Posted by: poofergirlsperspective | April 4, 2008

Farmgirl Week … just chickens.

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There was a time when I would stand at the chicken coop door and be unable to open it, I have had some serious fear of the chickens and have amazingly overcome much of that fear over the past 15 months.  I can easily go inside the coop, feed and water them, collect eggs, and not be scared at all.  They are a very mild mannered chicken and really, I shouldn’t fear them but I still do just a bit.  If I am standing 5 ft. above them, I am just fine … but if I need to be on their level for any reason the fear creeps up.  I am only eye level with them when they are in the nesting boxes and I happen to be collecting eggs.  Not a big deal if I see a hen in a nesting box, I just move to the next box and come back later for those eggs.  I have tried to lift up a laying hen and collect the eggs under her I really have, but I am just too afraid … I just can’t do it.  I have come to accept this fault of mine but deep down I would really like to be able to do it, cause really … it’s just a chicken. 

I made a secret goal for this farmgirl week.  I thought that it would be so very cool if I could overcome this whole “still somewhat scared of the chickens” deal and lift one up to grab the eggs under her.  I pretty much knew way deep down that I wouldn’t overcome it and that is why it was a secret.  I didn’t want to say “I will overcome this fear by Friday at 3pm!”, and then sheepishly hide somewhere else on Friday at 3pm and never fess up to not meeting the goal.  Still, it was in the back of my mind whenever I would be in the chicken coop. 

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All week I have done a fine job with the chickens … they are all still alive and life hasn’t changed for them since I have been in charge.  Chicken chores don’t take too long but I am in the coop a few times a day with different small jobs to take care of.  On Wednesday evening I came home from church and only had just a few simple chores to get done before my night was done.  I worked hard in the early evening before leaving to get all the water done, the steers taken care of and most of the eggs collected.  I only had to finish chicken chores, which consisted of dumping their old water and closing up the coop.  Pretty simple. 

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Pretty simple until I went in the coop and there was a hen sitting in one of the nesting boxes.  This wasn’t going to be good.  I knew that she couldn’t stay in there because she needed to be on the roost, with everyone else, not sitting in a nesting box with eggs under her.

Loren has shared stories of the chickens with me of course so I knew that this has happened before and he has had to move hens from nesting boxes and put them on the roost.  Hens will start to stay in a nesting box when they want to “cluck”, or sit on eggs that they will hatch.  Spring is when this starts to happen.  He will set her on eggs after she sits in the box for a few days so that he knows she is “ready” to sit that long and not abandon her eggs. Not knowing for sure what to do, I chose to ignore her and figured that she would just leave on her own.  This was wishful thinking on my part. 

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Knowing that this was a problem, while I was talking to Loren on the phone I mentioned briefly the situation.  He said, “Well, you are going to have to move her”.  I didn’t like that comment so I changed the subject … several times actually, but since we always seemed to come back to the current hen situation I had to remind him that I didn’t want to move her, and that I was deathly afraid of her!  I said, “I really have to? … cause I am really afraid of her … There isn’t anything else I can do?”.  I knew the answer and after whining for several minutes I said, “ok I will try … but that is all I can promise.  If I can’t get her out of the box then I just can’t!”   He said, “do what you can, just do your best, but she really shouldn’t sit on eggs all night … at least try to get the eggs.”   

I ventured out in the dark of night to fight with the hen.  I went up to the nesting box and I begged and pleaded with the hen.  Seriously I did … I am not so proud of it now but I did.  Eventually it was evident that she was not going to get out of the box willingly so I prepared myself to move her.  It didn’t go well.  I am seriously afraid of them when I am that close.  First, I tried to get her to move by placing my hand under the hay … you know so that I wasn’t actually touching her … but she wouldn’t budge.  Loren’s words of “you may just have to grab her with two hands and get her out” kept going though my head but her beady little eyes told me that I just couldn’t do that.  When I touched her feathers after mustering up enough courage she pecked at me.  Since I had big old gloves on I didn’t feel it at all, but it still scared the dickens out of me.  It was a horrible time.  I begged and pleaded some more … but nothing happened … she just looked at me.  When hens are in this clucking state they seem almost lethargic and glossy eyed.  It is strange. 

I finally decided that I had to try to grab her.  All the while I was saying out loud “she is just a chicken … she is just a chicken … for pete’s sake, she is just a chicken!”  I couldn’t grab her very well because of my big old safety gloves, which I was “not” going to take off and because she would puff up her feathers to scare me off and protect her eggs.  I finally got her about half way moved … she was sitting north/south and I got her to sit east/west which really meant nothing except that she was even harder to get to.  It was horrible … have I mentioned how horrible it was?   I was scared and it was bad … and she was just a chicken!! 

Slowly I was able to inch her out enough and she sorta fell out of the box onto the floor.  She was fine, she only fell about 6 inches but I am pretty certain that she fell on her head since all I could see was her hind end up in the air.  I tried to help her up and finally she just sat there … I tried to get her again but she was hard to get at between the roost and the nesting box so I did what any good farmgirl would do … I grabbed the 4 eggs she was sitting on and left her sitting there.

I called Loren back at the hotel and told him my story.  He said that she would be fine but that tomorrow I needed to be prepared to do it again, but this time she would have a dozen eggs under her because she would sit all day.  Most of the day I worried about that and yet when I let them outside in the late afternoon all the chickens left the coop and I was able to get all the eggs collected. 

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An hour later however I went to check and sure enough she was sitting back in the same nest.  Tonight though, certain that she wasn’t sitting on any eggs I left her alone.  Unfortunately this not-so-new farmgirl is still a little afraid … even though I know more then anyone that they are just chickens. 

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Responses

  1. Beady eyes and sharp beaks . . . you did much better than I would have!

  2. Next time bring in a bucket of KFC and sit in front of her and eat them one by one.

    By the end of the bucket she will either get the message and flee or you will be so sick of chicken you will just want her out of your sight and kick her out of the nest.

    If that doesn’t work, dress up like a fox.


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