"The tragic reality is that very few sustainable systems are designed or applied by those who hold power, and the reason for this is obvious and simple: to let people arrange their own food, energy and shelter is to lose economic and political control over them. We should cease to look to power structures, hierarchical systems, or governments to help us, and devise ways to help ourselves." - Bill Mollison

Monday, January 4, 2010

The Pied Piper

Convincing my flock of 13 lazy redheads that the half-hearted throws of winter have temporarily subsided and what little snow we have received thus far has melted was no easy task. I was forced to act as a kinder version of The Pied Piper leading my fat little hens into the forest to fend for themselves for a few hours. They have yet to lose their free-ranging freedom to the winter's cold but have become a little too content to stay holed up in their den anxiously awaiting their all too generous daily ration of greens from our winter rows. As you can see only half the flock was convinced to follow a siren's call to greener pastures.

28 comments:

randi said...

hey Mike, for once I don't think I'm envious of you or I've gone around the bend permanently but I'm grateful,(at the moment), for the layer of white insulation we have here considering how low the temps have been going.
On the other hand..I couldn't stop thinking about chickens this morning and here's your post making me, well, envious! ack! I daren't say, "Chickens for Randi in 2010!" but... And remember Mike, Chicken herding is not for the faint of heart!

kelli said...

ha! love your blog!

Sylvie said...

Mike - is part of your woods fenced in? no way I would dare to take my girls to the woods here - between raccoons, possums, bears, coyotes and dogs... and were you around while they were foraging... playing rooster, basically?

That said - I love the report and the pictures.

It's me ...Mavis said...

Chickens on parade ... I love it!

LynnS said...

Cute pics, Pied Piper. I could almost SEE their walking rhythm as they followed you.

Missed your flute, though, Mike. Did you have it in your pocket? And your leotards...missed those too. Hmmm....

granny said...

Gotta say..I wouldnt be leaving a cosy warm den ,with fresh greens to go fend for myself in the forest!! Not this little fat hen,Lol.
I hope 2010 brings you and your family kind weather and bumper crops!Happy New Year :0)

Stefaneener said...

That's pretty cute. I suppose it's good for them to get fresh air.

Mr. H. said...

Randi - I must admit to being a little worried about our fruit trees but am also grateful for a break from the snow so far this year. We had enough last season and I will happily except some more next winter. Although I will be very surprised if we continue on this pretty much snowless course for too much longer.

Chicken herding is indeed a difficult task and one that takes many years of dedication and training. Unfortunately I posses neither and only made it to my destination with half a flock.:) I'll be watching for more information on your own flock.

Kelli - Thanks, we are not really sure what it is we are doing around here half the time but are are having fun trying to figure it all out...especially when it comes to the chickens.

Sylvie - I spent a great deal of time fencing in about an acre with both field fencing and chicken wire. It is fairly secure, even our cats can't figure out how to get in and out.

I do keep a close eye on the girls though and never leave them out after dark or too early in the morning. Our biggest issue regarding predators are skunks and raccoons but so far we have managed to avoid both. I can only hope that my luck continues to hold.

Mavis - You should have seen them this morning, one of them got hold of a mouse somehow and they all went crazy chasing each other around playing keep away. All I could do was watch in disgust, this happened once before and believe me there is no way to catch a chicken that has what they think is a great treat...so yes it can be both a parade and a circus at times.

Lynn - Yes a couple of them do waddle quite a bit, fat little birds that they are. I do have a flute but thought that perhaps that would be a little to strange, what would the neighbors think.:)

No leotards (not ever), but in true Grimm's fashion I did tempt them with a trail of bread crumbs.

Granny - Once they realized that there was almost no snow out under the trees they had a great time hunting for little shoots of grass. As a matter of fact they roamed about all day off and on. But yes, one can hardly blame them for not wanting to leave their warm den and venture into the cold.

They spent most of the day inside today as it was raining out, all but one anyway. We have one hen that loves to roam about regardless of the weather.

Stefaneener - Cute, maybe...but I often wonder what the neighbors must think seeing this strange person leading around his chickens in the middle of winter.

Ruralrose said...

Love the pictures, peaceful happiness for sure!!

LynnS said...

Hey Mike, I hate to burst your balloon, but I would bet that your neighbors already think you are a bit peculiar already. ;-)

I say go for it....get the flute out. Self-expression is in vogue. Please let Micki have the camera for an updated, musical version.

Here, I'll be heading down to the coop with some treats pretty soon (leftover salad scraps and a tomato -- yes we still have some). Wonder who'll slam into the window today.....

You know you've hit the depths of Winter when chicken antics are the highlight of the day.

Ayak said...

Great pics Mr H! Makes me want to start keeping chickens...although I don't think my dogs would be too keen.

Mr. H. said...

Ruralrose,

Thanks Ruralrose, hope you are staying warm out there!

kelli said...

i nominated you for the happy 101 blog award. details are at my blog, if you so choose to accept! =)
http://animalfriendlyeating.blogspot.com/2010/01/happy-101-blog-award-and-giveaway.html

Mr. H. said...

Lynn,

Ever since I took that test you gave me and also recently realized that my horoscope reflected the same sentiment I have felt much better with my eccentric actions. Just not quite enough to play a flute while leading my flock...I'm working on it though. By the way, I purchased that book and it was a big hit during our Christmas gathering.:)

Mr. H. said...

Ayak,

A flock of chickens might fit in nicely up there on the hill, but yes the dogs would definitely be an issue.

Mr. H. said...

Thanks Kelli!

Silke said...

I can't believe I've missed this post! What fun!! And I loved the reference to the Pied Piper as his beautiful little home town (Hameln) is fairly close to my home town. He used to scare me as a kid... You look much less frightening with your chickens following you! :) Silke

Mr. H. said...

Silke,

I grew up listening to German fairy tales told to me by my grandmother and will always have fond memories of them.:)

Heiko said...

Can I borrow one of your chickens so I can re-enact another fairy tale: the Town Musicians of Bremen? Our neighbour has got the donkey, cats and dogs come visiting us every day, all we need is a bird for the top.

Mr. H. said...

Heiko,

What a great tale, I had never heard of the "Musicians of Bremen" before. I am sure that one of my fat little hens would be more then happy to join your merry little band as long as all the snow in your village has melted and she would not end up in anyones stew pot.

Heiko said...

You don't know that tale? A donkey, a dog, a cat and a cockerel all escape the slaughter having come to the ends of their "useful" lives and form a band. Their first performance is in front of a gang of outlaws, the dog on top of the donkey, the cat on top of the dog and the cockerel on the very top. They frigthen the living daylight out of their first audience, but live happily ever after on the spoils of what the outlaws left behind

Mr. H. said...

Heiko,

I just looked it up an will have to print it out so that I can share it with the grandson.:)

GetSoiled said...

Okay...so first, a few posts ago you were thinking about a dress...now you are calling yourself a siren...something's up! Stop drinking that tea! :D

Seriously now, I love your chickens! I wish so much we could have our own...living vicariously through your blog photos so please post away!

kitsapFG said...

Chickens just have to be one of the most entertaining creatures in the world! Although you leading them was probably pretty entertaining to watch too. ;)

Mr. H. said...

GetSoiled,

I can assure you that there is no such funny business going on around here.:) The chickens are both a hoot and a hassle but a pretty good fit to this lifestyle.

Mr. H. said...

KitsapFG,

I would have never guessed that at this period of time in my life I would be a chicken herder. life is full of surprises.:)

Mirandi said...

How adorable! They're more obedient and keen on going outside in the cold weather than my brother's chubby dog that I dogsit from time to time.

Mr. H. said...

Mirandi,

They love to be outside but hate the snow and just needed a little encouragement.:) Thanks for visiting.

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