We have suddenly been in a heat wave this week. The chickens spend most of the day under the coop, laying in the shade panting. Even though I worked 10 hours today I took a few breaks to spray down the run and exterior of the coop to hopefully bring the temperature down a little. After I was finally done I thought the chickens might enjoy some free range time. I tried to pick them up one by one and take them out into the cool grass of the yard. They would scatter from me and squawk as if to say “Ahhhh, it is the crazy lady”. When I finally would get one onto the grass they’d look around and then bolt straight back into their run. I don’t know if I try too hard with them or if they have come to dislike me because of the occasional health checks where I flip them onto their backs and inspect them. Zebra spent some time with me this morning as I attended to her feet and I know that didn’t help things. She has something odd going on with them. It is a small thing but I want to be sure it doesn’t develop into and infection.
So for now, I am not their favorite person, which is a little disheartening after all the time and energy I’ve put into them. I am not the chicken whisperer. I’m hoping as time goes on that it will change. When I was a kid I loved things too much. My dog would squirm away from me as I’d try to snuggle him excessively. I tried to teach grasshoppers to swim and I’d be left with just a leg in my hand as the green insect hopped off into the wild.
Anyway, for a while I’ve wanted to create a space where the chickens could dust bathe. Most of the dirt in the run is so compacted that it would be near impossible to lounge in loose dirt. As I sat there, stewing about the chickens, I decided I’d finally create that space. I ignored the temperature and started dragging huge rocks to the corner of the run. As I removed a giant rock I found a cluster of snails. I tried to get the chickens to come over with their treat call. “Chick, chick, chickies” I sang out. I looked over to them grouped in the corner. They didn’t budge, indifferent to my pleading. Ungrateful little snots I thought. I continued to drag the rocks over until I created an enclosure that would keep the dirt in.
Next I pushed a wheelbarrow to the top of our property to a dirt pile. Everyone has a dirt pile, right? I grabbed a shovel and began filling the wheelbarrow, sweat starting to run down my neck. Once that was done I tried to push the wheelbarrow down the hill. Right away I could tell something wasn’t right. At that moment my husband came out of the garage.
“You know the tire is flat right?” he calls up to me.
“That makes sense now” I call back.
“You can change it” he says.
“I’ve already filled it up”. I begin stubbornly pulling the wheelbarrow down the hill as it gets lower and lower to the ground. The chickens flutter as I enter their run, the rim now scraping on the compacted earth. I almost make it to the rock ring when the wheelbarrow gives out, the rubber squashed and falling off the rim. Determined I get the shovel and begin moving the dirt into the rock ring. Finally it is filled up. I stand back.
“Eh, it will do”.
I go over to the chickens, again they run away from me. Like a wild dance I corner one, pick her up, and plop her into the soft, cool dirt. She looks sideways at me and makes a mad dash back to her sisters.
“Monkeys!” I call out in desperation.
I know they’ll use it eventually, and they’ll love it. They just won’t appreciate it came from me.