Sunday November 23, 2014


Survey results are meant for general information only, and are not based on recognised statistical methods.

Stress and chickens


We had a horrifically busy week due to branding.

It was that week when it all comes down on the farm. It comes to a head like a zit and it isn’t pretty. People stress when it all needs doing now, and Farmer is no exception. I love him, but sometimes he’s not likeable.

Seeding was three times the stress of previous years because it followed two consecutive “too wet” years for Farmer. Clouds gathered, and he told the sky to just hold off until his oats were in the ground.

Farmer’s best crop land is heavy and flat, and a third of it has been under water. The rain gage read 2 1/2 inches of rain from one night, beginning as Farmer finished seeding. His tractor was parked at the field’s edge. It may be a few weeks before he can move it.

I was insanely happy since the garden desperately needed rain. Farmer was furious, swearing several times after a quick quad ride to the field’s edge. After helping him chase a wandering cow back to pasture, I went joyously back to transplanting cabbages into the garlic patch, and surrounding them with mint plants. He persisted in misery.

There was a time when I could not abide this kind of anger. I would assume it was about me, try to make him happy and become angry with him for persisting in fury. Negativity can quickly become contagious with this approach.

Now I see Farmer like I see Princess when she’s overtired, and just needs to be tucked in. He’s like a wrung sponge, and no matter how you squeeze him, he’s got nothing left. He’s done. Finished. Kaput.

Farmer is not unlike his John Deere: still attached to the seed drills, and sunk in quick sand.

He may be the only thing currently keeping me from floating away. I’ve finished transplanting bedding plants. We’re eating salad greens. My son and I even built and set our first chicken tractor into trial mode. How does it get any better than that?

I rescued the last wet hen about 12:30 one morning. A few more adjustments and chickens will take their tractor for another test drive. With the ground crawling with fat earthworms, these feathered farmers have never been more motivated to work.



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