Friday, March 07, 2008

In which the immovable object becomes the irresistible force.

In a late-night spasm of anxiety a while back I imprudently ordered 22 day-old chicks. They'll arrive in the mail next week and the ones I decide to keep will, eventually, need housing.

I've been watching Craig's List for a suitable dwelling and found this one a few days ago. Menticia and I drove up to Hillsborough to pick it up.

It was built by a fireman, out of many too many 2x4s. You can be sure that after he built this massive item, he hit it or kicked it and said, with satisfaction, "THAT'S not going anywhere!" But it was, as you'll see, in fact it was - it was going to my place.

The fireman wasn't home, his dad came over and took my money. He said his son had decided he wanted to keep chickens, and had built this for them, but: "Guess who ended up taking care of the chickens? Who had to feed them? Who had to collect the eggs? ME!"

That sounded so much like a teenager I asked, "How old is your son?" "He's 29."

Anyway, we got the ultra-heavy henhouse into the back of my van using his front-loader and he stuck a bunch of cinder blocks in it because the rear end was hanging way out of my hatch and it needed counterweighting. He tied the henhouse to my hatch and hitch ball with a big heavy rope and then hit it and said, with satisfaction, "THAT'S not going anywhere!"

We drove home very, very slowly. On the way back I decided Jethro would haul this coop into the yard.

I realized I had training wheels left over from this donkey adventure, so I nailed them onto the bottom of the henhouse. I knew they wouldn't last long but hoped they would help a bit.

I drilled a couple holes in the side of the coop and put a big thick strong rope, the one we had just untied from the van, through the holes.

Here's the beast of burden, tied to a tree, waiting to be affixed to his burden. He had already been on a walk and had happily hauled all the cinder blocks into the yard.

Menticia, photojournalist for this project, poses with the immovable object (it took all our strength to ease it out of the van and rotate it to head in the right direction).

If you've been reading this blog for a while you'll see how much she's grown! In fact, today is her 13th birthday!

Anyway, here we are, setting off, the coop rolling on the inadequate wheels and Jethro perfect amenable to the whole project.

Still amenable.

Amenability suddenly ceased for some reason just at the point where we would have been easing the coop into the yard. Maybe because the wheels were falling apart. Maybe because we needed to turn a corner.

Menticia and I take turns pulling for the camera (we know you can't move a donkey by hauling on his halter but it made for funny pictures).

THEN ...

Suddenly something spooked Jethro and he took off at his very highest speed! There was the picture that would have been great if Menticia had had time to take it: Jethro galloping, clods of dirt flying, the coop bouncing on the ground and hurtling through the air behind him.

He flew around behind his house and would surely have kept going except the big heavy rope broke.

Now the coop was behind Jethro's house, approximately as far away from where I wanted it as it had been when we started, just in a different direction.

He stopped running and started grazing.

I took the pieces of broken rope, tied them together again, threaded them back through the now rather battered chicken coop, and hitched Jethro up again. (Note, below, chicken in supervisory role.)

Also missing from this photo sequence: another ten minutes during which I tried to coax Jethro into hauling the house back where I wanted it. He played "Oh, it's way too heavy for me," set off with ostentatious good will, then drew up short when the rope tightened. After what we had just seen with our own astonished eyes - which is that a motivated donkey doesn't even notice the weight of a chicken coop at 60 mph - we were unimpressed.

Finally I got Menticia to find a grocery bag. She shook it behind him and he hauled the coop without further difficulties.

After this adventure I was exhausted, not by the physical effort, but by the personality of my donkey Jethro.

The chickens do an inspection of the new house.

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At 7:45 PM, Blogger Alma said...

What a great story! Imagine the fun Menticia had telling everyone about how she spent her birthday.

That last picture of you and your pal Jethro is classic!

Alma, feeling a little bit of donkey envy...

At 11:12 PM, Anonymous sister AE said...

I love it! But I'm glad I am not the one trying to convince the donkey.

At 10:38 AM, Blogger Jen said...

I love your Jethro posts! Thanks for the Sat. morning laugh and happy birthday Menticia!

At 10:58 AM, Anonymous Sylvia said...

Ha ha! That's a great donkey tale. Once again your ingenuity amazes me. Wow, Menticia sure has grown.


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