No animals were harmed in the making of the chicken run, but a Greek did suffer minor injuries.
Fortunately (for us), the Banceithin work force is not represented by any trade union. If they were, I’m sure the union would be balloting members to strike in protest at the working conditions on Project Chicken Run. Now I’m no fan of health and safety gone mad in the nanny state, but I’m pretty sure there are guidelines that prohibit the use of a sledgehammer by a worker whilst straddling the top of a step ladder.
It could be a “how not to erect a fence” scene from a DEFRA health & safety training video for farmers. With each swing of the sledgehammer, words like “personal injury”, “compensation” and “how will I explain this to his family” whirred around my head. To add insult to injury (literally), Dave wouldn’t let Yiannis wear gloves until his first blister appeared – a test of true manliness, or something along those lines. It’s polite to present your guest with a momento of his visit and I know money is a bit tight these days, but a gift of wounds to the hands is a bit mean.
Thankfully, Dave came to his senses and whizzed off to borrow the appropriate equipment from a man who knows what he’s doing, Idwal (neighbour, sheep dog trainer, slaughterman and real live non-pretend farmer). Dave returned with fencing pearls of wisdom and a fence post banger in-er (I’m sure there’s a proper technical term for it but that pretty much describes what it does). [P.S. A prize of a weekend’s hard labour at Banceithin goes to the winner of the caption competition for the below photo.]
Much banging (and smoking) later, the chicken run was beginning to take shape, albeit a little wonky in places. I stepped in to lend a hand – my task was to unfurl the roll of chicken wire whilst making chicken like clucking noises by way of a musical accompaniment to the hammering in of staples.
Fence up, it was time to bring in the chicken house and nest boxes, painted by me in a fetching shade of glow in the dark orange guaranteed to attract the foxes.
Alas, a sloping field means a sloping house. Freedom from a slopey home may not be one of the RSPCA’s Freedom Food principles, but instinct tells me that it’s unfair to keep a chicken laying by using the force of gravity to prevent her leaving the nest box. Propping your chicken house up on a combination of brieze blocks, broken paving slabs & slate tiles shows a certain innovative flair but aesthetically pleasing it ain’t.
Aside from the minor detail of having constructed the run around an owl box (hungry owls and little chicks do not mix well), Project Chicken Run was successfully completed. In honour of our Greek labourer the run will bear a slate plaque above the door that reads “Kotetsi” (look it up on Babelfish!). Oh, and our first cockerel will be named Yiannis.