It takes a lot to shock me. It’s not that I’m jaded and have seen it all by any measure but I like all types and generally am non-judgemental (ok, extremely judgemental about the unimportant stuff like shoes and clothing and art but non judgemental about life decisions and that sort of thing) which leads people to confide in me all sorts of personal information (no I won’t share, then they wouldn’t confide any more) but really, it has been a long time since I have been SO SHOCKED, SO JOLTED that I literally recoiled.
Apparently all it took was 7000 volts.
You see, we have chickens. It turns out that these little chickens of ours needed a change of venue and so someone in our family who shall remain nameless but carries two “X” chromosomes and she is an adult (at least in terms of years on this planet) got the half cocked idea to put them in the old shed/barn/dance hall in the field next to the place that we stay in the summer. Sounds easy enough but that involved major preparations mostly in the form of predator control.
We have coyote and fox here. Lots of em and they are an increasing problem. So my cousin Alec recommended that we install a temporary fence made of microfilament with wire woven through it with fiberglass fence posts. No problem. Sort of. I am proud to say that my son and I were able to install the whole fence (all 100 feet of it) in a couple of hours and all it took was a mallet, some twine, a few tent stakes and some tugging.
Brittany explained the installation of the fence to me and the only part that got my eyes going all lobster-like was the setting up of the electrical box. I was ok with getting the 8 foot rebar ground stake into the ground (yes, that was difficult but I am woman, hear me roar) but I was too chicken to hook up the actual juice and so at that point I cashed in my girl card and called in for reinforcements (my cousin Alec). He hooked it all up, gave me the lecture on safety and kids, and reminded me of how to check if the fence is actually on (I learned the blade of grass trick ages ago while visiting cousins who raised Black Angus cows). So far so good. We checked to make sure the voltage was ok because he had that “I don’t know if this chick has installed this fence well enough to avoid a ground short” look in his eye and after looking at the meter his parting words were “Well, hmmm, 7000 volts. That’ll knock you over. Better warn the kids.” To which I replied “Will that amount of voltage hurt the hens?”. To which he comfortingly replied “I dunno, we’ll see”. And off he went with a half smirk on his face. He knew what was coming and he knew dealing with me that he wouldn’t have to wait long.
OK, so have you ever observed chickens? They are enchanting to watch. After rather unceremoniously shoving them into crates and then transporting them in the back of my pick up truck to the cape I felt it was my duty to spend some time with my hens helping them get acclimated to their new summer home and so I turned on the fence and then entered the chicken zone on the inside of the fence.
Problem #1: Fence was hot and I had to close the makeshift gate/gap with a bungey cord which involved being VEWY CAWFUL. You know what’s coming, right?
I gently wrapped the cord around the base and clipped it. No problem. Then on to the one at the top. I cautiously wrapped one side and then went to close it and ZAP!! I am telling you the jolt threw me backwards onto the ground (yes, onto a fresh pile of chicken poop no less) and I let out an expletive that I’m pretty sure is not one that you would want your children to hear. That sucker is H-O-T. No problem with the voltage. No sir-ee.
So after I recovered from that shock I at least had successfully closed the circuit and the fence. Which leads me to:
Problem #2: I was INSIDE the fence with the hens which was the original goal but now there was NO WAY that I was going to touch that fence unless and until it was turned off. “I’m stuck”. I thought. “My goose is cooked (or at least my keester)”.
Solution #1: Sometimes carrying a sidearm is a good thing. I whipped out my 3G caliber iphone and dialed the house. 10 rings. (no, we don’t do answering machines here). My nine year old daughter answers the phone breathlessly. I explain to her that I am locked inside the chicken coop and that the fence is on and could she please come down right now and turn off the fence so that I can get out to which she replied (and I SWEAR TO GOD THIS IS TRUE) “Mummy, we’re playing Sardines right now and so I can’t come get you”. To which I replied “Beatrice, I am STUCK in here” to which she very empathetically responded “WELL MUMMY, I guess you shouldn’t have gotten yourself stuck then now should you?”. Two words for her: Smart Ass.
I don’t know where she gets it.
Eventually my sister Heidi (who probably needed help in the kitchen or wanted me to clean up after one of my children/animals/spouse/houseguest) came and rescued me.
In the meantime though I did manage to get a few things done. I spoke with two clients, paid for a purchase that I had made the previous day (yes, I am a bit embarrassed that I know my credit card number by heart), checked in with our housesitter on the status of the other half of the brood of chickens that we left behind at home as well as our naughty Jack Russell Terriers who are in “Finishing School” this summer learning some manners, and I also took a few phone calls from friends and cousins one of whom happens to be president of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee who very graciously offered to phone the house (not the House of Representatives because I am pretty sure Nancy Pelosi would not give a rat’s rear end about my plight) and get that wretched child of mine on the phone or someone else and have them come out and rescue me TOUTE SUITE.
WHAT A SHOCKING DAY.