Wednesday, July 12, 2006

The Great Chicken Rescue of '06

The forecast yesterday predicted thunderstorms in the afternoon. I figured that I had my day mapped out perfectly. Let the chickens out in the yard, transfer the guineas from their small bin to the larger chicken pen, feed and water the guineas, go for a walk with Anna-Rose, come home and have breakfast, bring my mom on her weekly shopping trip, come home and get the chickens back onto the porch (yes, porch....the coop is still under construction) before the weather changed.
I forgot the saying that plans were made to be changed.
And that the Lord has been working on my habit of impatience for some time now. Did I mention that I'm a slow learner?
Long about an hour after the chickens had been enjoying their morning constitutional around the back yard, I heard a faint booming. Thought nothing of it as there is some development going on down the road a piece. The booming went on and on and on. Suspicious now, I ventured out onto the patio just as the sky began to darken. Great. Back onto the porch, guys and gals.
Needless to say, the chickens did not eagerly stand at attention and gallop at my heels to the sound of my snapping fingers and sweet voice beckoning, "Choooook.....chookchookchook." They looked up at me with that peculiar chickeny tilt of the head and cold calculating eye and silently declared me to be off my rocker. Whoever said chickens were stupid never met my flock of geniuses.
Bearing in mind that my back is in a fragile state these days, I commenced to murmuring endearments, coaxing, and finally full body tackling all twelve chickens until they were all rounded up and safely ensconced on the porch once more, albeit NOT in their pen which was now occupied by fifteen psychotic guineas. (Yes.....I still have all fifteen. No one who knows the reputation of guineas should be surprised that I have not found a single person who will take even one off my hands. My father-in-law remarked to me, "Whatever possessed you to get guinea hens? Hm. Possessed. An accurate assessement.)
Well, by now it was too late for a walk and we had to rush to make it out the door in time to pick up my mom. I left instructions with Isaac that if the weather cleared, he was to open the porch door and let the chickens back into the yard.
I arrived home shortly after 1:00 to find the chickens playing cards on the porch.....no, they're not that smart. Truthfully, while I was gone, we had had quite the gangbuster of a storm here complete with hail. It appeared to be growing less cloudy and the sun was making brief appearances, so I opened the door to the porch, much to the chickens' glee and they raced away joyfully as fast as they could distance themselves from me. (If you've never seen a chicken run, you don't know what you're missing. Try tying your arms to your sides, lean forward, and sprint. You get the idea.)
Fast forward one hour.
Boom.......Boom. Uhoh.
This time we didn't start off with a tentative drizzle but the mother of all downpours. Poor chickies. They sought shelter under a bush honeysuckle by the back door under which they huddled in a miserable array of sodden feathers.
Dilemma #1: Bring them in? Leave them out? Bring them in? Leave them out? Oh look at the poor things. They're going to get hypothermia or some chicken disease. Yeah, and I'm going to get soaked! But they're still technically babies, aren't they? Oh, they'll survive, they have all their feathers. And so I argued with myself for several minutes. The survival instinct was kicking in strong. In the meanwhile, the downpour increased until the view of my back yard was a blur.
Sigh.
Clenching my jaw, I rolled up my pant legs, and set out on the great chicken rescue. Thunder boomed and lightning crashed. It was a life or death situation.......mine. Twenty soggy minutes later I was a hero and my flock was warm and on their way to being dry.
Dilemma #2: The chickens are now LOOSE on the porch because the guineas have taken occupation of their pen and there is absolutely NO WAY I am going to lasso those varmints again. They are now almost four weeks old and they can fly! In circles even. You cannot imagine how difficult it is to restrain a guinea whose wings are stronger than my biceps. Okay, I'm a wimp muscle-wise, but you get the picture. I'd already chased them around the porch that morning with everything but a set of bolas to get them into that pen. "Anna-Rose, come here and help me......we're going to fill the porch with these pine shavings." And that is what we did. The chickens now have a cozy little (temporary, I emphasize) pen on the porch. It will be a mess for a while but you do what you have to do. Necessity is the mother of invention and all that.
Ah, the joys of country living. Wouldn't trade it for the world.
Had any adventures lately?

21 Comments:

Blogger mountainfirekeeper said...

Hi there Emily!!!

I'm still laughing inside after reading your post about your GREAT CHICKEN ADVENTURES---or should I say 'rescue'!!!

You have such a humorous way of telling about your adventures!

It's getting really dry here after not getting a single soaking rain all year. Now, a heat wave is gripping the entire upper midwest and the fire danger has sky rocketed---not here yet thankfully! Our gardens are awesome, thanks to all the warmth and sunlight and MUCH irrigation. Supposed to be pushing 100 degrees for the next few days---makes a person look forward to fall.

Hope that you are feeling better soon and didn't strain your back chasing after all your little feathered friends.

God bless!

7:43 PM  
Blogger mountainfirekeeper said...

Sorry, I absent-mindedly double clicked the 'login & publish- button and it posted my comment twice---sooooo I deleted the second one.

-------blushing----------

7:47 PM  
Blogger Lynn said...

Hi Emily! Our NH relatives were anxiously reading the weather forecast for your area yesterday. Glad all turned out well for you. So far our Samson has managed to kill 23 of our chickens; 19 Cornish cross and 4 Buff Orpingtons. Needless to say, he is now tied up every time we leave and at night. The best news of all is that as I write this it is raining! What a beautiful sound!

11:25 PM  
Blogger Emily said...

Steven,
I think I have been on a laughing binge since I first brought my chicks home from the feed store. The adventures are non-stop. Maybe the chickens should have their own blog.

So glad you're able to keep up the watering for the gardens. What did farmers do way back in the "olden days"? Seems like extremes of weather are hitting us all over the country. Too little rain, too much rain, etc etc.

I am feeling better, have started some new back stretches and exercises that hopefully will hit the spot, God willing. Thanks for your prayers!

Lynn,
We had some crazy weather here yesterday, tornadoes in various counties even. Who would have thought of a NH twister? I feel so bad about your chickens. We have a dog across the street that the neighbors allow to roam. Illegal here. Dwayne is supposed to talk to them. Makes me very angry and fearful for my little flock. I would be devastated if any harm came to them. I know that's life on the farm, but still, when someone is being irresponsible it's just not right. By law we have the right to shoot it if it's worrying or attacking our livestock but I'd much rather handle the situation in a civilized, Godly manner. By the way, have you heard the advice to tie one of the dead chickens around your dog's neck as a deterrent? I've heard that it really works. Oh, and I'm sooo very glad for you that it's raining. Praise the Lord! I pray that it's the good long soaking kind that you all need. Blessings to you!

12:05 AM  
Blogger Marci said...

Oh Emily, I was thrilled to see another of your humorous posts. I have prayed about your back. That is not a good thing on a homestead. One word of warning about your adventure telling... When you make is sound so fun and hilarious, others don't think you are working, but simply playing. I have found inviting them to come and participate usually clears that little matter up. Keep doing those exercises. I will continue to pray!!

7:56 AM  
Blogger Lynn said...

Hi again, Emily,
It's sad to see dogs roaming and doing damage -- even if it's our own dogs. We love Samson, and want to keep him, but we may have to do something drastic. On Sat. we took one of the dead chickens and tied it around his neck, but then Jim and boys had to leave for Steve's survival workshop. I checked on him later, and he had managed to get the chicken off from his neck (I think he soaked it in water and then rubbed against the doghouse) and had eaten it. We have to wait to try again until Grammy is gone, since she already thinks life on the farm constitutes "cruel and unusual punishment."

Praying for a complete healing of your back.

11:06 AM  
Blogger Patti said...

I have soooo been there!!!! Sometimes I question my own sanity!! As for my adventures...ummm does a skunk count?? hahahahha

10:09 PM  
Anonymous Jane said...

Hi Em,
I so enjoy reading your 'diary' of your own prairie days. I wait for the day when all the pages will be published into a book for us to read as well as for some good hearted laughs.
Speaking of watering gardens in the old days. We used to pump water from the well by the barn, cuz of no electricity, and carry milk pails full of water to pour on the 100+ tomato plants mother would set out. The beans, peas, & cukes also got watered, while the root crops had to fend for themselves.Life was hard, but good!

12:20 PM  
Blogger Emily said...

Marci,
Thank you so much for your prayers. It has been frustrating to the extreme for me. Yes, the work can be fun and funny, too, but it is work just the same, and I am tired at the end of the day.

Lynn,
Oh what a naughty dog (cunning, too). Though I know he's just doing what comes natural to him. I hope that you can at least find another home for him if you must rather than putting him down. I appreciate your prayers so much, thank you.

Patti,
No skunks seen or even smelled here yet, surprisingly, but we did have a wildlife adventure with a raccoon litter in our barn. Have to blog about that soon. Got some adorable pictures! Speaking of questioning my sanity, should I not have destroyed them since they will grow up to perhaps prey on my chickens and guineas? Too softhearted (headed?), I let them go back to mommy.

Jane,
Oh, I cannot imagine lugging buckets of water from the pump to the garden. I would physically not be able to do it. I didn't know that you didn't have electricity! I think you are the one who should write a book: Memories of a Minnesota Farmgirl. :)

2:45 PM  
Blogger one more patriot said...

Came across your post while searching for post about chickens. It's great. I recently got some chickens and can relate to some of the adventures you are having. Thanks for the fun read.

4:12 PM  
Blogger Marci said...

Emily, yes you should have had the racoons meet their demise. We had baby racoons in a nest of building material we had torn out when remodeling. Our dogs helped them meet their end.

As far as your question on my blog. We do raise the Cornish cross. It is really nice to be done with them in 8 weeks and have a nice large bird, that around here means 3 meals. I have butchered other hens. They were older layers (in their third year). It is HORRIBLE to butcher them. For some reason my hands get all cut up on their bones. It is a very small opening to get your hand in let alone bring your hand out full of innards. It got so bad, that I now sell my old non-laying hens live to the locals. They have the Amish butcher them. I know that the older hens make a super rich broth, but I am willing to let that slip away to not have to butcher them.

7:02 PM  
Blogger Yellow Mama said...

Wow, and I thought my days were busy! Fun post!

8:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Cousin,Loved your longer version of Chicks on the Loose Episode #? Thanks for sharing these ordinary moments in the life of a country mom/wife.Recalled like this,they really do become....extra-ordinary. At the very least,they'll be recorded for future laughs when we're old and gray!...Oops,we already are old and gray? Oh well,don't tell the chickies I said that!

7:02 AM  
Blogger Emily said...

Howdy cuz,
I'm hoping my experiences will be a "What Not to Do" manual for any future generations who decide to pursure our crazy lifestyle. Why don't you come up and have a get away from it all day on the homestead? I promise not to make you chase chickens with a broom!

2:20 PM  
Blogger Northern Farmer said...

Hi Emily,
The Northern Farmer blog hasn't been working for a few hours and I read your comment earlier so I'll just answer you here, kinda like going visiting because I can't get in my own house :)
About swathing oats, that's really cutting it and having it laid in a winrow at the same time, to be harvested, (combined), a few days later. It drys the grains out further, laying there a few day curing out. So that's basically it. Sorry about changing the subject here :) Hope this helps, if not I'll find a swathing picture. God Bless!

Tom

9:30 PM  
Blogger HomesteadHerbs said...

My chickens must be dull! I don't have this excitement with them!! Now if you were to ask my daughter, I'm sure she could share a few chicken funnies! (She will be glad when I decide we no longer need chickens!)

Praying your back heals quickly.

8:44 PM  
Blogger Emily said...

Tom,
Thanks for clarifying what swathing is for me. I won't even ask what a "winrow" is! :) Feel free to stop by and change topics anytime. I hope you get your blog problems straightened out.

Christine,
I'd love to hear some of Megan's chicken adventures. Now that I've had them for a couple of months, I can't imagine life without them. Thank you so much for the prayers.

9:04 PM  
Blogger Northern Farmer said...

Emily,
I posted a link to a photo of me swathing on the post I posted this evening. That should help explain it :)

Tom

9:24 PM  
Blogger Marci said...

Emily, how is your back doing?

8:31 AM  
Blogger Scott Holtzman said...

Emily,

Just checking in, wondering....you got eggs yet? Supose it should be getting near time.

Regards,

Scott
AKA "The Chicken Man"

11:20 PM  
Blogger Melinda said...

What a wonderful post. That sounds like days I have had. You are such an eloquent writer. Hope you are having a wonderful week. God Bless.

7:47 PM  

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