THE OFFICIAL BLOG
More on the Grow-out Pen
We are in the middle of an extreme heat wave that started early in the week. Every day for the last seven days has given us temperatures in excess of 95F degrees. The meteorologists tell us that the heat index has been hovering between 105 and 110F each day. It feels a lot hotter.
It isn't like the heatwave took us by surprise, so we all voted last night to wake up early this morning and get as much done as possible on the grow-out pen before it got too hot. I had realized earlier in the week during solo attempts at putting this thing together that every step of the process - excluding pre-cutting lumber - requires at least four hands (ideally six or so) and we only have so many chances for all of us to work together. Despite our early start, it was really hot. My phone camera had overheated by 8:30 am so the pictures from the day are not the best. Apologies both to you and to my camera.
Because it is just how we roll, we were sure from the start to make the entire project more challenging by assembling the frame on un-level rocky ground. Actually, I'm just kidding. It isn't how we roll. We would much prefer to forego a challenge or two every now and then. However, all of our ground is un-level and rocky. We could, I concede, go through the time, expense, and trouble of laying a level concrete pad every time we build something. But... nah...
If you're cold, they're cold
It is the strangest thing to me that all winter long I see reminders on the news and social media to shelter your pets and other animals from the cold - yet when summer comes there is basically silence. Personally, I find it a lot easier to warm up than cool down... And my experience has taught me that a lot of my fur-covered or feathery companions have much the same problem.
Aside from breaking up ice in stock tanks and hauling around buckets when our hoses are frozen, winter is fairly easy around here. I am probably only able to type that out at the moment because it happens to be July, but I am going to go with it. Check back with me in December and see if I have changed my mind. We have never lost an animal to cold weather. As long as they have shelters with some deep (and actively composting) bedding, full bellies, and a few companions to snuggle with - they do just fine. I have heard otherwise. So much so that I was pretty shocked as a novice chicken owner to find my first Buff Orpington hens dust-bathing in the snow for the first time on a particularly frigid January morning.
It should not have been so surprising, I suppose, as Buff Orpingtons are a cold-hardy breed. Which is great! In winter. Summer, however, poses quite a few challenges for our extra fluffy and often broody hens.
When It Rains It Pours
I am almost too tired to write this, but as I sit here watching more clouds roll in for the afternoon I feel the need for some catharsis. You may have heard about the extreme weather that has been pummeling the plains states for the last few weeks. Well, that's us.
One of the many tornadoes that touched down a couple of weeks ago even happened to touch down at our place - but, thankfully, it lacked motivation and only destroyed a lot of our trees and fences. Still, that and the ongoing tornado warnings and sirens and flash floods and closed roads and rising bodies of water and loss of life is more than enough to remind us that post-traumatic stress disorder is a real and lingering thing.
It occurred to me for the first time this morning that all of this record-breaking severe weather might very well have been the catalyst for starting a new blog. Subconsciously, of course - as these things go. But surely after days of watching the radar screen and listening to damage reports made something go click in my head.
Regardless, it is not entirely the stress of dodging weather disaster every day that has exhausted me. It never is. What wears me down are the daily things. Usually they are little unforeseen difficulties that pile up until they become overwhelming.
Our grass is dying from excess water and our soil is leached. Extra food is needed for all of the animals, but keeping it from going moldy and growing toxins is a constant concern. Disease is more likely to spread in this kind of weather. Parasites proliferate. Small injuries become bigger ones as infection is harder to keep at bay, and nearly impossible to treat properly in muddy conditions.
On August 29, 2005, we changed. A similar observation has often been made by those who have experienced some singularly dramatic event. For instance, they may write: "On May 1, 2014, our lives changed forever." Though I can sympathize with such an observation, I have a slightly different experience. We changed in a fundamental way on that fateful day, but it took quite some time and a lot of concerted effort for our circumstances -- our lives -- to change.
On August 28th, you would have found us to be a pretty normal suburban family -- discounting the ritual of weekend preparation during hurricane season on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. My husband went to work in town every morning. I kept the lawn mowed in our postage-stamp sized yard. Our school-aged children attended the local private school. I handled the grocery shopping. We took our dogs to the groomer. We attended church on Sundays and helped out with local fundraisers and events. We drove children to soccer practice and music lessons. We ate a lot of junk food. We were entertained by the television. We managed to pay the bills and keep the house in good repair, but nothing more.