Pinterest, that astoundingly addictive vortex in the internet, is awash with images of pristine kitchens, crisp linens in spacious bedrooms, and totally easy and effortless solutions to storage, cleaning, fitness, eating, and otherwise existing like you live in a magazine.
I spend far too much time looking at wall storage, small space storage, crafty things and infographics about the cleanest chicken coops in the world. I wonder if I might ever have my life so in order that my home could be a popular pin.
The reality of my situation is that my life will never look like Pinterest life. I live in the countryside, where my kitchen floor is the only piece of flooring in the house that isn’t a shade of brown, but a pale cream linoleum, and it also happens to be the main thoroughfare into the house. My kitchen floor is always, always dirty. Hay, dust, animal hair and general grime blows in to my kitchen every time the door is opened – which is often.
I have no dishwasher, and only a square foot of counter space, and my kitchen always has some sort of dirty plate, mug or saucepan waiting for a load of dishes worth running a full sink of water for. My shelves and cupboards are crammed, stacked, messy and cluttered. Thanks to the epic shedding power of the big blue dog, there is blue hair everywhere.
I have stacks of post on various corners of other pieces of furniture, where I’m hoping I’ll remember to do something with it all. Half of my living room is a mess because we live in it, and half of it is a mess because we’ve never got around to making it livable. I have cardboard boxes in my hall way. My bathroom is always home to a layer of dirt and sweaty clothing, and my shower curtain has a brown mark where, with muddy hands, we pull it shut. My laundry room, which is the most poorly thought out room in existence, has a pile of clean laundry in one corner which I just haven’t got around to putting away.
Our home will never be the crisp, cold, cleanliness of Pinterest, and at times I despair at the endless work of keeping it vaguely civilised, but what it boils down to is that I am happy with our mottled brown carpet that swallows dirt and animal hair without showing a speck of the stuff. I love that we work outside so much, that we have land on which we can house our animals, that we have the dog and the cat as our companions and that they can exist as a real dog and a real cat – going outside, keeping their claws, shedding naturally with the seasons. I am glad of our dusty bathroom and the hot water that makes our pipes sing, because our hardworking bodies are in need of the steam. The laundry is never ending because we are lucky enough to move with our work instead of sit all day long.
However, I decided there was a pin that I could tackle, and be victorious. As a first-time chicken owner, I need a bit of guidance here and there, and Pinterest is readily available with tutorials on how to do your twice-yearly deep clean in the hen house. I settled on one that seemed doable. It asked for white vinegar, something that I am awash with thanks to the marvel that is Costco, and some elbow grease.
It started easily enough. I shovelled out the old bedding, sweeping out the corners and nesting boxes, and chipping off some of the old manure that was stuck on the concrete. Cowboy wandered by on his way to find some tools for our fence building project, and commented that it looked like I was going overboard on the cleaning. I told him to go away because I knew exactly what I was doing.
I found a small hole in one corner of the coop that looked encouragingly like a drain, although full of old shavings. I fetched the hose pipe and my gallon of vinegar. I sprayed down the floor and sloshed the vinegar about with gay abandon.
The water began to rush towards the drain hole. I thought I was gloriously successful, and I went away to help Cowboy build fence while the floor drained off. About half an hour later, I went back to check on the draining progress, and found…
… a lake of watery chicken-pooy vinegary liquid, that wasn’t draining anywhere. Panic set in. I poked a screwdriver into the drain hole, hoping that it would miraculously clear. All that achieved was stirring up more chicken poo and making the water even more disgusting. I knew I had to fix this before Cowboy discovered my epic fail, seeing as he was waiting for me to get done with the hen house so I could help him with the fence.
I grabbed the shovel, and did the only thing I could think of – I shovelled the water, about a cup at a time, out of the little door to the chicken run, so that Cowboy wouldn’t see what I was doing. It was painfully slow progress. I eventually reduced the lake to just a small puddle, and I hoped that it would dry out while I went to help with fence again.
“How is your chicken project going?” Cowboy asked as I grabbed the power drill.
“Oh, fine, fine!” I squeaked. Never mind that I gave up on scrubbing the walls clean and using the shop-vac to get rid of the cobwebs. Spiders mean fewer flies, right? Spiders can stay.
The floor dried somewhat, but still had puddles on the floor here and there. My solution was to just pile two wheelbarrow loads of shavings over the top with the theory that the shavings would absorb the water and the bed was deep enough that the chickens wouldn’t feel the damp.
It seems to be working. Hens are happy enough, although still refuse to lay in the nesting boxes and prefer to lay right under the roosting perches. Birds…