I have learned two facts about myself during the past few days. One, I am pretty handy and two, I can hammer in a nail. My dad, Paul and I worked very diligently over the weekend constructing a floor and framing up walls. I surprised my dad, who had some problems in the world of construction, that I wanted to try driving a nail into some 2 by 4 pieces. I was very confident in my ability even though I never tried it before.

I had some problems along the way but overall I did very well. My dad was completely and totally shocked. He hadn’t looked that shocked since I finished my first Quad-City Times Bix 7 six years ago.

For my first time out, I only grazed my thumb once. Those nails never knew what hit them. I may be exaggerating a bit. I think all those days of playing tennis, carrying my dog around and clenching my fists until I can hardly unclench them while running may have helped. If there is ever an opening on “This Old House,” I could be their right-hand hammering machine.

Now, I think I may be getting a little too cocky. I think my great-uncle, who was an excellent carpenter and built my parents’ home, would have been very proud of my accomplishment. My chickens are definitely going to have a nice condo when all the hard work is done. I can’t thank my friend, Paul, enough for all of his hard work and time.

I have to say that I have never slept more soundly than I did this weekend. There is nothing better than fresh air to clear out all of the cobwebs. I swear an F5 tornado could have come through and swept me into a nearby cornfield and I still would have been sleeping. Hard work never hurts anyone. My motto growing up used to be “Life’s short; play hard.” I can safely say that work ethic has stayed with me.

I discovered last week that my column reached a reader in Madison, Wis., by the name of Margaret McMurray. Her grandfather founded the Murray McMurray Hatchery in Webster City where I purchased my 25 baby chicks. I was absolutely ecstatic when I read her e-mail.

How did this happen? Well, Margaret receives Google alerts concerning the hatchery and my column also popped up since I wrote about it last week. I was very flattered that she enjoyed my column and wished me good luck with my “girls.” She also said her 6-year-old daughter can’t wait to have some, too.

Margaret, you made my day! She encouraged me to check out a film made for last year’s Wisconsin Film Festival called “Mad City Chicks.” The film follows the urban chicken movement in Madison and across the United States. The filmmakers also visited the hatchery showing great footage of thousands of baby chicks. I can hardly wait to check the film out at www.tarazod.com/shop.html.

I also have received many requests from friends, co-workers and relatives who want to see my “girls” when they get home. I rarely have people stop in and say “hello” so this will certainly be a change for me. My house will probably be a small version of Grand Central Station that day. My great-uncle Lyle is looking forward to seeing them too. I am sure he will be one of the first ones at my house. He has been very helpful along the way and has always been interested in my projects whether its chickens, gardening or running. He ran track in high school and when I see him on my runs he will always ask me how many miles I have logged in that day.

My chickens have changed my life already in a very good way. And like I talk to my dog, Cordy, I will probably talk to my “girls” too while I am collecting eggs. I could be like Dr. Dolittle. I just hope I don’t start cheeping in my sleep.

Angie Bicker is the Lifestyles Editor for the Clinton Herald. She has been on the staff since 2001.

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