Monday, September 30, 2013

Prongs and the Chicken Coop

Maybe you remember, Faithful Readers, that we were planning to attempt a chicken coop.  That hasn't been forgotten.  

Apparently, when you are a big old idiot like me, and obstinately determined to renovate an existing structure rather than just buy a nice Amish coop, it takes a lot longer to plan, price and compare materials, forage for usable scraps, scrap your original plan, then hold the second plan, then glean free stuff from the side of the road, and clean that stuff.

So, here is a photo of the old play-set that we'd intended to convert originally.

We figured we clean it up, kill the poison ivy, enclose the main structure, extend the roof down to the balcony area, add a door, a window, and use one of the pre-existing nesting boxes left for us, and we'd be good.  But the roof said otherwise.  See, I love the shingles.  But making a non-leaky roof would have required removing the shingles.  And replacing a roof?  Lazy girl said, not as such.

So, we looked at the other outbuildings.  Country Kitty had told me that all the outbuildings had been used for chickens at some point, but one seemed to be the best choice.  Here is what it looked like before we began.

 There was a lot of work involved, obviously, but the roof only has one leak!  Never mind that the floor was a minefield booby trapped with tunnels dug by Clarence and his entire extended family.  And that a tree was growing almost through the rock foundation.  Or that the back of the building was completely inaccessible due to overgrowth, making the east facing window a complete and utter joke.  Or that the sheer volume of grape vines, wild blackberry, Virginia creeper, and even some poison ivy gave the impression that it was the sole reason the building was still standing.  

Still, it seemed like an easier job to me, to fix an existing chicken coop rather than convert a new building.  So, we began.  We removed all the debris... mostly by transferring it to the other side of the building.  (But we stacked the lumber neatly, and placed the pots carefully on a flat surface.)  After we cleared the floor, we dug it up, filled in Clarence's deepest holes with every big rock we could find, and then leveled it all, raking and removing all the small debris we discovered.

The Husband got out his chainsaw and began removing the worst of the limbs from the tree growing out the foundation.  Armed with a whacking stick (which is different than a web-wand) and a pair of gardening clippers, I began attacking the overgrowth and vines.  I whacked everything in my way with the stick, and clipped only what refused the move.  I truthfully wondered, at the beginning, where one acquires Agent Orange, but then I discovered the true pleasure of the whacking approach.  I highly recommend it to any one in need of some constructive violence.  Upset about creative differences with your spouse?  Not after that!  Frustrated by your child's inability to keep Legos off the floor?  Not now!  Irritated because your hair is growing out and looking less cute than it did even a week ago?  Not even a worry.  (Those are all hypothetical, of course.)

 Anyway, after that, it was cleanup for all the remaining vines clinging, and marveling over the finds.  The skull from a medium sized animal!  An old county road sign.  A license plate from the 1960s.  We made a list of what we needed to plug holes and fill in that blank wall.

Minor cleaning, measuring tapes... and a hugely lucky find of windows and lumber from a free pile at the local farm stand.

I've gleaned some plywood scraps, and have been playing with them, trying to fit them without having to cut much.  (Did I mention I am lazy?)

So, the work is progressing nicely.

But someone is not pleased.   You see, the day before we began clearing, I saw this guy, and watched him wander inside the building.  If you look carefully through the little hatch in the front wall, you will see him. It is his favorite place to spend an afternoon.

This is not creative license.  This is not exaggeration.  He goes in there!  Just yesterday, I was unloading the windows from my truck, making an awful racket, and I opened the top half of the split door and SAW him leaping through the far door to leave.  Look at the bottom right-hand photo in the quad above.  You can see the outline of his body in the dirt.  

Here is what the space looks like after I finished work today.  This photo shows the half the building we are not using.  There is no door attached on that side, so I laid the old door down across the doorway.  Can he still get in if he wants to?  Sure.  But why would he when the path to his favorite nesting area is blocked like this?  

The buck has been named Prongs, and I sure hope he'll keep hanging around the property for another few months.  He'll be welcome in the house, just like the chickens...


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