The last few months have been a testing of Mother's and my metal. Actually, the last two years have been but these past few have been the worst part of it. Sometimes God asks us to do what seems too hard for us to do. I have thought so many times that God was asking too much -- that He had more confidence in me than He should. For whatever reason, He has asked Mother and I to deal with wolves in sheep's clothing. He even asked us to allow one to live with us and to love him as a son/grandson. God knows the purpose for this season of time.
In the natural realm, the passing from one season to the other is often marked by dramatic storms. So it is in the Spiritual Realm. This past Friday had one such storm. The clouds were dark and menacing and left us shaking and uncertain. It shook us to our cores. But, with the dawn of Saturday, it was clear that the Spirit Realm had been cleansed and a fresh breeze was rustling the leaves on the trees. I even think the birds were singing happier. The heaviness had lifted not just from my heart but from the world around us.
Another symbolic gesture of the cleansing was repairing the PVC chicken tractor and getting the hens back into their bigger space. I'd been intending to repair it but it seemed like one thing after another prevented me from doing so. Mostly, I was spending all my energies trying to stay afloat and keep Mother afloat. If it hadn't been for our Pastor and church folk, I don't know how we would have kept going. The broken chicken tractor became a symbol of all that was going wrong in my life and my ability to fix it seemed as daunting as fixing what was going wrong with everything else.
So, on Saturday, Mother and I went to breakfast at Georges. It felt like old times. We were happy and relaxed. Then, we went to Home Depot and got a few supplies for fixing the tractor. Then, home to meet up with Tyler & Brittany Knight, my two intrepid helpers in the repair of the tractor. Helpers isn't quite the right term...I mostly gave verbal explanations and the rare suggestion and allowed Tyler to run the show and Brittany and I helped as and where needed. In very short order, it was finished. We rustled up some chickens (Brittany is quite the chicken rustler! hehehe) and moved them to their new home. Everyone was appreciating the refreshing breeze and clear skies.
Looking back, I see I never made a blog entry about the tractor. My apologies! Well, I wanted a larger tractor for the chickens so they'd have room to move around without walking on each other. I also wanted it where I could actually move around in it and reach all parts of the tractor for cleaning and chicken rustling purposes. Even though it was going to be bigger, it also needed to still be moveable -- I want to put the chickens to work in that field! So, after many design considerations, I decided to make a tractor from PVC. It is 10ft square because that is the length PVC comes in. It is 5ft tall at the roof line because that is half of a full pipe. KISS -- Keep It Simple Stupid. The original construction was performed by me and Terry on day one and me and Tyler on day two. Terry warned of two design flaws but I pressed on -- stubborn as usual. Tyler saw them, too, but was too much of a gentleman to say anything negative about my design. Construction went well and pretty easy -- like putting together a large erector set.
Oh, about those design flaws. Well one of them showed up the first time I went to move the tractor. I had not bothered to glue the joints because the joints seemed so snug that it didn't seem necessary. It is necessary. No matter how hard it is to pull a pipe out of the connector before it is all put together when you go to move the whole thing, pipes will pull out! It didn't come falling apart, just a joint came loose. But, I realized I was going to need glue. The bigger design flaw was the flat roof. It took a little while longer for this flaw to reach it's final conclusion -- until the first good rain. Yep, the roof collapsed! I came home to find the hens unharmed but as mad as...well, wet hens. Only a few connectors broke in the making of this tragedy and the "fix" wasn't a major deal. I knew that what was needed was a raised crossbar that would hold the tarp at a peak. But, I was immobilized. That tractor sat there symbolizing all that was crushing down on me. Now, it stands rebuilt -- better, stronger, faster -- well, not faster but I had to finish the quote from the Six Million Dollar Man. Don't remember that show? Watch TV Land. I'm sure it is on there.
Was this tractor cheaper than one built out of wood? No. But, it was something a person with no carpentry skills can build and it is large without being impossible to move for one or two people. The hens love the extra space. The openness will keep the chickens healthier and more robust (tightly enclosed coops can weaken their lungs from ammonia fumes). Be sure to use Schedule 40 PVC as this is the one that can handle sunlight.
For his help in repairing the tractor, Tyler is now the proud new owner of my Hennessee Camping Hammock. I hope you enjoy it on many outings, Tyler. Too bad Pastor won't let you put it up in your room! hehehe.
Now, to make a To-Do List for myself to get myself moving in the right direction on this homestead!
A thunderstorm is approaching. Perhaps tonight we get to test out the new design. I'll let you know how it fairs!