Monday, February 1, 2010
Holy Crap. Literally.
At the early hour of 6:10 am, my faithful alarm clock went off. I put on my thermal underwear; a pair of hiking pants that saw me through tomato picking 5 years ago, a hoodie and my wool socks, and headed downstairs for the coffee pot. After three cups of coffee, I was ready to start the first day of my farmer training.
For the next five days, us interns will be following two other workers around and learning the animal chores. We started at the pig barn. We were warned that the four hundred pound pigs are not very nice. And that we should basically get in and get out as quick as we can. " Do not get knocked down, or they will eat you." One of the livestock guys said, half jokingly.
After the pigs, we met the chickens. Some were laying hens, and some were meat chickens. Each intern grabbed a 50lb sac of corn feed and gracefully, or not so gracefully in my case (note to self, must get stronger) hoisted it on to our shoulder. As I dumped this awkward heavy load into their feeders, stray chickens would peck at my leg.
After feeding them we collected eggs. We noticed a dead, stiff chicken on the ground. One of the guys picked it up and threw it in the back of the truck. He said he wasn't sure what happened to him. We also noticed one the chickens looked rather lame, his toes were all twisted and his beak was messed and crooked. He might end up on the chopping block tomorrow. It's not fair to leave them that way because he will be picked on, or rather pecked on, by the other chickens. Chickens hate weaklings.
After lunch, we were initiated or hazed, if you will. We were tasked with the mission of cleaning out one of the chicken stalls. The cobwebs and dust on the ceiling, the shit caked to the wall, and straw bedding on the floor and nest matted with feces and urine, all had to go. With our handy dandy face masks, we started sweeping, shoveling, scraping excrement off of everything. The smell is 10 times worse than a men's urinal in a Greyhound Bus station.
At one point, one of the roosters got out and flew over the fence. We had to go and retrieve him. I was given a long stick with a hook at the end and was supposed to hook his foot. Roosters are fast. We kept chasing him around and at one point I almost hooked his foot, but he slipped away. Slippery little coq. Eventually we cornered him and just picked him up.
It was a good day.
As I drove home I flipped to the country station. And for some reason, I felt like having a beer.