Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘counting chickens

Freezing Mist

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Now, this. What did we do to deserve this? My commute home from work yesterday afternoon was one of the least complicated in my memory, right up until the last ten miles. Then things got serious.

Thank goodness for my Symmetrical All-Wheel-Drive Subaru vehicle with Traction Control and an Anti-Lock Braking System. Before the changing road conditions were even visible, my car alerted me to the increasingly slippery conditions.

Most of the day was a dreary, gloomy gray, with temperatures just above freezing, and a hint of wetness in the air and on the ground. When I left Plymouth, MN, it just seemed damp outside. I barely needed to use wipers throughout my drive, as the moisture wasn’t collecting on the glass.

Things changed after I had turned southeast and passed through River Falls, WI. Within five miles of home, I slowed to make a lazy left turn from the state highway to a county road. However, I hadn’t slowed enough for the invisible icing hazard, which triggered the Traction Control to suddenly kick in and instantly grab my attention.

I touched the brake to drop some of my momentum and the Anti-Lock vibrated for added emphasis. I would drive the rest of the way home with extreme care.

After turning off the county road onto the local streets, I came over a rise and spotted the telltale marks of tires sliding in an oscillating fish tale pattern, and the car perched up ahead in the first few rows of a harvested corn field. I couldn’t stop to offer any support, because there was nowhere safe to pull over, and I wasn’t sure I could get my car to stop.

Luckily, it was close to two farms where they would have equipment to help. I wouldn’t have been able to offer more than moral support.

Poor Delilah lost her feet right away on the front steps when we headed out for a walk. The conditions on our land have gone from bad to worse. Areas that were icy before are now glazed smoother than a freshly resurfaced hockey rink. Rocks, cement, and asphalt, all have a coating that is deceptively and heart-stoppingly slippery.

The absurd wickedness of navigating around here on foot has gotten morbidly comical.

As darkness set in, I very carefully made my way down to close the chicken door to the coop. As we always do, I opened the big door to peek in and count hens. Eight. I found eight. Dang it! There were just nine of them milling about around there fifteen minute before.

I counted four times, then made my way up the treacherous climb to the house to get a flashlight. Slipping my way back down again, it struck me that I had only looked at one side in the coop, toward the roosts. There were seven on the roost and one that is typically up on the 2×4 framing over the small side window.

Aiming my flashlight through the window to the opposite side, I found hen number nine, deftly perched above the other side window. Whew!

As I climbed back up toward the house one more time, I captured a shot of the shiny glaze forming on the driveway and the wisps of mist reflecting in the beam of my flashlight.

I expect driving this morning will be a real slippery trip on the local back roads.

It might take me more than the usual hour to get in to work today.

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Lone Straggler

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Apparently, a pattern is developing with one of our Buff Orpingtons, that she lags behind the group when it comes time to return to the coop for the night. Cyndie describes a funny scene that happened the other night when she was feeding and cleaning up after the horses.

The chickens tend to congregate under the overhang at times, but we don’t want them in the barn, so it becomes an added hassle to navigate the door while going in and out during chores when they are present. Cyndie had shooshed them out, but one Buff stayed after the others wandered off toward the coop.

After the sun had disappeared below the horizon, that Buff showed signs of wanting to return to the coop, but acted rather timid about trekking through the snow to get there. She would get only so far and turn and run back to the preferred confines with the horses under the overhang… several times.

Cyndie finally made the trip herself, and had to coax the hen to follow her the whole way.

Silly bird.

Last night, I went down to shut the chicken door for the evening, and when I got there in the dim light of dusk, it was all quiet, but for occasional sleepy cooing from inside. I spent an extra minute or two clearing the track for the door so it would slide all the way, and that was enough time to give me the feeling all was settled in there for the night.

It was a pleasantly quiet time and the fading gradient of orange glow transitioning to blue-black of night on the horizon was gorgeous. I was just about to head back to the house when my conscience urged me to truly confirm all were present and accounted for before leaving.

Thank goodness for that.

I opened the big door to peek in and counted eight bundles of feathers. Luckily, in the low light remaining, I could tell it was a Buff that was missing. Not thinking of Cyndie’s recent tale, I feared the worst. I had already lingered long enough to know she wasn’t anywhere near the coop. 

Where would I look for her body, I wondered.

I stepped away from the coop, toward the barn, and what do I find?

That lone straggler timidly trying to decide if she wanted to walk all the way back to the coop all by herself. Silly bird.

I can’t help thinking how sad it would have been for her to finally make it all the way, only to find the door sealed for the night, if I had dashed back to the house without looking inside to count them first.

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Written by johnwhays

December 8, 2018 at 9:40 am

Two Frights

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Today’s title isn’t about politics, either. I successfully ignored all media broadcasts of election result(s) play-by-play yesterday, much to my delight. I voted early, so that task wasn’t a part of my yesterday and I was able to remain in the bliss of ignorance as to the eventual outcomes.

However, that didn’t mean my evening was without drama. I experienced two different momentary frights, both of which resolved positively after the shortest bits of distress, I’m happy to report.

The first fright occurred when I couldn’t find a much-favored loaf of brown bread I had just taken out of the freezer on Sunday. I could see that our college crew, who are providing morning support while Cyndie is out-of-town, had made breakfast during their shift.

They didn’t eat it all, did they? Couldn’t have.

Did they put it in the refrigerator? Nope.

Did they take it with them?! Well, the question occurred to me.

Oh, there it was, in the drawer below our usual placement.

Panic averted.

What? I really like brown bread.

With the return to Standard Time this week, darkness arrived while I was just finishing up tending the horses. This provided an opportunity to take care of the task of closing up the chicken coop for the night, as well. That meant I would make one less trip out into the soaking wet, very cold, and uncomfortably windy weather that is our reality this week.

By the time I reached the coop, chickens were already inside. I slid the small back door closed and walked around to the front door to peek in on them for a head count.

1, 2, 3, 456… 7, 8.

I looked again, squinting as if that would help see better in the encroaching darkness. Eight. I could easily discern the three yellow Buff Orpingtons. The difference between the black Australorps and the Golden Laced Wyandottes was a lot harder to make out.

It was a Wyandotte that was missing. It figures. They are often turning up as the odd hen out.

I had one more place to check. Opening the side doors to the nesting boxes relieved my fright. She was just keeping an egg warm, that’s all.

Or, she was thinking about spending the night there. Not allowed!

I slid a hand beneath her to feel for an egg. That was all it took for her to decide she was ready to hop up on the roost with the rest of her brood.

That egg was a lot warmer than the two I gathered from other boxes at the same time.

Nothing to be frightened about here. Carry on.

Good luck with governing to all the candidates who received the majority of votes yesterday! Feel free to use your new responsibilities to make the world a better place for all.

At the very least, let’s hope they find a way to give us less to be frightened about than what has become usual fare from the halls of power in this U.S. of A.

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Written by johnwhays

November 7, 2018 at 7:00 am