I have a part-time job where I work at an environmental center. One of the classes we teach is called Outdoor Living Skills. We use something we call “the Rule of 3’s” to teach kids how to prioritize their survival needs in an emergency. Everyone needs food, water, air and shelter in order to survive.
Should you worry about food? Well, maybe. But most likely you’ll be found long before you’d starve to death.
So when I walked into the chicken barn the other day, I immediately knew something was wrong.
But not today. Today these birdies were all over me.
That’s the heat lamp that keeps their water thawed out in the winter. You see, we have automatic waterers for the chickens. And we worked very hard developing our system. (I use the term we very loosely here.)
…and to a water trough equipped with a float:
We farmers are an ingenious lot. Cough.
You did notice the cat in the picture, right?
In Irish Grove, we believe in inter-specie-al harmony.
Anyways, someone put a chink in our system by knocking the light bulb out of the lamp. And the float froze to the trough.
Our chickens were so thirsty, that one of them had stuck her head out a little hole in the barn door to eat snow…..and got stuck. I didn’t get a picture of her because I was so distressed.
Her head and one wing were outside in the elements, and the rest of her body was inside, smushed under the barn door. Poor birdy. If I hadn’t checked on the chickens that morning, she would’ve died for sure. I gently slid open the barn door, trying not to break her wing, and set her free. She was OK. Whew!
I knew the birds were thirsty because they all ran outside into the snow and started to eat it.
Chickens normally don’t like snow.
Then I spent the next 3 hours running back and forth from the house to the barn. I was boiling water on the stove to pour into the water trough. I was trying to melt the ice-jammed float.
Finally the ice melted, the water started flowing, and the birds got a drink of fresh water.
Disaster averted. Barely.
When you’re a livestock farmer, you can never relax. If you do, you threaten the very lives of your animals. That’s why I developed the Farmer’s Rule of 3’s:
Check your animals, 3 times a day.