What you do in your house is worth as much as if you did it up in heaven for our Lord God. We should accustom ourselves to think of our position and work as sacred and well-pleasing to God, not on account of the position and work, but on account of the word and faith from which the obedience and the work flow. ~ Martin Luther

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

An outting

Winter complicates a lot of things one of which, I am finding out, is animal chores.

Outdoor livestock of any kind and the caring for them takes on a whole new level of diligence in the winter.

Partly because it is so gosh darn difficult to pull yourself out of a nice, warm home and into frigid weather and partly because...you have to do it ALL. THE. TIME.

Animals need to be checked on more often, fed more often and their water needs to be constantly available to them all the time because these are the things that help them retain their heat.

Can I just say keeping water available around this time of year is pretty hard. In single/teen digits, before you put the newly poured water down it has already started turning into ice. Blah. Blech. No FUN.

It's like getting ready to run a race and realizing your shoe laces are tied together just as the whistle blows.

And in the case of chickens: here's a hint for you: eggs freeze. You have to be sure to gather them soon after they are laid (which by the way is not coming as readily now since the chickens are having a not-enough-daylight/too-cold egg strike) lest the the eggs freeze, expand and break their shells.

So-you have to leave your nice warm home, put on all your arctic gear, head out with water for dog. Chickens. Calf. Break up ice in water containers of dog. chickens. calf. Feed dog. Chickens. Calf. Gather chicken eggs (NOT dog or calf ones mind you)

Then do it all again.

You know what REALLY bothers me about it all, though? Those pitiful looks those animals give me to make me aware of their intolerance to being holed up in a stuffy old chicken house or barn.
Again, in the case of the chickens~ they flock to the door and stare longingly (albeit beadily) out the door...WAITING for me to open up so I can feed them and anticipating the moment they can bolt out the door. Unfortunately for them, I have already by now closed the other door that leads outside the chicken house so they are good and stuck. Once one nearly took out my head (not kidding. and NOT exaggerating.)

I always try to assure them that it is for their own good. That they wouldn't, in fact, like to scratch around in tons of cold snow, that the ground would be too hard for anything productive to come from it, and that 9 degrees is awful cold without a wind break and shelter. I try to convince them they ought to be thanking me but instead they peck my boots and blow dust in my eyes.

Today was a more mild day and I felt bad for the crazy things (they really do look pitiful when they want to) so I let them out for some fresh air.

Following is the story of what happens when penned up chickens are liberated in winter:

They FLY to the doorway all ready to run out and start scratching up dirt and earthworms only to discover an odd blanket of some bizarre white substance. They don't know what it is---but it doesn't look friendly. Especially to their bone-naked legs.

They stare wondering what to do. Wait. Wait. Then the leader makes the final decision to move forward, regardless of outcome.

Others follow. Some, eagerly, as if it was their own idea. Others~not so much.

"You mean, I have to step in THAT?!?!?"

They make their way to the only place that isn't covered in snow~under the turkey run~making sure not to step on any snow during their trek.

They discover that the dirt (being protected from the elements) is nicely loosened and dry, just as they had left it those lovely green days of yester...month.

So they do what any sane chicken would do~they start to take a dirt bath!! Peck, scratch, shake bum. Push, poof wings, settle in.

Oddly, it reminds me a lot of my nightly routine with my down pillow.

Ooooh, yeah! World peace! Inner purpose! Amazing what bathing in dirt can do, isn't it?

They start to really get into it and the dust, it is just a'flyin.

But they don't REALLY get into it until you start seeing chickens going upside down...

and when they start twisting into pretzels and becoming unrecognizable~you know it is time to give them their privacy because you won't be getting them out of that stupor of ecstasy any time soon.

I have never in my life seen a more contented, satisfied chicken.


Tracy said...

These are GREAT photos! We're contemplating getting chickens in the spring. I'm not looking forward to having to care for them in the cold of winter, though.

MameyJane said...

I LUV chickens! What great free entertainment!

Devildogwife said...

This post seriously had me cracking up. Great pictures of the chickens.

Kim said...

Great photos! Yes winter makes everything harder (sigh). I can't wait for spring!

Bonnie said...

Ha! I so remember our chickens doing that when I was growing up! And yes, despite the fact that we are very casually looking for a hobby farm on occasion, I am NOT looking forward to winter chores.

Kathy said...

Hahahaha! This was a great post - really brought back my chicken memories ;) When I was younger, my cousin raised chicken as part of her Voc-Ag school program - and I was her assistant.

Having my hands pecked bloody every day as I tried to gather in the silly birds each night gave me a whole new appreciation for fried chicken! But I did love their antics ;)

Peggy said...

Wow, thank you! I miss our chickens so much... but yes the winter chores are so unforgiving! Loved seeing your happy ladies frolicky about during their dust baths! Ours loved to eat the snow!! Silly girls... We did set a cement footer in the coop w/ an electric oil pan heater setting under the waterer to keep it from freezing. When it is -40, you have to be creative if you plan to have livestock.

And you have such pretty birds!

Cochran Clan News said...

This post had me laughing all day. Hilarious. Perfect. I just wanted to introduce myself real quick since I have been reading you blog for so long now and I am very bad at leaving comments. I will try to do better. My name is Janey I am a mommy of 3 kids 7,4,3. I live in Wichita, ks. And I just want to thank you again for your wonderful, hilarious, and inspiring blog and your amazing pictures. I look forward to your posts every day. And congratulations on your pregnancy I will be praying for you.
PS I just posted my first Foto challenge today too:o)