Posted by: poofergirlsperspective | October 23, 2007

Farm Wife In Training.

Some days I wonder how the heck I got into the role of “farm wife”.  I am getting a hang of the “wife” part after close to 10 months but once you add “farm” to that title I have to admit that I am far from figuring it out.   

On Saturday evening Loren went out to do cores at about 11pm and came back in within minutes and said “something is eating a chicken in the fan room (where some of the new chickens are) and it is huge!”.  He got a gun (I hate guns) and grabbed a couple of shells and was ready to go.  On his way out the door he said, “you want to hold the flashlight for me?” and I said terribly frightened “ummm … no!”.  He looked at me and I thought oh shoot I am such a bad farm wife so I said in as much of a convincing tone that I could muster, “do you really want me to?”.  He said “no!” and went off into the darkness armed with a loaded gun.  I stood there for a minute and waited for the shot of a gun but I didn’t hear anything.  I finally decided that I should really go help … or try to help would be a better way to say it. 

I changed into “chore clothes” and grabbed a coat and stood at the door.  I realized that I didn’t really know where he would be; he could be in the barn (which terrifies me), or outside the barn in the door to the fan room, or anywhere really.  It was dark and cold and I suddenly had a fear of being shot because my husband didn’t know I was there.  Yelling might work to find his location but then I figured that might do more harm then good since he was supposed to be shooting an animal that was eating a chicken.  There was a chance of startling my husband with a gun or startling the animal where the gun was aimed and making the process of protecting the chickens more difficult.  So I chickened out … again.  I do that a lot around here. 

A few long minutes later Loren came back in and said that what he thought was a large weasel (or something similar) had left … leaving a half eaten chicken.  It took a few hours but Loren moved the chickens and roosters to a somewhat safer room in the barn. 

Chickens are pretty smart, even though they are dumb.  God has a sense of humor I think.  They are smart because they know where to go in when it gets dark.  It always amazes me that they can be running around the farm for hours and know where to head when the sun starts to set.  Remember my teenage chickens?, they knew where to go, they just didn’t want to go when I wanted them to!  So the last three nights the chickens and roosters from the fan room have had to re-learn where they go in for the night.  For most of them they have been going in and out the same door for months.  To change this on them is not easy.  Making it worse is that the old door is right next to the new door!  Chickens of course can’t reason that the new room is right next to the old one. 

The first night that they had to go into the new room Loren was outside and helped them to the correct spot.  The last two nights it has been my job since he is at work.  Last night went ok.  I was out early enough to steer them in the right direction.  I had to do a little chicken chasing but it was a pretty smooth process. 

Tonight didn’t go as smoothly as last night … partly because I didn’t make it out there until it was close to dark.  My excuse is that I was reading blogs!  I know, I know! … It is a bad excuse … but remember that I am not a good farm wife so it is ok.  The other contributing factor in the process tonight was that the cattle were penned up in the cow yard, which means that a large fence is closed which is normally opened.  I like it when they are in the cow yard because there is no fear of them getting out.  When Loren told me this afternoon that they were in the cow yard and the electric fences were off I said “oh good! I feel safer when they are in the cow yard”.  He said, “well, hopefully you don’t have any chickens in the barn that you have to chase because that might be a problem.”  I naively stated, “Oh I am sure that they will all go in since it is the 3rd night.” 

Not surprisingly I was wrong.  Since it was almost dark I ran out and the youngest chicks were still out and I figured that the others might still be out as well.  Turing the corner around the barn there were no chickens or roosters to be seen so I shut the door.  I hate to shut that door … it is a small opening that I need to fit a piece of wood in.  It is difficult to fit the wood in and I curse my way through it but tonight and it only took me a couple tries to fit it in so I was happy about that.  Because the opening is so small we turn on the light in the barn so that the chickens have a better shot of seeing where they need to go.  This means that I have to turn the light on shortly before it gets dark and then off when they are in.  I went to turn off the light which is right inside the door and what do I see … a chicken in the barn!  Shoot! 

I walk around the barn because I am terrified of the inside of the barn and I open the cow yard gate which is tied shut and look in the back room and there are 8 chickens back there!  8!!  Oh man.  Loren has been giving me little tricks here and there as I am learning to be a farm wife and one of those is to hold a large piece of plywood or something similar in front of me as I slowly approached them.  They are quick to run around and so if they think that I am bigger, they will hopefully go where I need them to go.  My wonderful husband found one such board for me and had it outside to help me get the chickens in as they learned where to go. For that I was thankful.  The thought of trying to find one in the dark would have added to my stress. 

To make matters worse, for some reason I threw on my garden shoes as I ran out the door.  Why I didn’t put on my trusty favorite green rubber farm boots I don’t know.   Slogs have an open back on them, and I was barefoot.  Let’s just say that with all the rain and all the large animals that spend lots of time in that area, the garden shoes were not the right choice!  Yuck is all I gotta say.

In the muck and yuck, I did my best to get the job done.  I untied the cow yard fence and grabbed the wood and re-tied the fence since Corrine was out and about in the yard.  Calmly and slowly I entered the back room of the barn and tried to gently coaxed the chickens outside.  Amazingly they were headed in the right direction until they got to the gate and couldn’t get out!  I couldn’t get to the gate fast enough to open it before they all frantically ran back into the back room!  Aggghhhh!  Not good.  Leaving the gate open was not an option with the possibility of 5 large cows and steers getting out. 

Not giving up hope, I went back and managed to get one chicken to travel around the barn and step up into the new room, followed by 2 more.  Corrine went into the calf barn with the rest of the steers so I took a chance and left the gate open while I struggled to get the 5 remaining birds to safety.  They are smart; not smart enough to know where to roost for the night, but smart enough to stay where they wanted to stay.  I tried and tried and tried.  Those chickens wore me down and I finally had to give up.  I didn’t want to … but it was pitch black outside and there was no way that those chickens were going to head into the darkness not knowing where to go.  So after about 45 minutes I admitted defeat and called it quits.  I tied up the cow yard fence and since those 5 chickens weren’t going into the safe room I closed it up. 

Defeated, I walked to the house with my mucky and yucky boots.  I had failed; I left 5 chickens in the barn with the possibility of a weasel on the loose.  Hopefully they survive until 1:30am when the real farmer comes home.  

So the title of “farm wife” is yet to be mine … but at least I gave it my best shot and heck, I did get 3 of the 8 chickens to safety!  3 is better then none!  :)



  1. Sounds very much like another city slicker turned farm girl I knew. Simple solution: Wait a little while longer to when it is totally dark and go in the fan room (or wherever they are) and pick them up by hand and put them in them in the “safe room” Wait until you have been at this for 35 years!! Enjoy the adventure! Chiggy poop and bossy poop and all! Heck, it’s all organic.

  2. HA HA, pick them up by hand would be funny to watch ……………..haymaker doesnt know you to well yet! I think that the 5 left is okay, you do have 200 chickens dont you? Bravo to your efforts!

  3. veteran haymaker … I did contemplate picking them up … since that is what Loren will be doing if they are still alive and well in the next few minutes … but … I chickened out. I am just getting comftorable being in the same space as them. Hopefully it won’t take me 35 years to pick one up, but if it takes that long I guess that is ok. :)

    Teresa … yeah we have close to 200 I think?, maybe it is 150, but I agree that 5 wouldn’t be the end of the world. Ha. :) I actually thought that as I was standing in the doorway trying to decide if I could convince them that safety was better.

  4. Never a dull moment on the farm, and so much to learn! Maybe you need a ‘farm wife mentor’ to teach you some tricks of the trade and lessen the anxiety and fear. I also have to laugh at the thought of you actually picking up those chickens! :) You didn’t even like to pick up kittens when you were little and they’re cute and cuddly. You are doing a beautiful job of adjusting and learning the ropes while still maintaining your sense of humor.

  5. I laughed out loud when you said, “It is a bad excuse, but remember, I am not a good farm wife, so it is ok.”

    Did the chicks survive?

  6. […] … all 5 chickens from last night were alive and well when Loren got home.  He moved 3 pullet hens and 2 roosters back to the […]

  7. Mom … never a dull moment is right! Good grief. I dn’t know that I will ever be able to pick up a chicken, it is sortof a goal though just cause it would be easier to deal with them and if I knew that I could pick one up I would be much more confident in the fact that I am the boss and they are just little chickens. :)

    Julie … I almost took that line out! Ha! Funny. It was so true though so I had to keep it in. . The chickens did survive. Yea! :)

  8. A great story! I learned, all by myself, that chickens are fearful of paper feed bags. I keep a couple in the chicken coup just for the sole purpose of waving them around so I can get the hens to move from one end or the other. I have not, in four years, picked up a chicken yet. I don’t ever intend to. I also won’t stick my hand under them to retrieve eggs. They peck. So I go to the coup multiple times per day, waiting for them to leave the nests, so I can get the eggs. I’m a whimp.

  9. Rose … great idea about the bags. I totally hear you on taking eggs from under a hen … I won’t do it either. Being wimpy is just fine in my new farm-girl opinion. :)

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