Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Cluck, Cluck!

As some of you already know (others will be shocked) we added three chickens to our acre this summer. We eat a carton and a half of eggs every week on average, and we were looking for something more economical and organic. Ok, and this just seemed like farmy fun times to me.
So, I went on a search in early May to find some chickenes for sale. I knew I wanted full grown chickens because I was too impatient to wait for eggs, and we did not have the equipment for chicks. I looked in the local bulletin and discovered a posting for 1 yr old chickens for sale at this farm in between Mannington and Fairmont. I called the man up and made an appointment to come and pick up the chickens.
Well, when Kole and I arrived at the farm, I knew things were not good. All of the animals were sickly looking, underfed, and had poor homes. The man who owned this place told me later that he was legally blind, but I still do not feel that is a valid excuse. I should have reported this situation to someone, but I didn't. I did ,however, "rescue" two chickens and the small price of ten dollars.
I brought them home in a crate and set them up with good food and water in the chicken tractor our friend Joe had created for us. Kole named them. The white chicken is Patricia (the most beautiful name in the world Kole says) and the red one is Victoria (after Zach's boss). They looked awful. And the definately were not giving us eggs. The sat in the egg box for most of that first month and looked pitiful. Here are some pictures so you can see just what I am talking about.

The below picture is of Victoria. She is a Rhode Island Red. She was missing most of her feathers, one eye would not open, and she would barely eat or drink anything.

You will notice that both chickens combs (the floppy part on the top of thier heads) were very small and pink. This is a sign that they are not laying and may even be sick.

Well, I tried everything to get these chickens to feel better. At first, I just thought they were underfed, so I made sure they had fresh water and more than enough food everyday. That wasn't working. SO I then decided that Something must be wrong with them. We were sure that Victoria was going to die. She just wobbled around, couldn't see, and barely ate anything. I wanted eggs!! I told them that everyday but they didn't listen to me. Since I though Vikkie was on her way out, I decided to get another chicken.
A friend of mine told me about someone she worked with who had a farm and a bunch of chickens. She said he would probably give me another one. It was hilariously disturbing when she came over to my house the next day with a box. She said Frank had given her a chicken and then given her a tour of his farm. She brought the box up to the chicken tractor and reached inside to pull out this chicken. The chicken was dead. And rigor mortis had already set in. I suppose the heat got to it on her hour and a half tour of the farm. We were very sad (she laid in the grass and cried), but I couldn't help but find a little humor in the situation.
Later on that week, I went with my friend to meet Frank the farmer. His farm was amazing. Lots of healthy animals that loved him. 300 acres of forest and farmland. I loved every minute of it. Frank is an older farmer who came to America when he was a young man, from Spain. He made his own chorizo and we got to sample some while on our visit. Frank told me to pick my chicken, so I did, he caught it and into the crate it went. We immediately left the farm (so as not to bring home another chicken for my husband to bury), and I sat the crate in the front seat with the air on full blast. And that is how our Barred Rock chicken, Francine, came to join the flock.
Francine (named after farmer Frank) layed eggs for about a week. Then she stopped. I was furious. I couldn't figure out what was going wrong. I researched the itnernet and found several things that could be wrong, called the vet and got some suggestions, and made a plan.
I went to tractor supply and bought vitamins and electrolytes, deworming medication, and an antibiotic to treat any number of poultry diseases. So much for organic eggs. Or so I thought.
I treated these little buggers for anything and everything. Still no eggs. This lasted for most of the summer.
Meanwhile, I had been a little lazy about watering my garden and we had a big rain mid August. A bunch of tomatoes split and had gnats flying around them, so I threw them in the chicken cage. The girls went nuts over them. So whenever I had a funky tomato, I threw it in. Low and behold, a week or so later, the girls started laying. First, Francine started up again. Then one day I went out and there were two eggs waiting on me. One was bigger than my hand!! And darker than any Francine had layed. I knew it had to come from Vikki (the one we thought would die). They have been laying faithfully ever since. I kept wondering though what was wrong with Patricia. She still wasn't laying although she looked much better.
Then it happened. Three days ago, Patricia layed her first egg. It is the smallest of the three, and completely white (she is a white leghorn), but there it was!! I was so pumped. So, for three days in a row I have gotten 3 eggs a day.
I don't really understand it, but successfully rescuing and recovering chickens to the point where they can lay eggs is a real sense of accomplishment for me. I feel really good everyday when I collect our eggs.
Oh and if you were wondering, the eggs are considered to be organic, because the meds they were given were out of their system by the time they started laying (read it on the directions).
Here are some "now" pictures for you to enjoy. They really do look so much better!

Here is Francine. I love how much character she has! And her feathers kinda remind me of a zebra.

Big floppy red combs mean eggs!!

And here they are!! One day, three eggs. I get so excited every time!!

Now you know all about our chicken saga of the summer!!
While I am no expert at raising chickens, if you have any questions about how we did things (or do things now) please ask=). I love talking about my girls.

Friday, September 10, 2010

I've done it again....

Yes, I have backed myself into a corner by not posting a single thing for SEVERAL months. Please forgive me. I will update as well as I can, but there will be events forgotten and I can only ask for your forgiveness=).
This summer was fantastic! Lots of relaxing, working in the garden, picking up new hobbies, hanging out with friends, reading great books, mini vacations, spending time with Kole, swimming in various locations, cleaning the house (ok not so fun but I do feel good when its done), crafting, sewing, etsy making........ The list could go on.
Overall great summer. There were times when I was a to say. But now that school is back into full swing I am longing for a purposeless day=)

A few new hobbies that I have picked up: Playing the lap or mountian dulcimer and basket making (I've got to get the reeds to really start this though=). Oldtimey fun stuff.

I'm not awesome yet, but I plan to be=). I am teaching myself how to play and have started with some chording. I just LOVE the way it sounds. The drone reminds me of a bagpipe.

The garden has done well this year. We did all raised beds, and it was ALOT of work to put together, but in following years we will only have to add a little dirt and be done.

All of the raised bed sides were made from fallen trees from our back lot. We cut them to size and pegged them into place. Then filled with dirt, compost, and fertilizer. And voila, the plants did grow. We had some kind of blight with all viney stuff this year, the deer somehow got in even with the fence on, and the mexican bean beetles LOVED my green beans, but the raised beds are the way to go. Even after all that, I got tons of produce and have put up many cans of tomatoes, salsa, chili base, beans, and peppers.

We most recently got back from our labor day trip to Colonial Williamsburg. We went with my inlaws, John and Linda. It was such a treat to get to spend that time with them in a place they just can't get enough of! We all really enjoyed the rich history (expect for kole sometimes, he just wanted to swim in the hotel pool=).

John and Linda on the bus. One of Kole's favorite parts of the trip=)

This may be the only picture of the two of us. We are also on the bus. The bus takes you from one end to the other, or back to your car at the visitors center, etc. There still is alot of walking involved. Very Primal.

Kole made a friend and they played chess for atleast an hour, may more. These two were crackin' me up.
Arg! Kole the pirate strikes again!

There was a fife and drums parade. Kole wanted to follow them around town. So we did, because it was too funny watching him walk/dance around williamsburg.

There was an amazing maze in the palace court yards. Can you find Kole in the picture above? How about below?

There was a really cool canopy of trees in the palace garden as well. This is Linda checking it out.

Finally, Here is our navigator. He had a kids atlas on his lap, a pirate hat on his head, a gun (fake of course) and a pen in his hands, and a crazy look in the eyes. He needed a nap!

So Williamsburg was lots of fun. I am going to post more pictures on Facebook as soon as I can get the time.

Lets see, what else.......Oh I had a kidney stone this summer! It was AWFUL! But it came out and I have cut back on DDP so I'm praying it will never happen again!

We got to spend some time with Kbelle a few weeks ago. She is so stinkin' great. I just love her.

Here they are at the pond.

A few seconds after this picture, the net was at the bottom of the pond.

Dad loves taking his grandkids fishing and outside.

Kole decided he should give Keirrabelle some sound advice.


Oh yea, Lets not forget about Tiff's wedding and our adventure to COS!! This was such a fun trip! I just wish my boys could've gone. But I did have a really amazing time with my family and siblings.

Tiff looked AMAZING!!

Grandmomi and I got stuck in Dallas for the night on the way home. Stupid airports. She just wanted to sleep in the airport, she said. I said, You're crazy!

I developed laser vison in COS. Go figure.
Ok, well thank goodness for pictures because I would forget everything if it wasn't for them!

I started a new teaching job this year at a different school. I definately miss my old schools. I made good friendships and relationships at each of my previous 4 schools of the past 2 years. But, the program was cut and I had to work.

I am liking my current situation a little more now. It has just taken some time to get used to things at a new school. I haven't really been able to develop any friendships here (because I am in a seperate building, alone!) but maybe that will come later on.

The sad news is I may not have a job next year teaching FACS. The county we live in has cut the program down so much and it really looks like they are doing away with it all together by next year. I will have to work in a different county, hope to get a high school position, substitute, or get out of teaching. I haven't decided what the best plan of action is yet.

I have missed so many things with this blog, but it is time to wrap it up. I'm actually typing this part (the rest was ready) during my planning=).

I'm going to do better about updating. I think. Atleast i'm really gonna try!

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