I have come to the conclusion that there is nothing I wouldn’t do for my girls — no mountain I wouldn’t climb or river I wouldn’t cross, which is saying a lot since I don’t know how to swim. To prove my point, my dad and I started construction on a chicken pen over the weekend. My dad spent two weeks toiling over plans he had drawn up for their play area. You have to admit, these chickies are livin’ the good life.

So, bright and early Saturday morning my dad and I, armed with tools I borrowed from my neighbor, began our first unsupervised construction project. We already passed chicken house building 101. So, how hard could it be?

Well, our first task at hand was to dig post holes to support the chicken wire pen. It is a lot harder than it looks. However, it helps when you have sandy soil. We used 8-foot posts and dug each hole 2-feet deep for added stability. Trust me, those babies won’t be going anywhere. My dad did a little more than half of the digging before I pitched in to help. At first, digging the holes went a little slow but after I got into the swing of things it went off pretty smoothly. We had to dig a total of nine holes. Let’s just say that by the ninth hole my dad and I were so thrilled you would have thought we had just drilled in a hole in one.

I became a lean mean post hole digging chicken momma. Like I always say, you do what you have to for your kids. In the end, it’s all a chicken labor of love.

By the time noon rolled around, all the post holes were dug, posts were set and buried firmly in the ground. Needless to say we were thrilled with our progress.

Then came framing. Who knew that such a small word could translate into so much work? This was a little more challenging. My dad thought through every move and sometimes even for a second time before trailblazing ahead. We nailed in 2 by 4s to our posts and after awhile it started looking pretty impressive — like we actually knew what we were doing. Just call us Norm Abrams and Tommy Silva.

We did have some comic relief along the way from my whacky girls inside the coop. While we were diligently working, we heard a hen squawking uncontrollably at the top of her lungs. When I rushed over to the window, I saw one of my hens swinging on an electrical cord like it was a circus tight wire. I never knew my girls were so talented. So, watch out Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus my chickens and I may be hitting the road soon. Let’s see, Cordy could even sell the tickets in a chicken-feathered tutu.

My rooster also made sure we knew he was around. He crowed all day long. Let me emphasize that — ALL DAY LONG. You would think he’d get laryngitis or something. Oh no, not this guy. He must have been gargling with salt water on and off the whole time. I wonder if anyone has ever thought of a rooster pacifier? But then again, duct tape might be just as effective. Relax, I was just kidding. Heh, I was getting desperate. You start getting to the breaking point when you have a rooster crowing at a level of 150 decibels in your ear every five minutes.

Anyway, back to the chicken ranch, my dad and I, slowly but surely, successfully framed in all of the sides of the pen. I don’t think I have ever seen my dad so overjoyed. I was pretty impressed too with what we had accomplished. For added stability, we drove in what seemed to be gargantuan-sized nails into the posts. I didn’t know they made them that long. My dad had these squirreled away from when he and my mother built their home 20 years ago. Talk about perfect timing.

Setting the overhead 2 by 4s proved to be a little more challenging since it was getting later in the day and I was starting to get a little punchy. My dad on the other hand was still going strong. That green pepper with mustard he had for lunch must have really energized him. I wish I could say the same for my sports drink. He was on a mission to get all the framing done. And miraculously enough by 6 p.m. it was completed. With a smile my dad asked me, “So, you want to pick this up tomorrow?” I answered, out of pure desperation, “Are you nuts?” So, we decided to continue construction for this Saturday instead. This time around we will be nailing on chicken wire around the frame with poultry nails, framing a door for me to go inside and cutting a door on the chicken house for them to run outside and stretch their legs. I never knew they made poultry nails until now. Boy, look how much I have learned since my chickens arrived. Who knows, I might even get chicken information overload at this rate.

As we were loading up our materials, my dad smiled and said “I’m glad we didn’t have to call 9-1-1 to come get one of us.”

For our first solo project, we were still able to count all of our fingers — not a bad way to end the day.



Angie Bicker is the lifestyles editor with the Clinton Herald. She has been with the Herald since 2001.

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