Thursday, September 28, 2006

With Autumn, the Chicken Coop

Autumn in Florida; a time when a man's fear of heat stroke wanes and thoughts turn to the construction of a moderately sized chicken coop. This is the update that few have been waiting for. The concrete block compost foundation has been laid and the framing is well underway. I hope that the future chickens will come to appreciate the asthetics and avian comfort I have created, alas, the fickle chicken.

Interestingly and slightly menacing is the sharp cry of two hawks that seem to be anticipating the arrival of fresh chickens. Luckily our resident crows have been harassing them. The migratory and not so migratory birds (tufted titmice, vireos, chickadees and mockingbirds) have been announcing their arrival at our feeder and bath.

Witness to the construction is Lula and her more-ever-present boyfriend, whom we refer to as "lula's boyfriend." They engage in mock civil war battles much to the delight of no one. Lula proudly represents the Union.

Due to a rather dry spring/summer our love bug explosion never really happened, but there was a small swarm that seemed attracted to NPR. Clearly, these are godless humanist insects with a penchant for Terry Gross.

The construction continues with post-workday framing and a considerable amount of self inflicted wounds. While building the trussing my antique circular saw finally died. I consider myself a preservationsist, but I am glad this beast is gone. It had two features that I will miss: it weighed about 40 lbs. and it provided random electric shocks. Now, I'm guided by lasers.

Thursday, September 14, 2006


Less than three years ago neither Cymande nor I had ever heard of Lake City, Florida; now, we call it home. Yes, I had floated down the otter infested waters of the Itchetucknee Springs many years ago, and Cymande had visited the Mouse as an adolescent and vowed never to return, but alas, now here we live. The feds sent us here via the National Health Service Corps and now we can say we truly understand northern's true what those Floridians said about having to go north to go south.

Charlie and I drove a rather large moving truck. Most of our delicate belongings were pulverized but riding with the big boys was worth every cracked dish and dead houseplant. I also experienced gastroenteric torment provided by a Frosty from some lone wendy's (note to self: beware of the lone standing southern fast food restaurants). This sordid frosty led to the following scene: me, in the woods, changing into Cymande's pajamas within striking range of a irritated rattlesnake. We arrived on Old Wire Road in the midst of an erosive deluge. We found that our keys did not open the doors and had to break into our own home. Some might have taken this as a message, but I challenge all the voodoo and supernatural that any minor demigod can muster.

We spent the first month working tirelessly and near heatstroke refinishing the floors and painting the walls. This was Charlie's first major contribution to our existence here. He left, returned and left again. His contribution can only be measured in the amount of mayonaise consumed, paintings deconstructed, tim-e ball games won, free psychotherapy provided and the substantial increase in our standard of living. Anyway, Thanks Charlie!

Lula is our dog. She adopted us one day while I was mowing the lawn. I thought she was a coyote. She offered her belly. She never left the yard after that day. She is possibly the best dog in the world: fearless, sensitive, gentle and sneaky. We are catching on to her though.

One of our first major works was the restoration of what we call the barn. This is a source of semantic debate. Ok, it really isn't a barn, but there was hay and horse poop inside once. We constructed a raised floor, repaired the roof and installed new doors. It now functions as the art/yoga/music studio and shop. Carolina wrens raise their babies in the walls and rats occasionally call it home. We have instituted a relocation program for the rats.

After restoration of the barn was complete we moved to the house. This initially involved sealing and insulating the crawlspace which is also known as the craw-space. Several days were spent in the dark with insulation and duct tape. We then moved to insulating the attic which was unpleasant in an entirely different way.

The most emotionally damaging project was the bathroom restoration. This began with the quick realization that beyond new hardware we needed new walls, floor and ceiling. We spent days trying to replumb to no avail which left us waterless during a drought in late May. This was the nadir of home restoration at Old Wire Road. I made five trips to the building center in one day and left the plumbing section in a condition that could be best described as an atrocity.
With the completion of the bathroom a sense of serenity and well being overcame us. This also ended the need to bath outdoors in the former indoor tub, known while outdoors as the hillbilly bathtub. This was usually an enjoyable experience except at 6am when the sun hadn't risen enough to warm the water and the shampoo. Cymande mourns the loss of the hillbilly bathtub, but will feel better when the luxury outdoor shower is created next spring.

We recently began construction of the garden/chicken coop/compost supercomplex. This will replace our experimental garden of this past spring and summer. The Floridian sun can dessicate a bean in one hot afternoon and a few days without rain can turn lush greeness into something brittle and inedible. To inhabit the coop we have decided upon the gentle and handsome Buff Orpington. They will arrive by mail at three days of life (they are called 'peeps', because, you know, they, ummm, peep). If the chicken thing works out, we might get guinea hens and/or Plymouth Barred Rock chickens and, of course, a black rubber abbatoir outfit for Gregg. From there the projects are numerous and range from the esoteric-and-dependant-upon-decision-to-stay-here-forever-or-not-gray water pond and Japanese or Swedish modern box addition to the mundane exterior siding.
Anyway, we expect to create great things here on old wire road (and, I mean, so far so good and all). Maybe next year some baby or another will show up. His or her future chore has already been determined: dishes!
Creative Commons License
Old Wire Road Blog by is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License.