It's funny, many years ago when Amanda and I met and we were planning and dreaming and scheming of how our life would look together, I don't really remember her saying, "Ok, I don't ever want to touch or be near cat vomit for the rest of my whole entire life." If she had said that I would have laughed and told her it was fine because cat vomit, dog poo and the like, while not particularly awesome, does not really offend my senses more than just a little. All those many years ago, I surely didn't demand or even expect that she would perform all of the sewing needs, for instance, that we may ever require. In fact I do recall a good deal of the opposite kind of sentiment being the very cornerstone of our marital agreement. We were perched on the cusp of a new millenium with the liberating air of equality under our wings. And as I look at our life today, with Amanda maintaining a daily blog, and being a swanky ole magazine editor and kind of just kickin' ass in her own gentle way while I go about the homeschooling dad camp routine well... I just have to laugh that, by our very natures, I always carry the really heavy grocery bag and she rearranges the living room. I wield the duct tape and she cuts flowers and arranges. I contribute a blog post or magazine article once in a great while and she tries to fix all my lousy punctuation. She shows me a picture of a chicken coop and I build a reasonable facsimile...
Here's our relatively new hoop house we've been using to house our "not quite laying yet" hens (Honey, please install a link here to the one that you showed me so I'm not accused of being a hoop house plagiarist). The really tricky part to building this particular house was getting the damn cattle panels (4' x 16' heavy gauge wire mesh) into the back of the pick up. Purple Working Man just isn't quite big enough yet and I had to summon a teenager at the local feed store. Otherwise, this set-up is quick to build, relatively cheap for such a big enclosure (10x12') and pretty mobile (a young strapping lad like myself with only one replacement joint in his whole body can drag it around all by his lonesome). We planted these girls right in the front yard, aka the orchard, and have been letting them peck around the base of the fruit trees in hopes of removing pests from the bottom up. So far, so good.
We liked the first hoop house so much we decided to build another. Or rather, she decided and he built. I'm man enough to own that. Anyway, this model was cheaper still than the first as I built it against cedar posts instead of on a frame. So, while not mobile, this provides cover for the sheep if they want to get a break from the long bouts of drizzle that have been slapping us about here in the northeast US (respect to those out west and other places of drought, the rain is just dandy of course). The girls are just here temporarily to chew up some of the overgrownness of this little pasture. While I'm not really familiar with many other breeds of sheep, we are thrilled with our Shetland's ability to eat almost anything green without issue. They have been removing an immense amount of brambly, prickly old bushes and coarse heavy weeds to make way for the finer grasses to grow. They also have a fondness for maple tree bark and have been girdling our smaller trees at head height constantly. While this proved annoying at first, we decided to roll with their nature and I cut trees ahead of them to leave on the ground for the sheep to strip clean of all bark and leaf. I'll tell ya what, makes for awful dry firewood when you get a critter to chew off the bark for ya. Yup. So, this shelter will stay here and probably house turkeys as well in the coming weeks when the sheep move onto other pasture.
We split our broilers into two groups of thirty or so this time around. They are a month apart in age, the older birds (about nine weeks as of today) are in this Salatin style chicken tractor that we drag about the place. We move them two or three times a day so they get to forage on new pasture and also leave us a wonderful snail trail of soil enriching chicken dookie. Here I give a shout out and a tip of the cap to our closest neighbor, Bob. Bob never complains even when the chicken tractor nearly encroaches on the property line. I think he rather enjoys the goings on across the orchard between us although I'm shifting direction and pulling those nine week old roosters away from his house starting today. Sorry about that, Bob.
Oh boy, well the Mama is up with the smallest of Soules and we're switching on back to the regular rolls (Heheh, let's see if my sweet rhyme here at the end gets the editors whack). I'll save the rest of our gimme shelter tour for next time, there is probably some gross cat puke to pick up out there by now anyway. I'm on it.