Sunday, August 24, 2008

An Old-Fashioned Chicken Coop Raising or When Fences Come Down

We had our first chicken fright last night. In the early evening, we ran out to the coop in response to the loudest racket we've ever heard the girls make. Andrew made it outside first and came nearly face to face with a raccoon (which, I've just learned, can be spelled with one 'c' or two) on the lower deck where the girls hang out (but not where their coop is). The raccoon bolted under our deck and we found Amelia and Flora squawking up a storm by their coop. Kateski (the polish with the feathers in her face who can't see hardly anything and is often left behind by Ameila and Flora because she can't tell when they've left...you see where I'm going) was nowhere to be found. We looked all over the chicken run and couldn't find her anywhere. We grabbed a flashlight and looked under the deck, half expecting to see her being devoured by the raccoon. We were in searching-for-feathers-and-blood stage when Andrew though to look over the tall fence to the neighbor's yard, to find Kateski looking safely clueless. And so we called on our faithful coop members to help us construct the larger pen around the coop that we'd been wanting to build. We've had a very dry summer here and digging post holes in the dirt has been quite like what I imagine digging post holes into concrete might be like; and since digging post holes even into plain old dirt isn't the most spectacular task in the world, we were waiting for some long, heavy rains to do half of the work for us. But the rains never came and raccoon did...and so we spent the entire day today digging post holes into concrete.
Well, not really into concrete, but certainly around it. We started by removing a part of a fence that runs between the upper portion of our yard and our neighbor's yard. One of the fence posts was stabilized in concrete. It was a joy to remove, and even more fun to hurl insults at once we really did have it out.
I generally have an uneasiness about anything we do around the house for fear of ticking off the neighbors. This probably stems from the fact that I'm ticked off by them very often (as they must be about me), but am too afraid of having an ongoing subtle war with my neighbors, and so I rarely talk to them about what my concerns are. My two current pet peeves are smoking outside the house which funnels right into our house and feeding the feral cats in the neighborhood who are now taking advantage of my frequently swept front porch by pooing on it. But I figure I'm the weirdo with the chickens in the back yard and I don't want to ruffle any...well, you know...so I've never been brave enough to raise my concerns.

So as the fence between our yard comes down today (I say "fence" but really it was just a sadly aged suggestion of a fence which, to wit, was pulled apart by our bare hands) and I see my neighbor approaching (the only neighbor on the street who I haven't officially told about the chickens for fear that she'd freak out) comes over, plops herself down on the little wall that is now accessible due to the missing fence and proceeds to tell me that she's worried about the cat food on her porch because it may be attracting the raccoon and she hopes our chickens are OK. She points out a few more places on her evergreen that I could cut...the evergreen that I'd been tentatively trimming back so that we could build our coop, because I'd been so concerned she'd be mad about us cutting anything. I'd also been worried that she would flip when I started trying to trap the feral cat colony so that we can get them fixed and vaccinated, but she was thrilled and offered her porch for a good cat trap location. And all of this misunderstanding (which was really just careful avoidance) disappeared because a rickety fence came down.

And because our friends and family deserve to see what we couldn't have accomplished by ourselves, here's the coop-raising progression:

The coop gets a fenced bottom to keep out the raccoon.

Post hole digging is fun!
Mom feeds the troops.
The first fencepost gets leveled.

The girls help by making sure all of the worms around the felled fence are taken care of.

And they make sure to stay hydrated.

Working around a temporary door to nowhere.

Chicken wire saves the day!

Almost there.

Finished coop (still missing netting on top and beams across the top, but it'll do for now!)
The girls are happy in their new digs (with evergreen roost).Whew!

1 comment:

Loretta said...

girl, you are never going to convince me that digging fence holes is fun.

made. by k.d.