A Labor Day of Love

I awakened early yesterday morning but, instead of writing or blogging (bad me!), I decided to head outside to tackle some of the myriad chores that have been piling up here on the homestead. The heatwave is finally gone (thank God!) and now it’s time to play “catch up”. Haste, due to Hermine’s threat along the Northeast coastline, was another factor in heading out so early. So, with hand clippers, loppers, and wire cutters in hand, I headed outside.

The sky was just beginning to lighten when I started cutting back all of the Japanese knotweed, bittersweet, and smart weed that had been taking over since the start of last month’s heatwave. I had a romantic notion of also watching the sun rise but Hermine and her extensive cloud cover nixed that hope. Instead, I spent the better part of two hours cutting it all back and then heading back inside to begin the usual morning routine of feeding, watering and general care of all the animals, which included cleaning and scrubbing down all 6 rabbit cages. This one was truly a labor of love as I watched each of the bunnies scampering about, stretching their legs and nosing everyone and everything in endless curiosity; if I could bottle some of that energy, I’d be a millionaire. Of course, the cats also join us for this activity. Sweet Pea, one of my bucks, couldn’t wait to leave his cage to greet feline pal, Alice Cooper. The two had a wonderful morning of chasing each other in and out from under the old work bench.

But the biggest project was the removal of all of the chicken wire covering the coop. When I first got my chickens and ducks, I had two St. Bernards that had the run of the property. A friend fenced in a good-sized section of the yard with some old chain-link fencing and ran the chicken wire over the top to keep out hawks and other flying predators. Posts and heavy cabling were used to keep it from sagging but it hasn’t worked very well. The weight of heavy snowfalls over the years has left it bowing in several places, one so bad I had to walk bent almost in two. Of course, these depressions have also seen the accumulation of fallen leaves and it is in one of these depressions that Kiel, one of my Polish hens, has decided to roost every night. Since the loss of both dogs, the chickens and ducks are now free-ranging and it is no trouble at all for Miss Kiel to flutter up to the top of the gate and walk across the mesh to her nest. Not wanting her to fall victim to predation, I have been spending several minutes each night tickling the bottoms of her feet until she finally gets up, walks across the top of the mesh and flutters down and into the henhouse; this routine grew old rather quickly. So I took down the mesh. It took quite awhile, partly because the area is quite extensive, and partly because I had a little help in the form of three Nigerian Dwarfs who were quite taken with the tools I was using. Every time I set one down, Domino would grab it in his mouth and try to run off with it–or consume it, depending on the tool. When he wasn’t grabbing tools, he was climbing up on the fencing trying to get a better look at what I was doing. And all three trailed me everywhere, headbutting my legs for attention and grabbing mouthfuls of leaves as they fell from the top of the mesh. Fearing for their safety–and mine–I finally had to grab a few collars and coax them out of the coop with a few branches of the trimmed back Japanese knotweed and Lambs’ Quarters!

My hands now look like I got in a fight with a couple of alley cats on steroids! My fingers took quite a beating from the edges of wire as I continued cutting it away from the frame. But they’ll mend. And Kiel went right into the henhouse yesterday afternoon–migrating in with all of the other birds, as Hermine and the high winds she brought, set them running for cover early. I am grateful that it seems to have worked, making it a labor of love worth celebrating.

May God bless you & keep you!

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