Some of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever received are things I already knew. If you haven’t had your head in the sand, I’m sure you too have heard all of the “best practices” to help you “get ahead” in your career and your life. This is – and isn’t – one of those lists. It’s primarily a cathartic way for me to admit that I might have actually learned a few things during a project I was reluctant to even begin. As is the case with many good stories, it begins with love.

Love has played a huge role in making me who I am today. It’s why I have a house full of little people, act like a grown-up most of the time and why I haven’t grown a beard. It’s also why I recently found myself knee-deep in lumber, building a chicken coop. “I would like to have some chickens,” my wife said to me. “I’m sorry, what?” I replied to her. Yada yada yada, I’m knee-deep in lumber. And although I was initially reluctant to spend a large chunk of my life on this particular activity, I can now readily admit that I learned – or was reminded of – a few things.


Not being a chicken myself, I do not know what a chicken requires to comfortable and productive. So although I might have had Frank Gehry-esque aspirations for this coop, the coop was not for me. I had to learn what makes a chicken tick. I mean cluck.

Haste is the enemy of a good chicken coop. Haste makes things fall down or leaves fox-sized gaps in your structure. Words to live by: think before you speak, draw before you design, and purchase plans on the Internet before building a chicken coop.

In addition to the time savings, partners help you ask the right questions, and get to the right answers: “Does this look right to you?” “I think you put that on backwards.” “Um, do we have any band-aids?” And if your partner happens to be pregnant, (see above) then you should volunteer to do all the heavy lifting yourself.

This one is critical. Instead of focusing on how much there is left to do, find victories to celebrate along the way. Fist-bump, take a break, marvel at your work so far!

If I didn’t know any better, I would say these chickens don’t fully appreciate the work I put into their new home. They still give me the stink-eye when I come near, and apparently don’t even lay eggs until they’re several months old. If you build a chicken coop and expect fireworks and fame, you are mistaken. It’s clear my gratification will not be instant, and I’m ok with that. Most of the value of a project lies in the doing of it.


(Hey Chris Kindrick, thanks for the illustrations!)