the way out here

Year-end purge

By HUNTER HILL
Posted 1/6/21

Most of us have looked forward to the end of this calendar year. While we’re still unsure about what is to come in 2021, it never hurts to put the fog of the past behind when seeking an …

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the way out here

Year-end purge

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Most of us have looked forward to the end of this calendar year. While we’re still unsure about what is to come in 2021, it never hurts to put the fog of the past behind when seeking an optimistic new day. If you are a frequent reader of this column, you’ve read my progress over the past year with building chicken coops on our small homestead. With much of this construction finished and the operation on pause until spring, there was still one climactic step in this plan to execute.

Prior to building our new chicken coops, we had a smaller, less efficient coop that was haphazardly assembled from rough-cut lumber over a railroad tie foundation; it had the misfortune of sitting unevenly on the shifting ground over a few years of freeze and thaw. As a result, this original coop began to lose its integrity. Could we have salvaged it and made it work? Yes, but knowing the mistakes I made in its initial construction, along with being a bit of a perfectionist, I decided it was best to disassemble it, save the salvageable lumber and burn the rest. Additionally, it was becoming a bit of an eyesore, and its removal would elevate the aesthetics and layout of our homestead overall. What took nearly a week to build took the better part of a day to dismantle. Off came the mismatched metal roof to be saved for future projects—perhaps a doghouse for our Australian shepherd. Then came the oriented strand board (OSB) walls that I had never gotten around to sealing in or painting, and so were beginning to warp and flake. Then the rafters were brought down while Mrs. Hill disconnected the electrical lines and outlets.

Before we knew it, we were left with a bucket of reclaimed screws for our many projects to come and a small pile of useable lumber. The sheets of OSB and other marred lumber were piled for a purging fire. Like the sun setting on the final day of 2020, we bid farewell to the home of all of our chickens since the year we moved onto this property.

As the flames licked at the dry lumber, I glanced over at the new buildings we had erected over this past summer and surveyed their integrity. Sometimes you have to learn by making mistakes, as I had in building the first chicken coop. Our newer coops now boasted extended eaves and superior framing, all of which I learned as a result of seeing what happened to our first coop when those details were neglected. Other times, you benefit by investing in your future. While our initial coop only cost us a few hundred dollars in materials, the increased cost of our newer coops resulted in sturdier buildings now built to last and to make good on the money put into them. Turning my attention back to the fire, a smile visited my face as I realized that, even in the destruction of our old coop, it was giving back to us still. Funny how wood warms you more than once. It warmed me as I moved it and built the coop at the beginning of its life. It warmed me again as I labored to take it apart. And it warmed me now as I stood in reflection by the heat of the blaze. It is in these wholesome practices that I find solidarity with my God. Without effort on my part, I could not enjoy the blessings that he has prepared for me.

The way out here, our blessings come and go with the passing of years. Some come to stay as monuments; from others, we would not benefit from their continuance. But as 2021 begins, I will stand by the way I’ve chosen to live out here, and that is to seek out work and embrace it as an honest path, relying on God and experiencing his blessings. Happy new year to all my readers. My prayers to you and your families.

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