Last week I broke down and decided that I needed to clean up the backyard and get ready for winter. The summer warmth has lingered and lured us into believing that we will never have winter, but I suspect that it will eventually turn cold. We still have inflatable balls scattered about the fence line along with the bits of a remaining pool noodle. My vines are dragging down my nifty metal support cages purchased from Lowes early in the spring.
I worked all morning throwing away and picking up. I could hear the table saw running in the barn and the neighbor’s leaf blower going. I was also determined to get the chicken pens cleaned out. Over the summer we had raccoons and skunks visit and try to make my Rhode Island girls into their dinner, so we created all kinds of extra fences and blockades to keep them out. We had chicken wire tied to about a zillion pieces of board and more chicken wire wrapped around all manner of metal contraptions designed to let the girls bask in the sun during the day BUT keep the predators out at nights.
Once the predators were taken care of, we let our small flock run loose again. However, we still had the contraptions and cages out in the open. I unwound and clipped and yanked chicken wire. I stretched it and cursed it and rewound it into nice bundles. I moved all the bricks into a neat pile and hauled the boards back to the barn. I cleaned out the chicken house, changed the water, and spread new shavings in their nesting boxes. Then I sat down to rest for a minute.
At that point – when I was finished – the kids came out to the yard to join me and we sat on our rickety, webbed lawn chairs to watch the hens peck and scratch. We discussed the raccoons and the skunks and the two deer who come up to the house at nights. Midway through one conversation the youngest looked over and gasped, “Mom! Your arm is bleeding.” I looked down and sure enough there was a line of blood from my elbow nearly to my wrist. I suppose it was from the chicken wire as it wasn’t deep, and it didn’t hurt.
College girl reached over to touch my hand and took on a solemn attitude. “Poor Mom, you have a shooting scar.” We laughed over that and I told them that I thought it was from the chicken wire. I sighed deeply and told the kids that we had some more to do before we could declare the backyard ready. Before I could even finish the thought, they were back inside. I didn’t mind because I liked being outside and I like being alone at times.
I don’t know why but as I worked I began to think of all the things I was grateful for and for how long had I relied on these simple tools to make my life easier. I started, of course, with chicken wire as I was holding a small piece of it. I thought, “It is always nice to have a small roll of chicken wire.” It is easy to work with even though it can scratch and cause one to ahhh, mumble, ahhhh, unsavory words under one’s breath. But all in all, chicken wire comes in handy in so many places and has been helpful over the years.
Years ago, we had a small batch of kittens who crawled their way into the dryer vent and died. We only ever used the dryer in the winter because we dried outside on the clothesline most of the year. It had gotten colder, and the kittens would huddle under the dryer vent to keep warm when momma cat was out and about.
After the episode, dad needed just a small bit of chicken wire to create a barrier, so any future kittens could not crawl up the dryer vent. He turned to our oldest son, then about third grade, and asked him to go get a small piece of chicken wire. He was gone a good little while but when he returned he had the wire cutters in one hand and a square piece of chicken wire in the other. We thanked him and made him feel big for being able to go to the barn and get what we needed.
All was well until I went out to lock up the chickens for the night. Smack in the middle of my chicken pen “wall” was a large square hole. Right about the height of a third grader. It was nicely cut and fairly even on the edges. I had to fix the hole in the pen before I could go after the oldest son. Turns out that we had asked him to get chicken wire but did not tell him where to get it and he thought that it would be FASTER to cut it out of the pen “wall” rather than to go into the barn and find the roll and cut it from there.
Really? I would have never thought cutting a large square out of the MIDDLE of my chicken PEN wall was faster!
Third grader is now a Veteran and as far as I know doesn’t use chicken wire much these days, but I am waiting patiently to teach his children all about the FASTEST way to obtain wire should the occasion ever arise.
Happy Veteran’s Day to all Veterans! Thank you for your Service.