Sunday, July 15, 2012

Chicken Wranglin'

Posted by JP
I sarcastically yelled in celebration, "Yeeeeee Haaaaw, we got 'em good hun! It's fun going chicken wranglin' with you at 7 am on a Sunday mornin'!" as my 7-month pregnant wife Beck and I teamed up to catch the last two roosters in the coop a couple of weeks ago. Beck replied in embarassment, "Keep it down the neighbors might hear you!" We needed to catch the roosters because I was taking them to the "Valley Springs Poultry Auction." Yes, that is about as redneck as it gets and boy did I enjoy every minute of it.

Now catching roosters is no easy task as I found out trying to do it myself, so I recruited Beck to help.  Can you imagine a 7-month pregnant woman and a wannabe farmer who doesn't know what he is doing trying to catch roosters in a coop. Yes...people would pay $$$ for that kind of entertainment. 

Our chicken wranglin' strategy was pretty simple; they kept running under the coop, so Beck had to shoo them in my direction with a 2x4. She soon found that to be too long and heavy, so opted to use a leaf rake instead. I had the task of jumping and grabbing those little varmints as they tried to kick, squirm, and crow their way out of my grip. Once I had a hold of them I carried them out of the coop to put them in a dog kennel in the truck. Beck opened the gate to the kennel, I shoved them in and we slammed the door shut as they crowed in despair. Poor little roosters. 

Well you wouldn't say that if you saw the condition of my hens, who looked like beat up prostitutes in a downtown street alley. The pimp-like roosters needed to go and selling them seemed like less of a hassle than killing them, which was my other option. Killing them and then selling their feathers would have been the more profitable way to go, however at some point I just didn't want to deal with it, so I opted to sell them instead.

When my roosters came to me as chicks I was reading about chickens in the book "Raising Chickens." I read that when they grew up I would probably have problems with them fighting with one another. Contrary to what the book said, my roosters formed a four-man gang and did very unpleasant things to our poor little egg laying hens. The sheriff had to kick the gangsters out of town and, just like many real life gangsters, they hid behind their hens, which made it a little challenging to catch them in their coop.
I drove them up a dirt road in Valley Springs following hand made signs to the outback where the poultry auction took place.
As you could imagine every outback, hippie, weirdo chicken lover was there either selling or buying chickens, rabbits, doves, turkeys and peafowl. It was a little wild. I did learn a trick up there though as one hen got out of the pen and took off. Two people grabbed fishing nets and brought the hen back to the auction cage. I think the next time I go chicken wranglin' I need to invest in a net.

I had a great time at the auction and my boys were the best selling roosters there (which still wasn't all that lucrative.) I will admit though, I was a little sad leaving them after the auction. But now there is true peace and quiet on my farm and that makes "this vine life" a very happy life indeed!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Turkey Suprise

posted by JP

Have you ever had one of those crazy chaotic days where you end up forgetting your cell phone at home, not realizing your error til you're at work, go home at lunch to get it only to find a message from the post office that, by the way, a box of turkeys is waiting for you? Well most of you can empathize with most of that sentence; probably minus the part about 22 turkeys showing up at the post office for pick up.

 It all started on a morning where I was running late for work and I forgot my cell phone in my bedroom. Work was crazy at the bank and I had one customer after another. I went home for lunch to pick up my phone and I had a voice-mail from the post office that said I had a box of turkeys ready for pick up. I came back to work and again was busy all afternoon helping one customer after another. Finally at 10 minutes to 5pm I had a chance to leave for a break to pick up the turkeys at the post office, which thankfully is right across the street from the bank. As I am in line, the post office calls and asks if I am coming to pick up the turkeys. I told the clerk that I was in line right then she said "Ok good, I will bring them right out." As she brought them out you could tell that taking care of them had just made her day.

I opened the box and this is what I saw...

I wasn't expecting these turkeys to be delivered that day, and I wasn't expecting them to be delivered to the post office. They were supposed to be delivered to our house, however our postman decided he did not want to deliver these turkeys for some unknown reason. My hunch is it had something to do with being stuck in a car with loud chirping turkeys for several hours.

The reason I was not expecting them that day is because I had ordered them a month earlier when I discovered there is a turkey shortage. Yes, I know it sounds weird that there is a turkey shortage, but it's true. I went to the feed store a couple months ago and they had a few turkeys. The thought crossed my mind that raising turkeys could be a good idea, so I got ready for them and went back to the feed store only to find out they were all out of turkeys. I asked the clerk and they said there is a turkey shortage and they may or may not be getting any more turkeys because hatch rates are down and the demand is so high there is a shortage. I left the store and went to the next feed store who told me the same thing. I went home to try and order them online and many of the online stores were out of turkeys. I finally found a hatchery in Missouri who still had turkeys left and I ordered them. A month later they arrived! 

Did I mentioned that I wanted to keep this a surprise so I did not tell Beck or LJ about them? Surprise! LJ's reaction was like "Yay turkeys!" Beck's reaction was like "Oh they're so cute...wait what did you do?" I thank God for all the grace Beck has given me over the years.  

The turkeys coming that particular day was also bad because Beck scored free tickets to Sesame Street Live and needed me to meet her in town after work. So, I had to rush home, get them in the brooder, change my clothes and scoot into town pretty quickly to meet them for the show. Unfortunately, 3 birds did not make it past the 48 hour mark and went to turkey heaven. The other 19 turkey birds are doing great and they eat the same food the chickens eat, so there really isn't an additional cost. 

There you have it! The story of how 19 turkeys became a part of This Vine Life! 

Order and Chaos

One thing that is both awesome and challenging about my childcare situation is that different people take care of LJ during the week. My mother-in-law and/or father-in-law one or two days a week, JP every now and then, myself, and my mom and dad. Along with the wonderful blessing of being around his grandparents regularly, the beautiful thing about this arrangement is that LJ is exposed to the different strengths each caregiver posesses.

One example of this is his love for both organization and chaos.

Exhibit A:  Several months ago I took a video of LJ lining up all of his balls methodically in the backyard. Not long after he lined them up he ran into the neatly organized line and kicked them haphazardly around the yard.

Exhibit B:  These two photos; taken within one week of each other:

LJ lining up all the lawn mowers in the kid's area at Oakland Coliseum.

LJ's room after being left alone for 10 minutes.

Is it weird that I kind of love the fine line he walks between being a little bit OCD and a complete and total messer? Here's to a well-rounded child! :)