I Say, Boy, What You Doing With That There Coop?

The story of our coop building has become akin to a cartoon featuring Foghorn Leghorn. Andrew is Foghorn...and well...let's skip over the rest. Let's skip over the building of the run which was like a ship sailing out of the yards of the Clyde to hit an iceberg halfway down the river. Let's just say, I say, boy, what you doing with that there coop? Which has been the clarion call of our neighbours who have seen us take the coop box out only to scuttle back in with the box as the heavens open. We'd like to say this happened once or twice, we'd like to but that would be a lie, try seven times in two weeks. We were the bringers of rain, wind and the four chickens of the apocalypse: Beady Eyed Chicken, Poops A Lot Chicken, Squawks In Your Face Cockerel and Dances With Rain Clouds Cluckerbuck. For the record Mrs Cluckerbuck has gone broody and we have gone militant against this but that's another story for another day that involves puffed up chickens, their backsides mooning you as you open the nesting box and one annoyed hen. In a bid to out smart the weather gods, or weather gits, we forgo Sunday breakfast (we know, we know, who'd have thunk it) and get out early to build a new base for the old coop. This didn't take long and by the time our bellies were grumbling, and Little D was munching of something (he has his eyes on the gooseberries), we had laid the new base for the old hen house and could move them so we could crack on with coop number two.

Building a base for the old coop, so we can build a new one...it'll be easy, won't it?

Therein lies the problem. Laying a flat, straight, even base is rather hard...on a hill. It involves pegs and spirit levels, and grumpy husbands and fingers that go all swearing when caught under some concrete. Andrew marks out the new base area, we have to do this carefully because we're not that sure how big the new coop is...well, we are but we're not sure how big the part with the legs on is. Do you catch our drift, boy? ('That boy’s about as sharp as a bowling ball' - Foghorn Leghorn watching us build a new coop). The new coop has two sets of nesting boxes and we're not sure how much they overhang the main hen house. We have a rough idea but most instructions neglect to tell you this, they just show you how to put it together. It takes until lunch to get the base down and level.

Get any base for a new coop level

We'd like to say this was done with no swearing but this post is four letters wide and filthy deep. It involves the realisation that the remaining 3x2 foot concrete slab we need is at the bottom of the garden. This is a concrete flag made by the USSR. It weighs more than a Communist submarine, and is probably as buoyant when full of weight. It means the long walk of the concrete flag. For those of you who have never 'walked' a concrete flag this is how you do it: (1) You yell at each other that you didn't plan this better, (2) You ask: what now? Throw your hands in the air like you just don't care and wait until someone brings some milkshakes to the yard.., (3) You trudge down the hill, muttering, (4) You yell up the hill: which flag? (5) You wait for the response, the one made out of concrete, (6) You reply in such tones of anger that neighbours immediately sign up for UN protection, (7) You then find the flag which so just happens to be the top step of the steps going down to the kitchen, we have taken one wobbly step and replaced it with an instant death slide (later Little D wanders down to the kitchen and we yell to him that the top step is missing, he replies, okay, only to return ten minutes later with tales of daring do due to a missing step that no one told him about...like father, like son), (8) Hoist the concrete flag up, not on a pole but on it's shortest side (the 2 foot side), then walk it like a flag that has shat its pants, (9) Proceed to walk it like this for over 150 feet until you get to the new coop but overcome obstacles including box of coop, bamboo canes, bricks not laid in concrete yet and a small boy wanting an emergency pee (see 7) and then realise that you can't get it over the new run because it would flatten the aluminium structure, (10) Swear, swear some more and invent making a bridge out of stone, (11) Shout at each other in the search for stone, fall over stone left out on path that you carefully negotiated around minutes earlier (see 9), (12) Through bloody mindedness and stone bridge get it over the aluminium frame and into place so it now looks like this...

New base, new coop, much swearing and learning of how to walk flags

...Take time to pose with small boy who decides he needs an emergency poo mid shot...

Let the anger flow, turn to the chicken side

...Place old coop in new place whilst fighting off broody chicken who wants to eat all our new cabbages and beans. Realise that the poles you are using to move them are full of nails and slugs. Glare at husband.

Building a new coop

Rejoice in the home of old coop and notice dark clouds on the horizon. Not an argument but real dark, rain filled clouds, the kind of clouds that make Little D say, I'm just going into the shed, Mummy, to read a book.

The weather gods are against us whenever we build something

Fall into the arms of husband's wonderful optimism who says, It'll take ages to get to us, let's just look at the instructions. Open box, sort out parts, go off to find out what Little D is shouting about from half a garden away, deep inside the shed, under some blankets, come back and find husband has already done this...

Building a new coop shouldn't take long if the weather is on your side

...What was Little D shouting about? He's just noticed after five years that the shed isn't fully painted on the ceiling. We then build the nesting boxes and say to each other, This won't take long to build, it's a doddle. Weather gods hear this and let all the baths in Olympus overflow. We now realise it's hard to build a coop when the instructions are paper m√Ęche and your underwear is Sponge Bob Squarepants (for those of you unaware of Sponge Bob, he lives in a pineapple under the sea...). We have no choice put to push on, it surely can't get any wetter. Weather gods of Olympus hear us and turn on all the sinks until they burst their bowls.

Completing the coop in the rain

Muddy, cold and ever so pissed off, we complete the new coop. We pull out the litter tray to pour the water off, it fills half a bucket. Just as the final screw slots in place, the clouds part, the sun shines and Little D saunters down, looks at the new hen house and says, Well, that wasn't too hard.

The finished coop

Cue screaming, running onto the moors and turning your name to Cathy and Heathcliff as Little D look at us saying, what?


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