Monday, May 31, 2010

Not a chicken post...

This weekend is official time when it's "safe" to plant your garden where I live and I did my part in the annual tradition but spending most of the weekend in my garden. To say that it was in a depressing state if disarray is a gross understatement! Weeds in some places were up to me knees! (Well, in all fairness to the weeds, I have short legs.) It's so much easier to weed when you've got the motivation of loads of company coming to the the farm and the weeds are big enough to have something to hang on to and when you give a good yank the whole damn thing is ripped out of the ground! Only then is weeding that satisfying. It's done, thankfully, the kids and I are tired, covered in dirt, and so excited to see how the garden does this year. We're hoping that the late blight that wiped out all out tomatoes and potatoes last year will not return and that if it all comes in that we'll be eating like kings!

Since the broilers are being housed so close to the garden and nothing significant had been planted yet I thought it would be ok to let them out and knew they wouldn't wander off. Well, shortly after they came out, this little guy came over to "help."

*Mom, I felt like asking him to go vacuum he was so much help!

He was a smart one though, he knew I'd be the one doing all the work and he'd have to just stand there and eat the worms, bugs and well, whatever else he was eating that had just been unearthed. A few others joined him later, but all together they were too much help and had to be shooed off.

Friday, May 28, 2010

new digs for the pigs

After the kids and I moved them out there and they were back together (after being separated for about 10 minutes for the move) they grunted around with their noses in the ground like kids in a candy shop! So happy with tails wagging and making the happiest little pig noises imaginable!

thought for the day...

Kinda makes me think, 'Why are they spraying it on my food then?'

*This was a cover to a container of organic yogurt I bought.
**total brain misfire before the edit, oops!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

big numbers

I was doing barn chores last night and did a head count, realizing that when the turkeys get here next month we'll be at 90 animals that I'm responsible for. My head swam for a minute, I'll be honest. I now that number will be greatly reduced around the 4th of July, then again in October, after the turkeys and pigs are "harvested," but still 90 animals all at once is a lot to take care of. I have been so blessed with all of them and I feel great knowing that the freezer will be full and it's good homegrown food that we raised right here on the farm. Each animal that will be harvested will have been allowed to experience grass, sunlight and fresh air. The chickens will have been allowed to be a chicken and scratch and peck with toes and beaks intact. The turkeys too. Pigs will be rooting around in the dirt feeling the cool earth against their bodies instead of biting tails off other pigs out of boredom and frustration smashed into a concrete pen. Yes, it'll be sad to see them go but so rewarding at the same time, knowing I worked with nature instead of against it, and to me that feels right.

While I know scooping out feed and hay to my 90 animals makes for a large grain bill; however, while at the barn where the kids are working with their 4-H dairy cows that subject came up. I was thankful that my feed bill is small compared to having to feed 80 THOUSAND POUNDS of feed every day. WOW! BIG numbers!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

home again home again jiggety jig

...and these little piggies screamed all the way home.

to market

to market to buy a fat pig.........or two.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Three years ago today... life changed forever. It was the day Garlic arrived at his forever home. When I walked into that pen and saw him he managed to get a hold on my heart like I never though was possible with an animal and I've never looked back. Though he was not the skinniest horse I'd ever seen; close, but I'd seen worse while volunteering at an equine rescue out west. He was in really bad shape and I knew it. I knew he was a gamble I just didn't know then that gamble would pay off in more ways than I'd ever know. Against all the naysayers I bought him and had him delivered the next day, and I can honestly say he was not what I was looking for, in fact quite the opposite, but he is exactly what I needed. Funny how those sort of things work out. He has taught me patience, understanding, and trust. He's given me the ability to relax and chill more than any drug, prescription or otherwise ever could. When I was a horse crazy little girl I'd drawn a picture of a bay horse in a red box stall with white x's on the door wearing a blue halter. Three years ago that's exactly what I got. I don't know his past; where he came from or really anything about him other than the sorrowful old soul with a kind eye and a heart of gold, and yet I'm thankful for everything he went through, (though I wish he didn't have to be starved) so he could be in that pen on that day and steal my heart and join my life forever. We've ridden many miles together and I'm so thankful for each one and as long as I live no matter how many other horses come into my life I know I will never have another Garlic. A while back I read a saying that went, " All horses deserve, at least once in their lives. to be loved by a little girl." To that I would only add, or a woman whom had waited her entire life to love her horse.

Garlic, a few days after he arrived here; yes, he's skinny, but this picture was taken after he'd gained about 80-100 pounds!

good quote

"If you only want one thing too much it's likely to turn out a disappointment. Now the only healthy way to live as I see it, is to learn to like all the little everyday things. Like a sip of good whiskey of a evening, like a soft bed, or a glass of buttermilk, or say uh, a feisty gentleman like myself."

Capt. Augustus McCrae
Movie: Lonesome Dove

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

decide for yourself

The other day my sister asked me if I thought my mother hens were or looked happier now that they were mothers, oddly enough this is not an odd part of our lengthy conversations on any given day. I have to say both of them do. I was reading a blog a long time ago and came across a picture of a Buff Orpington hen looking so proud and happy at a chick I felt inclined to print it off and it is hanging in my kitchen, I look at that and a smiling goat when I need a smile. It's just a really great shot. So I hoped that with all the chicks hatching here I could capture a picture with a similar feeling. How'd I do?

Oh, on another note, the broiler I've marked, and subsequently named Mark -sick huh?) and been weighing to capture his growth is now up to 13 1/2 oz. and we only picked them up 2 weeks ago as day old chicks!
* Promise, this is the last chicken post for a while.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Mom calls them hay burners....

.....I call them black gold makers!
This is some of the compost that I just pulled from our pile. I've put some in the raised potato bed. I planted 1 lb. 12 oz of seed potatoes, wonder how many pounds I'll harvest later.

Monday, May 17, 2010

serious cuteness

These are the birds that were actually planned, ha ha! These are our replacement layers and a couple broilers, all laying in a er, well, a chick pile (as opposed to a pig pile, but that's later). Cute huh?

I am humbled

I am humbled, truly I am. I am so taken with all the kind comments and emails I've received regarding the past post about the broiler chick and Sophia. Some of you are family, some friends and some of you I've never met but took the time to write a few kind words and I am so humbled. When I thought about starting a blog I giggled and thought 'yeah right, I'm no writer more of a rambler. I don't think anybody would read it if I did blog. Then I thought well I'll do it for myself, as a way to keep track of things we do here, lest I forget. Of course I enjoy reading other blogs, I've gleaned a lot of info from those blogs, cried tears of sadness and joy with some of them but thought I'd be so touched by people I've never met. So thank you all for your kindness and thoughtfulness. It is much appreciated!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

faint of heart need not apply

It is with sadness that I write this post tonight. A while ago a friend commented that she'd like to have my job, I chuckled and took it as a compliment. At the time I was having fun 'playing' with essential oils making soap. She works with my husband in what I would consider a stressful job, especially compared to my simple life. Hers is a job that I would not want, though as a teenager it is what I endeavored to be, funny how life turns out huh? Well after witnessing the death of a chick tonight I wonder if she'd feel the same. Let me back up a minute, last week we got replacement layers and broilers and I've commented a few times within this week that I'm amazed at just how fast they are growing well here is some data I find interesting and sad at the same time. I was curious as to what their weight actually was and how quickly they grow so yesterday I weighed an average sized one and marked it so I would be able to know which one it is, he weighed in at a plump 4 ounces. Not exactly a heavyweight, but nothing to shake a stick at either, yet considering the chicks that just hatched this morning weigh in at a meager 1 1/4 ounce and the chicks that hatched two weeks ago are about 3 3/8 ounces each. Mind you the broilers are about a week old and already at 4 oz. and the replacement layers that are the same age are only 2 1/2 oz each I'd say 4 oz is pretty hefty! Well, I was interested to see if the broiler had gained any weight in a 24 hour period so I popped the marked one back on the scale to see. Doth mine eyes deceive me?! It was now at 4 3/4 0z!! 3/4 of an ounce overnight?! I realize it seems insignificant; a mere 3/4 of an ounce, after all they are intended for that purpose right? Right, but the point being the chick had gained nearly 1/4 of it's body weight overnight! I cannot even imagine waking up tomorrow 1/4 larger than I am now. Which brings me to the sadness of the evening, I figured it would come, but really hoped it wouldn't, I witnessed the heart attack of a chicken and all I can say is please please please take care of your hearts folks, it was awful to witness and I cannot imagine a more painful way to go. The scream that came out of that chick was awful! I won't go into anymore detail, but suffice it to say, a heart attack must be close to the most painful thing a human can experience physically. (I know there are more emotionally painful things.) So that being said, I sure it seems trivial but as a caretaker of creation I feel bad about what happened even knowing the rest will experience a similar fate. I'm told it's over quickly and as painlessly as possible, I have my doubts about that as how it that possible, but I know their lives will have been for a purpose. (Though you may not agree with it.) The life that was taken tonight seems pointless right now though I'm sure there was a reason. Tomorrow the rest of them will all be taken outside in the sun, on the grass so that they will at least once in their life experience life as a chicken was meant to.

Let me end by saying farming with all the wonderful things to be experienced and the sheer ecstasy of life sometimes hits you with a sucker punch and the faint of heart need not apply.

Knit's brood

She's up to seven and there are two more eggs that could possibly hatch, though I doubt they will, there has not been any peeping or tapping from them. Well, heck, I honestly didn't think any of these would hatch as I figured they'd gotten way too cold during the cold snap, huh guess that will teach me! I think it's really neat that she's got some that are mostly black, as she's all black and is not biologically related to these and the other hen has mostly spotted chicks and is a spotted hen! Chance or forethought? Since this hen isn't the hen that I originally thought would set on the nest I don't believe it's chance. But that's just me!

a new life

When I went to the barn this morning for morning chores and a chick check, if I was being honest I'd tell you it was a chick check and then morning chores, but I digress. I ran back into the house to get the kids and the cameras to capture this video. This is Andrew holding the chick and talking, (what a shock to those that know him huh?) Just a few short minutes later we had another hatch in Faith's hand, the video for hers was way longer, so I decided to post the shorter one. They were both in absolute amazement! I'd seen a chick hatch when I was younger and it's something that I find just as amazing today as I did then. Momma #2 is doing great, seem very contended and will be extremely busy shortly with 7 (so far, two to wait and see about) new babies to look after.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

too funny not to share

So the peeps are hilarious! The layers are trying to fly and get a pretty good running start and land on the pile of sleeping chicks, who in turn wake up and stumble around puffing out their chests and mock fighting. None of them really have any idea what they are doing but it sure is fun to watch. An episode of 'farm t.v.' I have not seen.

On another note, I wanted to know how much bigger the broilers were than the layers, since they seem to literally be growing in front of my eyes. I got out the scale and weighed one, they all started out at the same size, well, the layer weighed in at 2 1/4 oz. but the broiler weighed in at 4oz! (I marked it so that I could continue to see the progress.) I'm positive I could find a slightly larger bird, but was just amazed by the fact that it was nearly double the size of the layer! I shouldn't really be as all those birds do is eat, sleep and POOP!

One more note, we've got 5+ chicks hatching right now, I'll post a picture of the newbies once they arrive.

Monday, May 10, 2010

just chillin' with my peeps!

Lots going on, must be spring on a farm. First last week, the chicks, (broilers and replacement layers) I ordered before we all the eggs started hatching out arrived. So far we've only lost 1 broiler, but it was because the place where the yolk gets absorbed into it stomach before hatching got infected because it didn't heal properly. It passed away in my hand, I tried to help it like I did the other one but it just kept gasping for air and I knew death was eminent. I cannot believe how fast the broilers are growing! Literally like weeds!

I cannot explain how amazing it felt to hold these little baby chicks in my hand and know that one will provide nice healthy meat for my husband and the other will provide us with delicious fresh eggs. I realize it may seem contrary for a vegetarian to raise meat but that is fine with me, I love it, it keeps those I'm close to guessing! Besides, I know how these birds will be raised and what they were fed but also know what they were not fed! Knowing this meat will be healthier for my husband makes it alright with me to raise it.

Jersey Giant or penguin?

I love flowers

Beautiful flowers that also live on the farm. I love them all.

it must be spring

Queen took the chicks outside and wandered all over the yard with them, Ron commented that that was a lot of walking for those little legs. I was thinking she's trying to wear them out she's tired of being up all night with the peeping! They are all doing very well and expecting cousins any day now. Knit, the other broody hen should be a proud momma within a day or two I suspect.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

ok, so a true story

Our house used to be a dog kennel/grooming home business so it has a room between the main part of the house and the garage with bathroom facilities. Well, I walked out of the house to tell the kids we were getting ready to go to my nieces birthday party this afternoon, heard Andrew in the room and turned to go in. I saw what looked to be something jumping out of a bucket, odd I thought, what's going on? I stepped closer and saw it again, said to Andrew, 'It's almost time to go, what have you got going on here? You brought frogs into the HOUSE?! GET THEM OUT! THEY DON'T BELONG IN THE HOUSE!" He looked at me sheepishly and said as he lept "I have to catch them first!"

I could not make this stuff up people, this is life with my son! Earlier I had blogged about the grasshoppers in my kitchen, well does that make a bit more sense now knowing I had a room hopping with frogs earlier today? My husband wonders why I don't want carpet in the house....
I wonder how long it would take to get the frog smell out?

Monday, May 3, 2010


Last week was insanely busy, but awesome just the same one reason being the kids got to pick out their calves Andrew is over. the. moon. excited! Actually I'm not really even sure if that is accurate enough. Faith is excited too, but Andrew lives for cows. And a Holstein? are you kidding me?! Faith's calf just happened to be born on her birthday, this past year, so she's excited about that and thinks it's pretty cool. This is her below.

And here is Andrew's calf, she was born in March, so she's not too much younger than the other one but this way they don't have to compete against each other in the 4-H shows.

One very happy boy. In fact on the way to the farm Faith asked how he was going to choose, his answer was "The calf is just going to walk up to me and I to it, that's how we work." Any questions?

a sick chick

Thursday night we came home went to the barn to chores and were in for a bit of a shock! We been gone for most of the day and wondered how all the chicks made out, but knew that momma was there to defend and protect them so didn't worry too much. Well being away from them nearly all day we wanted to see them when we got back so we lifted momma up and peeked under her and saw only 4 babies. I got an awful feeling in the pit of my stomach and looked around the coop for the other one. Apparently it had fallen out of the nest and had been there for quite a while as it was very cold and stiff when I picked it up. Thinking it was dead Faith started to cry and fret, it was her favorite chick! Now called Lilac. I know that grandmothers aren't supposed to have favorites but clearly some do! When I picked it up it opened it's mouth and nothing came out but I was trying so hard to let me know it was alive but really close to death. I told Faith to put it under her shirt and up next to her body, so that we'd at least give it a fighting chance of survival, but that at this point it was not looking good. I wonder exactly how close to death this poor thing was, it was in bad shape. I sped through the barn chores and we rushed into the house, all the time Faith was crying and so worried about her baby. I was honest with her, I see no point in not, I wanted to prepare her for what I thought was coming, told her that she needed to relax because panicking won't ever help the situation. Relax and breathe is what I tell her, though I really cannot blame her, she gets it from my mother, mom and Faith seems to always go to worst case scenario in panic mode and anything that doesn't end up happening is good! Weird, but it works for them. Anyway, I turned the brooder lamp on, had Andrew get a box lined with newspaper ready and I mixed a batch of sugar, salt, and warm water together and got the eye dropper out.
I knew I had to act quickly and get something warm into this chick Faith was counting on it. She sat by the fire with her baby and we began feeding it with the eye dropper.

She had calmed down after a bit and the chick opened it's eyes, after a few more drops it started trying to peep again, and Faith started crying again only this time tears of joy and relief.

What we were doing seemed to be working, Andrew wanted to help as well.

By this time it was about midnight and we were exhausted! Faith asked if she could sleep downstairs next to the chick and I said ok. She slept on the love seat next to the chick all night. Watching, praying, waiting and hoping.

We got up the next morning and were quite relieved to find the chick had survived (I had an idea that it would be just fine several times during the night when it was peeping loudly enough to wake me up, did I mention several times?) and was peeping loudly until Faith picked it up. Later in the morning Andrew was holding it and it climbed up here.
I trust my dog.
Shortly after we woke and found the chick to be doing well we put it back out with it's mom and went on about our day without incident. Everybody is now doing well.

Queen and her babies

In case you needed a dose of cute!