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Scientists at NASA have developed a gun built specifically to launch dead chickens at the windshields of airliners, military jets and the space shuttle, all traveling at maximum velocity.

The idea is to simulate the frequent incidents of collisions with airborne fowl to test the strength of the windshields.

British engineers heard about the gun and were eager to test it on the windshield of their new high speed trains. Arrangements were made. But when the gun was fired, the engineers stood shocked as the chicken hurtled out of the barrel, crashed into the shatterproof shield, smashed it to smithereens, crashed through the control console, snapped the engineer’s backrest in two and embedded itself in the back wall of the cabin.

Horrified Britons sent NASA the disastrous results of the experiment, along with the designs of the windshield, and begged the U.S. scientists for suggestions.

NASA’s response was just three words, “Thaw the chicken.”


Testing the strength of windshields by colliding items into them may be rocket science but building a fence around your house isn’t! After all, a fence is just wood and paint, right? Right?

The event started with what was supposed to be a short trip to Home Depot to select wood. We started at around 9am thinking it would take us maybe an hour. Then we looked at the wood. Have you seen what they are trying to pass off as fence board? We took the time to pick out the fence boards we wanted. I think we were done around 2pm. Only 5 times longer than what we estimated. But that was only the beginning.

When selecting materials, communicate with your partner. J & I went with 5 foot fence boards. We did not consider that the average person is over 5 feet tall. Both of us thought of this as we were spending our quality time together picking out wood but neither of us thought to actually say anything until after the wood was purchased and part of it was stained. To compensate, we made another trip to Home Depot to get boards to go across the bottom of the 5 foot boards so that we had a 5 ft, 6 inch fence at the end of it.

Tearing down our old fence was supposed to be another easy part. We started out with gusto as we sledge hammered the old boards off the posts. Quick and easy. Removing the poles on the short side of our yard (that hooks to the garage) turned out to be quite a challenge as the poles were cemented in. Even though there were only 8 or so poles, removal took us hours. The long side of the yard was much easier. The poles were not cemented in and several of them snapped off at ground level because they were rotten. That saved us the aggravation of pulling them up.

Hauling the stuff to the dump was uneventful. It did, however, take 5 or 6 trips to dispose of the old fence. It ended up costing us more in gas for my daughter’s boyfriend’s half ton truck than it did in disposal fees.

Digging holes for the new posts… How many of you have ever tried digging in the Regina “soil”? It’s more like really hard clay. The first 8 holes took almost a full day to dig by hand. Jason didn’t mention anything until AFTER the holes were dug. Then we smartened up and hired someone to come out and dig the holes with a machine. Wish we would have thought of that sooner. For $5/hole, it was SO worth it.

When you are having someone dig holes for you, make sure you measure correctly. Measure from the middle of the hole to the middle of the next hole NOT from the edge of the hole to the edge of the hole like we did. FYI, when the fence post holes are 3 feet wide and you put 8 feet between the edge of the holes, this makes the length between your posts 10 feet instead of 8 feet. The standard 2 by 4 is 8 feet long. So, we had to run to the store, again, to buy 10 foot 2 by 4s. And we only made the mistake on some holes, not all. So we had different lengths between the posts, minor detail, so we charged ahead with building.

Mixing cement to put the poles in was next which leads me to a tip. When you’re done with the rented cement mixer, don’t rinse it behind your garage, especially if you have soil or gravel behind it. You WILL get a lip that forms from the exit of your garage to the back alley making it difficult to drive out of your garage.

Now, onto staining the boards. We decided to apply stain to the fence boards prior to putting them up. That way, we wouldn’t have to worry about painting between the boards (and thus rot) because we bought regular fence board that wasn’t pressure treated. This saved us about half the price. Good idea? Only time will tell. Anyway, staining. Staining 1300 fence boards sounded like fun. Initially. We enlisted everyone we could think of – friends, family, friends of friends. We had teenagers staining boards one day. Somehow, despite the HUGE drop cloth, they managed to get paint on the garage floor. And the saw horses, and the walkway, and the door handles, and the exterior and interior walls, and the sink… ah well, they had fun.

We decide to use screws to attach the fence boards instead of nails, because my husband swore they were easier to use. He hadn’t factored in that neither Brandi nor I had ever used power tools. He had to teach us how to do that. Many stripped screws and swear words later…we were masters. The fence boards were up!

A tip when estimating supplies. Don’t just go with what the ‘expert’ at Home Depot tells you. Do the math yourself. And double check it. And then add 10%. During the course of the adventure, we ran out of fence boards, 2 by 4s, screws, and stain resulting in many more trips to the store.

The people who owned our house previously should have been on Canada’s Worst Handyman. When we were replacing our fence, we found various bricks, gravel, etc, that had to be compensated for when we built our fence. We had to shift holes to away from problem areas. We thought it was only a slight adjustment until we looked at the completed fence from the side. It kind of goes like this (show weeble).

Finally, a month later, the entire fence was up. We just needed a gate. Jason decided to craft a beautiful, sturdy gate. He measured, double checked his measurements. Cut wood, secured every bit of the gate together with sweat. In the end, the gate fit. Closed. When you tried to open it, it nearly pulled the hinges off, but it sure was nice and sturdy! Alas, we had to make it less sturdy.

So, after 4 weeks and multiple trips to the hardware store and the dump and about $2500 in expenses, our blue/green crooked fence is up. It’s far from perfect. But it’s ours. And I changed my mind, building a fence IS rocket science.

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