The family farm is not like it use to be, especially in the poultry industry. Update requirements to conventional chicken houses have put many old school growers out of business. Now it is an industry that has gone high tech! Our farm has nine poultry houses that are equipped with computers that control feeding, lighting, temperature, static pressure, etc. When there is a problem, they call us; literally our phones begin to ring. It is a system known as ‘Agri-Alert’. Each house has its own phone line and computerized program. If the conditions waver from those dictated by the computer, which is set by our technician from the company we grow for, then we receive a phone call that alerts us to which house is having an issue and a ‘zone’ describing where the trouble is; i.e. temperature too low, water pressure dropping, etc. If a code isn’t punched into the system within a few minutes it will continue, annoyingly, to call every number stored in the computer. Sometimes we have two cell phones and the land line ringing. And like passwords, codes for each farm are never easily retrieved from a foggy, sleep deprived brain. That’s because it usually calls in the middle of the night as we are peacefully sleeping and usually it is a non-issue that has fixed itself before anyone can get to the farm. Maybe a heater doesn’t start up quickly enough to keep the temperature from dropping one degree below the set point; maybe high winds turn a fan from the outside which interferes with static pressure. But sometimes there are real issues that could cause serious damage if not attended to quickly, such as having a water line to break, or a heater motor to go out. So, for those times we are thankful for the alarm.
It always receives the ‘yikes’ response, or from my husband it’s more of ‘oh sh**!’ This morning at 4:45 it was the expletive type. Then it is impossible for the me to go back to sleep. In times like these, I just have to make the best of it. This morning seems like a good time to write. So I have given up on sleeping and am writing.

Of course, now my old dog is barking. She’s activating her ‘doggie alert’. My husband left the garage door open when he left and it’s well below freezing outside. The heater in the garage will keep her toasty unless the door is left open. So she is telling me that she is just too cold, her arthritic bones too sensitive to the icy air. Do I close the door and leave her in the garage? Absolutely not! I bring her inside to lay by the fireplace so that she is instantly warmed and I’ll keep her here until the temperature in her ‘house’ is back at its set point! Why should a bunch of chickens have better treatment than our old faithful companion?

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