Sunday, August 29, 2010

Wet Chickens

This post has absolutely nothing to do with homeschooling - it's an 'outlier' post! I think it's important to have the occasional outlier in everything that IS. Take a look at the quilts the Amish construct - the women often place an 'out-of-whack' block in their quilts, and I think that's cool. Like there's a little sense of humor that got sewn in to the making of that quilt.

So. Yesterday we worked on the final stages of our chicken coop extravaganza. It's been eight weeks of digging, pounding, staining, painting, cutting - lots of 'ing'ing going on. The fenced run is done, so we finally reached the stage where we got to cut the hole in the coop to allow the chicks to come and go as they please. No more carrying them back and forth! Eleven chickens equals eleven trips back and forth; and mind you, some of those chickens are really hard to catch now that they have room to spread their wings. Carrying two chickens at once doesn't bode well for the handler, either. I've tried it and have opted to concentrate on one bird at a time. That little devil, Charlotte, is the hardest one to catch! She and I eye each other warily whenever I am out in the yard; it's like she knows. The chicks are 8 weeks old today.

The door was cut, but naturally, as with all projects that we've ever embarked upon, we were missing that ONE thing that would finish the task. We need a hook and eye combo so that we can secure the door open during the day and shut at night to keep intruders out. So, the door was left hanging in a semi-shut position until we could run to the Depot or Lowes and get that ONE thing. My hubby and Max left mid afternoon to get Max to a friend's house and right after they left, it started pouring. The skies opened up with the kind of rain where you are completely soaked to the toes in 30 seconds.

The chickens! I grabbed an umbrella (silly me, it didn't come in handy) and ran down to the fenced yard. Even though I had a tarped area set up that served as their temporary fence, the chickens were huddled in a group out in the open with necks stretched up, trying to determine exactly what the heck was happening. They were frozen in place, and therefore fairly easy to grab, thank goodness. Trying to grab a chicken one-handed while using the other hand to hold the umbrella proved stupid, so I tossed the umbrella. Up until yesterday I'd had pretty good weather luck. The skies are open enough so that you can see what's coming; if it looked like rain, I'd go down and casually gather everybody up and stick them in the coop until the storm passed. This one caught me by surprise.

Meanwhile, the sky above me was pretty active! Flashes of lightning followed by the big SCUZZZWHACK! of thunder. Right overhead. The thought that I may not make it back into the house crossed my mind. Lightning strikes in New Mexico are something to take seriously. But my chickens were getting drenched! As quickly as I could I took each chick and tossed her (gently) into the coop through the newly cut door opening. They were clearly bugged about the whole being wet issue, not really understanding why they were so bugged. Chickens, in case you haven't heard, are really not very bright. Maybe I'm not really very bright for having gone down there to rescue them in a lightning storm.

We have a very tiny chick named Lucy who has something called 'runting and stunting syndrome'. She is about half the size, maybe less, of the other chicks, even though she shares the same hatch date. I believe it's caused by an avian virus that affects food absorption and shows up in flocks now and then. Her feathers have been slow to grow. I couldn't stand the sight of her huddled up and shivering, so I brought her in the house and used the blow dryer to warm her up. She LOVED the experience - lifted up her little wings and waddled toward me for more. It was very cute, and a little crazy on my part.

Later on I checked on everybody and the girls all sparkled! Shiny, fluffy feathers after their unfortunate forced bath. They all looked great. And I lived to tell the tale.

Guess where we're off to today? Lowes to get that hook and eye contraption to secure the door open. I really do wonder, though, if they will have enough sense to go inside when the weather is bad? Time will tell :).

Just another chicken experience with a happy ending. Does anyone else out there have chickens?

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