Monday, May 2, 2011
Wild Animal Kingdom!!!
It starts out with my usual going out to feed the horses and close my chicken coop. I let my chickens free range because I enjoy the healthy eggs so much. It grosses me out to think about my chickens being all cooped up and eating their own crap all day. They do that. They crap ALOT! You wouldn't think such a relatively small animal could poop that much. Then, they are pretty stupid and will peck at anything....including their own crap. So, I let them out to run around and catch bugs like they are supposed to. They feel good about it and I feel good about it. But, because they are so dumb, they don't really stay away from predators the way they should and they end up on other animal's supper table. Chickens are puh-retty tasty!! Everyone says so, including mr. hawk and mrs. skunk! :)
My labs don't really eat them. They just like to chase them. Chasing them is soooo much fun according to the labs and the chickens aren't smart enough to know that if they would just sit down and shut up they wouldn't be near as entertaining. So, I'm always losing one here and there. I don't ever really know about it until evening when I'm closing the coop door and I count them. For awhile now I've had 6 roosting in the coop and 2 that insist on roosting in my carport no matter how many times I carry them into the coop. They are rogue hens!!! And then I have about 20 chicks in a brooder that are a few weeks old.
So, back to the evening in question. I'm out at dusk feeding the horses and closing the coop door. I still have the 6 chickens and all the babies in the brooder. I close it all up and as I'm heading back to the house, I hear chicks, and birds, and what was that???? A chicken clucking? from in the trees? Surely not! But, Festus, my older male lab is positive that chickens are in the trees! Nuh-Uh, I say. Then, I say "Festus NO!!!" because he's right. Apparently, my last missing hen has been sitting on eggs these last few weeks and they just hatched!!! Well, the babies are making all sorts of ruckus and I just told you how much fun they are when they are noisy. In the dark no less.
So, I run into the house and grab a flashlight and come back out to see Festus with a baby chicken. I tell him to drop it. It looks like it is in the last death throes. I pick it up because I don't want them eating it. I pick it up and put it on the old hay netting in the back of my truck to get it up and out of the way thinking "I'll come back and check on it." Oh yeah, because by now, the mama chicken is running all around my yard squawking her head off being even more fun for the labs than the baby chicks!!! So I, and the dogs, are chasing this chicken around. I opened the coop door and we chased the mama into the coop. Yay!!!!!! One down. Now back to the baby.
When I get back to my truck, the baby is gone.......'What? Well crap!! One of the cats must have come and got it. Damn cats!'
Meanwhile, sirens are going off like crazy in the distance. Dogs start howling and now the coyotes are howling too! 'Oh Great!! that's all I need!' Then, I look over at the mama cat looking down at something. 'Aha!!! SHE has it!' I go over to see and I look down and its a FROG! 'Okay, then where did it go? I wasn't gone that long. What the heck????' Then I find it behind the netting and its ALIVE!! YAY!!! So, I take it back to the coop. I put it in one of the nesting boxes. The baby is calling. The mama is calling. I think to myself 'Okay, they will find each other and all will be well. To be sure, I pick up the mama and put her in the nesting box with the baby. The mama leaves the box and roams all around the coop looking for her baby.....*sigh* I told you they were dumb....
Well, I can't leave the baby there all by itself in the dark or it will die of cold. So, I think 'I'll just put it in the brooder with the other chicks. I hope they don't kill it.' I don't know chick etiquette. So, I put the new chick in there and its so small its feet go through the hardware cloth. That won't work. So I make a new nesting box on the ground next to the brooder with the light on it. I walk away hoping the chick makes it because now the mama is roosting again with the other chickens.
So, I go back into the house feeling pretty good about saving the mama and one of her babies. I go into the bathroom to start getting ready for bed and through the window screen I hear more squeaking. 'Oh my gosh!!! more babies! I run outside and realize that I left my flashlight in the chicken coop. 'Crap!' again. So I go back to the coop and open it all back up for about the third time. Good news!! the mama is sitting on the baby! However, as soon as I open the coop door she jumps up and runs away. Hey! great mama. Way to protect the baby....AND....not only did I leave my flashlight out there but I left it on...'Oh my!' I grab the light and I run back up to see my lab puppy, Harley, licking an egg and a dead chick on the ground. Its dead for real.....ick.....Then the squeaking is coming from a different chick that is almost dead. I know its dying because it has a whole in it that's oozing. yuck! 'Too slow, I didn't make it.' So, I head back into the house and then......wait......more squeaking!!! I run back over to see a very slobbery alive chick that I originally thought was dead. 'Way to keep kicking baby chick!!!!' I grab a towel out of my truck, dry it off, and head yet again with another baby chick AND an unhatched egg. Again, the mama jumps up and runs away. *sigh* poor babies have a stupid mother...... So, I put the slobbery chick in there with the dry chick and the egg, close the coop door and watch the mother come and sit on them. 'Yay!!!' again. With a sigh of relief, I head yet again to the house to get ready for bed.
I fall asleep feeling pretty good about myself. I didn't ever find the nest to check on more chicks but Festus seems to think we found them all and I believed him.
I'm sleeping pretty good and feel a cool breeze blow on my face as a cold front moves in bringing some much needed rain. Then, I hear poor Harley on the front porch being pelted with cold rain. *sigh* 'Can I leave her out there? Would that be wrong? Of course, it is. I'll have to bring her in.'
But wait!!! I have a shower curtain that's never even been opened! So, I go out in the rain to make a tent for her. All dry and warm...and back to bed to sleep in on a Sunday morning. Ahhhhh....feels good.
Meantime, yesterday, I bought some Yogi bedtime tea. It has valerian in it along with chamomile. It really works!!! So.....assuming you don't have wild animal kingdom mayhem at your house, or even if you do, that tea will help you sleep like a baby. A baby chick, a baby cat, a baby dog, baby frogs, lots of babies at my house!!!!!!!!!!! except none of them seem to want to sleep....hmmmmmm.....Okay, so maybe you'll just sleep like someone you just took some valium. :)