One ordinary day, I took a familiar walk down our dusty road and stopped to visit with my neighbor Barb. I found her sweeping out her old chicken coop.
Barb said that she was planning to burn it down. Chickens hadn’t lived in it for 20 years, and the once-active coop sat aging silently on a hill in the middle of the yard, along with two abandoned barns and a few silos of varying sizes.
A faded memory of a life of duty and purpose, it smelled of old, and yet its attitude seemed chic. Thoughts flooded my head and then a vision unfolded.
Interest piqued, I asked the question: Would Barb consider giving the coop away?
Laughing, she offered it freely! At that moment, the shaky, whitewashed chicken coop became my She Shed. I was now committed to restoring it and turning it into something great.
I skipped back home to run the impulsive idea by Jeff, my husband of 34 years. More practical than I am, he tried to stay calm as he listened to my visionary plan.
It was apparent that he was not quite all-in on yet another crazy idea, but he agreed to take a look at the coop. He wanted to determine whether travel was even an option for a structure that was probably more than 80 years old.
I am happy to report that Jeff eventually—and bravely—signed on for the She Shed project. We planned all spring. During this time I had some doubts and worried that moving the coop might damage it. The thought that it could wind up as kindling gave reason for pause. I prepared for the worst.
Country Extra MagazineThe actual move took place on the weekend of July 4. With Jeff’s tenacity and with help from Barb’s son, the game was on! Jeff lifted the shed with a tractor and slid a trailer under it.
The coop’s half-mile journey around the bend to our home was quite a sight. She paraded down the road Mardi Gras-style, as folks gathered to watch and shouted in delight. She creaked and moaned until she settled on her new perch on the banks of our beloved creek, the Dowagiac. The wind seemed to welcome her home by making the trees wave.
With this much-anticipated journey complete, the She Shed operation was in full swing. We gathered wood from a barn that had recently been torn down on the family hog farm. My husband had helped build that barn decades before, and now he sifted through the rubble, collecting boards that he had nailed in place when he was 12 years old.
Country Extra MagazineWe made several return trips to the farm to scavenge for old cables, hinges and other treasures. We found furniture on Craigslist and journeyed across the country to pick it up. (Here’s how to spot a low-quality piece of furniture before you buy it.)
As the project came together, our enthusiasm, excitement and anticipation grew. New whitewash paint and polyurethane spiffed up the tired, faded wood. At the local Habitat for Humanity ReStore (a resale shop), I scored old windows complete with screens. Little by little, each frugal find made its way back to the shed. Every used, cast-off piece breathed new life and purpose into our project.
Country Extra MagazineWhen Jeff completed the wiring, we flipped the switches. Twinkling lights filled our new space, casting a warm glow that awakened our shed and brought it back to life.
Adding a few family mementos turned the old chicken coop into a cozy, quaint oasis. The She Shed contains many things that make me smile: old pictures of family, a coffee canister my mom gave me, a clock from an estate sale, a coffee table and shelves Jeff made from barn wood. Jeff and I have camped out in the shed, and we’ve left the doors open in order to take in the beautiful view.
Country Extra MagazineHere we also gather with family and friends, chatting and laughing late into the evening. We have a porch on which to ponder the meandering creek and listen to the sounds of the night. Our shed is a peaceful place.
God’s grace keeps pointing me toward gratitude for the blessings in my life, including Jeff. He was the force that moved this project along. Jeff and I truly love our little piece of heaven on earth!