The Coop – Some Thoughts

Coop Finished

I finished the coop today. This journey began June 18 so it took a little over a month to complete.  I have to say that I am pleased with how it came out and the chickens really love their new home.  They aren’t old enough to go outdoors yet but the ladder is ready when they are.

Building this taught me a lot of things, some of them about building.  The huge lesson I learned is that I can’t do everything myself.  I physically just can’t do it.  I was pretty disappointed to find that out.  For some reason I thought I could have this pretty much done in a couple of weeks – I’ve built things before.  I didn’t take into consideration the weight of a sheet of plywood and how high I was going to have to lift it.  I want you to know that I can barely drag one across the floor.

Bill was here to help on weekends and had a 12 day vacation where this was THE project. For the most part it was much more enjoyable having help build it and I admire Bill’s ability to just tackle anything.   It wouldn’t have been quite as pressing if I had actually waited to get the chicks until AFTER the coop was build.  I didn’t expect them to be escaping their initial enclosure at 2 weeks old, they grow fast!  As it was they were moved into it before any trim was done.

Building a shelter is one of those things that has been on my bucket list forever.  I always thought it would be a cabin in the back forty (and that could happen at some point).  Getting chickens was really just an excuse to build their shelter.  I had been looking at coop plans for a really long time and this one popped up into a search just a month or so before coming to Rowe permanently.  Yeah, I could have built just some little shack of unpainted plywood that I moved from place to place but I wanted something that looked good, something that spoke to the whole whimsy of having birds in the first place.  One would think having chickens is serious business but it really isn’t.  At some point their egg production may be important to me but for now I’m just watching my once fuzzy little chicks rapidly grow into adult hens. The coop provides them with as much protection as I can get from a building and it looks good in the landscape.

Coop in Evening

I took this photo the first night the chicks spent out in the coop – they had been in a room off of the shed up until that point.  Their heat lamp is glowing nicely inside and they were all settled into their cozy wood chips with water and food.  I worried though, was I sending them out there too soon?  Later that night I woke up to the sound of foxes in the back forty, I got up and looked out my bedroom window to see their snug little home with the glowing red lamp.  For now they are as safe as they can be.

The Story of Chester, Part One

Nadia the day she got Chester

Chester came to us in a rather round about way.  Yes, we adopted him but we didn’t go to a shelter or read about him in the paper.  We took him because Nadia ( in the photograph) couldn’t keep him anymore.  I asked her to tell me about Chester so it could be the beginning of his story.

Nadia picked up Oreo (his name then) on June 24, 2011 after seeing his photograph in a Craigslist listing for northern VT.  The people that had him were about to move and couldn’t take him with them. When Nadia called them they told her they were leaving that day and they were just going to leave him at the house they were moving out of.

They were abandoning him.

Nadia arrived at their house as they were leaving with their Uhaul. She brought him home to live with her and her then boyfriend.  She loved him, he was her baby.  How could you not?

July 18, 2011

I first heard about this puppy in July.  Daughter Amanda and her boyfriend, Yusuf were wondering about the wisdom of getting a puppy when you’re starting college in the fall.  Nadia is Yusuf’s sister. Towards the middle of August I got a text from Amanda telling me that Oreo needed a forever home and did I know anyone that would take him?

Nadia had had a falling out with her boyfriend and came to stay with Amanda and Yusuf with the pup in tow.  At some point she decided she was going back but couldn’t bring the dog and wanted to make sure he went to a good home.  She really didn’t want to let go but I think she was trying to protect him from an abusive situation, I don’t know, we haven’t talked about it.

Baby Chester

Amanda sent me this photograph on her phone with the message, “Isn’t he cute?”.


On August 13 we went boating with Amanda and Nadia who brought Oreo so we could meet him.  That night Bill and I talked about how much we like this dog.  He was the perfect size and was very sweet but . . . we had two other dogs, did we really want to contribute to the madness we already had?

On August 19th we brought him home.

I’ve had dogs for over 30 years, only one other did I rescue and I lived to regret it.  I believe that every animal comes to us for a reason, they have a job to do although we are never privy to what that is.  Chester moved through two lives before he came to us.  I honestly think he came to Nadia to force her onto another path.

He still loves Nadia.  She came to dinner for Thanksgiving this year.  Chester was pretty excited about all of the company in the house and all of the potential ball throwers that were gathered in one spot so he didn’t really notice Nadia right away.  When he did he practically leaped into her lap wagging his tail in a frantic, crazy way and licked her face.  He was soooooo happy to see her.

It always amazes me that they remember so much.  I think we dismiss them too readily, we don’t give them credit for how deeply they feel things.  People write them off as “just” a dog.  I think in some respects they carry around as much baggage as we do but they are much more willing to move on and away from the ills that have befallen them in the past.  In some respects they are quite simple, if you love them they will love you back.  I have found that just loving a dog can help change a lot of bad things.  I think we can all learn a lesson from this behavior.  Live for right now, the past made you somewhat who you are but the present can be what you make of it – let the crap go.


Adams Mountain (1)

I took this photograph last Sunday just before we went to get our Christmas tree.  I’ve been thinking about what makes a person feel at home, safe, secure.  I’ve always known that the place where I feel the safest is Rowe but I started thinking about why Rowe does that for me.  It’s because very little changes.  Sure the faces have changed over the years, the zoning, the politics but very little else.

This is Adams Mountain.  It’s a small mountain – elevation 2,110 feet.   This view has really evolved over the past five years or so.  Bill has done a tremendous amount of work to clean up what was once a pasture.  The only time we can see it from the back yard is when the leaves are off of the trees but I always know it’s there.

In May of 1961 we moved to Potter Road in Rowe.  At the time there weren’t as many trees as there are now and the trees that were there were much smaller.  You could see Adams from the house.  I started school in the Town Hall that year but moved into the new elementary school in the spring of 1962 and you guessed it, the school was right across the road from Pelham Lake and Adams.

All the time I was growing up so much of what we did had Adams in the background.  School, the beach, Old Home Day, the library, the town hall, everything you did had it in the background.  In the summers many families in town would sponsor a Fresh Air kid from New York City.  I remember once one of them asked me as they looked at the mountains and hills around them, “How do you get out?”.  I always thought that was a funny way of looking at things, I felt secure, they felt trapped.

I think it’s good to be attached to something so solid.  It has evolved ever so slightly over the years but all changes have been at the hand of man. I think of everyone who has ever lived in this house, worked this farm, made a life in Rowe and they have all had the same view.  Sometimes that’s difficult to wrap your head around.   Adams has been sitting there for thousands of years and I like the idea that my family, potentially for generations could be looking at the same thing from the back yard.