I should probably have commemorative bricks made in honor of each person who has helped me with building this chicken pen. Or maybe they can just sign their names to the outside of the coop in Sharpie markers? They can each claim a different piece of scrap wood… First, there is my brother, who left the panels of chain link dog kennel on our acre with the broad license to “do anything” I liked with them. Without the kennel gate panel, this pen would have been much more difficult to build.
Then, there’s my oldest son, Ben, who let me pretend I was helping him put up the gate panel. He non-judgmentally repositioned one of the posts that I had pounded in place to attach the gate panel to. He leveled the panel and rail road ties forming its base, and adjusted how the gate hung while I “supervised” his work. At my request, he showed his two man work crew, his younger brother-in-laws, how to attach chicken wire to the lower portion of the 14-gauge wire fencing with aluminum fencing wire. They had time to get about a third of it done. I was able to finish the rest, as well as come up with a chicken wire architecture that would keep the little chicks from escaping around the gate.
These 15 year old young men were also brave enough to come work with just me in charge for one day. They helped hold up sections of 14-gauge fencing while I stapled it to the hay barn posts. It was no secret that I had only recently learned to use the staple gun, but they stood calmly by while I fired multitudes of staples into posts, with varying degrees of success. Sometimes this required having them stand on a ladder just around the corner of the post where I was standing on a ladder. They smiled kindly as I rejoiced over any staples that actually angled over the wire and embedded completely in the wood.
Special recognition goes to my son-in-law, Rich, who happened to be visiting one Sunday when I realized that a fox could probably climb the small stack of straw bales next to the pen and vault over the high, but not quite complete, fence. Rich first helped me cut a triangular shaped piece of 14-gauge wire fencing that would fit up against the rafters of the hay-barn-turned-half-chicken-coop. Then, he went beyond the call of duty. He steadied the ladder that was squeezed between the straw bales and the pen fencing, all while I had one foot on the ladder and one foot on the straw bales, as I was firing the staple gun to secure this important fencing piece. He complained not once while I struggled to get the compressor hose hooked up to the staple gun at this lofty height.
My youngest daughter, the one who helped me bend the PVC pipe hoop pieces into place, deserves a medal for remembering the tin snips that she had used once on a project with her father. These made cutting all of the types of fencing go so much faster than using the regular wire cutters, but particularly the chicken wire because of the smaller spaces between the wires. She also patiently held pieces of fencing over her head while I bent sections to fit over the hoops and up against the hay barn.
I have already mentioned my father, the daughter who helped even though she had a fever, and my husband. This is like the academy awards of chicken pen building. I begin to understand awards ceremonies where people always feel compelled to say they can’t list everyone.
My post-shoulder surgery husband was quite understanding about his nurse running off periodically to work on finishing details of the chicken pen. The pen is still not quite done. There are still two high narrow sections of fencing next to the top of the hay barn that need to be fastened down, but it is unlikely that a predatory critter could get up there. If they do, they will be stuck, but I’d rather have live chickens. So I will venture up the ladder with power tools in the near future, with appropriate supervision.
The little chickens, of course, look only to me as their benefactor. Or they think I’m one of the flock, since I’ve spent so much time in there working on things. Either way, I can tell they are comfortable with me, since a few of them fly up to roost on my arms and neck when I’m around; and another is trying to help me find my place in the pecking order. It is such moments of “chicken affection” that make it all fun.