The Chicken Tree

We had an ice storm on Thursday, and the power went off at 3:30 on Friday morning. We stayed quite comfortable, though; we have a wonderful woodstove and plenty of wood to keep the first floor cozy, and there are registers that allow heat to get to the second floor.  I was even able to fix meals on it --- cast iron cookware works beautifully on soapstone, although it does take longer.  We didn't have to settle for cold sandwiches and room-temperature instant coffee (ugh!) during the outage.  Because we have a well, we had no water; we used bottled water for everything.

Cooking on the woodstove:

I didn't know Vic was taking this photo, and here I am picking up the tea kettle.  That's a roasted chicken heating up next to it.  (Thanks to the Harris Teeter grocery store for the chicken.  I didn't know I'd have to heat it up this way!)  You can see how nicely the fire blazes up.  I am absolutely nuts about this stove!  There were veggies and salad and hot coffee and ice cream sundaes (the ice cream hadn't yet melted) rounding out the menu.

I missed neither the television nor the internet.  I was still able to work in my studio last night with a lantern.  Inconvenient, yes.  Bad, no.  Out here in the country we were among the last folks to have our power restored.  When we called the power company this afternoon, we were told they'd have us back to normal by 11:00 p.m. Sunday.  Sunday?!!  Well, they were wrong.  I did my little happy dance when it was restored at 5:30 today.

Ice storms aren't only hard on the power grid but also on the landscape. 

There's actually more to this picture than an iced-up tree falling in the storm. If you look closely, you'll see that the tree had been split in two, the left section already on the ground and the right section tilted oddly --- I think that right-hand section looks like a big ol' bear sitting on his haunches!  This is our beloved cedar tree, between 20 and 25 feet tall, simply too overcome by ice to last any longer.  This is our chickens' beloved cedar tree as well.  My birds are free-rangers and roosted in this tree every night.  It provided a right cozy and safe place for them. 

Looking up the driveway - a sheet of ice - and another view of the tree, now completely down.
We had temperatures in the sixties today, and although the ice is gone, we still have a mess to clean up.  I dragged away some of the fallen pine branches this afternoon.  It will take a few days to completely remove the cedar.
These circumstances have, unfortunately, upset my chickens.  Yesterday evening I watched Ricky, my head rooster, leading the hens toward the tree, looking intently at it, and then turning right around and taking the girls around the back of the house.  Was he thinking that it would be better if he went in the other direction? Maybe the tree would be back as usual.   Nope.  It was still down.  I could almost hear him sigh.  He and Lucy joined Fred in one of the pine trees, and they settled in for the night.  Not my youngest hen Thelma Lou.  She was visibly upset.  She refused to fly into one of the other trees.  I watched her run lickety-split across the side yard, zip into the old chicken pen, and swoosh right into her old coop.  She hadn't slept there in over a year, preferring instead to join the others in the cedar tree.  Thelma Lou was raised in that pen.  Both her sister Helen and her mother Caroline are gone now, and she's back where she started.  She's safe there.  And tonight I'm sure she's sleeping soundly in her new-old place, getting ready to join the others in the morning.  Bless her little heart.  Bless my little heart.  Thus endeth the story of the chicken tree.  All is well, but it has been an adjustment.  When you love chickens, you write stuff like this!


  1. I just hate what the ice has done to all the trees this Winter.. We have lots of clean up in our yard when it warms up...I hate that the chicken tree is the one that is down....I so want chickens but I know I will have them all named and will be so protective of them..My husband says I will bring them in when the weather is I love all the chicken stories here on blog land.. I will have chickens one day! Have a great week. Blessings!

  2. It's so nice not to be completely dependent on electricity or modern conveniences. I've had a few times like this and we survive quite nicely. I love your story about the rooster. You could write a book about your life here.

  3. I'm so sorry about your cedar tree, and esp. sorry for your chickens and their roostlessness! Poor Thelma Lou! All alone in the coop. I think you're the only chicken lady I know whose chickens roost in a tree instead of in a pen, locked up each night. Kind of a neat thing, I think. I love to hear about chickens, having none myself. Glad you are now melted, and hopefully things will return to normal and your chickens will find a new place to sleep ... together.

  4. You were as snug as two bugs in a rug! Your poor little chickies, though! Thelma Lou certainly had a time of it.:( So glad things are getting back to normal- for everyone at Windy Hollow Farm.:)

  5. You were much harder hit with the ice than we were, Mary Ann, sorry to hear about your loss. Trees are important in so many ways; they are hard to lose--for people and chickens!

  6. I do miss my home state of CO, and the snow, but lived in St. Louis for awhile, and have NEVER missed those ice storms. I DO hope you are having milder weather and Spring is on its way to your place - stay warm, my friend! Tanya