A moving day

Sheep take break from otherwise eventful day to investigate coop

November 28, 2008

After a busy first month shuttling between the greenhouse at night and a portable chicken coop by day, it was finally time for the Commandos to assume their rightful positions in the pasture. That was our mission for this Thanksgiving moving day. The plan was simple: We would slowly pull the coop about 25 yards at a time to the pasture, navigating carefully to avoid difficult terrain. Along the way we would stop so that the chickens could take in the evolving landscape and do whatever it is chickens do when they peck around in the grass.

At the halfway mark, we passed through the gate into the pasture. It may just be a swinging metal gate, but at our place it has all the iconic symbolism of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, separating two worlds.

Shepherding the journey were the two dogs. Josie just likes to be with us. But Freckles, the Great Pyrenees, carries a heavier burden. For weeks, she has been getting to know the chickens when they were out in their mobile coop. She would sleep beside the coop during the lazy midday hours. And she would playfully press her large head against the screen of the coop, apparently for no other reason than to scare the daylights out of the flighty hens. So as the caravan made its way to the run-in shed out back, Freckles conceivably could have understood, in some instinctive way, that these chicks would now be part of her responsibility.

Along the way, we were joined by the sheep. They are of course endlessly fascinated by any new stimulus in their incredibly predictable days (ruminate, chew cud, digest, rinse, repeat). The fact that the coop not only provided a visual diversion, it also contained four living, peeping chickens — well, this was almost too much to absorb!

Finally the journey was complete and the chickens were at their destination. In many ways, on this moving day, the same was true for us. A busy summer was coming to a close (even though it’s late November, temperatures hovered in the 70s throughout the day). We moved to Sun and Wind Farm in the spring, intending to introduce peace and a larger degree of self-sufficiency to our lives. The sheep had arrived, and Frances now spends evenings spinning their wool. The garden grew quickly and our nightly meals have regularly included herbs, lettuce, spinach and cauliflower grown in the Texas soil. And now the chickens are here, and in just a few months, we’ll be enjoying fresh eggs.

As the temperatures cool, we will plan for the next season, content with what we have accomplished thus far, but ambitious to find a deeper and even more satisfying relationship with our natural surroundings.


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