Saturday, March 31, 2007

A week of rain

Lots of things happened this last week, but they did not get blogged about. I will be updating this week over the next few days so as not to overwhelm with a gigantic single blog. Today I will tell the sad story of the rain on Monday. I am not complaining about getting rain. The rain has soaked our fields and our tank is now full. During yesterday’s rain the tank was trying to burst out of the berms that keep it in place. The channel that fills the tank was almost out of its banks and the channel out of the tank was also almost out of its banks. Three weeks ago we had a tank that was so low we were getting the milk cow stuck in it. Feast or famine out here.

Anyway, between noon last Sunday and 9:00 a.m. on Monday we got three inches of here at the farm. (We got two inches in three hours yesterday.) Mitchell and I went out and milked the cow in the rain and the little shed I moved the milking operations into was a good shelter from the falling rain, but it was still sopping wet because the whole area was super saturated and we had about an inch of standing water in the shed. Still, it was a lot better than being in the pouring rain Monday morning.

We finished milking and I went out to tend to the chicks. We had a mix out in the brooder of about 45 laying hens and 45 meat birds. They had just been moved out to the chicken tractor last Wednesday. When I got out there we had two dead chicks and the rest we standing in muddy water up to their breasts. It was at this point that I made a fatal mistake. You see, the tractor was in a spot where the water was pooled and they were drowning as well as losing body heat. So, I moved the tractor out of the standing water. In the process the chicks fell in the cold, wet mud and got coated with it. They then laid there and the tractor squashed them. When I left, there were about 20 dead chicks I had pulled out of the tractor. What I knew I had to do was get the chicks out of the standing water. I did that, but lost about 20 chicks.

That afternoon I was on my way to a pasture and livestock workshop at the Texas A&M Research and Extension Center in Overton and talked to Melissa when she went out to feed them. I was very concerned about how many had survived. Not many was the answer. I imagined the chicken tractor looking like the killing fields in Cambodia. We lost, all tolled, 32 laying hen chicks and 22 meat bird chicks. Rather than pulling the tractor out of the water I should have run back to the house, gotten everybody out there to pick up chickens and moved them back into the brooder where it was dry and we could heat them up. I did not do that. PETA and ASPCA have brought me up on charges at the World Court in the Hague.


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