There are certain moments in life in which you find out what you’re really made of. One such moment took place for me just the other day.
It was an average morning. I went out to the yard to open the chicken coop door. Per usual, the girls catapulted themselves from their warm home into the frigid morning air. They dove their beaks into their waiting container of feed. Breakfast.
My routine continued. Check the water container. Get a scoop of feed from the sealed metal pail in the garage and top off the hens’ snack bin.
Peek into the nesting box and gather an egg. And today, I have to clean out out the coop.
The coop cleaning always piques the interest of Susie Q, Maryanne and Roz. They suddenly become incredibly curious about what I’m doing and inevitably begin to protest my invasion of their home. I open the side doors of the structure and grab my trusty brush/dust pan combo.
As quickly as possible, I empty the coop of pine shavings and poo, pouring each pan-full into a small garbage can before it’s tossed in with the compost.
It’s inevitable that as I shiver and shoo the birds away from my work space, some of the pine shaving/poo cocktail will fall to the ground, missing it’s intended path. And so, my final coop cleaning step is to brush as much of the fallen mess into the dust pan as possible, pour one last batch into the trash can and be on my merry way.
The whole process usually takes less than ten minutes.
Except for this day.
When, on my last swipe, my brush hit something unexpected.
It was stiff. And snow covered. And gray. And furry. And frozen.
A dead one.
I gasped. And tumbled backward. And let’s be honest. I suffered a minor panic attack.
I gently pushed the dead little buddy back under the coop. I calculated how long it would be until Jay would be around and able to get rid of him. It would be hours. I shuddered.
And then I bucked up and decided to take control of the situation. I’m not an imposter, I thought. Hell no, I’m not. I’m a REAL farmer!
Granted, actually real farmers probably don’t name their chickens after their mother and generally have more land than a miniscule .13 of an acre, but you get what I mean.
In any case, what does a real farmer do when a dead animal is decomposing on her property? She gets herself a steel shovel and disposes of the darn thing!
So that’s exactly what I did. I wiggled the shovel under the squirrel’s frozen body and put it in an empty chicken feed bag. I rolled up the top and put the bag in the big garbage container behind the garage. And I walked back into the house, feeling ridiculously brave and proud of myself.
How do you think he died? Jay asked after I texted him to tell him what had just happened.
I told him the squirrel likely passed away when his stomach burst after binging on the free buffet of organic chicken feed in the backyard. He laughed. So did I. Real farmers.