Sunday, August 10, 2014

My Heritage House Moment

We all make mistakes and we usually have justification for our mistakes. Take my own Heritage House moment just yesterday as an example.

My biggest hen, Bean, has been sitting on a clutch of eggs for about 15 days and nights keeping them warm hoping to hatch a dozen baby chicks. Usually I don't allow my girls to hatch this late in the year but I've got some older birds who will be seeing the stew pot soon so I figured I could use a few more laying hens. And being that Bean has always been a great layer of whopper sized eggs I decided to let it go on.

Problem was, Bean's choice of a nesting site under my motorcycle shed was troubling to me. Here's where my justifications come in to play.

It's very difficult to feed and water chicks under the shed.
It's hard to keep them safe from predators. I once lost an entire nest to a 'possum in one night.
It's difficult to keep the adult birds from eating the baby food. I don't know why but grown hens love Chick Starter and the laying pellets I feed the grown-ups are too big for the newly hatched chicks to swallow.
I can't clean up after them under the shed and dirty chicks become sick chicks.
There's not enough protection from the elements.
There's no grass and weeds for the chicks to eat. And few bugs
There's no sunshine.
It will be harder to move them after they hatch.
I have a feral cat who thinks tiny chickens make tasty treats. But the cat is a great mouser!

Now I think all of you will agree those are all very good reasons for me to pull a Heritage House and move Bean and her eggs, now just 5 days away from hatching to a safe nest of my own construction that does away with all those problems. Add to that the fact that I have done this successfully with lots of other broody hens and you'll see why I did it.

But I had never done it with Bean. As a matter of fact, this was the first time Bean has ever gone broody.

What happened next was beyond imagination. Bean, my sweetest most docile hen went haywire. Completely snapped. She refused to sit in the new nest, scattered the eggs across the ground, chased all my other hens around the yard, attacked my rooster, Mr Green Jeans and ran my cat Panther across the fence. Poor rooster, she kicked his butt. There ain't nothin' sadder than a rooster just fresh whipped by a hen. Nothing smaller than my 210 pounds was safe from that angry hen.

And she refused to sit on those eggs again. 12 lives lost before they had a chance to begin and no one to blame but myself for thinking I knew what was best for someone else-- my Heritage House moment. Those eggs aren't even fit to eat now, everything is wasted including the 15 days Bean sat on her nest depriving herself of food and water. All because I thought I knew better. All because I thought I knew what was best for someone else and had the power to do it no matter their opinion.

Billy Jones became a benevolent tyrant but a tyrant just the same. What I was doing was right but it wasn't right for Bean and she was the one most effected.

For those who might not know, Heritage House was a troubled condominium complex here in Greensboro, North Carolina where individual property owners held deeds to 177 units and 400 residents lived. At Heritage House the City of Greensboro decided they knew what was best for everyone in the building and took all their homes-- even owner occupied homes that had passed inspections. They did the right thing but not the right thing for the people who were most affected-- the people who lived in the homes that bought and can't get their money back. But unlike my Heritage House moment where I quickly realized I'm the one who made the mistakes and announced it to the world, Greensboro's leaders keep telling us they did everyone a favor. Including those people who lost their homes without getting a penny in return.

I can't say I know how those people feel but I've got a pretty good idea Bean can understand.