Living in an igloo sounds pretty appealing these days with temperatures in the 90s and heat indices soaring above the 100-degree mark. Walking outside or just even standing outside is almost unbearable. I can honestly say that deodorant fails miserably in this weather. No matter where you go, armpits are surrendering and waving a white flag in retreat.
My heart really aches for my girls who are sweating it out in the coop. My mom and I have been on chick patrol the last couple of days to make sure they are alright. She peaks in the door to check them while I’m at work and I take over the afternoon and evening shift. I’m sure some people would say they are just chickens, but I don’t feel that way. They are little defenseless creatures who look to me to take care of them. I guess you could say that is my motherly instinct kicking into high gear.
In order to help my girls survive this merciless heat wave, my dad and I nailed a tarp to the back of the coop Sunday morning to help shade it from the sun’s rays. I also pulled out the three-gallon waterer for the girls to keep them hydrated as well as two, one-gallon waterers. If this wasn’t enough, I also filled a pan with water so the girls could walk, wade or drink from it. Since my girls have bare, skinny legs, they are definitely swimsuit ready.
Instead of drinking or wading in the pool of water, a few of my girls are perching themselves on the side of the pan like it’s just another day at the pool. One little hen in particular never budges from her spot. While the others stay and perch for only a few moments, she will sit there for long stretches of time. My little girl reminds me a lot of Esther Williams, who starred in all of those swimming movies back in the 1940s and ’50s. So, I decided to call her Esther, my little bathing beauty chicken of the Midwest. I can’t help but wonder what the real Esther Williams would say. Trust me Esther, no matter how hard this is to comprehend; coming from me, this is a real compliment.
Just in case you thought I was done, you might want to sit back and take another swig of lemonade. On Monday, I decided to go shopping for another fan for the girls. Since they already have a window fan lovingly supplied by my friend Jennifer, I thought they might need another one at chick level on the floor. So, after work I set out to find another fan. After the hunt was over and while I was writing out a check to a local cashier I couldn’t help but say, “This is going to go in my chicken house to keep my babies cool.” She replied, “You know most people wouldn’t even think about doing that for chickens.” And when she handed me my receipt she smiled and said, “I like your heart.” Unfortunately, I don’t remember her name but she made my day. I smiled all the way back to the truck. I wonder if she had any idea how great she made me feel.
Since adding the extra fan in the coop, my girls have been a little more comfortable. They gather around the fan like the Waltons gathered around the radio. I should know since I watch “The Waltons” every night without fail. My chickens are smart and no one can tell me any different. Esther, my little bathing beauty, loves the fan. Her little feathers are now blowing in the wind. I have never seen a chicken look happier. For all I know, she might even be checking out her reflection in the water and admiring herself. Esther got a little more daring the other night and started taking little sips of water while perching on the side of the pan. Now let me ask you, can you think of anything cuter?
I will be thrilled when cooler temperatures finally blow in and we get some much needed rain, which the plants in my garden desperately need. No matter how much I water everything, it doesn’t take the place of a nice, steady, soaking rain. I know my girls will be thrilled. They’ll probably be doing flips in the coop like Mary Lou Retton.
I hate to admit this but I’m kind of looking forward to fall with its cool, crisp nights. It is a lot easier to keep my flock snug and warm instead of cool on a 110-degree day. And besides, I think chickens bundled in snuggies would look a lot cuter than chickens in bikinis. I’m just say’n.
Angie Bicker has been employed with the Clinton Herald since 2001. She can be reached at email@example.com.