Category Archives: Animals

Autumn Chores for a Cozy Winter

Ah fall!

It’s my favorite time of year. The colors, the crisp air, bonfires, warm soups and, even the ever present autumn cliche: Pumpkin. Spice. EVERYTHING!

It’s also a busy time on the ol’ farm.

Not only is there a lot that just didn’t get done with the crazy summer schedule, and getting our homeschool legs under us,  but there’s a lot that needs done every year to prepare for a smooth and restful winter.

With frost the past two nights, and a forecast for snow at 3000 ft, winter is definitely knocking on our door!

Here’s a basic list of the things we do to get our 100 year old farm house, and grounds ready for winter.

1. Clean And Mend Chicken Coop.  

We clean our chicken coop every spring and fall, by shoveling out the bedding and droppings into a compost pile where they can “cool” for use in the garden next year.  We replace it with several inches of clean pine shavings.  This is also time to replace light bulbs, cover windows with plastic, make sure water heaters are in good order, and in our case, secure the big blue tarp on the roof.  We’re just so classy.

We planned a new roof for the coop this year, but had some very expensive and unexpected repairs to the actual home, so the chickens get to be the trashiest neighbors on the block for one more winter.

We’re also using this time to enlarge the chicken run, and fix our rookie mistake of fencing the run with chicken wire.  Real fencing, folks.  Free Range chickens can be charming right up until they scratch up your spring plantings and poop on your front porch, and picnic table, playhouse, lawn mower seat. . .you get the idea.  They’re sort of gross.

2. Winterize the Rabbit Hutch

Rabbits are generally much happier with winter than summer, so they don’t need much.  We’ll give them a good deep bedding to burrow in, and make sure we have extra water bottles on hand for when they freeze.  During freezing weather we only fill the bottles half full.  Twice a day we take out a fresh bottle and bring the frozen ones back into the house to thaw.

3. Cover Windows With Plastic

We still have (possibly original, definitely old) single pane windows in our house.  We use clear shrink film on the downstairs windows, and  6 mil “clear” (it’s NOT clear) plastic in the upstairs bedrooms to help reduce heat loss.  It’s not the most elegant solution out there, but it does make a significant difference.

4. Drain and Store Hoses

It’s hard to believe we were still watering the lawn just a little over a week ago!  And the hoses are still strung all over the property.  Time to drain, roll and stash them in the shed.

5. Stock Fire Wood

We have electric heat, unlike a lot of the older homes in our area, so we’re lucky to not be entirely reliant on wood heat.  But is there really anything lovelier on a cold winter evening than snuggling up next to a crackling fire?  I also like to have enough wood on hand to see us through a power outage.  We were without power for five days once, before we lived in a home with wood heat, and we had to find friends to stay with.  I like the thought of being able to stay home and welcome friends next time.

6. Run the Mower Out Of Gas  

We could also use an additive to stabilize the gas, but we generally use the mower to clean up the last round of leaves (if the snow doesn’t get ahead of us), so we’re usually able to time it right to just go ahead and run the gas out.  And speaking of leaves…

7. Rake Rake Rake 

Shade trees are awesome.  They really do improve the quality of life in summer.  To the point that we usually don’t even need to use the AC.  In fact we didn’t ever use one until the crazy hot summer of 2015, and only a few times last summer, largely because we have huge shade trees on the sunny side of our house.  Huge shade trees full of leaves.  Which will fall over the course of six weeks or so, and need to be raked or otherwise removed several times.  We’ll use some of the leaves to mulch garden beds, some for jumping in, and the rest will get mowed into the grass.  Good times.

8. Put the Garden to Bed

The garden.  Let’s just not talk about how that went this year.  Suffice it to say there is a lot of clean up to be done.  Weeds and spent plants need to be pulled and burned, rabbit manure spread, fence mended, and perennials need pruned and mulched.

9. Clean and Store Garden Tools

After the garden is put to bed it’s time to clean and store garden tools.  I’ll admit I suck at this.  I usually run around the yard picking up shovels and rakes after the first dusting of snow, and hastily toss them in the shed.  This year I mean to actually clean, oil, and properly store my yard and garden implements, before I have to find them under the snow.  This is also a good time to stage snow shovels, ice-melt and sleds near the front door.

10.  Snow Gear

While it’s not exactly a “farm” chore, I also like to take this time to pull out all of the winter coats, boots, etc. to see what we need to replace.  Outgrown items can be cleaned up and sold, donated or stored for a younger child.  We did some of each this year.  Can you believe we somehow accumulated three pairs of size 4/5 snow bibs over the years?  I gave away two, and stored one for the toddler to grow into.  We shifted some gear from oldest to middle kid, and know what we need to replace before snow.  If you’re down with used gear, this is a good time to find stuff on craigslist of facebook selling groups.  We just snagged a good pair of boots this morning. It’s also a good time to hit discount stores for the best variety.  We waited a little too long on Costco coats last year, and the girls didn’t get the colors they wanted.  Horrors.

11.  Finally we have to make a dump run.  

We accumulate trash.  It seems like every spring and fall we’ve managed to accumulate a bigger-than-the-weekly-can heap of broken outdoor toys, ragged tarps, and other bulky refuse.  I try to have it hauled off before it’s buried under snow to grow mold all winter.

I’m sure there’s something I’m forgetting to list here, but these are the most relevant to our household, and top priority.  Everything else will either wait, or be forgotten and we’ll mitigate in the spring.  Life does go on.

Happy Autumn!

A Morning on The Farm

Dawn breaks on our view

Dawn breaks on our view

The girls are ready to be let out.

The girls are ready to be let out.

 

The garden isn't looking like much,  but take a closer look. . .

The garden isn’t looking like much, but take a closer look. . .

A row of onions has overwintered and is stretching arms high to meet the rising sun.

A row of onions has overwintered and is stretching arms high to meet the rising sun.

Spinach and lettuce have sprouted.

Spinach and lettuce have sprouted.

And there will be peas for shelling.

And there will be peas for shelling.

What a blessed life we live!

 

 

 

You Don’t Have To Be An Expert

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Looking back over our journey there is one factor that has held us back most.

I don’t know. . .

I don’t know how.

I don’t know if it will work.

I don’t know if we’ll like it.

Well, I’m here to tell you.

If you don’t know how, do a quick internet search, ask a neighbor or go to the library.  Once you’ve done that, if you’re still unsure, just go ahead and poke your toe into the water.  I won’t say dive in with your eyes closed.  Proceeding slowly, however, there is much about farming, (and just about everything else) that can be learned along the way.  So your chickens get a little too much scratch at first.  You’ll soon notice egg production “lay off” and make an adjustment.  So your garden doesn’t produce well, make a note and try something different next year.  You’ll learn.

If you don’t know if it will work, again, internet, library, neighbor.  And again, poke that toe into the water.  Move slowly, try not to spend too much, and make adjustments as you go.

If you don’t know if you’ll like it, there’s one sure way to find out.  Remember the first time Mom put broccoli on your plate?  Well, maybe not.

But she probably said, “How can you know you don’t like it if you’ve never tried it?”

Find a neighbor with goats and ask if you can taste the milk.  Chicken-sit for a weekend. Grow a few tomatoes in a pots.  Again, moving slowly and trying not to spend too much, you’ll get a good idea if this is the path for you.

Bottom line is that you need not be an expert to get a start.  Even the “experts” had to start somewhere.  If you find you don’t like keeping chickens, gardening, baking your own bread, or milking a goat, put an ad on craigslist and another upstart can benefit from your experience, while you make back some of your investment.  And remember, the modern world will probably be waiting for you with open arms.

There is very little in life that can’t be undone.  So dispense with the “I don’t knows” and go get your boots on!

 

 

 

My Favorite Tips For Dealing With The Heat

Last week we had a few days in the mid-upper sixties and today our thermometer topped out at 102 degrees.  It’s located on the shady side of our house.  We don’t have any air conditioning.

Even so, it wasn’t until late afternoon that the house started to feel a little too warm for comfort.  We’ve lived here for nearly four years without an air conditioner and we’re fine with it for all but the hottest week or two of the year.  How do we do it?

  • Keep the doors closed.  I know it’s counter intuitive but keeping doors and windows closed helps a ton.  
  • Open upstairs windows and, if possible, arrange fans to blow air in one end of the house and out the other.  This helps by keeping the hot air that rises from downstairs moving out of the house.  Many newer homes have fans built into the attic vents, but ours is nearly one hundred years old, so we accomplish this by opening all the bedroom doors and placing a fan with air going in our bedroom window and out the kid’s room. ( At night we turn the fans so that they blow cool air into all the rooms.)
  • Close shades on the sunny side of the house.
  • Use a ceiling fan to help draw warm air up and out those upstairs windows/attic vents.
  • Keep plenty of ice on hand for cold drinks.
  • Never underestimate the value of a garden hose to the back of the neck.
  • Try to get outdoor chores done before the heat really turns up.  When it’s going to be in the 100’s I try to have all the outside chores done by 10 am.  Then I check on animals once or twice during the day to make sure they have plenty of water and aren’t over heating.
  • We’re lucky in that the people who built our home had some good foresight.  They planted shade trees on the southern side of our house.  In the summer they give us shade, and in the winter they lose their leaves and let the sun shine in the windows.  It’s something to keep in mind if you’re planning a new landscape scheme.
  • When all else fails it’s time to hit the river, lake, kiddie pool, or cold shower.  Use what you’ve got!

Don’t forget the pets and livestock when it’s hot!

  • Make sure everyone has plenty of water and shade.
  • Repurpose 2-liter soda bottles by filling them with water and freezing them to place in rabbit hutches, chicken coops, or dog houses during the day.
  • Give your pets their own pool.  Our dog has a small kiddie pool in her kennel for when we’re at work.
  • Use misters to keep especially heat-sensitive animals like rabbits cool.
  • Gardens, trees and lawns need extra water when it’s this hot, but to avoid sunburning them, avoid watering while the sun is beating down.  Set a timer to give a good soaking in the early morning or just after sunset.

What’s your favorite way to foil Summer’s heat?

Shared at The Homestead Barn Hop.

Caring For An Egg Bound and Prolapsed Chicken

Those of you who follow me on Facebook already heard the meatiest part of this story, but I thought it might be helpful if I filled in some details for anyone who might be in a similar situation.

A few weeks back I noticed a chicken ranging around the yard with a bloody, stringy, poopy, slimy and feathery looking mass hanging from her rear end.  Eewww.

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I quickly trapped her in the rarely-used dog kennel, to try to keep the others from pecking at her while I ran into the house to Google the solution.

Google agreed with my initial suspicion that she had been egg bound, and had broken an egg inside her.  She had also prolapsed her vent.  The good news is that it didn’t seem to be slowing her down or making her feel bad at all.  In fact before I got back out to her, she had already escaped from the kennel and was foraging with the rest of the girls.

Why Oh Why do I not have rubber gloves on this farm?

I caught her and brought her into the mud room so I could take care of her as well as possible.  I started by using a paper towel to gently pull the gooey mass from her vent. This task was mercifully easy.  Thankfully, the egg seemed to be soft shelled, I found NO hard shell pieces, which could have cut her, resulting in infection.  There was blood, however, so I proceeded as if I knew she had lacerations.  

Next I used the sprayer on the utility sink to clean her up as well as she would allow.  I got another paper towel, smeared it with antibiotic ointment, and used it to gently push her vent back in as well as I could.  She didn’t like it.  I didn’t like it.  But we got it done.  The vent still looked slightly “inside out”, but I was worried I’d do more damage than good if I kept harassing her.

My husband’s buddies had a good laugh at me at this point, not that any of them would/could help a girl out in such a situation.

I kept her in the mud room over night, inside an overturned and weighed down laundry basket.  Why Oh Why did I not think of using a pet porter, or one of our empty rabbit cages?  I covered her makeshift home in a blanket to keep the light out and break her laying cycle.  I did not want her trying to form a new egg until her vent had a chance to recover.

I gave her plenty of water with Essential Oil of Oregano, which has antibiotic properties, and watered-down, plain yogurt to eat. *

The next day she got lovely morning and afternoon sitz baths with warm water and Lavender oil.  You’d be surprised how much a chicken can enjoy a bath.  She didn’t even fight too much about being toweled off.

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By evening her vent looked back to normal and she was looking eager to get out, so I decided to let her out a little before dark.  I watched her closely for a few days, and as an added measure I put Oregano Oil to the water in the coop.  She has had no further problems that I’ve noticed.

*There is a lot of conflicting information regarding the use of essential oils to treat  chickens.  I am not a vet, and nothing in this post is intended as medical advice.  You should do lots of research before you decide how to treat your flock.

Have you had any experiences with prolapse or egg binding?  Did your hen recover?

This post will be shared at No Ordinary Blog Hop, The Homestead Barn Hop, and The Home Acre Hop.

Photos From the Farm

 

We’ve been busy on the farm for the past couple weeks.  Pair that with returning to the 40 hour work week, and taking care of kiddos ( I know, welcome to the real world, boo-hoo, poor me) and I just haven’t had much mental energy left over for blogging.  But I have had the camera by my side so I’ll share some of what we’ve been up to.  I hope you’ll forgive my lack of photography skills.

Easter was great.  I’ve never hosted before because the spring work schedule never allowed.  But this year I knew I wouldn’t have to work Easter weekend so we were able to invite some friends and family for a delicious meal, egg-hunt and chit-chat around the fire pit. 
 

I’ve been trying to think of a good Bible verse or Dr. Seuss quote for over my garden gate, but my husband came up with this, and I think it’s perfect.   

We are good at a few things around here, but building isn’t exactly one of them.  Nevertheless, we have some very cozy bunnies, and the placement of the hutch in the garden will make it simple to spread all that wonderful rabbit poop out where it can do some good.  I’ll have to do a little research, but I’m thinking that I’ll rake the poop out into the garden each fall when we’re putting the garden to bed for the year. It’s nice to have these guys out of small cages on the shed floor. 

Wall-O-Water season extenders are pre-warming the soil in the tomato bed, where lettuce will grow in the shade of tomato plants.  I’m hoping this will slow the bolting of the lettuce when the weather gets hot.  The Wall-O-Waters went in last weekend and I aim to transplant my best looking tomatos this weekend.  Also sugar snap peas are sprouting under soda bottle greenhouses.  Peas don’t really need the protection but I was trying to get them extra warm so they’d sprout sooner.  I think it worked since many of them are starting to poke little green heads out of the soil, while their neighbors planted on the same day, but without the soda bottles aren’t up yet.

Shelling peas are waiting to sprout below the sticks against the fence.  I used to just let them climb the fence, but this year we have planted blueberries on the other side of the fence.  Also, the chickens, who mostly free-range now, would help themselves if the peas were to poke out of the fence.  I don’t have a solid plan for keeping chickens out of the blueberries when the time comes.  Pardon the ugly color of the house.  It’s one of those things we just haven’t gotten around to changing from the prior owners taste.

Nate finished the new strawberry bed and a mixture of June-bearing and Everbearing strawberries are happily growing in it.  We’ve used a scrap length of fence to keep our dig-happy puppy out of the beds until the strawberries are established and hide the oh-too tempting soil.  Last year’s strawberries spent the winter in the greenhouse and have already begun to blossom.  I can nearly taste them now. 

What is new on your homestead? 

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Spring!

I must apologize for the lack of quality content this week, but I’ve decided it’s against my principles to blog when the weather is perfect for outdoor work.  I have also been a bit rebellious in regards to house work in favor of getting outside.  Last week we were sitting under seven inches of new snow.  Life felt busy but not much was happening.  This week, the snow has melted, and we are being very productive.

Who needs a playhouse?

Last fall we cut down a pair of crummy cherry trees.  Tuesday we dug, and pulled the first stump.  When I say “we” pulled it, I mean Nate did most of the work, with a very little help from me.  Our intent was to pull the stump, then temporarily fill the hole back in until we get a peach tree to put in it.  Plans change.  Our kids have been in the hole for nearly three days straight.  They are having a great time with that hole.  When we put in the peach tree, we’re going to have to find another place to dig a big hole.

The "big toy" stands utterly deserted, and Dad breaks up branches for the fire pit.

We’ve also been busy getting the garden cleaned up and ready to plant.  It’s still a few weeks off, but we’ll be very busy when the time comes, so we’re doing what we can now.  We’ve had more weeds than anything for the last couple years, so we’re hoping to get ahead of it now by burning the area with a propane torch, and laying down landscaping fabric.  We’ve pulled up our raised beds, burned weeds, turned the soil with a shovel, and raked rabbit manure over the surface.  Next we’ll rototill, lay down the weed barrier, and decide where the raised beds go.  We’ve also moved the rabbits out into the garden area, though the new hutch isn’t up yet.

Last fall we stored some clear plastic, tomato cages, and random garden junk in one of our raised beds, and when I cleaned it out to move, I discovered several lettuce and spinach plants which had over-wintered and look great.  I couldn’t bear to till them under, but couldn’t leave them in place since we are re-arranging this year.  I dug them up and transplanted them into peat pots, but I’ll get them back into the soil as soon as we’ve finished prepping the area. I plan to let them bolt when the weather turns hot, and plant the seeds out in the main garden again in early fall.  Any that over-winter again get the same treatment next year.  This way we can slowly build stock perfectly suited to our winters.

I found a potato planting sack at the home and garden store a few weeks ago.  It’s heavy plastic with a hatch on one side which opens from the bottom up, for easy harvesting.  I was planning to put a potato plant in it when we start the rest in rows to compare how it performs, but since we had a few potatoes setting eyes in the pantry I thought I’d see if we can’t get an early harvest.  I planted three eyes in it and now it is in the green house.  While I was in the green house, I brought some more lettuces out and let the chickens have them.  I planted them last winter, and they did survive, but they look sickly and never got large enough to harvest.  Nate started on a cold frame we can put near our back door for greens next fall and winter, but for now I’ll start some fresh plants and the volunteers in the main garden.

Since I’ve temporarily given up flour, the food around here has been pretty boring.  It doesn’t have to be, as there are plenty of good recipes out there, but we’ve been busy so I’m keeping it simple with soups,salads,beans, rice, oatmeal and eggs. Of course the kids are always glad to eat PB&J!  I really wanted a sandwich yesterday!  Last night I made a “quick and dirty” rice with some leftover brown rice, venison summer sausage, 1/2 a pack of onion soup mix, and a dry black bean soup cup.  I scoured the ingredients lists and the soup mixes checked out flour-free.  I mixed all of it in a 2 qt casserole, added enough water to just reach the top of the mixture and baked it at 375 for 40 minutes, then topped it with cheese and baked another ten minutes.  MMM.

Some neighbors drop in for an early morning visit, the cat is interested, but knows better!

It’s almost 9:30 am here in North Central Washington, and the sunshine is just getting warm on the Half Acre, so it’s time again to get outdoors and see what we can accomplish today!

Happy Farming!

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News From The Farm, and Homemade Yogurt

It feels like life on the farm has gotten busy, but I really can’t say we have accomplished much more than usual.

I joined the sub roster at my daughter’s school and have been called several times.  Monday and Tuesday I subbed for my daughter’s teacher, and my already healthy respect for her grew ten fold.  Honestly, she has a great bunch of students, and five year olds are just a lot of fun, but what a lot to keep up with!  I still wish we could homeschool, but we’re just not there, and this is almost as nice.

The new pup has settled in and is part of the family.  Don’t you just love the smell of a puppy?  She is a smart dog, but her body has outgrown her brain, as pup’s bodies do.  She has learned, with the help of our three year old, to go up the stairs.  Perhaps next she will learn to come back down.

The spring-like weather we were having last week ended Sunday afternoon.  Sunday morning we played at the park wearing only sweatshirts (okay, not only sweatshirts), and came home to a snow free yard.  We even tinkered in the garden area a bit.  By evening we had three fresh inches of snow and now it’s more like six or seven.  I am confident, though, that this is Winter’s last push and I’m standing by my prediction that I’ll have dirt between my toes in the second half of March.

The seedlings I started two weeks ago are up and doing well.  I think it’s funny that the “Early Jalopeno” peppers were the last to germinate.  My husband was right though, the broccoli and cabbage were already getting leggy, so we transplanted them into peat pots, burying them to just below the leaves.

Homemade Yogurt

Dang! If I had realized making yogurt was going to be so easy I’d have done it years ago. I actually did this project a couple weeks ago, but never got around to writing about it.  I followed the directions given in Storey’s Country Wisdom and Know How, but there are a lot of directions on the internet, and they are all basically the same.

Ingredients:

  • 1 Qt milk
  • 1/3 c instant dry milk (optional, adds protein and makes thicker yogurt)
  • 1 rounded tbsp plain active yogurt (or equivalent starter culture)

 

First make sure your cooking implements are sterile by scalding them.  I hold my sterilized jars in a warm oven until I need them.  Rogue bacteria can impart off flavors to your yogurt.  We only want the yogurt bacteria to grow.

 

 

 

My husband bought me this fancy thermometer, which will sound an alarm when the target temp is reached.

Next scald your milk by bringing it to 180 degrees over a medium burner.  After the milk has reached 180 remove it from the heat source and allow it to cool to approximately 110 degrees.  Add your yogurt and dried milk and stir thoroughly.  If you’d like you can pour the mixture into smaller containers for incubating. I used pint jars.

 

 

 

To incubate my yogurt I put an inch or so of warm water in a slow cooker, then added my containers of yogurt.  I set the cooker to “warm” then covered the whole works with a heavy towel.  I left a thermometer in the slow cooker and checked it every hour or so.  If the temp was creeping above 112 or so I’d turn it off, and when the temp dropped below 108 I’d turn it back on for a few minutes.  Temps closer to 120 yield a more tart yogurt, and temps too low won’t propogate the cultures.

After about five hours, test the set by gently tipping a jar of yogurt.  Keep the lid on in case it is still fairly liquid.  It should be set up by this point, but if not, continue to incubate it until it has thickened.  When your yogurt has reached the consistency you like you can refrigerate it for about a week, adding fruit or flavorings when you are ready to eat it.

Lacking cheese cloth, I used a coffee filter inside a strainer to drain my yogurt.

I added the step of straining my yogurt to make it “Greek”.  When you strain the yogurt, the whey takes much of the lactose with it, leaving you with a low carb, high protein end product.  It also makes a thicker, more decadent yogurt.  I use it as one would commonly see yogurt at the store, mixed with fruit, or vanilla, but I also use it plain in place of sour cream.

 

 

After I made this good yogurt, my friend, Amy, one-upped me by making the most delicious cream cheese I have ever tasted.  I’ll have to try that next and let you know how it goes!

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Friday Already?

Wow! This week has flown by, and I didn’t get as much finished as I had hoped.  Does that ever happen to you?

After the winter storm two weeks ago we had a cold spell, but it has been relatively warm and breezy this week.  It feels a bit like spring, but the groundhog has spoken, so I’m forcing myself to wait two more weeks before I start my seeds for the garden.  It seems like I always get antsy and start them too soon and the plants end up leggy before it’s warm enough to set them out.  We have some seeds left over from last year, but we’re making our seed catalog order today…just as soon as we can agree on what we’re getting.

Yesterday I quit dragging my feet and cleaned out the rabbit cages.  It was especially gross this time, since when I went out to do it early last week the pee and poo trays were pretty much frozen to the cages.  It was irresponsible of me, but instead of dealing with it at the time, I hoped for a warmer day soon, apologized to the bunnies, and added a fresh layer of hay.  They seemed cozy enough but it’s been nagging at me so I took care of it today while it was so nice outside.  It was gross, but our garden will be really happy for the primo fertilizer this growing season.  This spring I plan to build elevated hutches above one corner of the garden so we can just rake the poo out to where it can do some good.  We’ll have to insulate it well since they won’t be as protected as where they are now, but it will be so nice for them to enjoy the sunshine and nice for me to have them up off the shed floor.

Our rogue hen, who was recently broody is back up to her old tricks, laying eggs in weird places instead of in the nest boxes.  At least they’re in the coop now that the ground outside is covered in snow…er, I hope they are anyway!  We’ll have to make sure we don’t have the egg hunt at our house this Easter.  I’d hate to see some unsuspecting poor tyke get an unpleasant surprise in her basket.  I hope this hen has another broody spell this spring as it would be nice if she’d do the work and raise a batch of chicks for us!  Wishful thinking, probably.

We’re attending a Super Bowl party at a friend’s home this year and thank goodness, because this has not been a good week for keeping up on housework.  I don’t think we’ve reached anything like “health department dirty” but there are sure a few items refusing to reside in their homes.  We’ve recently been given some Lincoln Logs, and I’m happy to say they don’t hurt quite like Legos or dried play dough when you step on them, but it isn’t a picnic either.  Lots of fun to play with though!  The kids even like them.

I hope you all have a great weekend!  Enjoy the Super Bowl, funny ads, halftime and most importantly  to me, spending time with those you love…eating their snacks.  Don’t judge.  I’ll bring some good snacks too!

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Look What I Found!

About 5 days ago when I went out to close up the coop for the night I noticed we were short one barred rock hen.  I looked around a little, but since I didn’t see any sign of predation I figured I’d see her in the morning.  The next day I looked out while the hens were scratching and did indeed count five barred rocks.  But, again, at bedtime she was nowhere to be seen.  A couple more days passed and since we hadn’t seen her again, I figured she had been hawk bait.  But today after I gathered eggs I heard a familiar clucking from behind some lumber which was resting against the shed. 

Henny Hidey Hole
I moved the lumber and boy was she mad! She puffed up and lowered herself to the ground so I knew she’d be sitting on five or six eggs. 
 
When she puffed up upon being discovered I knew she would be hiding something!

Broody hens can be feisty, so I carefully lifted her off the nest and was shocked to find she was not sitting on a small clutch of eggs.  She was sitting on twenty-five eggs.  What a great surprise, when we were thinking that we’d be down a few eggs per week after losing this hen.  This spring we plan to add a rooster to the mix, so hopefully one of our girls will be in a broody mood when the time comes!

Twenty-five eggs! I think she had some help laying these.

Chickens never fail to delight!