Ugly!

I know it’s not nice, but Jenny Hen is down right ugly!  She’s the oldest gal at nearly 4.  She’s on tenure now and thinks it’s her job to sit on anything that doesn’t move.  She sat on a bunch of golf balls for nearly 3 weeks!

DSCN4858

She’s molting and is walking around nearly butt naked!  I realized the other day, that if I don’t start culling out my old ladies I’ll soon have a petting zoo and I don’t think Honey would be too big on that.  I ought to do Jenny Hen in now while she’s naked, then I won’t have as many feathers to pluck.

DSCN4859

A face only a mama could love.

The new pullets ought to start laying next month.  Fingers crossed.  Our egg ration has been 1-2 eggs a day for quite some time. I’ve been dreaming of deviled eggs, eggs a la golden rod, egg salad…..anything with golden eggs.

I was looking for Annie’s egg today.  She usually lays it in the new hen house.  As I rounded the corner, I was chitter chattering to myself about goodness knows what….and I didn’t expect to catch her sitting on the nest….well, I startled her to death, and she squawked.  She jumped up and nearly scarred me to death.  I screamed, she screamed and then I laughed.  She gave me a working over about it too.  I heard about that for at least a half an hour….I sure didn’t mean to disturb her.  Heavens knows we need that second egg.

I’ve only named the two Silver Laced Wyandottes.  I ordered 5 of everything, but lost nearly half…so I’m only left with two Wyandottes.  They are Wyonna and Naomi Judd.

DSCN4861

I’ve got 4 Buff Orpingtons, 4 Black Australorps, 2 Barred Rocks and 4 Rhode Island Reds.  Since they’ve hardly developed personalities yet, I haven’t given most of them names yet.

DSCN4865

DSCN4860

It’s lookin very rednecky and I need to get it cleaned up a bit.  But heck they love climbing and roosting all of the stuff.  The Buffys are really cute.  My gates need some repairs before winter settles in.  If we get iced like last year, the gate might fall clean off it’s hinges….or rather electric ties.

Raising chicks has been so easy.  My friend Carol told me it was but I didn’t believe her…ok Carol, it is easy.  I’m ready for some meat birds next spring!  But I’m gonna have to get some help with the butchering…I really do hate that job of slitting their throats.  A turkey would be a great adventure too.  Heck I pay a small fortune for a pastured organic turkey.

Now if we could only get some of our own fresh milk and these girls would really be eating in style.  Clabber for everyone.  All in God’s good time.

Advertisements

Flights Of Fancy

DSCN4125

I’ve had my little peeps for a week and it’s been 4 days since the last one died. I’m left with 16 out of 25. Note to self: do not order from a hatchery too far away, a two day journey is toooo long for baby chicks!

It’s amazing how much these little things grow in a week. They now have real feathers on their wings…..cute little feathers! And with those feathers comes flight. They’ve been jumping high to see what’s on the other side of the pool. And taking little flights across the pond….I mean pool.

It’s only a matter of time before they decide to fly out of the pond. So, I placed a couple of old window screens over the top.

DSCN4123

The coop dilemma has been solved. Honey told me to go out a buy one!!! Wahoo! I couldn’t believe my ears. But when he told me how much over time he’s been putting in…..I ran out and bought one!!!!!!!!!!!!! A really nice one. It’s got windows with screens and the windows go up and down!

My little chickies are going to be so spoiled. Don’t tell the old ladies about their new house. The old ladies haven’t been puttin out lately. I’m not sure if we’ve got a thief or not. So, I put a couple golf balls in the nesting box (cardboard box…like I said, don’t tell them, what they don’t know won’t hurt them.) If it’s a black snake, then he’ll take the balls too and he’ll keel over! But, I have a sneakin suspicion that my old ladies are just plum out of eggs!

DSCN4128

This is my most curious little chick.  She’s always coming right over to me while the others run away.  I think she’s been asking “Are you my Mother”?  Does anyone remember that old Dr Seuss book?  It was my sisters book, but I loved reading it over and over.

DSCN4131

DSCN4130

They are so darn cute.  The run around and fall asleep right in their footsteps.  This little guy just fell right over. Zzzzzzzzz!

The Odds & Ends of My Life

I downloaded a bunch of pictures today and called it “odds and ends”. So today, you get the odds & ends of my life.

I’m tired and haven’t been sleeping well. Sleep is so important. I guess I ought to go swig some Cod Liver Oil! That ought to perk me up. 😉

My days are really consumed with life right here; gardening, tending the animals, knitting, avoiding cleaning house, laundry….you know the routine. I do have my pottery time now and that gives me an out. And speaking of pottery….dada

DSCN3964

My very first mug and bowl. Not bad. I’ve finally found a glaze that I’m willing to live with…New Jade and Creamy Rust. All of my pieces are done from slabs.

DSCN3949

My colander that I painted with under glazes.

DSCN3956

My batter bowl and somewhere is my little teapot that matches the set above.

Now that we’ve covered the pottery….onto the farm.

~~~

DSCN3946

Rockie…..I fried him the other night. The white meat was good. He wasn’t a meat bird so he was a bit tough. Our carbon footprint that night was nearly around 0. We had taters from the garden, beets and Rockie! Nothing like home grown food.

DSCN3954

My garden is situated right next to the cow barn….convenient for tossing cow pies in the garden….however I don’t. I haul it to the back of the field for composting. But as I walk back and forth checking on the cows, I hanker my neck into the garden and I noticed my green beans were ready. I picked 2.5 lbs! Plus a beautiful Cauliflower. It’s the only one that survived. The other one is tiny. I’ve never grown Cauliflower before. I didn’t care for it. But when I was in India, everything tasted better and I loved how they fixed Cauliflower with potatoes and mustard seed. So the other night I fixed pastured pork chops, fresh green beans, Indian Dahl (lentil soup) and potatoes with cauliflower. Mmmm it was so good.

On to the cows.

~~~

Josie is really potting out. I’m almost 100% sure she will calve near August 5.

A lady on a cow forum that I’m a member of had a really funny story…..her post was called “When Should I Worry? Calving?”. Her vet told her at the end of June that her cow was only 6 months pregnant and that the calf was very small. But she said on July 6 that her girl was having a discharge and she was “springing” (that’s when her udder swells with milk). She thought she should get a second opinion. So, some of the other members suggested she get some pictures for them to make a judgment on her condition. When she went out on July 8 to take a few pictures…..she got more than that…..boy did she get pictures. If you could see them….her cow was giving birth at that moment. First a pic of the water sac and then the hooves and nose and then the head….and her little 3 yr old daughter said, “mommy Lilly has a baby stuck in her butt.” 😀 😀 Then there’s a calf on the ground.

Boy was that vet ever so wrong!!!!!!!  Let’s just say, the cow knows when it’s time and her body will tell you.  Hopefully I’ll be around and get some great pics!!!  But in the mean time, I’m brushing up on Calving 101…by reading Essential Guide To Calving by Heather Smith Thomas and Homeopathy for the Herd by Dr C. Edgar Sheaffer, V.M.D. Both are excellent reads.

I’ve been trying to get pictures of Josie every week so I can compare them. Last evening, I brought her into the barn and tied her. I wanted to show her some cow love so I brushed her and talked all sweet to her. She nearly goes right to sleep while I do this….her head hangs down and she doesn’t move an inch. Then she gave me a cow kiss on my leg. Eww boy does that feel good.

She was standing just right for another good rear picture…so I ran into the house for my camera (when will I learn to carry it with me). By the time I came back out she’d moved. She was sooooo relaxed I didn’t want to bother her. But here she is last evening.

DSCN3959

Cow babies are on the right side. The baby was really moving a lot last night. I bumped it and it kicked me!

DSCN3961

After I untie her she doesn’t realize it and she continues to stand there for a long time before she realizes she’s free to move about. She was probably asleep. She was content chewing her cud with eyes half open.

I’ve also decided NOT to sell Joy. I’ve invested so much time into training her and I’d really like to see what kind of a milk cow Josie will make. I already know that Josie is going to be great mama cow, but I don’t know how she’ll produce with only 3 quarters working. I’m still praying over that 4th quarter, hoping it will spring up soon.

DSCN3846

I took the weaning ring out of Joy’s nose. She became frightened of me after we put it in and I didn’t want that. She’s now snuggling up to me and handing out more cow kisses than I’d like in a days time.

NOTE: cow kisses are when they lick with their long scratchy tongue and try to eat my clothes. Cow’s don’t have top front teeth so the just chew and suck. You can spot me when I’ve had my cow kisses for the day. I’m pretty wet. 😀 But I do love them!!!!

DSCN3550

Here’s a cow kiss sent your way.

Have lovely weekend.

With The Click of The Mouse

I’ve done something that I’m not sure if I will regret….I put in my first order for baby chicks!!!  YIKES!  Murray McMurray Hatchery required a minimum order of 25 chicks…..so, I ordered 25!  They ought to be laying by the time Winter settles in.

Here’s what’s coming: 5 Barred Rocks, 5 Rhode Island Reds, 5 Buff Orpingtons, 5 Silver Laced  Wyandotte, and 5 Black Australorps.

They are due to arrive the week of August 14.  I seem to think that push always comes to shove!  I’m in no way ready for 25 more laying hens, but I will be by the time they are ready to go outside.  Right now, I only have room for 6 hens!

Honey asked, “What are you going to do with them?”  I said, “well, I’m going to dip their noses in water to teach them to drink, and give them some starter feed and they will live in a box with a light and ………..”  I don’t think that’s exactly what he meant…..then he asked, “where will you keep that box????”  and I said, “in the basement…..”  He guffawed again!  He’s been doing that a lot with me lately!!! 😉

You might be asking, what I will do with that many eggs???  Yea, Honey was asking that question too!  Well, I figured that if I could raise virtually free eggs by feeding my hens clabber made from my Jersey cow along with all the bugs they free range, then I could give eggs away to some folks in our church who are now unemployed with children to feed.  Plus my own kids are constantly keeping me searching for more eggs.  And if I have extra then I will sell them.

Eggs are a wonderful source of Omega-3!  The yolks are rich and healthy.  You will find NO soy or GMO feed in my chicks!

Rockie’s Demise

DSCN3133

Rockie Rooster

I’ve become a REAL farmer. I’m also learning the hard lessons of being a farmer.

In many of my farming books, and in particular, All Flesh is Grass and Grass-Fed Cattle, the authors speak of only keeping the strongest animals in your herd or flock. Never purchase a runt or injured animal.

Well, I guess I’m a sucker. My heart is so darn soft it’s not funny. When I bought Rockie…yea, I paid good money for a bird with a broken wing. At the time, I thought he was a she and that a broken wing had nothing to do with laying good farm eggs.

Roxie soon turned into Rockie. And with that came the male voice of a rooster. You’ve seen the sleep commercial…..a rooster crowing in the middle of the night is NOT funny to the owner or the neighbors, especially those living in the rural suburbs of Washington DC.

Rockie became a good rooster though. He kept order in the hen house and protected my little Abigail Adams until she could fend for herself. He fertilized many eggs and was my own personal alarm system. He didn’t take well to strangers and would sound the alarm whenever anything was out of place.

BUT

Rockie crowed. In the early morning hours as I was trying to not wake up….he’d crow, crow, crow. I’d get so mad that I’d swear today was the day. Then, I had a dream that Rockie’s day had come. I thought maybe it was a sign.

So yesterday in the midst of great stress in my life, I caged Rockie….an interesting feat…and proceeded to prepare the table and sharpen the knife.

I made a funnel from an old milk jug and nailed it to the tree. I estimate Rockies weight to be 5-8 lbs hanging weight as they say. He was very resigned to the fact that his day was up. He was becoming Sunday dinner. Somehow he just knew for over a week what I was thinking. I just know he did.

Anyway, I tried to slit his throat quickly and humanely. He was so scared. Done. I cried my heart out and cry again as I write this. I never want to do it again. I will pay whatever the price for birds that are freezer ready. I just can’t do it again. I think it’s Gene Logsdon that says, don’t cull chickens too often because your heart becomes too hardened. And a farmer needs to have a tender heart.

Oh my heart is surely tender.

Hang in there…the story only gets better.

I left Rockie to bleed out and went in the house for a few minutes. When I returned the funnel was on the ground and Rockie was no where in sight. I swear he was dead. I watched him for a few seconds after the fact and he didn’t move and he was bleeding. But now I had a dead chicken running around.. Oh my goodness, what if an animal took him and dropped him at the neighbors front door. Oh my goodness. Where was Rockie?

I started looking around. The tears had now become lighter with a little laughter. Frankly I was glad that whatever took my rooster could have it. I didn’t want to dress him for Sunday dinner.

There he was in the herb garden about 5-6 feet from the tree. It remains a mystery to me how he got there. But the saying, “I’m like a chicken running around with my head cut off”, makes a lot more sense to me today.

Good bye Rockie Boy, you were a good rooster.

RIP Waldean

Waldean

Waldean

Waldean hasn’t layed an egg since I came home from Germany, which was about 3 weeks ago! She’s been visiting the nesting box, but no eggs. I came to the conclusion that she wasn’t molting and was just not laying and I really don’t have room for a free loader. So this AM since she is slow to fly the coop, I grabbed her and put her in a cage.

She’s always been a bit wacky, not like a chicken at all. She didn’t even look like a chicken, funny shaped head and small comb.  Well, she didn’t like the cage one bit and was flitting in her little space.  I left her while I was trying to wake up.  I really wasn’t feeling very well and decided that Walean would live to see another day. So, I went to free her and………she had killed herself. I was a bit troubled and ran to tell Honey that she was dead. He figured that she broke her neck trying to flee the cage. She hadn’t been dead for very long and she was still soft and movable.  So I was then forced to process her. So much for feeling sick.

I put a pot of water on to heat and took her head off to bleed her out.   As I was processing her, Ben our Tender Warrior woke up and stuck his head out the deck door. I said, “say hello to Waldean.” I dipped her in the hot water and plucked her. Not a very hard job. Then I took out her inerds. I was very careful as not to puncture anything. This being my first chicken, I did a pretty good job….but there were all these funny things inside of her…..OMIGOSH an egg!!!!! A full size hard shelled egg! OMIGOSH I killed my chicken (ok, she really committed suicide) and she has a clogged duct……oh no she was a clogged chicken, not a duck!  Or is it called a clogged vent….now I’ll never know….was she going to lay an egg that morning or the next day or was she like constipated but with an egg.  I really felt sorry for her at that point.  Poor Waldean.

Honey says I’m a real farmer now. I’ve killed one of my animals for food and that makes it real. We haven’t eaten her yet…that will make it real.

~~~~

We ate Waldean last night.  She was very tasty, although her joints were extremely tough and that girl had quite a breast bone.  I never was able to break her breast bone.  Thank you Waldean for the life you lived and gave for us.

dscn3151

Look at all the yolks! See the huge egg!?

Waldeans last egg.

Waldeans last egg.

dscn3153

dscn3155

Rocky Rooster crowed way too many times last night. We had our windows open and I was ready to kill him this AM. He has lived to see another day, but if he keeps it up….he will be a delicious Sunday dinner.

dscn3133

Rocky Rooster

He is looking really pretty though. But he is very noisy.

My Funny Chickens

dscn2527

Since Abigail Adams was hen pecked a few months ago, she has been in solitary confinement. Not of her own doing, mind you, but for her safety….funny isn’t it. It was for her own good.

Rockie Rooster

Rockie Rooster

Well, it seems that Rockie the Rooster has had his eye on that little chicky! He’s been checking her out over the chicken fence. I’ve heard him give her a cat call once or twice. He’s been checking out her cute little chicken legs and her funny little crocked back.

So, when I decided to open her gate and let him in for a visit…..let’s just say, he was more than happy to oblige. He does a funny little sideways dance and then pounces. He thinks he’s so sly. The other hens run like crazy to escape his grasp and I guess since he’s also a handicap chicken he can’t out run the other girls, but Abigail Adams doesn’t mind him one little bit.

The experiment was on. Since Annie and Jenny have been flying over the coo coo’s nest to visit Abigail and not doing her a bit of harm, I decided to allow everyone in for a monitored playtime. After giving Henrietta the evil eye, she kept her distance.

Two flew over the Coo Coo's Nest!

Two flew over the Coo Coo's Nest!

What I did notice was that Rockie Rooster was more than happy to protect his favorite chick. When Henrietta tried to go after Abigail, Rockie would step inbetween them. Funny. But he’s been doing a great job. And from the kitchen window, there hasn’t been any fighting going on…and everyone seems to have all their feathers.

So, on our funny little farm, we now have 6 happy chickens. They have been playing very well together for about a week. Mostly the girls like to hang out in Abigail’s little coop and are quite envious of her straw bales! At night they all go back to their respective coops.

I also noticed for the last couple weeks since I’ve been outside a lot more, that Jenny Hen is a broody hen. At first I thought she just was taking a really long time to lay an egg…..a really long time….like 2 hrs!!! Come on girl!

But when I found her in Abigail Adams nesting box setting on Abigail’s egg, I realized that Jenny is just a setter. And since I know that Abigail’s eggs are fertile, well, I just might give Jenny a little nest of her own to set on.

(Ok, can someone tell me why we call it set in chicken talk, but sit in human talk?)