Wednesday, November 16, 2016

November Sunsets

Dusk does not linger at this time of year,

Not like July,
when a sunset walk takes me around the pastures and hay fields,
allows me to linger at the pond,
and listen to the bullfrogs,
and wonder when darkness will ever come,
so I may fall into bed, tired after soaking up so much sunshine.

Tonight I am in the wheat field, just minutes from home,
taking the dogs on their after-work walk,
and pondering work, chores, holidays, life.
When I look up, the dogs are silhouettes.
By the time I return home,
I'll be lucky to spot white-tipped tails.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

The Chicken Wars

Getting chickens to accept a new home is easy.
Just move them to the coop at night.

When they awake, they'll know it's their new home,
and they'll return to roost in the evening.

Unless they don't.

For the past few weeks, I've battled the chicken wars.

We have two chicken coops on the farm. With winter approaching, I thought it best to move them to the larger, more weather-tight hen house. On a moonlit night, I carried each hen to her new home. A few murmured as I placed them on their roosts in the coop, but most dozed through the process.

In the morning, I let the chickens of their new coop, and they foraged, wandered and found the horse and sheep barn to their liking.

That night three returned to the hen house.
Two perched on the horse stall doors.
Seven took up residence in the ram pen.
Five huddled in the horse's stall.
Two nested in the sheep stall.

By moonlight, I moved them to their coop.The following morning, I fed them in the hen house and waited until mid-morning to let them out. That evening, I again found the chickens nesting in the sheep/horse barn.

Maybe I need to make the chicken house more inviting.
Maybe they need more time to acclimate to the coop.

After cleaning out the coop. I spread new wood shavings on the floor, and then gave them an extra bag of shavings for good measure. I left the chickens in the coop for three days. Before letting them out, I closed the doors to the ram stall and the sheep stall.

That night, 13 chickens returned to the chicken coop. Five found the open door to the horse stall. My husband and I gathered the five and returned them to the chicken house.

Last evening, before dusk, my husband closed all the doors to the barn, so the sheep, horses and chickens could not enter.

All hens are now sleeping in the hen house. The sheep and horses are sleeping outside, under the stars.

I am certain the chicken wars are not over.