A Gate That Swings Both Ways

Last year, at about this season (a month later, let’s say), I built a chicken coop. Well, I funded and designed it and helped to build it. After several design drafts it is still a poorly designed coop; the roosts, the primary purpose of the coop, don’t really belong anywhere and get in the way of everything. It doesn’t accommodate the chicken food – or rather,  there is a space to store the food but no room to actually give it to the chickens. The floor is coated with linoleum to make it easier to clean and prevent chickens from walking directly over pressure-treated wood and perhaps (perhaps  maybe just in case) absorbing the chemicals through their feet. The coop is rarely cleaned and the chickens routinely walk through their own feces. The walls are insulated to keep the coop warmer for the small birds who suffer in the cold; but all the small birds were eaten by a bear, who also broke all the plexiglass windows. It is very important for a chicken coop to be well ventilated, but the windows aren’t needed for that because of the gaps around the doors.

I am displeased with my chicken coop, as you can tell, but that wasn’t why I brought it up.  To get back on the subject:

This weekend I installed a gate to the chicken yard. The coop itself was meant to function as a gate, with a door on both ends, but this arrangement does not allow the mower to pass through, and the chicken yard must be mowed. In the process of building this gate I wavered between a tall gate with a crosspiece, to add stability and drama, or a minimally tall gate just up to the fence height. I considered dropping posts into the ground and packing dirt around them or setting them in concrete. I considered fancy black hardware and basic galvanized hardware.

I did not consider in one period, then decide, and then execute. I considered and reconsidered and bought some material and considered again. I decided where the gate would go and then changed my mind when I went out to start it. I decided to make it eight feet wide and then I decided to make it four feet wide. Then I made it five feet wide. I decided not to put any concrete around the posts at all and then I decided to fill the post holes to the top with concrete.

I had two visions of a gate, one resplendently Done Right, both functional and decorative; the other, functional and spare, with the virtue of frugality and plainness. The gate we have is neither one nor the other, nor yet any full decided third way. I say I installed a gate; I actually have just two posts standing in wet concrete. But with the holes dug and the concrete poured, most of my choices for this gate are made. In the construction of the gate itself, however, I still have plenty of opportunity to change my mind.

Why can’t I chose a way and follow it until I have a reason to change? Why should I rush to and fro like leaves in autumn’s fitful gusts?