Taking the girls to town

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School has started! It’s always hectic in our household during the first week of school being back in session. One thing I love about the new school year is being back in routines and on a schedule. As much as I love some long, lazy summer days, I am a sucker for a calendar laden with fun upcoming activities.

Aug. 16, was the first day of school. The Washington County Fair was set to start the week after. That evening, our 11-year-old 4-H’er and I loaded up his four prized hens to take them over to a blood testing clinic for colored breed poultry in Farmington, Ark. We got the largest dog box we have down from a shelf in the barn. Our son braved the inside of the henhouse and caught each hen to load her in the box. 

The ride over to Farmington only takes about 20 minutes. We knew they would probably be a little stressed from the confinement and riding in a car. We took a thermos full of water and some bowls. Once we got to the high school parking lot, we opened the dog crate and gave them some water. The hens were nervous, and their natural reaction was to poop everywhere. It was a mess and they smelled terrible.

We waited in line behind an FFA member with 11 birds. It was interesting to watch them flop the birds on the table and pull blood. It was an efficient and quick process. Each bird was carefully banded on its wing with a unique number.

Our son stepped up to the table and gave all the pertinent information to get health paperwork completed before the process started. I was proud of him because he is naturally very shy with strangers. He took ownership of this process like a boss. He was ready to show chickens at the county fair.

When it was our turn, we were careful to only crack open the dog crate a little bit to allow him to handle one hen at a time. I had a hysterical vision of one of his ladies getting loose in the school parking lot. I could just imagine the terror of chasing a chicken around the city. Thankfully, he was careful, and this did not happen.

Once the process was complete, we loaded the crate back in my car and headed home. We barely made it out of the city limits and my son was cracking the windows. The hens were feisty on the ride back home. 

From the rearview mirror I could see feathers (and poop) flying out of the crate. My son saw it too and said, “Oh no!” I told him we would deal with it at home.

When we finally made it home, we unloaded them and gave them food and water. They were so happy to be out of the car. We pulled everything out of the car and wiped it down and fumigated it with some air freshener. 

What was the valuable lesson we learned in this adventure? When you take chickens to town, borrow dad’s pick-up truck, neighbor.

Jody Harris is a freelance communications specialist, gardener, ranch wife and mother of four. She and her family raise Angus beef cattle and other critters on their northwest Arkansas ranch. She is a graduate of Missouri State University. To contact Jody, go to ozarksfn.com and click on ‘Contact Us.’

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