During Labor Day weekend, my husband decided to build a chicken tractor. What is a chicken tractor and why did he want to build one? Simple answer – someone at work talked him into it.
“It’s a mobile home for chickens,” he explained, “a coop and a run on wheels. The chickens will perform magic by changing a patch of ground into fertile garden space within a few weeks. We’ll move it so the chickens will make lots of garden plots. By spring, the plots will be ready for planting,” he told me. “What do you think?”
“Go chickens!” I said. “Let’s do it.”
“Great. I’ll take some time off work. We can build it this week.”
The fact that we didn’t know a cluck about raising chickens didn’t deter our enthusiasm. How hard could it be to build for chickens? After all, we’ve been building from scratch for years.
We researched building plans, inventoried our own stock of scrap materials, and foraged in hardware stores for materials we needed. Within a few days, we were ready to start building.
When my husband and I build together, my job is “the holder and go-fer”. This means I hold off the distractions (kids, phone calls, and visitors) and get necessities (food, beverages, and music to maintain the work rhythm). Occasionally, I’d hold a board in place for my husband to nail, but usually someone else does the heavy lifting (a daughter’s unwitting boyfriend trying to make a favorable impression).
Sadly, after years of observing my husband, none of his skills has transferred to me. I can’t even swing a hammer. Unfortunately, all other conscripts have flown away leaving me holding the screws and everything else. My poor husband has no idea how limited I am regarding basic carpentry skills.
“Hand me the square. It’s on my workbench.”
His workbench is not my domain. It is littered with tools, boxes of screws, deely-bop-its, and buckets of nails – a Home Depot garage sale on clearance. I needed a hint. “What color is it?”
Ah, that’s better. It’s easy to spot yellow in a grey area.
He placed the square on a piece of wood to mark a line. His pencil broke. He cussed. “Get me a pencil. No. Get me a pen.”
What were my chances of finding a pen on his workbench? I scrambled into the house to retrieve a box of pens on my desk.
The pens didn’t write on the damp wood. He cussed again. “I can’t figure out the angle for these rafters. Get me the angle guide.”
I handed him a metal object shaped like a triangle. “No, not that,” he said. Eggs-asperated by my lack of nomenclature knowledge, he huffed, “I should have said the ‘adjustable’ angle guide.”
By now my husband thinks I’m a wing nut. His instructions become more explicit.
“Go get me a half-inch socket. Tool case. Third drawer. Round objects – calipers on the side.”
During the next few days, I handed him screws, nails, boards, held up things, plugged in power tools, and picked up things he dropped. I cheered when pieces fit together and cussed when they didn’t. I cracked chicken jokes and made him laugh.
More than a few days later, we managed to build the basic frame. Our next step is making it mobile. I have a feeling we’ll nail this thing hens down.
Okay, no more fowl jokes.
For now, we’re thinking of names. Yes, we’re going to name our coop. Any suggestions?
Thanks for stopping by!