The Word-Nerd’s Homestead – Fall 2021: Blog Edition #1 – Bubba Yaga

Welcome back to the Homestead, Happy Readers!

Well, it is officially FALL! Woohoo! (And F-U Mosquitoes!)

Anyway, as previously promised, here is:

The Bubba Yaga Build

It’s done! The Guinea Trailer House is complete and in operation.

I thought about writing a lead-in shorty story involving the namesake of this thing, the Baba Yaga, but I don’t have time for it at present. I have some good weather coming in and a writing deadline to make. Instead, I’ll give you a quick rundown of where the name comes from and then a full rundown of the build itself.

The Lore

The Baba Yaga is a very old Slavic/Russian folklore character, and no one really knows the exact origins. You can find some decent explanatory vids on Youtube and some websites that all give the same info. I’m not going to go into that. Instead I’ll summarize it.

The heroine Vasilisa outside Baba Yaga’s hut as depicted By Ivan Bilibin –, Public Domain

Baba Yaga is an old witch who lives in the woods, is rumored to eat children (but never actually does in any of the stories as far as I can tell). She moved around in a huge mortar and pestle. Most importantly, she had a hut that stood on two chicken legs. In some stories, it was constantly turning, and could not be entered until you recited a special phrase:

“Little house, little house, turn your back to the forest and your front to me.”

Depending on the character of the person who interacts with her, she might harm or help. For instance, one of the more famous tales sounds a lot like Cinderella called Vasilisa the Beautiful. If you would like to listen to this story, try this…

Step By Step Build

Now my trailer is for guineas, and it runs on tires, but I’m sure you can see the similarities to Baba Yaga’s hut. So, since its a cludged together redneck build, I decided to call it. BUBBA YAGA!

Here’s the trailer bed. It was an old Starcraft pop-up camper in a former state. I inherited it and it was buried in the bushes for many years. The tires were dry rotted, so I had to replace them. I had one, but had to buy another. That was the major expense on this build.

Trailer before the build

This was the start of my original idea when I was playing around with some new drafting software.

The pallets I scrounged were not all the same, so my original ideas had to be modified.

I turned some with the slats vertical & some horizontal to get an even wall height of 40″ on the sides. I left the front raised off the floor so that I can clean out the bird poopies with a hose or pressure washer from the back side later.

I used a ripped 2×4 (2×2) to give me a way to secure the pallets to the trailer with screws.

Some of the pallets were broken and needed replacement boards to fix the gaps. I used most of my scrap lumber up in this project.

The next step was to figure out how to do a roof. I used a cut-off pallet rail and some 2×2’s to make a ridge with an open a-frame on the entry end a the back. I also blocked off the fork entry holes with some scrounge pallet boards.

I decided that I needed to be able to get in and out of the thing myself, so I made the center peak at around 6′ high. I did not want a cross-bar on the makeshift rafter to be in my way, and that really made things seem wobbly for a long time.

I went as stingy as I could on my few 2×2 pieces that I had for the roof rafters.

I had enough truck paneling pieces to do most of one side. I used OSB scraps to close the front end off. They might rot on me eventually, but I did a bit to help that out later on.

Next, I had to do something to sturdy it up. There was too much ‘wobbly’ side to side motion at the back. So, I added some supports (crooked in this pic, but I fix them later) under the rear truss beams. I was also playing around with ideas for the roost poles at this point too.

Then it was time to finish up the roof. I had run out of big pieces to use, so I needed to change over to pallet boards. The pallets were very hard to take apart until I figured out the trick, which was to use my reciprocating saw to cut the seams apart by just cutting the nails.

Once I figured that out, I was able to break apart the pallets I had left and cut them up to make the rest of my roofing boards. I had to throw extra truss beams in there where needed to match up with the pallet board lengths I had.

It was at this stage that I realized that not a DAMN thing was even close to square on that roof. I made it work anyway.

Luckily, it stayed dry for a few days to let me get this done. I was able to store my tools under the thing at night. It’s pretty dang spacious in there too! If it were an emergency, you could sleep in it.

I wanted the roost poles high up to take advantage of rising heat and narrower spaces. The whole thing is very open right now with the pallet slats, but I plan to wrap it for winter time, either in plastic or possibly tar paper. For now, as long as they are too small for coons and possums, I’m good.

I also wanted to make sure that I maintained my ability to walk inside it if I needed to. You never know when you’ll need to change something or roust out a reluctant bird. So, I rigged up some retractable roost poles! The picture above is with them in the down position, obviously.

Here the roost poles have been adjusted to a retracted postion.

The topmost pole shifts up at the front and rotates around to be locked in place at the rear. The other two swing to the side and get propped in place. The loose ones just move around as needed.

The back door was kind of a pain. Since I didn’t have the right sized pallets to get everything flush with the back edge of the trailer, I ended up with the back wall & door being inset. I built it in place to makes sure it fit between my posts (which were crooked and had to be repositioned).

Once I framed the door, I realized it would hit the roof when opened. My only choice was to notch out a board to let it open fully.

I used some cut-off pallet rails to fill in the gaps. I did end up tweaking the door and straightening it a bit later on.

Next was the oh-so-much-fun part of putting on the tar paper. Fighting to get that top piece on without ripping it was an exercise in creative cursing!

My original intent was to put the tar paper down and throw some old shingles I had on top of that. Unfortunately, I did not have enough shingles to cover the whole thing, so I decided to let it go with just the paper. It may not last, but as of this posting it has been rained on several times and is not leaking.

I overlapped the excess and closed off some air gaps at the top along with covering that OSB board so that it might last longer.

I did use the shingles on the ridge cap. It works great keeping the rain out so far.

The main door proved to be pretty easy to cover, but a pain to adjust. The hinges I had were not the strongest in the world, so they warped a bit when I opened it and slammed it into the OTHER roof board. I had to use the reciprocating saw to ‘increase precision’ on some spots. You know what I mean, Vern?

The swing up door for the birds was a scrap piece that I centered. I had to rip two 1×6’s a bit to get them to fill the rest of the gap. That was the day I had to stop and repair the shop floor that the squirrels had destroyed.

Final product. Is it pretty? Well, it’s pretty good if you ask me! 🙂

I scrounged some old cabinet handles for the main door & flip up door, and also added a hook latch & a bar to keep the flip door secured. A skirt on the back to keep the guineas from going under the trailer when the run is attached was also needed, so I used some more of the shingles split in half.

Fold up door locked
Fold up door with prop & string

Welcome Home Goonies

I pulled Bubba Yaga down to the trial spot and set it up. Then, after a bit of wrangling, the birds were coaxed into the portable brooder (it was daytime, so they really did not want to go). Then I transported them with the bucket of the tractor to the Bubba Yaga. I was thinking I would have to leave it in there for a while to let them get acclimated, but they jumped out almost immediately and started investigating all the perch points.

After a few minutes, I decided to just take the brooder out and let all the roost poles down into their main locations. I didn’t take the goonies long to make themselves right at home.

The redneck Bubba Yaga in the trial location. The ratty old tarp is just for shade. The run itself is temporary. Once the guineas are used to coming home to roost inside, I’ll repurpose that for other birds.

I was really surprised at how easy this thing is to move by hand once I got the new tires on it. I’m very happy with how it’s turned out.

I found that the $10 plastic tub from Dollar General works great as a feed bucket. It holds 2 of the 50 lb. bags of feed and the lid seals to keep it dry. Fits perfectly on the front tongue of the trailer too.

Happy Goony Birbs on their new roost
Multi-tiered birb house!

Finally, a completed project and a home for the Goonies! I’ll be training them over the next few weeks and will eventually let them out to free range full time. They are acting fairly tame so far. They come toward me when I talk to them, and I believe an afternoon feeding ritual should make it easy for me to get them to their safe spot for nighttime lockup.

By spring, I should have 12 full time guard dogs with tick terminating power! Fingers crossed!

To sum up:

It’s ugly and in the middle of the woods, had quinea feet (inside) and can turn around wherever I need it to. The run kinda looks like bones. The only thing missing are the skulls with glowing eyes… and I got plans for that too! Mwahahaha… So… Bubba Yaga!

Until next time…

Happy Reading, Prepping & Homesteading!

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