Sometimes, Seth and I forget that you can’t just wake up one day and “be” farmers–or whatever it is that we’re trying to do.
There is a steep learning curve just MOVING to the country, let alone when it comes to DOING something with the land or animals you put on it. We also forget that we hadn’t swung a hammer before 2006. We also forget that mistakes WILL happen, money and investments are lost along the way, and that it’s all, well, normal. In fact, it’s a deterrent to many people who would think about moving out in the country in the first place. These people are called “smart people.”
This morning was one of the times I forgot how far we’ve come and how much we’ve learned, but I could easily see how much we have yet to grasp about Homesteading.
I saw some things this morning that no one in my peer group will likely ever have to see, thank God, and it was sometime between that and my unsuccessful attempts at swinging a hammer to fix our coop, that I shouted something along the lines of
WHY ARE WE LIVING THIS LIFE?! WHY ARE WE NOT LIVING IN THE CITY AND BUYING OUR PRE-PACKAGED FACTORY FARM CHICKEN FROM THE GROCERY STORE LIKE EVERY OTHER NORMAL HUMAN BEING ON THE PLANET?
It had, or it has, been a rough week for the Lil’Peckers. We’ve lost about 20 animals in two days to two evil feral cats, and we both feel defeated and useless. I am just the one who talks about it on the Internet.
It was to the point this morning that I swore off chickens all together, and vowed to buy some apartment in Vic Village and never put a scratch on my body ever again.
It’s the kind of epiphany you’d have between rounds of gunshot, of course, as your husband aims at a defenseless bunny who was getting fat from the beans we had laboriously planted weeks prior, because “when your wife wakes you up screaming about dead chickens, then something’s gonna get shot!”
The source of all this anxiety is a duo of evil feral cats. One is black and one is brown. And you’ve got to give it to them. They are not stupid.
I walked out at 6 a.m. and found the black one crouching by the door of the coop. They wait there until the chickens are close enough to the edge of the pen, and then they put a paw in there, pull their head through the coop and start gnawing away. Once the chicken is dead, or even if its not, they start eating it and tugging it through the fence.
I know this because I saw one pair of chicken feet outside the coop, one dead chicken with it’s head and neck chewed up just inside the coop, and a particularly chilling find: A chicken who “survived” the attack, and was standing in the middle of the coop with no head, only the remnants of a beak sticking out of a bloody stump.
Almost all the chickens had big scratches on their necks. (We had almost 50 of them, by the way, so you can admire the persistence of the feral cat) and a fourth chicken had what may or may not be a mortal would on its breast. I grabbed that little guy this morning and Neosporined him and wrapped a piece of cloth around the wound. Chicken surgery 101.
That’s $60 in investments that I’ve lost two days in a row because of these felines of death.
I thought I was going to have a heart attack.
Seth and I were both screaming at each other about the various ways we could protect our flock in the future, when he left for work. Poultry can be very hard on a marriage.
As I was on my way to Lowe’s to grab some fine wire mesh fencing that the cats can’t get their paws through, (Apparently they call the other stuff “chicken wire” because it’s the kind of wire that predators like to eat chicken through?!?!) when I got a call from my husband.
“I was laughing on the way to work,” he said.
“Oh yeah?” I said. Because I had not been laughing.
“How many people do you think had to shoot a headless chicken before work this morning?” he said.
And then I had to laugh. Not only because I had Neosporined a potentially mortally wounded chicken, but because …. What kind of a crazy life do we lead that we have to decide between the bread knife and the .22 rifle when it comes to offing a bloody stump of a hen with no eyes or top beak?
Like, that’s not something you should expect or know how to handle.
That’s “blog gold,” as Eric put it. (And thank God I have a boss who will accept the “we have to kill our headless chicken” excuse as an acceptable reason to be late to work, by the way.)
I think the part of the learning curve that I accepted this morning is that there WAS one. And that we’re always going to run into crazy setbacks — some more “movie magic” than others — and that eventually, we’ll get there. But first, we’re going to lose money and blood and animals and peaceful mornings. Then we can look back on our 20s and laugh about (enter Bangs home improvement or chicken or pig anecdote here)
The good news about all of this is that apparently, when I called my mother on the phone yesterday morning to tell her the good news about the Great Egg Layer Chick Massacre, I was so full of tears and fury that I received this email when I got to work:
“I looked online and I am ready to order another brown egg layer group. I will foot the bill and you can give me a couple meat chickens in return (after they are wrapped in freezer paper and frozen ) I have CPR and First Aid Training tonight. I get off at noon. Do you want me to go to your house and pick up the survivors?”
Yes, I was so irrationally angry and teary-eyed that I frightened my mother into dropping $65 for another order of egg laying chicks. They are scheduled to arrive June 30.
Mom called later in the day because she was so worried about me.
“You sounded … very upset,” she said. I could hear that she was still a bit frightened herself.
And that would be Pregnancy Hormones on the assist.
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