Sunday, April 15, 2012

The Frozen Chicken Wrap

Shocking, I know!

Yesterday I posted to my Facebook page that my day was pretty much ruined after having to cull one of our chicks. The only diagnosis I could come up with, was that it must have really freaked out about something, and jumped so hard and so high that he hit his head and broke his neck. I agree that the brooder box has a pretty low ceiling, but I've never had this happen before.

What made matters worse, was that I saw the little crumpled up body laying there face down when I entered the shop (not the barn, because now I've taken over my husband's work space too) and upon seeing the lifeless body, I became sad, and proceeded to move on by to love on my other indoor chickens, feed and water them and then try to work up the nerve to return to the brooder box.

Now death has a funny way of messing with people. It seems like every time I deal with something that dies, something crazy always happens. Or something gross. Or ... I really can't write about it here. Yet.

So realizing that I needed to remove this little body from the brooder box, I remembered that I had left my gloves back at the house. Thankfully, good and kind friends had left behind dozens of rolls of paper towels during our flood clean up and I had some nearby. I gathered up two or three and knelt down, pulled back the wire mesh top and reached in with one of the paper towels. I won't lie - and everyone knows it anyway - but I really do need to know why my animals die. I worried that maybe it was a disease, so if it had some sort of injury my mind would be more at peace with the whole thing.

I carefully tried to push the little feathered body over onto it's side to see if there was any blood or anything obvious, and that's when I about flew out of my skin. The little guy was looking at me. I thought that was super creepy, but then dead things often have their eyes open, so I pushed a little more, and that's when my skin really did come off. He flapped.


After I came to, I squeezed my eyes shut, gritted my teeth, and tried to think about what on EARTH I was going to do with a NOT dead chick. Ugh! This was even worse than just finding a dead one. Well... I did what any nice person would do and I tried to help it up. Maybe it was sleeping, right? With it's face in the pine shavings, of course (sigh). I needed to see what was going on, or if it was sick. Either way, it had to come out of the brooder and soon. An illness can wipe out an entire flock and I wasn't going to sit around and wait for that to happen.

I rolled the poor little chick over onto another paper towel, and that's when it became very apparent that it had lost all control of most of its body. I felt so horrible. I knew that something had to happen and soon. I felt around a little bit, and my suspicions were confirmed when I felt its neck and back. Something had gone horribly wrong. The last time I felt a neck like that was when a skunk got a hold of one of my laying hens sitting on a nest. She didn't make it.

I'm not going into any details at all about the next few minutes or hours, but instead I'll flash forward to today.

Today was a glorious day. Today the sun shone through, and today I slept in and it was such delicious sleep that I actually felt like getting out of bed. So today I was out and about doing sunshine inducing things like moving poop around in wagons. I also took some time out to take my son to his baseball skills testing. Apparently he's playing with the big boys now, because they actually care about how well you do instead of whether or not you leave smiling.

So... I don't mean to gross anyone out (although those of you that really know me, know that's probably a lie) but whenever an animal dies around here - the small ones anyway - it is half-heartedly lovingly wrapped and then placed in the freezer so that we can give it a proper burial (I have kids, you know?) So that's what I had done yesterday before I left the shop. And that's where our little chick was still at when I left the house today.

While I was gone, my in-laws gave me a call and said something about cake and ice cream for my husband's birthday. So I hurried home as soon as I could, and they were already here and but had gone out to the field to talk to my husband who was refusing to get off of his riding lawnmower because the grass is now one foot high and he gets tired about the kids joking that it looks like seaweed whenever it floods. I went in the house to see if they had put the cake and ice cream in the house, but was informed that nobody had come into the house.

As soon as I walked outside, and heard my Mother in law saying something from across the yard as she was approaching me about "cake" and "ice cream" and "freezer". So, I checked the freezer that is right outside the house, but I didn't see anything new. I thought nothing of it because unlike most American families we have four freezers to choose from, and one of them still belongs to her and I hadn't checked that one yet (why yes, it DOES get confusing when I tell the kids to get something out of the freezer!). Then, I realized that they were parked right in front of the shop. And the shop door is now wide open. The refrigerator/freezer that I use for eggs (and future burials) was right inside the door, and the chest freezer that is owned by my in-laws, I realized, was still piled high with things that had been saved from the flood water. You couldn't get in that one if you wanted to.

It was in the very next moment that a traumatic recollection collided head-on with a horrifying mental image. I almost had to carry my own pants out in a wagon at that point, because I could not possibly fathom the idea of one of our family members placing a quart of ice cream into the completely (except for one thing) empty freezer, and then spotting the small, curiously wrapped package, with feathers sticking out, no less, sitting nearby and not actually trying to see what it was. Absolute panic. That's exactly what I coughed up and swallowed back down.

I feigned interest in small talk, and then high tailed it for the house. I figured if they thought I was some sort of wacked out animal hoarder, that they'd have to find out from someone else, because I wasn't saying a word lest I incriminate myself further. Of course I probably couldn't say too many words, because I was still chewing on thoughts and worrying about what kind of institution I would be sent to. Would I be allowed to see my kids? And even more importantly, could I have chickens? (Just kidding!) (not really)

It was a good length of time before they left and I was able to sprint  saunter back out to the shop. I peeled open that freezer door real careful like, and was oh SO relieved to see that there was only a strange looking, feathered package (curiously resembling a chicken wrap) still sitting right where I had left it. Apparently all her talk about ice cream was to say something about not having brought any or some such thing, and for the first time in my ENTIRE life, I was genuinely glad that there was no new ice cream to be found in my freezers.