My curtained sleep provides the creatures of the night free range for all manner of comings and goings. Small festive gatherings of much rejoicing and regaling as fuzzy butts dance and twirl and feast. They laugh and mock the stupid giant hairless ape inside that cave-thing as he snorts and farts. His slumber filled with naive and peaceful dreams. For these night beasts know what the stupid ape-thing will discover in the morning. That tonight is for them.
Tonight they will feast.
My fish had dreams as well. They dreamed of crunchy bits floating on the waters surface, jostling about from the steady cascade of well manicured waterfalls. They dreamed about the next days activities. Like, “let’s all go swim over there now. I think there may be a crunchy bit over there that we missed when we were there five minutes ago”.
I’ve once been told by an old wizened sailor that fish never truly sleep; that they always keep moving. That sailor was eaten by a shark and is now shark poop. Should’ve heeded his own advice that dark and stormy night off of the Southern coast of Africa. So it goes.
Regardless of Old Stumpy McStinktrout and his unfortunate skinny dipping episode, these fish had dreams! And now they are poop. The poop of the night beasts. So it goes.
Before I begin this little story, please forgive my long absence. I shan’t bore you with the messy and gritty details as to why I went off the rails, but I will say that every now and again my career at the museum tends to draw energy into itself. Like a black hole, not even light can escape.
I’m not saying that I’ve been there 24/7, but the times when I was finally home and could’ve written you many posts, something had happened to my brain as well as my will power. I sat in front of the computer and drooled. Devoid of any sense or reason, I typed the same thing over and over and over. “All work and no play makes James a dull boy”
This was then proceeded by a short stint working as the off season manager of the Overlook Hotel and then some other stuff that I can’t seem to recall. I vaguely remember some kind of hedge maze…
Regardless, I am here again. I humbly thank you for you patience. Let us continue our journey shall we?…
During my downtime at the Overlook Hotel, I also engaged in one or two projects. One of which was to design and construct a new coop for Piper to finally get her away from those chicken bullies. I had a finite amount of scrap wood and hardware in the garage and seeing as I had no extra money to spend on the project, I wanted to make said supplies work for a nice little coop design. With such tight parameters, there was only on thing to do; build it all first in a 3D program. Once again, I turned to SketchUp, the best free program in the universe. I used this program to design my larger loft style coop as well.
Firstly, I added all of the scrap pieces into the program to begin to piece them all together. With a little Tetris-like arranging, I was able to maximize my yield and crate a cut list with my meager supplies. No room for error with this carpentry project!
Full disclosure, I didn’t actually use that old-timey drill seen in the above photo. I just thought it would look nicer than my Panasonic cordless. What a deceitful carpenter I be! Yeah? Get over it.
Here’s the final 3D rendering in a futuristic video form. What wonders we shall see!
Impressive yes? I can’t stress enough how much I love SketchUp. To be able to maximize my yield as well as test all the doors and hinges is priceless. Once all the details were worked out and the design was polished, I began assembling the coop. No small task as every single piece of wood was used, full of holes and painted. So I spent most of my time sanding, refinishing the wood and pulling nails and staples.
Every Journey begins with the first step
Adding side panels
A step at a time
All built and ready for teak oil
Applying the teak oil
Detail of the wooden knobs
Yep! They work.
A view of the living room
Privacy curtain for egg laying.
The basement door opens too!
It took a lot longer to build than I anticipated but I really got into a zen state from all the sanding and shaping of the reclaimed wood. I haven’t spent this much time on a carpentry project since I was Head Carpenter at the San Diego Museum of Art. It did my soul good to work on this project. Also, it turned out pretty close to my original drawing. Check it out.
Not too shabby huh? But what good is all this work if it isn’t properly Piper approved? No good. To answer my own question. So the next stage was to get the little fuzzy fluffball inside to test it out.
“Yep, I can lay eggs in here!”
“But could you close the lid please?”
Piper, it’s time to come out and see the rest of the house.
Perch stability check.
“Wait, is that food?”
“Oh, tha master bedroom eh?”
“Wait, what’s that hole for?”
“Meh, it’ll do.”
All in all, I think she approves. However, I am not too happy with the size restrictions here. I want to get another silkie hen to keep her company and there’s barely enough room for Piper. Perhaps I should have bitten the bullet and purchased some extra lumber. Hind sight is 20/20.
I’ve decided to open up the back panels and add an additional room to the back which will double the width of her coop without causing me to lose any of the hard work I’ve already done. I’ll submit my permits for an add-on with the city post haste. No, no I won’t. Shhh!
I also was planning on giving her a mini run on those planter beds to the right of the coop so she can better peck and scratch for bugs an critters and such. Between those two additions, I’ll feel better about having two bantam breeds in this mini-coop. Until then, I’m keeping her in with the big girls. It shouldn’t be too long of a wait though.
Then I’ll just have to wait for her fluffy feathers to grow back so she can reclaim her past glory. Just look at this little fluffball! Can you tell that I’m in love with this little angel? Now I’ve always loved chickens…on my plate. This is different though, because she loves me back! Raise a glass to our poor tortured heroine for soon she shall have peace and retirement and sweet cooing happiness.
Every so often my routine begins to blur together and days become months and months become years. I usually try to stay positive and cheerful most of the time, but I am deathly allergic to routine. I don’t think that we as a species are hardwired for this type of life. We long for ways to escape its stagnant grasp in any form we can.
I recently installed a few motion cameras in the backyard just in case that racoon shows up again to dine upon my precious flock of hens. Better to be safe than sorry and these little cameras are relatively cheap and simple to install. No predators yet, but I’m watching.
What I didn’t expect them to capture was my sad sorry self heading off to work every morning. When I began to look at the images all together, it made me a little depressed. Maybe after a month or so I can make a nice little flip-book of the mundane. Something to enjoy after retirement.
I do enjoy my job, don’t get me wrong. Handling art and antiquities is a particularly amazing honor and I do it with great reverence and pride. There have been more than a few times when I’ve held in my hand a painting or sculpture that I wrote a paper on in college. The trust that my, and other, institutions place upon my shoulders to be a caretaker for these objects does not go unnoticed by this gentle writer.
I feel like I need some sort of It’s a Wonderful Life type lesson to refresh my outlook on work in general. Perhaps a visit from three ghosts? Or a near death experience to get a new perspective. I used to consider myself to be always in high spirits but lately these doldrums have been slowly scratching away at me.
That said, can someone facilitate a near death experience on my behalf without my knowledge? Perhaps an angry grizzly released into my backyard? I guess it’s all about perspective.
What do you do to break up the routine? I’m open to suggestions! My usual distraction is gardening of course but this years continued drought and the recent long lasting heatwave have stifled that. On top of that, my hard work of doing a winter cover crop has failed miserably with the discovery of root nematodes in my veggie garden!!
I’m not sure if you noticed or not, but I haven’t posted much on my veggie garden this season. On account of not really having one. It’s truly a sad and anticlimactic end to a long, hot and dry growing season.
I’ve ordered some predatory nematodes to have an epic hidden battle beneath my brown and wilted vegetables. There can be only one in the end but I fear it’s too late for this season for me to reap any rewards.
But all is not lost. And I refuse to leave this post on a sad note, so here are some highlights of the past week.
I spent all weekend in a 100°+ garage working away at Piper’s new mini coop. I’m almost finished and will keep you posted on those efforts in due time. Here it is as of this morning…
I know she’s gonna love it! And she’ll finally get some peace and regrow all her fluffy feathers.
There was also an amazing change in the status quo regarding the chemical warfare against the bees!! A federal court overturned the EPA’s approval of sulfoxaflor, a pesticide linked to the mass die-off of honeybees that pollinate a third of the world’s food supply. Do I sense a change in the tide? Read more on that here!
Maybe things are looking up! Stay positive y’all and break up that routine!