Suffice it to say that I knew nothing about shingling a roof, absolutely nothing. I had to learn it all from youtube videos and asking questions. Luckily, it wasn’t exactly hard per se, but it was difficult, sweaty work. Also, I’m not particularly afraid of heights, but it did take a certain act of will to make myself go up to the peak, and in the end my son enjoyed that part more so I showed him what I had so recently learned and we shingled the roof together. Don’t tell our dog that we co-opted his snack bag to hold roofing nails!
A very cool thing was that I found out you can get hooked blades for a basic utility knife that cut shingles and linoleum. Invaluable!
Meanwhile, the first three chicks we had bought back in May were growing quickly and we needed to get them out of their brooder box and into their new home. In order for that to happen, I needed to finish what I began calling their first floor apartment. Installing linoleum was another thing I didn’t know much about, but in the end it wasn’t that different from making a clamshell portfolio. You measure and cut the linoleum to size, than glue it down. Only this was more forgiving, because the chickens don’t object much to imperfections that would ruin a portfolio for a suite of prints.
By now I’m starting to get very interested in re-using as much material as possible. The original playset had a picnic table on the lower level that I dismantled and reused for the first floor floorboards. But first we need joists to support them, which came from the original structure as well.
The apartment needed walls as well, and for this I cut down 4X8 foot sheets of plywood to size, being careful to sketch it out and make the best use of the plywood. In the Spring you could get plywood sheets for under $20, but by August they were $30 and up.
I wanted linoleum floors for ease of cleaning later, and the linoleum was pretty reasonably priced, although I did have to buy more adhesive than I expected. Now that I’ve had to clean things out a few times, I’m very glad for this extra effort. The doors took some time, and at times it seemed like no matter how carefully I measured, I was forever fixing and finagling things that didn’t quite fit the way I expected.
But I was on deadline- I needed to finish the first floor before I left for an artist residency in Northampton for the last 2 weeks of July.
Gradually I figured out how to make doors that open and close and can be secured.
I had the first floor apartment ready before it was time to leave for Zea Mays Printmaking in Northamption. It was a bit hard for me to trust the chicken care to the young people who sleep in most of the summer, but they kept all three safe, fed, and watered while I was away. Meanwhile, I ordered 6 more chicks from Greenfire Farms, 4 55 flower hens and 2 cream legbars. I had my work cut out for me to finish up the 2nd floor and run before they arrived on September 1st. We were also planning to head to Gloucester for a few days at the end of the month so I would have about 3 weeks when I got back from the residency.
As you can see, she’s not a chick anymore, but she wasn’t laying either at this point, and we had yet to realize that one of our first 3 chicks was not a hen.