May 27, 2017

How to pick up (literal) chicks



A great deal of time spent on the farm has to do with what I call animal politics, which is the intricate web of relationships between the (four legged or feathered) animals and between animals and humans.

One example is the Darwin game which we play with the indeterminate number of chickens. In this game, the humans want the eggs to eat them, while the hens hide them to reproduce. I'm not sure how much of that is conscious on either of our parts.

The latest winner of the Darwin game is a gray hen who laid her eggs in a niche in our garage. She sat on them long enough for them to be viable, which meant I couldn't use the punching bag in the garage for three weeks so as not to disturb her.

The eggs hatched night before last, which meant I had to get Mama-san and chicks into a safe chicken tractor. I tried shutting them up in the garage but the little Houdinis got out. Then I looked for them to no avail with a flashlight after dark.

In the morning I found Mama-san sitting on the babies. I thought I'd put a box over the lot and then get them in the tractor somehow. She did not concur.

Instead, she flew at my face several times while the chicks scattered. Which led to plan B. I put the chicks I could find into the tractor and waited for their peeps to attract the mother. Then I rounded up the stragglers.

All but one. I heard some peeping underneath a huge BMT (big metal thing) in the garage. Too heavy to lift and not enough space underneath

That's when my long past fire department training kicked in. I remembered when we were practicing auto extrication how we used pieces of wood for cribbing to stabilize the vehicle so you could get the people out. A pry bar and some scraps of 2x4 later and the mother and child reunion had occurred.

I think there are eight of the little buggers now with Mama-san in a fairly safe place. Haven't gotten a lot of gratitude from her though.

I realize that crows and other tool-using animals perform more complicated feats every day, but this was pretty good for me.