The day has been a really good day– Certain Man got some significant projects done for
himself — repairing his grill, replacing his big light at the corner of the house so people can play
basketball in the dark. He spent hours and hours working on Eldest Daughter’s birthday present
— there were lots of setbacks — he even made a trip to Dover that was unnecessary. But he
finally finished that up to his satisfaction with a little help from his wife and finally the day was
winding down. Even though it was late, he had finished the projects he most wanted to do, so he
was making one last trip to his chicken house.
It was 9:20 and I was in the kitchen, getting bedtime meds finished up for Our girl
Nettie and Cecilia when the cell phones started to ring. I picked mine up to hear, “You
have a poultry alarm . . .” I wondered briefly where Daniel was, and went to check on the lights
to see which house it was. House two. H-m-m-m-m-m. Our chickens are big (less than a week
from going out) and it is a bad time for things to go wrong, so I decided that as soon as I got the
ladies to bed, I would go and find him. I had barely gotten back into the kitchen and turned
around when the back door opened and I heard my husband’s hurried steps. We wives that have
been married a long time can often tell when something is wrong, just by the way the steps
sound, and these were not his usual steps.
“Sweetheart, did you see that you have an alarm going off in house two?”
He went flying past me on his way to the study where he keeps some of the things he
needs in an emergency.
“I know,” he said with an edge to his voice. “ We’re in big trouble out there. If I can’t
get something done fast, we’re liable to lose the whole house!”
That certainly got my attention
“What’s wrong?” I asked in alarm.
“The breaker to the house is off and nothing I do makes it go back on to stay.” He grabbed his special flashlight and started out the door. As he left he said over his shoulder, “We have to do something because it is only a matter of minutes before they start dying.”
I didn’t think to grab a phone or anything, I just took off for the chicken house behind Certain Man. As I hobbled the best I could, I noticed his bedraggled, limping half run, too. “We’re quite the pair,” I thought. Neither one of us can hurry very much. But Certain man did exceedingly well for someone who was in such pain from a troublesome knee.
I noticed that he stopped at the generator shed and did something there, and then hurried out to the chicken house and did something there with the electric panel on the outside of the chicken house. “Nope. Nothing!!!” He said to me as I got to the chicken house. “There has to be a short under ground between the main switch box and the chicken house because no matter what I do, the breaker throws as soon as I reset it. There’s nothing I can do. I’m afraid we’re done for.”
I opened the door and looked in. It was already awfully hot in there. “Shouldn’t we open the doors?” I asked, but Certain Man was already heading down to the west end of the house. When he is terribly worried, he doesn’t communicate very well, so I decided that a little air would be better than no air, so I headed the opposite direction, opening doors as I went. I got down to the end and got the big doors open on the east end, and felt a bit of a breeze come through. Certain Man had already opened everything he could at his end.
Then began the most interesting process that I’ve seen for some time. Daniel got the heaviest extension cord that he owned and ran it from House One over to the electrical panel. He attempted several things that didn’t work, and my heart went out to him when they failed, because he was trying so very hard and there was so much at stake. Some of you are aware of a family condition that causes hands to shake. Daniel does not have it as badly as some if the people in his family, but it was surely making itself known tonight. Finally, he was able to direct wire the extension cord in a way that made it possible for him to run three tunnel fans. We closed up the doors and watched the temperature drop steadily down into the 70’s in the chicken house. Daniel took the lull in the frenzied activity to get ahold of two of his electrician friends. One could not help him out. The other said that if Daniel thought things would stay even till morning, he would come around 6:30 and run a temporary line until one can be properly dug in on Monday.
So, Daniel has been going out there every 45 minutes to an hour to see if anything is getting hot. He sets his little alarm clock and crashes to sleep on the rug in the family room. I see his weary, weary face, restless in slumber and his clothes are rumpled and dirty. I wish I knew more what he is doing out there so that I could do it for him. His alarm went off just now, and he turned it off and is making his way out one more time.
“Do you really think it is necessary to go out there this often,” I ask him, thinking of how sore his hip and knee are from all the day’s activities. “If things are okay this time out, couldn’t you trust it to be okay until morning.”
“I don’t know,” he says sleepily. “Maybe if it isn’t too hot, I can just let it go – at least for a little bit longer.” And I see him stop over at the medicine cabinet and pick up some pain medication before he goes on out. He wants me to get to bed, but I am loathe to go before he is settled in for the night.
But that is how it is for chicken farmers sometimes. Tomorrow (well, actually TODAY, now) is the Lord’s Day and I love it so much. So I am going to head off to bed. It really is high time.
And Certain Man is back in and says things are okay out there. So I guess I will go on up to my comfy bed and see if he will follow.