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      Posting these cat-cartoons-without-the-cartoon was a long journey that I don’t know if I’ll repeat soon again. A daily blog is tough … even when you have your material handed to you! But, I couldn’t have done it without the artwork … Continue reading →
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Now that … that was a lotta work

Posted by joeabbott on January 31, 2015

Hard work and I have an amenable relationship: it comes calling and I answer that call. Truth be told, we have been strangers as of late. Not necessarily on not-speaking terms, but I’ve been busy with other things and haven’t made time.

And so this last weekend it showed up at my door, I was game to entertain my old friend, and I wasn’t even close to being ready for what it had in store.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA         We need to tame this space

When Suzy and I decided to expand our flock, we realized we’d need more room in the coop; and so we plan an expansion. However, as time is getting closer for that expansion and we look about the area in which we’re expanding the coop, we saw a fair bit of space that was poorly used, and so we thought to clean up that area.

Now, we don’t have refuse and old appliances or other trash behind the coop, but in that small area, defined by the coop, the steep back hill, the property line fence, and the gate into Chickenville, we had a pile of wood chips from a cottonwood tree we took down, we had our compost bin (a 4’x8’ unit), and a water barrel. Toss in the an old landscaping timber, an interesting looking branch or two, and a small perch for our chickens to hop to for treats and it was a cozy, if slightly untidy, area.

Aside from all the above, the ground had a bit of a slope to it; a small mounding that made for a challenge every time we setup our temp coop back there.

And so that was the project we took on:tidying this space up. And that was the hard work that reminded me that age, a desk job, and a hobby of video gaming are all taking their toll.

First things first

While I will detail the work we completed in three days in that space, I should make it abundantly clear that for nearly two weeks prior to last weekend, Suzy would recount nightly about chipping away at the work up there she could do alone. And, when I walked through the gates last Saturday to grapple with the what we’d be doing, I was amazed!

Gone was the pile of wood chips, gone were the stray branches and landscape timbers, the water barrel was drained and, most impressively, gone was the mounding in the middle of this area! Why Suzy needed me was a near mystery as she’d accomplished so much already!

But, in addition to lulling me into a false sense of ease at what was left, I was energized to see a large portion of the job already addressed.


For this weekend we were going to tackle two simple tasks: put in a planting strip adjacent to the fence and define the area in which we place the compost bin.

While modest in effort, these tasks would help define the available area for the coop expansion, the temp coop, and a planned storage cabinet for some of the chicken supplies … allowing Suzy to reclaim her potting shed for potting!

With it being chilly in the mornings and starting to get dark around 5PM, we agreed to start our days around 10AM and then work until 4PM … and with a good breakfast, we wouldn’t need to stop for lunch.

And so we started

Saturday at 10AM we walked out to that small area, gave me a few moments to marvel over the progress Suzy had already made, and then started measuring. The planting strip we’d set in would be about 12’ long and come off the fence line about 10”, allowing Suzy to plant some vines, sun flowers, and whatnot in that sundrenched strip. It also set me up for installing another lattice of trellis, but that wouldn’t be a problem and we had time before it was needed.

Then we measured up the compost bin area: it’d be about 16’ long (tying into a portion we’d put in a year or two back) and end in a 4’ dogleg: creating a gap and walking path between it and the fence on the property line. We didn’t have any real specifics: just claim as much property as we could and keep the retaining wall about 5-6 timbers high. Once the timbers were in place, we’d create a front edge to this new area by sinking some concrete blocks a neighbor gave us into the ground and then finish off the area by filling it with crushed stone.

It was ambitious for two days but I fooled myself into remembering past efforts with greater romanticism than they deserved.

More in the next post …


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