit a couple of days later and there they were again!
So after a bit of consultation with fellow allotmenteers (Ray and Julian) here’s the plan of my rat proof (unless they go bionic) chicken feeder (click to enlarge). It’s rat proof for two reasons…
1. Because this time the feeder is suspended well away from any supports, and
2. If the pests climb up the support and down the wire (difficult!) they’ll have to climb upside down to get around the drip tray held half way down the wire.
A couple of comments about the design…
- I was lucky enough to have some aluminium greenhouse supports with grooves and holes in them to easily attach the springy bit and wire… if you have to use wooden supports it might be helpful to make grooves to more securely tie other parts
- I was also fortunate to have some softer aluminium for the springy bit, which joins the upright to the cross beam… in fact I initially made the construction without the stiff cross support, only to find when I attached a full feed holder it hit the ground; springy water piping will also do the job, though you may find inserting some holes in the piping will again help to tie it securely to other parts
- The wire to the left of the plan is used to adjust the height of the feeder
- The most difficult part to sort was the plant pot drip tray… it’s obviously no use putting the wire straight through it since the tray just flops about; you have to feed the wire through a washer (I used a door hinge ‘cause that’s what I had to hand), then in and out of the tray edge (I heated up a narrow screw driver to more easily make holes for the wire) and finally back to the middle, through the washer and down to the feeder; there’s a photo of this arrangement below
- Ideally use aluminium wire… you can use string or twine but the rats may gnaw through that
- The feeder I use is a globe bird feeder with the feeder holes enlarged and smoothed so the chickens’ combs don’t get damaged, to see an example click here. You can use something as simple as a string plastic carton with appropriate holes cut in it
More photos below showing my own effort, which I’m rather proud of and think looks more than a little space age.
Sister in law Trudy and niece Sarah came for a visit last week. She’d been putting off the trip from Cheltenham since Christmas for fear of being caught by the snow… not only was it blizzard conditions on her way to St Ives, but on the morning she went back it started snowing heavily again! Trudy thought she may be carrying her own little snow cloud around with her. Moral to the tale… don’t go on holiday the same time as Trudy!
Disaster on the competitions front with sons David and John. On Sunday grabbed defeat from the jaws of victory in the pool/darts competition… lost on the decider having led David all evening (John couldn’t make it, his new girlfriend Sam had tired him out!). Then on Tuesday lost the first quarter’s squash competition to David with a month still to play. When the pressure was on I played like a wuss, so didn’t deserve any better. Is this the onset of old age and tiddlywinks looming? I’ve already got my set of bowls and flat shoes in the garage for when more sedate sports are required (sadly I’m not joking). At least I’m still pitch and putt champion.
John moves out again a week today. Motivation seems to be his getting a new girlfriend and wanting a parrot, though not sure who’s top in the pecking order. Surely his new room isn’t as small as he says (2 metres by 2 metres!). He’ll never shoehorn all his stuff in there… I doubt if his wide screen telly will fit in without scraping both walls. And there’s no chance his king sized bed will squeeze in, so it’ll remain stored in the garage.
Got a couple of weeks off on holiday now, aiming to break the back of the remaining digging on the plot. That’s after I’ve finished constructing my first bee hive compost bin… more to follow on that next week. Oh, and next Wednesday me and my two sons are going to watch England’s last football match at Wembley before the World Cup, against Egypt, preceded by a few visits to interesting and ancient London pubs. So lots to see in next week’s post!
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