How the Hen House Turns: Feeling Guilty

How the Hen House Turns: Feeling Guilty
Column by Carolyn A. (Cary) Neeper, Ph. D.

As we face up to the current drought, I keep thinking, we can do this—save some pure deep water for our great grandchildren. It will not be easy, but the sooner we start the easier it will be. Then I realize that I left the hose running while I fed the birds yesterday.

I have to admit it, sometimes, after I’ve filled the birds’ water dishes from outside the Hen House, it’s easier not to walk up the hill to shut off the hose. I think to myself, it will only take five minutes to put lay pellets and corn in the birds’ dishes and maybe another three minutes to freshen their straw.

Okay, okay, I’ll walk up the hill and shut off the water. At 22 seconds per gallon, letting it run for eight minutes would waste 21.8 gallons.

Here, in the dry Southwest, we get our water from deep wells. Are the aquifers dropping at an unsustainable rate now? Some are, they say.

Precious stuff, that pure water my geese and ducks bathe in, first thing, even before they take a beak full of breakfast. They do appreciate it.

The first thing on my reference authors’ list, Rob Dietz and Dan O’Neill in “Enough is Enough” (, is easy enough. “…choose to consume energy and materials responsibly, conserving, economizing, and recycling…” In other words, be mindful in turning off the lights when you leave a room. Shut off the Hen House heater when it’s not too cold. Save up the errands for that trip downtown.

There must be a gazillion things like that, especially for industry to do. We can feel guilty, but they can really do something worthwhile with efficiency. I think it was DuPont that saved millions of dollars.