Monday, June 15, 2009

Chickening Out

Why do home improvement projects always take at least 4 times the amount of time you've planned?

Drove Noelani back to Olympia this morning for the last time this school year, and then hung out for quite awhile. I had promised the kids the Hands-On Children's Museum, but the ferry schedule either allowed us only 30 minutes there or LOTS of time. I chose the latter. When they were tired of the museum we hit Egan's drive-in and then ate burgers in the park. Big group of clique-ish Stepford Wife moms there, all ignoring their children while they gossiped; none would meet my eyes. Who say's America's not a community?!?!

Pet store (prices are outrageous; Ty will not touch World's Largest Rawhide Bone) then ferry home. Kids delighted to get out of the car and into the sandbox, so I thought I'd do a little much-needed work on the chicken house.

The chickens have been very unhappy lately--I imagine the dead ones most, or least, of all. When the raccoon first launched his 3 am assualt on the henhouse, about two or three weeks ago, he managed to scare one of the neurotically stupid Danish Buttercups off the perch, where she was actually perfectly safe from him. He then terrorized her around the coop--mind you, she's still inside and safe; he's outside--and was reaching in through the chicken wire at her by the time we made it outside. He had feathers on his mouth, there were feathers everywhere, and the chicken was a limp puddle of feathers. We thought she was dead, but apparently she was actually just waiting to die.

Why the hell, we wondered, did the chicken not run into the actual chicken house, where she would be perfectly safe? I guess the only answer to this is that chickens are FUCKING STUPID.

After this happened again, my mom suggested we take down the hens' outdoor perch so that they'd have to go inside the house to perch for the night. Gabe did this, moving the perch inside so they could use it, but they hated it. Only one of the six birds would get up on the perch; the rest stood on top of nesting boxes all night.

Lately we've had to keep them in their coop more than usual, because of our new family member... you know, the one we got to protect the chickens? I haven't successfully taught Ty not to chase the chickens yet, and I am afraid he's going to run or scare them to death (I'm not worried about his killing them--I think he just chases them because they run). So I try to either keep him inside our house, or them inside theirs.

Anyway, they cluck around so unhappily in their yard, with no perch out there, and they seem so pissy about the perch situation inside (yes I know this is anthropomorphizing, I can't help it), I decided to do something. I put up a big shelf inside the chicken house to put some of their nesting boxes on, because I've heard they prefer to nest up high, and currently all the boxes are on the floor of the house. Then I put up two new perches and took down the old one. I built one new small walkway for access to the nests, but I need a bigger one too, and didn't get to that today, because the whole project wound up taking about FOUR FUCKING HOURS and it was then getting dark.

Yes, four hours. Including breaks to deal with the children, of course, everything from Jez falling off the play structure ("jungle gym"--how could I forget this word??) to Rhone saying proudly "Mom! I pooped on the ground!" (He whipped off his pants today and peed in the middle of the park, too. Sheesh. Hey, maybe that's why those moms wouldn't talk to me.)

By the end, Jez was "helping" me with the nails and screws in the chicken house, and Rhone was watching a movie. I can't believe I let my one-year-old play with power tools on a manure-covered floor; that's how desperate I was to finally finish the project.

When the chickens went in there this evening there was a cacophany of clucks and disgruntled bawks and a lot of flapping and flopping and falling down sounds. Great. I hope they appreciate my hard work.

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