One of the hardest things about starting a homestead is getting things done with minimal tools. My wife and I built our chicken coop in the spring, and when we did we did it out of pine boards. It is a solid chicken coop built from 4×4’s for framing. It had to weigh nearly 300 pounds when we set it into the spot we were sure would be perfect for it. That was six months ago.
Since then, the chickens have been eating, and well, there is no way to put this delicately, excreting. A lot. Some of it when they are in their coop. We also had an automatic waterer that they would plug on occasion and it would continue to run until the water spilled out over the top. It has also been raining for several days, and our untreated pine boards have been soaking up the water. The chicken coop has to weigh over 500 pounds now. I thought it would be the perfect time to move it.
Over the course of the summer, it became apparent that the chicken coop should be moved. It was pretty near the driveway and one of our neighbors brought up the possibility that it might be in his way.
Our plow guy is amazing. He works a regular job and then plows before work and after work. Anything we can do to make his life a little easier is a small sacrifice to make. I wanted to make sure he has to spend the minimal amount of time on our driveway as possible.
This morning after breakfast, I went out to let the chickens out and formulate a plan to move the coop. I could get my hands underneath it, and I could lift it an inch or so. However the posts had settled a bit into the sod, and I couldn’t clear the divets. I knew the job would be so much easier with a tractor, but I don’t have a tractor. I have a great neighbor with a tractor, but it is always awkward for me asking for help. Especially to move a coop over about ten feet.
I would have to rely on man power. I have some cedar posts cut for a fence that I still haven’t gotten up- that will have to wait for another day. I need a fulcrum. We had some unstacked firewood lying about. I stacked several of the logs on top of each other- and jammed the pole under the gable end of the coop. I could easily lift the coop out of the divots now, however, I couldn’t lift up and move the coop at the same time. I called my wife to help. Despite the weight of the coop, she could easily lift it up. I used another cedar post on the side of the coop to wedge the coop over. It was slow going. What would have taken a person on a tractor three minutes took my wife and me about a half an hour to do- but we did it.
When the farmers first settled in this area, they didn’t have tractors. Often they didn’t have much of anything at all- just a handful of tools. They cleared the land, built houses and barns, and worked the land with primitive tools, and a lot of labor. Moving a coop over a few feet might sound like much- but without modern tools and conveniences, it is a challenge. They lived this every day. Every day from dawn until dusk- they toiled. They chopped. They plowed. They chiseled and sawed. They did it over the course of decades and generations. They slowly shaped this land until it could feed most of New England. Apples, wool, and potatoes from Maine wereshipped throughout the world. We were the breadbasket of America. We have a lot of people working to make it that way again- if we pull hard enough together- and maybe get a lever- maybe we can lift Maine out of the economic divot it has been in.