Saturday, February 27, 2010


The missing chicks arrived this morning (at MY post office this time). As expected, there were a few dead in the box, and several more that looked extremely weak. About half of them still look quite vigorous. They're all under the heat lamps with food and water now. We'll know in the next 24 hours which ones will rebound and which ones will tank. The survivors from the first shipment look great, and are already nearly twice as big as the newcomers after only a week! I'll post pictures once the dust settles.

Friday, February 26, 2010

losing faith

When you sign up for this kind of life, you know it's going to be hard. There are huge rewards, to be sure, but they are always balanced by difficulty, tragedy. It's been an especially rough week here. We've lost about twenty-five animals in the past seven days. I wish I was kidding. Due to a postal service screw-up, we lost well over half of the broiler chicks we ordered last week. The replacements that the hatchery was kind enough to send me are now at large too. They've been in transit since Wednesday and no sign of them so far. I fear the worst. We also discovered a hen dead in the nest earlier in the week - a fairly young one at that. My guess is that the poor thing must have been egg-bound. Our broody hen keeps moving around to different egg piles, so I'm pretty sure the eggs I gave her are no longer viable. One of our new rabbits kindled yesterday but failed to make a nest, so all eight of the babies were completely exposed and died in the cold.*

It's times like these that really make me feel discouraged. I know this is part and parcel of the life I've chosen, and I know it won't always be this bad, but right now we really, desperately need for something to go right around here. (Mama duck - I'm looking at YOU. Fix this! Give me babies!) These kinds of weeks weigh heavily on my heart.

*This is actually fairly common for first-time rabbit mothers, and we sort of expected it, but it's heart-wrenching just the same.

Friday, February 19, 2010

guess who's feeling motherly?

That's right, everyone's favorite broody is back. Only this time, she's not sitting on a phony. Nope, this time it's the real deal. She's got five full-sized eggs under there. (Interestingly, she can cover five eggs, but five eggs plus a golf ball is just that much too much. The "decoy" had to be removed!) Just look at the spread of those wings. You'd never guess to look at her here, but she's really quite a tiny thing. Now that we have ample nest space and nice secure housing, we've decided that she can raise as many babies as she likes, whenever she likes. No more wooden eggs and golf balls for this girl. Besides, with all the variety we have in the poultry yard, it will be fun to see what sort of mixed breeds we end up with! Given our luck, though, they will ALL be Barred Rocks, and they will ALL be roosters, since that seems to be how we roll around here.

This time of year is a time for babies on the farm. We'll soon be awash in them. The first goat kid was only the beginning of a long spell of new life emerging. Between now and May, it will be an almost constant influx of offspring - a hostile takeover by the next generation. There are twenty-five chicks coming tomorrow, in addition to these five eggs being incubated in-house. Mother duck is building a clutch as we speak - it grows larger by the day and more deeply feathered. We're still awaiting the rest of the kids to make their appearance, and we know we have some buns in the oven, thanks to our new Californian does. Another crate of honeybees will join us in early April, and the gardens, trees and pasture will be offering up new leaves and shoots before we can say boo. The old will stand down. Youth will reign supreme. They are coming.

While I generally don't get emotionally attached to my livestock, I must admit to a certain fondness for the mothers around here. They're so earnest and work so hard. Their whole being is distilled and dedicated to a singular purpose. They really put heart, soul and unwavering determination into their efforts, and for that I adore (and applaud) them.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

babies nap a lot

It's a good thing Mamas stay nearby to watch over them.

Monday, February 15, 2010

my valentine

He's always full of surprises. I never knew, for instance, that he could lay eggs! Did you? Not to mention eggs with messages on them...

Seriously though, this life is a hard one and very tiring. There's just no way I could do it without him, not only to help shoulder the load, but to share the rewards. There's no one else I'd want to do this with, and he deserves far more credit than I give him here. So, hats off to my valentine!

I love you honey - thanks for sharing this nest with me.

out in the world

Friday, February 12, 2010

the great blizzard of 2010

It may sound laughable to call this a blizzard, and to those of you in other parts of the country that have been especially hard hit by snow this year, it is. But please understand that this amount of snow is completely unheard of here where I live. In fact, we set a record for the most snowfall in this area in a 24-hour period. I miss this kind of snow, and it is breathtakingly beautiful.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

dispatches from the Fort Worth Stock Show

Saturday, 8:47 a.m.: The humans have forced me into this awful cage against my will. I'm backed into a corner here. The females seem to think I'm some sort of shower puff. Someone, anyone...please... I have two hundred brothers and sisters in the next room. Tell them to stage an uprising. Tell them to use teeth and claws if they must. Tell them they must KILL so that we may be FREE! Tell them to bring hay...

Zzzzz...aren't you a pretty, I said CRICKETS!...zzzzzz....*cough cough*...zzzzzz...cockadoodle who? cockadoodle THIS....

I SAY! You there! Would you kindly bring this old fellow a cup of tea? The chap in the next cage is QUITE intolerable - been asleep for hours. AND he snoooores. This place is SIMPLY uncivilized. There's NO service to speak of, and ALL I get is stared at all day. I say!

Oooh, I just hate these social functions. I'm always so awkward. I'm really more of a homebody anyway, you know. Everyone stares at my hair. As if I could help it that it's naturally voluminous. People pay big money for this at salons, you know. I don't think these shoes go with this outfit. I should have gone with the brown shoes. How embarrassing. Maybe I can just try to blend in...

Well, this is a fine how do you do! Shavings! The nerve of these people. Shavings! Harumph. This will cost me a pretty penny at the salon tomorrow. I'd better tell them to book me for the whole day.

Hey, get your butt outta my face!
You get your butt outta MY face!
Bacon booty!
Hammy Hiney!
Fat back!
Oh, just shut up and go to sleep!

MAKEUP!! I need a tissue over here! Doesn't ANYONE have a tissue?? How about a towel? Anyone?

You want in, it's five bucks. No, I'm sorry, I dunno ya sistah. You want in, it's five bucks. No, da band don't start for anudda two hours but ya still gotta pay. I don't care who you're datin', your not on da list. C'mon now, I don't want no trouble outta you. Lesss see some I.D. You gonna give me lip? Datz what I tought. Five bucks. No, I ain't got change.

it's 9:30 a.m.

And I have milked the goat, bottle-fed the baby, fed and watered forty chickens, four ducks, four rabbits, five goats and four dogs, refilled feed tubs, brought in firewood, made a fire, done some work for my "real" job and haven't yet had breakfast.

How about you?