Saturday, September 26, 2009

A Chicken Merry-Go-Round

I had market today.  Thanks to Annemarie's help, I can get to market a little late.  She has the booth next to mine and opens up for me when I don't get there on time (which happens quite frequently, by the way). So I waited for the first light of day to open the Moop and let the chickens out into their yard. Then off to market.

My customers were glad to buy the last of my tomatoes, which are starting to look pretty forlorn at season's end.  They know that soon it will be over, so they savor the last of the fall tomatoes, even if they are a bit spotted and scarred.

I headed home feeling pretty good and was delighted to find in my mailbox an Alice Waters book that I had ordered.  Yay!  I'd hunker down on the couch with the book and with the help of Alice plot a fantastic meal using fresh vegetables from my garden.  But first I needed to check out some pastures so that I could tell the milker where to put the cows after milking tonight.

Well, the best laid plans, etc. etc. etc.  When I headed for the east pastures, there was a chicken out.  I am usually able to get the occasional stray chicken back inside by propping the gate open a few inches and guiding her in that direction, walking slowly behind her as she works her way around the perimeter of their yard.  Not tonight.  I have presumed that it is always the same chicken that gets out.  I do believe that tonight it was her not-so-sharp sister.  We went around the pen.  She tried to go through the fencing, instead of through the opening I had provided.  As I walked towards her to guide her to the opening, she decided to fly over an old fence and sneak through a pile of barbed wire - the very same wire that caused the demise of one of the chickens a couple of weeks ago.

She began a clockwise circuit around the yard again.  The old fence prevented me from following her - too high for me to climb over, and I don't fly.   I went the other way and veered out into a cow pasture so that I could get on the other side of her.  Hopefully she would continue going clockwise.  She didn't.  She reversed course, went back through the barbed wire and flew over the fence, ran right by the opening and into the woods.  Using much hand clapping and yelling (I even barked a few times) to scare her out of the woods, I finally succeeded in chasing her out.  She resumed her clockwise circuit around the fence.  But it was only to repeat the same pattern again and again - past the opening, through the barbed wire, reverse, then into the woods!  How many times did we ride that merry-go-round?  I lost count.

I finally opened the gate all the way and filled both of the feeders so that the other (and obviously more intelligent) chickens would stay in their yard.  Then I moved back under a tree on the opposite side.  After several false starts, she finally found the SIX FOOT OPENING and joined the others at the feeders.  I closed the gate and called it a day.  I will go back at sunset to do a count and close up the Moop.  I can only hope that she is not running around the outside of the pen again.

I will peruse my new book a little later.  For now, I'm just going to make some low carb pasta, add a little cream and some grated cheese and call it a day.  The fancy meal with garden fresh veggies from the Alice Waters book will have to wait for tomorrow.

Tonight's count is three calves, one cat, 15 chickens, and one exhausted farmer.

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