Our home AC up and quit yesterday. Of course it has to pick the exact time when the forecast is calling for multiple days over 100 degrees. All the various critters are not impressed.
Going into week 3 of HutchConstruct was fraught with flock drama and terror from above. Late in week two there was an ‘incident’ that involved some sort of predator-type visiting wildlife (AtH suspects a bobcat, seeing as he watched one trip-trot up the driveway at dusk headed in the direction of District 9 later that week) and a panic attack aboard the mothership. Needless to say, the ladies absolutely refused to spend another night in the ‘shed of death’ and made a huge statement by attempting to roost anywhere but tent city; the flowering cherry tree in front of the house, Art’s Jeep, the bed of the truck, the front porch (ohhh, the cats LOVED that one), miscellaneous shrubbery in front of the house. You name it, they were tryin’ it on for size, but they were most definitely not slumming it another night. And so began their temporary housing in the barn, much to the barn catz dismay (and Art’s protest and eventual disgusted resignation).
Chaco will be VERY VERY HAPPY when the ladies move out of the barn. They bully him incessantly. They bully all of the cats, but Chaco more than the rest it seems. He really would like his stairs to the loft back (the hens have been roosting on them in the evenings)
Egg laying has been centered in the Hay Stall for the past 3 weeks. Oh, and under the debris pile (from the old hutch), and in some open cabinets, and in Jack’s wall mounted grain bucket, and probably many other places I haven’t found yet.
Despite horrible weather Memorial Day weekend and into the first week of June, the roof had to get finished. Rain and generally cold and nasty weather persisted almost every day up to Memorial Day, and the minute Art and Fraley got a break, the final runs of shingles were put up, and it was rain proof.
The bookshelves were slated for destruction seeing as they’ve been sitting out in the barn for about 4 years. First Art wanted to give them to his brother Greg, but it was too tall. Then it just smelled too much like horse barn to sell or give away. BUT…and here’s the thing…the chickens don’t care! I got to use all my power tools together for this, cutting cross shelves, re-enforcing the whole thing, nailing and screwing, scroll sawing, everything! Cool.
I give you my most genius contribution to date on this project (besides the whole project, I designed it, they built it)….re-purposed bookshelves. I burned so many brain cells trying to decide on how to build out the nesting boxes. Pacing through the barn (thinking extra hard) I passed by a 6foot tall oak-veneered bookshelf that’s been sitting in the barn for about 4 years. And a lightbulb went on over my little head, and not one of those ‘save the earth green-works!’ compact fluorescents. Oak is a little fancy, but what else are we going to do with that damn thing? Too stinky to give away, and I felt bad about having to destroy it. So? Fancy nesting boxes (in excess, I know, I know)
Ladies and Gentlemen; I give you…..The Door. It slides on rails. It’s heavy duty, it opens AND closes. And Art the Husband is just tickled that it all came together so well. He is an amazing man, my husband. He can build doors and roofs and irrigation and electricity, and computers and software and all sorts of stuff we mere mortals take for granted. Like the TV wiring, and the DVR hookup, and the XBox. And bonus: he mows and/or vacuums stuff obsessively! I am indeed, a lucky lucky girl. Did I mention he also cleans horse stalls??? A very lucky girl.
The Stine Chickens, having recently been evicted and finding themselves relegated to FEMA-style housing, were understandably very put out.
Weekend # 2 continued, again with the assistance of Fraley. Their goals were lofty, so many things that were going to get done! Reality? Walls. Well, sort of. There was a lot of math involved, Fraley wanted to do what Art calls ‘fancy math’, which in reality is just trigonometry and is made easy and entirely possible by simply rotating the iPhone horizontally while in the calculator application. Art was having none of it.
My friend Elizabeth was visiting this second week in May, and offered up some help too.
Well, SOMEONE has to deliver the nails to Mr. Stine. The manager in him insists on assistance in every small detail of a large project like this. I think she did a lovely job. I delivered Diet Cokes, but with hardly as much style.
On the up side, it didn’t rain but it was wicked cold, for the middle of May.
This is going to be one hell of a well built chicken hutch. Art’s reconsidering the chickens lease option and thinking about putting in a minifridge, poofy-chair, a flat screen and surround sound. Maybe a disco ball. Man-Cave, out behind the barn. You know, where all the fun happens.
If there is one phrase that is NEVER uttered in this household it’s “I’m bored”. There is an endless list of things that need doin’, an endless supply of projects and chores. If one task bores you, I can offer up an easy half dozen more that may interest you. A couple dozen if given a moment to actually think about it.
So it should come as no surprise that Art the Husband is under a constant barrage of ‘to do’ lists that threaten his close relationship with the internets; planned projects, brilliant ideas and staggering over-expectations, all generously and continually supplied by yours truely, The Wife-person (although I prefer Personal Time Management Specialist). Armed with detailed plans including specific dimensions and a timeline, I presented the most recent Stine Ranch Improvement requests around the end of April. There were 2 for Art to choose from (I believe in offering choices, it helps him feel like I’m not 100% bossing his ass around, or so I tell myself); Split Rail Fencing for the acquisition of a new flock of sheep OR New Chicken Hutch and Run to house the 24 chickens I just ordered. They’ll be here in June.
He chose the Hutch project. Good choice. Thus begins the fun.
Me: “Have you figured out how much lumber we’ll need?”
AtH:”Ummm, I need to do the math”
Me: (sighing internally) “Okay, lets do some math then”
AtH: “I need to figure out where I’m going to get the lumber”
Me: (how hard can this be) “Okay, lets do that then”
AtH: “I don’t know when this lumber store is open”
Me: (oh for the love of gawd) “Well, we could call them and find out….”
This is how it always goes in the beginning, kind of a stutter start, but then, once it’s started? Well, it does get slightly better. Add a lot of pestering and one Paul Fraley, and the project is underway full force May 1st. If only the weather would cooperate. It was all kinds of cold and rainy the entire month of May, and into this first week of June. Plehhhh.
On the first day, Art worked on destroying the hutch while I worked on disassembling the run. Andretti guarded the flock, and Darby guarded the compost.
Art got A.D.D. and started mowing, and while his lack of focus annoyed me it didn’t really bother Darby in the slightest. Nothing can sway his focus on soaking up horse poo and whatever sunshine is available.
Work did get done that first day, though. The hutch was torn down, most of the run was destroyed while part of it was left standing as temporary housing. The brilliant idea to wrap it in tarps and fill it with shavings created what I called District 9 chicken housing, except instead of aliens our tent city houses chickens.
Day 2 was all about getting Fraley up here so he and Art could lay the base for the new hutch. While Art was out picking up his bff, I got to work destroying the old flooring. Not a job for the weak limbed or dirt shy.
It took about an hour and a lot of muscle with a sledge hammer, but it all came apart. The chickens were thrilled; bugs everywhere! Everything was cleaned up and ready to rototill, rake, level, screen and cover with pea gravel by the time the boys got home.
Once the sweat work was done, the real hen cackling started. These guys are a riot to watch, until it gets annoying, then I go work on some other project. At this point most of what I did was take photos and ask questions, get annoyed and go do something else. Which was fine by them, they like their alone time.
Thus concludes the first weekend of Project HutchDestruct.
One positive out of all the spring rains we’ve gotten in the past few weeks – its easier to dig stuff around the yard. Usually most of our soil outside the gardens is like concrete come summer time. I was anticipating a pretty tough dig today trying to run irrigation line over to a couple new gardens Lisa set up next the the big compost bin, but I was pleasantly surprised. Win.
I did find one unpleasant surprise – the power line for the well pump and water lines from the big water tank – only buried like 4 inches deep. I’m amazed I didn’t rip it apart last year when I ran the rototiller over the area.
Dretti and Q decided that instead of helping dig today, they would supervise. “Dig right there – put your back into it” … etc
Lots of help
The weather this week has been our typical March – lots of back to back rain storms. Today was the most intense in terms of rain & wind for us – by midday, the rain was coming down so hard, Lisa said it was flowing thru the grasses on the hills like a large waterfall. It was falling so fast and the ground was so saturated that it all just ran off – quickly. I guess having 2+ inches of rain in a few hours will do that.
We got a few pics of the results:
Welch Creek up near our place:
Various images from Calaveras Rd down in the valley from our place – all our water ends up down here:
Our biggest concern when it rains is the road to our place and the steep hillsides which like to slide:
And a few video clips:
Lisa crossing flooded section on Calaveras Rd
Alameda Creek at flood stage
Torrent of water in Welch Creek near our place