Monday, December 13, 2010

Winter isn't much fun on the farm.

Everything is a bit more complicated when it gets below freezing. The water has to be kept broken and thawed for the livestock, and you have to provide as much shelter for them as possible. Yesterday's winter storm had all the animals confused. I went down to the barn to get a tarp to cover up the rabbit hutch and protect them from the north wind. I found three hens that decided to bed down in the aisle of the barn instead of in the safety of the coop. I fed the horses and proceeded to try and catch the wayward birds. One red hen let me nab her fairly effortlessly so I stuffed her in my coat so that I'd have two hands to hopefully catch the other two. After another five minutes I grabbed the White Brahma hen and carried her by her back legs while attempting to catch the last hen (my mare didn't like it too much when we walked into her lot to get back in the barn via her gate). I gave up after a few more minutes and decided to take the hens I did have and the tarp back up toward the coop and rabbit hutch (again the mare thought I was after her for sure when I started dragging the tarp past her to the door of the barn). She went out of the barn snorting and wide eyed and prancing like an idiot.

I met my husband halfway to the house and I can only imagine what I looked like: a bundled up wife with a white chicken hanging upside down in one hand, a giant blue tarp in my other hand whipping in the wind and a bulge in my coat quietly cooing and snuggling (she was quite content to be warmed up by my body heat). I told him there was still another hen at the barn, so he went down to see if he could find her.

I placed the girls back in the coop and set down the tarp next to the hutch because I saw Mike coming back empty handed. I went back down and chased the last hen around (trying to catch her before the barn cats did), and I finally cornered her and stuffed her in my coat too because she was squawking like I was ringing her neck. It just muffled her, but she never quieted until I put her with the others in the coop. We got the rabbits sheltered the best we could and went inside ourselves to get some feeling back in our limbs. I hadn't planned on playing a round of tag with the hens, so I wasn't dressed nearly warm enough.

I've never had the chickens not go back to the coop at night, and this morning there was four more chickens huddled outside the coop gate, so they must've hunkered down someplace last night in the storm and tried to get back in the coop this morning. It was easy enough to get the three hens in, but one of my roosters ran for the barn instead. I was going to just keep the chickens locked up today because it was so drifty out, so eventually he got herded back into the coop as well.

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