Just look at that rooster up there. Judging me.
So, today, I woke up and headed outside to feed and water the animals. Because of the size of our flock (35 adult chickens and 15 ducks) I spend more time in the chicken run than anywhere else. As I was feeding and watering the little beasties, making sure to provide them with fresh water, sweetened with mint from the garden and putting ice in the five gallon buckets to keep them cool throughout the day, I noticed a gap at the bottom of the chicken coop.
Peaking underneath, I saw about a dozen of the little darlings congregating and clucking, probably laying all sorts of eggs I would not be able to reach.
I know they were doing it on purpose. They are devious, our chickens.
Since we recently purchased butterfly bushes to put in the chicken run in hopes of sprucing up the place (our lovelies seem determined to turn the run into a bombed-out, swampy war zone of dead and dying plants), I decided to go ahead and cover the gap with some chicken wire.
I love it when I get clever ideas through the day. My ego is weak, and I try to bolster it every chance I get. Clever ideas give me a chance to tell myself how clever I am, and despite spending the bulk of my day knee deep in chicken leavings, maybe, just maybe, I am a lot smarter than people think.
Greatly pleased with the idea of combining jobs, I decided to go ahead and add another project to the list. Since I was going to be in the chicken run, why not go ahead and construct some free-standing roosts for the devilish little egg layers?
Why not, indeed. Man, sometimes I really do outdo myself when it comes to thinking great thoughts.
So, I gathered my tools (shovel, hammer, nails, zip ties, wire cutters and a few pieces of scrap lumber to frame things out.)
My plan started to get a little thinner when I started digging holes for the butterfly bushes.
The first hole left me dripping in sweat, as evidently, in my all-encompassing wisdom, I decided to start this project just before noon.
With temperatures in the high thousands (I am only guessing, as I determined I was too tough and manly to worry about things like a little heat – see fragile ego above), I soon found myself light-headed and dizzy.
No big deal right. What’s a little dehydration? I decided to break for lunch and maybe drink a little water.
While eating lunch (a bologna sammich, a pluot and an apple) I started conversing with one of the younger Sunshine brothers.
Through the conversation, a senior Sunshine Sister, his mother suggested he pitch in and maybe dig a few holes for me.
Of course, I did not need the help, being all manly and butch, but I agreed as the boy needed some edification on hole digging.
I’m always willing to help out the younger generation.
So, as I had already dug the hardest hole, he, of course, made short work of the next four. He is a quick study, that boy.
With the holes dug, we quickly placed the bushes in the ground. Experts on the internet assure me chickens will not ravage butterfly bushes. Our chickens immediately, purely out of spite, started pulling leaves off the bushes.
As they are a finicky bunch, used to only the best in life, they immediately spit them out on the ground.
And then went back for seconds.
Confident in my internet experts, I decided the best course of action would be to ignore my concerns and begin building roosts.
I zip-tied branches to dead trees in the run. At one point, the chicken run housed a couple of goats, before moving them on to greener pastures. I am told the goats were responsible for stripping the bark off the trees that remain in the chicken run, I would not put anything past our insatiable harpy chickens.
I tried to stagger the height of the roosts as to make it easier for our birds to get up on them. The chickens, thus far, have ignored them.
I am hoping to catch them using them tonight, when they think I am not looking.
Surprisingly, constructing chicken roosts proved to be really easy. I discovered I like building chicken roosts. I might build more of those later this week. I do not even care if our snobby chickens never use them — I am building chicken roosts for me.
Then, with all the confidence you can get from building the finest chicken roosts east of the Mississippi, I moved on to covering the gap at the bottom of the chicken coop in wire.
First, I found another young Sunshine brother to crawl down in the muck and shoo the birds out from underneath the chicken coop.
I would have done it myself, but I must preserve a level of dignity in front of the chickens to keep them from looking down on me. I may feed, water and serve them in ways only a chicken butler would, but I have my limits.
Then, I turned to constructing the frame to nail to the bottom of the coop. Easy-peasy.
That too, went really well. I felt like I was getting really good at building stuff.
Then I gathered the chicken wire to cover the frame.
I did not have enough chicken wire.
No problem. Our chicken run is actually attached to an older chicken run, covered in chicken wire. I figure I can easily cut some of that wire out and use it to cover the gaps.
The wire I decided to go after is on top of the old chicken run. I get a step ladder, climb up on the step ladder and begin the process of removing the nails, screws and zip ties that hold my portion of chicken wire in place.
I fall off the ladder.
It seems the ladder was off balance. I think the chickens somehow used their chicken powers to shift the ladder before I climbed up, making sure I would fall. I have no evidence, and no clear idea of what chicken powers are, so just call it a hunch.
I pick myself off the ground, check to see if the chickens are laughing (they were not, but I am not really sure what a chicken laugh looks like, so who knows) rearrange the ladder and climb back up.
I get the wire off, only cutting myself twice in the process, and head back down from the rickety ladder to put the wire on the frame.
We at Sunshine Sisters pride ourselves on having the right tool for the job. Do not ask us to find it, but we can promise, with absolute surety, that somewhere on the property, the right tool for the job exists.
Because of our commitment, we did not have access to a staple gun, which is normally the tool we use to attach wire to wood. I used nails instead, bending them after hammering them in about halfway.
This method worked well, as I have used it before, until I slammed the head of the hammer onto my thumb.
In the split second it took me to figure out what happened, I decided the best first aid for such an injury would be to fling the hammer at the wall of the chicken coop and shout words children should not hear.
Luckily there were no children present. Unluckily, the head of the hammer snapped off the wooden handle.
Uttering yet another family-unfriendly word (I am positive the chickens were laughing at me that time. You can just tell) I strode out of the chicken run, in search of a new hammer.
As I pushed on the gate, I noticed it appeared to be stuck. No biggie. I am a big, burly, manly man, so I simply shoved it open.
It was not stuck, it was latched shut.
And now, the latch was broken.
So at this point, I decided maybe it was time to take a break.
I went inside, hydrated and tried to figure out how to restore my standing in front of the chickens.
Fortified by my time away from the job, I went back found a hammer and made quick work of covering the gap under the chicken coop.
I also fixed the latch on the gate of the chicken run.
I mean, I did cut myself a few more times, and hit my thumb at least twice more, but the important thing is I finished. The chickens can rest assured I am a creature of dignity and responsibility, and not to be trifled with.
Afterwards, as dark was rapidly falling, I went inside, took a shower and enjoyed some sleepy time tea.
And if I cried a little in the shower as I scraped chicken filth off me, rest assured, they were really, really macho tears.