Sunday, June 26, 2005

Come and have breakfast

I spent the past two days at an area home schooling conference. The hotel I stayed in offered free breakfast. After my first bite of the eggs I had to resist the urge to stand up and say to my fellow diners (strangers all), "Come to me, all you who are weary of tasteless eggs and burdened by chemically smoked sausage, and I will give you real food."

I hate to waste food, but I just could not finish it. It was making me feel sick.

I really just wanted to gather all those people up like little chicks and whip up a huge delicious breakfast for them. It truly is amazing what we are used to eating.

Stephen recently had a business dinner with some foreign visitors. During a discussion about what the visitors liked and disliked about America, a woman from Macedonia told the group that "All the people here are fat and the food tastes like plastic." Perhaps a connection there?

(With nods to Matthew 11:28-29, and meaning no disrespect whatsoever to my very favorite person ever, the gentleman who was quoted by Matthew. After all, we're talking about a dude who arose from the dead and cooked breakfast on the beach for his buds. And I quote: "Come and have breakfast." John 21:12)

Thursday, June 09, 2005

A very full day

Oh my goodness have things been happening around here. Take Wednesday...

5:00 Wake up despite forgetting to set the alarm (thank you Lord!); take shower, clean out drawer in bathroom

5:30 Start laundry, begin planning day. Tops on list: call PO about chicks being delivered tomorrow, get brooder cleaned out and ready for chicks, babyproof house for company coming at 8:00am, remind the Horse Whisperer (our niece who is back with us for the summer) to call the lady from whom we're buying a horse.

6:00 Head to dining room for a few quiet minutes with my bible. Before I sit down the phone rings. It's the PO. Chicks are here already. Uh oh.

6:15 Move truck and trailer (aka the brooder) to front of house. Remove everything, sweep, splash vinegar all around, sweep again, trickle water to rinse vinegar mud, sweep again. Leave open to dry.

6:45 Go in to get keys for other truck to go to PO. Farmer Boy is awake, tell him to get dressed and clear a space under the carport for the brooder trailer. Go to PO.

7:00 Home again with a box of 50 baby chicks. Leave in dining room. Figure since they were supposed to be in transit for 2 days but arrived a day early, it won't be the end of the world if they stay in the box for a few more hours.

7:05 Alternate between cleaning house and carport, trying to simultaneously prepare for chickens and company, and make breakfast for kids.

8:00 Get call from friend that she will be late. Phew! Continue to hyper-multi-task.

8:30 Horse Whisperer awake. "Don't forget to call the lady about the horse". "Oh I talked to her last night, she's coming at 6:30 to deliver the horse." Deep breath, mental note, add to list of things to do: figure out what needs to be done before this horse arrives.

9:00 Friend arrives. I take her three year old in the house to play with the Princess for a few minutes, she takes Farmer Boy in her van and they go up the road to go blueberry picking

9:15 I get the two little girls in the truck and we go up too. Not many berries left since we are late arriving (best to start at 7:00!), but enough for everyone to have fun, and pick enough to enjoy at home.

11:00 My friend's 8 year old gets stung by a wasp at the blueberry farm.

11:15 After ice and meat tenderizer and benadryl and some menthol based ointment, I take the 8 yr old girl, plus the two 3 yr olds, back to my house for a homeopathic remedy.

11:20 I keep my friend's daughter company on the couch while her hand lays under a ziploc baggie filled with frozen corn, and we wait for her mom to come.

11:45 My friend arrives and I begin to make lunches

12:00 The phone rings. It is the Horse Lady needing directions. Our niece talks with her first, then asks me to give her directions. After we hang up I realize I didn't confirm the 6:30 time. I ask the HW, who is watching a movie, what time again? Ummm... 1:30. Aaack! As calmly as I can, I ask her what needs to be done to prepare for her new horse. Oh boy, we have our work cut out for us.

12:15 We are out in the courtyard between the four barns, where the goats live. The HW has decided to put her new horse in here for the first day so he is more contained. We haul stuff that she is worried he might hurt himself on, and use the pieces of a round bale ring to block access to an area that she is concerned about. We hammer up a cattle panel in a not especially effective attempt at preventing access to an old pile of wood and pipes under the loafing shed. Once again I am reminded of how much work there is still to do to get this falling down old farm truly safe and functional. On my way back to the house, I pick up garbage that the dogs had strewn the night before when they got into a few garbage bags that were left on a flat bed trailer.

1:20 Back in the house, splashing my hot face with water, I look up and see a lobster staring back at me. I am scared because I have never seen my face so red, even from sunburn, so I hop into a cool shower immediately, clothes and all. I get out, quickly dress and drink a few glasses of water. I have just finished brushing my hair when...

1:30 A truck and trailer drive in the yard. He's here! Everyone rushes to put on their shoes to see the new horse. He's GORGEOUS! A 2 year old Palomino Apaloosa. Wow! The HW is very happy.

1:45 Goats are out, oh well... they will stay around the yard until all the chicken feed is gone, and that will give the new horse time to settle in. I'm feeling shaky so I eat a little food, then sit down to finally enjoy my friend, who has been patiently waiting in the house, overseeing 6 children and lunch.

4:30 My friend and her four kids leave, and I sit down to do some meal planning for out of town company arriving on Saturday. The next day is my big shopping day in the city so I need to be sure to have a good list in hand.

5:15 About to head out to do more work on the brooder then realize the time and that I need to get dinner going. I work on dinner and cleaning the kitchen simultaneously.

6:15 Dinner is ready, we all sit down and eat.

7:00 Time to get back to work. The kids climb in the trailer/brooder and I drive down behind the barns to where we have a round bale that still has some decent hay deep inside. I peel aside moldy hay to find the good stuff, and with the help of the three young 'uns, we get the trailer bed covered in a nice clean hay blanket. The goats have followed us and are busy running around being silly and eating any yummy tidbit they find.

7:15 We gather some browse for the goats to eat in the pen, chase away the cows, and drive back into the courtyard, bringing the goats with us. We love on the horses a bit (the new boy has Hank in with him to keep him company), and feed the goats. I check on Mama Hen and her three babies who are almost teenagers now. I feed the goats their daily grain ration, and load a bag of lime onto the truck from the barn.

7:30 Stopping by the workshop to get the manure shovel, we drive back to the house and I carefully back the trailer under the carport. I scoop out all the chicken poop that has gathered under the carport. Since some of the chickens have decided to roost there, it has become a poopy place in some spots. We are beginning to have a problem with flies, and I don't want the chicks to have to deal with that. After putting the manure on the compost, I sweep, sprinkle ag lime, sweep that around, and cover it all with hay just in case anyone's paws or claws are sensitive to lime.

8:30 Thoroughly clean out a waterer, fill with fresh water, and a splash of apple cider vinegar and molasses. With some difficulty I get the roof on the brooder trailer. It is made of plywood which has warped since the last time we used the trailer for this purpose. I run an extension cord from the mudroom out the window to the carport, and hook up the brooder lamp. Yay! The bulb still works! I stuff a towel into the open crack of the house window where the extension cord goes out, and patch a hole low on one of the walls of the brooder where a knot fell out. I don't want chicks tumbling out!

9:30 The Princess, Farmer Boy and the Horse Whisperer climb into the brooder with the box of chicks. One by one the kids take the chicks out and dip their beaks in the fortified water. They love on them and coo to them and let them run all over their bodies. One chick is discovered who can't walk. Everyone wants to spend the night in the brooder. I veto that idea. The HW asks if she can keep the hurt chick in her room. Sure I say. Finally the Princess has had enough and climbs out and takes a shower.

10:30 Get the Princess out of the shower and manage to pry the HW and Farmer Boy out of the brooder. I close it up for the night.

10:35 Kids start eating the long promised dessert (good thing it's summer vacation... this is the day that refuses to end!). The Princess is just too exhausted and has a meltdown; I cart her off to bed telling her we'll save it for her tomorrow. There are tears but they are short-lived as she falls into a deep sleep while I rub her back.

10:45 Get Farmer Boy going on his bedtime routine; he is excited about the chicks and the horse and his friend visiting. It is hard to relax, but a shower helps.

11:30 Both little people FINALLY asleep!! Clean chick feeder, fill with chick starter (unmedicated!), put it in the brooder and watch for a while to see if they will catch on. Sure enough they slowly start to discover the food and eat. Head inside to clean up. Find a box for the HW's chick, and line with an old rag.

12:15 One last check on chicks. Temperature is good, they are happily eating.

12:30 While getting ready for bed, I hear a scurrying noise, look down and see a mammoth scorpion. A well aimed and firm smack with a book yields a disgusting smooshy sticky mess with a tail. Turns out scorpions are very easy to kill. My experience with killing bugs has not alway gone this smoothly, so I am always VERY firm and fast with anyone I'm hunting. A little overkill (pun intended) for this one, it turns out.

12:45 Check on sleeping kids... the HW is still up with a peeping chick in her hands. I spend some time with her in her room watching poor gimpy chick trying to stand and walk. The prospects are dim for this little guy.

1:00 Lights out! I don't think I even dreamed I was so exhausted! :-)

Monday, June 06, 2005


The other day we were up the road chatting with our neighbor, who casually mentioned seeing a bobcat on the road near our house last fall. Our current list of predators and generally dangerous critters that have actually been seen or heard on or near our farm includes:

copperhead snake
wild hog

In addition we likely have Black Widow spiders, Brown Recluse spiders, rattlesnakes, and Water Moccasins.


Some are dangerous to humans, but mostly my concern is for our animals. Generally speaking these predators avoid humans.

Oddly enough, hearing about the bobcat didn't really bother me. Isn't it interesting how we fear the unknown more than the known? When we first moved out here I was petrified of predators. Now I am cautious and attentive (and avoid the unlit barns after dark), but have better perspective on it all.

Being stung by a wasp the other day wasn't fun, but it was a gentle (if somewhat annoying) reminder that what we fear is often far more dramatic in our minds than in reality. The wasp sting burned like crazy... no fun, but it went away pretty quickly, and two days later I was swatting down a wasp's nest and killing wasps in the air with my shoe. Kind of like playing badminton. I knew the worst they could give to me, and I knew I'd survive it.

Which is not to say that I won't have a pounding heart if I look out to see a bobcat after one of my chickens!

Amusingly, the afternoon of the day my neighbor told me about the bobcat, Luke started acting weird and nervous. Here's what was scaring him:

On her way to see what Luke was after, Molly froze and growled at this:

And that night, as I was turning off lights to go to bed, I let the cat in, who stalked this:

Apparently humans aren't the only ones with irrational fears!

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Happy Family

The hen finally adopted four chicks. We discovered one dead chick in the doghouse (possibly smothered by the dog's blanket) and the other five were probably eaten by something. Here's the happy family:

The new mother has the run of the barn. As you can see in this picture, we spared no expense in decorating the nursery. Finest barbed wire bales we could find.