Sunday, August 25, 2013

Cabin Life: The Missing Chickens

The GirlsEvery once in a while, I reach for the faucet to turn on the water.  This usually happens when I’m brushing my teeth, but even though there’s a dish rag hanging on the spout and I haven’t had running water in almost two years, this old habit dies hard.

Summer, on the other hand, is dying a very easy and quick death.  As I walked out into the front yard this morning, I noticed a small maple that was almost entirely red.  The birches are beginning to turn yellow and even the big cherry tree in the yard was not so green anymore.

The days have been warm and the nights cool, feeling more like the heart of fall than the end of August.  This is my favorite type of weather, but I’m not quite ready for it yet.  I still want some summer.

Even though we had a late start to summer and what looks like an early end to it as well, I have gotten a lot done, and had a lot of fun.  The wood shed is built and half full, I got the house shed cleaned up and organized, and the chickens are happy in their coop and run.

Perhaps they’re not that happy.  I put them out in the run every day so they can eat bugs and plants and stuff like that.  Every morning I open the coop door and they all fly right in to the run, and in the evening they hop back up the ramp and into the coop to roost for the night.

Since they’re only out during the day, the run is not built as a completely predator-proof structure.  It’s very safe with chicken wire and metal roofing, but the end that I let them in and out of is just a mix of some wire, a piece of wood and some old plastic insulation.  Like I said, this is built to keep them, not keep predators out.  Still, every day when I get home I look into the run on my way up the driveway just to make sure all the girls are still there.

We had a pretty nasty thunderstorm come through yesterday while I was at work.  I thought of the chickens, but was not too worried about them.  However, when I got home, I noticed the insulation flapping in the wind.  I had tacked it shut like always, but the wind had blown it wide open.  There were no chickens in the run.

Pico was barking and Ed was crying at the window, and it had been a long day for Pico and the cats.  I had gotten a flat tire on the way home and so they had been cooped up for ten hours or so.  But I knew that if I let them out, there’s no way I would be able to catch the missing chickens.  That is, assuming the girls hadn’t been eaten yet.

Even though I had kind of self-vowed not to get too attached to the girls, I was worried about them.  There are so many wild animals out here that could easily snatch up a chicken and trot off into the woods.  Chances are all I would find would be a couple piles of feathers to tell where the girls had been eaten.

Then it dawned on me.  All along, when I fed the chicks, I had always called out “Hey Ladies!” ala the Beastie Boys.  I was hoping that Pavlov was right and the girls would associate my call with the presence of food.  I called out and within a few seconds, Midget and Brownie came out of the tall grass and trotted right up to me.  I smiled and grabbed them and tossed them in the coop.  I called out again and both Blondie and Whitey came out as well.  I had to chase Whitey as usual but I finally caught her and put her in the coop as well.  Blondie jumped in on her own when I opened the door.  I tossed in a handful of bird seed to keep them happy.  After all, my distinct chicken call had worked well, so I guess I want to keep them coming to it.

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Justin A Levine

Having grown up in the southern Adirondacks, Justin has always been at home in the mountains of New York. After graduating from Paul Smiths College, he began his career in the environmental field working for the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. After a brief five year detour to Florida, Justin returned to the Adirondacks to live off the grid in a small cabin with no running water or electricity.

Justin continues to work and play in the outdoors, and maintains a blog about living off grid, hiking, and being outside in the Adirondacks called Middle of the Trail.







One Response

  1. joan streetman says:

    enjoyed your story and I wish we had cool weather here

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