Saturday, May 16, 2009

The Coop

The current economic crises has affected yet another housing project, this time in Buckfield.

It appears I will have to put off a building project I was expecting to accomplish this weekend but can't for lack of funds. Boy will the tenants be pissed.

We purchased 17 baby chicks to whom I am contractually obligated to build a coop.

The chicks - well, 15 chickens and two bantams - scuffle around a cardboard slum beneath a heating lamp in the back hallway. We feed them. We water them. We check to make sure they're not too cold or too hot.

All the while they bitch about how their new 7-foot-by-12-foot, wire-mesh-and-strapping condo has yet to be built.

I am their contractor, hired to build their rental with the agreement that payment would be in the form of eggs. And insect abatement.

They did not check for references, however, and I made no representations to them about my ability. They seemed blithely content to chirp away and leave everything to fate, as it were. And lots of trust.

They trust I will build for them a habitable home, one with a view of Buckfield Lake, shit removal and a lifetime supply of feed; and I trust they will produce the source of my favorite breakfast as well as exterminate the tick population that has, these past few summers, used our back lawn as a Lollapalooza venue.

Gabrielle, our two-and-three-quarter-year-old, likes to check on the baby chicks regularly. As do Samwise and Gimli, our canines, and Peekaboo, Gabi's new kitten.

Samwise looks at them as fetch things - he expects all objects to be thrown for him, including shoes, cell phones, and bras - and Gimli, too short to actually see the chicks, merely stares at the side of the box and listens and sniffs. Of course he misses the fun in the fact that he is staring at the word PURDUE this whole time. Pugs are so humorless.

Peekaboo is still a kitten and therefore, it would seem anyway, has not acquired the instincts born in all cats when it comes to birds. She too is short like Gimli, and therefore stares at him staring at the box. And then she tackles him by the ankles like a playful younger sister to an older brother. He hates it when she does that.

I do pick her up occasionally to have her peer into the box itself, but the heat lamp makes her sleepy. I would pick Gimli up if I thought he'd appreciate the view better, but I'd be afraid he would mistake the heat lamp for The Light. As in, Don't Go Into The Light. He would pass out in my arms and I'd have to douse him with cold water.

The coop plans call for nothing more than a glorified cage, really. Using wood 5/4-inches thick and 3 inches wide, I will build two 7-foot-high by 6-foot-wide frames and fasten them together, with a door on the lake end, and a small chicken door on the other end that will abut our barn. A roof will cover the entire thing, made of metal roofing material.

A Noah's Ark ramp will lead the chickens up through their small door to the barn and into a room that used to be a three-hole outhouse. The three holes, and their seat lids, are still there. Therefore, leaving open the possibility that one smart ass among the group could rightfully bitch "We live in a real shit hole."

I'm not going to tell them the truth though. To them, it will be where they nest. I want them to feel comfortable, warm, and dry. Besides, the outhouse has not been used in decades. Below the holes is the dirt floor of the barn. If they were to get smart all of a sudden and lift one of the toilet lids, they could do an Alcatraz on me.

Next, after the coop itself, is the manufacture of transportation. Corrine wants me to build them an RV so that we can wheel them to different parts of the property to peck at the grass and eat the aforementioned ticks.

This rig will be a wire-mesh box with wheels at the front corners and handles at the back, allowing the conductor, as it were, to lift and wheel the ladies to and fro, like a wheelbarrow.

They can take day trips to the far reaches. North, to the border, a wooded area best known for shade and thick grasses. Or east, down along the shores of Lake Buckfield, which enjoys the most sun and views of ducks.

This of course is all contingent upon an upturn in the economy. If our income cannot afford the penthouse and touring bus, we'll have to set them about the property freely, and hope they stick to within the borders.

I will, as ever, keep you posted.


  1. Wow chickens!!!! Very cool.

    I also have an unfinished purchase. I bought a video camera. Took it back because 50 pages into the instructions - I found out it didn't work with apples. Then, got another video camera that is suppose to work with apples. No luck yet. I think I am taking it back. I have had enough BS. And, I couldn't really afford a new toy.

    I just wanted to tape my kids band concerts and swim event this summer. Oh - I feel bad as I type. I better figure out the damn camera!!!

  2. LMAO!!!
    The chickens are very luck to have you as an architect. You have researched, and measured...and measured...and measured. It'll be the best coop ever!

    And I, your adoring farmers wife, will make you an omlet!

  3. I really love your writing style and sense of humor, AST. (Do I have to call you Andrew Scott Turner? Andrew? Andy? AST just doesn't sound right, but it's one syllable, vs. five :)

  4. Hit 40...

    I'm surprised yours does not work with Apples. Is it digital?


    Andy works for me...

    (and thanks for the compliment!)


    Will you wear those overalls for me? Again I mean?


  5. Oh, and can I stop by for breakfast? I love eggs.

  6. I love how you can make being broke funny. Could you write about my life now? I am having some trouble making it humorous in my head.

  7. Mary Ellen..When you say "broke" did you mean "no money" broke or "spritually, emotionally, physically, transcendentally.." broke?

    And, by all means, come on over. We'll even give you eggs. Lots of them.

  8. Totally the first one. I don't know how to recognize transcendental brokeness.


    I don't know if that will post as a link, or not. But something in your post today reminded me of this book, and some of the stories in in, and I wondered if you'd heard of it (maybe read it), or even heard of the author -- she's also from Maine!