Wednesday, February 5, 2014

How Chicken Poop in the Winter Ruins my Day

Proof that the chickens purposely make deposits in front of the door
This crazy, nonstop, seemingly-eternal winter is beginning to get on my nerves. Every day it's either snowing or blowing, and if I'm really in for a cruddy day, both will take place at the same time.

The morning trip to the barn means bundling up in my overalls and barn coat, while adorning myself with all sorts of accessories such as mittens, heat packs, and mental preparation. 

The horses don't require much on these days, as they have a constant supply of water and hay to help them through the season. The dogs and barn cats are effortless as well. It's not too difficult to give them fresh water, a scoop of food, and a quick pat on the head.

It's the chicken chores that are becoming increasingly annoying. I now have learned that the swing gate that leads into the chicken run should've been hinged to swing out rather than in. If it were to swing out, I could simply shovel the huge snowdrift in front of it and easily open it up to do chores. Instead, in order to push the gate open, I have to somehow shovel the snow behind it. To my knowledge, there has not yet been created a shovel that I can hold while on the outside of the chicken run and have it reach over a gate so I can shovel the inside of the run.

So I've been known to use a ladder to assist in jumping inside the run so I can shovel.

But this is equally annoying, causing me to take the short cut. I push the gate open as wiiiide as I can (six inches) before I squeeeeeze through (with my winter wear on) and push the gate to it's breaking point. Now, mind you, I also have three buckets I must get over the gate as well, and since a 5-gallon bucket of water won't fit through the small gate crack, I have to heave it over the gate, usually causing me to have only four gallons of water left. By the time I've lifted over the bucket of water, the bucket of feed, and the empty basket for collecting eggs, I've already had the same workout a CrossFit participant would have completed. From this point on, one would think the worst is over. But the biggest obstacle still lies ahead - the chicken poop that sits in small clumps in front of the coop door (that opens out). And because of this freaky-cold weather, the poop is frozen. Yep. It's frozen solid, like little piles of cement barricading the coop.

If I'm lucky, I have left the small spade out on the coop porch so I can begin the poop-chipping process (say that three times fast). I chip away and chip away, all the while my hands are freezing despite the heat packs in my snowmobile mittens. I get to the point where I think the door will open, but it hits a tiny monument that is so immovable, it may require a jackhammer.

If I'm not lucky, the small spade is hanging on a nail inside the coop. This leaves me to find an alternate way to clear these frozen droppings. My boot heels are usually the tool of choice. You'd be surprised at how effective they are when powered by a steady string of inappropriate vocabulary.

At this time, I am finally inside the coop. The overly-friendly chickens get under my feet and jump over my head as I refill their water and food dispensers and collect the eggs. Sometimes, the egg basket is left in the house, leaving me to fill my coat pockets with eggs. I have only two pockets. I can have eighteen eggs. I escape quickly, close the coop door, and head back to the dreaded gate.You can guess what happens as I try to squeeze myself back out of the gate with loaded pockets.

And now I have laundry to do.

Funny how it's all worth it. It really is. 


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