Warning: Any post on this blog with “Chicken House Hell” in the title is not for the squeamish. You have been warned.
My in-laws, not a mile from here, have four poultry houses. One of the nice things about having a mostly anonymous blog is that I can write about family stuff and nobody is the wiser. Anyway, the chicken houses have unfortunately come to stand for much of what I don't like about life at FAR Manor. I believe that Hell is much like a chicken house: hot, filthy, crowded, noisy. Of my so-called “vacation” so far, 3 out of 4 days have involved at least some time in the chicken houses.
Long ago, I had a personal website (that probably would have been a blog if there were blogs back then) where I kept a series of “Chicken House Hell” stories. Like this one, they were rather graphic and distasteful — but you need to remember, these are the lowlights rather than everyday occurrences, from the perspective of one totally jaded by anything that happens in there. Today was a perfect example.
This time of year, it's rather important to keep the houses cool so the chickens don't overheat. To that end, each house has roughly 25 fans, about 4 feet across and turned by 1HP electric motors. The fans that aren't direct-drive have a fan belt, which require occasional maintenance and replacement to keep them turning. Some of the other natural shocks (literally) that fans are heir to include cut electrical cords and broken thermostats. All of the above were true today — and anything I want to get done, vacation or no, immediately goes by the wayside when the chicken houses need attention.
Preparing to splice a cord that got cut, I had to walk out to the Barge and get some tools and supplies (i.e. a knife, a stripper, electrical tape and wire nuts). Walking along the wall, I heard behind me a BANGsqueeeeeee — not a sound I'd ever heard before. Whirling around to see what happened, I rather wished I hadn't: a chicken had jumped into the fan directly behind me, jamming it. I jumped over there and quickly unplugged it to prevent the motor from burning up. The chicken was at the 10-o'clock position, except for some guts on the bottom of the fan housing and a wing on the floor. I suspect it was killed instantly... at least it didn't suffer.
But I did. I gave the fan a turn, and the chicken dropped to the floor as Instant Chicken Soup. Some guts were still in the path of the fan, so I left it to finish the electrical job. Afterwards, I got a bucket and stick, scooped the remains into the bucket, then plugged the fan back in. It started immediately, seemingly none the worse for wear (fortunately).