Monday, April 28, 2008

baby chicks

We got our newest batch of chickens today. I started thinking that I have never written anything on this subject, probably because this just isn't my favorite topic. This is, to me, what sustains our lifestyle and allows us to live on this farm, it is our job. To Rodney, this is his favorite thing to discuss. He is passionate about raising chickens, and for this I am grateful. One of us has to be and it isn't me. I do what I have to and get the heck out. It is very stinky and poopy and hot, and you can't breath. I would rather be out in the open with the cows and hay or doing fence work or yard work. 
Having said all of this, I do enjoy the day that the chicks arrive. It represents a fresh start, a new beginning, a chance at doing well and maybe making a little money. Our neighbor, Alberto, who speaks no English, always comes to help us dump the chicks. It is fun to attempt to have a conversation with Alberto given our limitations. Most of the time it is like a game of charades. Once we begin our chore of dumping the chicks...things move along swimmingly. Baskets of tiny chickens, some with shells still stuck to them, are lifted and tossed and these little balls of down and fluff go flying through the air. The land among the the feed which they will start to eat immediately. It is also amazing to me when they start to drink from the waterers. You wouldn't think that something that was just born (or hatched) would figure that contraption out...I guess you have to think like at chicken. 
When the doors are closed and the chicks are settled in for the duration of their stay here on our farm, there is a sense of peace. We always say, "we're back in business". Every batch brings new challenges and experiences. We do what we have to each day and let God handle the rest. 

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

It happens in three's

First of all, I did not take this picture...I got it off the internet. I'll explain in a minute

Have you ever noticed that when something unfortunate happens in your life, that two more unfortunate events seem to follow?? This has happened to me all my life. It seems like if I break a dish, I'll break a couple more things before the whole thing plays out. Well, this has happened to me recently. The other day I went to the bathroom and as I was about to sit down, I heard something fall into the toilet. I looked to see what it was and it was my brand new cell phone. It was in my back pocket and went spilling into the potty when I was pulling down my pants. It seemed ok at first then it started going crazy. The screen went blank, it started taking pictures by itself, ringing, turning off and on. So, I took the battery out, hair dried it and let it just sit over night. Miraculously, the next morning it had healed itself. I still have to live with the idea that this thing I hold to my ear was once in the toilet. 

So, here comes the two unfortunate events that followed...these are the ones that make me want to cry as I type this for they are terribly unfortunate. I had Taylor's camera with me on Saturday while I was out fishing, thinking that I might have a chance at getting some good pictures...again it was in my back pocket. Well, I went to sit down and when I did, I apparently sat on a small rock just the right size and height to press on the LCD screen and render it useless. I thought maybe it might heal itself too, but so far it is out of commission. Then yesterday I was going to take a video of Rodney because Grace (my niece) was asking questions about him and his overalls. I wanted him to briefly explain, on a 5 year olds level, why overalls are great for farmers to wear. Well, my camera wouldn't turn on. I had just charged the battery and it failed to do anything. I have gone over it a million times trying to figure out what the deal is but it seems to have died as well. BOO HOO. I feel like I'm missing a limb without a camera at my disposal. 
I posted the picture of the bird, which is a painted bunting, because there was one at my feeder today. I was so excited and then became exasperated because I had no CAMERA. I tried to take one with my pitiful little phone camera but you couldn't even see the bird. Rodney was here to witness it too, thank goodness, otherwise nobody would have believed me. I think that I have warranties on both camera's. I'm not sure what they will cover or if they've expired but I will have to do something to get back in business. This isn't merely my hobby, it is my passion. 

Saturday, April 19, 2008


Here is my new walking partner. Since Buddy died, we have been tossing around the idea of getting another "outside" dog. We all agreed that we didn't want another lab and that we wanted to get a dog that really needed us. I knew that if I waited and was patient that this dog would find me. The kids and I went to Wal-mart yesterday after school to do some grocery shopping and when we came out, there she was. Our old friend and neighbor Sandy Sullivan was selling them for $10. I instantly knew that this was it and I just needed to merely pick her up and take her home. There were others but she was the most playful and I thought the most beautiful, so we named her Bella, which is Italian for beautiful. She is part Australian Shepard and part catahoula...I'm hoping she'll make a good cow dog. She went walking with me this morning...I wasn't sure if she would be able to make it because she is still so little but she stayed in stride with me the whole time. I stopped a couple of times, once to let her get a drink from the little brook we cross and once by the pond, again for a drink. She is very sweet and playful. She cried for about 15 minutes last night after we came in for the night but soon was sleeping in her little dog house. I was so proud of her. Sophie and Charlotte were a little put-out with the whole idea of a new dog but seem to have bonded with her already, especially after we all walked together this morning. So far, she has blended in perfectly, and I love her already!!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Nature Walk

I sprained my ankle on Wednesday, my birthday, so my daily walking/jogging was slowed to a stroll for the last couple of days. Yesterday I took Taylor's camera with me so that I could stop and take pictures of all the lovely flowers along my path. This took me well over an hour to make my way around the loop which usually takes just over a half hour. I wanted to be upset at first because I had been slowed down, but decided to take advantage of the time I had been given to just stroll leisurely along and smell the roses. I couldn't believe all of the stuff I had been passing up everyday while I was quickly making my way around the loop. There was a surprise around every corner, under every blade of grass and behind every leaf. The first picture is of some sort of violets. They were happily growing in a patch of grass on the side of the road...the color caught my eye first and when I knelt down to peak in on them, I actually gasped at their beauty. There was even drops of dew still on them, as if they knew I was coming with my camera and wanted to look pretty for their picture. The second picture is of a dogwood(of course) and the third is of some pink honey suckle. I think I took about 80 pictures of rocks and moss and grass and flowers. I wish I could post them all. I sped up my walk today ... I've got a new walking partner, I'll post more about that later. 

PS...if you click on the pictures they will open full screen so that you can appreciate them better (for those who didn't already know this).


Wednesday, April 16th was my birthday. When I woke up on my birthday morning I was greeted in the kitchen by a package on my bar which was obviously a present from my husband. I must tell you that it didn't matter what was in the box, the gift was the gift itself. We both had a good laugh over the wrapping of it...a feed sack and duct tape. Very Rodney. Taylor came sleepily into the kitchen and handed me a card that she had made herself. She bought me a "bubble umbrella" you know the big see-through kind. I've been wanting one of those forever. The umbrella hadn't come in yet so she had a picture of it on the card. Kyle gave me a hug. I realized, in this moment, that this was probably as good as it gets. This goodness didn't come from being presented with gifts, but from standing in my kitchen with my family laughing, sipping coffee, and just being together. I don't know how it could have gotten any better. I thought about the people who don't have families and laughter, (or coffee) and thanked God for my life. I sometimes feel that I am somehow missing out on things, living this life of a farmer...but it is fleeting and I remember that I am blessed and that I have the rest of my life (however long it may be) to grow and learn. My dad told me that he hoped that I had a lot more birthdays and I said that I hoped so to because things were just starting to get interesting. 

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

A Changing of Color

For any of you bird watchers out there, please disregard my ignorance here. The finches that I have been lovingly feeding all winter are still here feeding this very wet spring, however, they have put on different feathers!! At first I thought that these "goldfinches" were simply arriving from some tropical climate, a winters vacation in Mexico perhaps? But I was thinking that they sure looked like the birds I had been feeding all along, so I got out the bird book and did some research. They are the same birds, only the males become this glorious golden yellow color during mating season!! I cannot tell you how this tiny bit of information thrills me. I'm not sure why, but any new information especially about wildlife is fascinating to me. I have heard about and seen a few creatures who change their skins to aid in their survival but these finches apparently change color simply to be beautiful for their mates. Just for beauties sake. I sure hope that their mates appreciate this marvelous transformation. It has certainly brightened up my backyard. 

Monday, April 7, 2008


Look at what I made!! This fence has been a vision in my head for years now and I finally got it built. I can't wait to surround it with flowers and shrubs. I did this all by myself. Rodney helped me with the drilling of the post holes and setting them, then the rest was me. I got the pattern off the internet, I think it is called Cape Cod. Anyway, I cut all of the pickets myself down in my dad's shop. All of them were made from cedar that came from my Papaws land that we cut and had milled several years ago. The cross lumber was stuff left over from chicken house construction...the only thing that I bought were the finials on top of the posts, some screws, and paint. I put four screws in each picket and there were 105 pickets total, my thumbs didn't work for a few days after finishing but they are getting better. I think it is completely lovely and it gives the front of my house a more finished look. Kind of like a double-wide cottage. :)

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Growing up

These geese have now been living with us for just a little over 2 weeks. I can't believe how big that they have gotten. They still follow us around everywhere we go. It is so cute...we can be right there beside them while they are grazing on the lawn, walk away for a couple of seconds and all of a sudden two panicked geese are running full speed ahead with their little wings spread as far as they can go towards us. I love it. 
I just wanted to post the pictures so that everyone could see how big they have become in just a couple of weeks. 

Friday, April 4, 2008

Pocket sized rescue

Rodney and I were doing some work in the chicken house this morning, moving some chickens around so that they would be evenly spaced out. We have plastic culverts that separate the "pens" so that there are 4 pens to the house. Well, sometimes stuff gets inside these culverts, lots of poop and bugs, sometimes chickens and today we found an opossum. I was lifting the culvert to put it under the feeder and thought, "hmmm this thing feels awfully heavy".  I tried several things to try to get what ever was in it to come out. Then Rodney showed up to help. I stood back and watched because I thought that some horrible thing was going to come out of there, like a big dead chicken or some other putrid, ghastly thing . Then out came a big fat opossum. She had babies in her pouch and two of them fell out on the ground as she waddled off, parting the chickens like Moses parted the red sea. Rodney went out to the truck to get his gun, I stood there staring at these floundering babies in complete shock and amazement. I wasn't sure if I should pick them up, I didn't know if they might perhaps bite?? They were so cute and looked so helpless that my instincts got the better of me and I bent down and picked them up. They immediately clung to my fingers with their feet and hands, and tail. About this time, Rodney was back in the chicken house stalking the mother down and I quietly put the babies in my pocket and told them to be very quite. The poor mother was exterminated for nothing more than choosing to raise her children in a inopportune location, but I had two of her babies in my pocket, warm and safe from mean old farmer Rodney. He made some sort of comment about me being "Grizzly Adams" and we went about our work, opossums in my pocket and all. When I got home, I put them in this sock, I figured it was close enough to a they look like something out of WhoVille. I haven't really thought this through, I've looked at a few web sites about how to care for orphaned opossums but I really don't know what I'll do when they are grown?? I may just raise them till they are big enough to survive and return them to the wild, somewhere far away from the chicken houses. 

Tuesday, April 1, 2008


Every spring we anxiously await the arrival of the martins. I heard some scouts a couple of weeks ago and just saw a couple flying overhead around the single martin house that we have in the back yard. This morning when I drove in the driveway after taking the kids to school, I noticed quite a bit of activity in the sky over our house. Initially, I thought that there were a bunch of cow birds probably eating my bird seed or something, but upon closer examination, I discovered that the birds were martins. We have had this house up for about 6 years now and I have never seen this many martins in or around it. The past couple of years we have gladly extended our hospitality to a couple of martin families. We have watched the babies learn to fly and felt a little heart ache when they left for warmer climates. The great thing about the martins is that they always come back, and this year they brought friends. I'm not sure if they will stay this ample throughout the summer or if some of these guys are just passing through on their way to other farms and towns. 
There is a sparrow hawk lurking about whom we have seen attacking the cow birds. Kyle has been commissioned to protect the martins by eliminating this hawk should he attempt to destroy our brood. Kyle did get a shot at him earlier this spring and only managed to rid him of a few tail feathers. We thought this would keep him away but we have seen him, missing tail feathers and all, flying about our farm. I don't know what the "rules" are about killing hawks, so ya'll don't tell on us. I guess we could catch him and try to rehabilitate him, give him a lecture on killing innocent birds and sticking to a diet of mice and rats and other vermin, but I doubt that this would be effective. Maybe there is such a thing as a hawk relocation program?? 
Anyway, we are excited that the martins are back. I hope that the flock stays large for we have plenty of insects for them to eat and my gardening would be much less exciting if I didn't have martins flying overhead, protesting my presence beneath their home.