Portage River Farm

  (Pinckney, Michigan)
Notes on our struggles and successes on our family farm in rural Michigan.
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Bumps In The Road

I have known about this flaw in myself for a long time and have mentioned it before, but I still can't seem to do anything about it. I guess it is a symptom of having too many projects on my plate from which to choose, but it is annoying just the same. The problem is simple to understand and probably common, but the solution evades me.

The problem is that I tend to leave projects uncompleted for long periods of time because I choose to shift my attention to something else. With few exceptions, the point at which I switch to something new is when I make a frustrating mistake or come up against a seemingly daunting obstacle. I generally do manage to get back to things and finish them up after a long period of time has passed, usually finding that the intimidating task wasn't so tough after all.

Running power to the chicken coop is a prime example. Way back in April, the project began with the task of cutting two trenches through the back yard to provide the coop with power and water. I spent much of the summer building the coop at the far end of the trenches, but the power and water were never connected due to obstacles at the near ends.

In the case of the electricity, the obstacle was a six foot wide concrete sidewalk. I needed to tunnel under it to be able to connect the underground cable to the wiring of our shed. I had never tunneled under anything like that before so that is where the project stopped. The wire lay there in the ditch, neglected for eight months while I found other things to do with my time.

I must have told myself hundreds of times that I just needed to get that task done as I walked past the wire on my way to work on the coop or garden. It wasn't until the bitterly cold weather of early December hit and I started worrying about the chickens keeping warm enough that the uncompleted wiring project finally rose to the top of my list.

In the end it was a very simple task. I stopped by the hardware store and picked up length of PVC pipe and an end cap. I placed the end cap on the leading end, stepped into the ditch and hammered the pipe through the soil beneath the walk until it emerged on the other side. I cut the end of the pipe off to remove the cap and fed the wire through without a hitch.

Aidan and I finished up the project by running the wire through the ground to the shed wall, up out of the ground through a protective conduit, through the wall and finally connected it up. We hooked up a heat lamp from the rafters of the coop to shine down on the roosting area. We turn it on when the weather falls well below freezing in the hopes that it will make the birds a little more comfortable and help prevent them from getting frostbite on their combs and wattles.

The water line? It's still waiting to be connected. The intimidating task at that end is the fact that I plan to splice into the main water supply line from our wellhead to our house. I have been mowing around the unsightly ditch and pipe all summer. At this point it is clear that we will be carrying water to the coop well into next spring before I will finally break down to finish it.

I do know of one solution to prevent these delays. I am far less likely to abandon a project when I am working together with someone else. The recent triumph of getting the siding put on the coop when a friend came to visit is a good illustration. I guess I may just have to schedule an annual volunteer work day for the CSA members to come push me to clean up all of my loose ends!
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