Tonight was dark and stormy, and true to the cliche I found myself walking alone down the dirt road to bring my friend a blackberry crisp I had just baked. She agreed to help me pick blackberries this afternoon in exchange for my turning them into something tasty and delicious to share with her family. Normally my vivid imagination prevents me from walking alone at night, but I figured I was brave enough to walk four houses down, no matter how dark and creepy our road was. Naturally my mind drifted to all the horrors that can befall a lone traveler, and I found myself pondering what my “Missing – Have You Seen Me?” poster would look like. The realization that my description would read something along the lines of “last seen wearing red plaid flannel pants, pink Crocs, and a ‘Swamp People’ T-shirt” makes me think perhaps I should try harder in the wardrobe department.
In addition to baking – I also made muffins – I spent most of the day helping Gene build a PVC pipe winter enclosure for the chickens. We just lost Mary Kate to a sneak attack in broad daylight, so I want to curtail their free range activities when they’re unsupervised. Several neighbors have reported seeing a huge coyote that is brave enough to chill on people’s porches; apparently Gene and I are the only ones who walk around armed, because people keep seeing it. I only need to see it once. To keep the chickens safe, Gene designed a huge framework that he’s going to wrap in chicken wire, then I’ll design various play areas inside so they don’t get bored. He has put his foot down in response to my request for a water feature, but that won’t stop me from asking again. And again.
We also winterized the turkey pen and the Bunny Ranch by wrapping three sides in plastic to keep the rain out. The plan was to do the same to the goat’s covered area, but Fiona nixed that idea by eating the plastic from the turkey pen. We had to build frames, staple the plastic inside, then slide them into the turkey kennel. I was really of no help at all, since once again I’ve got my right arm in a cast. Plus I’m still on pain meds, so not only does Gene have to put up with my lack of coordination, but he also gets to work around me staring into space for periods of time. Which actually isn’t much different than usual.
Since I can’t pick up the bunnies safely one handed, Gene built them a ladder so they can come and go as they please during the day. At first they were scared of it, but now they race up and down it chasing each other. Clearly they need a jungle gym. The exercise wouldn’t hurt them – they are sporting huge beer guts now. Pound for pound they’re catching up with Thing 1, which makes sense for 40-lb bunnies. They are still very social, and will hop right up to me. They seem to like being held now, especially if you bribe them with grapes first. I have yet to hear them make any noise (apart from chewing), but apparently they can make some sort of skittering or humming noise.
At least I can grab the chickens easily one-handed. Condi is still broody, so the best part of being home from work is I can boot her outside every few hours. I also moved the fancy chickens outside, figuring they can benefit from fresh air. They are living in the A-frame inside the turkey kennel, since they’re too young to be outside quite yet. I didn’t think Christmas could still fit inside, so I didn’t think them sharing the kennel at night would be an issue. I went to check on them just after dark, though, and found Christmas standing under the heat lamp with four cowering chicks trying to be invisible. It was truly reminiscent of Godzilla stomping Tokyo. It took me half an hour to shoo her out, then I put up a barricade so she can’t get back in. She could easily have killed all four of them, so I’m glad I’m obsessive enough to check on everyone at least once after dark.
I’m trolling Craig’s list for replacement chickens, because I’d like our flock to be at least 12 strong. I would also like for the whole predator/prey relationship to stop illustrating itself in our backyard. I’m temped to dust all the chickens with cayenne powder.