Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Chicken Chasing 101

The nitty-gritty details of being a helpmate to your husband vary slightly for each individual woman.  Whether it's watching the local deer harvest forecast or making three trips through rural backroads to the butcher shop, there are many, many creative ways to be a helpmate to your husband.  The important thing is to DO THEM and to do them with a good attitude.  Who cares what other folks think?

On account of Sweet Pea being only 7 months old, we decided this time around to have an Amishman down the road butcher our 20+ chickens for us.  They needed to be there by noonish, but we mommas all know that babies have a schedule all their own... and for the good of the family, we ought to at least consider it.  Well, we figured Daddy couldn't get up at 4:30am to crawl around and load our fine-feathered friends into his study wooden crates.  He'd have to go to work and then the chickens would have to be crammed in those crates until Sweet Pea was appropriately fed and napped and ready for a long time in her car seat.  So, Mommy came through.  "I'll do it.  We can catch 'em and load 'em and drive 'em over.  The girls will help me.  We'll figure it out somehow."  Now Daddy was smart.  He said, "Let's do a trial run.  Can you even lift those crates?  They weigh as much as the girls do."  And I passed with flying colors (mostly).  Maybe those muscles acquired back in my gymnastics days haven't quite turned to mush yet.  Early Monday morning, I dressed in my oldest, cruddiest chicken-catching clothes, skipped the makeup, hurried the girls through breakfast, nursed Sweet Pea as much and as often as I could and when all was calm, we headed downstairs.  I gathered coolers... warm clothes for Sweet Pea... duct tape to mark the coolers... warm outerwear for the other Blossoms... the list grew longer and longer.  My brain was being pushed to the limit.  We drove up to the meat chicken pen and one by one loaded the more un-suspecting of the meatheads (forgive the pun).  I couldn't help telling those meaties not to struggle, otherwise they'd bruise their meat and be unfit for my fry pan.  Then, the wiser meaties had to be chased, baited and otherwise cajoled into my beautifully built crates.  (Thank you Rugged, Mountain Man.)  At one point, one rooster trotted forward in response to my calling, (I'm told it was Max) peered at me suspiciously and turned around and squirt-pooped in my direction.  Skeeter laughed aloud, "He just pooped at you, Mommy!"  Picture it - I'm sweating by now.  (Thinking, "Well, Max, if that's the way you want it...")

"Scooter, please keep singing to Sweet Pea." 
"No, Skipper, you may not get out of your carseat.  Please do not aggravate Sweet Pea." 

"How many more do we have to go, Skeeter?  Don't let them get back in the coop!  Keep them in the run!  Here, you block off that escape!"
"Stop struggling you meathead!"
"Scooter, please talk to Sweet Pea some more." 

Perseverance was the key, I suppose.  We loaded up the rest of the laying hens, who were destined for chicken and waffles.  That part went something like this. 

"Open the coop door, Skeeter.... Close it."
"Open the crate door, Scooter... Close it." 
Repeat eight times.  It had a beautiful, efficient rhythm to it, nothing like the chaotic chasing, scrambling and swiping up of the meat birds.  Finally, we're on our way!

Miracle of miracles... Sweet Pea fell asleep.  And, it's way back in the boonies... I almost thought I was lost.  As I was unloading, the Amishman commented, "Wow, who built these crates?  They're really nice."  (Good job, Honey!) 

Drive back home.
Do schoolwork.
Eat lunch.
Get little ones naps.
More schoolwork for older ones. 
Drive to piano lesson. 
Defy GPS and drive out to boonies again to pick up butchered chickens.
Pay Amishman.
Enter screaming Sweet Pea.
Sing Christmas carols at top of lungs to quiet her, until I find somewhere to pull over and nurse Sweet Pea.
Drive home.
Rugged Mountain Man unloads all the gorgeous birds quietly resting in the coolers, waiting to rest easy in our freezer. 
Uh oh.  One short.
Leave message for Amishman.
Rugged Mountain Man talks to Amishman.
Go to bed very relieved that chicken care is over for a few months, but still wondering where the missing bird is.
Wake up.
Receive message from Amishman that missing bird was trying to go home with other family so as not to be ingested by 4 famished Blossoms. 
Leave Rugged, Mountain Man message saying prodigal chicken has been found and is reposing in Amishman's freezer til he can be picked up by Rugged, Mountain Man's wife.
Finish schoolwork.
Defy nasty weather.
Drive to boonies again.
Victoriously lay long-lost bird on truck seat.
Drive home, with no screaming children/babies.
HURRAY!  Chicken Butchering Saga over for another year. 

And, you know what?  There wasn't any yelling or screaming (from Mommy).  Thank God for grace to do the hard things to help.  I can't help but think that I'd chosen to be unhappy about the extra work for me, my attitude would've been wrong all along.  But, there is grace, grace to help.  Grace to see the funny side of chasing chickens with your 8 yr old.