The time finally came when our chicks outgrew their little chick feeder. Since we only have four hens (at least we think they’re hens!) and we move them about during the day to feed in the yard, I decided that I could make a poultry feeder to go in the coop that would be large enough for them to use at night while in the coop. Since the feed might sit in the feeder for longer periods of time, I wanted to use non-plastic materials. I searched around and came up with a metal pie tin, and old broom handle, an empty metal coffee can, a discarded flower-pot, and some screws and washers.
The first step in this process was to make a series of openings in the sides of the can all around the bottom. This was easily done with a dremel tool. I took some measurements of the circumference of the can, marked where and how large I wanted the openings to be. Then my son took delight in using the tool to make the cuts in the can.
To find the center of the bottom of the coffee can, I put an extra plastic lid that I had on the bottom of the can and used a push-pin to go through the center point marked on the lid to make an impression on the metal beneath. Removing the lid, I used an ice pick to make a hole in the metal where the impression had been made. Then I placed the coffee can right-side-up and centered in the bottom of the pie pan and marked the center point on the pie pan using the hole I had just made in the coffee can as a guide. After I had my mark in place, I removed the coffee can and used an ice pick to make a hole in the pie pan on the center mark.
The purpose I had in mind for the flower-pot I had found was for it to sit up-side-down and centered on the inside bottom of the can and force the food out through the holes and into the pie pan where the chickens would be able to reach it. However, in order to keep the flower-pot in place, I needed a way to anchor it down. This is where the broom handle came into play. I stood the broom handle up inside the flower-pot and marked on it where the top edge of the flower-pot ended. I then cut the broom handle down to that point. My plan was to join all the components that I had just assembled by screwing them to both ends of the broom handle which would run through the center of the feeder. To further that plan, I made a pilot hole in each end of the broom handle. Attaching the flower-pot to the handle was achieved by inserting a screw through one of the washers, then through the hole in the bottom of the pot and into the end of the broom handle. By holding onto the handle on the inside of the pot with one hand, I was able to use the other hand to drive the screw in and tighten it down. With the handle attached inside, I placed the flower-pot up-side-down inside the can over the hole in its bottom.
To attach all the pieces together, I had to insert a second screw and washer assembly through the hole in the bottom of the pie pan, then the bottom of the coffee can, and then (hopefully!) into the pilot hole in the remaining end of the broom handle. This was the trickiest portion of this project due to the inability to see the broom handle very well. Once or twice, the action of screwing in the bottom screw simply caused the flower-pot to spin and unscrew the top screw! Persistence paid off however, and I was finally able to tighten all the parts into a whole.
With the chick starter inside, the feeder looks like the photo to the right. Of course, I use the lid that came on the coffee can to protect the food inside when it is in the coop. I wondered if the flower-pot would absorb moisture in the air and cause the food to cake up inside, but so far, this has not proved to be a problem. This feeder has been adequate to the needs of our chickens, and I was able to avoid an additional financial investment in our chicken project!
So many times, my projects remind me of a verse of Scripture and this one was no exception. Did you know that chickens are mentioned in the Bible?!! They are in Mt 23:37, ” O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, …how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings…” In this verse we have another declaration of the compassion and love of Christ. I am reminded of the story of a hen who, along with her brood, was trapped by a swiftly burning fire. The hen perished in the heat and smoke of the fire, but to the amazement of the farmer who owner her, her brood survived; sheltered beneath her covering wings. When I look at the chickens in my backyard, I am reminded that my God loves me like that! -So much so that He was willing to accept death in my place, that I might live.