Chicken Rodeo

We knew that we had the potential for severe weather when we left for my niece’s graduation party yesterday. But we went anyway. Because that’s what you do when you have an amazing niece who does an awesome job and graduates and has a party and invites you. 🙂

We drove the four hours to the party in overcast skies and light rain. All afternoon at the party it was overcast and rainy.  It wasn’t until we were almost half-way home that the clouds started to look a little more ominous.

As we drove through some pretty heavy rain, Jan had me try to find some weather information on the radio.

Oh dear. There was a line of strong storms stretching across the state at an angle. Strong winds. Heavy rain. Hail. Even tornadoes.

We drove a little faster, ahead of the storm momentarily, but we could see it – massive clouds churning and moving.

An hour from home we start worrying about the chickens – 50 some broilers and a few layers that were in an outside pen. They had protection from the rain – but strong winds would destroy their pen in a matter of seconds.

We  drove even faster, watching the clouds darken, all the while formulating our plan to get those birds into safety before the storm hit.

As soon as we pulled into the yard – everyone would exit the van running. We would then all grab our boots and gloves and head to the chicken pen.

Buddy would grab the chicken tubs, Pedro and Jan the portable pens. Then Angel Girl and I would catch chickens, put them in the tubs and the guys would carry them to the pens in coop.

Great plan! We can do this!

As we drove down the gravel road I suddenly remembered that I was wearing my “Sunday best” clothes and would soon be wrangling chickens in a pen full of wet chicken droppings. This is not a good thing.

I removed all my jewelry and revised my plan to include a stop in the basement for a pair of coveralls.

Jan pulled in the driveway – with the clouds hanging overhead. He and the kids race towards the house. I  race, too, but a little slower as I realize that I’ve been in the car for 4 hours and really need to save my bladder before I can save even one chicken.

I’m just leaving the bathroom as the kids are already heading outside. Then – in a massive dash to catch up – I run to the basement and grab the first pair of coveralls I can find – a bright blue pair of my dad’s that say Jim on the pocket.

As I squeeze into them – I notice that one knee is out and material is a little thin. But there’s no time to change. I grab the only pair of boots I can find – and of course they haven’t been worn for some time and are covered with dust and spider webs. I can only imagine what’s inside each one.

It’s then that I remember that I’m barefoot – having worn sandals all day. But there is no time to be squeamish, I turn the boots upside down and shake them out – just praying that any spiders that may be inside are dead. Then push my bare feet into the boots, shuddering as I hear crunching.

I grab a pair of gloves – mismatched of course – and rush out to save the day.

To their credit, none of my children laughed (much) as I showed up in the chicken pen, bent over to grab a chicken and promptly ripped out the entire backside of the coveralls.

But I kept working – everybody did – and we saved all fifty some broilers and the handful of skittish layers as it started to drizzle.

There went my hair. So I’m wearing bright blue coveralls with a ripped out backside and Jim on the pocket,  rubber chore boots full of dead bug parts and a pair of mismatched gloves and now I have Bozo the clown hair.

But at least we saved the chickens.

And I got a blog post.

I hope you at least got a chuckle out of it. 🙂

Flower Garden

One more thing off my to-do list –

dream gardenI finally have the flower gardens ready for Dagmar’s graduation party.

The flowers look to be in such fine shape this year – don’t you agree?

Okay. I’m just kidding.

My sisters can stop laughing now.

I found the above picture on-line.  No such beautiful flower garden exists on my property – yet.

Actually – no flower garden exists here period. Only in my dreams.

This – dear friends – is my reality.

GardenA hodge podge of containers from thrift stores, garage sales and junk piles filled with an assortment of flowers that I can only hope will stay alive for a few more days.

The entire arrangement is surrounded by a fence to keep the free-ranging chickens out.They love to climb in flower pots and scratch around – rearranging things for a better “seat”.

I’ve lost many a bedding plant to a chicken’s feathered backside.

The plan is to remove the fence Sunday afternoon just before the guests arrive.

We forgot that last step at Matt’s graduation party a year ago. I wonder what people thought?

On the plus side – it took me just minutes to plant them – and there was no weeding involved!

And it is – of course – one more thing of my list! Well – at least for this week…

Top picture courtesy of  SiefkinDR

Show Down at Midnight

Remember our cute little peeps? Those little bundles of fluff have grown – a lot – and are now outside in a movable pen on grass.

The broilers are fat hunks of meat that are just a week away from the freezer and the layers are lively little buggers scratching and running all over.

They have done beautifully –  until Sunday night.

It was just another peaceful night in the country. We had the windows open to enjoy a light breeze when at midnight a ruckus in the pen woke me from a very sound sleep.  I then woke Jan and – being the good wife that I am – sent him out to investigate while I rolled over and went back to sleep. 🙂

He came in about 30 minutes later and reported a coon had run off from the chick’s pen but he didn’t get a shot at it. He said it was a little hard to hold both the gun and the flashlight – so if the coon comes back, I’d need to come out too.


Thankfully the rest of the night passed without a return visit.

Round 1: Coon – 0 Us – 0. A Stand-off.

The next night we were ready. We had reinforced the pens and went to sleep confident that they were coon proof. Ha!

My peaceful slumber ended at 3:30 when the entire pen exploded with noise – including the frantic cry of  a chick.

Now – at this point – I should have been prepared. I’ve seen enough Little House on the Prairie to know that I needed to sit up and proclaim, “Oh no, Charles, they’ve got Matilda, my best laying hen!”

My husband would jump out of bed, pull on his pants throwing his suspenders over his shoulder as he grabs the gun from the mantle and avenges my hen.

But no – it didn’t look quite like that.

Instead – I jump out of bed, knock over Jan’s radio, run into the door, trip over my shoes and finally make it outside in my jammies with the flashlight.

Meanwhile, my husband pulls on his cowboy boots with his pajama shorts and heads out to grab the gun.

But we’re too late. Somehow that wily coon had attacked a poor defenseless layer through the fence. 😦

(Let’s interrupt this story for an object lesson – if that silly little chicken had stayed inside the plastic pen inside the fence she would still be alive today. How many times do we step out of God’s protection and do things our own way – only to get hurt!)

Okay – back to the chase.

We shine the flashlight all over – but can’t spot that varmint. Jan grabs the flashlight and heads off into the darkness.  It took just a few minutes before I realized that there I was – in the dark – in my jammies – with a blood thirsty coon on the loose.  I quickly ran after him and took back the flashlight.

We slowly circle the out-buildings – looking for the pesky critter.  It reminded me a little of playing Ghosts in the Graveyard when I was a kid – only the “ghost” hiding in the darkness was not a sibling, but a very alive and crafty coon.

My ankles felt very exposed.

After a thorough search of the area – we decided the coon was long gone – probably enjoying his chicken dinner and wouldn’t be back. So we went to bed.

Ha! It was 4:30 – just about the time that I had finally settled down and forgotten that there were such things as coons in the world – that the chicken pen exploded with frantic cries again.

We grab our shoes, the gun and the flashlight and rush to the pen. We see a fat old coon ambling off down the trail – but he’s too far away to get a shot. Grrr.

The next morning we surveyed the damage. All of the good little chickens who stayed inside the pen were safe, only one chick was lost.

Round 2: Coon – 1, Us – 0.

The next night we decided not to take any chances. We manually moved all of the chicks into the building and the next morning we manually moved them all back out.

Take that you pesky varmint!

It was wonderful to get a full night sleep’s – even if we did add an extra hour of work onto our day.

But this is just a temporary fix.

Somewhere out there is a crafty coon with a taste for young chicken and this farm ain’t big enough for the both of us.

Your days are numbered.

Just wait for round 3.


Eggs It’s spring in the country – finally!

The south wind is blowing, the laundry is on the clothesline, the birds are singing outside my window, and my refrigerator is full of eggs!

Our chickens go into a molt during the cold dark winter months.  They loose their feathers and stop laying.

And I have to  <gulp>  buy eggs. Colorless, tasteless, store bought eggs.

Then as the days grow warmer and the daylight increases, the chickens slowly start laying again.

The first fresh egg of spring is an Occasion with a capital O! The bright yellow yolk just smiles at you from the skillet!

But as the daylight continues to increase, so does the egg production. One dozen a day, then 2 dozen.

We have eggs for breakfast, lunch and supper.

We pull out all the egg recipes: angel food cake, pudding, egg casseroles, egg-chiladas.

My refrigerator is now full of eggs. We can’t keep up. It’s time to start selling.

We’re not the only ones, all over the countryside you see the hand-printed “Eggs for Sale” signs at the end of the farm lane.

It’s a sign of spring in the countryside and for a little while, we country folks feel very rich!