Here in Australia we have just enjoyed a long weekend, and in South Australia, we have enjoyed a long weekend with COVID-19 travel restrictions and social distancing easing. For our family, we were heading into a ‘normal’ weekend with the expectation of Jonah working Monday, my first in person midwife appointment (my first face-to-face appointment about this pregnancy), and a weekend of lovely weather. After a year of trying, I had finally convinced Jonah that we should get our own backyard chickens, and all week I had been drawing up plans for our DIY recycled coop. On Saturday morning we were unexpectedly required to be tested for COVID-19, and therefore plunged into a weekend of unprepared quarantine while we awaited the test results.
I was crushed; I had been looking forward to this midwife appointment for literally months. But it was more than that, because the dream of having my chickens was so close I could taste the fresh eggs. Although my blueprints had revolved around using recycled materials and “junk” from our backyard and garage, I couldn’t imagine successfully completing the project without an emergency trip to bunnings.
Despite my reservations and deflated confidence, in the 48 hours of quarantine, we managed to pull off our first family DIY using only recycled building materials materials we already had sitting around, taking up space.
We brought together all the bits and pieces that could possibly be used in our garage and yard. Using my blueprints as a guide, which were heavily influenced by Pinterest, we began construction of the frame.
A secondhand cot that was not suitable for use, old, unused wardrobe doors, pieces of a pallet, and pieces of the neighbour’s discarded flat pack cupboard provided the basic structure.
Or, as I like to call it “The day the roof went on.”
I was certain that not being able to head to bunnings to grab some hinges was going to throw our plans of a lifting roof into disarray, but Jonah brought the brains to the party. Constructing makeshift hinges out of wood left over from the construction of Reuben’s learning tower, Jonah almost brought me to tears as the roof slid into place for the first time.
Not everyone has sheet metal hanging around their yard, but we brought some from a fence we constructed at our last rental home. It had just been leaning on the fence accumulating spiders for a year! Using it to make a roof and weatherproof walls for our lovely ladies to come seems a much better purpose.
The final day (or morning, really) of quarantine brought us to completion of our project. As my step dad called it, the Chicken Taj Mahal has it all: a functioning nesting box with access for egg collection, roosting perch, removable roof for cleaning, predator – safe ventilation and weatherproof walls and roof, access ramp, and ladder inside for climbing around.
On Day Three we managed to lift the beast (in pieces) into its specially selected lot and fence in a daytime yard for running, clucking, eating, and all that other chicken stuff.
Each night we went to bed saying how wonderful out day was, how impressed we were that we were making so much progress, and how proud we were of our little man putting up with our busyness all weekend long. We made it through, remarkably, without any arguments, no forbidden emergency trips to the shops, and a sense of closeness as a family that we hadn’t felt before.
What a success!
Now we wait for the chickens to arrive, and hope that they enjoy their new home.
All our tests came back negative, and I was finally able to have my first midwife appointment 21 weeks into growing this baby! Happy days!