I’ve been prepping the brooder for the layer chicks due to arrive this week. All my helpers have abandoned me temporarily because the building made them feel like Ron Weasley:
Frankly, I feel this to be a slight exaggeration…it’s quite bright in there thanks to a few windows, and I had the door open while I was sweeping out cobwebs, but I will admit that I wore long sleeves and jeans instead of my usual cut offs, because really, the number of spiders was ridiculous and the size of about half of them was disturbing. While Vancouver Island doesn’t have much in the way of dangerous reptiles or insects, we do have black widow spiders and a couple of other not very good for you sorts. At one point in the job the sweat trickling down my back made me think the spiders were in my shirt…after an irrational panicky few seconds outside dancing around like a mad thing, I regained my sanity and went and cooled off with a drink of water before heading in to do battle once again.
Not that it was as filthy as all that, actually – I store the pig feed in there, and empty feed sacks waiting for recycling, and I’d already cleaned it out after the broilers vacated last fall. It’s just…well, the amount of dust and cobweb and spiders WAS rather much considering the place was practically empty. Anyway, it’s lovely now, rat proof screen on the window, which is slid open to get some fresh air in there, all the feed bags are gone, and most of the spiders. (not all, a good many scuttled under the moulding around the edge of the floor – this building was the original creamery for the farm but my Dad turned it into a summer bedroom when my Mum was ill so she could be close to her garden. So it has some fancy touches not usually found in dairies or brooders.
It should have been quite simple to set up this space, since I use it as a brooder every year, but I never do things the easy way if there’s a more complicated way to do it. And there is. I’ve got the broiler chicks coming in three weeks. They also need brooder space, and more of it (there are more of them, and they grow faster). The layers won’t be ready to go out on the field at that point, so we’re having to prep a second brooder area in there. It gets better. I only have 2 field pens. I will need both for the broilers by mid August, which is about when the layers can go out too – except that I won’t have a field pen for them. They can’t go to the hen house where they’ll be living once they are laying, because the old layers are still there. The old layers are not supposed to be there, they’re supposed to be in the freezer already, but helper availability and other circumstances have prevailed and the dratted birds are still around. Moreover, the hen house is in serious need of repair (there is a hole in the roof, a hole in the door, and the plumbing has a split, to name a few issues). I really can’t move the new birds in until I’ve repaired part of one wall, the door and the roof. And replace the nest boxes. It’s going to take a miracle or two to get all that done before mid August given the other priorities hanging over me.
I still need to sell one side of pork if I’m going to make any money on the current pair of pigs. I also have to find someone to slaughter them, which is proving tricky. The pigs are supposed to be in their new pasture as we speak, and they are not. So close, but not quite. I need to find time to change their existing electric fence to join the one in the new pasture and I need to do that when the pigs are not helping me, ie when I can lock them in the barn. They are bored right now (nothing left to dig, or chew or tear apart). Bored pigs are trouble waiting to happen, so I have GOT to get onto this job in the next day or two.
Despite what this may sound like, pigs and chickens are not in fact my top priority this summer.
Painting is the number one priority this summer. It began three summers ago and was supposed to be done then. And we’re still at it. And I am determined that we will be DONE with it by the end of this season. It’s going pretty slowly – that helper availability thing again, and the weather – too hot, too wet – never just right. Wasp nests in the eaves. Having to clear brambles enough to get a ladder into one area. And we’re just talking one side of the house. Plus a porch. Actually, we are not talking about the porch if you don’t mind. There were issues with the paint, and I’m not over it. Suffice it to say that it is almost finished and at this rate might be the only thing on the painting list to be finished. Should we by some extraordinary chance get through with the west side of the house as well, then there is the barn to be painted, which has been a priority for more than 3 years. That should be fun. Wasps live IN the walls. Some of the walls want to fall apart and have to be repaired as we go. There are more brambles. And other stuff to do when we’re not struggling with ladders and scrapers and wasps – like pigs and chickens.
Dauntless is not how I’m feeling right now. No, I feel a bit like Ron, actually. Surrounded and overwhelmed and completely regretting what I’ve gotten myself into. I’m trying not to think how much worse it got for Ron – that was near the beginning of the second book out of seven. I take comfort from the fact that he came through it all and emerged battle scarred but successful. I just hope it doesn’t take me seven volumes worth of effort to get there.