Advice from the Hen House (Stop cackling – it’s Eggcellent. Promise.)

Being rugged isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

In the movies, when a woman is rugged, she is also strong and beautiful, brave and intelligent, and there’s no mountain she can’t climb, no problem she can’t conquer. That’s the kind of rugged I had in mind when I embarked on my new rural, pioneer-woman life.

My reality is more, “I Love Lucy” meets “Green Acres.”

Last week, Superman decided it was time to repair the chicken house. It hadn’t been used in several years, and had some issues. But the chicks were getting too big to stay under a heat lamp in our kitchen, and they were starting to stink. So when he pulled out all his man-tools and set up a couple of sawhorses, I was all over it. Ruggedness training 101, right?

We started with the door. The door was mostly functional, but had a couple of rotten braces. At first, we thought we might have to build a whole new one, but closer inspection showed it was salvageable. The wooden frame was solid. Our first course of action was to remove those rotten braces, along with the nails that held them in place.

Superman started pulling out nails with the back end of his hammer. I did the same, but the nails weren’t coming out as easily for me as they were for him.

“Here. Use this,” my hubby said in true hero fashion. He gave me a wrecking bar. Holding that curved piece of iron in my hands, I felt solid and fierce. I’d never used a wrecking bar before.

He showed me how to position it just right on the nail head, how to use my strength to force those nails out of the board. It worked! Instantly, I was pulling out nail after nail. I was rugged.

I was so rugged that when I met a stubborn nail, I refused to give up. I pulled and heaved and tugged, but that baby just didn’t want to come out.

“Try standing straight in front of it,” Superman advised. “That way you can put all your weight into it.”

Being the good student I am, I followed directions. Next thing you know, I’m seeing stars.



The wrecking bar slipped, came back and hit me square in the nose. Before long, I had raccoon eyes and a swollen smeller. Superman took me inside, settled me on the sofa with a pack of ice, a glass of iced tea and “Ice Princess” playing on the television. Then he informed me I probably wouldn’t want to make any public appearances for a while, and left me there so he could go conquer my dragon—er, I mean that nail. 

Turns out, the nail was bent. When he tried to remove it, the nail head came completely off. He finally had to bend it down and leave it. There were no more problems after that.

Now the chicken house has a solid, functional door. It’s even better than it was to begin with. The chicks love their new home. And I’m happy to report, I no longer resemble Ricky Raccoon. It’s all good.

Relationships Are Like Chickens Houses

Relationships are kind of like that old chicken house door. They’re better if they get regular care and use. But sometimes they’re neglected and are in need of repair. So we get out our emotional toolboxes and set to work.

But we might encounter resistance. We may find old wounds or a stubborn spirit. We realize our neglect has caused some serious rotting, and we have to pull out the big tools. We apologize. We speak gently. We pay attention. We try to remove the rotting wood and old nails that have shown up, and we do the best we can.

Wounds That Won’t Heal

But some wounds just can’t be fixed. Like that nail, they become a permanent fixture. Oh, they may be hammered out of sight. But angry words and cruel actions often become imbedded deep in the spirits of the people we love, and they never really go away.

It’s still worth trying, though. After all, many hurts can be healed, and many relationships can be repaired. And often, after some serious TLC, that relationship will end up stronger than before.

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another. John 13:34

More on Renae hit the jackpot with this Sourthen belle. Renae is a bestselling author and award-winning humor columnist. Renae also sings and acts in The Promise in Glen Rose, Texas, and teaches second grade. In her free time, she leaps tall buildings in a single bound and rescues kittens out of trees. Or at least she might try and do these things if she had free time. Visit her over at She’s Texan! She’ll smile, wave, and write back, okay, ya’ll?

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