Friday, 4 October 2013

Chickens II

The chickens we have are a variety called White Rock, which are probably the type most commonly raised and sold for meat.  They are designed to mature in 10 weeks.  Ours quickly outgrew their cardboard box and are now in a plywood contraption in our garage, with high ceilings and a pine-shaving strewn floor.  They have a branch in the middle on which to perch and are brought outdoors on these Indian summer afternoons to learn how to peck the earth for supplementary food and to learn to be real, old-fashioned chickens.

As a child, I was a renovation assistant to my dad.  I witnessed framing, flooring, drywalling, the installation of exterior siding and I held one end of the tape measure a fair bit.  It made for long and cumbersome Saturday afternoons and until last week, the thought of taking on a home renovation project of my own would have made me sick to my stomach.  I don't like hardware stores and I don't enjoy handy work.  However, a mixture of the urgency of getting the chickens into a bigger space that could still be temperature controlled (they are not ready for the barn), along with the sense that maybe I could actually pull something like this off (given that we'd managed to spruce up the barn quite nicely with some scrap wood) made for a sort of exciting challenge.

We rented a U-Haul, since, unlike proper farmers, we don't have a commercial grade vehicle of our own, and went to Home Depot.  We piled two-by-fours onto a trolley until it was full and then got another for a door and some plywood.  I brought the truck over to the loading dock, we loaded it up, went back in for a circular saw and a ladder, brought it out, went back in for some insulation and gyprock for the cold storage room in the basement, which will be the next project.  We ended up at the same cashier on each trip through and she gave us a bemused smile the third time.  We don't look like construction contractors (let alone farmers); most often people assume we are students at Queens.

A day's hard work paid off and while the doorway isn't exactly straight and some of the framing is a touch off, the coop looks decent and was satisfying to build.

Because farm supplies can be costly (I had a vertiginous feeling going through the checkout again and again, the tab soaring) we have been experimenting with rural farm auctions and garage sales. The people who operate and attend most of these are rural to the bone (lots of camouflage clothing) and are likely a bit surprised to see two young Queens students stopping in.  One has to sift through piles upon piles of junk to find anything worth buying (or at actions, one has to sit through hours of bidding on thing like old dolls and candy dishes) but there are good finds if one looks long enough.  XB managed to find a chainsaw in good working order at a country yard sale for $10.  A good new chainsaw starts at around $200 so I was pleased with the find.  Meanwhile, at the auction I attended that same morning, a lightly used Stihl chainsaw sold for well above its retail value.  When people get into a bidding war, the adrenaline starts surging and reason slips.  Beware.

I am not comfortable with sharp power tools, but after using the circular saw for the chicken coop project and coming out of it uninjured, I will give the chainsaw a try.  Winter is coming.


  1. Bravo! I admire your courage at setting sail to discover new lands. Those pesky pigs!!I look forward to sharing in your adventures as I return to my desk after my recent period of exploration.

    1. Hello! and thanks for your encouragement. I hope you had a good trip (and hope you blog about it so I can hear about it).