Friday, August 26, 2011

A Life Lesson from the Chickens

Life on a farm is never dull.  It has a routine and rhythm.  There are certain things that must be done in a certain way at a certain time.  Then there are those things that could never be anticipated.

Yesterday, we had flash flooding in our area.  After dropping my oldest daughter off at school in the midst of a torrential downpour, I made the perilous journey home.  What had been heavy rain quickly turned farm land and drainage ditches into lakes and raging streams.  Much of the road had water flowing quickly over or down it.  Thankfully, our house was out of the flooding area.  I thought the weather was a minor inconvenience until I went to check the chickens.

We currently have 100 cockerels in a chicken tractor.  We are experimenting to see if we can cover our livestock costs by selling chicken.  We have the chickens in a pen that is moved daily to allow them time on pasture while, hopefully, cutting our feed costs.  The system seems to be working.

Upon arriving home yesterday morning, I planned to do a quick survey of the property just to make sure all was well.  The cow was in the barn because it didn't seem like a good idea to turn him out in the midst of a thunderstorm.  The hen house chickens were fine.  The chicken tractor chickens were sitting in three inches of water.  Not good.

Chickens, while not particularly attractive, do have a kind of dignity.  This dignity was wholly absent from my soaked and forlorn chickens.  They were wet and very, very unhappy.  Normally, it takes my husband and myself or my three oldest children and myself to move the tractor.  During the flooding, the three youngest and myself  were left to save the chickens. 

The rain was still coming down when I rousted the children from their dry beds and ordered them out into the field.  None of them are too fond of weather, nor are they overly attached to the chickens.  Yet, all three came without complaining.  It may be that they really weren't awake yet or it may be that after seven months they were coming to understand that some jobs have to be done whether we like it or not.  After several pep talks and lots of heaving and adjusting, we managed to move the chickens to drier ground.  It was hard but we did it.  My older daughter commented that the skills necessary for chicken rescue were something she never would have learned in public school.  I'm fairly certain that, standing there in the rain, my son and youngest daughter would have gladly traded the lesson for a warm, dry classroom.  The sense of accomplishment followed them into their day anyway.  It was something they were able to brag about and recount at dinner time.  Hopefully, knowing that they have the skill and strength to save chickens will stick with them for a life time.  The lesson that just hard things are possible is a good one to learn.

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