Wednesday, January 30, 2008
We had three wet weeks of forty degree weather in January, during which the roosters went to high ground and complained all the gray day, while the hens didn't come out at all, and I myself spent much time curled up in a nagging fog of leg pain. I hardy had the attention to open my Ibook, and only got around to tending the chickens once a day.
Then the Great Lakes exhaled and it snowed.
The always wayward winds of this hill swept the snow off the open land and drifted it along the hedges and into the swales, making a road through the property and right into the woods.
In six inches of snow, I wallow like a chicken. With my short legs, skis are not much compensation, but last year I made some snow shoes which really lengthen my stride. The are made of bent willow interlaced with turkey wing feathers, cupped down so as to take advantage of the spring in them. These feather feet exaggerate my stride so much that if you saw me going over the snow, you would have to say I fly.
So when the snow came and the wind put the snow road down through the property and into the woods, I pried myself out of the Ark and got my wing feet from the shed.
Before putting them on, I stopped by to change the water in the chicken house and found a Dominiker hen which the roosters had cornered under the nest boxes and treaded to death. She was already stiff and had probably been there for a day or two. Too many roosters in confined quarters.
I put her in an empty feed bag and left it outside by the door, to deal with later.
The dogs barked at my bird feet then they plunged ahead as shoed up and mounted the drift road.
Flit-footing over the snow, I followed out into the meadow, along the hedge row, and then into the woods ..... soon out of all the sound of my roosters disputing.
The end of the drift road was a bowl of deep untracked snow about twenty yards across in a the midst of a sprucery with no way out but the way I had come in.
Just as I was about half way back around, a ruffed grouse burst into flight out of the unmarked snow right in front of me, stubby wings booming the way they do to shock and awe predators.
The dogs barked and leapt, and so did I.
And whooped and and sang over the snow all the way back to the ranch.
To the frozen bag of pain beside the chicken house door.
I brought the hen in bag to Davey, even though I knew he didn't want to eat a murder-rape victim who had a name he had given her.
Maybe he will keep her frozen until the ground thaws and he can bury her at the bottom of one of his prepared tree holes as he did the raccoon victims last Spring.
The chicken house has a radio I leave on a classic-country music station which regularly broadcasts odd news stores. The other day there was an item about a man in China who was given a chicken in a plastic bag which he put in his freezer and then pulled out in the morning planning to pluck and gut the bird, only to find that it was still living and able to stand.
He vowed to keep that chicken alive for as long as it would live.
Ten years ago, you could have done that to me with no ill effects. Anyway, I know you can hypnotize a chicken by holding it upside down and rocking it. I bet winter would be a lot more peaceful here if I would just hypnotize the roosters, stuff them into a paper bags and shove them into a snow drift.
It gives me peace of mind just to think about it.
Send more snow.