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Busy, busy, busy.

September 5. 2020 –
Hello, what have all of you been up to lately?
I’ve been super busy sewing facemasks. Sometimes until 3 in the morning.
Here are 24 masks completed in one day.

Not selling the masks, just asking for donations. Some people have donated eggs, quarters, potting soil, fabric, thread, dog food and dog treats, more thread, flower seeds, and cash money. One woman gave me a container of cat treats because she doesn’t have a dog. I told her that was fine because none of my dogs can read the label. One man said he couldn’t give me a bag of cow manure because he doesn’t have a cow. Making masks is fun and I’ve met lots of interesting people.

One man liked his mask so much he called me a rock star. Said the mask was ‘state of the art’; after which he asked if I could alter the pattern to include a space for the filters he uses. Yes, of course. No problem.

In between sewing and walking dogs, I’ve finally managed to complete the fenced dog exercise area. It’s large enough for all 4 dogs to run around, dig holes, or just catch some sunshine. While the dogs are busy, I’m out there with them pulling weeds, pruning shrubs, or doing general cleanup. Here is Jack looking very silly and very pleased with his digging work. He’s a digging fool.

A while back, the chicken named Dottie Junior decided to hatch some eggs. Of the 18-20 eggs, she managed to successfully hatch out 4 lovely baby chicks. Three are hens and have her coloring and are small in size (the first Dottie was a bantam), and the fourth is a rooster that looks like his grandfather who was a Light Brahma. Don’t know if I mentioned it before but a black domestic rabbit has adopted my yard and is getting along really well with the chickens. Here is the rabbit sharing lunch with the hens and rooster.

Sometimes I take a break from sewing and dogs to run errands or do a little shopping. Here is a table I picked up for not much money. All I wanted was a smallish table that would fit in a corner…never dreamed I’d end up with an antique cast iron pub table from England. (Sorry for the bad photo but this sucker was heavy!)

One local woman offers specialty fruits and veggies that she imports from her home country. I purchased 8 tamarillo fruits. These are also known as Tree Tomatoes. The currently acceptable botanical name is Solanum betaceum. To be honest, I’ve never actually eaten one; only bought them to save the seeds – did the fermenting thing that I learned years ago; hope it works. The aroma of the fruit is divine! If I can grow these and get a decent harvest, there will be some lovely fragrant jams happening. (The package of Nutter Butter cookies is for size reference.)

Now that the fenced dog exercise area is finally finished, my next project will be to create a screen/blind to hide the trash cans and such. Someone on Facebook Marketplace was selling all these shutters for a whopping ten dollars. They are perfect. Updates as they happen.

Over on The National Gardening Association, they featured American Beautyberry and I was thrilled to see some of my images in the article. I tried to attach a link but can’t remember the correct way to make that happen; try this…
https://garden.org/plants/group/beautyberries/

Well, that’s what I’ve been doing lately. What are y’all doing these days?

If anyone can teach me how to make the comment section work on this blog I might actually be able to read answers.

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I had a dream

After living in a mobile home for 20 years, I figured it was time to move up in the world so I bought a travel trailer and called it my casita. Since I must do some serious downsizing I’m faced with making difficult decisions. No matter how meaningful any item might be…well if it won’t fit into the ‘casita’ or out in the tool shed I simply cannot keep it. There was no problem getting rid of most things – they are just ‘things’ after all, but the one item I had problems parting with was my sewing machine table.

Here is the story.

When I first moved to Savannah I had to work three part-time jobs just to make ends meet. Eventually landed one good job working at a dry-cleaning store. It doesn’t seem very glamorous working from 7 in the morning to almost 11 pm handling dirty clothes but it sure did pay the bills. I was promoted to manager and a while later was transferred to one of the other stores that my boss owned. It was a 35-mile drive to get to work…and it was like being in a whole other world once I got to know the new place. It was out in the country where people smile, are friendly, helpful, honest, good church-going people. What a contrast to Savannah. It did not take me long to like everyone who walked through the door.

In addition to dry cleaning we also offered alterations. People could drop off their clothes and the alterations lady would have everything finished within a week. That was okay for most people but some had more pressing needs. (No pun intended.) So, what the heck, I carried my sewing machine and supplies to work and set it up in my office to handle the urgent sewing jobs, quick hems, small repairs, slight fitting adjustments, etc.

One mother brought in a pair of nearly-new blue jeans that her daughter had managed to snag on a nail. Rather than the normal patch and repair, I offered the ‘teen special treatment’ using glitzy fabric, sequins, and silver thread. It was a big hit.

The Army Reserves came in and needed the US flag sewn on the sleeves of every uniform shirt in a big hurry. That was very special and required me to drive out to the Reserve building to pick up the shirts and the flag patches. I carried everything back to my office and sewed my little heart out until every shirt sported a patch of our flag. When I presented the invoice to the commander of the unit he was surprised, no, shocked that I charged so little money; it seems that the military had allotted a
budget of $600 (six hundred dollars) for the work but I only charged the going rate of $2 (two dollars) per patch. (I will not talk about government overspending.) I have no idea how or if he would explain the surplus in his budget.

There was the proud father of a Boy Scout – his son was hoping to become an Eagle Scout earning badges as fast as he was able. The father had tried to glue the badges onto a sash but was making a mess so he came to me for help. No problem, I have a sewing machine and know how to use it. Besides, since I lived alone there was no hurry for me to rush home after work. I loved helping these people.

I could relate dozens of stories about these interesting people but…back to the point.

One day an elderly man wandered into the store. He did not come to drop off any dirty laundry. Not to pick up any clean laundry. I had no clue why he was in the store. He was a man of few words. He wandered around the lobby for a while and when there were no other customers he asked, “Do you have a sewing machine table?” Um, er. Random question if I ever heard one but okay, I’ll play along. Yes, I told him I have a sewing machine table in my office. He asked if I needed it. Huh?! Um, this was a bit weird so I figured I’d turn the question around and asked him if he needed the table. Ah, yes, he did. Guess by now y’all know me well enough. Five minutes later, after I relocated my sewing machine and supplies to the floor, the man walked out carrying my old sewing machine table. He seemed very happy to have it. He offered to pay for it but no, I would take no money. As I said, it was just a very weird occurrence.

But not as weird as the following few weeks.

The man, who was about 95 years old and probably weighed maybe 95 pounds, came back to chat…well, not exactly to chat since he was a man of few words. He asked if I had a sewing machine. Oh, no, no, no…Yes, I have a sewing machine but I explained that I needed my sewing machine and it was not available. He asked if he could see the machine. Whew, weirder by the minute. (Yes, Alice, I supposed I could say curiouser and curiouser.) Okay, I led him into the office so he could see my sewing machine. For anyone interested, it’s a heavy-duty Singer school model. He noticed that the machine was sitting on a folding TV tray.

He saw the machine.

Then he left.

Weird. (Cue the Twilight Zone music.)

The next day he came back to chat. He asked me what would be my idea of a ‘perfect’ sewing machine table. Well, weird or not he had stopped by enough times that I felt at ease describing my ideal sewing machine table.

Over the next several weeks he came back many times. He asked questions. Took notes. He even asked me to sit in a chair so he could take measurements. I kind of figured, since he was old, that maybe he might have a screw or two loose. Until one day he walked through the door carrying a sewing machine table! It was unfinished as he was still in the process of building it. Yes, he was building a sewing machine table just for me! He asked me to sit and ‘try it out for size’; he asked me to place my sewing machine into the space in the table top…uh, oh (frowning)…he did not gauge the depth correctly…more measurements…and he walked out taking the table with him.

A few days later he returned. This time he brought the finished table complete with the wooden insert which allowed the sewing machine to sit at the correct height flush with the tabletop. The wood had been sanded and stained a lovely walnut color and yes, it was perfect. It fit like a glove. It was the ideal sewing machine table. And he made it just for me. Think back to that first day when he wandered into the store. I hadn’t charged him any money when I gave him my old sewing machine table. He returned the favor by giving me the custom-made, perfectly ideal sewing machine table for no money.

So here I am downsizing. Cleaning, sorting, donating, and sometimes trashing…everything that will not fit into the casita has to go. There is no room for all this ‘stuff’ so I cannot keep it. Many items have been donated to the thrift stores, some items were given to neighbors, some to my daughter who lives nearby and some to my other daughter who drove seven hours from Alabama to pick up the items that she treasured – an antique school desk, a butcher block rolling cart and a few other things.

But what about the sewing machine table? What am I to do about that? There is zero floor space in the casita, all the furniture is bolted to the floor, and I’m pretty sure I can’t hang it from the ceiling. What to do, sleep on it? No, not sleep on the table, silly! Sleep on the problem about what to do with the table.

And the answer came to me in a dream.

In the RV kitchen, there is a dinette. It consists of a table and two bench seats and yes, it’s all bolted to the floor. The whole thing can be converted from a dinette into a sleeping area. Just lift up the tabletop, remove the two metal legs, stow the legs under one of the bench seats…place the tabletop in the slots and..tada!; it’s a bed. WooHoo! But…hmmm…what if, um, er…could I? Let me see. No, let me measure. Yep. If I lift up the tabletop and stow it away against the wall under the window, then put the metal legs away, the empty space between the two benches is exactly the right size for a sewing machine table. Oh, my gosh. It couldn’t be a better fit if it had been custom made for that space.

Well, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

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Nothing Much is Happening

Posted on Nov 27, 2019 6:16 PM
Today is Wednesday. One day before Thanksgiving. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Yep, it’s true. Nothing much is happening around here.

I make plans. Life gets in the way. The several loads of free composted horse manure turned out to be contaminated with residual herbicide so I lost my entire garlic bed. I had also added the composted manure to a new garden bed, added coir, pine fines, and all the good stuff one does when creating a new planting bed. I got a bit sick and didn’t actually plant anything in the bed but mysteriously, there were zero weeds growing in the bed. Huh? That’s when I started researching and learned about the evil thing I had brought home to my garden. It was a huge waste of time and money and all that soil will need to be removed and replaced. Sigh.

There were some trees I’d been looking for and wasn’t able to find anywhere. Everyone was sold out. I worked with one plant nursery who was finally able to locate the trees for me. I bought 4 trees, over $88 plus shipping costs. I had put the trees in a 5-gallon bucket with some good garden soil until I could dig holes and get them planted. And…well, you guessed it. The ‘good’ soil is from that new bed so I lost 3 of the 4 trees and one is barely hanging on to life.

Back in September, there was a mandatory evacuation order as Hurricane Dorian was expected to hit my area. Instead of evacuating (and where does one actually go with 2 dogs and something like 14-15 chickens?), I drove a bit inland and adopted a dog. He is so cute and funny that he makes my face hurt from all this laughter. z

His name is Chico Burrito.

Mowing over an acre of grass and weeds with a push mower was getting tiresome so I researched and learned how to repair the Cub Cadet riding mower that’s out in the big shed. I replaced the battery, repaired one tire, drained the old (ancient) gasoline and was thankful that the old gas didn’t cause any major problems, added new gas (non-ethanol, marine gas) and then had to get my limbs coordinated to go forward and reverse and make turns without tipping the mower over on its side. After that, I decided that raking over an acre of grass and weeds and hauling it to the compost bins was…well, just plain idiotic so I researched and ordered a bagging attachment. Whew, the box was large and heavy and somehow I managed to install it. Works great. Here, look at the huge pile of clippings.

As the chickens grew, I removed them from the house to the shed, then to the coops in the garden area. Yes, coops as in more than one. Eventually, the chickens decided they were grown and no longer wanted to be put inside the coops at night. Find, you wanna be grown? Be grown! But don’t complain to me later.

Some of the chickens were roosters and honestly, I only need one, so little by little I have been giving away roosters. I gave one rooster and a hen to my former neighbors who stopped by for a visit. Last week I gave away 3 roosters to a man who was looking forward to his Thanksgiving dinner (oops!) There remains one rooster that I am unable to capture. He’s just too smart. Time will tell.

Since the chickens are grown and now select their own sleeping place in the evening, I no longer have to round them up in the evening. Unfortunately, the sleeping place that some selected was not very secure and I lost one hen to a very hungry Great Horned Owl. It took that owl 3 days but eventually, all that was left were a few stray feathers. Owls have very good table manners.

Let’s see. I did mention that I got sick? Well, I got sicker. I lost a ton of weight and my hair fell out. Ugh! So I bought some wigs and…laughed myself into insanity. No way could I actually go out in public wearing a wig. I created a collage of how silly I looked.

After living without hair it was quite a surprise when it started to grow back. Here is my “Before, after, and after” picture.

My neighbor will be moving and the new people have 5 dogs so I’ll be installing a 6-foot privacy fence. Hmm, I’d better get cracking and finish installing the fence to keep the chickens contained. So far there have been 9 cedar fence poles and 6 T-posts installed. Yesterday I purchased more T-posts. Wish me luck. The plan is to fence a perimeter around the house where the dogs can play, to close in the garden area to keep the chickens from straying too far (and annoying the new neighbors). The Cub Cadet has reminded me that wide gates need to be included in this plan.

For about 3 days I was very happy because a homeless person offered to help with some of the work. He worked hard for one day – I paid him. Worked sort of hard for the next day – I bought him new shoes and some food. And the third day he stole what he wanted. I paid him for the first two days so I guess we are about even as far as money goes.

Speaking of money, sheesh, I need to find enough money to replace the HVAC system. Mine is just plain too old. It has the old type of Freon. The good part is that the new system will be more efficient and will save me money on my electric bill. Now…if only I had a spare $5,285.00 laying around the house. 🙂

Almost forgot. In my spare time, I volunteered to help transport dogs that are going from foster to their forever homes. The group is Echo White Sheperd Dog Rescue. On Tuesday, December 3, 2019, Facebook is having Giving Tuesday and will match donations up to a certain amount but the money runs out very quickly so…if you’re not busy at 8 am (Eastern Time), why not chip in? There’s a link at the end to explain more.*

And just in case you can’t watch the clock that closely, there’s what I call the equivalent of ‘early voting’. You can send your donation early (only a few days left!!) and the monies will be pooled and donated by the group at the correct moment in time. Use this link for early donations:
https://paypal.me/pools/c/8kirGynR2r

Here is one more picture. For anyone who is a bit overweight and trying to lose a few extra pounds, be careful what you wish for or you could end up looking like me. Yes, that’s me and I am moving a 148-pound Sodefor anvil made in Sweden back in the 1920s. (It’s okay to laugh!)

The next project on my to-do list is to make a new chicken enclosure from an old 12-foot trampoline. Wish me luck!

*More information:
https://www.facebook.com/help/332488213787105
https://www.facebook.com/groups/echodogs/

UPDATE: Feb 5, 2020
Not much is happening but a weasel got into the chicken coop and killed 6 of my best hens and my favorite rooster. Some of the chickens had been roosting in the trees and they were spared. My entire flock now consists of 2 hens and 2 roosters. Guess I’ll have to dust off the incubator and get cracking. Ooooh, bad pun!

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Dog Diapers

Do dog diapers work? Hmmm, I wonder.

Not long ago I purchased one dog diaper from a company called Dog Quality; the diapers are called Washable Wonders. The price was very reasonable. My dog Jack is not incontinent but he had spent some time in a wheelchair so I figured having a diaper on hand would be a good idea.

Recently, Jack had a medical issue which required several visits to the veterinarian and about $700 in office visits, tests, medications, etc. Free dogs are never really free, are they?

Rather than tell you about the Washable Wonders diaper, let me tell you a short story.

Here goes…

Two days ago my dog Jack ate something he shouldn’t have. It was a tube of Nystatin antifungal cream. I quickly checked online, then checked with poison control, then called the veterinarian all in the space of a few minutes. Whew, no worries. Jack will be okay. The vet said to keep plenty of water available and that Jack may have vomiting/diarrhea; forewarned is forearmed – I have spray cleaner, paper towels, trash bags, and know how to use them! I also gave Jack some plain Greek yogurt to help his tummy troubles.

Next day…Jack is fine. Things seem normal.

This morning…4:00 a.m. and it’s still dark outside but Jack keeps pacing and seems to need to go outside. I put collars and leashes on both Jack and George, we step outside just as the sky bursts open and rain pours down. Jack managed a quick pee, George said, “No way!!” so we went back inside. I dried both dogs then we all settled down.

A little while later Jack comes to me and wants something. Okay, I’ll play the guessing game…snack? squeaky toy? ball? play? I tried all of them and for a few minutes, everything was good. Then Jack did a very funny thing. He kept going where his diaper is. Over and over he went to the diaper. I asked if he wanted his diaper and he did the “happy dance” so, what the heck, I put the diaper on him and he seemed pleased. Did I mention that Jack loves his diaper?

We settled down again. I’m busy working on the computer and Jack comes into the room and. And uh-oh…I smell stinky! Someone passed gas. I think the dogs need to go outside again. I put the leashes on both dogs. We exit the front door and are on the porch when I realize that Jack is still wearing his diaper. “No, Jack. You cannot wear the diaper to go outside.”

This next part will be either gross or extremely funny depending on your experience with dogs. Since I need one hand to hold both leashes, I use my other hand to pull the Velcro (or possibly generic hook and loop tape) off the Washable Wonders diaper. The Velcro is easy to remove. In less than one second, and working with only one hand, I managed to remove the diaper, toss it through the open door and onto the living room floor…the diaper landed about 2.5 feet from the door…get ready…here it comes…and the huge pile of poop landed about 1.5 feet from the door!!!

Jack does not normally have incontinence. I only purchased the diaper because I have to put antifungal cream on him and the diaper prevents him from licking the medicine. Didn’t stop him from eating the entire tube!

But I have to say…the diaper is amazing. I looked at the huge pile of juicy poop on the floor and was grateful that I do not have carpet in the house. I looked at the diaper which was almost completely clean. Then I looked at Jack’s hind end…and it was absolutely clean. How is that even possible??? Who cares! This company is making an amazing product. Keep up the good work.

Okay, I’ll admit that I still don’t like the color of the inside fabric and really don’t like the ‘bullseye’ that fabric creates around the tail hole, but at this point, who cares!! The diapers work and that is all that matters.

I just now finished washing the diaper by hand in the sink. It washed really well and I am air drying it since it is still raining outside.

The name of the company is DogQuality. They are in Canada. Please go to their website to see the products – they make more than just diapers. There are also some helpful videos featuring some adorable dogs. You can buy DogQuality products from other companies but why not buy directly from the source?

https://dogquality.com/collections/dog-diapers

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It’s a Native Bee Nursery!!! …um, no, it’s not.

Someone was kind enough to give me a table. They helped to load it into my small car but when arrived home and tried to move the table from my car to the house, it was too heavy for me to move on my own. After a good deal of grunting and cursing, I finally managed to get the table onto the front porch where at least it won’t get rained on. Here it is, weeks later and the table and the legs are still on the porch. If anyone stops by to visit I will beg them to help me move the table inside the house and maybe they will help to attach the legs.

But wait…no…I cannot bring the table into the house just yet.

Why not?

There are holes in the underside of the table – but wait, I forgot to say that the tabletop is laying on its side so the screw holes are horizontal. This attracted a very small, mostly black bee and she’s been laying eggs in the screw holes of the table.

The tiny bee has gradually been filling each hole with eggs and sealing the hole with mud.

Where is she getting the mud? 

I have a lovely hole in my driveway which I filled with clay and small stones. Some day I will repair the hole properly. Every time it rains, the hole is a mud wallow mixed with good old Georgia clay and that’s exactly what the bee needs to seal the holes. The small stones assure that she will not drown while collecting mud.

Seems like procrastination works in the bee’s favor.

She was kind enough to land for a moment so I could get a glimpse. She is mostly shiny and black, her abdomen is somewhat striped with white. After her short rest, she went back to work so that’s all I have to go on for an identification.

I found a link to help identify bees. Looking at the images in the link, I think she may be a sweat bee. If she stays still again and I have a camera I’ll try to get a photo.

htts://www.mnn.com/your-home/organic-farming-gardening/stories/how-identify-different-types-bees

Here are the screw holes in the table. The hole on the right is the one she’s working on. The hole on the left is sealed.

This is one of the holes sealed with clay and mud. 

After doing some research I learned that the bee lays female eggs first and lays the male eggs last. The males hatch out first and hang around waiting for the females to emerge. I have more research to do. I need to know how many weeks or months the table has to stay on the porch so the bees can hatch out.

Since there is a constant source of mud/clay/water and plenty of flowers blooming late in the season, all that needs to be done is to make some bee hotels so the bees can have a more appropriate place to lay eggs next time.

UPDATE: Feb 5, 2020
It has taken a long while for me to revisit this post. It’s not a bee nursery. It’s both a bee and a wasp nursery. In addition to the original yet unidentified bee there is a Red and Black Mason Wasp using the table as a nursery. This wasp is also known as Pachodynerus erynnis.      

Here are some links if you want to learn more.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pachodynerus_erynnis

https://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/galveston/beneficials/beneficial-39_red_and_black_mason_wasp.htm

https://bugguide.net/node/view/6244

I was happy to grab a few photos. Here is a video that someone captured of the wasp on a flower. Don’t blink; the video is only 3 seconds long.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xdxbx3jEweo

Well, it has really been a long time. All the little bees and wasps have hatched and flown away so I was finally able to give the table to my neighbor. In the spring, I’ll make an effort to create a new bee and wasp nursery. Wish me luck.

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Free is good, aka: Let’s keep it out of the landfill

To fully understand this blog post, you need to know that I was born and raised in Connecticut and only recently (25 years ago) relocated to the Savannah, Georgia area.

Thumb of 2018-09-13/greene/dac5b5

So…I responded to an item on Facebook Marketplace. Hey, if you don’t already know about this, do yourself a favor and check it out in your local area. Someone in Savannah was offering cardboard barrels for $2 each. I had already known about these barrels from when I was the manager of a dry cleaning store. As long as these barrels are kept indoors, out of the weather, they can last a really long time. I had one for over 20 years. It originally contained starch but I used it to hold plastic beads for craft work.

The seller of the barrels and I communicated back and forth and it was arranged that I would pick up the barrels; I brought cash money – exact change. Yep, I brought cash money, but the seller did not actually want any money. Seems like he just wanted to re-home the barrels. I’m cool with that. Together, he and I loaded 4 of the barrels into my tiny car. I had some rope and the man tied some spiffy knots that he had learned courtesy of the US Army to secure the barrels. I suspect his knowledge of knots might be hereditary, ingrained from the Mayflower days. It was decided that I would return shortly to pick up a few more barrels.

After fortifying myself with a cheeseburger and fries from the local Checkers I arrived home, unloaded the barrels, gave the leftovers from Checkers to the chickens (they did not care for the fries), I drove back and started loading more barrels into my tiny car. The man’s sister arrived to offer assistance. Together, she and I loaded 4 barrels into my small car. It was a task and a half. The barrels weigh next to nothing but since they are round, they tried to roll out of the car a few times. All 8 barrels are now safe and sound inside my house and will soon be filled with all sorts of stuff…Perlite, Vermiculite, peat moss, rabbit pellets, chicken food, Timothy hay (that’s the good stuff)…whew, the list goes on. I plan to seal and paint some of these cardboard barrels so they will last a good long time. Note to self: Find out what kind of paint is good for cardboard barrels.

Okay, history lesson. The family giving away the cardboard barrels arrived in America around and about the Mayflower era. A long time ago. The great-grandmother had an idea and…well, her idea has been supporting the family for four generations. Yikes!! If you want to buy some spring clips manufactured and sold by the Gibson company – totally made in America, look them up online. The company has roots in Bristol, Connecticut and the spring clips are shipped to Savannah for packaging and distribution. Just like me. I started out in Connecticut and ended up in Savannah. How cool is that?!

Here is a link to get you started. There are other sizes available.
http://www.gibsongoodtools.com…

Update October 5:

I picked up a gallon of what I call ‘goof paint’ for $9, regular price $36.https://www.homedepot.com/p/BEHR-Premium-1-gal-SC-129-Chocolate-Solid-Color-Waterproofing-Exterior-Wood-Stain-and-Sealer-501301/204166129?MERCH=REC-_-PIPHorizontal2_rr-_-204166116-_-204166129-_-N

It was easy to work with and easy to wash off my hands, and the wall in the hall, and the light switch…never paint when you are tired! But the barrels are now a lovely chocolate brown color.

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From a Hutch to a Coop-ette!

Absolutely love to repurpose, recycle, upcycle. Also, like to adopt animals that are looking for a new home. Well, okay, the animals have no say in the matter. People, for whatever reason, decide they can no longer keep an animal and, well, there you are. Or I should say, there I am!!

Someone was looking to rehome their rabbit. The rabbit is named Twitch and came with his own hutch. How cool is that? And the best part is that the whole deal was only $40. But no. It gets better.

The person rehoming this adorable bundle of fur is a magician! Twitch had grown too large to fit into the hat for the magic show so, well, there you go. (The above image was taken when Twitch was still tiny.) Yippee, I have a magical rabbit!!!

When I picked up the rabbit and the hutch I fully expected to plop the hutch down, put the rabbit into the hutch. toss in some food and water and enjoy my magical rabbit. Easy peasy; done and done, right?

But no. When I saw the hutch my brain went into high gear. Creativity kicked in.

What if…do you think it would be possible? Hmmm. Let me think a minute. If I raise up the hutch and put a lower floor, reinforced with fence wire and 1/2 inch hardware cloth…I’ll be right back.

Yep, it works. The rabbit is now happily living in a dog pen inside the house and my 6 chickens have a 2-story mini coop with a large-ish outdoor play area that had a former life as a dog exercise pen. I am calling it a ‘coop-ette’, hope I invented a new word.

Look here to see the before picture of the original coop:

https://www.wayfair.com/pet/pdx/innovation-pet-cotton-tails-bunny-hutch-inpe1022.html

Sorry, this item is no longer in stock so don’t be trying to buy one and make your own two-story coop-ette.

You may still be able to purchase on here: https://www.ebay.com/itm/142571391320

But if you plan to use this for rabbits, please know that it is made mainly of wood. Rabbits tend to chew wood. Eventually, the rabbits could chew their way out, hit the ground and end up on a different blog post. It’s better to use it as a coop-ette for chickens.

And here is the after picture: 

If you live near Savannah, Georgia and need a very entertaining magician, here is a link to some reviews for Tembers Tales, the magician who provided the hutch and the magical rabbit. Children absolutely love Miss September.

https://www.temberstales.com/

https://www.temberstales.com/reviews

 

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Another Day; Another Adventure.

September 11, 2018

So here I am, leisurely cleaning elderberries so I can make some elderberry/fig something-or-other. I already have the figs cooking on low heat. Then I hear a dog bark. Not one of my dogs but I recognize the bark. It the bark of El Gato who lives across the street. You may remember him as the dog that had a bone stuck in his throat. I also hear another dog, or maybe two more dogs. This is worrisome so I set the bowl down and walk across the street to investigate. It’s not nosiness; it’s being neighborly.

I see the young lady of the house putting the little dog into his enclosure but I can still hear barking. Letting myself into the gate, I wave. Then I see two…no, there are three dogs in the next yard over and they are furiously barking at something near a tree. Don’t worry; there is a fence separating the two yards.

The young lady and I decide the dogs may be barking at a lizard or possibly a snake so we keep our distance. The dogs continue to focus on one spot and will not quit barking. We wait.

One of the dogs, the white one with a pink collar, turns and barks at her owner’s house hoping to get some attention. The black dog lies down and stares at the spot near the tree. The fluffy dog continues to bark for no reason because that’s just what fluffy dog do.

Ah, the owner of the three dogs is approaching. Over the cacophany, we introduce ourselves and chat for a while. After explaining that it might be a snake she takes a look from the safety of her side of the fence. Her face lights up. It’s a chicken! The poor chicken is hiding the best it can and has no intention of coming out as long as the dogs are barking. Whew, since it’s not a snake, I step around the tree, hunker down and grab hold of the chicken. The dogs are quite satisfied that they have done a good job.

Accompanied by the young woman of the house, I carry the chicken safely tucked under my arm and return it to the coop. No chickens, dogs, lizards, snakes, or people were harmed during this incident. Another day; another adventure. What will tomorrow bring? Oops, I almost forgot that I’m cooking figs and need to add the elderberries. Plus I need to search the internet for a recipe. See ya later.

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Chicken again?

A few of years ago my dog Jack and I were taking a wee walk before bed – don’t worry, this is not a dog story; it’s about a chicken. Oh, and it was Jack that was gonna wee, not me. Jack is smiling at my small attempt at humor.
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It was about midnight, a very dark night with no moon. Jack has pretty bad eyesight.
He sees okay when he is up close, like this:
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Because his eyes are bad he alerts when he sees anything move, anything at all. It can be a leaf, a squirrel, my neighbor’s homemade wind chimes or even a plastic bag. When he started tugging at the leash trying to get to something on the ground I held him back saying, “Jack, that’s nothing. It’s only a plastic bag.” But no, Jack insisted that he be allowed to check it out. No, Jack, I don’t want to investigate your dumb plastic bag. I’m the grown up and I am smarter than a dog; I will show you that you are wrong.

So I gathered up a handful of pine straw and, taking careful aim, I chucked he pine straw at the plastic bag…and the bag clucked.

Clucked?

White plastic bags do not make clucking noises, not even at midnight on a moonless night. My status as the smartest one in the family is in trouble. Well, dang. Paint my face red and call me a stop sign. It’s a chicken! My dog found a chicken. Good boy, Jack, you get a biscuit. Maybe I should get my own eyes checked?

Since I was positive the chicken belonged to my across the street neighbor who has chickens and roosters, I gathered up the chicken and, it being midnight and all, I had to find a place to keep the chicken for the night so I could return it safe and sound to my neighbor. Note to self: The neighbor wakes up early. Remember to set an alarm so you can catch him before he leaves for work.

Not having a chicken coop of my own the only solution I could think of was to stash it for the night in my zippy plastic greenhouse. This little greenhouse was brand new, just assembled and never had a single plant inside, just rows of neatly stacked plastic pots.
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The chicken should be fine in there for just one night; I’ll return the chicken to my neighbor in the morning.
Well, that was the plan anyway…but…keep reading.

Since my neighbor is Latino, I used my very best ‘Spanglish’ and some hand gestures to inquire if he had lost a chicken, a white chicken. He said, “No tengo gallinas blanco.”

What did he say? 
He said he has no white hens.
Hmmm?

So I asked him whose chicken it was? At least I hope that’s what I asked, my Spanish is not all that perfect. Oh my, he got this funny look on his face, kind of like this…
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…Okay, that’s an exaggeration, but he did have a funny look on his face. He used his right index finger to point directly at my heart to indicate that it was my chicken. Out of respect for my readers who may be vegetarians, I will not tell you what he suggested I do with ‘my’ new chicken but he made a gesture using that same finger across his throat.

Great, just great. I carried the chicken home. I was now the proud owner of a single chicken and no chicken coop in sight. This will require some thought. Guess the chicken can continue to stay in the greenhouse while I make plans to build something more appropriate. The zippy plastic greenhouse is a good temporary coop, right? I mean, how long could it take to build a little house for a chicken? Building a coop for one chicken should be easy.

I wondered if she will ever lay eggs?

How do you know it’s a girl chicken?

Each day I checked and each day…nothing. Lots of poop. No eggs. Lots of flies wanted to join the party. I bought one of the long sticky things – you know, the kind that when you try to feed and water chickens in the morning before coffee when you are half asleep you end up with dead flies and sticky tape in your hair?

http://www.epestsupply.com/ima…
Yep, that kind. Don’t worry; I have scissors and shampoo.

Okay, Plan B.
https://s-media-cache-ak0.pini…
Yes, much better and safer for my hair.

You may think that since I wasn’t finding any eggs that maybe it was a boy chicken?
Or maybe I didn’t know what an egg looked like? Let’s review what I know about eggs.

Look at this egg…
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Here, look more closely. That is an Anole lizard egg.
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…when it hatches it will look like this:
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and it will learn to hunt while hiding in the Clematis. One of the little Anole lizards would one day grow up to become a daily Banner on All Things Plants which now has a new name…The National Gardening Association.
Thumb of 2015-02-27/greene/360993That image is a bit small. Go here to get a better look:

https://garden.org/thread/view/29100/Banner-for-September-14-2014-by-greene/

This is not an egg. It’s a tiny yellow, slightly overripe Asian Eggplant.
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This is not an egg either. It’s an Ichiban Eggplant – gosh what a fun word – Ichiban.
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Hmm, here are some eggs.
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I found these in a nest inside the old metal watering can, a gift from Liz; She is an accomplished knitter; this is Liz modeling a Lillehammer sweater.
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Liz is my plant friend; we met via The Savannah FreeCycle Network. Soon after we met she sold her house and moved ‘back home’ to Oregon, but before she left she gave me all of her compost…lots, and lots, and lots of her compost. All I had to do was carry it from her backyard out to my car and take it home. Easy, right? I was digging and hauling compost for three days in a row. Whew. Big job.
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Liz also gave me several of her garden tools, a lovely huge garden cart, and taught me to pronounce Or-a-gun properly. Thank you, Liz!!
Okay, back to the eggs in the watering can. They are not chicken eggs; they are the eggs of a Carolina Wren. See the watering can?
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The Carolina Wrens thought this looked like a good place to make a nest. Turns out they had good judgment. They raised a fine family of little ones. It’s really difficult to take a photo of a bird on a nest built inside a watering can. They should teach this stuff in school. The birds were a bit camera shy and they sure were noisy – but they were much too fast for my digital camera to capture an image. They fledged and flew and their offspring live nearby.

These are chicken eggs with googly-eyes, but not exactly what I was hoping to find from my chicken.
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Speaking of googly-eyes, one day when you have nothing better to do or don’t feel like weeding your garden or cleaning the toilet, check out the Saturday Night Live skit “Indoor Gardening Tips from A Man Who’s Very Scared of Plants” starring Christopher Walken:
https://screen.yahoo.com/googl…

Oh wait; I just remembered something. I used to teach classes so people could learn to make a type of decorated Ukrainian Easter Eggs called Pysanky. They look like this…
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I would be very surprised if any chicken were to lay eggs like this. Well, what I mean to say that yes, a chicken was involved but that was before the candle was lit and the wax and dye were applied. People still exchange Pysanky eggs at Easter similar to exchanging a greeting card – don’t tell Hallmark about this or they might try to corner the Pysanky market. Remember to buy stock in the Hallmark Company if this ever happens.

While I was preparing to teach the class I did my homework, studied, made practice eggs and read several books. One of the books was by Johanna Luciow.
https://www.amazon.com/dp/0960250239/

In the book, there was a reference to an article in the April 1972 National Geographic Magazine. Wow, finally a reason to be thankful that I was a pack rat. Yes, I had every National Geographic since time began, right there in my front closet. A reason to be thankful that I was raised by parents who survived The Great Depression and taught me to NEVER throw anything away. Not ever.

Speaking of Easter, ever wonder what the Easter Bunny does in his off-season? He must do something to support himself during the offseason, right? Or maybe his wife hands him a ‘honey-do’ list – Do you mean a ‘Bunny-Do’ list? – so he can catch up on home repairs.
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Speaking of holidays, here is my Holiday Cactus. When I bought it at Lowe’s from the clearance rack it looked nothing like this and only cost one dollar.
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Success! An egg! First egg from Henrietta and it’s a beauty.
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Okay, I have to be honest. The fine-looking egg in the photo is not the very first egg. Grab a cup of tea and get comfortable; I will explain.

For days and days I checked looking for eggs…well, I guess I already told you that, right?… and no eggs. I was ready to give up on this girl or is it a boy?. Each day I brought food, lots of food, and water, lots of water which she or he happily spilled. At least the chicken had clean feet. On good days she or he was allowed to play in the garden and hunt for insects. Each night I convinced her – Yes, I know, she/he, got it. – convinced her or him to go into the plastic zippy greenhouse to be safe for the night. Yes, I still planned on building a coop. Keep your feathers on. Then one evening the chicken refused to go into the little greenhouse. The chicken was hiding under the house.

Okay, technically it’s not a house. I live in a metal box on wheels. It’s a 1965 Statler model mobile home that used to keep me warm and dry but now does neither. Some nights I thought I would be better off sleeping in the zippy plastic greenhouse with the chicken. If you think I am exaggerating, look for yourself. Front view and back view of my ‘house’. Even after I cleaned it up a bit it only looked this good…the ‘house’ didn’t get any newer or any larger.
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It’s still a metal box except now it is partially hidden by a Rubbermaid Tool Shed, and the viewer’s eye is drawn to the new patio blocks. Thumb of 2015-06-25/greene/51c678

Can we please get back to the story? Okay, back to the story…the chicken was under the ‘house’.

He or she wouldn’t come out from under the trailer. I tossed a few things at the chicken in an attempt to get him or her out in the open, a stick, a rake, a broom, a hoe. Nope. I learned two things:
One – I have a bad aim at throwing things under a house. Wasn’t any good at skipping rocks on the lake either.
Two – the chicken would not budge. Stubborn chicken.

Seemed that I had no choice but to pretend I was a raw Army recruit and crawl on my belly under the house, er, trailer to retrieve him or her. This was my view under the trailer…guess it hasn’t been cleaned in a while. Probably not since 1965.
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I kept my butt down to avoid prying eyes, bird droppings and sniper fire, slowly inched forward on my elbows and toes…gradually making progress, praying there were no Black Widow spiders crawling with me… or on me.

Hold on a minute…what is this?

I blurted out an expletive.
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Hey, don’t laugh; that’s a real cereal product, wow!
https://www.amazon.com/dp/0960250239/

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In a shallow indentation in the sand under the trailer, there were one, two, three….more than 18 eggs!
My vision was blurry. I shook my head, squeezed my eyes shut and looked again…

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Oh, sorry. My eyes are fine; it’s the photo that is blurry.

No wonder she…SHE…SHE didn’t want to go into the zippy greenhouse. She had made herself a nest in the sand under my house and wanted to hatch her eggs. Good girl, you get a biscuit, er, some crumbles, some mealworms. So she’s a girl. A female chicken. A gallina. Wait until I tell my neighbor! Aren’t you gonna tell the chicken that, without a rooster, those eggs are not gonna hatch?

I will save myself some embarrassment and not describe what I must have looked like to the neighbors as I crawled back out from under the trailer. The reality of it is that I actually had to crawl back under the trailer with a bowl to carry out the eggs and a camera to document my amazing discovery.

Not knowing how old some of the eggs might be, I put them in a bowl of water and discarded any that were floaters; cleaned the good ones with a vinegar/water bath and here is what the good eggs looked like.
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Note to self: The float test is not a reliable way to know if an egg is safe to eat. For a really long and intelligent explanation, head over to a blog called The Chicken Chick here: https://the-chicken-chick.com/egg-float-test-indicates-approximate/

That was only the beginning…Jack and I enjoyed fresh eggs almost every day. Sometimes the chicken would skip a day and there would be no egg. But then again some days she outdid herself and produced a double-yolk egg. I was impressed with the chicken’s talent and gave her much praise along with some crushed eggshells.
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Note to self: The heat was too high when cooking that egg.

Wow, I can remember the first time I ever saw a double yolk egg. When I was twenty-one I was on a camping trip with friends, we climbed Mount Washington in New Hampshire…First, we camped at Great Gorge, in the morning we climbed via the Tuckerman’s Ravine trail and came down via the Jewell trail…best walk in my life! Note: I did not know at the time that this is one of the most difficult and dangerous hikes, duh!! The following morning we stopped at a small local restaurant for breakfast. Naturally, I ordered eggs. The locals went crazy. Why are they excited that I ordered eggs; doesn’t everyone eat eggs for breakfast? Seems that it had been a slow day so the local boys were making bets on which egg would contain a double yolk. Yep, I should have put some money down because my egg was the winner. A double yolk egg, the first one in my life.

Okay, since this is now officially a hen and not a rooster, I planned to keep her. Of course, she needs a name. I asked my daughter to suggest a good name. She’s good at picking names; remember? She gave my dog Jack his name. My daughter got a sly look on her face and said, “Henrietta”. What? Don’t you like it? It’s a good name for a chicken, plus it lets me take another trip down memory lane

When I was very young, age 5 through 9, I had two best friends; they were both named Holly. One Holly was a Girl Scout, owned a jackknife, could climb a tree, play the piano while singing Pogo songs, hatch Preying Mantids by the thousand in her bedroom, got me started at oil painting lessons at the YWCA, and had a marionette named Henrietta. The other Holly took dancing lessons, had a Lieutenant Colonel for a father and a mother who reminded me of Zsa Zsa Gabor, had a parakeet named Petey, and had a pet chicken named Henrietta. Can you believe it? What are the chances of that? Two girls so completely different yet both were Holly and each had a Henrietta of their very own. Okay, back to my story…where was I? Is there any tea left in the pot? This long story is making me thirsty.

After a bit of tender loving care, a lot of chicken feed and several Rube Goldberg attempts to keep the water bowl from getting overturned, finally, Henrietta became a good looking, healthy chicken. Here she is having a lovely day out in the garden.

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Henrietta’s gonna need a coop and it’s a cinch I won’t be asking the Easter Bunny to help build it. I shall build it myself. Will it look like this? 
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It will have a door that is secure and metal cans to keep the food and bedding clean, safe, dry and free from vermin.
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There needs to be a chicken ladder so the girls can walk into their bedroom and nest area and a whisk broom to keep things tidy.
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I’ll need to make a nest box…
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No, no, no. Wrong! That is not a nest box. It’s not even a call box. Plus it’s the wrong color to be the TARDIS.

This is a nest box. It may be simple in design but it will work better than a portable toilet when it’s time to gather the eggs.
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I will build a chicken coop SO amazing that people will flock to see my flock!!
Sounds to me like someone had a little too much ‘tea’.
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Well, that’s pretty much the story of the chicken. We had no idea where Henrietta came from or how old she was when Jack found her at midnight so long ago. After being a good, hard-working chicken, keeping us company in the garden and providing us with eggs for almost two years, Henrietta went to Chicken Heaven early one morning. She was a good old girl and will be missed. I had a tear in my eye when I had to buy eggs at the grocery store.

Hey, wait a feather-plucking minute. Why is the title ‘Chicken again’??? Where is the ‘again’ part?

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Walking at midnight with my dog…can you believe it???
What are the chances of this happening twice in a lifetime? We found another chicken! Here, look for yourself…
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Since I already know that my across-the-street neighbor has no white hens this one must belong to the people who live in the house near the stop sign. I’ll be right back…have some more tea while you wait. I’ll just pop down to the corner to ask if they misplaced a chicken…

Thanks for waiting for me. I just walked back from the stop sign. Not good news. The people in the corner house said the chicken I found is not their chicken. They were kind enough to give me a bag of chicken food for ‘my’ new chicken. Oh, great…here we go again. I am once again the proud owner of a single chicken.

I only wish Henrietta hadn’t been so hard on equipment. All that’s left of the original plastic zippy greenhouse is… Well, look at the “before” and “after” photos of that greenhouse:
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This year I have a new plastic zippy greenhouse.
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There is no way I want to see a chicken demolish another greenhouse. She (or he) Oh, here we go again with the he/she thing! Oh, hush! He/she will not live in the new zippy greenhouse. But I’ve got to put this chicken somewhere. Oh, I remember. At the Savannah plant swap in October, someone was kind enough to give me their old chicken coop. You may recognize this small coop from my blog about the feral rabbits. I used this little coop for one of the feral rabbits that we managed to trap and re-home. The small coop was a safe place to keep a baby bunny safe for the night as he was getting adopted in the morning by a nice man who lives out in the country.

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Just for the day, I put the chicken into the old second-hand chicken coop. Guess it’s time to dust off those plans and get to work building that perfect chicken coop that I never managed to build for Henrietta. Just think of it, my dog Jack will get again get some eggs. And I get a new avatar!
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Update April 2015.
The ‘new’ chicken named ‘Henrietta the 2nd’ turned out to be a boy, a rooster, a loud and therefore illegal animal in my area. So I found him a new home. He went to live with the kind folks who own Economy Feed & Seed in Savannah, Georgia. If you are ever in the area, stop in to visit them; they have a great selection of garden decor and lots of good old time service and knowledge. Oh, and just wait until you see their chicken coop. Wow! Here is their Facebook page: https://www.amazon.com/dp/0960250239/

Update May 2015.
Since I no longer have a chicken, the small second-hand chicken coop was given away the other day to the Latino lady around the corner. (Shhh – Don’t tell anyone but she’s one of the people who released the rabbits and thus should take 50% responsibility for creating our feral rabbit problem). She had gotten a new baby chicken so I gave her the old coop. Twenty-four hours later I went to check on her little chicken and…it had been killed by one of the feral cats. She informed me that the same feral cat also has been killing baby rabbits. Can you imagine that! Hmm, guess what goes around comes round after all.

Update June 2015
After fencing their backyard and reinforcing the little chicken coop, my Latino neighbor got a new chicken and a rooster. I will not be the one to tell her that roosters are illegal here. Today I went to the feed store and brought home a 50-pound sack of feed for them; that should last them a while.

Update Jan 30 2017
The little chicken coop that I got second hand and gave to my Latino neighbor has now moved to the next trailer over. A new Latino family is using the coop. They are the 4th owners of the chicken coop. Some things are built to last.