Friday, December 10, 2010

How to "Vermin Proof" a pole barn with a dirt floor.

As usual, I have various projects going at one time. 

There are days when I don't really know what I should be doing.

Then there are days when life dictates the "To Do List"!

I love that I have you to report to because I can sit here for a few minutes, drink some good coffee, be clean, not risk hurting my hands, not risk finding some crazy, rodent-like creature, you know?  Be normal.

This has been the "How to" list up this point:

1.  You have to have a big discussion with the Man in charge.  You have to explain the problems, your needs, the expectations you have for this project, and your limits.

2.  Devise a Plan of Action.

STOP!  -  First you have to run some errands, drop someone off, and then kill some time at a coffee shop pondering the world while stirring a great cup of coffee.

3.  Go to a large home improvement store and investigate your material options.

STOP!  -  Large home improvement store is doing inventory, and you will see the largest number of employees in history on hand, but they are busy counting every stinking little thing and they are really wishing you would just leave.

4.  Deliver your supplies to the barn.  Unload everything and get ready to work.

5.  Survey your job site and clean out the area so that you will be able to move around in your workspace.  This includes moving empty pallets and various other items that are not in use but are too valuable to discard like t-posts, lumber, old gates, etc.

STOP!  -  Where are my gloves?

6.  Starting on a three foot section, proceed to dig a trench under the wall and clean out the dirt.  Now, this has to be approximately 18 inches deep. 

(What?  Are you kidding me?  This is hard!)

STOP!  -  Kid, the cat, is on the outside of the barn, reaching under the wall and grabbing my hand with each movement.

(This is going  be a long project.)

7.  Digging and measuring, and digging and measuring, and digging and measuring.  I probably measure more than I need to because the digging part is so hard.  This is a two-fold thought process.  First, I get to take a break from the digging, and second, I am not digging one inch deeper that I have to.

STOP!  -  What is that racket?  The little girl chickens must have flipped a lid or something.  I better check on them.

Let me describe the scene...

You may have heard me mention the Infirmary from time to time?  Well, I built it out of 2X2 lumber and hardware cloth (heavy wire with small squares).  It is 4'X4'X2', and it works great when someone needs to be alone.  Either to grow some feathers back or a "Time Out" situation. 

When I let all of the chickens out, the little girls like to get on top of it and nap or just hang out.  It is just something new for them to do.  Since I was out there working in the area, I had let them out to run around and get some exercise.  A few of them must have been taking a break on the infirmary and when one of them went to jump down, she inadvertently got her middle toe caught in one of the squares on the edge.  When I got to her she was hanging upside down by this toe that was completely bent in the wrong direction from what it should be.  I went to grab her to free her - this is sad - she didn't even make a sound or try to move - Nothing!  She just hung there.

I put her down on the ground, and she hobbled off about two steps, then sat down.


STOP!  -  Go check the guide to living in Chick-ville, Storey's Guide to Raising Chickens, and spend valuable time reading up on broken bones, splints, bandaging, a chicken's incessant need to remove a bandage, and recovery times.

(Really?  This has happened enough that someone actually has written about it?)

I had to ask my family for help because I was certain this was not something I could manage with one hand holding a chicken and the other hand working to fix a fracture.  My faithful helper did not meet me with an eager willingness to assist and act the part of Vet Tech.  Instead I saw some one's head drop into their hands and I heard a muffled, "I think you just make this stuff up."

STOP!  -  This calls for a piece of apple pie.  I really feel the need for some sugar and we have perfected my Mom's Apple Pie recipe.  It took three pies to get there, but boy, did we ever get there!

STOP!  -  So where is the Vet wrap and the bandage tape? 

First aid supplies in hand, I go back to the hay barn, dragging my weary Vet Tech along, and hoping that broken toes can magically heal themselves.  After thoroughly watching all of the black little girl chickens for about 15 minutes straight, we can't tell which one was hurt.  As my Tech sprints at record speed to get away from the area, I go back to work.

8.  With the digging finally done, and the cat still playing his new game, it is time to measure and cut the hardware cloth to fit in the trench.

STOP!  -  Where are my safety goggles?

9.  Now I am cutting, sparks are flying because I am using the Roto-Zip, for those like-minded tool junkies, it is a super-sized Dremmel and I love it, but this could get dangerous.  I am in a hay barn for crying out loud.

STOP!  -  Rake the loose hay from the area so that we minimize the risk of starting a fire.  Did I mention sparks?

10.  Now we have the wire in the trench , in place, and we can nail it to the base board of the barn with fence staples.

STOP!  -  Where is the hammer?

STOP!  -  Where are my gloves?

11.  Pack the dirt back into the trench making sure that the wire is flush with the wall.

12.  The Man in charge arrives home from a long day at work and walks out to check on the progress of things.  He agrees that things are working nicely, we discuss some of the construction decisions that were made when the work was in progress and he agrees with the changes, then he heads for the house.

STOP!  -  Not once does he ask why I have only gotten three feet into this project.  This is definitely one of the reasons that I love Him.  He gets me, without even having to ask.

Sometimes you just have to embrace the chaos!

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