Friday, February 3, 2012

Chickens and Scales

This is what our last snowfall looked like in late January.  I woke up to see large snow globs falling silently on the garden.  It was such a peaceful sight.  I wanted to post these pictures a week ago but since my derriere is still not thrilled about me spending a lot of time sitting down, I didn't get a chance to write.  
Time is going by so fast, it's scary.  Here we are in the first week of February already. So much of this snow is gone now, it's been a very odd winter.  Even the chickens want to spend as much time outside as they can, and that's very unusual for normally the temperatures would be too cold for them. 

I do love to watch it snow.  It covers up all the imperfections and gives the garden a fresh, clean look.

The day I took these pictures we nearly had a disaster occur. I had just come in from feeding the chickens and was finishing up some housework when suddenly my little dogs started barking in the house.  I wondered what had set them off and then I heard the hens squawking.  Looking out the window I saw the cause; two big German Shepherd dogs had wandered into our yard and were chasing my nine little hens.  I was horrified and grabbed my ski pole off the back porch and sallied forth (forgetting my coat) to chase the beastly curs away.  Dogs are notorious for killing chickens and I was scared to see how many of my prized hens would be dead.

One of the dogs was in the chicken coop chasing two of the hens from perch to perch and bolted when he spotted me.   The other one was in hot pursuit of one of our black hens and was just coming around the front of the house when he nearly ran into me.  Despite the dogs' huge size they were startled by me brandishing my ski pole, screaming like a banshee.  I was so mad!  The two canine culprits left my yard at a gallop, looking back at me from time to time as I continued hollering at them.

I still don't know how the Girls escaped, but not one of them was harmed.  That's amazing.   I had two hens on top the gazebo roof and one on the garage and the other six were scattered all over the yard, but thankfully, they were all unharmed.  I recognized the dogs as belonging to a distant neighbor.   I've spoken to the owners before about their dogs being at large, but it doesn't do any good.  It looks like the pair escaped their fence.  They haven't been back since, which is a good thing, because I don't think the Girls would be as lucky twice.

We've lost a few chickens to random dog attacks over the years, and of course, to hawks and opossum and raccoons.  Of all the marauders though, dogs can do the most damage because the chicken's frenzied flapping and running just ignites a dog's natural instinct to give chase.  When I was a kid back on the farm, we lost twelve chickens all in one afternoon to a stray dog attack.  The carnage was heart-breaking.  The dogs didn't kill for food, they killed for sport.  It's a sad thing.

I know letting chickens run free-range is asking for trouble because it's not possible to protect them from everything that wants to prey on them, but yet keeping them penned up all day long is not healthy for them, either.  At night the coop is closed just before dusk after the Girls have gone to bed and after checking to make sure the coop contains only poultry and not any other predators.  We made that mistake a year back; someone closed the coop door one night not realizing there was an opossum in with the chickens.  The next morning I opened the coop up to find two dead chickens and a nasty big ol' rat-possum sitting in one of the nesting boxes sucking eggs and growling at me.  I'll spare the details, but suffice it to say that was the last henhouse that varmint ever saw.  I detest opossums, they look like gigantic rats.

But, we were lucky this time.  The hens that could fly made their way to higher elevations and the other ones headed for cover under the spruce trees.  I have always loved dogs, and I know you can't really blame the dogs for doing what comes naturally.  It's the owners who let them roam around who are to blame.  Those two dogs make me nervous when I walk after dark, too; they're so BIG!   I'm always on the alert and I'm always carrying my ski pole just in case.  Yeah, like it will do me a whole lot of good--but hey, it's something to fend them off if need be.
And yes, I'm still walking with Leslie Sansone every day since New Year's Eve.

Talk about another scary encounter; on February 1, I decided to make my way out to the freight scale in the garage and weigh in to see if I'm getting anywhere with the poundage.  I was really nervous about this, more than I care to admit, because I was thinking with my luck, I'd have gained weight instead of losing it.

  I had to thread my way in between Carl's stash of recycling and our bicycles before I could even get to the scale.  I made sure to wear the same coat and shoes I had on the first time I weighed in and came armed with a flashlight so I could read the numbers.  It's one of those scales where first you have to put a metal disk that represents 100, 200 or 500 pounds and then you slide the little weight on the balancing arm up until it floats perfectly even.  The scale is underneath Joel's kayaks and I had to duck to stand on it, so I was crouched on the platform trying to balance the scale arm and still read the number holding the small flashlight in my teeth.  I was stunned when I saw I had lost nearly 30 pounds!  I stood up fast and hit my head on the kayak and that's when I got some sense knocked back in my noggin.  Of course I hadn't lost 30 pounds in four weeks, DUH!

I then realized I had been leaning on a pile of wood stacked right next to the scale.  Ooops, let's try again.  My end result after 31 days of Walking With Leslie was:  Drum Roll Please!  9 pounds lost.  Not earth-shattering, to be sure, but still better than nothing.  (Better than gaining nine pounds, anyway.)

I'm walking my snowblower trails every day, too, and am averaging around 6-7 miles a day total, counting an hour of aerobic walking each day.   It's not much, but I do feel more fit.  I'm still working on those Asian squats from my last post, but still haven't got the technique down yet, I tip over backward almost every time, but I can get a little lower with my heels flat on the floor.   I can do the pivot to stand technique as long as I always use my left leg as the leg in front.  Every time I try to use the right leg out in front, I end up with a sore knee.  And surprise, surprise, I'm getting so I can do sit-ups much easier, too.  I have a long way to go yet, but I'm hopeful I'll at least be in better shape for spring gardening than in the past. 

I'm noticing some of the walking workouts are getting easier.  This sorta creeps me out in a way.  Does it mean if one mile is easy, then you must do the two/three mile walk and then finally the four mile and then Five Mile Walks?  (I'm able to do the Five Mile Walk all at once, though it is a lot of work for me, sweat, sweat.)  I read somewhere that as your body becomes more conditioned, you simply need more exercise to challenge it to lose weight.  I love exercise, so that's not a problem, but I'm just there ever an end to the amount you'd need to keep weight in check?  That crabby former doctor of mine said 15-20 miles a day.......was she right?  Oh, dear, I hope not.  I'm still writing down everything that I hoist into my mouth too, which helps keep me honest.  I'm not possessed by the thought of dieting, I'm just cutting portions to a reasonable size.  We'll see where it takes me.

Hopefully not 15-20 miles from home! 


Beyond My Garden said...

Well, then, lets shake things up!

HolleyGarden said...

It's beautiful! Hope you're keeping warm, and maybe having a little bit of snow ice cream! ;) Your garden is gorgeous cloaked in white.

Randy Emmitt said...

What you need is a North Carolina winter heat wave! The next 7 days upper 50s to mid 60s every day!

Sue said...

I sure wish we'd get some more of that. What a disappointing winter to a snow-lover like me. Your garden looks so beautiful in the snow!

Sueb said...

Congratulations hunnie well done.
I'm still walking with you.

HolleyGarden said...

Congratulations on the 9 lb loss!!!! Wahoo!! You're doing great! I think the workouts getting easier is a good thing - your muscles (and your heart and lungs) are all toning up. And muscle burns more calories, so eventually, as you work your muscles, a one mile walk will use more calories than a one mile walk did when un-toned. I can't imagine anyone having to walk 20 miles/day!

Rosemary said...

Don't you find some neighbours are down right rude glad your girls were okay..... Way to go on the weight loss and sticking to the walking....... after my vacation I will have to do a lot of walking..

Beth said...

Karen, Your snow photos are beautiful. Your garden is lovely in all seasons! I truly am impressed with your exercise routine - great job! I wish I could get motivated to do more. You always feel better when you're exercising.

Dragonfly Treasure said...

Woo hoo on losing the 9 lbs!! way to stick with it. Wish I could get motivated to just move....
I am SO glad your girls are all ok. Neighbors can be so uncaring sometimes. Thats one of the reason s I hate to walk our neighborhood is all the loose dogs. Makes me so made when I have mine on leashes and then are encountered by loose ones ...just not fair. I had 2 neighbors rotts chew through our fence and in my pond chasing the koi! Grrr!

Your garden is so beautiful, as usual, but I know what you mean about all dressed in white. Just gorgeous

Have a great weekend and watch your head! lol

Alison said...

WooHoo! Congrats on the 9-pound weight loss! I have noticed that exercise routines get easier too, I'm not quite sure what to do about it, but I'm pretty sure it doesn't mean you have to walk 15 miles.

I would say it was those dogs who got lucky, given the treatment that possum got. I think I would have chased them down the road, coat or no coat (unless I was still in my nightie, of course). I'm so glad your chickens were unscathed. Predators are my biggest fear whenever I think about getting some.

Your tailbone is taking a good while to heal. I once bruised my coccyx and it took forever.

Sall's Country Life said...

Hey Karen, glad this post had a happy ending for the chickens! We can't believe how nice the weather has been, our chickens too have been spending a lot more time outside! Wow and GOOD FOR YOU on the exercise routine! Nine pounds!! That's Great! Does swinging a paint brush count for exercise? Not very effective I'm afraid, but that's been taking all my energy lately! Keep up the good work and keep that stick handy!

Pamela Gordon said...

I think you're doing great to walk that many miles a day! And, I think that your doctor must be wrong to ask you to walk 15-20 miles a day! Are you sure she didn't say 15 - 20 minutes a day?? LOL Keep up the good work. At least you were able to scare the dogs away from your chickens! Blessings to you! Pamela

Lona said...

Congrats Kiddo! I think you are doing wonderful Karen. Maybe you will not have to walk further but put some hills to walk up along the way. LOL! I have not gotten to walk this winter hardly any and I am missing it. It is either too icy or it is raining.Maybe I should just grab an umbrella and go anyway. It will be thirty pounds before you know it. All those pounds add up.

Toni - Signature Gardens said...

Whew!!! for the chickens! Glad you came to their rescue! You were brave to take on the big dogs. I got nipped in the arm by a 150-pound German Shepherd one time. It was SCARY!!!! Way to go on the 9 pounds! That is awesome! Keep up the good work. Castle Aaargh is counting on you to be ready when duty calls!!! You CAN do this :-)

El Gaucho said...

Well done indeed. I might have actually been concerned had you lost 30 pounds in four weeks, that seems like a pretty rapid pace. Kudos on sticking with your program and I hope you keep seeing results.

Missy said...

Karen, Glad you're seeing results from all your hard work. Your garden in the snow is so beautiful.
I have awarded you a Leibster Blog Award (see the details on my blog) as one of my favourite blogging people.

Andrea said...

Hahaha, you made me laughing again Karen. I haven't been here for a while, so now realized i miss this, am looking for the status of the Aaaargh, i think i forgot how it is called! By the way, you should maybe teach your chickens to climb the rooftops or tops of trees, that way when the dogs come they are always safe it that is their first response, hahaha! We have some free range chickens too and we loose them to monitor lizards, pythons, hawks and crows, and the chicks to a few cats which come at night. said...

You may have to give those dogs something to remember you by, like a painful paint ball shot to their coat to let the owners know they were AGAIN trespassing and to let them know that the next bullet might not be filled with paint, but with lead. You can't mess around with such dogs, especially when there are two of them to contend with. Be careful.