|Friday morning as the sun is coming up.|
I’m going to stray from the story of how our Dream came alive this week because it has been such an interesting week. As a farmer, you have to love rain. Without it we would not be raising anything for very long. But rain can sometimes bring with it complications. After that beautiful weekend of sunshine and 70 degree weather (in January!! WOW), we started Monday with a little rain which continued on to Tuesday. Tuesday was the day for the Animal Welfare Approved auditor to come. And he did…. So we walked the wet and slushy pastures. This time of year the rain just sits on top of the ground instead of being soaked up like it does in drier, warmer seasons. The audit was uneventful and went well and the rain continued.
By the end of Tuesday, the goats were getting tired of it (the one thing goats absolutely do not like is rain. They can handle most anything else, even snow but not rain) and the chickens were loving it (the chickens on the other hand love the rain. They love to drink from the puddles and scratch around them finding who knows what, worms and other bug stuff I imagine). Chickens are happy in almost any weather except the summer heat.
Well the rain continued on into Wednesday. By now things are starting to get really soggy. And the rain was getting heavier. It was starting to drain and run through a couple of the hen houses. This is a weakness of pasture raising chickens. The houses are open to the ground and when water starts running, it will run right through the chicken house. For the hens, this is usually not a problem because they don’t spend much time in the houses except at night. And at night they are perched up off of the ground. While the broilers can and some do perch, many of them don’t. They sleep on the ground and are much quicker to take refuge in the house when the weather is not pleasant (You might say they are fair weather foragers). At this point, their houses were still dry. All was well….
|Dry feet at last|
Then Thursday came…. I get up and water is standing everywhere an inch deep or better. It had rained a great deal during the night. I go out to feed and all of the chicken houses are standing in water. Chickens are standing in water. And it was cold. Now what am I going to do… This is a problem we’ve never really had since we started raising chickens. There was no dry ground for the chickens, inside or out. The goats had their shelter that was dry and the pigs had their shelter that was dry but for the chickens, water was standing everywhere inside and outside of their houses. (They do have a barn, which is where their nesting boxes are but chickens don’t seem to stray from routine much so taking refuge in this barn was not a habit so it was not happening) I went ahead and fed everyone to give them something to eat while I figured things out. Then I started hauling hay, one wheel barrow at a time (it was so wet that the mower we use as a tractor could not get around). It took many bales of hay and a few hours but I finally had all the chickens on dry hay. Chickens always seem to be enjoying themselves no matter what they are doing. But on this cold and wet Thursday, even the chickens seemed miserable. And the temps were supposed to drop and the rain was going to change to snow. I went to bed feeling a bit defeated.
|Sunshine, beautiful sunsine!|
But then, Friday morning came. The sun was shining. Could there be anything more beautiful. The chickens are out foraging through the snow (well most of them. We have some newer chickens that have not seen the snow before and they are a little hesitant), the goats are out trying to find some grass in the snow (don’t worry, they have access to hay whenever they want it throughout the winter, they would just rather be foraging rather than standing at a feeder). And the pigs, well the pigs acted like they’d been around snow all of their life.
The moral of this story for me is… sometimes it’s difficult to really see the beauty in things unless we first experience some of the challenges. I have to say I’ve never had more appreciation for the sun shining in my face than I did when I was out this morning. And, everyone and everything is doing just fine. What a beautiful day…. What an incredible week….
I have to interject a cool pig story here. Yesterday while hauling hay to all the chicken houses I hauled some to the pigs as well, to give them a little extra protection because the temps were supposed to drop and we were supposed to have snow. I took a bale of hay and just spread it out against the wall of their shelter thinking it would be a good wind block for any wind coming through the bottom of the wall. Well, the pigs have a big hole that they have burrowed into the ground in the shelter. Sometime in the night the pigs managed to move all of the hay I’d put along the wall, lined their burrowed hole and built a hay wall around it as well. It was one of the coolest things I’ve seen. The pigs never seize to amaze me.
Until next week…..