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.
It’s been over for a long long time. We haven’t spoken in well over a year, probably more, so don’t act like you didn’t know it was coming. Just give me back my blog posts, and my photos and we won’t have to ever see each other again. It’s for the best, really. You smell like dust-bunnies and teen angst, if that’s possible to do simultaneously, and I can’t be seen with you in public. Or in private anymore, it makes me feel weird.
It took me an entire flippin’ day (several months ago), but I finally cut the cord. Canceled the account. Cleaning out my internetz closet. 5 years worth of blog posts, about 50% pretty entertaining. With photos and such it took significantly longer to archive than one would expect. What a nightmare. But it’s done. It’s 5 years history of musings and ramblings, something I didn’t want to burn without a backwards glance. MySpace is dead. It has been for a while. I suppose it was mostly for teenage kids and 20 somethings, a few 30 somethings bored with no other outlet, and a lot of bands. It served to keep me in contact with some friends that I would have otherwise let fall by the wayside due to my awe inspiring ability to procrastinate. Social networking isn’t all obsessively stalking your high school sweetheart and making comments on co-workers posts about their weekend adventures, there are some benefits in today’s highly technical and internetical world ( I made that word up just now, internetical). But seriously? MySpace is dead dead dead. An interview on some news/talk radio station confirmed it for me the other night. The radio news anchor was interviewing some entertainment lawyer about a celebrity lawsuit over comments posted on Twitter (a social network feed that I personally find insanely ridiculous in both form and content). Anyhow, the lawyer blabbles on about how you need to be very careful about posting comments, making statements, blah blah blah on (and I quote) “on Twitter, FaceBook and MySpace….well, not so much MySpace anymore, but all the other social networking sites for sure….”. I just sat their and laughed. Nothing says your business is a cold stiff corpse more than the media consciously and explicitly excluding you from a known market.
I may (will) be re-posting some of those archived blog entries because upon re-reading them they make me giggle, so if we’re connected on Facebook, or were connected on MyDeadSpace, and you think you’ve seen that somewhere before ? You probably have. If you haven’t, maybe it’ll make you laugh out loud. Gosh, I hope so, I don’t write just to hear myself….um….write.
H called me about 2 weeks ago to tell me she and Lyric and Echo (Darby Crash’s mom and his sister) had a Christmas present for us. We love presents, so we ran right down to the clinic gather our loot. When presented with a very simple brown box, I asked if we could OPEN IT NOW?!? We were told no, it’s a Christmas present, you should wait. Darby and I sighed together and agreed, we would wait. So I put the box in the van and left it there (in the foot well of the front seat). Today (Christmas Eve Day), I loaded up DeeDee and Darby and we went to do a little last minute shopping.
Let it be noted that all of my dogs are very well mannered and trustworthy in vehicles. I travel often with one or all of them, and they never destroy or soil anything (seatbelts, electronic cords, seats, etc). At worse they’ve gotten into the trash or my training bag and scattered or devoured the contents. Not so today. I had forgotten Darby’s obsession with cardboard boxes. Not paper bags, not magazines or newspapers, never blankets or dog beds. But a severe cardboard addiction, starting with chewing a corner until it’s soggy, then going wholesale nutso ripping and shredding like a mad-dog until there’s nothing but confetti remaining. But I had forgotten, and left the two in the van parked directly on the street in front of the store I was in without a second thought (other than how lucky I was to find a coveted parking spot in a busy shopping area). The alarm was set, the minivan was parked within sight, what could go wrong?
When I was done, I got in the van and put my packages on the passenger seat. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw something that made me do a double-take.
The first thing I thought (and remember, first thoughts don’t have to make sense) was “There’s a dead monkey in my van????”, and then actually turning around and looking closer my second thought was “Somebody chewed up a wig???”. Then I realized that I have neither a long haired black monkey nor a wig, so those first thoughts couldn’t be correct. Then I took a good look at the bigger picture and saw the cardboard carnage, the nibbled/ripped greeting card envelope, and of course the Dead Monkey Wig that I still couldn’t identify and was a little hesitant to touch…..
It was about that point that Dee started doing a little prancy-dance and then dove onto the back bench seat to try and look as small and non-guilty as possible, leaving Darby ‘holding the bag’, or in this case the chewed box.
Maybe he was set up? Maybe Dee wasn’t so innocent as she pretended and had arranged for Darby to take the fall? Not a chance. In his guilt Darby flooded me with snuffly face nuzzles and kisses….his muzzle was covered in glitter. A Dead Monkey Wig, with glitter???? What was this mangled furry glittery thing that was liberated from the plain brown box Helen had insisted we wait until Christmas to open? Was this some sort of deranged joke? I gathered up my nerves (a Dead Monkey Wig was still in the top running as a possibility at this point, having no other ideas) and plucked the hairy, spit flecked thing from the floor of the van. It was a toy, a very nice quality wool ‘chaser’ toy, similar to a fox-tail, but wool. And scary-hideous if you have no idea what it is. I plucked the cardboard shreds and various pieces of tape and other wrappings from it and tucked it safely away in the center console, gathered up the nibbled card and smiled at the greeting from H, Lyric and Echo. The card is one of Helen’s original Lyric photo Christmas Cards, so it was sort of special from a mom-to-son perspective.
Glitter-Lips continued his 3 part apology, further cementing his conviction as the gift shredder. All was well, but I should have known better. If there’s ONE THING Darby cannot resist for any length of time, it’s a cardboard box left unattended. He has stolen them from the recycle pile in the carport, he’s nabbed them from the office, he’s liberated them from the barn. No matter the size, no matter that he knows he’s not supposed to destroy them, he loves cardboard boxes and they are not safe in his presence. But he’s a Good Boy, and to be fair, it WAS his present. No harm, no foul. Still adorable, of course, which erases all wrong doing and resets the “Angel-O-Meter”.
I found a bottle of Creme de Violette at the local booze-store and of course brought it home because I’d seen, somewhere, a cocktail recipe that called for it. Creme de Violette was discontinued somewhere back in the 60s, and recently reintroduced. After bringing it home and pecking around for the recipe I realized I didn’t have one of the other key ingredients. Maraschino liqueur. Did you know it’s harder to find that stuff than it was to find the purple stuff??? Yeah. I’m not a big fan of cocktail or food recipes, for that matter, that contain hard-if-not-impossible to obtain ingredients. In fact, I usually smirk and say ‘yeah, right’ and turn the page. But this was different, I had stumbled upon the Creme de Violette and the prospect of a purple cocktail was too enticing.
Yesterday I found the elusive liqueur at a nondescript liqueur store off of University and West street in Berkeley, Ledgers Liquors. THEY HAVE EVERYTHING.
And so then…..my purple cocktail! This recipe was taken from my all-time favorite foodie magazine, the recently discontinued Gourmet Magazine. Dammit. I loved that publication.
In a cocktail shaker three-fourths full of ice, combine 2 ounces gin, 1/2 ounce lemon juice, 1/2 ounce maraschino liqueur, and 1/4 ounce crème de violette liqueur. Shake well and strain into a cocktail glass.
I like it, a lot. Mostly because it’s purple. Art took a sip, made a face and said “phwew…..what’s in that???”
I smiled really big.
“Oh, well, that explains it then”.
Art doesn’t like gin. I do. He didn’t believe me when I told him it was made out of real airplanes. Oh well.
If you have a dog, especially if you have more than one dog, you’ll totally appreciate this blog; Hyperbole and a Half.
In particular the most current post. I think I need to start illustrating in our blog. It’s really entertaining.
For weeks I’ve been haranguing Art the Husband to please please please set some gopher traps in the paths between and around my raised garden beds. When we installed the beds we had the foresight to lay down wire mesh under the beds, but failed to do the same outside the raised walls. That was a big mistake. Our property, lawn pasture and otherwise, is plagued with pocket gophers and ground squirrels.
The dogs LOVE THIS, because they’re good eats. We hate this for all the obvious reasons. Art has an ongoing war with them (as seen in previous posts) whereupon he has applied numerous tactics to bring their numbers down.
And of course, in keeping with Stine tradition, Good Old-Fashion Fire Power
Things we haven’t tried include;
The Rodenator Bunker Buster
The only thing that isn’t really an option is the poison. We won’t put the dogs, cats or other wildlife at risk and with all the gopher/squirrel eatin’ that goes on here it would be a very real risk. We’re still open to consideration for all the other tactics.
The war became real to me when I came back from a roadtrip to find my garden area looking like, well, a war zone. Besides the beds being overgrown, the graveled pathways were riddled with holes piled high with gopher-tailings. Going out to the garden to grab a few things for dinner had become a muddy, hazardous ordeal. Art and Fraley built a really awesome fence around the beds about a year ago which keeps the deer and cats out, but gophers? Psshaw.
Art placed the traps (if you’re wondering why I insisted on nagging him into doing it instead of just setting them myself it’s because he’s way better at it than me. I always manage to spring them trying to set them.) Within one night of Gopher Covert Operations we had success, and Dee Dee had breakfast.
I took a chance that it was a solitary operative and commenced Sanitation Operations, which is when this war took a turn. In a shocking discovery, it became apparent that these were no ordinary pocket gophers that had been assigned to the West Front Garden Zone, these were…..Advanced G-Troops. These were the obviously the brightest, the best of the best as evidenced by their advanced surveillance/reconnaissance technology;
Ohhhhh you wicked spying little rodents. This changes everything.
It took 2 days to get everything back in order and as with many war zone rehabilitation projects, slightly better than we started with. Pathways have been leveled and re-graveled, beds have been cleared and topped with compost, gone to seed plants have been pulled, winter crops planted (salad and mustard greens, radishes, carrots, snow peas and chard). Potatoes have been mounded in hopes of one last harvest, onions dug up, weeds evicted. Things that are still going strong were fertilized and mulched. Battle plans were tweaked. Two days is a bit of time to think.
This is what I think; Know Your Enemy.
At this point, a couple of weeks have gone by with no sign of activity in the West Front Garden Zone. But I know it’s only a matter of time. If there was one Advanced G-Troop, there will be others. And I will be ready, or rather, Art the Husband will be ready. Like a General I will remain on a distant vantage point watching my best and brightest wage battle with The Enemy and ponder this new breed of soldier and what it will mean to this war. Until then, my garden will flourish, sans rodents.
Check on both.
When asked recently “Lis, what HAVE you been doing with your time?” Mostly I say “Stuff. I do a lot of stuff with my time”, But it’s a little more involved than that. I have projects. I have destinations. I get around to both. Most recently was a task I called Project Thursday. Because I tackled it on a Thursday, duh.
If you look back in the blog files to last October you’ll see a post from Art the Husband about fall weather, chainsaws and dominating a messy storm ravaged Oak Tree in the upper pasture. Girlfriend Fraley and several chainsaws helped Art make short work of the fallen and broken limbs. Unfortunately neither the weather or Art’s attention span held out and a year later small random piles of cut (and now well seasoned wood) and brambly limbs remain. In addition last years winter/spring weather and severe winds (and maybe a little summer shotgun action) took it’s toll on the old lambing shed next to the afore-mentioned Oak Tree.
What wasn’t blown far and wide was collapsed on top of a deep and rodent riddled pile of mulchy straw bedding. I wasn’t sure what I was going to find under the heavy rotting wall panels, so I collected the dogs and remanded them to the dog run for their own safety (rattlesnakes you know, not dog friendly in the slightest)
After gathering the correct tools for the job and jump starting the lawn tractor Project Thursday was officially underway
You never know when you’re going to need your Ladies Home Protection System, good thing it’s highly portable.
As it turned out (and perhaps due to me stomping around loudly and boorishly before upturning anybodies hiding place) all that I surprised were 4 field mice and a handful of lizards. 🙂 I let the dogs come out one at a time to check it out. Dretti was completely disgusted with the prospect of eating live mice. Darby just enjoyed chasing them down and slobbering them up. Dee looked at them as fast food style appetizers.
It took about 4 very full loads to clean up the remains of the shed. Andretti supervised most of the unloading as Art the Husband was not around to fuss about trivialities like rusty nails and termites. Andretti Ducati certainly knows how to fuss over details.
And then…..the roof. No trivial piece of metal, this was about 300-400lb of heavy duty and surprisingly well constructed galvanized tin and pressure treated beams. I say surprising because everything else the previous owners did to this place was pretty slap-shod. Quality was NOT a word common in their vocabulary. The lambing shed roof however was meticulously constructed to outlast the earth and elements. And to laugh in the face of our lawn tractor.
Of course nothing is easy, once it was through the fence it was facing the wrong direction to tow with the tow straps (the beams that fit tow straps only go one way…grrrr) Angry Birds popped into my head, with all the angles and distances and exact torque. Problem solved, a la Angry Birds.
It was a really tight fit through the gate, by a few inches on either side, but we squeaked through. Now it sits by the top fence between the riding arena and the pasture. Any bets? It just needs to be de-constructed. 6 months?? Another year??? I know this much, it won’t be blowing away anywhere, that’s for sure. 🙂
Now for those wood piles…..