Running a Pitchfork

For the last couple of weeks we moved the meat chickens to the old granary.  Set up an outside run to they could get air and some grass during the day, but they had grown too big for the rollable coop we’ve used in the past (it fits maybe 40 full-grown chickens, and we had 60) so we threw down straw and moved them and their feeders inside.  After our little trip the other day, there remained a few feathers and a lot of straw and chicken manure.  So yesterday I got after it (the fly population was already exploding).  Man, I don’t know how many years it’s been since I ran a six-tine pitchfork.  Put me deep into memories of all those calf pens I cleaned as a youth.  And all those Saturday mornings when my brother and I had to clean the heifer shed – one forkful at a time – before lunch.  We listened to fly-specked cassettes of Charley Pride and Terry Bradshaw.  Didn’t matter what kind of a hero you were at the football game Friday night, Saturday morning you were hoisting steaming clumps of organic reality.

That chicken manure was pungent.  But it weren’t nothin’ compared to sheep manure, which is A) so tightly packed and woven you can hardly force the tines in, let alone rip a chunk loose, and B) is so ammoniac it’ll flat scald your nose hairs off.

Anyway.  Shed’s clean.  And for all the good stuff in the freezer, the final gift those chickens left us is currently percolating on the compost pile.

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