Saturday, April 4, 2009

Chicken Fiascos

April 3rd
There is no better time to be at a thriving farm then the start of Spring. I have been gone for the past week and the first thing I did when I came back to the farmhouse at Green String was say hello to all the animals (fellow interns included). The 75 baby chicks were twice the size they were then when they arrived and the old timer hens were pecking the grass at their feet. Among our roosters, Favorite (as Jenny calls him after the Green String Farm band’s song ‘favorite chicken’) had seen better days and his strut was more of a slow moving hobble as the other roosters asserted their reign. After greeting las gallinas, I walked over the bridge (actually the bed of an old bigrig), across the trickling stream and through the vineyards to the farm store where I said my hellos to the goats and sheep by feeding them handfuls of weeds just beyond the reach of their nomadic enclosure. At the farmstore I picked out what vegetables I wanted to use in that nights dinner… just one week of absence the farm now had turnips, asparagus, carrots and yellow beets at the store. I love the beginning of a new season for any kind of produce but you can’t beat fresh asparagus! I walked back to the farmhouse with the setting sun at my back. The following day I took a ‘getting grounded with nature’ hike as Bob Cannard calls it. A lot happens in a week on a farm and especially at the height of Springtime. I needed to see the budding blossoms, the changing colors of greens that come with rich soil and thriving plants. The contrast of the cloudless blue skies and the rolling green hills lined with vineyards and vegetables is one that will make you thankful for the mindful farmer. A stunning landscape that words could never do justice. I walked deeper into the farm then I had ever previously walked discovering creeks and an ever-increasing variety of wild flowers. Hiking down into the creekbeds and crawling over barbwire to get back on the path to the farmhouse, I felt grounded with nature. My hike was a success. I came back to the farmhouse and another delicious, farmfresh dinner was well under way.

On this morning’s agenda we were to prepare the beds and plant the tomato’s in our garden and fix the fence around the chicken’s so that they had more room to roam and more grass to munch on. Sean and I went to work on the fence and when Jenny came out to collect the eggs she found Favorite keeled over on his back with his little, scaly chicken legs pointing to the sky. Chickens have interesting habits- one of which happens to be eating the flesh of their dead brothers and sisters- so before they had a chance to find Favorite (alias Old Man Struggle), we had to move him. Jenny got close and his leg kicked….oh great, he was still alive. Jenny, being the other vegetarian of the house, went to get Mark to end Old Man Struggle’s struggle. While Sean and I continued to fortify their grassy kingdom, we tried our best to keep the other chickens off of Old Man Struggle. When they started to horde around poor Old Man Struggle, Sean dropped what he was doing and went to defend a dying roosters dignity. Instead, Old Man Struggle got a second wind, hopped up on his little talons and ran around like the saying goes….‘like a chicken with his head cut off.’ Sean acted on instinct and knowing he had to kill the sickly rooster, he swung his shovel full swing at Old Man Struggle‘s head. We had not seen Old Man Struggle move that fast in days and it took Sean’s emerging alter ego ‘Bonzai Sean’ to finally end the struggle with repeated blows of the shovel. He was a hearty rooster but after seeing him on his chicken coop deathbed his reign as a worthy rooster was over. Minutes later, everyone came out to see the end of Favorite aka Old Man Struggle but Sean and I had cleaned up the evidence of the beheaded rooster, burying him with the other already decomposing chickens and all that was visible were the feathers scattered in the dirt and the horde of chickens pecking at the site of demise. Back to work. We finished fixing the fence and an hour later we opened the gate isolating the chickens from their grassy knoll…freedom, food and fresh air!! Just another morning at the Green String Farm.

Hannah Huntley
Intern and Chicken freedom fighter


  1. Aw, poor Favorite. =(

    He was so regal.

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