Building Fun & A Duck A-Frame

As a person who spent a fair number of years living in far more tropical climates, and then willingly and happily decided to move back north, I very much appreciate the changing of the seasons. I do. And I also very much appreciate building things. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t something about a long winter mostly filled with a never-ending bathroom project that is just fucking soul-crushing.

It might have been slightly less soul-crushing if there was an actual place to take an actual bath in this bigass house, but there’s not when it takes you four effing months to get a tub surround tiled. That’s the catch-22 of my life, right there.

So, while it probably would have made more sense for me to spend last Saturday either working on said bathroom or packing for that week away in Mexico, instead my mom drove up to the farm with a couple of bottles of wine, and we decided to build a duck house.


Of course we did.

Okay, and, 1.) YES. Those are wine sippy-cups. Super handy for when you’re drinking and playing with power tools. Also 2.) you are, in fact, looking at the full and complete plans and material list that I drew up for building a little A-frame duck house.


So basically you understand why I can no longer date engineers.

Also, this was the BEST IDEA EVER.

Even though I should have been freaking out about a number of other more pressing projects, instead I got to spend some time laughing with my mom, and working on a project that so far has been really fun build. It was all my favorite parts of building—using ALL the power tools, making sawdust, knocking things together quickly, and not much too worry about—plus an extra set of hands to help me hold/find things when needed. And, of course, we also took a few breaks to hug some donkeys.


All the joy, you guys. It was just what I needed after a long, hard winter, and just before spending some time on the beach with my dad.

I’ll do a full “how I built this thing” post when it’s done, be here’s the overview. We started by building the A’s, which involved a lot of me doing what my mom (the math teacher) calls “new math.”


I insisted I was not, in fact, doing any math, and she insisted that I was “just using a non-standard unit of measurement, and that’s okay, honey.”

Which it totally was until we got to this point, when the platform was a bit wonky…


After staring at it for a solid minute, my mom comes up behind me and says innocently, “Um… is this because you were using a non-standard unit of measurement?”

Yes. Yes it is. (All my engineer ex-boyfriends just collectively smirked.)

But, listen, two small adjustments with the pocket screws, and all was straight and level in our little world again.

I also learned some fun things about building a triangular structure. For example, this shit won’t work…


Right? Duh. But listen, some amount of wine had been consumed at this point. That’s all I’m saying.

Luckily I used screws to assemble everything instead of using the framing nailer, which made any and all minor logistical miscalculations easy to fix.

We got a pretty good start on Saturday, ending here…


And then on Monday, 30 minutes before I should have been leaving for the airport, I decided that I was only going to be able to relax on vacation if this thing had some siding. Because that’s normal.

This was about the time my beloved Paslode corldess finish nailer started giving me some shit. I’ve had this thing for three-and-a-half years, and it’s worked great right up until Monday, at which point I literally beat myself bloody trying to get it to work, and then switched over to the air compressor and my Hitachi nailer. Because I own way too many tools to take that kind of shit from a nailer RIGHT BEFORE VACATION, DAMMIT.


It was the tiniest of scrapes. There was no reason for the profuse bleeding but it would not stop.


Good thing I own a lot of duct tape.

Actual conversation I had with a TSA agent while going through security the next day:

Him: What’s that on your hand?

Me: Duct tape?

Him: …

Me: Because I ran out of bandaids?

Him: …

They let me through eventually.

Anyway, here’s where I ended up…


Up next: Finishing the siding, attaching a hinged roof panel on the right side, and installing some decorative cedar shingles on the roof. Hoping to have this wrapped up in a week or two.

Also hoping I never forget the moment while we were building this thing where my mom turns to me, sitting in the middle of the half-built a-frame, trying to hold two different boards level while I screw them in, and says, “Honey, I’m a human horse!” And then I just stand there blinking at her for a minute, unsure how to respond, before she clarifies, “A human sawhorse I mean.”

I sure do love that woman.

15 Responses

  1. You and your Mom make a great team! It’s always nice to have that one person…the one willing to be the human sawhorse, the surgical tech (hammer stat! Phillips! Flat! No! The Big Flat!, the voice of reason(?)…one who always brings laughter and…sometimes wine! Loving the duckhouse!

  2. “i’m a human horse!” classic!!! sounds like something ralph from the Simpsons would say 🙂
    the duck house is coming along awesome! i want to build something triangular now… maybe i can build an A-frame rat house. or cat house. or mouse house. Love the duct tape bandaid. ima gonna remember that.

  3. Thank you for using the word “wonky.” When I use that word, people look at me as if I invented it on the spot.

  4. Love the word wonky. So descriptive! Love your relationship with your mom too Kit. You are blessed in many ways.

  5. A frame duck house is coming together nice w/help of math tech mom assistant to furnish new math angle formulas. “Duct ~
    ~~ { Duck } tape will fix anything” red green.
    I remember flying back from Greenville, S.C.
    last summer n left my steel toed Red Wings on to keep airport security on their toes…
    I told them I was an NSA auditor, an it was only a test…almost had to take the bus

  6. What a wonderful project for you and your mom! I do think it looks quite cozy in there – sort of wish I was one of the ducks who could stay in there instead of dealing with bad weather. And I could’ve done without the bloody thumb pic, lol! Great job you two!

  7. Hi,

    Have you ever thought of renaming your blog to Black Feather Farm? Just a friendly suggestion.

  8. My husband worked was the HVAC guy at a hospital for many years. A HOSPITAL – where they have full access to BANDAIDS! He would come home about once a week with toilet paper and electrical tape wrapped around a finger he had burned or cut during the day. It always just baffled me.

    Hope you had a wonderful time in Sayulita! I am sure it has grown a lot. We went there twice and I would love to go back someday. Although I also have my own little farm and donkeys, I am a beach girl at heart!

  9. Your family seems awesome. I would also like to say that I may or may not fully blame/credit you for buying baby chicks last week. “If she can do….”

  10. You are just awesome. Doing construction of your duck house yourself is really fun. I appreciate it every time. And when you reach to roofing part, you feel yourself so confident.

  11. At what degree did you cut the top of the 2×4’s and bottom supports for to make the A frame .. I want to build a duck house like this one. Just wondering if you have any measurements and what you used for materials? (my dad is a master carpenter but id rather not ask him for help this time around lol)

    Also what type of climate do you live in .. I live on the east coast where the winters can get pretty brutal at times

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