It’s been an interesting week in our garden, mostly punctuated by engineering and logistical problems relating to the law of physics. It’s also been a week where our marriage of 33 years has been seriously tested, along with the realisation that we are approaching 60 and we have our limits. The fact is, we had to move a new chicken coop from the garage to the bottom of the garden. And the chicken shed was very heavy, heavier than we could possibly carry, even though we are both still quite strong.
Señor Faztudo built me the chicken shed in the garage for my birthday. It’s hard to find a suitable building here. Chickens usually sleep in barns or old paint buckets, but I wanted a state of the art des-res. My marido was down there for days, banging and swearing and his CSE woodwork skills (Grade 1 mind you) were all coming into play. It was a very romantic birthday present and much better than a bunch of flowers or a bottle of perfume, to my mind. When the chickens first came, he made a chicken coop that was really only meant to house the cockerel, who came first. We had to build in a hurry and the old coop is groaning at the seams now as we have five hens in addition to our very fine and now very large, gallo. The new coop is a beautiful feat of engineering, with perches and egg boxes and all sort, but it had one design fault. It was built on legs, with no wheels and had to travel 150 metres across the garage, down a very steep slope and across rough terrain before it was installed in its final position. Muitas Problemas. Muitas rubbing of chins.
But we like a challenge. It was like the great egg race. I kept thinking of the line in the song “Just what makes that silly old ant, think he can do just what he can’t, anyone knows an ant can’t, move a big rubber plant, but he’s got higghhhhhh hopes” Well we did have high hopes. To begin with anyway. Until we got stuck.
It started out well enough. We couldn’t lift the thing, so we put an aluminium ladder underneath it, put one end on a sack trolley that we bought a while ago and put some wheels onto a makeshift axle and duck taped it to the ladder. It wheeled out of the garage like a dream. Great! But that was going straight on a flat surface, now we needed to turn it around the corner on a sloping path and then somehow get it down the drive, which is very steep and bumpy. With much heaving and shoving we got it around the corner facing downhill, then I had the brain wave to use the car. I don’t recommend you do this at home, gentle reader. It’s very hairy. But we took the ladder, opened the back doors of our little red van and used the sack trolley on the back. Because of the incline it worked and before we knew it we were at the bottom of the hill, near the car tuning circle. Elated (we are nearly 60 you know) and clapping each other on the back, we retired for a celebratory glass of Alentejo red.
We celebrated too soon. The next day we struggled again with a Heath Robinson idea of sliding the coop along a ladder, propped up on paving stones, but we had to keep heaving the paving stones about and in the hot sun this was exhausting us. We had a big row, Señor Faztudo said he might as well do it himself, I slammed down a paving stone and broke it and we didn’t talk to each other for several hours. Come to think of it, we were both too tired to talk anyway. We got too big for our boots and nearly injured ourselves (I still can’t walk straight) . I think we were both chastened by how close we came to permanent damage, so we decided we had to ask for help, something neither of us are very good at.
I was doubtful anyone could carry the heavy weight, so emailed a neighbour with a tractor (my brother has a tractor and offered to pop round, but he lives in Wales unfortunately.) However, I was sure you would need a poky thing like you have on a stacker truck and I wasnt sure our neighbour had one.
We also have a younger friend (most of our friends are as old as us and many, although willing to help have back and knee problems) and he was kind enough to come round after a hard day’s work. I was doubtful two men could lift the coop, but using the ladder underneath it, Señor Faztudo and our young Tarzan made light of it, with me steadying it on the ladder. As we set it on the hippy shed base ready for it to go into its final spot our neighbour arrived with the tractor. We felt very blessed to have people we can call on for help after a year and a half of life in the village. The chickens are very curious about their new lodgings and eyed it supiciously making those lovely Oooerrr noises to each other that signify curiousity. Being creatures of habit, it will be a while before I can get them all settled in, but I am very happy with their beautiful new edifice and hope they will enjoy it for many years to come. I have dubbed the new building “Cluckingham Palace” Long may King Nando and his wives reign in it.