I"I feel like I've experienced the entire 16 year arc of my marriage in the last 2 hours that we've been at Home Depot buying material for a 2nd chicken coop."
— Facebook status, August 3, 2013
That was Saturday, and here it is Wednesday. I’ve sat down to write this post four times already – twice on Monday, twice yesterday and now this morning. Each time I sit, I feel as if time is collapsing in on me.
The mornings go like this: I walk down the hallway at 5:30 or 6:00 a.m. thinking that I can’t believe how wakeful I feel. I could just stay up, I think, but with only six hours of sleep I’d be in dire need of a nap by the afternoon. During my work review last year, I was told that I often expressed feeling fatigued. I do not believe that to be the case, yet I still wince at the sting of it when I consider the source: a woman that I quite like despite her habit of clutching a fistful of her midriff, shaking it and bemoaning the fact that there is actually enough midriff to clutch and shake. This same lovely woman (and no, I am not being facetious) has also confessed to being tired at work. Once I am able to shoo those thoughts away, I get my water and return to bed until 9:00, sometimes 9:30 a.m.
The dogs need food. The hens need food. The pullets need food. I need food. The Amazing Shrinking Dog Kennel that houses the new chicks needs to be cleaned several times a week. It’s amazing how quickly it seems to be shrinking, amazing how fast the pullets are growing. The very chicks that I free from the kennel in the morning need to be gathered up again an hour or so later to be put back in the kennel. This is when the real fun begins (now I am being facetious).
I use a six foot bamboo stake to “herd” them, if that’s what you call swooping at baby poultry as they scratch and peck underneath the garden shed. I get on my hands and knees, reach under the shed with my bamboo stake and make long, sweeping motions. This results in baby birds scattering like buckshot, heading off in all directions. If I am lucky, they will take refuge in the compost bin and gorge madly on larva until I can collect them.
This is my daily aerobic workout and I’m glad to get it out of the way before temperatures hit 100º. The evening is ever so slightly better and I can attest to the veracity of the adage that asserts a chicken’s natural tendency to come home to roost. They do and I am ever grateful.
Last week, I spent the evenings trying to find a photo of a simple but larger pen that we could build so that I’d have the option of skipping my morning workout. Michael also looked for coop inspiration. Our mistake was not sitting down together for a meeting of the minds before we went to Home Depot.
We had a few ideas in common and could agreed upon shape and mobility. Michael had numbers in his mind – 4’ x 8’, I had a pretty picture in mine - square with hoops.
We began to load lumber onto the wobbly orange cart. Once we were loaded up, I felt that we were making a big mistake. If I was having difficulty navigating the unassembled coop that was on wheels through the wide aisles on smooth concrete, I doubt I’d be able to move an unwieldy 4’ x 8’ rectangle across the ruts and roots of the yard. Plus, the price of the hardware cloth alone was pushing the boundaries of our low-budget project.
We put everything back, switching everything out for 4’ x 4’ lumber. It was exhausting. I was TIRED. That was even before we loaded and unloaded the car in the wicked heat of a Texas summer. *Note to self: never, ever, start a project in June, July, August or September.
We nearly finished our project by Sunday evening. We were so close. We lost neither wood screw nor drill bit. We smashed not a finger. The only drama of the weekend was chasing Agnew down before he gobbled up a Phillips screwdriver attachment. He stood tall with his prize in his beak but once the girls got sight of it a frenzied chased took place. He zipped and zagged through the raised beds and looked very much like a little feathered Pacman. Eventually, he dropped what wasn’t a cockroach after all under the row of Texas Sage. Crisis averted. And now, for your amusement, photos:
And now for my favorite photo of the weekend, partly because it reminds me of the line from Moonrise Kingdom, "What kind of bird are you?"