Monday, December 06, 2004

Chickens, gardens and fences

The white hen that Stephen brought in on Saturday died Sunday morning. She was looking awful when I got up, and wouldn't take any water. I knew then that she would not make it. An hour or so later, as I was coming in from checking the outside chickens, I heard mad flapping... she was in the process of dying, poor thing. The final moments were mercifully short, then Stephen buried her, well away from the house and garden areas, with rocks on top to discourage any critters from digging her up. In the afternoon he burned a pile of brush and included the boxes she had been in. We used the opportunity to clear some land for the gardens.

In the late afternoon I decided some of the woody weeds looked just the right diameter for roosts, so I nailed together some makeshift roosts for the shed. It made me so happy to look in later and see hens up there!

Today I moved and cleaned out the trailer our lost hen and the other big birds have been in. They all seem so much happier to be able to be out all day. I don't blame them! Some of the roosters are getting quite the bright red combs. It makes me happy to see them pecking around in the grass. I want to make their lives with us enjoyable and fulfilling. For a chicken, that means food, clean water, a clean place to sleep, sunshine and protection from predators. As simple as that seems, it can be tough to provide all of those things. They sure poop a lot!

Amazingly enough, I can start planting in about a month, so I am feeling an increasing urgency to get the soil ready. I have picked where I will put in the cut flower garden and the vegetable garden. Now I need fencing. Our endless refrain.

I am hoping the big birds will help till up my vegetable garden, and the little birds my flower garden. I am dreaming up ways to move them slowly through the areas we need tilled. This will involve more fence. I want to do it for nothing (using what we have here), but moveable sturdy fencing is not simple. That's why it costs A LOT if you buy it.

Fencing, fencing, fencing. What would I do if I won the lottery? Pay someone to put in all the fences I want, and renovate the barns!

And get a sheep to mow the lawn; a goat (or 100) to eat the browse, milk and generally make me happy; and a pig to REALLY till the ground (that's what their snouts are made for! Honest!). Oh, and a "swift and strong pony" for Farmer Boy. :-) Never heard of a swift pony? That's okay. He wants one for his super hero deeds, so I am sure that all that superness will rub off on the pony and "swift-ify" it. :-) It's tops on his wish list today.

Our little injured RI Red hen is still alive, and very alert. Last night (Sun) she flew out of the box. It was very hard for her, and painful, I think. We got her a bigger box so she has more places to hop and fall (poor baby). I caught her looking intently at me during dinner. I think she is lonely. :-( It is supposed to be nice tomorrow so we may take her outside to sit in the grass and sunshine for a while. I'll confess I am feeling anxious about her. I have become quite attached, and I fear that her future is not bright. So much of the muscle on her leg is exposed. I fear that her whole leg is going to just die off. I am definitely in danger... I am thinking of naming her. We have a rule on the farm: no naming anything you might end up eating. I do not want to eat her. I just hope she is really a she, as all evidence suggests, and that she will be a happy little egg layer.

Stephen tells me I should not keep you (and him!) in suspense about my thoughts on slaughtering. I think he pesters because the time is at hand. Alas, you will have to remain in suspense, because this is already long and it is already late. :-)

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