Catching up.

Let’s see, where did I leave off? I mean, before I started talking about rogue chickens on the prairies and the whole gettin’ gussied up thing.

Our second batch of chickens has just been taken in to slaughter. As it happened, they had to go in a week early because of an unspecified problem at the processor’s which means that we will have lost close to three hundred dollars due to an earlier than expected kill date. Added to that is the price we charge for chicken – less than it costs us to raise them – and it quickly becomes a money-losing venture. So much so, in fact, that we are pretty certain that we will not do this again next year.

I know that saying this amounts to the same thing as a hockey player who, at the end of the season, announces his retirement. Wait until the season starts next year, after some time away from it all and then see if you still want to retire, Mr. Hockey. We are not much different. Of course it seems like a good idea to not do the chickens next year; but our freezer is already full, so it’s an easy decision. I think if we do end up raising chickens again next year, we will not sell them to friends and family and we will raise the price per pound as well. Both of these are decisions that go hand in hand, because it costs us over $3.00 per pound to raise them and we sold them for $2.75 per pound this year and it is difficult to ask for $15 for a five-pound bird from a friend or family member, despite the birds being better raised, better cared for and healthier than what is available at the grocery store for 1.99 per pound.

In keeping with the poultry theme, let me just say that I am counting the days until the turkeys go in. Not so much because I can’t wait for a delicious feed of tryptophan – the amino acid in turkeys that makes one drowsy – but more because the friggin’ birds have utterly and completely decimated our garden. About the only thing they haven’t trampled or eaten is the corn, which did so poorly this year I’m sure they can’t be bothered with it. Our tomato plants – all twenty some of them – are destroyed: trampled and pecked until they fell over and died, leaving their fruit for the turkeys to partially eat. The damned birds are so lazy they will only eat the upper half of the tomato, leaving the other half on the ground to rot. Truly, they are like a swarm of big, dumb locusts.

“Why don’t you put a fence around the garden?” I hear you ask. Well, friend, have one. But the turkeys don’t pay much heed to it, preferring instead to perch on it to choose their landing spot on the forbidden side. We do have an enclosure for the turkeys, but it was originally intended for chickens not twenty five, 20-pound turkeys that – take my word for it – poop a lot. So much, in fact, it’s like a beach or a golf course around here. If we kept the turkeys in the chicken area instead of giving them the run of the yard, we’d have a pretty greasy mess on our hands. And let’s be honest: no homemade jar of salsa is worth that. So, I am counting the days.

New readers of this blog – and by this I mean those who have landed here by some tragic mistake – might not know that we have dogs. Returning readers can be forgiven if they have forgotten this because it has been entirely too long that I have made even a slight mention of them. The summer has been fairly hot and humid and the dogs have stayed pretty low-key. However, despite the lack of activity, we still have some news.

Cowgirl and Lemon are two dogs that I mentioned briefly last year, just as the season was coming to a close. They are both incredible dogs and will be a great asset to our team this year, although Cowgirl will be contributing in a different way than Lemon. Lemon is a hard working, fast leader who has made friends with everyone who has seen her. She has a great temperament and is very excited to run. Cowgirl is another sweet dog, whose quiet personality hides her enthusiasm for interaction and her drive. She, too, is a leader and while leaders are an essential part of any team, so are new, young dogs to join the ranks. Cowgirl has a pedigree as fine and enviable as any sled dog out there and it just so happens that we know a male with just as impressive a pedigree, so when Cowgirl became available for sale, Jenn snapped her up quickly. We have, it would appear, successfully bred Cowgirl and the aforementioned male and are eagerly awaiting the arrival of puppies at the end of September. Cowgirl will not make our racing team this year, but she will still come to the races, I expect, with her pups.

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Lemon and her typically happy attitude.

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Cowgirl.  One of the only shots we have of her that isn’t a blur of excitement.

Oly is a dog we picked up from the same kennel as Lemon. We bought him at the same time but due to a minor health issue his previous owners wanted to keep him on with them while he healed. Their honesty, care and compassion assured us that Oly was not only well looked after but completely fit for duty when we finally got him. He’s a big guy, sort of goofy in a way, but so charming at the same time that it’s impossible to not like him. He has a habit of carrying his food dish around with him, stuck out of the side of his mouth while he clenches it in his back teeth; I mean, how is that not endearing?

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Oly.  Oly, minus the bowl in the side of his mouth.  He exudes character just standing there.

And then there’s Pokey. Pokey came to us from a good friend and excellent racer who had a litter of dogs larger than expected. He knew that our team was aging and that we’d be in need of younger dogs so he offered us a puppy. We picked her up and brought her home; she was too little to go in with the other sled dogs, so we brought her in the house so that she could spend time with Ginger and Gilligan. At first, we thought her lagging behind on walks was just her respecting her place as newcomer and lowest in the ranks, but it soon became apparent that she was just not an overly speedy dog. We felt there was nothing to do but change her name from “Pixie” to “Pokey”. I knew a Pixie once and she was nothing like our pup. So our pup became Pokey. There is an announcer at the races who is fond of asking drivers the names of their lead dogs. Jenn and I thought it would be funny, in a hopefully ironic way, to say “Pokey. Our leader’s name is Pokey.” Since renaming her, however, Pokey has indeed become a regular sled dog puppy: full of energy and runs everywhere. She has made friends with quite a few of our sled dogs, Epic being her favourite. She is growing well and is developing a pretty intelligent personality. Who knows? Maybe we should have stuck with Pixie.

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Pokey.  Awww, Pokey.


5 Responses

  1. Hi to you and your ever increasing family. I certainly would buy a five pound chicken for $15 or a turkey, I know they are free run and well cared for and worth every pennie.
    Your new dogs look great, good luck this year.
    We will be in your area in a couple of weeks and would like to visit, if this is okay please let me know. Im sure you have my number.

    • Well, we will have some turkeys for sale in a few weeks…

      Thanks for the good luck wishes… we’ll need ’em.

      You are by all means welcome to come and visit. I’ll try and email or phone you soon.

  2. Awww…cute Pokey. the others are great looking too but I’m a sucker for puppies.

    Your garden fence has a top rail the turkeys like to perch on right? simple solution for next year…extend the height and don’t use a top rail on the raised fence. stick on some extra tall uprights (like 2×2 or something similar) and run some chicken wire above the existing fence. The pen my peacock is in is about 8′ tall but even that wasn’t enough to contain him, I had to fence over the top as well since he can fly. For the turkeys it shouldn’t even need to go as high as 6′, I think my fence used to be about 5′ before I extended it for the peacock and the turkeys never got out.

    How much longer before your turkeys go in? I have mine booked for the Friday of Thanksgiving weekend and my ducks for the week after.

    • See, the thing with the fence was that it was supposed to look like a corral fence: 3-slats, square posts, weathered wood. I managed to talk us both into putting chicken wire on the inside so no critters could crawl through. It was supposed to be decorative and functional. I have enough fencing that I could dome the garden if I wanted, but it seems like everything around here is purpose-built without much thought to the visuals and I wanted to try and make a nice looking garden since it’s the first thing you see when you get to our house. I should have just gone purpose built because now all you see is a rail full of turkeys, decimated garden on one side and turkey crap along the other.

      The turkeys go in a week Saturday and I am ecstatic about that. Eat my tomatoes, will they?

  3. Great ideas here, thanks. I actually took the plunge and got me some chickens last week! Now I have more eggs than I know what to do with!. You might like these egg recipes.

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