Ruffled Feathers and Spilled Milk

Farming with ducks and dairy goats, chickens and children.

Multi-Purpose Tool.

Posted on | May 16, 2013 | No Comments

I have several of those things.  You know, the ones that have fingernail clippers and bottle openers, scissors and knives, seat belt cutters and tweezers.  I keep one in my car.

One in the barn.

And one in my pocket at work.

Which is my favorite one.  Because it breaks windows in one quick tap.  A very satisfying, shattering, crunching, spider-webbing tap.  Which makes up for all the years as children when we were told to stay away from the windows with balls and bats, sticks and posts, rocks and BBs.

After all, we might have broken a window.  Which I assumed the adults did not want us children to do because glass is expensive to replace.  But I know now they were worried that it might be so satisfying that we’d never be able to stop.

I’m sure you think I’m exaggerating.  Please.  Probably 1/2 of the firefighters in every department are there so they can break glass and get paid for it.  Ditto, with artists who work with mosiacs.  Those crash test engineers?  Yep.  Never mind the new and upcoming field of glass therapy.   Breaking glass is gratifying, no exaggeration necessary.

But on the farm there are multi-purpose tools even better than those that break glass.  Take the Jumbo Cornish Cross, for example.

The Cornish Cross just moved out of the brooder room.   Out of the back  pen.  Out of the buck pasture.  And into the free range chicken coop.  Where they have free access to the entire farm.  And they are learning free range chicken skills from the rest of the flock.

Like how to drink from the automatic water bucket.

How to catch and eat bugs.

And the joy of dust baths in the coop.

Although they still tend to hover around my feet as if my toes are going to distribute chick crumbles at any moment. (I did mention earlier that I was due for a pedicure, right?)

Even though they don’t stray as far from the coop as the rest of the flock, they are doing a decent job of foraging, keeping their legs strong and healthy and preventing them from laying around on their abdomens in a stupor.  In addition, all that movement avoids large unhealthy accumulations of chicken manure.  Not that chicken manure doesn’t have its place in the scheme of things.

I took all the used shavings from the brooder room….

and all the wet bedding from the back pen….

and set the piles in front of the greenhouse.  Where I had used some leftover pieces of wood to outline a garden bed.

Then my work was done.  Because the rest of the free range flock promptly arrived to scratch through the piles, combining the wet and dry ingredients, leveling the piles (there is nothing a chicken finds more offensive than a pile of soil/mulch/leaves/straw/anything scratchable!) and creating a nice new planting area.

Where I intend to grow some lambs’ ear I got in return for farm sitting.  And establish some comfrey plants that I hope to beg off of another friend.

By the time I put away the pitchfork and wheelbarrow, carried fresh eggs from the nest boxes down to the garden for the pigs’ lunch, and threw the eggshells into the compost bin for added calcium, I was feeling peckish (hah!) myself.  So I headed into the house for the chicken legs basted in spicy seasoning that were leftover from last night’s dinner.

Chickens.  Tillers, compost makers, egg layers, and, um…, lunch.  The edible mutli-purpose tool.

It doesn’t get any more multi than that.


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