Problem solving
by Rick Watson
Aug 11, 2013 | 1494 views | 0 0 comments | 114 114 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Rick Watson
Rick Watson
Sometimes we make problems harder to solve than they should be.

Let me explain.

We got new chickens recently. Our old ones went over the chicken rainbow; one at the hands of a nasty chicken hawk, and the other had eating issues. She couldn’t stop. At the end of her life, she waddled around the pen like the Aflac Duck.

I found her one morning next to a feeder lying on her back. It took a while to dig her grave (yes, we bury our chickens too).

Our rooster Zeus pined over his lost lovebirds, so we vowed to find him some mates.

About a month ago, we had a free weekend so we headed up to the Lacon flea market shopping for chickens.

I walked by a vendor selling parched peanuts for a buck fifty a bag. They were still warm.

I rotated a “three nutter” until the spine was under my thumb and index finger. A gentle pressure popped the nut open and the three nuts rolled into the palm of my hand. I tossed them into my mouth.

This guy knew how to parch peanuts because they were roasted to perfection. Over-roasted peanuts are bitter, and under roasted ones are soggy. But the ones done right crunch between your teeth and taste buttery.

We browsed around the livestock for a while looking for hens that suited us. We saw goats, geese and fluffy bunny rabbits.

We knew we didn’t want game hens. The last one we had took issue with me collecting her eggs and buried her beak into the soft part of my forearm. I “bled like a stuck hog,” as my granddaddy used to say.

I wasn’t that sad when Mr. Raccoon had a late night snack at her expense, but I did install an electric wire around my pen to prevent future dining at Watsonville.

At the flea market, we chose two beautifully colored red-rock laying hens. Since Zeus was named after a Greek god, it seemed fitting to name the new hens Iris and Isis.

Everything was blissful on our fowl farm until a few days ago when Isis escaped.

I stepped out, scooped up a handful of corn and coaxed her back to safety.

The next morning both hens were out.

The storm that blew through in March had blown pine trees down on the fence. I’d made repairs but it sagged in a few places. I reasoned that this must be where they were escaping.

I fixed the fence and afterwards, smiled at my handiwork. I rounded up the chickens and went inside for some sweet tea.

As I stood at the sink sipping tea and looking out the back window, the chickens were already out.

They must be flying over, I thought to myself.

That night, with Jilda’s reluctant help, we went into the pen, caught the hysterical hens one at a time and clipped the feathers of one wing.

This keeps chickens from flying. I knew it worked because I’d helped my mom do it many times when I was a kid.

The next morning, they were scratching for worms at the edge of the driveway in the front yard.

Again, I put on my chicken-wrangling hat and got them back in the pen. This time, I fetched a lawn chair out of the shed and sat under the pines a few yards away to observe.

As I watched, one of the hens walked to a back corner, ducked under the fence and hopped outside.

Apparently the storm had not only pulled the top part of the fence down, but also torn it loose at the bottom in a place that made it hard for me to see.

A few minutes with a staple gun and the chickens haven’t been out since.

All problems have a solution, but sometimes it’s the easiest solution that solves the problem.