Going from the driveway to the paddock was never an easy thing, at least not with the roughly made wire 'gate' that was there to torture you as you tried to fix it securely with some string, a hook and a prayer!
A new gate was needed, so I set about finding some timber in my shed to make a quick simple thing with a bit of chicken wire on to stop the chickens escaping again (more on this later). I knew I had to make it quick and not to spend much time on it, as I had many other things to do that were a bit more important. The gate was made, very simply as just a square, but then I looked at it and wondered if it was finished, which it wasn't really, so i stuck a couple more cut timbers in and VOILA! It was finished!
The main reason for wanting to make the paddock secure with the fencing is because very soon after the house became ours, one of the chickens escaped through the wider wire fencing that was there originally!
Queenie (named later after Steve McQueen) managed to get through the wire holes and get between the fence and the large hedge running along the roadside. After attempts to woo her with delicious pellets failed, and the threats to stick her in a pot didn't have any effect, I decided more drastic, pro-active measures were needed.
After a quick survey of the state of the hedge and possible ambush points, I grabbed the nearest solid looking long stick and started to gentley herd Queenie towards my parents, who had popped over to see the place, and Jo. At first the plan worked - Queenie slowly moved towards the group of people, but then, just as I thought I was able to reach through a hole in the hedge and grab her, she turned in the opposite direction and clucked her way towards the road.
Now my mind was racing.... could I save her from a horrible squashy death? Would she sanely climb back through the hole in the fencing? I had no time to even think of possible answers as she stepped into a slight clear patch of hedge... thinking not of my own safety or of possible consequences I dove into the hedge, arms outstretched in a cricket style sideways leap and put my hands perfectly round Queenie, holding her wings tight to her body!!
....what I obviously hadn't done, was to look before I leaped - a saying possibly made centuries ago JUST for this occassion. Once the initial adrenaline and excitement of catching Queenie has passed, I then had the horrible realisation of where I was.
I don't think the pain set in immediately, but as I scrambled around on my back holding Queenie above me, I realised I had dived like an idiot into a well established thorn bush of pain! Wishing my forearms were coated with a thick layer of teflon body armour, I started the long process of trying to stand up as my first priority (think tortoise on it's back holding a chicken), and then to try to pull the twisted, thorny mass off my skin.
The pain was soon gone, but the scars remained for a GOOD few days, so at least for that week, the school gate club was (I'm sure) totally spellbound and enthralled by my stories of heroism.