Out with the Old In with the New Chick-Inn

The weather was waffling. Was it or was it not going to rain? Today was the day some of the guys from the Chapel Hill Highlanders Rugby Club were scheduled to come out to the farm to help remove the old sheep and chicken shed in preparation for the Chick-Inn to be constructed in its place. The Highlanders Youth Rugby Club is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, and is based in Chapel Hill in Orange County. It was founded in 2003 and has been one of the most successful clubs for high school aged players in North Carolina. Since it is based in Chapel Hill, it attracts both native North Carolinians as well as newcomers from around the county and around the world who had played rugby before they relocated here. As of 2016 the club has had players from 31 countries and this year there are six countries represented: Hong Kong, South Africa, England, Ireland, Italy and of course the USA.

Although it was spring vacation, we did get four Highlanders to participate for their team with the understanding that they would not be paid but instead Bracken Brae Farm would make a donation to their club in exchange for their work. The money may be used for scholarships, replacing equipment, tournament fees, or transportation. The following Highlanders participated in deconstructing the old shed: Aiden Gallagher from Ireland, Michael and Anthony Kumi from England, and Gavin Hughes, my son. My husband, a Highlanders assistant coach, also helped and I was in charge of safety, beverages and lunch! The guys arrived on time and we quickly started to systematically remove the metal roof and siding. Working together as a team and keeping in mind that safety is no accident, we proceeded to remove the wood frame. Hammers, sledgehammers, crowbars, bolt cutters and saws were used. Chickens were close by to scavenge any worm that might be uncovered from the old wood rotting in the ground. We helped each other out. Sometime by holding metal panels while the nails were removed, and at other times picking up wood that had been removed with a sledgehammer. We evaluated the rickety shed frequently to figure out what our next move would be. Dismantling the wrong part at the wrong time might cause the shed to shift and possibly cause a part of the shed to fall endangering anyone or any chicken near it when it fell.

Since the threat of rain lingered we decided to remove one half of the shed first. When no rain came we removed the second part of the shed that housed a set of nesting boxes for the chickens. The “girls” weren’t happy when we had to remove them from their nesting boxes but we had no choice. The shed needed to come down!

The girls were confused with the nesting boxes gone and were laying eggs here and there as we continued the job. Others were dusting in their dust holes and still others were interested in the new pile of wood and metal that had formed from the wood and metal removed from their shed. The rain never came, although we did feel a sprinkle or two, and we were able to finish the job. The sun even came out briefly towards the end.

Our livestock guardian dogs loved the attention they received from the guys but had hoped for a slice of pizza at lunchtime!

The metal that was removed from the barn will be recycled and the wood which is dangerously loaded with rusting nails will go to the dump. I know the guys will sleep well tonight and might be a bit sore in the morning but what I hope they understand most is that their efforts will help their team. I was awarded an Orange County Economic Development grant to build a new “Chick- Inn” and part of my proposal was to make a donation to a local organization in exchange for helping me remove the old shed. I think the Highlanders who helped today gained a memorable farm experience along with the monetary donation to their club!