Thursday, December 25, 2008

The Logger's House - Pawlet, VT

For Christmas this year we've got kind of a long post, but stick with it, because like all good stories worth telling, it's a bit of a long one.

Oh chicken moving day. Bonnie said it would be a crazy and funny, and those chickens did not fail to deliver.

The chickens haven't been coming out of their houses much since the snow fell and so they hadn't really been eating much either. I started giving them grain inside the chicken houses and putting the buckets of food right outside the doors, but it's still a little cold for them and they have trouble moving around in the snow. They went from laying about four dozen eggs a day to laying less than one dozen. Last winter Oliver moved all of the chickens over to the other greenhouse at the big white house. They cleared out all the old plants in there and made the soil super fertile, and stayed warm all winter. This year he has so many more chickens than last year, so he wasn't super anxious to move them.

Chickens do not like snow as much a Krysta likes snow

We had originally planned to move them at night, while they were a bit calmer and sleepy. Apparently he still did a bit of chasing them around last year, but they stacked into plastic totes pretty easily. Plans eventually got changed and we ended up doing it the next morning. The Logger and I found as many plastic totes with lids as we could, but even with so many of them, we knew we'd have to do it in more than one trip. When we were all ready to go Oliver walked up to us and said "OK, how do we do this?" No idea Oliver, you're the chicken moving expert. It ended up that Oliver and I were the ones catching chickens, while the Logger (who is also a ninja as it turns out) kept them from jumping back out of the totes. Oliver reminded me of my camera, so I took a few pictures during this ridiculous task.

Logging-Ninja skillz

The chickens were a little unsure at first, but many of them are used to being picked up so don't freak out a ton. Once they started to realize what was going on though, they all started running around like crazy. Nisi did not help the situation at all and I eventually had to lock her in the kitchen. Oliver, who is quite tall and quick, was grabbing several chickens at a time, but I could only really catch and carry them one at a time. At one point Oliver told me I was doing such a good job, considering I wasn't very keen on even touching the chickens when I first got here. It's true. Since when in my life have I even run after a bird, instead of running away? Never. Not once. And I'd like to make it clear that it's not because I think chickens are gross, it's just because they have wings and beaks and scary ways of being. It helps that they don't actually fly. I will admit that when I sometimes caught them without holding their wings I had a mini-panic when they flapped around in my hands.

Oliver with 4 or 5 chickens

Finally the totes were all filled and piled into the truck. Oliver drove it over to the greenhouse and got as close as he could in the snow, which ended up with the truck just down a small hill, but still very close. When we opened the totes the chickens were all huddled in together and looking rather cuddly. They made no attempt to climb out of the totes, so we had to kind of dump the totes over and encourage them to check out their new home. They seemed to get happy rather quickly after the ordeal. We closed up the remaining holes in the greenhouse, moved the nesting box and various chicken supplies in, and then got back in the truck to go deal with the second load.

Settled and cuddled

The chickens were unsure of this new and white tunnel

Oliver backed down the hill and backwards up the driveway of the big white house and then as he pulled forward and turned towards the street, the truck got stuck. When we got out to see what the problem was, we couldn't really tell. The wheels were on the ground, not really dug in at all and the snow was not very deep. We got some snow shovels and tried to dig the truck out, but that didn't work. So then The Logger tried bouncing on the back bumper to get some weight on the tires, no luck. He and Oliver pushed while I drove, still no. Then Max called and Oliver told him to bring the Jeep and some chains to try and pull us out. While we waited, we tried putting wood under the tires to give them something to grip to, but nothing was working. Finally Max and Bonnie arrived with the Jeep, but our angle was so weird that the Jeep couldn't do much and when we tried to put the Jeep at a better angle it ended up getting a little stuck in the snow. Finally we decided that since there were so many people there, Bonnie should drive the truck and the other four of us would push (I would like to state for the record that I only suggested Bonnie should drive because she is pregnant and falling in the ice and snow would stink. I did not suggest she should drive because she isn't tough, ok?). This crazy idea actually worked and the truck bounced forward and the wheels caught.

But why is it stuck?

Very bad angle for the rescue Jeep

But the story is not over yet! The truck now had to move backwards to have enough room to pull forward down the driveway and onto the street. The Logger got in and started to back it up, only to get stuck again, this time at a slightly less ridiculous angle. So we got ready to push again, but this time it didn't want to come out. We were able to hook the Jeep up to it again and with the Jeep pulling and three of us pushing, the truck got out of the ditch we had dug ourselves and aimed straight at the road. Hoo-ray. It's worth mentioning that Talula was asleep in her car seat in the Jeep through all of this.

What was left after the truck was finally out

Oliver then went with Bonnie and Max to the Inn to help his dad with something that needed to be done that afternoon and the Logger and I headed back to catch the last load of chickens. This should have been pretty quick and simple as well. The remaining chickens were mostly closed into one of the chicken houses and we had already brought over the extraneous stuff and gotten that mostly set up. So I ran around catching the chickens, sometimes asking The Logger to help me corner them. One particular breed of chicken is super speedy and hard to catch, but we eventually got all the ones not trapped in the house. When we went to get the ones that were in the house, that went super fast until the end when there were only a few left. We quickly realized that we could not have more than one white chicken in a tote, because those ladies are just too crazy. I started getting dizzy chasing the remaining chickens around, so The Logger took over. He's a very tall guy with a long reach, so he just kind of reached out and grabbed them like it was the easiest thing in the world. I have to practically get on top of them to catch them because I need two hands, but he just used his ninja skills and packed the rest of them up.

Then back into the truck and over to the greenhouse. Unfortunately we could not make it up the driveway even half way. It's a far enough walk to the greenhouse from where we were and those totes of chickens were pretty heavy. We carried two loads to the greenhouse when the Jeep showed up with Bonnie and Oliver. Oliver backed the truck out to the street and let the Jeep in first, then he attempted to back the truck up the driveway by flooring it with a good head start from the street. He only got a little further than we had. So we loaded the chicken totes on top of the Jeep and drove the remaining chickens over in that. Meanwhile several other people had been trying to get up the driveway, because there are more houses behind the big white house. Albert was worried that the plow would come and wouldn't be able to plow the driveway because of the truck. We got the rest of the chickens into the greenhouse speedily and then The Logger and I took the truck back to Teleion Holon, all before the plow came. Those freaking chickens better be so grateful.

Happy chickens

After we got back we threw our things together and headed out to spend the holiday with The Logger's family. We did not get stuck on the way there. Amazing.

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