Do you remember a British television show called “The Good Life”, about a middle-class (in the British sense) couple living in Surrey who decide to pack it all in and become suburban homesteaders (much to the chagrin of their social climbing neighbours)? I’ve always loved that show and always related to Tom and Barbara Good. I consider myself very lucky (charmed, some may say) to get to spend most of my days doing what I love and basically living “the good life”. However, today it was as if central casting had thrust me in a one-off special, complete with all the toil and MUD, but decidedly lacking Margot and Jerry plying me with booze! Now, of course, I brought the day on myself… but still. It started with a planned run to the landfill to dispose of construction bits that we couldn’t reclaim or recycle (and you know it has to be bad if we’re chucking it). MrGrubbyFungus was an angel and decided to ply me with coffee and breakfast beforehand, which softened the task dramatically. After that productive start the day just seemed to go hilariously off the rails.
Here’s the thing, I’ve had my girls for about 4 years now (raising them from 1-day old chicks), we’ve had some losses in that time and our flock is dwindling, so I was considering getting some new chicks to revive the flock. Not that we need more chickens – the remaining girls supply the two of us quite nicely – but friends and family really like the eggs too and there just aren’t enough to share these days. You will however notice that I said “I was considering”, as in not quite ready to do this thing? Why don’t I learn to be careful what I wish for? So here I am last night reading through one of my favorite local gardening forums, making trades, etc., when I notice a message from one of my friends asking if anyone wants some chickens that one of her friends needs to give up– me, me!!! It’s actually a rather upsetting story (and I think rather unjust, but I’ll save you the rant). This family has had a backyard flock for three years, many of their neighbours have backyard flocks – it’s the norm in their neighborhood, no one is bothered. It seems though that the city they live in is on a code compliance campaign of some sort (I have another friend in the same city who is also struggling with code compliance over different issues). On their first visit city personnel told the lady if the house that she could keep half her flock, but they subsequently decided that she had to get rid of her whole flock and they’d “give her a few days” (whatever that means) to do so before they came back and cite and fine her. So it was mutually advantageous for me to take some of her girls. Now though I was in a bit of a logistical muddle, as I can’t go pick up several new chickens and just throw them in with my girls. This would not make for a sitting around the table at a quilting bee chatting back and forth kind of scenario; no, this is very much more a plot from “Mean Girls” sort of situation. It’s alright, I’m sure I can work this out, no really… have I convinced you?
I have a chicken tractor that someone very generously gave me a few months back. So I decide the best course of action is to move it over to the coop area, move my girls into it, deep clean the coop, put the new girls in the coop and then reintroduce my girls. Sounds like a reasonable plan, right? Yeah, so…
I don’t know what the guy who built this chicken tractor was thinking, perhaps he thought it would serve as an air raid shelter if needs be, whatever he designed it for though it was not to be mobile! Ok, chicken tractor FINALLY moved, now to put my girls in it – only, for some reason, they weren’t so keen on this idea. So I finally get them moved without too much bloodshed (mine or theirs), now to deep clean the coop. Before I can start in on this though the lady with the chickens I’m getting calls and we decide now would be a good time to come get them. So I grab the only thing I can think of to transport them in, an extra-large dog crate, throw it in the back of the truck and away I go. I get to her house no problem, more chicken wrangling ensues. We get them in the crate and in the truck, the kids say their goodbyes, we agree that they are welcome to come by and visit and I will try to bring them eggs when I’m in their area, and away we go. I must say that we had a rather uneventful ride home, a dog-crate seems to be rather effective for transporting chickens.
We all make it home in one piece, I’m getting ready to deep clean the coop and the skies open! So picture, if you will, me with one bunch of angry chickens in a “tractor” they don’t want to be in, another bunch sitting in a dog crate wondering what’s going on, me up to my marigolds (rubber gloves) in chicken coop cleaning, and our sweet neighbour comes over for some eggs. So I have to explain to her why I’m out in the pouring rain cleaning a chicken coop, calling in to MrGF, who is up a ladder plastering a ceiling, to bring out some eggs. It’s a good thing that the neighbours seem to kind of like the fact that we’re “eccentric”. I won’t belabor the point, I eventually get the coop clean… but you can imagine what I look like at this point. Time to introduce the new chickens to the coop; now in my mind this was going to be a simple case of me opening the door and them running into the coop. Do I need to say that it didn’t play out that way? Nope, they weren’t having it, wouldn’t budge. So here’s me manhandling and tipping this big ol’ dog crate into the narrow door of the coop trying to “pour” these chickens into the coop, while meanwhile they’re doing everything in their power to stay in the crate (bearing in mind they’ve been in there for a couple of hours now, and done what chickens do a lot of – not pretty, not at all pretty my friends). We finally agree that they will go in the coop and, hey, they kind of like the new digs. I’m still finishing up some of my clean-up, it’s still pouring, and everything seems to be going well with the new girls so let’s introduce a couple of my girls to the mix; this is one of my more brilliant ideas. Needless to say, all hades breaks out and my girls dash to the run, only IT’S POURING RAIN. There is no way I’m getting them back out of the run and back into the “tractor”, and they are dripping wet looking at me like I’m the vilest biped to ever walk the earth. Fortunately, we had some very large pieces of cardboard lying about in the garage, so I’m able to put a makeshift roof on the run and provide them with some shelter. At this point I surrender; I don’t think I can adequately describe to you (and I’m not sure you want me to) how sodden, muddy and filthy I am at this point. Suffice it to say, the pile of clothes is sitting right inside the backdoor, where I peeled them off, I contemplating just waiting for them to dry and then burning them – I’m not sure washing will work. I crawl into a hot bath and then basically pass out for the next couple of hours, after Goggling how I should go about getting the rest of my girls back in the coop. Turns out you should do so at dusk when they’re all groggy and want to go to sleep. I have to admit that it worked like a charm, except for the very last one who shrieked like I was murdering her.
So who’s buying the first round?
By the way Pyjama Gardener, remind me of this story the next time I say I miss the rain in England.
More adventures tomorrow, see you later!