The scene of the crime: the day I fell flat on my face in the goat pen while feeding my eager and equally fragrant friends. I was hurried and harried, late for work. I rushed to get everything done before heading out. My pace proved my undoing as I climbed over the fence and landed in a slippery patch of what can only be described as the unmistakable stew of mud and goat poop. Within moments I was face down, spread eagle in this…indignity. Covered. Just COVERED. Head to toe in it. The goats were delighted by my entry, and being male, clearly enjoyed the Three stooges comedy of my situation. I had little choice but to climb to my feet and continue with my chores before stripping down quite publicly on my porch to the amusement of passers by. I was certainly not going to trail THAT delightful mess through my house on the way to shower! It’s fascinating the perspective this gives. Interestingly enough, when your day starts covered in excrement, the rest of the day’s problems seem relatively manageable.
To pig, or not to pig? That is the question before us. I admit to a deep infatuation with the little oinkers, a love of round, snuffly noses and adorably squat bodies. I love a good mud bath. I’m more than a little partial to high jinks and tomfoolery precipitated by their clever little minds. I’m a sucker for a good escape artist and things that finish everything on their plate because those are the kind of compliments my children showered on me, affirming that I was in fact,
both suffocating them to the point of escape with my affections, and feeding them good food (strong indications of parenting success no Lebanese mother can survive without). HOWEVER, that being said, I complied with hubby’s plea for reason and restraint and agreed to research just what I was dying to jump into. I had a willing accomplice in my sister in law. A woman I adore, as impulsive and enthusiastic as I am, ready to bankroll my impetuous flight of fancy. Not an easy thing to resist…But in a marriage, terms must be mostly agreeable to both parties (mostly to me) in order for harmony (and the participation of the household “builder”, aka: said hubby) and peace to abide. Research had both my sister in law and I thinking it might be more work than anticipated, which hardened into a definite resolve not to add other…oder producing pets…after a hot days breeze carried unholy fragrances over to our research area. Nope, nope, NOPE. As fate would have it, yesterday’s 2 1/2 hours spent clearing and leveling our chicken yard enclosure, covered in mud and…not mud…sealed the deal for me. No pigs. The universe does NOT want me to have pigs. The universe wants me to visit pigs that OTHER people have, and then go home.
Our wee little chicks have out grown their kitchen based domicile. Being still quite small compared with those big boned gals in the coop-de-ville, an interim base camp was needed. With hubby away, and the itty bitties bursting at the seems inside, I headed to the local hardware store armed only with desperation and a half baked, hair brained idea taking form. Lacking a working knowledge of the tools in our shed, strong spacial skills, basic math abilities, and solid upper body strength, I decided to rely solely on materials I could tie together and drag around the yard myself. The plan was simple: construct a basic rectangular box out of PVC pipes and 3 way joints to connect them, at which point I planned to wrap the entire thing in old chicken wire, held to the form with the 3 zip ties I found rummaging around the house, a 5 foot length of wire I found stumbling around the poorly lit shed, and a huge pile of twisters I usually reserve for tying Christmas lights to the eves. It was fool proof! A kindly gentleman at the store, blessed with the patience usually required by parents of 4th graders the night before a science project is due, listened while I used wild hand gestures and vague descriptions to communicate my “blueprint”. Amazingly he understood enough of my native language (utter hooey) to help me gather the required supplies, even cutting the pipes to my non specific, arms stretched out to indicate lengths, directions. I was on fire. Upon arriving back home I enlisted the help of the two unlucky children not otherwise engaged, and used the same eloquent articulation to convey the plan. Less than half an hour later, I stood proudly gazing at our handiwork, my hands and arms covered in a multitude of tiny cuts because I refused to use common sense and wear protective gloves to handle the chicken wire (a hellish mistress with a devil of a temper), pride swelling in my heart. The result is a fantastic, inexpensive , light weight and portable “mini coop” that can even fit into the big coop at night, and most impressively, is so simple to assemble, even a team of reluctant monkeys can do it. Success!
*For anyone facing a similar dilemma and as apt at “construction” as I am, the PVC pipes are 1/2″, are sold 10 feet long at less than $3 a length. The one I made is 5 feet long by 3’4″‘s wide, 3’4″s high. The odd measurements are because I had the guy cut 2 of the poles in half (5′ each half), and three other poles equally in 3rds (hence the strange 3’4″ lengths! A side note: you only need 8 of them so you end up with an extra 3’4″ length). I used eight 3 way connectors (4 at each end) to make squares and then connected the squares with the 5’ poles. One roll of chicken wire will cover 4 sides and the top. I HIGHLY recommend coughing up the extra money for a big bag of zip ties, way faster and easier than twisting a million actual twisters all around the thing to hold the wire to the frame!
Dignity. Ever dignity. That was my father’s motto, and like the dutiful children my siblings and I were, we endeavored to strip him of it. Every chance we got. Our good fortune lay in his tireless patience and humor.
My own sojourn into parenthood lead me along much the same path. The eternal lessons in humility, panic, patience, and the art of field stitching wounds, finding lost items, locating public bathrooms for pea sized bladders, and cultivating a level of civilized behavior in my offspring suitable for general audiences. It’s a bumpy road, to say the least. To say the most…well, entire libraries of books on the subject already litter the landscape. I will spare you the unabridged version.
I love my children. I am continually amazed by their brilliance (which they get from their dad) and their keen sense of humor, sliding often into the dark, irreverent side, which I am certain they get from me. At every opportunity I have thrust upon them to become cultured and refined, they have proven time and again that my genetic contributions to their proper sensibilities has won out. Shenanigans and tomfoolery ensue.
I have, maybe, 3 or 4 pictures over the past 20 years in which my children are looking at the camera and smiling nicely. I have thousands more where not a single one of them was able to master the self control necessary for a 20 second photograph.
My albums, the records of my beautiful children, read like a year book for the local insane asylum. Why does this make me ridiculously proud?