Saturday, September 28, 2013

September Tempest and the Final Chicken Round-Up

It a dark and stormy night. Isn't that how campfire stories start off as? 'Cept we weren't camping. And it isn't a scary story. It was just really dark and really stormy. The rain was driving down in sheets, and the gusting wind was blowing the precipitation sideways. The storm hadn't even come in full force yet. But we had a job to finish - the last batch of meat chickens needed to be loaded up in the truck for their one-way trip to meet their butcher.

The chicken tractor in the truck bed, and the cab filled with coolers ready to go. We just had to pack up the chickens. Usually, we wait until the morning of to get the chickens in the truck, but this time, we had been scheduled for an earlier slot, and no one wanted to have the great chicken round-up at 5 in the morning. We waited until the birds had all settled down for the night to make the job easier. By then, the storm had arrived.

With Jake on one side of the fence to put the birds into the truck as we brought them up to him, it was up to Dad and me to catch the slumbering poultry products. In the dark. In slippery 'mud.' With the wind blowing and the rain pouring. I'll stop playing my moaning fiddle now.

When we got to the other end of the pasture (which is where the birds bedded down), the tarp tents that we had made were barely holding on to the posts. Actually, some of the corners lost their grommets and had become shredded in the wind. We sliced the baling twine used to tie the tarps, and we set the red-neck structure-staples to the side with some weights on them to prevent them from blowing away. It was chicken catching time.

We each would catch two and slowly make our way back to the road where Jake and the truck were waiting. We passed the chickens over the fence to him, tried to keep count of how many birds we had loaded up, failed utterly at that, gave up on counting, and kept on the trudging gingerly through the wet grass and slippery 'mud' trying not to find the trip wires, er, I mean, the grape trellising anchor wires. And repeat. When all was said and done, we were soaked to the bone. Even our leather gloves had become saturated. Dad was smart - he wore the rubber duck yellow rain coat. If I had just added some soap to my sweatshirt and jeans, they would've been the cleanest things in my closet.

Take a step back. Breathe. We're done. No more meat birds. No more trips to the butcher. Until next year. But by then, we have had a winter to recuperate, and we're ready to start again.

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