This One Got Away Alive

This is about the third time this has happened. We scare a hawk off a seemingly dead hen, but when we get to her she's still breathing. We look and we see no injuries, but the birds chest is heaving, the head is twisted and the eyes are closed showing the white eyelids of death, with looks much different from a sleeping chicken.

We've seen this before. A chicken can get so stressed is falls down as if dead. About half of the time they recover. It's an amazing thing to see. You go from a hawk standing on a bird ready for dinner to, 20 minutes later, to a bird who appears completely fine.

The one in the picture turned out fine but she was touch and go. When we found her the head was twisted around abut 270 degrees. We gently lifted her a placed her in the safety of the coop and she was fine in the morning.

Farm Update April 2012

It's been a rough winter here on our chicken fam. We lost over 70 birds mostly to weasels and mostly in just two days. Most of our 2012 replacer flock is gone and our late season 2012 chick order was delayed. We did get an interim batch of Leghorns.

Here's an interesting comment thread from You Tube that brings out some point that probably should have been in the video.

@TradionallySouthern Wrote:

That's a real shame to lose chickens because of lousy housing for them. Why don't you purchase some real heavy gauge wire and cover those wooden buildings? Or better yet, build some new more protective housing?

This should really be a no-brainer. The things is -- over the years we have taken major steps to prevent predators. They are much better at finding dinner than we are at stopping them. I look at it this way: They (collectively) have 24 hours a day to find a way to eat. I have much less time to try and stop them. Any given day there are numerous predator, night and day, eying our birds.

Here is my reply:

Wire, 4" thick wood, and concrete only slow them down. Before this our biggest single-day loss was 18 chicks. They were locked in the barn which is built from concrete block. They tunneled in through the bathroom floor. I've had many long conversations with many old farmers. Dealing with predators is an odds game. You do what's affordable and hope for the best. We can afford maybe $1,000 or $2,000 or so a year on predator prevention. Through the years most predator loss, by far, has been in the field. In-coop deaths were extremely rare so most of our anti predator investment has gone out there. Our coops are airtight from raccoons and fox. This is very unusual behavior for weasels (I'm told) but not unheard of. I've also been told that patching the holes may have caused the big kills by causing predator panic. Rather than taking one and leaving they panicked and killed 40. Not sure I buy that but it does fit the circumstances.

I think this Possum was Pregnant

Caught this possum today. We don't deport possums because they are really no threat. I though it was odd how slowly it left the trap and now watching the video I suspect she was pregnant.

Homeschooling is Cool

So, last night Farmhand (aged 10 years) pauses our viewing of Cosmos to correct Carl Sagan's grammar. I think he was incorrect -- his point was that "cosmos" was plural, but I think Sagan's usage is correct because we know of only one... But later in the episode Sagan says our cosmos could be one of many so I guess it could go either way.

We watch documentaries with dinner at least two nights a week. Tonight's dinner was tori-karaage which is a fancy name for fried chicken nuggets, a very popular junk food throughout all of Asia. Never had it? Sure you have. Half of the chicken dishes in a chinese restaurant are karaage in different sauces. They serve it in bars the way chicken wings are served here and we silly American's think it's authentic asian food.

Japanese culture has been our latest obsession. We don't use text books to do that. Sure, we learn some history but we like to delve and it's been all-in: Food, anime and manga conventions, language, documentaries, art and lifestyle. None of it's been part of any curriculum we just did what excited us.

When we studied polynesian culture we had a luau. People from three states came which is surprising since we did it in November. It went well but we learned that cooking in pit ovens is a bit more complicated than we thought. We'll try again someday.

But let me be clear: Homeschooling is hard, challenging and downright scary. Farmahnd's future is in my hands. I will never stop clinging to the self-doubt that says "I'm not doing enough." For me, the only thing that mitigates that fear is my firm belief that I am doing more than the public school system would have done.

One of the best parts: We don't use alarm clocks. Ever. Ponder that for a moment. We're usually both up when the sun clears the tree line -- about 8am this time of year but earlier in the summer. People sometimes huff and puff about this is not a correct way to live but I figure its worked well enough for several thousand years of history it ought to work fine for us.

When we do get up there is no stressful running around and looking at the clock. No worrying about being late to anything. Our day simply begins.

In short -- Farmhand wakes up happy. I don't recall that happening much in my own youth.

Many people think homeschooling is apocryphal and will even go so far as to quiz farmhand to try and catch him out. They would ask him a math question or the name of state's capitol hoping to trip him up. I've taught him to respond to these with "Why do you ask?" which is usually answered by an evasion like "I was just curious" to which he now responds "Google it."

But we don't worry too much about those people. We're too busy laughing our butts off as we act out Moliere's The Misantrope in the kitchen or walking through the woods or blowing things up, um, I mean doing "science experiments."

We've been homeschooling for over five years now. People ask "Don't you want to put him back in school." I look at them, perplexed, as if they were asking me if I wanted a root canal.

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