“You could build that chook house”, I said to the Man of the house.
Our daughter was visiting with our 17 year-old-grandson, Will, and had asked if we had any projects that needed doing.
The Moth looked unenthusiastic. My sister had ordered a portable chook house on wheels over the Internet. It sat in her shed, in half a dozen large boxes. We had all been up to admire those boxes, and the bit where it said construction should take one hour.
That is, if you read the instructions. The Moth regards instructions as the last resort, and cites examples when they have been completely misleading; as when I presented him with a flat-pack garden trolley, which had a non-existent component in the very first line.
Others have had missing packs of vital screws or nails, or the instructions have been in such mangled English they have been impossible to follow.
Will and our daughter, however, seemed keen. They went off with the Moth. While I didn’t expect them to finish it in an hour, or even an afternoon, I thought it would be good to get the pieces out of the packet and lay them on the ground. At least that way we’d know what we were up against.
I went up to see how they were getting on. Those pieces looked impressive, all spread out. Will had supervised the layout, and all three were splashing on a coat of paint, as instructed. Painting the pieces alone would have taken the Moth far more than an hour; I noticed that Will, a quiet, calm and efficient sort of person, had taken charge of the operation, and was giving directives very politely. What was more astonishing, was that the Moth was following them.
He is notorious for not being able to follow advice. He and Will’s father, the Major, were once witnessed at one end each of a heavy pole; as if on a signal, they both attempted to march off with it in the opposite direction.
Will had inherited his father’s authority, but in a much quieter way. I watched as he instructed the Moth to find tools, his mother to hold a part here while he screwed it together, and between the three of them a veritable palace began to emerge.
No water tanks cut in half with perches wedged in for these chooks; no disintegrating plastic buckets or Styrofoam boxes as laying areas; no old washing up bowls with a rock shoved in for drinking water; no re-fortifying with barbed, chicken, rabbit or any other wire and fence palings that can be pulled together against foxes.
This chook house was made of sturdy timber that fitted closely together to defeat any fox or dog. It had two levels for the hens to explore, and perches galore. Laying boxes were built in, with a flap that opened at the back for easy collection of eggs, and it was all on wheels.
Under Will’s natural authority, and his ability to work methodically through a set of instructions, the Chook house was almost completed in three hours.
Even the arrival of Alexander the Great, the excitable, Macedonian branch of the family, did not throw the construction off course. Alex is also a leader, and likes to give instructions, often counter to each other, in a firm and authoritative way.
Instead, he found himself also being guided to usefully assist in the final stages, which gave the Moth an opportunity to go off and fix a gap in the roof of my sister’s shed, something he’s been wanting to mend for a while.
And here’s the thing; the Moth is very good at fixing anything that doesn’t require a plan, instructions, or a certain way of doing things. His methods may be a little unorthodox but he has learned to find his way around solar panels, guttering, car engines, water pipes and tanks, drains, fuse boxes, lawn mowers and a whole host of other fix-it tasks that have saved several households a lot of money over the years.
Just don’t ask him to follow a set of instructions.
All in all, it took four people four hours to put that chook house up; and then it was only successfully done because of Will’s leadership abilities.
Today a chook palace, tomorrow bridges roads, superstructures …
The workers retired back to our home with the chook pen completed bar its final coat of paint, able to be wheeled into my sister’s shed.
Where it stands, awaiting residents.