Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Coop Clean Out

“I looked at the forecast. The next couple days will be the nicest we may have the rest of the year,” he said while making coffee.


When my husband begins speaking this way, I know he’s not about to offer to drive us to Brown County to see the leaves. Rather, he is about to suggest we get something dreadful accomplished outside. 


Wrangle and bring cows home from summer grass?

Pull up all the temporary fence?

Vaccinate and tattoo calves?




“It would be a great time for you to work on your part of the chicken coop. Mine is pretty much done,” he finished. 


When we wed and bought this farm seven years ago, Cody was in his early thirties and I in my late twenties. We both had established careers, lifestyles, and homes. I remember the first time I visited him at Michigan State University, where he taught. Walking through the farmhouse that sat on the university farm was like visiting an Angus museum. Archived photos framed on the walls, old leathercraft passed down from generations, buckles and bronzes. My walls back home in Greens Fork also told stories of a farm family rich history, Clay township pride and Shorthorn cattle memorabilia. 

Combining homesteads proved to be a monumental task. We didn’t have nearly the space needed to decorate with our favorite pieces of history. Some (actually, a lot) things had to be moved out to the old chicken coop turned storage shed. 


And there everything sat for seven years. 

Until COVID hit, and Cody got a wild hair (he was climbing the walls to board a plane and get back to work but the CDC advised against it) to clean out his portion of the tiny outbuilding that stored our things. 


I’m not a hoarder but I’m certainly not a tosser. In fact, I don’t get wild hairs to throw things away, ever. I’m a keeper, cataloger, storyteller, chronicler. Life has been good up to this point; I want to remember it when I’m old and senile. 


So, I’ve kept old purses with sticky lifesavers and concert ticket stubs inside. 

Senior pictures with “Stay cool, Bowman” scribbled on the back (oh, if they could see me now!).

Approximately 100 CDs and mixed tapes of which I have no way of playing.

Newspaper clippings about the 2000-2001 Hagerstown football team (that Ben Warner was one heck of a kicker).

My deceased aunt’s personalized stationery (boy, wouldn’t that confuse people if I began sending letters on that). 

Books I’ll never read. 

A 1998 wall calendar of beach scenes (I’m afraid of water). 

Empty apothecary jars found in a house my parents tore down 20 years ago. 

A box of jeans I hope to never fit into again (ever heard of the Freshman 15?). 

Bent whisks. 

Chipped pie plates. 

A cake stand with no top. 

A spring wreath that is now a gorgeous home to a mouse family. 


And that was just within the first five steps of walking in the chicken coop.


I looked to Cody’s half of the shed: Sorted. Stacked. Labeled. What a showoff. 


That day I cleaned out nine Rubbermaid tubs of stuff. Much went into the trash, but things worthy of use were donated to non-profits. I still have embarrassing amounts of things to sort through. 


But as I sit at the dining room table and pen this, a cold front is moving through Indiana. It’s raining now, 46 degrees and harvest has halted. We probably won’t have another nice warm, sunny day until March 2021.


Looks like the wild turkey feathers I found in the ditch while on a walk a decade ago will be pardoned for another season.