Thursday, November 28, 2013

it's a dog's life, and the chickens, too

There are two points around which our dogs' days center. I'm sure they have secret dog rituals that we know nothing about, but these are the two things that must happen on the days when I am home (and since I don't work, that is most days).

First is the ritual trip down to the hen house. This is known as "checking on the chickens." Sadie, who is brilliant about certain things, has not yet figured out human words, but Jazz knows from long experience that when I say, "Should we go down and check on the chickens?" it's time to become irrationally excited!! Doggy woot!! Sadie picks up the idea from human cues--I'm putting on my sloggers, getting out my gloves, looking for my sunglasses. Pretty soon they are so excited that I have to let them out ahead of me so I can finish getting ready in peace.

The second sacred ritual is their evening treat. Sometime around 7 p.m., they start dancing around again, pushing their noses at me, and making funny little half-whiney noises at the back of their throats. If I didn't know better, I'd think they needed to go outside. But that's not it, it's time for their treats. They each get four little "snacks," and it has to be one for Jazz, one for Sadie, one for Jazz, one for Sadie, etc. Then they get a Dingo chew stick. Probably a bit excessive, but it got started a long time ago and there's no changing it now. They're a mite spoiled.

Checking on the chickens was a bit different this morning. We had our first really cold night last night--down into single digits. When I got down there this morning, even the water inside the henhouse was frozen. They have a water bowl that is heated, so they weren't without water, but their main water supply was frozen solid. Time to change the heat lamp that heats the henhouse--even though it was on, it clearly wasn't doing its job. The cold doesn't seem to bother the chickens, though. There were still four eggs to gather, and when I opened the door to the coop they headed right out. Hmmm. Maybe I will take pictures to go with this post.

MadMax's old trampoline sits next to the henhouse, and I give them their scratch under the trampoline. I guess I had some idea that it would protect them from owls and hawks while they were eating, and so far it has worked. The entire time that I am feeding the chickens, checking their water, gathering the eggs, and cleaning out their, um, poo, I am also throwing a tennis ball for Sadie. If I throw the ball unaided, it goes about ten feet. But we have one of those chucker things, and with that, I can sometimes manage to heave it all the way across the garden and into the un-mowed field. This whole process takes about 15-20 minutes, and then we go back inside and everyone is happy.

Until 7, when it is time for treats. I don't know how we stand the excitement.

(click on a picture to enlarge it)

Excited Sadie with tennis ball

The chickens waiting to be let out in the morning

That is the tramp over to the left, and Jazz behind the coop. The blue
dish to the right of the henhouse is their heated water bowl.

Can you see the tennis ball on top of the ice? Drove Sadie nuts.
We wouldn't let her go out on the ice because neither of us wanted to go in after her!
MadMax managed to get it back to the side of the pond by throwing rocks at it.

MadMax demonstrating the thickness of the ice--he drilled
through with the ice fishing auger

Chicken red light district--when we go down to shut the coop door
at night all you can see is the heat lamp


  1. Happy Thanksgiving everybody! I wrote this one last week after our first overnight hard freeze, and we have had one every night since. Winter is early this year!

  2. Cold here too, although not single digits.

    I love the way the house smells on Thanksgiving . . .