Monday, November 23, 2015

Facebook Makes First Positive Contribution!

Some weeks ago, I saw a Facebook post of a very clever idea to build winter shelters for feral cats. It involved placing a styrofoam cooler inside a plastic tub, cutting an entry through both, then stuffing with hay. It is the only time I can think of when Facebook served a genuinely useful purpose in my life.

Because there simply are not enough chickens to defend their territory, the chicken coop has been co-opted by black snakes in the summer and now by pack rats in the winter. I evicted a pack rat last year by raking out his huge nest of leaves and sticks and leaving the big door wide open. I tried to do that with this new tenant but he is not deterred. He diligently gathers up his scattered nest material and rebuilds it overnight! The disturbance does not bother him in the least. Consequently, the last surviving little hen will not use the coop. She spends her nights perching on the Dr. Seuss structure I constructed in the early days of Chickenry at Spiritcreek.

If I forcibly remove the pack rat, he will surely build his nest beneath the hood of my car. This happens often in the winter and causes hundreds of dollars worth of damage. It cost $300 to replace a valve that controls air into the fuel system last spring. I assume the rat also caused the digital temperature to read a perpetual 50 external degrees as well. I have no heart to trap or kill or poison the rat. He has as much right to his life on this earth as I have to mine.  I admire his industry. Every single leaf I raked out of the coop has been retrieved from the ground around the coop and placed back into his nest.

The night temperatures have started to fall below freezing now, and I have been worrying about shelter for the little hen. Enter Facebook. I could construct an insulated cooler house for her. In fact, that would be even better than the poor tiny little thing trying to stay warm in the relatively cavernous coop!

I made a trip to Topeka to buy a styrofoam cooler. Per the First Law of Dumbassery (failure to measure equals another trip to town) it was one inch too tall to fit inside the blue storage tub already on hand. Cutting the cooler down to size made a huge, irritating mess of statically charged styrofoam crumbs. I shored up the raw edges with my trusty duct tape (famously called "hundred mile an hour tape" by my Reser cousins from Barton County).  I packed the empty spaces with loosely crumpled newspaper, taped the two openings together, stuffed the interior with some of Ginger's hay, and viola: chicken shelter extraordinaire! I roped it to the Dr Seuss perch and it seems sturdy enough to not crash in a hard wind. It makes a cozy little nest for the poor little hen!

If I were to build this again, and I might have to, I would find a better fit to avoid damaging the styrofoam so the lid would fit snugly. I would also screw the storage bin lid on with four screws and use a drill to make holes along the bottom for drainage. I also do not know how well the hundred mile an hour tape will hold up, but I have a huge supply of that on hand at all times because the Second Law of Dumbassery states duct tape is the strong force binding the dumbass universe.

High Rise for the last chicken

It is ugly but serviceable.


Job said...

Woow what an effort to keep a chicken warm and a rat out of your car! But what about the fate of the invisible feral cat? Only in America .....

Kathleen Gault said...

I appreciate hearing about other peoples' Dumbass Rules. Around here we refer to 'The Stupids' as the cause of such things as lack of measurement, from a long-ago children's book by the same name. How lucky your little hen is, to have a snazzy blue and silver shelter. Will she use it?

Jackie said...

There are not feral cats that I am aware of in my vicinity. If I do happen to run across one - only three I can think of in 16 years ) they do not last very long. The same predator that killed my own cats takes care of the feral cats. I believe 98% of any stray cat I might see here has been dumped by heartless, irresponsible people. So, the hen shelter is not taking away from any unfortunate feral cat in this case.

The little chicken does use the new shelter. She was very glad of it these last couple of days of icey rain and sleet.