Wednesday, April 18, 2012

the (not so) big move

As it turns out, the building department was right: my "practical difficulties" were nothing that couldn't be overcome with the help of a few good friends willing to risk life and limb and extreme muddiness in the service of code-compliant chicken habitat.

We had set Saturday as the moving date, mostly because my friend Susie, upon hearing at rehearsal of my coop-geography dilemma offered to help after the next rehearsal (which, of course, was Saturday) and then my other friend Cynthia chimed in that she'd help too and it started to seem like we might have a critical mass. Other friends had already volunteered: Alex and Becky, Matt and Liz, Thomas--and all, miraculously, seemed to be available Saturday at 4:30. I promised refreshments and, at some future time, an eggy bounty.

All week long I watched the weather forecasts. It was supposed to rain on Friday but to mostly stop raining by Saturday. I felt confident we'd be okay, but that's also typical of me. Twenty years ago I planned our wedding to take place completely outdoors in the gardens of an Indiana historic site with a reception under a marquee on the lawn at my mom's farm. Mom could barely contain her anxiety about what the weather would do. I, on the other hand, was always sanguine, which only seemed to fuel her anxiety. In the end that late-June day could not have been more perfect, weather-wise and pretty much every other-wise, too. Which only reinforced my meteorologic optimism.

But last Friday and Saturday brought us a biblical deluge. Again and again on Saturday morning it would ease up a little and the sky would briefly lighten, only to darken again with heavy curtains of rain. The foundation we had laid for the coop looked like a tiny muddy swimming pool. Around 1:00 Matt texted: "We still on for moving or did the flood waters take care of it for us?" When I headed out to rehearsal shortly after that, about four inches of water stood in the clear plastic bin I had used to cover the basil earlier in the week when the nighttime temperatures made one last plunge into the thirties.

When I went into rehearsal it was still gloomy and drizzly. I was glad when Susie said she had brought boots for herself and for Cynthia. At break it was still pretty gray. But when we emerged at the end of rehearsal the sun was gloriously shining and the pavement nearly dry! The weather gods apparently support chicken husbandry.

I drove home in a hurry, knowing that folks would already be there and wanting to make sure Hank had laid out the snacks as I had instructed. I had made guacamole and some mango salsa and intended to put out some cheeses and bread. I had also imagined a festive centerpiece using a wonderful vintage egg dish from our friend Kit and some Easter candy markdowns:
When I pulled up, there were a couple of extra cars out front--a good sign. As I came through the front door, Max, who was lounging on the sofa, cheerfully informed me: "We already moved it! It's already done!"

Sure enough--I burst through the back door to see the coop frame, perfectly and wonderfully positioned on its new foundation (no longer looking like a swimming pool) nearly in the middle of the yard, a cluster of friends milling about admiring their handiwork and the sun streaming down through the trees on the entire scene.
photo by Becky Homan (thank you!)
I got a full account of the move, how they'd checked to see just how heavy it was and determined that the 7 of them (Alex, Becky, Matt, Liz, Thomas, Hank and Max) could lift it just fine, how Hank had used a rake to clear the cable line, how they'd shifted it to the new spot and had a momentary concern about whether it was oriented properly, how there had been only one injury (Matt barked a knuckle). It took a while for the done-ness of it to sink in to my brain. For a while, we all stood about chatting and Thomas' son Claus (sensibly shod in adorable rain boots) played contentedly with a stick in a Maddy hole that had become an impressive mud-puddle. In a little while Susie and Cynthia appeared at the gate, superfluous mud-boots in hand.
Claus and Hank
I gave a tour of the herb garden and a tour of the ruin of the old summer kitchen, including its colorful fireplace:
Eventually we adjourned inside for refreshments and conversation about chickens and music and food. It was a truly wonderful stretch of afternoon with a wonderful sense of community. Thank you, friends!

Of course, now I can no longer put off completing construction!

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