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Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Fanfare Begins

Summer arrived around here with great fanfare and hustle bustle, and I've gotten swallowed up by it all. As Dear Daughter was wrapping up her first grade year and her homeschool co-op came to a close, there was much upheaval on the home front that really had nothing to do with the school year coming to a close--it just all happened at the same time. The summary of it is that I had to uproot and move my private counseling practice. The move itself was actually the easy part. It began with finding a lease in my budget--which isn't all that easy considering I have a very small budget and do not borrow money to subsidize my business. I also set clear boundaries which, in effect, limits my income potential from said business. My kids come first, I don't use daycare, I love to be at home with them, and I homeschool. That would seem to make owning my own private counseling practice impossible. It's not. I just have to be creative, multi-tasking, diligent, organized, committed, deliberate, and as my pastor would say, "intense with my time." Dear Husband thinks I especially have that last part well covered. I once told him that I longed to be bored, even just for a short while. He informed me that it is not possible for me to be bored. When I considered this, I realized he is right; after all, I have a mental list of stuff I would love to do if I ever got bored, thus making "bored" a non-existent anomaly for me.

As I was saying, the physical move was the easy part. It's the notification of such a move to all the health insurances I provide for that makes changes like this a nightmare. It shouldn't be that difficult. But that has become my theme over the past several years when it comes to working with health insurance companies: "It shouldn't be that difficult!" I'll leave it at that.

So...move is done, dust is settling on that front.

However, in the midst of this upheaval, I managed to leave the dog unsupervised outdoors long enough for him to massacre our entire flock of six two-month-old chicks which we had raised from day-old hatchlings. I was dragging clothes baskets and clothes pins back in from the clothes line, had two kids and two dogs (or so I thought) on my heels as I re-entered the house, and my phone rang. Remember that part before about multi-tasking? Well, when it's a business call, I often have to take it--regardless of whether I have laundry baskets, kids, and dogs in tow.

In the process of all this, Cooper got left behind. Outside. Out of eye sight. I didn't realize it for another 40 minutes. It was 90 degrees outside. The windows were shut, the a/c was on. I was distracted by a phone call and oblivious to the outside world. When I finally opened the front door to look for him, there he sat on the front step. With a dead chicken beside him.

As the realization sunk in, I panicked. I screamed at the dog. I ran outside and discovered he had gotten into their pen and killed them all (or so I thought--until I found one lone survivor who escaped into the garage and was huddling behind the table saw). It was morbid and disgusting, and I felt sick as I cleaned up the carcasses of five dead chickens. I was sure the other one fled while wounded and then laid down to die somewhere on our five acres. I figured I'd find it out on the mower in a few days. If I had had a gun, it would have taken a lot of self-control not to take the dog out back and shoot him in the head. I was so mad. I couldn't even look at the dog without spitting at him for three days. But it gets worse....

The next day I put the lone survivor out in the yard in the rabbit cage to graze. Husband hasn't finished building the coop yet, so they live in the garage at night in this rabbit cage for now. I placed the cage where I could see it from the front windows in the house. It was out of reach from Cooper's dog leash on the zip line Dear Husband put up for them. Baby could reach them, which I intended to remedy by shortening her leash, but hadn't gotten to yet. She never pays any attention to the chickens, so it wasn't a big concern. Cooper's had been shortened that morning already.

Unfortunately, I forgot that there were two different length dog leashes on the zip line. In a rush to get ready for work, I assigned Daughter the chore of putting the dogs on the zip line to go potty before I left. She arbitrarily put Cooper on Baby's leash. That meant he could reach the chicken cage. It would take me ten minutes to pull myself together for work. However, only five minutes into the process, Daughter came screaming into my bedroom, "Mommy Mommy Mommy! You are going to be sooooo mad! I'm afraid to tell you, but Cooper is playing tug-o-war with the chicken's head!"

"WHAT!???!!!!"

I ran to the door and found the last living chicken with his talons curled around the edge of his water bowl, hanging on for dear life. His shoulders were pressed against the inside of the cage, and his head.... Well, there wasn't one. Not on his body anyway. It was lying on the outside of the cage where Cooper had apparently dropped it after ripping it off its body. I quickly surmised that the chicken had poked his head out of the cage to graze on the grass outside of the bars (is the grass ever REALLY greener?). Apparently this is all it took for Cooper (on Baby's leash) to grab it and rip it off its head.

If I thought I was mad the day before, I was beyond livid now. I'm pretty sure I drop-kicked the dog across the front acreage, but it's all a blur now as the rage apparently dulled my memory. I had to leave for work, so I left the bloody mess sitting right there for Husband to clean up. I'd had my fill of dead chickens from the day before.

I still don't know if Dear Daughter was most traumatized by watching the dog rip the head off the chicken, or hearing me scream at the dog and insist for the next two days that he was going on Craigslist to find a new home.

That evening, Husband began building a chicken cage that could compete with Fort Knox. Well, actually not at all close. Nonetheless, he was attempting to build something that would defy the cocky dog (no pun intended--these were hens and not roosters).

We started with a new batch of day old hatchlings, which are now old enough to go out to the yard during the day hours...in their fortified chicken cage that Cooper cannot penetrate. And he is getting his furry butt kicked if he so much as looks at them.

This wraps up the drama for the first week of summer. Next time I'll tell you about the drama for the third week of summer.

4 comments:

Lori said...

Oh my goodness, I would have been so mad at my dog too! Yes, it sounds like your plate is overflowing between raising children, dogs and chickens and working and I'm absolutely sure that doesn't cover it all. :) I too, never have a chance to experience boredom but I sure would love to...I too, have a list of what I would do should I have this opportunity. :)

We would so love to move to the country so we could raise chickens ourselves...maybe some day.

Hope you are getting some moments to enjoy the summer. :)

Riahli said...

Yeah, I'm pretty sure I would have reacted the same way with the dog...you are very brave to get more chickens!! I had a little dog once that would go after grown chickens and I would have to chase him down as she would be dragging the chicken (bigger then her) across the yard! Oh and they weren't my chickens...they belonged to my wonderful sweet neighbor. The chickens stopped laying eggs (stress I guess) so the dog found a new home.

MGM said...

Lori, Yes, my proverbial cup overfloweth. Or something like that. LOL!

Riahli, I can totally see Cooper in your story. Thank God we have no neighbors with chickens! It's one thing if we can't keep him out of our own, but it's another if he were killing someone else's.

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