The Children, The Chicken, And The Chores

It has been awhile since I have written anything on our farm animals or gardening or anything of that sort. Must of been the trauma of losing our goat Ramsey. Ha! That’d be a lie. Truthfully things have been pretty low key around here. We managed to keep the majority of our chickens alive so I was ecstatic to say “nope” every time we came across baby chicks for sale. It only took purchasing like twenty five chicks to keep six alive. Practice makes perfect people. Six is plenty for us though as we can not eat enough eggs to keep up with the production here. I’ve given several dozen away and HAD to have an egg hunt just to make use of two dozen or so.

Wanna be my neighbor?

I want to take a moment though and introduce you to Tiny. Tiny was from last springs batch of chicks. Not sure if I wrote anything on the challenges of introducing old and new flocks but let’s just say, there will be blood. The chickens were mostly living in harmony when one day during a coop cleaning we set everything off kilter. An older hen, who my children innocently and ironically named Queen Bee, severely bullied Tiny and bloodied her up pretty bad. After getting her cleaned and assessing her wounds I was really hesitant to put her back with the flock so I stuck her with the ducks where she could recover. Well it’s been like six months and according to the girls the ducks, Sunny and Webster, have adopted her. Tiny is truly a free range chicken and she is living it up! She gets dinner scraps at the back door, she comes when you call her, she follows the girls everywhere and she’s eats dill pickle sunflower seeds.

I mean does it get any better for a chicken??

The kids have really taken ownership of the animals and ensure that everyone has food, clean water, and a clean environment. Jason has started giving them an allowance and I have been super proud of Micaila and Ryann as they, on their own accord, tithe off it every Sunday. Caleb on the other hand asked me the other day when he will have a million dollars. We calculated his 2 dollars a week and figured it would take roughly 9,616 years for him to get to a million but hey, there is always an opportunity to move up around here. 😉

The girls continue to have riding lessons with Duet. She has been such a great horse. I love watching the girls do ground work with her on their own or just go out and brush her. They have gained so much independence this last year and it’s bittersweet for this momma.

Jason has already planted the garden and last year I did try a few pickling recipes that were a big hit so, looks like it’s a requirement this year. That is, if we grow anything….😳😉

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Still a newbie country girl

Some days I think to myself “I can’t believe this is happening to me.” In my wildest dreams I never thought I would have to wrestle a goat out of my house….. or my car….. One minute I’m bringing in groceries the next minute I see a black bearded Ramsey trapped in our suv. Seriously? Don’t you dare pee in my car! He knows we store his food in the laundry room so he’s frequently trying to slip through the back door unnoticed. The only problem; his putrid scent comes wafting in the house with him. Who let the goat in? He jumps on the counters and leaves a trail of poop behind him just for laughs. You would not believe the pleasure I get from chasing him around with a broom. He runs off and does his goat thing, leaping in the air, wiggling and kicking his whole body. Goat shenanigans, it’s pretty entertaining.

Then there’s the time I was feeding the chickens and realized I had scooped a brand new nest of baby mice out of their grain bucket into their eating pan. What in the world? As much as I felt bad I was equally disgusted. They were tiny and translucent and I was reasonably confident I just killed them. Meanwhile their mom is just staring at me from the bottom of the bin probably thinking “It seemed like a good idea at the time.” Knowing the feed was definitely compromised I set the little critters back in the bucket and hoped for the best. The next day I had to face the music and ended up setting the mom free and laying the babies in the woods. I’m sure they made a nice snack for something. :-/

There have been other occasions where I showed more compassion towards mice. Like the time three older babies fell out of our tractor. We did try to rescue those. They had fur though! Way cuter. After the first two died I decided to set the third “free” and spare us the grief. We haven’t had much luck rescuing wild baby animals.

Since we’re on the subject I might as well get it on record that we lost our only laying hen, Penny, shortly after Thanksgiving. We had several hawks hanging around and they managed to snatch her and one of our pullets. It’s never the roosters! We’ve gone from nine to five chickens, two of which have proven to be useless cockadoodles that I can’t bring myself to slaughtering for dinner. I suppose they make for great photos. 😉 If I hadn’t read that book “Made from Scratch” I’d be thinking we should call it quits, obviously it’s us! But the best things we experience in life require us to press on, keep trying and gain wisdom from the past. Our family is learning new and unique things on a regular basis. And fortunately we get to do all this without worrying about whether we succeed at “farming” or not. I imagine it was a way bigger deal years ago when the farmer lost a few hens. I have a growing respect for that day and age but I sure am thankful for a conveniently located grocery store. 🙂

Enough about death, let’s talk about some life! Last Sunday the girls had the pleasure of meeting our neighbors’ day old baby cow. How cool is that?! Someday I hope we get to witness our own animals giving birth or hatching eggs. I suppose we need to first master keeping them alive!

With winter settling in nicely (lows of 8 degrees!) things are calming down around here. This means we have time to plan and dream about what all the spring may have in store. Until then, I’m hoping to have some great snow memories to share later. The little retention area in our front pasture froze! We got a big kick out of that. Ice-skating anyone? 😉OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

After all this time, one little surprise.

It seems like we have been waiting years for this to finally happen. I was beginning to think we were totally doing something wrong. In fact, I finally buckled down, went to the library and checked our 3 books on farming. One completely dedicated to raising chickens, called the Joy of Keeping Chickens. If you are looking for a book on chickens this one is excellent. Another book I read that was funny, informative and inspiring was Made from Scratch. I’m telling you this gal will have you in stitches laughing and ready to do it all from sewing to beekeeping, I really enjoyed her book. She made me realize that every “farmer” encounters loss and surprises in their journey.

So we had gone away for the weekend to attend a good friend’s wedding. I have come to appreciate weddings more and more with every passing year of marriage. It can be such a beautiful relationship and I’m so glad God created it. Every wedding is special but I particularly loved the brides simple and laid back approach to the wedding event itself. To give you an idea of how laid back she was, she ran a 5k the morning of. I knew I liked this girl. 🙂 Before the big day I had several conversations with Jakki and she said one thing to me that just made me grin and think “This girl is on the right track!” She said “I’m more concerned about creating a beautiful marriage than a beautiful wedding.” I just loved that perspective. They wrote their vows and even as simple as they kept it, it was still gorgeous. She was a beautiful bride. Her and our old friend Michael are head over heels in love and it’s evident they mean to take those vows seriously.

So anyway, back to the chickens. We came home at 1:30 Monday morning and went to make sure no one had been eaten. Because I learned chickens, under certain circumstances, will eat each other.

And there it was.

One little brown egg.

I can’t even tell you how delightful it was to find that one small gift. It’s like everything we have done for these feathery friends is finally becoming really worth it. I couldn’t help but think if Chippy were here, she would probably be laying too. :tear: We will totally eat that first egg in Chippy’s honor.

I was so proud of my girl Penny this morning I went down and started sprucing that coop up with fresh bedding and a nest of her very own. Later in the evening the girls were helping me and Ryann said “Wow, this looks comfy. I wish I was a chicken, except…… then I would get eaten.” 🙂  hehe. I hope Penny will take to the nesting box. We’ve stuck one out there before and it usually just gets pooped in. I don’t know what we are gonna do with her 2 possessive boyfriends though. Peck and Abney, the roosters, do not leave her side. And they will fight you for her too. I was trying to seclude her today to make sure if she lay again we would definitely find it. Those 2 feisty roosters were puffin up like ultimate fighters ready to take me down. I think it’s time we have them for dinner!

So I just had to share with you all that we finally have some eggs! Okay 1 egg. That one egg means SUCCESS in my book. Woohoo! Keep them coming Penny.