Sunday, May 11, 2014

#7 Chicken Grooming and Another Section on the HST

Today I was shown how to groom polish chickens. I hesitate to say I learned because learning implies that one can do the task after being shown. The long and short of it is that there is no future in it for me.

I met Alexis through Facebook and my running group. A friend of hers joined MLC about a year ago and when we were planning 50 Shades of Sore, Randy connected Alexis to the group as she lives near the trail and she was interested in trail running. I met her in person in January with Maggi when we were scouting out aid stations. Alexis ended up captaining the Northside Road rest stop and we became FB friends. About a month ago she told me she needed to groom her chickens and if that counted as learning a new thing I was welcome to come out and see how it was done! This is what I love about social media. We might not have connected otherwise and now I had an opportunity to check out something that never would have been on my radar if she hadn't suggested it.

The idea behind the grooming is to get the crown feathers out of the bird's eye. And they use an elastic hair band to do it. The simplest thing you'd think but I couldn't manage it. The first try the band was too small. But even with the larger band I was afraid of hurting the bird even after Alexis showed me their necks were quite flexible. The second bird's crown feathers (I'm probably calling them the wrong thing, BTW) where smoother and shorter and very hard to get in the band. So in the end I did not accomplish the task but I did see how it was done. So it counts as one of my 27 things.

After that was complete we took a tour with Alexis' daughters of their backyard (it's a 7+ acre lot) via a trail they've blazed around the perimeter. Then Alexis and I headed off on our own for a hike along the HST into St. Peter's Village and back. It was probably about 4 miles out and back. The sun was bright today so I had to take a shadow photo. Notice how clean my shoe is. It was several shades of mud darker by the time we returned from our hike.

I had a really nice afternoon. The hike afforded Alexis and I time to chat and get to know each other beyond FB. Chatting while hiking or walking or other activity is a much more comfortable way for me to interact with people. I'm not good at sitting and talking across a table or room. I can do it but I'm not very good at or comfortable with it. So the afternoon was a awesome for me. I got to make a new friend while doing something I really enjoy all on a gorgeous May day.

AND the section of the Horse Shoe trail we hiked connected to the last section I completed two weeks ago. Anyone who knows me knows how important that fact is. I would have made the hike regardless but I would not have been able to count it as part of my effort to hike the HST all the way if it hadn't been in order. Yeah, I know...but that's me. Dork to the bone. :)

Keep smiling and keep moving. I'll leave you with a few pictures from the afternoon.
Alexis' oldest with one of the chickens.
This bird's feathers are so soft it's like petting a kitten! 

I am sorry that this means the tree is rotted and
will likely die now but I was fascinated by the look of this. 

Beautiful Spring day on the HST. 
Edit 5-15-14 - More information about grooming Polish Chickens from Alexis

The Polish hens have crest feathers that can grow in front of their faces and obscure their vision. You can trim them, but this risks poking a chicken in the eye with scissors, so the other option is to put their crests up in "pony tails". I don't do this all the time, but since we recently added new hens to our flock, the pecking order is being reestablished. These couple Polish hens are my oldest girls (and my favorites, don't tell the others). I wanted to give them a bit of an advantage while they are jockeying for position in the flock, and giving them a better range of vision helps with that.
Another reason folks put the crests up or trim them back is because in the winters when the chickens drink, their crests can get wet and then freeze to their skulls. Then the chickens go hypothermic and die

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