In the Rafters
Since the beginning, we debated the relative value of the crooked purple shed that came along with the property and was described in the real estate listing as “structure.” Depends on how you define the word, I think. I referred to its “relative” value because, out here, everything already built and passably usable has much, much more value than it would in, say, your backyard in the suburbs. In those places aesthetics matter. Out here? Not so much.
That being said, as we began acquiring livestock three years ago, it was obvious we needed a place to store assorted livestock accroutements, feeds, medical supplies. The debatable purple shed suddenly shone as a beacon of usable storage and, while always frightening to walk within, stopped seeming quite so scary. Above all else, the shed passed the “if it ain’t broke” test with flying colors. So it stayed.
The shed is functionally designed with a tack room on the right side and a long narrow stall on the left In the middle of this is a covered enclosure with troughs (old urinals – truth) that opens out to the round pen. Opposite the round pen is a wide overhang that runs the length of the shed. If the thing didn’t leak and sway so hard in a strong wind, I’d call it a fairly nice excuse for a barn. As is, she’s questionable. Regardless, we were in dire need of a larger coop and, lacking resources and time, decided to add a few nestboxes and a door to the long narrow stall and, voila – coop! This being the first evening spent in the new coop, we had to physically pluck our hens from the marching line they’d formed towards their old coop (now occupied by 23 teenage chicks) and deposit them into the coop this evening. As I started the delighful task of tucking angry hens (and one over-confident rooster) under my arms, Jeremy called out in an ominous way, “Jeennnaaa??? Um. There’s a uh, a really big, wow, here, just come here and see this,” – all said in a wavering voice. This being dusk in mid-spring, in the country – I braced myself. I walked around to the front of the new coop, and Jeremy pointed up into the rafters above the nestboxes. “See the big snake up there? It was slithering up the 2×4’s just now, and it’s looking at us.” Self-bracing complete, I managed to let out a long breath, determine it wasn’t a rattlesnake and set about the endearing task of shoving the hens/rooster into the side door of the coop, just three feet from the snake, now stretched languidly in the upper corner, his head protruding from beneath the eave. Staring at me. Literally staring at my every move. His tongue flicking in and out to sense exactly where I was.
It’s not often one has the pleasure of a snake stare-down while concentrating on other tasks. Not often one has to add to their list of possible disgusting and shocking daily encounters: snake falling from rafters. But then, I signed up for this. And it’s worth it! Or that is what I will repeat to myself for the duration of this evening whilst sucking thumb and rocking back and forth.