I submitted my coop to a call for “City Chickens and Their Coops”, a calendar project by Amber Lotus Publishing. One of you brought it to my attention, and I re-announced it here and on Facebook. Then, as a total afterthought, I decided to send in a photo of my coop.
My coop was the brain child of my hugely grandiose and often misguided thought that I could actually build a coop all by myself. Keeping in mind, I own a few (but very few) power tools, and posses even less know-how when it comes to building. Oh, yea, and I didn’t have any plans to follow. (My most ambitious project before the coop was a nightstand. Your basic 4 sticks and a flat top. Nothing fancy. It isn’t even level.)
But, I sent the coop photo in anyway. And never expected to hear back. After all, added to the zero building knowledge, I also pieced the coop together with mostly recycled, repurposed, or cull bin finds. It was like putting together a huge 3-D puzzle. Without being able to look at the photo on the box to know what to do next. (I kinda took the eyeball it, saw and hammer approach to this building project and watched it unfold before me.)
Anyway, a couple weeks ago, I was contacted by Lydia, the art director at Amber Lotus. They wanted to come shoot my coop! The excitement kicked in first, followed by panic. Large waves of panic. The yard…the coop…the compost bins…everything was a mess. I’ve got stacks of stuff waiting to be made into a fence and backyard garden. The coop itself hasn’t been painted for 3 years. Three dusty, chicken filled years. I had a new coop (that I’m turning into a nursery coop) in pieces right next to the coop they wanted to shoot. And although the vegetable gardens are well-tended to, I completely neglect the flower beds.
PANIC. (This is an understatment.)
So this past week, I’ve been busy trying to spiff everything up. Why does it seem that most projects like this grow larger the more you work? For instance, I thought I’d just ‘touch up’ the coop paint in a few spots…but then realized random glossy, clean splotches looked worse than the pre-touch up dust, so then I ended up painting the whole thing. And roofing the new nursery coop, and then painting it to match. And I’ve been meaning to put a real roof on the shed…why not now…just so it all matches nice, right?
Near the end of the week, when my list still consumed an entire sheet of paper, some friends came over and spent six hours helping me put the finishing touches on everything. Things like actually planting flowers in the coop flower box (anyone who actually has chickens knows it’s hard to keep real flowers in a place chickens like to hang out), weed whacking all the weeds that have grown up between the bricks, throwing all those chicken-picked-clean watermelon rinds in the compost bin, wrestling 5 foot tall weeds out of the flower beds, and hauling 75,000 pounds of toys into the garage.
Okay, it still doesn’t quite look like House Beautiful over here, but with a liberal sprinkling of fresh straw to try to cover up everything I couldn’t fix, I tried to be okay with the fact that I did what I could.
After hours and hours of labor (and a very achy back!), the photographer and crew came and it was all over in a couple of hours.
I tried to ignore the fact that two chickens were sporting paint from the coop that was freshly painted just the day before. If anyone noticed, they didn’t say anything. Maybe it was because the hens were on (surprisingly) good behavior and charmed everyone. I think they liked the limelight. I hope it doesn’t go to their heads.
I got a sneak peek at a couple of the shots the photographer, Susan Seubert, took. Stunning. Awesome. So cool. She takes photos for places like National Geographic! And yet, she sat in the straw beside my coop and tried to get my girls to shine. Kinda humbling.
I can hardly wait until the calendar comes out. But, it won’t be until this time NEXT YEAR, as it’s a 2014 calendar. In the meantime, you can check out their 2013 City Chickens and Their Coops calendar here. It’s fresh off the press right now. I think you’ll like it. And even want one. Or two. It’s great. (They gave me one and I’ve been drooling on it ever since.)
And of course, I’ll be letting you all know the second the 2014 addition hits the stands. It’s not every day something so exciting happens on the ‘city farm’. Too bad it doesn’t happen more often though…it was a great motivator to finish a bunch of stuff around here really fast. Vanity isn’t all that bad after all!