Moving The Old Coop and Building The New Chicken Run

What does one do on the hottest Bank Holiday in May since records started? I hear you ask. Well, I will tell you. First, you wake up, look outside and say to your other half, It's hot enough to crack flags out there. Then your other half says, Yes, my Dad is coming to help us to finish off the chicken run. Then you go outside and start to dig your own tomb in the garden because this was supposed to be a day to potter. This is pottering.

Hardcore

Yes, pottering to us it laying down a hardcore pad and then recycled flags over a dry concrete mix because no one is daft enough to add water and watch it crack within an hour. There is much glee, a modicum of four letter singing, the use of a spirit level which soons ends with the words, Bollocks to that we're on a hill. This becomes the mantra of the day as my Father-in-law keeps swearing that the chicken runs isn't straight and we have to keep pointing out that we are on a hill.

Hard pad

After the new pad is in place with a dry sand and cement mix brushed into every crack, Mrs Cluckerbuck our chicken, and our cockerel, Gene Simmons, come to inspect. They have spent that last few hours under our rhubarb, purring and clucking, and dusting themselves down. Gene is particularly happy that the old coop in more shaded and overlooks this rhubarb dominion. He even helps to dig out around the door.

Chicken coop

We're keeping the old run and coop so if we have sick chickens, we have somewhere to put them. Then comes the big job, the new run, the run that has taken a year to build will soon be finished. We look at the instructions, laugh at them, throw them into the hedge and crack on the only way we know how, which involves us wearing gloves, ditching gloves, cutting hands to ribbons as we move one piece after another over the frame and use copious plastic ties to secure to the frame. The whole thing takes six hours to complete, on the hottest day of the year, we cook, we turn red, we don hats, we plaster ourselves with sun protection and the sun laughs and laughs and laughs. We burn.


Chicken run

The downside to the whole enterprise comes when one of us has to go into the run - me - and then be sealed in as the last of the chicken wire goes on. The idea - according to the instructions which we pulled back out of the hedge after arguing which way the chicken wire should go; roughly two minutes into construction - is to get the chicken wire taut and then staple to the door, and then cut out the door and anyone inside it. The truth is that I have selected the worst possible people to be on The Crystal Maze with. The staples are poor, the hammer is deficient, the frame bounces too much and I am still inside the damn run an hour later and starting to sweat because Carol has the only drink we have, on her side of the wire. Images of hamsters in cages drinking from a spout comes to mind at this point. I am the door bracer, so they can hammer in the rubbish staples, swear at the rubbish staples and moan about bouncy door frames. Sixty minutes! Sixty minutes later I am free after another tirade at the wire cutters from Carol and her Dad. As I emerge, Carol says, If I was in there, I would have freaked out. I run down the hill and plunge my head in a cold bath, I stay there as every swear word I know bubbles out into the water. I freaked out. Totally wigged out being stuck in that thing. Yes, I had a spade. Yes, I could have dug my way out, on the hottest day of the year or I could have trusted the worst two participants on The Crystal Maze. I am burnt and go white at the sight of chicken wire and staples. Such is my trauma. Stuff quinoa middle class trauma, this was being locked in a cage whilst two people advise you to stay calm and find the damn crystal.

The Low Cost Crystal Maze

Back from the bath of swearing, cooled down, swear free we discover the door bolt isn't long enough. I turn around and go back to my cold bath water, plunge my head down and think, It's the hottest day of the year. As if to answer this Carol comes in to clean up her muddy knees, face, legs and ears singing Mad Dogs and Englishman. Yes, we are, my love, we are. The miracle was that we didn't kill each other, bring on the chickens next! After I have fitted the bolt.

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