Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Chicken Whisperer's Apprentice

Momma (AKA The Chicken Whisperer) has gone on a trip.
I enthusiastically agreed to take on her farm chores in her absence.
This evening when I got home I let Beaux out and we walked over to Momma's to get to work.
I decided I would start in the garden.

I grabbed a bucket and went to picking.
I didn't see any tomatoes ripe for picking, and thought to myself, this is going to be a breeze.
Speaking of, there was no breeze of any kind. It has been unseasonably hot and dreadfully dry lately.

Alright, no tomatoes, on to squash. At first I didn't see many of those either. They were hiding. After a few minutes I got over my fear of sticking my hand under a huge leaf and grabbing a snake instead of vegetable. On to green beans. There is entirely too much work involved to get only a handful of beans. I have decided that if we ever have a garden, it will only be in large produce. It makes you feel more accomplished.  Cucumbers and pimentos, I picked. The jalapenos stayed on the plant. I just thought it was a bad idea to start picking them since I was having to wipe the sweat from my face down every few minutes.

Garden: check.

Now chickens.
I chopped up a giant cucumber I found hidden underneath some very large leaves that was a little past its expiration date.
(Beaux spotted me picking it up and then would not leave my side because he wanted me to throw it.)
I finished washing the rest of the harvest and headed to the chicken yard.

Momma's chickens are loving chickens.
Well, they love getting fed the 'good stuff'.
They recognize the container and run to the gate.
I sprinkled handfuls of cucumber all around and they were so excited and seemed to enjoy it so much, I went back inside and cut up another one.
Then I gathered the eggs. The hen house was a little darker than I would have preferred. The fear of grabbing a snake came back with full force.

Next I had to get them clean water.
I don't understand chickens.
One water bowl was completely turned over, the others were full of dirt where they had scratched around it and now only had mud in the pans.
They should really work on their critical thinking skills.

I got the water hose stretched to the pen and went to dumping and refilling the containers.
You would have thought it was Christmas. They went to scratching and pecking in the mud.
These hens can kick up some my face.
I wrangled the water hose around to spray out the bowls and spray the mud off me and caught an awful smell. I thought, 'Whoa, these chickens stink.'
Then looked down and realized, it wasn't the chickens, it was me.
Apparently, Molly had eaten something that didn't agree with her and I had drug the water hose through the ripe-smelling poop and now it was all over me.
The hens appalled me in their lack of compassion.
In the mean time, Beaux decided that his duty was to keep the chickens from getting too close to the edge of the pen. So in the midst of being covered in mud, sweat, and poop, I was having to dodge jumping chickens that had been spooked by Beaux.

Next I needed to empty and refill the food trays. A couple of the hens had taken the liberty of pooping in those, too.
By the time I filled the food trays it was definitely well on its way to being dark. The hens were ready to roost. There have been some problems between some of the big chickens and the young chickens when it comes time to roost.  Momma told me about her trying to herd the little ones into the chicken house and push them up to the roost with a stick while nudging the bigger chickens when they wanted to cause trouble. She assured me that she would not expect me to stand in the chicken house poking chickens at dusk.
I had all plans of not poking chickens.
However, one of the big barred rocks changed those plans. The little ones would try to get up to the roost and she would start making a low gurgle sound and then peck at them to knock them off.
I wasn't having any of that.
So I found the big stick and tried to coax the little ones and poke her when she started to get unruly.
Chickens can't see well when it gets dark, but they get nervous.
One of the little ones ended up hopping onto the end of the stick and would not let go. Poor thing was hanging on for her life. I tried to gently shake her off, but she had a death grip on that stick. So I thought I would just carefully try to put her up on the roost and then she would let go and be where I wanted her to be. She wasn't having any of it! So there I am, in the dark surrounded by nervous and irritated hens, soaked with sweat, covered in mud and poop, with a chicken clinched onto the end of a stick. I couldn't very well start violently shaking the stick like I was putting out a burning marshmallow, but I was not sleeping in that hen house. All of a sudden I got so tickled that I burst out laughing. Well, luckily I startled the hen and she hopped off the stick.
I told the chickens good night and assured myself that I had not missed my calling in being a farmer.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you Young Apprentice.
    Love, Momma