Sunday, September 2, 2007

Moving Chickens and Fencing Goats

Today's the day - Time to move the chickens. Last week we moved them into their brand-new modern chicken tractor constructed of PVC and plastic net. So, this being Sunday, I tra-la-la down the road with goat concentrate and an egg basket, thinking this will be a piece of cake.

That's what I get for thinking...

Situation Room - Code Red - We have a SITUATION here.

Goats - have no water but are in a big hurry for their special feed ration

Chickens - The Houdini Hens have made themselves at home in the goat pen even bedding down in the mass of sticks-n-stuff I pulled out to the middle yesterday.

Dogs - totally not interested - OK

Now it's time for the 100 yard chicken dash which consists of a grown women in overalls chasing very young and nimble chickens in circles. I'm lucky it's hot in the middle of the day because the chickens get tired and what they don't know is that I just drank a marvelous cup of free-trade coffee with my shaved dark chocolate, butter, cherry preserve, all whole wheat organic toast for breakfast.

OK, now the chickens are back in their happy little home. How did they get out, you ask? Oh well.. It's like this, see... um... last didn't close the net door all the way and they figured out how to slip out. But enough about me - how 'bout them chickens.

I built this chicken tractor with the idea that I could move it all by my wee li'l self so it's pretty light but it's also pretty long. The length was kinda dictated by the number of chickens and the width of my recycled PVC. So I'm moving it taking care to keep the net doors on either side secure. The chickens who had been panting in the shade - now you know it's hot - are getting kinda spunky, chasing newly uncovered bugs and trying out the new grass to see if it tastes all right.

That's Good! Livin' the dream, baby! Happy chickens and ha--- Oh look at the goats! How cute! They're playing that head butt game they like.

No - not cute - dangerous. They're bored. I haven't got the new fence up yet for the next pen, so I am cutting down weeds in places I don't want and feeding the cuttings to the goats. I head on over to the lively lad and the rake - Oh yeah I forgot - the goats and the chickens need water, so it's off to the water with buckets and stuff. The hose is in the raised bed garden so I can water the beds with the excess water generated by rinsing out waterers. Small problem here, the hose has created holes and compacted dirt in the raised garden from that leak I've been meaning to fix. Time to move it to another bed. Finally I get two chicken waters, two five gallon buckets and one five gallon stock pot I use for the dogs, scrubbed, rinsed and filled with fresh water. It's off to get the water out there. Now we're three hours into the whole operation and I'm thinking I'm kinda hungry. On with the show. The goats get their water and their green weedy "hay" mostly ragweed this month, and I'm in the house cooling off with a sandwich and some water.

I am impressed with my air conditioner and the cool darkness of the house. Ah the simple pleasures of life... mmmm. Let's all pause a moment and enjoy cold air conditioning on a hot day.
OK - now the goats have been tied up on one end of the pen to keep them from trampling the chicken tractor and it's time to let them move around a bit. But I'm tired just now and my husband disappears somewhere. The kids want lunch and are full of questions about things they do not have permission to do just yet - like watch TV, play on the computer. There are chores to do that are waiting for an adult to come in and demand they be finished instantly. I am not that adult at the moment but I am the adult who says, "I'm sorry, do what? Oh no, honey, you forgot to pick up your toys in the living room." with as much sympathy as I can muster.

After awhile, I get curious about where my husband has gone off to. I heard him working in his blacksmith shop around back but now the hammer was silent. I go out and head to the goat pen. The wonderful man has - mark your calendars, ladies - read my mind. He is securing a divider fence between the goats and the chickens and is nearly finished. We are recycling some 2"x4" welded wire to create the barrier turning a hundred foot by fifty foot pen into two fifty foot square pens. He had created some iron straight posts the hold the top of the fence down and provide it with more stability than it would otherwise have.

Let me backtrack a bit - this part of the pen had been a garden plot with a partially completed wattle fence in its past and so there were posts every five foot but some of them were no longer stable enough for the goats. So Jim took scrape iron from projects and created fence holders that we drove in the ground to hold the fence. The gate between the pens is part of the fence itself and secured with an iron pin and a clip where the goats can't get to it. Those were some happy goats when we freed them from the lines. Only Buddy maybe wasn't too happy 'cause his lead rope was tied on and he had to be pinned down so we could untie the super knot holding him. He fussed a bit but finally he was free, too.

OK, now it's time for supper and back to the house we go to scare up some grub. Fresh squash, celery and carrots combined with rice, a little bacon and seasoning make an excellent supper for a long day. It's nice to make headway on the never-ending to do list here at the farm. I think tomorrow we will enjoy Labor Day with friends and think about putting up more fence.
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