Rising Action

The pace is somehow getting faster. I really couldn’t have imagined that being possible, but these adorable chickens are putting the screws to us.

I know I’ve talked about how silly it is to try and keep a schedule on the farm, but frankly old habits are hard to break. Based on the schedule I wrote last week (I’m holding it in my hands just to make sure that there was a time that this reality seemed possible) the chickens won’t be ready to hit the pasture until Tuesday or Wednesday of this week. This gives me plenty of time to build their shelters, shop for a truck, begin marketing, clean the house, and enjoy being married. Basically that idea is wrong…so very, very wrong.

So to begin with we’ve been a little behind schedule since the water system broke (and then broke again, and then one last time to make sure I knew I lived at its mercy) because that ate up some serious broiler pasture shelter building time while Shae’s father was here to help. However, these chickens, and I do not mean chicks anymore, are huge. They are way ahead of schedule and the brooders are looking smaller and smaller by the day. While the compost in there is finally looking nice, we are also starting to see some bad behavior because of the population density. The numbers haven’t changed, but just like children who have lived in the same room for years, these guys are pre-teens now and want their space (they have also developed terrible taste in music and a tendency to cluck back at us). We’ve set up two small hospital pens in the house to keep injured chicks away from curious beaks, which make small wounds into big wounds, and things are balancing out to be pretty good as long as we are vigilant. But, vigilance takes a lot of time and effort and is only a way to maintain the status quo, not improve it.

So we’ve been rushing to get the pasture shelters done, and we are thinking we will have 5 of the 10 shelters ready by tomorrow or Monday. Getting half of the group out, the giant half preferably, would be a tremendous release of pressure. We sent an SOS to our friend John in Santa Cruz and he came up on Friday to help build. Amazingly he offered not only an extra pair of hands, but some really awesome advice that helped us start building at some pretty impressive speeds. But to get the shelters down to the field and purchase some of the final supplies we need, we will need a truck, and that’s been an adventure in and of itself.

The Wattrod (my 2003 Accord coupe) is not a particularly good working car for rural life. As I am learning, our budget of about $5,000 for the purchase of a three quarter ton 4-wheel drive pickup and the first year of its maintenance is slightly comical. What has been so funny about this is that every truck I’ve seen has taught me that I can either have something reliable or something affordable. I used all of Thursday to go and see a truck that looked perfect for us only to learn, thanks to the mechanic I had inspect the truck, that the 74,000 miles being advertised on the odometer and Craigslist posting both neglected to let us know that the 5 digit odometer had rolled over at least once in the car’s life. So we are back to square one on looking for trucks.

Lastly, and I’ll keep this short for modesty’s sake, things are a mess. I’ve got chickens in hospital pens in the living room, all of my tools live now in a wheelbarrow so I can get to work faster in the morning, and I haven’t done laundry since my Dad was in town (feel free to check back on the blog to see how long ago that was). We are eating well thanks completely to Shae, and that keeps us energized and also lets us focus on cleaning the kitchen, but I think the last time I had a shower was on my wedding day.

This sure comes off as a laundry list of complaints, but I wouldn’t be taking the time to write something purely negative. I really like being able to share this adventure with all of you, my friends and family. I think that filling you in on the busy/hectic/scary parts makes the successes real and rewarding.

Wish me luck.