Thursday, July 21, 2011

Heartache and the Heat

Stubby, our spunky girl.
 The extreme heat we have been experiencing is making for a stressful time.  Tuesday, Stubby, one of our older girls, succumb to heat exhaustion.  The run was left open so the girls could get out of the coop early.  They all appeared to be foraging when I returned from taking my son detasseling after 5:30 in the morning.  When I got home from picking him up again at 10:00 I went out to check on them.  I noticed Stubby was too still.  She was already gone.  She was still soft so she had just recently passed.  She looked as if she was sleeping.  Poor girl, I couldn’t bear to remove her from the run until I was able to grasp the reality of it all.  I let the other girls out to play in the yard while I watered the garden.  

Since my husband was at work, I knew I had to take care of her. I took her out and placed her beside our back door.  Living in town, you can’t just dig a hole to bury a pet like you can in the country.  Thankfully my parents came in later in the day.  They brought a dog kennel for us to use to bring the others in the house if we had to.  Dad took her home to lay her to rest.  She will be missed.  

Stubby was named because of her lack of tail feathers.  She had them sheared off when the dogs attacked our coop last fall and they never grew back.  She always had a bald spot on her back side and just a few tail feathers.  She was our spunkiest girl.  My husband liked to call her Speed Racer.  She was the fastest chicken we had.  If she didn’t want to go inside, she would make you chase her around the coop several times before you finally gave up and tried to trick her into going back inside.  She was also the only bird that would try to fly out of your hands each time you went to pick her up.  She didn’t want to be contained.  

Miss Tail Feathers
I’m not sure if it was her breed, but the other Silver Laced Wyandotte seemed hotter than the other two as well.  I brought Miss Tail Feathers (our prettiest girl), in and gave her a bath to cool her off.  I ended up keeping her in the basement the rest of the day and over night.  The other two got misted down several times and seemed to be doing alright.   

That evening my husband put up a tarp for more shade and I made use of a cotton shower curtain given to me by a friend.  I cut it off, hemmed it, and we hung in on the other side of the coop.  It gives them a little extra shade while still allowing the breeze to blow into the run. It tye dyed in color so it just looks cool, NOT.   I really need to find some nice outdoor material to make some curtains to hang that can be moved on a rod to open and close them  periodically.  I also hooked up their fan inside the coop.  They seem to like to sit in front of it at night.

One Wednesday, I let all of the chickens outside for exercise.  The little ones were in the kennel with a tarp stretched over it for shade, and the others in the run.  After a while, I looked outside to check on them and noticed a strange shadow appearing in our yard.  It kept moving so I instantly looked up and saw two hawks soaring over checking out the little chickens.  They kept getting closer and closer trying to figure out how to get in and out of the kennel quickly. I don't think they would have been able to get to them with the tarp hanging over it, however, I didn't want to take any chances.  I grabbed their box and ran outside to get them in.  It was starting to get really hot again so I decided to bring the big girls into the basement to stay cool as well.   I had already made up a box for them with wood shavings and hay.  They got to spend the night inside and didn’t seem to mind.  

 I can’t wait for this heat wave to subside.  I’m sure it is causing more heartache for others as well.  Not to mention an increase in utility bills.   I can’t imagine not having central air-conditioning in times like these.  I can remember growing up sitting in front of the fan to stay cool.  We didn’t have air in our new house.  Why, I’m not sure.  Maybe because it was considered a luxury back then, where as now we find it a necessity.

I am also having a hard time keeping up with watering the garden. The ground is so dry and the heat continues to deplete any moisture you give it.   Because of the lack of rain, I have to use water from the faucet, which I know will cause and increase in our bill.  My rain barrels have been empty for over a week now.  In addition, we are taking more showers which will also add to the cost of our water bill.  The extreme heat seems to be making us very tired.  We can’t seem to accomplish as much when the temperatures become unbearable.forecasted for this evening which we desperately need.

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