“You cannot make footprints on the sands of time by sitting on your butt …And who wants to make buttprints?” – Bob Moawad
Actually, I have known some people who seem perfectly content to be leaving buttprints. Don’t we all leave at least a few of them when we need to rest? Or do we not leave buttprints if we rest in the arms of God as He carries us, as in the more famous quote about footprints in the sands of time? These were the kind of thoughts that wandered through my mind as I sat with my own rather ample butt on a feed can in the chicken coop for several cold mornings this past March.
You see, I had succumbed to the enticement of fuzzy little baby chicks, buying a few at the end of February. I had earlier figured out to use an old Pack’nPlay playpen to hold the chicks, instead of having to find a box big enough or build something. I lined the pen with cardboard, filled the bottom with woodchips, and was able to secure the heat lamp safely where it wouldn’t touch any of the plastic. This worked great for the first couple of weeks or so.
Then the chicks developed their feathers, and their ability to fly. First they hopped onto the tops of the feed and water jars. It wasn’t long before they made it to the top edge of the Pack’nPlay and beyond, toppling over the jars in the process. I tried several ways of blocking them, but one in particular became adept at figuring out ways around the barricades. The pen was getting too crowded and increasingly difficult to keep clean, as the chicks grew bigger by the day. I had to do something.
I had neglected to have an area in the coop caged off for them, figuring that I could do that in March. Well, we all know how the weather this past March went! It was just too daunting for me to figure out how to clean an area and cage it in when surrounded by so much relentless snow. To top it off, the shed containing my supply of chicken wire had frozen shut. I had barely managed to clear out an area for the older chickens in their yard. They had been getting a little nuts from being literally cooped up for a couple of weeks.
I suppose I could have just moved the little ones into the coop and hoped for the best, but I didn’t have the heart to leave them to the mercy of the older chickens. Chickens can get quite nasty, especially when confronted with an infestation of smaller alien creatures. And so began my days of getting up at dawn and sitting with the chickens to act as a referee of sorts.
I soon figured out, sitting there in the cold, how to get the heat lamp hooked up to make the situation a little more pleasant. That definitely helped, along with the more and more extended outdoor areas clearing out as the snow melted for the older chickens to be able to wander. Yes, I know I said last time that I wasn’t going to let them free range until later in the Spring, but this was an extenuating circumstance. It was a matter of sanity for us all. Besides, the field that is most dangerous for them to roam was covered in snow until well into April.
The older chickens, during that first stressful time period, made it clear that they did not appreciate having to lay their eggs with an audience. One morning, one got up onto a nearby roosting bar and started squawking angrily right in my face. My patience slipping by then, I found myself squawking angrily right back at her… I was arguing with a chicken! That day I figured out how to repurpose an old rabbit hutch that had been sitting around the yard into an outdoor nesting box for them. It worked. The ones who were not dealing well with nesting inside with the little ones running around, quickly took to laying their eggs in that box.
As things quieted down, I spent less and less time with them. Often singing while sitting there, I knew my sitting days were done when I found myself changing the words to Loretta Lynn’s song “Crazy”. “I’m crazy, crazy for sitting with chickens…”~