Hen House Happenings

Kind of a big day in the coop today. (And now I’ll give you this opportunity to find the nearest exit if you’ve heard more than enough about my chicken life.)

Ok, still here? Good. You’re just as weird as I am, so there will be no judgement from this point forward. This is a safe place.

I went into the coop this morning, and to my delight, happened to catch BESSIE on the nesting box. We’ve been on an egg watch with her, and I was so excited to find her getting serious about things. I had nothing better to do (the kids basically raise themselves these days), so I tried to be as unobtrusive as possible. (I am the chicken doula. I bring peace and support to the laboring hens. In through the beak, out through the… beak?)

She arranged the hay and shavings in the nest just so, stealing choice bits from the other nesting boxes and putting them in her chosen spot. She also threw some pieces on her back, which I thought at the time was a little quirky, but maybe it was the easiest way to carry them? Turns out, she was instinctively camouflaging herself. Be the nest, Bessie. Anyway, she fussed and carried on a bit, while Prissy and Lucy were helping themselves to the feeder nearby. The girls got impatient, and wandered on outside, but Bessie stayed focused. After a little while, she realized her ladies had rudely abandoned her on her Egg Day, of all days, and she sent out a few scolding, beacon clucks. Chastised, they rushed back like good sister hens should, to see what the deal was.

Satisfied that her team was nearby, she settled in, squawked a bit, and then hopped off the nest. What? What a bummer. I figured she must have just been practicing, since I didn’t see anything in the nest. Or just messing with my head. They’ll do that, too, those conniving chickens. She loitered on the walkway, reluctant to leave the nests completely, still toying with my emotions. But, Prissy decided it was her turn now. Let the professional through, she was clearly conveying. Bessie did not comply. Bessie has authority issues.

Ooooh, this is getting good. The drama is unfolding. Chicken fight? Chicken standoff? What will happen next??

Bessie wouldn’t budge, and Prissy couldn’t find a polite way around her. After a few minutes of the unblinking chicken stare, finally Prissy shoved her way past Bessie. Duty called. She found her favorite box, and with a little repair work to the nest (shooting Bessie a look), she got comfy and started up her Egg Song. It started out so sweet and pretty, but quickly morphed into a bellow.

Oh. Um, what does one do as a chicken doula? I looked on sympathetically. You poor dear. And you have to do this every day, Prissy? I am so sorry.

But, with a few weeks of laying under her belt, she’s got this. She doesn’t need the emotional support of the other girls (or me, a dumb human), so the gals wondered off (what with that bellowing, I don’t blame them) and Prissy carried on. At this point though, all the little chicks came in to see what the ruckus was about. I wish, oh how I wish, you could have seen the looks on their faces. You didn’t know they get looks? Oh yeah. They do. Their expressions clearly said, What in the WORLD??? They were absolutely baffled and concerned by Prissy. I’m fairly sure they were glancing back at me like, DO SOMETHING! You have HANDS for crying out loud!

She paid them no mind though, and after a few more minutes, the deed was done. She popped off the nest, ignored the pesky little chicks, and went in search of her gals, who were outside eating the grubs that had come up from the light rain. When I reached in to get Prissy’s egg, I saw another! BESSIE!!  That fluffy vixen!  She layed one after all, and hers is largest by far of ALL the eggs. TWO EGGS!! Bessie’s Egg Day, and I was there for the whole funny thing. She brings the egg count to a dozen, and now we’re ready for our first sampling. Let the feast of scrambled eggs begin!

Now, I tell you all this, fully aware that I have lost my everloving mind. It’s okay. I wasn’t saving it up for anything special anyway. You don’t have to send me any concerned emails or private messages. I realize I have wandered past the point of return. Don’t worry. There are other chicken people out here with me, and they TOTALLY get it. We’ll just be crazy over here and try not to bother anybody too much.

So, that’s all for now. (And really, that’s enough, isn’t it. I’m so embarrassed.)

(Until it’s LUCY’s turn!! Bwa-kak!)

The Homesteading Years

And now, in chicken news:

Our babies are two weeks old, and starting to feather out more fully.  They sure are pretty!  Oh, you want to see some pictures?  Well, let me get out my chicken brag book right here…

See?  Aren’t they purty?  Don’t you loooove them?  Let me add here- you think taking pictures of small children is hard?  Oh my goodness.  Getting a chick to stay still is impossible.  Scientifically impossible.  They are little blurs of fuzz whizzing by the lens.  I took 4, 529 pictures to get these three.  Rascals.

We call the younger chicks “the babies”, and our first batch are “the girls.”  The girls are now 13 weeks old, and look like mini chickens.  Aw, so grown up:

Pretty sure they are Golden Comets, going on appearance.  They are a cross of Rhode Island Reds and something else, and will be good layers of brown eggs.  I picked them up from a local guy and didn’t think to ask him specifically at the time!  They are still developing their waddles and combs, but they are very chickeny now!  Their clucking and fussing amuses me far more than it should. They eat table scraps (every time I come walking up, they expect me to have some treat) and are busy foraging in their temporary chicken run during the day.

We still keep them separate, until the babies are big enough to survive the “pecking order” system, probably a month or so.  The babies are Easter Eggers, Silver Laced Wyandottes, and Buff Orpingtons.  We kept one roo that was mailed with those chicks to keep them warm.  I think he’s a black star, and he seems a day or two behind the others in size. He better grow up to be a nice boy, that’s all I have to say.  I remind him every day.  Nice roosters get to live.  Mean roosters go into the stew pot.

So all together, we have 13 in our flock.  The EE will lay multicolored eggs, pinks, greens, maybe a blue?  The other three breeds will lay nice sized brown eggs.  Chickens start laying around 24 weeks, and once we get them going, we’ll have more than we know what to do with!
It’s very exciting.  (um, right?  Or has my radar for thrilling activity become seriously skewed?  Possible.)

King Pen and I had a good discussion the other day about what my “vision” is.  I told him I’d like the opportunity to try lots of different animals, and I listed a few.  Rabbits, maybe goats or a pig, poultry of course.  But ultimately, I’d love to have a milk cow.  Way, way, way down the line.  I am new to animal keeping, so I have a long way to go before I’m up for something with hooves.  :)  But I would love to provide as much of our own food as possible.  I daydream about it, and I haven’t had a good juicy daydream in a long time.  Not since King Pen was in school, and we were daydreaming of him being licensed and being his own boss.  Even then, it was a lovely dream, but this is more personal to me.  I lay in bed at night thinking about barns and fences and knowing these animals from their beginning to my plate.  Is that weird?  I want to provide the best possible food for our family, and the best possible life for our food.  You don’t need me to talk about the inhumane and unsanitary conditions of the meat and food industries.  We all know it.  Well, here’s a chance to change that, a little bit, in my corner of the world.  So, we’re gonna give it a try.  It’s a grand experiment!  And a new page to turn in the blog as well.  Wondergirl, the Homesteading Years.  Gonna be an adventure!

Happy Monday, y’all.  Hope it’s a good one.

Cluck.

 

 

 

A Little Piece of Happy

A million drafts I write.  Trying to craft the most perfect, exact, and useful words to share with the world.   But I can’t.  Because when I want to tell you how happy I am, I cannot find a way to acknowledge my sadness.  And when I want to tell you how sad I am, I am equally motivated to express my happiness.

What a mess!

So, here’s the thing.  I’m gonna try to make sense of this, and you tell me if I’m way off.

I am HAPPY.  and I am SAD.  I’m both.  And I figure, I can’t be the only one, right?

I have so much to be happy about, thankful for.  And I am!  Boy, am I.  Do you believe me?  I fervently hope that this is evident in the way I live and the way I talk, and if it’s not, you need to pull me to the side and tell me to get my stuff together.  I truly believe these are hallmarks of the Christian faith, and I’m aiming for it.  I miss that mark a lot, because I’m one of those fixer-uppers that Jesus got a hold of.  But I’m trying, and I’m looking for things to thank Him for daily.

But.

Happiness does not undo sadness.  Did y’all know that already?  Somewhere I missed this memo, because it sure seemed to me like happiness was supposed to be the “cure all” for sadness.  Happiness in my mind, was the anti-sadness.  Wrong.  I don’t know how long it has taken me to realize that it’s not an antidote.  It doesn’t cancel out sadness.  We have to quit trying to make it do that.  Because when we do, we aren’t really dealing with the things that make us sad.  We’re hiding the sadness, tucking it away, out of the bright light of our happy lives.  We aren’t living truthfully if we do that, and in the end it leaves us dissatisfied, because it just doesn’t work!  If we don’t live genuinely, what is the point?

Instead of trying to force happiness to dissolve our sorrow… instead let it do what it’s supposed to.  Let it make you stronger.  Happiness makes you able to handle the sad.  Happiness doesn’t restore lost things.  It doesn’t heal sickness.  It won’t bring back the dead, turn back the clock, give you any do-overs, or stop a ticking bomb.   But it lifts you, it lightens you.  It is absolutely vital to find, hold, and nurture the happiness in your life.  Without it,  sadness can and will overwhelm you.

We’ll have both things in life, guaranteed.  That’s just the way it goes.  So be happy.  Enjoy the happiness, every ounce of it.  Expand it, embrace it, seek it out in every imaginable place you can. Fill your heart and soul and body up with all the things there are to be happy about in your human existence.  Never pass up an opportunity to soak. it. in.

When you find the sadness, (and you WILL, because all men do, though sorry I am to say it), you will be ready.  You can bear it, you can survive it.  When you meet grief and fear and disappointment, you will be buoyed by the strength of the joys you have known.   Your soul is shielded by a thousand moments of happiness.  Though sorrow may cut you to to the bone, it will not kill you.

If you’re sad, it’s okay. It happens.  It’s not a failure to be sad.  Did you need to hear that?  Yeah.  Me, too.

So, cry.

And then, when the tears stop, even if just briefly, find a little piece of happy.  Laugh when something’s funny.  Smile at the sweet things.  Hug more.  Eat good food.  Doodle.  Listen to music that gives you goosebumps.  Ride with your windows down.  Sing with the radio.  Talk to your dog.  Chat with the old guy at the gas station who reminds you of your Papaw.  Slow down.  Tickle somebody.  Talk in a weird voice to your little nephew.  Race to the mailbox.  Just be happy, in whatever increments you find.  So when you must be sad, (and sometimes you must), you will be wearing layers of joy for the battle.  You will be happy, even when you must be sad.

That’s it.  It’s not all that profound, and I certainly didn’t come up with anything that hasn’t been said before (and better, I”m sure!).   But I am tuckered out from the telling, and I’m ready for bed.  Sweet dreams, my friends.  May many moments of happiness find you tomorrow.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the Corners and Cracks

Hello, world.  It is WonderGirl, slightly battered and bruised after a rough month, but still kicking.  Today’s post is not a recollection of my recent misfortunes, but rather, a glimpse at the happiness peeping through in the corners and cracks.  No matter what tough times come, there is always good and blessing to be found.  We just have to pay attention.

So, what has made me smile these days?  Well, my bean plants have purple flowers, and the snap peas have white!  Whoo!!  They live!  They bloom!  I hope gardening always thrills me in this way.  What a pleasure to be a part of this little plant’s existence.  I am occupied with each new leaf, each inch of growth, each encroachment of weeds.  Last night I lay in bed listening to the deluge of water on the roof, and I worried over those little fellas out there in the storm.  As well as the chickens.  Were they dry?  Scared?  Huddled together in chickeny confusion?

They were fine.

They met me at the coop door this morning, ready to go out into their temporary chicken pen, eager to find wayward bugs displaced by the torrential rain.  I laugh at their mournful and dramatic little clucks, as they tell me about their night.  Those girls.  And the plants?  Well, a few of the beans look a bit worse for the wear, but the squash is utterly resplendent.  We shall have squash fit for kings!  They are happy, happy, happy.  The garden did not wash away, and all is well.

In the human world, there is joy to be found also.  Witnessing my little sister become a wife.  Watching my daughter and son venture onto the stage into the land of Narnia.  Reuniting with old friends and remembering who I was in my youth.  I am blessed with people.  I am RICH in people.  My life has been a feast of wonderful relationships, interesting and caring and thoughtful and unique individuals.  If you ever hear me complaining about what I do not have, stop me right there, and remind me how lavishly I have been blessed with people.  What matters the rest?  ‘Nuff said. 

So, today, the clouds have parted, the storm is past.  There is clean up to be done, puddles to dry.  And though I know the rain will always come again, it will not be today. And when it DOES come again, it will not stay.  It never does.

Happy weekend, everybody. 

 

 

 

 

Trouble

Oh, we’re in trouble.

Unexpectedly, a vision has been growing in my mind over the last few months.  I don’t know how it even began- just a little sprout of an idea.  How nice it would be to have a few chickens.  Such an innocent beginning.  Little did I know, I was opening Pandora’s box.  Indulging and nurturing this stray thought may have been was definitely a mistake.  My husband suspects this, but after this post, he will know the truth of it.  Be afraid, Honey.  Be very afraid.  Remember the vows you made… for better or worse.

Because now, I want goats. (they do eat poison ivy, after all.)

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And rabbits.  (for the meat, I’ll be honest.  Not as pets.)

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I didn’t pick the cute ones.  I’m gonna have to concentrate on those weird pink eyes if I want to actually go through with the eating plan.

And my fully functioning garden of course, both summer and winter.  Oh, and the herbs.  And fruit trees, absolutely!!  Blueberry bushes and dewberries.  (This probably means we need a greenhouse.  Just sayin’)

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Don’t forget the butterfly garden.  Because… um…

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Anyway.

So, the butterfly garden is sure to attract bees, as well.  And wouldn’t it be nice to have honey?  (Of course, being terrified of bees presents a problem.)

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See- I couldn’t even post a real picture.  It has to be a cute bee for me to handle it.  It has to smile at me.

And then, at this point, if I can get past the bees, then I really deserve the horses.  Right after we put up the barn and fence in the pasture land.

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Forget ever doing anything else, ever.  This is it.  I just want to do these things  I want to have all these animals and plants, and I want to feed them and know them, and take pictures of them, and write about them.  You can come see them if you want.  And me- you can see me, too.  But I don’t think I’ll be able to leave.  Ever.

I want to homestead while the rest of the world goes by.  I want my own farm name, I want a bell to ring when it’s supper time.  I want dusty, sweaty boys who know how to herd goats, and gather eggs.  I want early morning weeding in the garden with slightly complainy kids.  I want sweet watermelon in the summer, right out of the patch.  I want farm life, farm problems, farm rewards.

All because of a few chickens.  They did it.  So be careful.  Don’t think about how fun that might be.  Don’t think how enjoyable it is to eat fresh eggs.  Don’t think of the benefit to your children’s education and character it would present.  Don’t think about the entertainment of a few biddies in a small, understated coop in the backyard.  Don’t.  And whatever you do, do NOT look at adorable pictures of chicks in hats.  There is just no turning back at that point.

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One more.  Oh help us all.

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See?

Trouble.

 

PS.  This.

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Reveling

Spring break, y’all.  There are seniors in Cancun right this very minute, tanned, blonde, free from all the worries of the adult world, drink in hand, dancing till crazy hours of the morning- who are not enjoying Spring Break the way I am.  I am REVELING in it.  Living. It. Up.  Nobody can appreciate spring break like a homeschooling mother of five.  Move over, seniors.  Your week of poor judgement, gravity-defying bikinis, and ill conceived tattoos has nothing on mine!  I am rocking this spring break.  I’m even considering getting a t-shirt made.

So!  We have been making the most of it.  Namely, getting ready to move a portabuilding from our backyard.  (See?  Isn’t this more stimulating than Cancun?  There’s really no comparison here.) It’s been a long process of sorting, cleaning, and getting rid of the stuff that has accumulated in there for the last fifteen years.  But am I complaining?  No sirree.  I am so excited to get this thing out of our line of vision, I can hardly stand it.  This brown and cream beast has been blocking a beautiful view to the pasture and swamp, and I’ve been wanting it gone since we moved here almost two years ago.  Finally, the day has arrived and we will move it this afternoon.  The plan is to hitch it up to a tractor (courtesy of my sweet nephew, Jackson) and pull it on it’s sled rails and wooden rollers.  Keep your fingers crossed that the whole thing doesn’t just fall apart.  :/  Once it is in its new position (hopefully not scattered around my yard), we will be able to till up the garden spot, and put in the chicken coop.  Lots of fun outsidey things going on around my house lately!  Does my soul good.  I suspect this would make an awesome Spring Break t-shirt.  Wheels are turning, folks.

Besides that, lots of other stuff going on to keep us hopping around.  The Duke and Chipmunk have speech therapy twice a week.  (They shared a distaste for the letter R.  We’re slowly overcoming it.)  The Duke and Czarina auditioned for a play, and we’ll hear back on that in a day or two.  Even if they don’t get parts, we’ll probably do stage crew stuff.  There’s my little sister’s wedding, and all the accompanying showers and shopping, etc.  I am also helping to plan a church youth group reunion, and there’s Easter to think of, photo shoots for different folks, chicks coming in the mail in a week (the feathered kind.  We’re not importing mail order brides for the boys.  Yet.), and school, of course.  I have started a fitness plan and eating better, which takes up some mental energy as well.  We are Biz-zay.

It’s great, all of it.  I love life.  I love what I’ve got, who I’ve got, and what I do.  I thank God for the gift of it all, even on the days that it means getting dirty and tired.

That’s all, ladies and gents.  Just wanted to pop in for a few minutes to say hi and do a quick update on things in general.  Hope everyone has a wonderful spring, and many Saturdays full of enjoyable labor for your hands.  :)

PS.  I am now taking TShirt orders.

Before My Time

Let me see the world with hundred year old eyes.  Let me gaze fondly upon the quirks and flaws of others.  Let me count the laughs and hugs, may I gather the smiles as if they are the last harvest.

Let me hold the hands that are extended my way, and wear my best pearls and perfume on Sunday morning. 

Let me pat cheeks and give away my collection of marbles.  Let me smile at every baby I see, have my house in order, and write thank-you notes.

Let me be sentimental,

soft-spoken and big-hearted

and with time for a story, a memory, a joke, a glass of sweet tea.

Let me live with the heart of a hundred years, long before my time.


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