Very little of what is used to house livestock on a farm is store-bought. Everything is made on the premises, regardless of the builder’s skill level, knowledge base, or coordination. Steve is very good working with his hands and is quite creative when trying to create a new living space. I, on the other hand, am just a laborer. I’m sure you have heard the saying “you get what you pay for”, but in many cases I’m more than cheap labor……I am a liability.
We have our holiday turkeys out on pasture and we will be putting our last fall batch of meat chickens out very soon; problem is, we don’t have enough protective overnight pens for the number of birds currently residing here. Time to build a new one. How many injuries will Farmer Karen endure during this fairly simple build? Let’s count.
It started on the trip to Tractor Supply and Home Depot for supplies. Naturally I don’t wear gloves when picking up hog panels and lumber because only amateurs would do such a thing! Pulling out several bloody splinters on the ride home was entertaining and the bruise beginning to rise on my right shoulder from jamming into the tailgate of the pickup was the most beautiful shade of purple!
Once the supplies were unloaded, we began construction on the barn floor. Even though the directions said to not use a knife or other sharp instrument to open some packaging, I boldly brandished my super sharpened box cutter. Yes, it slipped and yes I sliced the crap out of my finger. Attention: clean up needed near the chicken brooding area.
The hog panels used as sheathing are heavy and cumbersome. It was impossible for me to hold them in place while Steve secured them to the wooden frame we constructed. Steve used the bucket of the tractor to carry most of the weight while I held the end down. It worked surprisingly well…..until it was time to back the tractor out to secure the other end of panels. The metal hog panel became stuck on the bucket edge. I crawled underneath to release it. Ummmmm, really stupid. I didn’t take into account how much tension had built up and as I released the panel it took my wrist with it, trapping it and slamming it into the tractor bucket. Holy crap, the pain took my breath away.
I ran around the barn cradling my hand and wrist, swearing words that few have heard without blushing. Steve jumped from the tractor to assess the damage. His first words? “Geez, you have really small wrists. I’ve never noticed that before”. Real helpful Steve, real helpful. Thankfully nothing seemed broken, but my tiny wrist was now very black and blue, throbbing and the size of a softball. Determined not to quit until the job was completed, I marched on…….right into the side of the newly hung turkey pen door and cracked my head so hard that I saw stars. The only good news was that my hair covered the egg-sized lump so there was no obvious evidence.
It was decided, at that moment, that a lunch break was probably a good idea. Best to leave the scrapes and other flesh wounds that would likely follow while wrapping the entire pen in chicken wire until my belly was full.