We thought the hardware cloth was going to be the easy part. Ha! If we had a third person to take a photo, you would see me laying in the dirt beneath the coop awkwardly hammering u-nails to tack down the hardware cloth while Bookman sits in the dirt on the other side trying to hold the hardware cloth in place while I hammer. I suppose it isn’t so very hard really, just uncomfortable angles to have to work, not like trying to piece together walls and insulation and then wondering why the door you just cut out doesn’t fit back in the hole you cut it from. I should mention, in case you have no idea what hardware cloth is, it is not actually cloth. It is wire mesh with very small openings so critters like raccoons and possums can’t get their hands inside the run and grab a chicken. We are not using what is traditionally called chicken wire because the openings are much too large, large enough for a chicken head to get pulled through and that would not be good.
There was also the moment when the roost pole we cut ended up being just a little too short because we measured from wall to wall across the floor and not from wall to wall where the roost was going to sit. The coop is nowhere near square, but the chickens aren’t going to care. The humans made do and bought lots of caulk to fill gaps and will be putting up some trim around the windows and other edges. It will pass animal control’s inspection for the chickens, but don’t invite us over to help you build a house or even a barn, at least not if we are the ones in charge. We are, however, creative problem-solvers so that’s something. Because I was outdoors building all weekend, I did not get a chance to make a Dashwood video so the photos will just have to do. Today I gave them dandelion flowers. At first they didn’t give a tail feather about the flower but the stem got them all excited. Eventually I pulled off some petals and offered that and then they decided it was pretty tasty. After they got the hang of pulling flower petals from my fingers, then I offered an entire flower again and they had a grand time shredding it and then chasing whoever managed to claim the middle around the brooder. Squealing and flapping galore! And looking up at me, more please?
Tuesday evening Margaret went “over the top.” I was bringing them dandelion greens and was turned away leaning the screen from on top of the brooder against the wall when Margaret flapped her way up and over the top of the brooder and onto the floor next to me. “Oh shit!” I yelled, expecting Margaret to make a run for it. But she simply stood there, very likely surprised at where she ended up. So I bent over, put my hands on either side of her, holding her wings in while I also scooped my fingers under her, and picked her up. She did not struggle but she complained mightily until I released her back in the brooder. As soon as I let her go she stopped complaining, shuffled her feathers a bit, and acted as though absolutely nothing out of the ordinary had just happened. The rest of the Dashwoods looked at her in a “oh there you are” sort of way and went about their chicken business. It appears in terms of weather we should be able to move them in to Barton Cottage next weekend. The cottage itself will not be painted but it will be warm and dry and that will have to do for now.
Friday Bookman and I were up early for the big plant sale we go to every year. The weather was lovely and the turn out for the sale was even larger than usual because of it. We got in line a little before 7 a.m. to get our wristbands with our group entry number on them. We were in group five and the woman said we would probably get in about 9:20. So off we went to have a hearty breakfast at our favorite cafe. Appetites sated and fully caffeinated, we returned at 9:30 and walked right in.
We’ve been going to the sale for thirteen or fourteen years so we have it down to a science. Zigging and zagging through the crowd, darting in and out to grab plants from the tables, we had everything we wanted, paid, and were heading for the car about 40 minutes later.
Our largest purchase was a North Star cherry tree for the chicken garden. It is a self-fertile tart cherry that is semi-dwarf. It’s just a sapling but unlike apples I don’t think we will have to wait 5-7 years before we get fruit. It was done blossoming so hopefully at the end of July we will get at least a few cherries from it. We’ll see.
Most of the plants we bought are for the green roof of the chicken coop and I will tell you what they are once I get the roof planted, hopefully next weekend. Other plants include a couple of hardy kiwis, another gooseberry — this one without nasty spines and supposedly sweet enough to eat right off the bush — a few herbs — curry plant, shiso, French tarragon — and some shade plants that I hope will multiply beneath the apple trees in my front yard — foamflower, columbine, bleeding heart, wild geranium. Then there were a few other random plants like liatris and an orange phlox. I have only gotten some of these planted, I will be working on getting most of them out through the week as weather permits.
We did plant seeds: peas, peas and more peas, cauliflower, Swiss chard, kale, and chicory (aka Italian dandelion). As the week progresses I hope to get more seeds in the ground. So much to do still!
Which means between the coop and the planting, I will very likely be quiet this week. Unless it turns out to be stormy like the forecast is threatening. Sometimes you just never know.
A very happy Mother’s Day to moms everywhere whether your children be human or furred or feathered.