I didn't look in or at the coop before I had Lucia pick up the hens or before I even made the call. I just took that leap of faith, which is, by the way, what it took to do what I'm doing, and made the call to the local Agway and said, hey, do you have any birds I could have? I've been walking past the brooder for the last couple of years and I know what sort of shape that thing is in and what I'm going to have to get done before the babies are ready to leave the garage (I'll get to that) but I made an assumption about the coop.
Yeah. That word. And then I looked. I looked right before they arrived when I went out there to clean it up and get it ready for fresh straw.
I looked up at the roof in the back left corner because the back left wall was white and furry and the floor was wet.
Shit. Ohhhhhh shit. Just shit. The roof was sagging. So so soooo not good.
The nice thing about a coop like this is the roof is flat with barely a slope and the damn thing is close to the ground. A couple sheets of plywood, some shingles and you've got yourself a new roof. More or less. This I can do. It might not be the prettiest thing in the world but it WILL hold one way or another.
Brief angry woman interjection here. I didn't realize I was an angry woman until recently. I don't think I was actually angry until recently but a couple of things have come up, one has been about sexual assault (I'm going to come back to that shortly, trust me) and the other has been about women and tools and cars and general stuff like that. Just stuff like that. A couple of years ago I got my hands on power tools for just about the first time. I got my hands on a chain saw 30 years ago but that was about it. I got my hands on the rest of it after David left and there was just a wealth of this stuff, mostly unused and oh wait, I've almost always had a cordless drill because even girls can hang drapes. And stuff. So I started to do stuff. I had to figure it out on my own but I wasn't all that worried about it because after all, it couldn't possibly be rocket science, right? I was pretty damn pleased with myself. I was not an angry woman. It probably took me a lot longer to figure shit out and some stuff just plain eluded me but for the most part I did ok and probably fairly creatively. I'm still bummed about the Frank Lloyd Baba Yaga Brooder that burned up when the brooder light malfunctioned. THAT was a really cool use of a piece of furniture nobody was ever going to use again. I didn't start to feel bad about it until my dad showed up and freaked out about the coop Lucia and I built out of the reclaimed top of the old swing set. When he used the word embarrassed. I didn't quite know what to do with that. We used just about everything reclaimed to build that thing except for some lumber on the back side. And some hardware. I won't even tell you what it took to get the livestock fencing up by myself. Enough. I was happy enough with myself until I let men onto the property. And then I wasn't.
There's a picture on Facebook of Lucia with a hammer. She's doing it wrong. This was pointed out.
Well. The nail went into the coop and the coop is upright. Fuck you. See? I am an angry woman. I did actually address this. One of the things I mentioned was: she can read this... (dickhead) (I left that part out)
So here's what happened for me during the reconstruction of the chicken coop because reconstruction is what happened and not that it necessarily had to happen but it's good that it happened.
And all of this is on me, by the way. That's why I'm saying, here's what happened for me, not what happened to me.
Interjection again: Women: stop sniveling. I mean that shit. Just stop it. We are at least 50% of our own problem. Men may or may not be behaving like assholes or be insensitive or whatever or they may just be being. It doesn't actually matter (ok, sometimes it does). What we do with it REALLY MATTERS. Be a victim or own yourself. It's up to you. If I hear victim words I don't want to talk to you. OK, that's not true. I actually do want to talk to you. You just aren't going to be comfortable with my words. Probably.
So here's what happened for me.
I was intimidated. This horrified me. I did not want to be intimidated by this guy or any other guy. I've never been intimidated by a guy like this before. My last two husbands didn't so much as look at a tool much less pick one up but husband number one did and he wasn't the least bit intimidating. I spent quite a bit of time with him on a couple of roofing jobs, ours and two others. I ripped out walls, put up sheetrock, taped, spackled, laid tile (I still can't cut it for shit), hung glass (BIG glass), re-laid out a leaching field in the dead of winter which isn't any better than summer, people (THINK about what I just wrote), painted, hung suspended to paint cathedral ceilings (barf) and took a chainsaw (big, gas) to anything that looked even remotely annoying on the back 40. Oh, and threw many, many tons of hay. Gloveless. Oh wait, with my last husband I learned to seat a toilet. He was not completely without skills. And I've done a small amount of plumbing and a little bit of rewiring where maybe I shouldn't have because if was awfully old.
OK, so that's a good list, right? So why does this guy intimidate me? Because I have to figure shit out as I go along. I don't just know it. Because when he speaks of his wife it is with awe and reverence (she can do anything, apparently). He said something part way into the project about it being some sort of milestone... we're building something together and all I could think of was, no, no we're not. You are fixing my chicken coop and I am really, really grateful but I am getting the hell out of the way because anything I do, I'm going to most assuredly be doing it wrong.
So I backed way the hell up and asked for tasks. I went into the garage and cried for a while. When we went to Home Depot I got out of the way there too and for a while I had no idea what he was talking about (I need that for what?!) but I just didn't ask. We needed all of it, it isn't that we didn't, I just got lost.
I felt very, very helpless, useless and I was starting to feel bad about myself. That part sucked. I didn't like that one bit.
There was also one other small thing going on. A sense of urgency. I have one. Oh do I have one. I've lost so many chickens I can't even really count them. I've lost them to predators picking them off one at a time, predators getting the all at once, neighbors dogs, my dog, weasels, raccoons, something that burrowed up under the coop and ate them one or two at a time like an alien, fire in the brooder, wandering off because I put a section of the livestock fence in upside down, raccoon in the garage where the babies had just been set up... so so many loses. I have a sense of urgency. I can see what's coming at me and I can see what's coming out of the woods. I lost one of my six maybe the second or third night out because the girls were sleeping in the nesting boxes where a raccoon can lift the top and pull them right out. They sleep there because the roosting side was wet. Now I've shut that up.
The babies are coming on July 7 and they'll be in the garage under a lamp or in the house somewhere for a little while but then I have to get that brooder done. So I see it coming at me. Also, the grass has not been cut and my bathroom hasn't been cleaned and I'm feeling it. I have a sense of urgency and I'm trying to balance that with what has been up until now, some very easy weekend time. Stay up late, sleep late, maybe do a little work type work if we have to, ride our bikes, hike in the woods... you see the picture?
I spent a good amount of time in very quiet and sometimes no quite panic mode. How do I explain this? We have to get up now! We have to keep going! No, really! Now! OK, maybe if I just find that tarp... oh crap. I can finish this. We don't have to do that. Just hammer the damn thing on.
Just let me do this and then it will be done.
Except when I got out of the way it was done a whole lot better than I would have even thought to do it. That part is the truth. I would not have gotten it off the ground and onto blocks (I wouldn't have had to square it either and there's no way that was happening or maybe I'm selling myself short?). I would have replaced some but not all of the rotted wood - just the back, I expect. Not so much would have been squared and brute force would have been involved but it would have been leak proof and solid and it would have held. But not for as long as it's going to hold now. Would I have figured out why my circular saw was having trouble? Yes. I would have eventually worked it out but it would have taken longer. I would have sat in the driveway with the thing between my legs and worked it out. Being intimidated didn't help. Letting him just do it didn't help.
Let me remind you, he did nothing wrong, he showed me what was wrong and how he'd fixed it.
This is on me. All of it.
What I can't figure out is what's changed between then and now. I was 20 and I believed I could do anything. He was 26 and believed I could too. Whatever he wanted me to do, he put it in my hands, showed me how and walked away. I am 50 and believe I can do anything. He is 57, I don't know what he believes. Something has changed in me between then and now and it's not so good.
I am glad for the coop.