Wednesday, May 13, 2009

And then there were 11

So, this morning, Grace and I sleep to the ridiculous hour of 7 am and get up. She's a grumpy, weepy, crying and totally unhelpful mess. Won't put her clothes on, won't brush her teeth, etc. etc. etc. We FINALLY get ourselves dressed and presentable to the world and work day and head out the door. But wait...I still have to feed and water the chickens. She stomps around complaining that's she's cold and sits on the front porch while I head to the chicken tractor.

The first thing is see is yellow chicken feet sticking straight up in the air. What?! It takes a few seconds for my brain to register what my EYES are seeing. Yellow chicken feet sticking straight up in a sea of white feathered birds. What's wrong with this picture? I have a DEAD chicken, that's what's wrong.

I go out there and sure enough. Definately a dead chicken. What's more (the faint of heart should stop here). The other chickens have now cannibalised the thing so it's a pecked up, bloody, squashed headed mess. So my first thought is WHY am I doing this? Most people just go to the grocery store and pluck down their 87 cents a pound (Summer Fresh's special this week for the family pack of split chicken breasts, previously frozen) and are damn happy to do it. There is no buying feed. There is no plucking of feathers. There is no crawling fully dressed into the middle of the poop laden chicken tractor in my cream colored work pants and hot pink cotton top while demented and cannibalistic roosters plot to pluck my eyeballs out. No, you just freakin' take your little package of chicken home, plop it in the freezer and haul it out when the need arises. It's just that easy.

Of course I couldn't reach the dang thing so I had to shuffle the tractor around, move it to a fresh patch of clean grass and REALLY crawl in there to grab hold of the thing and drag it out. Grace just watched the whole fiasco without comment. Wise girl.

My next dilemma was what to do with the thing now that it was dead. I fed the rest of the chickens and gave them fresh water (the things like to poop directly IN the water as often as possible like it's their own personal toliet) and gathered up the two eggs from the hens to take in and put into the refrigerator. I also have one little pecker hen that PECKS A HOLE in the end of her egg every day. So instead of six eggs a day, I get 5 plus one with a HOLE in the end of it. It goes to the compost pile because I never know how long the thing has actually been out there exposed to the elements. I know she does it just to hasten my trip to Insaneville.

Grace finally loaded into the car (it's 8:15 by now). I plopped the dead chicken (which from the heft of it ALREADY weighed over 3 pounds) into a bucket and drove down the driveway with my arm out the window holding a bucket full of dead chicken to the end of the road and our dumpster. Sorry garbage man, that sucker's going to stink by next Tuesday.

On the way to the dumpster I also see that the one surviving redbud tree we had planted last year that was all nicely leafed out has been knocked over and broken by the cage we had around it to protect it from being eaten by deer. Broken at the base. Whatever. I'm totally ready to just call it a day and go back to bed.

All day I've puzzled over WHAT happened to that chicken. Do they have some weird chicken disease now and are going to start dropping like flies? They all APPEAR fine, fat and healthy. Did I trap it while I was moving the tractor and the other chickens just pile on and peck it to death? I try to make sure I haven't trapped any of them (let me tell you, they SQUAWK if you do), or what?

Tonight when I got home I REALLY inspected the tractor. No more dead birds thankfully but I did notice that at the front of the door the chicken wire was really mangled looking and held on by one U shaped chicken wire nail thing (I'm sure there is an official name for those), AND there were a couple of feathers stuck in the wire and to the wood on the door. I schleped to the barn and got the hammer and some more of the U shaped chicken wire nail things (I definatley need to Google that) and reinforced the door. Bryon thinks a raccoon stuck it's meaty little paws through the holes, caught it and killed it and the other chickens just enjoyed the spoils of war.

I guess I'll find out in the morning if I have more yellow feet in the air.

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