Thursday, April 03, 2014

flip side

If you were wondering if my chicks could sustain chicken bliss on a cloudy, windy, cold day, my answer has to be -- probably not.

They did not get the release at sun rise. I can't say that any of us even noticed when the sun "rose." I mean, what sun?

Ed asked if I wanted him to get the chicks out of the coop and that was a sweet offer, especially since I kept him up half the night hacking away with the remnant of a cough. But I declined. I have this routine going and I don't quite want to step off the beaten path yet: get up, open coop, clean out coop, change water, gather eggs, leave. Once I do that, I know I've done my duty by them. Anything else they get from me during the rest of the day is fluff. With cream and sprinkles on top.

So I do my early morning chicken routines and as I leave, I tell them -- you'll be lucky if you get any real free range time out of me today! I am in no mood to be outside!

Can you blame me? It's never going to get out of the thirties, the wind is biting me right through my winter jacket and I already feel weakened by my week of hacking away -- I don't need even more days of  feeling like I'm moving in the slow gears.

what? no outside time? (Lexie)

In the meantime, as I've been cleaning the coop, Ed has fallen asleep again, possibly in total delight that the hacker herself is no longer in the farmhouse. I do him the favor of staying out of his earshot for the rest of the morning and I make a doctor's appointment to make sure my lungs aren't permanently damaged from all that cough exercise I've been giving them daily. (They're not.)

Finally, when the morning has truly become a very late morning, I make breakfast. Ed asks for an egg and he gets one produced by Butter, who still tends to give us eggs that are great but would pass no beauty contest. We think she just tends to stress easily. A real low key chick, for whom life is just too fast paced, even here at the farmette.


After breakfast, I run over to chat with the doctor about the hacking (see above) and somehow the subject of raising chickens slips into the conversation and she notes -- I've been wanting to look into that... and here we are, weighing the pros and cons  of chickens, as if I were some kind of a chicken expert, merely because for twelve days I have tended to these four foster chicks. (I surely look the part of chicken keeper, what with my oversize mud-smudged sweater, my loosely plated braid that has way too many strand of hair straying from it, and the clogs that I forgot to swap out for civilized shoes.)

I return to the farmette and it is still cold and I think  -- well bummer, this is unfair to them, they should not go from a most perfect day of sunshine and play, to one that is dismal, gray, cold and offers no time for digging in their favorite places (which, thankfully, are not in the middle of my flower beds).

So I let them out.

And there is a kind of frantic pace to their movements today. Lexie comes at me with her beak and then remembers that this is a no no and so she restrains herself (bravo, girl!), but you can see the desire to peck churning within her. The other two hens are also more antsy. Well, gee, kids, I'm giving you this free range time, so go and use it! I point them in the direction of the rose bushes and after a few minutes, I go inside to watch from within the farmhouse.

at the front door: don't you want to be with us?

And it's like that, this afternoon: out for an hour, then hustled back into the pen so that I can have some private Ocean author time. Then out again.


Then, finally, in for good.

And now here's a new twist to the routine: Ed points out that our evening chicken chase (for capture and release in the coop) is ridiculous. It stresses them and it most assuredly stresses me. Surely chicken keepers aren't all running around catching their chicks for a lock up to keep them safe from predators. You'd go chicken crazy, especially if your flock is big. He convinces me that the proper procedure is to let the chickens decide when to go to the coop for the night.  Come darkness, they will retire and we shall merely close and latch the door and walk away hand in hand congratulating ourselves on a job well done.

That's his theory.

As is often the case with theories, it proves to be correct. With one small caveat: we need to set an alarm to remind ourselves that the coop must be locked as daylight disappears. The racoons would love it if we forgot that little detail. And I have to admit, tonight, the first night of this new strategy -- we nearly forgot.

Tomorrow is to be a repeat of today's weather. I would bet anything that an Ocean post will offer no great hope for a super happy chicken day. But we can hope for a good day. And that we'll remember to lock up the coop when the darkness sets in.