Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Cage Contest

Back in November, I promised you this post, and you will see shortly why it took so long.

Steven and I have known for some time that we are wanting to sometimes take some My Cagepoultry to auction, or buy some from auction. However, the poultry auction in our local small Amish town of Yoder is a "bring your own cage" event. Meaning, if you have any you wish to buy, or any you want to sell, you must bring something to carry them in.

Now, we had some old cages - a rabbit cage, a dog crate, etc. But (having some background in marketing), I knew we have nothing that would really show a beautiful rooster at full height and beauty -- an important point when selling! And we didn't think there would be a need to spend funds to purchase a commercially made cage. I had in mind exactly the type of cage I thought I could whip together quickly that would work and do what is needed (allow for full height, allow the bird to be seen from all sides and allow plenty of light). Steven had his own idea of how a cage should be built (multi-purpose, made to last, unique).

Steven's Cage
So rather than debate on how to build a cage, I proposed a "cage contest" on Veterans Day (November 11) because that was my day off. We would each build a cage (because at the time we planned to take birds to the auction in late November).

Steven came up with all sorts of new rules for this contest: No power tools; Must not buy anything to build it, but use only what we can find around the farm already, etc. A real challenge!
Detail of Steven's
Nothing shows our personality differences more than this cage contest does. I am a real "time equals money" type of person. If I can make it efficiently and effectively in a short period of time, aesthetics have little value to me. Steven is as amazing perfectionist/engineering type that treats every new challenge as a way to broaden his skills and make a statement about his own ideology and values. Make it different than everyone else - make it to last - make it with your own hands, etc.

My cage of chicken wire was done in four hours on that day -- using scrap lumber, stray nails/screws and chicken wire. It will hold a bird.
Cage Back
Steven's is an engineering marvel. He began by creating square frame of stripped hackberry wood for the base. Interwoven on top of this were willow stalks he trekked down to the river to cut. He bent cedar branches for days around steel barrels in order to curve them for the arched top. He made hole-n-peg intersections to join saplings together. He used wood glue (his one modern allowance) and bindings to tie everything together sturdily. Joint Detail Then, when faced with how to create a fencing that was not metal; but not woven like the bottom either (needs to let light in and let people see the birds), he came up with this beautiful design using old-style baling twine (which we happen to have plenty of around). He worked for hours on getting the design right and tight to make it both functional and aesthetically beautiful. And he finally finished his cage this past week! ;)

So you can decide the contest winner. If I was wanting a cage -- surely I would prefer to own Steven's. However, mine does what it was designed to do - be functional for a farm auction. I think a rooster will look fine in mine. I think Steven is likely to get more people interested in his cage, than in the beautiful bird inside it.

We will see. The auction is at the end of the month.

(you can click on the photos to see them larger and in more detail)


Mary Cate said...

Love the homemade cages! Your son remind me of Porter and I. I just want to get it done as quick as possible. He takes his time and makes sure it gets done right.

Mel, Foxtail Farm said...

I love the difference in styles :). I can go either way; a lot of the time I'm like you, and just want to be practical and get it done, in an it-ain't-pretty-but-it-works sort of way. However, I also sometimes take the time (and usually it is a LOT of time) to craft something beautiful and useful.

I'm sad that we don't have any willows around. I need to put in a withy grove in the pond pasture.