Moving the pen itself took about an hour, till I had it placed where I wanted it, the nest boxes set up again, and the gate in the direction I wanted it. Then I had to move all the accoutrements that go with the pen placement—wrapping the chicken wire over the chain link fence so the holes are smaller, moving the short pieces of railroad ties that I place outside the pen for their water. If I put the water inside the pen the girls start to play in the water and soon tip it over and cause a royal mess. Putting the water outside the pen but placed where they can reach it keeps the pen much cleaner. Doing all that pretty much took another hour.
Then I had to start on the winter pile of manure, bagging that up and taking care of it. The girls, who were outside during this entire procedure, had to “help,” of course. They apparently think that I am scratching at something good when I am using the garden rake and they have to join in too. I let them help, but I have to keep an eye on them so I don’t accidently scratch one of them with my rake. They aren’t too good about staying out of the way.
After I finally finished that job—another hour—I planted the first of about 20 lettuce plants. I didn’t get that whole job done. There’s still more to plant, but the entire project is at least well started.
Where I live, any kind of gardening is a chancy project. I don’t get a lot of sunlight. I do get a lot of garden-eating predators. This year, I’m growing the lettuce on my back deck, in hopes that I can keep the rabbits away from it. Of course, that still leaves everything else, though I’m hoping most of everything else doesn’t have the lettuce fetish that rabbits have. We’ll see about that one.
In any event, it was a good day for getting dirty. This work is the kind where I feel I’ve accomplished something by the end of the day and have something to show for it. It’s a spring thing, I think, at least to someone who has as many farmers in their ancestors as I have, to want to get your hands in the earth and get things cleaned up and ready for the new season. Dirty hands are just the proud result of a job well done.