Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising up every time we fail. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Monday, March 10, 2008

Working together, in all kinds of weather

So yesterday wasn't all kinds of weather. In fact it was just about perfect for the task at hand-cleaning out the chicken coop. I had to do this all by myself when I was younger. And usually in the heat of summer when it was so stinky. As an adult I can choose when to do this. Unfortunately my father in law taking over chicken duty while I was on bed rest and these first few months with Superboy has not been a great thing. He kept them alive, and they were content enough to lay some eggs, but that coop. I was so grossed out. I am glad Superboy has started laying down for a nap for a couple hours day so I have time to get down there and do it myself again. We have totally different standards. First thing we noticed (besides the very worn out straw) was that we opened the side door and out popped several hopping field mice. I never remember mice in my coop growing up. This was because the roosters kept them out by killing them. My husband started stomping them which totally grossed me out. I was reluctant to join in until we just couldn't stop stirring them up. I really didn't want them in there once we were done. This wouldn't have been an issue had the coop been properly maintained-the way I would have done it. It took us three hours to do what should have taken maybe an hour, because so much wasted feed (read overloading containers so you don't have to go down everyday,grrr) and water had mixed to make a near cement and someone thought he knew more than me and laid down ground of corncobs under the straw-also near cement. So we shoveled, scraped, raked and swept until it was as clean as it was going to get. Part of the problem was that some of it was still frozen. But, doing this job now meant that it was just about the right temp for it to not stink, and we weren't dying of heat exhaustion in the process. We are both pretty sore. We threw all the old bedding into the run so that it would be less muddy as the ground thawed. We are a free range facility, and when there is green grass on the ground we take this to the fullest extent by letting them go wherever they please in the yard, but during the winter they only get the run. This is the safest place for them, as coyotes and raccoons get awfully brave when they get hungry during the winter, and as my mom can attest from last weekend, can take out an entire coop of chickens in one night. That is also the reason we keep around our beagle who doesn't really live at our house anymore. She gets around enough and still keeps an eye on our house from across the street. That's another story. We have happy, happy birds now. Fresh straw, re designed coop, reduced mud exposure...add a little spring sunshine and heat and we are sitting pretty. And on top of it all, my husband and I worked side by side all afternoon, and loved it. We joked around and talked and just got enjoyment out of being with each other. I think it was also nice that there were no kids to worry about since my mom was up in the house with them. We did have to endure the ogre for a little bit, but he gave up once he saw what a mess he had created (though he still didn't admit to the problem). Not to fear, you egg buyers out there-I am back in charge. No more ickies. I am pretty picky about how my girls live. Speaking of girls living-we have boys to get rid of soon. The first round of the year. There will likely be one to two more, as the chicks come of age later. These were roosters who matured late, thus looked like hens when we took in our first batch last year. Ah, and the ducks are laying eggs now. Granted ducks are not as prolific layers, and we only ended up with 4 females in a straight run of 15 Rouen, but we get a nice large white or blue egg about every other to every day. I get so excited at the smallest thing. It's the pure bred farm girl in me. Despite the work involved, I love it. Wouldn't trade it for the world. And the happy clucks and quacks make it all worth it-both from my birds and my customers, lol.

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