By Ken Tucker
July 12, 2010 at 04:21 AM EDT

The second new Kate Plus 8 special aired on Sunday night, and I’m pretty sure it’s only a matter of time before the kids stage a prison break.

The night’s big activity was the building of a chicken coop on the Gosselin property. Why? Because Kate said she buys “four or five dozen” eggs a week, so why not buy some chickens to gather her own? Or rather, have the kids gather them. What started as a nice family project turned into a punitive exercise, as do so many things involving Kate’s parenting. Showing the kids the area of the coop that will be “filled with chicken poop to be scooped,” she announced to her brood, “Whoever disobeys will be assigned with this chore!”

The coop was built by some local farmers — “Farmer Dan,” “Farmer Dave,” and “Angela,” who didn’t rate a “Farmer” title, I guess. The Gosselin Eight were pretty excited to be getting this sturdy little animal house; the youngest ones had perspective on the matter: “We’re getting chickens and we’re eating chickens.”

Kate squawked like a chicken when one of the hens “clawed me with its dirty little toenail.” She got testy serving lunch to her brood: “Am I grumpy?” she asked… who, the camera crew, as though they couldn’t tell by now? “Yes. You would be too if you had to run 26 acres alone,” she said.

Couple things about this. Given the number of people we saw trooping across the Gosselin property during just this hour — the folks building the coop, Bodyguard Steve overseeing a group of people who were installing “a lot of trees and shrubbery” to shield the Gosselins from the paparazzi, a team that arrived to power-wash the house, and a man who came to test and advise Kate on the quality of her drinking water — I’d say she ain’t running that place alone.

Also, when the rooster was literally hen-pecked to a bloody pulp in the new chicken coop, Kate was clearly appealing to the TLC camera crew to help her remove the wounded animal. The kids were pretty calm about the injured creature, but Kate was speaking agitatedly, fluttering her hands nervously — in short, doing everything a parent shouldn’t do to set a good example in a small emergency. And what was the capper to this scene? Kate getting in a roundabout dig at Jon Gosselin. She noted the “irony” of hens pecking at a rooster: “We’ve got issues with roosters,” she said triumphantly.

When the luckless rooster — I mean, “man” — who came to test the home’s water told her that she could learn to use water softener herself, and made a little joke that it was “easier than dancing,” the ejected Dancing With the Stars contestant snapped, “Don’t make that comparison.”

As always, it was the children who made the show amusing to watch. Whether discussing among themselves the names they were going to give the chickens (“Fuzzy” and “Furry” were faves) or witnessing sweet, sweet Collin lugging water or seeking Mom’s permission before driving his toy car over a water hose, the kids were indomitable charmers.

After a while, I began to think TLC was just editing the footage to make Kate look bad:

• After asking the power-wash crew if she could try out their high-pressure hose, they were instructing her on how to spray water against her own house and Kate interrupted: “I don’t want to get wet and I’m wearing white.” So why’d you ask to do it, Kate?

• “Everywhere I go, I’m ‘Mommy”d to death,” she moaned when the kids wanted answers to questions.

• “I’m in charge and that’s never gonna change, so shush!” she yelped at another point.

As I said, it’s just a matter of time before the kids start planning their escape routes, don’t you think?