Reclaiming the back yard.

I am fifty-one years old. I have been that old for four days now. Fifty-one. Not twenty-five. Just over twice that. I guess that’s okay, considering thirty years ago I would not have predicted I’d last that long.

Physical work that I used to give no thought to at all now happens at a more deliberate pace. I’m not in a hurry like I used to be. My back hurts faster, my dogs start barking sooner, and the sunshine gives me a pounding headache. I have arthritis in my hips, and tendinitis in my right arm. I’m content to muck about for a couple hours, then I’m done for a while.

I’m fifty-one, you see.

Austrolorp hen
Austrolorp hen

Between the drought and the chickens our back yard is a wasteland, barren and dusty. If we get a strong rain before the creeping charlie, carpet weed, and ground violets get a hold, the entire back yard will erode into Liberty Street behind us. I can’t seed or put down sod, though: the chickens will feast on anything I plant.

I want my back yard, back. I want green grass and dandelions. I want a couple of raised beds with tomatoes and green beans and bell peppers. I want moon flowers and primroses, and decorative grasses ringing the deck. To have those things, I have to totally redo how the chickens live. I started that process today.

The plan is simple: have all the pieces built and ready to go, so all I have to do is move the coop into place and assemble the pieces around it like a modular kitchen being installed. By the time I’m done, I’ll even have a sheltered sort-of-cubbyhole where the yard and garden tools can be stored – mower and tiller included.

The fence, waiting to be re-erected along the new space.
The fence, waiting to be re-erected along the new space.

I started this morning about ten, and stopped about 1:30, forty-five minutes ago. When I was twenty-five, even forty-five, I’d have kept going until sunset with only a break for lunch. Not so now. I might go back out later, work another hour, maybe two, but for now I’m content.

Now, I’m fifty-one.

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