The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa


June 27, 2012

BICKER: Impending heat leads to crazy chicken ideas

CLINTON — While I was listening to WGN radio talk show personality John Williams on Monday, I heard a startling fact in the midst of drought conditions and an impending heat wave.

My heart literally skipped a beat when he said, “It’s six months until Christmas.”

I felt like uttering the famous words of Gary Coleman’s character, Arnold, from “Different Strokes” with my own twist, “Whatcha talkin’ bout John?”

Can you believe it? Six months until we’re standing in snow and I’m wrapping my hens up in little fleece blankies getting them ready for Santa. All I can say is, “Holy Moly.”

The impending heat wave and dry conditions have my stomach tied up in knots so tight Harry Houdini wouldn’t be able to break loose.

Like most gardeners, I’m watering my plants daily. My garden hose feels more like an appendage now.

I’m to the point I could probably water my entire garden with my eyes closed. I don’t mind watering my thirsty plants except for the fact that I’m probably watering my garden in my sleep.

At least I haven’t started sleep walking out to the garden yet. If I ever wake up wrapped up in a garden hose I’ll know what happened.

Not only have I been worrying about my plants, but my chickens as well. My girls, as you guessed it, are always on my mind. Since they arrived last May, I think I’ve slept with one eye open. I love each and every one of them.

I raised them from little baby chicks for heaven’s sake.

A lot of things have crossed my mind to help my chickens battle the heat. One thought, which my dad scoffed at and told me I was nuts, was the idea of installing a window air conditioning unit in the chicken house. Just think what a little freon would do for my girls’ morale.

My girls would be chilling out in the coop listening to their favorite 24-hour sports station instead of frying like a scrambled egg. Since that idea fell flat, I opted for a large box fan instead — at least the girls will have a nice breeze.

In addition to the fan, there is a tarp draped on the back of the coop to shade it from the afternoon sun, two rotating roof vents and a window fan. If I could shuttle them into the garage for the week, I probably would.

If that wasn’t enough, I even planted a very long row of sunflowers along my garden that would help shade the chicken house.

Unfortunately, they aren’t too tall yet.

According to my dad, I have all kinds of brilliant ideas. I’ve often worried about severe weather and a storm ransacking the coop leaving my hens’s lives in jeopardy. I told him there was only one way to solve this problem and nip it in the butt — a chicken storm shelter.

In my mind this would be a cinch. We could dig a very wide and deep hole right next to the coop and finish it off with a door on top that wold latch shut. Pretty clever huh? My dad looked at me and rolled his eyes.

I’ve come to the conclusion he must have been thinking two things, “Did I really take the right child home from the hospital 36 years ago?” and “Did I accidentally hit her in the head with a 2-by-4 while we were building the coop?” Come on Dad, you have to admit my ideas are pretty clever.

Since I haven’t been able to convince him to start shoveling, I told him I would do the next best thing — rescue everyone. If a tornado is barreling down the road in my coop’s path, I swear on a dozen of my girls’ eggs that I would go out and rescue each and every one of them and put them in the basement.

If you think I’m blowing eggs out of my butt, think again.

So, how am I going to deal with the heat? My neighbor, Julie, gave me a great idea, one that I’m sure my dad would appreciate. Since I have a sprinkler hooked up in my garden to water the plants, I could just slip on my new swimsuit and run through my garden to cool off. Can you imagine what kind of sideshow this would turn out to be?

I guess stranger things have happened in this world than a wild and crazy chicken farmer running through her garden sprinkler.

All I have to say to Julie is this, “Stay tuned and keep your eyes peeled.

“After I get done watering my plants in 100-degree heat you just might have a YouTube goldmine erupting in your own backyard.”

Angie Bicker is the Lifestyles Editor of the Clinton Herald. She has been employed with the Herald since 2001. She can be reached at

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