Wednesday, April 28, 2010

all five together

Here are all five of our newest babies all together. They're a handful!

two more!

Perhaps we should open a B&B? nah, just for the hens, they get room service. (I still cannot figure out why my sister says we spoil our animals...hummm?)
Peek a boo!

Fuzzy little babes! We're up to four and another will soon arrive.

Faith loves being a grammie! In fact she asked if she could "hold one of my grandchicks please?"

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

We've got chicks!

They are literally minutes old!

peep, peep, peep

Last night when we did the barn chores we check the nest to see what was happening and heard peeping! Faith got all teary eyed and exclaimed, "I'm a grandma!" This morning we saw that three had broken through the shell, it won't be much longer now!

In case you're keeping track, yes, it's been longer than 21 days, but I figure why wouldn't it? My mother calls what we have here the misfit farm, totally justified though. We have a horse that is aging faster than the speed of light, we've had him for nearly three years and he's aged about 6-7 years. I was told when I bought him he was "late teens, maybe 20, doubtfully 20." When the vet came she said right around 20 and then the equine dentist aged him at 24-25 last year.... We got a great deal on him, considering he's solid gold! Then we get a guard llama who is scared of his own shadow! A hen that most always lays yolk-less eggs that are the size of a grape or double yolkers, and she's the largest hen in the flock. Our milking doe sounds like a cow when she blats and snores when she sleeps our other doe undoubtedly thinks she's a horse. The older cat goes out to hunt at about 8pm and wants to come back in at 3am. She's learned that the door does not open at three and now waits until about 7:30. So these poor chicks started life off in the fridge, get to our farm and Queen decided to take her sweet time deciding if she was actually going to sit there, so it was a slow start for them. Mom came for a visit this weekend in hopes of seeing the chicks hatch, as Saturday was officially the 21st day, but with no luck. We did candle the eggs so she could see inside them and casually asked how I was going to train the chickens to get around the yard seeing as the were going to come out blind from all the candling! I laughed, and said why wouldn't they, it's the misfit farm!

So there you have it, I think we'll have chicks this afternoon! If we do I'll post pictures.

Friday, April 23, 2010

tap tap tap

We just came in the house, yes, we were checking on the eggs and it shouldn't be too much longer, we heard a bit of tapping from the eggs! Faith heard it and teared up with excitement. Soon, very soon we should announce that we've got chicks!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Can you tell the difference?

One has a chick inside and one does not, can you see the difference? We've been watching these eggs go from little black pea sized dark spots to this. It's very exciting. We're days away from the first hatching of chicks on our farm!
Yes, that's right, that's the second hen that been on the second nest. This is Knit, (she's got a sister that is just slightly larger than her named Purl. :-) ) She's a Black Australorp who's been through hell, or at least it might seem that way to her. Poor thing, seriously was out just minding her own p's a q's one fall afternoon and was attacked by a neighbors dog and nearly died. Took off half of her tail feathers, a chunk of wing and some of her backside. I thought we were going to lose her, but I took care of her and treated her wounds, ( I have experience in this department, a neighbors dog got after one on my chickens as a child as well. Didn't lose him either, not for a long time.) and she made an astounding recovery. Once she was better she found herself fancied by our rooster, a lot! She was of of the first ones to lose most of the feathers off her backside and her head and neck where he grabbed her to hang on. Because of the lack of feathers on her back was sunburned, lets not even go there..... Then she molted! Oh what a sight! Now picture this; one black feathered, sunburned bright red backed, half tailed, balding headed hen who then lost most of the rest of her feathers, like all three that were left! Her feathers have come back in quite nicely I think, even her tail feathers! I was not sure she'd ever get those back as it was quite a chunk from her tail but she did. This girl's tough!
Ordinarily I wouldn't go on so much about feathers, but it'll help the next part of the story. We've been checking in Queen (the hen that about ready to hatch out chicks) and seeing the other nest empty but eggs warm-ish. So we knew that somebody was sitting on them at least part of the time. Figuring that it was Rose; the hen that had been alternating with Queen for a while until the had her own eggs to hatch, (I guess she's as impatient as I am as she seems to have given up, more of an instant gratification type of girl.) until last night. We went out to do barn chores and saw the eggs were surrounded with thin black feathers and really warm. I knew Purl had no broodiness to her at all so I picked Knit up and checked if it was her who'd been feathering the nest, it was! I'm thinking hasn't this poor hen lost enough feathers? now she's pulling them out to line a nest that may not even hatch? Or maybe since she's spent most of her life without most of her feathers she doesn't know what to do with all of them! I'm kidding. You've heard the expression feathering the nest, well let me tell you she's done a great job of it. Hens will sometimes pull out their belly feathers when they are sitting on a clutch, it has to do with the heat and humidity required for incubation.
So that where we stand, days away from the first hatching and if everything goes well with the second clutch of eggs and they didn't get too chilled the other day when we had a cold snap we might have a second hatch in the beginning of May. Right around the time the broilers and replacement layers arrive! At least it's not boring around here. Oh, and in case you're keeping track, out of the 9 hens we have left one has been and remained broody, one is broody in an a.d.d. sort of way and one had secretly been broody but sees that you get hand fed thinks it might be ok to stay on the nest. Faith hand feeding her hen, waiting patiently to become a grammie!

old sneakers are a good thing

My nephew came down for a visit to the farm, this is him here. I don't know what it is about boys, frog, swamps, mud and water that all just seem to go together, it's like magnets. They cannot help themselves they just need to go into it. Well this is the result, he came up out of the swamp with many of these peepers, but this is the only one I got a picture of. It's a good thing he had is old shoes on too, between the swamp, helping to clean out the barn and just stinky sneakers in general you cannot imagine a more aromatic funk wafting up from those shoes. I'm sure it was a long ride home with those in the car.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

good quote

"At some point you've got to stop being worried about what might, and be part of what is."

Jamie Oliver
Jamie Olivers Food Revolution

It's not everyday we get mail from Mali

This past Christmas we participated in Operation Christmas Child as we have in years past, it's a wonderful program and we enjoy doing it. (To read more about that program click here.)As we pack the shoe boxes we always wonder where they go, and this year Samaritan Purse offered tracking for the shoe boxes, which was very cool, as I blogged about here. Today a letter from a recipient arrived in our mail box from a 10 year old girl in Mali! The kids and I are thrilled!!! What a beautiful young lady! We never expect to hear from the recipients, we just put a letter to the child in the shoebox to tell a little about us and sometimes they write back, it's a beautiful thing, life changing!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

We have movement!

It's official! I just went out to do barn chores and took a heavy duty flashlight with me; and candled a couple eggs, again, only to find that we have movement! In at least three of the eggs I saw what I believe to be movement of the chick embryos! Soon, I should be announcing that we have chicks if everything continues as anticipated.

low tech ultrasound

I am the very definition of impatient, one of those people who when gifts are under the Christmas tree just has to pick them up and shake them, who cannot wait for the entire pot of coffee to brew with out helping myself to a cup, you know, impatient. (Drives Ron crazy.) So when I've got now two broody hens on nests I need to see what's happening inside the eggs. I read about candling online and had to try it. This was my second attempt and this time I remembered the camera! Maybe it's because I wanted to see something in the egg or maybe it was actually developing I don't know, but I'm pretty sure that in a couple eggs I did see the veining and dark spot that I read about! All I know is that I'm pretty excited about it and expect to have some chicks if all goes well soon! The other hen just started sitting on the nest yesterday so it'll be a while if she continues to sit, so we'll see how that goes.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

we have a visitor

This is little bugger that got one of my hens the other night.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Red Wiggler Update # 2

A local greenhouse is offering a vermicomposting seminar this weekend and I'd love to go, but lately I've been busier than a one armed paper hanger and my schedule will not allow it. I'm pretty sure that what I'm doing is working though. I checked on them yesterday and gave them some more food, (potato peelings) and this is what I saw. I'm pretty impressed with what they've accomplished thus far, in fact I find it quite delightful! After seeing this I knew I needed to add more bedding, we we ripped up some more newspaper and tossed it in, wet it down and covered it back up. This is the easiest thing ever! In case you're new to the blog and wonder what I'm doing with a worm bin in my house I blogged about it here and here in case you've got an overwhelming desire to read about it! lol!

Monday, April 12, 2010

sign in progress

When we bought the farm it had previously been another business, and when the old owners moved out they left the frame of the road side sign in the ground. I've been trying to come up with a sign for some time now and this is the start of that sign. This is one of the pieces that will hang off the bottom of the sign. It's wood burned and will have poly on it when it's ready to hang, but wanted to show you what I've got so far.

What do you think?

Good-Bye Sophia

A sad week here on the farm for sure. A couple days ago we lost a hen to a fox, I know it was a fox because I saw it running from the direction of the barn like the next day, I think it was still hungry..... Five of the fertilized eggs have been eaten and last night we lost another hen. I noticed a few days ago that she was a bit droopy and thought like another hen she was egg bound. I had to help another hen a while back who was clearly 'stuck' but this was different. Saturday night I spent quite a bit of time with Sophia doing what had worked with the other hen ...............and nothing. Sunday morning came................and nothing. So I hopped back online to see if there was something else I could do for her. I read a number of suggestions but one that kept popping up was to but her in a warm soapy bath to help relax the muscles.

Let me say here that I was pretty certain she was going to die, I just had that feeling, but wanted to try to help her, I don't like to see suffering. I am a caretaker of creation, I am responsible for the lives of the animals I have been blessed with and felt like I had to try if for no other reason to ease her pain. A word that I don't use to describe pain is excruciating, the reason being is the literal translation means out of the cross. His pain was so bad there was not word for it they had to come up with another word to describe it. I've been in some serious pain, an all time high was running to the bathroom to vomit a few hours after my second c-section, but will not call that pain excruciating. What was experienced on the cross was unfathomable and for which I am grateful. Knowing what I know now I would say my poor hen was probably in excruciating pain.

Sunday night I put her in a warm soapy bath and saw her physically relax. I raised chickens for 4-H and showed them at the fairs, in order to do well it is suggested that you bathe them. I'll tell you there is a reason for the expression "madder than a wet hen." Sophia did not kick, fight, flap or try to get out, she honestly seemed to enjoy it; in fact she even cooed a couple times. After a while she did act like she wanted to get out, so I lifted her out and towel dried her as best I could. I kept her in the house so she didn't have to go back to the barn and catch a chill. I brought in a cat carrier lined with clean hay, placed her inside and checked on her frequently. She was alive when I went to bed about midnight, I know it may sound crazy but I prayed for her last night. My prayer was for her suffering to end, that her egg/eggs would pass or He would take her home. My prayer was answered, when we checked on her this morning she had passed.

Please note: The following may upset some readers, it is graphic. (no pictures)

While researching ways to help my poor little hen yesterday I came across some graphic pictures. I'll spare you the details of what I saw, suffice it to say they were of the reproductive system of a hen. Today after discovering our hen had passed I needed to know why. I cannot explain why, maybe it was because what I tried failed, maybe it was morbid curiosity, maybe it was pure frustration of not knowing, who knows, I needed to see for myself. I'll tell you I'm glad I did. I donned a pair of rubber gloves, laid a thick pile of newspapers on the floor and opened up my hen. What I found was shocking. Clearly she had been egg bound for a while. I knew they were not laying well, but figured that it was because of the molt and winter. What I found was a mass of eggs in various stages of development smashed together and completely filled both of my hands!!! It likely weighed close to two pounds or so. I felt so bad for the hen I nearly cried, the pain she must have been in and for how long? The mass of eggs were too numerous to count and too smashed together, but if I had to estimate I'd say well over thirty! I'll tell you it was awful! As awful as it was I'm glad I had the chutzpah to do it and put my mind at ease. I'll also mention that I did see a few spots in the sack that held the mass that were reason for concern. I don't know if they were cancer, gangrene. infection or what, it just didn't look right. My hunch is cancer, and I would not be the least bit surprised. But that's a soapbox for another day.

I apologize if you are grossed out by this post or if you find it disturbing, I just wanted to be honest and truthful about the good, glorious, bad and certainly unpleasant side of things on a farm.

Saturday, April 10, 2010


beep-beep-beep. alarm. snooze. beep-beep-beep. alarm. up. stumble to coffee pot. must have 'leaded.' turn on. shower. hot. clean. coffee's done. cup. ice. pouring. sugar. cream. more cream. sip. swallow. repeat. repeat. repeat. awake. brain engaging. slowly....turning.....on. wondering about decaf? what is the point? have you smelled it brewing? on occasion I've smelled what I thought was a skunk, turns out it was just brewing coffee! Gag! I mean seriously, why decaf? Does anybody actually drink coffee for the flavor?

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Saturday, April 3, 2010


Maybe I should have gotten two dozen! We went out to the barn for chores this morning and peeked in to see if Queen was still on the nest, she was not. But Rose, the golden laced wyandotte was! She looked equally as happy and contended as Queen!
"Well somebody has to keep them warm!"

Friday, April 2, 2010

quandary solved!

I was sitting with a bunch of ladies today at co-op who were chatting about a variety of things and although only one of whom I really have anything in common with it was a pleasant conversation nonetheless. The one whom I have things in common with showed me a picture of her new beef critter; a handsome chap let me say, and forwarded the pictures through to her laying hens, one of which had chicks near her. I ooh'd and ahh'd and said how much I'd like for the kids to experience that and seeing as Queen so desperately wants to be a mother hen and all........ then she asked me if I wanted some eggs to try to stick under the hen to see if she'd set on them. Before I had a chance to think it over I heard the words emphatically popping out of my mouth "Heck yeah!" So we chatted a bit more and to make a long story short she dropped them off tonight on her way home from work. Faith was giddy with anticipation that her hen had the possibility of becoming a mom and was quite literally hopping up and down after my friend left waiting to go put them under her or in the nesting box and see if she'd set on them. I'll admit I'm pretty excited too, I experienced this as a child and it's so neat, especially when it's your hen! Faith scooped her up tonight and told her that she would have to sit on the eggs for about 21 days to hatch them out then be a good mommy and take care of them and teach them how to find food and such. It was so cute! In order to know which eggs we are not to take from the nest, we marked them with a green marker and the kids decided to put all the eggs quite literally in one basket, well nesting box at least. Yes, that's a whole dozen, but that's what they decided and since it is for them I let them make that choice. Now I just hope it works!

Marking an egg....

...marking another egg...

....filling the nesting box with eggs and hopeful anticipation...

...Queen checking things out, then directly after this picture was taken she looked at Faith and started purring, yes, that's right, purring. Not like a cat, like a chicken. It was a very happy noise. Then sort of squawking as if she were saying, "I'm only one hen and that is a lot of kids for one hen, how do you expect me to take care of them all, my goodness, I'm only one hen for crying out loud!"
I just went out to the barn twice while typing this post, once to check on her and the nest to see if she was sitting on it then a second time to take pictures for Faith and this post. I think she'll be happy when I tell her what I found tonight......

One seemingly very contented mother hen to be......

.....when the desire to be a mother is that strong it does not matter whether they are your blood or not, you just go with what feels right and you love them like you would your own child.