Posted in Uncategorized

Out My Window

I’d love to leave you the impression that I live on a sprawling, open, isolated huge amount of land out in the middle of nowhere.  But I’d be lying to you if I left you that impression. I live in a trailer house next to a highway, next to a railroad track. 

Joy.

There are things I love about living here and things I hate. 

 As I look out my window, propped up in my bed with a laptop on my lap, hence the name, I see Freak, Jason’s new horse trying desperately to get his freak on with a mare in the next pasture.  I called my husband earlier to say, “Hey, just so  you know, your next problem is that the mare is in heat”.  But it appears Freak has been cut, according to J-Dub, but they’re still necking across the fence, whinnying ever so lightly, and it’s actually making me a bit sick to my stomach.  I think I’ll go run him off.  It reminds me of the time as a young girl, I went barreling into my teenage brothers place to tell him and his teenage friends they must come quick.  I needed help.  Two dogs were stuck together butt to butt in the alley and wouldn’t come apart.  I can’t remember my brother’s response only the laughter from the friends as I left dejected wondering how in the world I would ever help these dogs unhook themselves from each other so they could get on with life.  I’ve learned a thing or two since then. 

Looking out my window tonight, I see 5 red angus calves in the neighbor’s pasture frolicking.  Their mothers chew their cud, shake their heads, and mutter, “those kids, whatever are we going to do with them?”  They actually run quite fast, especially when you’re on a horse chasing one.  I wouldn’t know, but my husband could tell you.  His tooth is finally tightened back up.  Recently, he chased a calf on horseback, roped him, dismounted his horse with a string doubled over in his mouth, ran to the calf  to tie his legs, only to find one of the strings to have fallen from his mouth.  He stepped on it inadvertently, while the other part remained in his mouth, and nearly ripped his tooth from his head.  It took a couple of weeks of eating gingerly before he could really bite into a steak again.

Looking out my window I see 14 chickens who make the most pleasant sounds in all the world clucking around in the their chicken yard as the sun goes down.  I’m working on a children’s book, The Crazy Chicken Lady.  Yes, it’s a tiny bit autobiographical. 

Then the train whistle blows, partially disturbing my peace, but I’m partially used to it by now. 

Sometimes I ask myself, like tonight for example, did I make the right choice? Leaving a moderately nice town home to move into a trailer house in the country?  We need a new roof, our fence is falling down, and water lines need digging.  The wind constantly blows, the dirt becomes a second skin, and the skunks’ odor burns my nostrils. 

Sometimes as human “beans “we yearn, don’t we.  Aren’t we always working towards something else, wondering what else is there, or is just my age and generation? Or maybe it’s just me.   Tonight I’m home alone, pondering all the world’s problems.  I’m reminded of a Bible verse: 

Phillipians 11-1311 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

Isn’t God good?  Have you experienced the goodness of God?  I desperately hope you have.  The  things of this world are so miniscule compared to what we have to experience in the presence of the Living and Holy God. 

I haven’t turned my TV on to see the royal wedding.  I didn’t even know it was taking place until Wednesday when someone told me they were planning on recording it,  and then looked at me as if I live in a hole when I didn’t know of what they spoke.  Well okay, I do live in a hole,  a small one.  But my hole isn’t terrible and I’ve hung pictures finally, so it’s more like a homely hole. A homely hovel.  With a  leaning fence and shingles missing from the roof, and train whistles every half hour.  Oh well, it’s at least a roof over my head.  What else do I need?  

I hope you are happy today, dear friend.  Now I must go pen the chickens.

Until tomorrow,

Angel

Advertisements
Posted in Uncategorized

Country Living

We moved out to our Little Trailer House on the Prairie on March 15th.  Less than 4 weeks ago.  In this short time, there are a few lessons I’ve learned. 

First off, there ain’t no rest out here. 

Yes it’s pretty peaceful, no one comes to my door selling magazines, and Toby, the dang barking dog next door, is no longer my problem.  But mind you, I’m not laid up in a hammock reading a book each evening listening to the wind rustle through the prairie grasses either.

During the early part of February, when I was still living in town, it snowed enough for our school district to cancel school.  Since I’m a mean, old school teacher, I got the day off.  I posted on facebook something to the effect of “Snow day, Now what can I do?”

Friends chimed in with many suggestions and then along came my dad with a remark of, “Get any snow out that way ang?”  Of course, my answer dripped with sarcasm.  He chided me for being sarcastic, my sister said I was the mean daughter, and then he said the following to my sister: 

“I hope she gets a whole plethora of animals, then she’ll have plenty to do.  I’ve been up since 0400, slopping hogs, milking and getting in wood and water.” 

Of course that was bologna.  More than likely he’d been laying with his head at the foot of the bed, on his belly, propped up on one elbow watching TV and reading a book at the same time.  That’s how he rolled. 

But oh boy, he was right about having plenty to do.  I don’t even have a plethora of animals, but each day they gotta eat.  I gotta change their water, put out feed for the horses and dogs, change the straw in the chicken box, take the chickies out for exercise, walk the dogs, and chase the horses out of the yard. 

By the time I tend to all the stock, I can barely feed my husband and myself.  Maybe I’ll lose a few pounds. One can only hope.

Second lesson:  Internet service sucks.  We can’t get DSL or cable out here, so our only option is satellite or dial up.  We opted for satellite with their lightning speed advertisement.  What a pile of horse hockey.  

Lesson #3:  I know absolutely nothing about water wells and septic tanks.  I’ve got questions.  How do I know when the septic tank is full?  Gross, I know, but an important piece of information to learn. 

Lesson #4:  I am losing the battle with dust.  Should I wave my white flag now? 

Fifth lesson:  Despite these tiny, itsy-bitsy, miniscule issues, I am super happy here.  We have room to run and sunsets to watch. We can do almost anything we want. 

At my garage sale the other day, Ashy’s Slip n’ Slide didn’t sell.

Me:  I guess we’ll take it out to The Place with us.

Her:  Yea!!  We can even do it naked!

Alrighty then.

Posted in Uncategorized

Just In: Chicken Fatality Report

They, whoever they are, say death comes in three’s.  Since I last wrote about my chickens, one more has died, which brings the number of fatalities to 3.  It was the little chick I was worried about before.  The antisocial black one with a little yellow spot on its head who stood in the corner and stared.  She didn’t even get a proper burial in the chicken cemetery.  I watched J-Dub carry her by her legs and toss her over the barbed wire fence into the pasture. Apparently, we’ve become desensitized to chicken death.  It’s just the way it goes.  My husband says, “If you’re gonna deal with livestock, you’re gonna deal with death.”  He’s right.  Nothing lives forever.  And what is it that old Augustus McCrae says in Lonesome Dove when young Sean gets bitten all over with water moccasins, “Life’s short.  Shorter for some than others.”

But I must admit it’s a bit embarrassing to confess how many I have lost.  I feel like it’s my fault.  The first thing people say when they see me is not Hi, How are You, but rather,”So how many chicks have died now?” And then they look at me like I have Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy or something.  I am hoping the death spree is over.   One died on Wednesday, one on Thursday, and one on Friday.   I now have 14 surviving chickies, and I’m feeling pretty dern good about the health of these 14.  I haven’t seen Ol’ Spaz, the seizure thrower, convulse in a couple of days,  and Molasses, the one who got trapped under the water trough seems to be doing just fine.  I even think she may not be as bow-legged as she once was.  Truthfully, I can’t even recognize her anymore.  I’m confident these 14 will survive.  At least until I put them outside and a chicken hawk or bull snake gets a hold of them.  But for now, they are safe and sound in my spare bedroom.  For now.

I get a kick out of them.  They are quite enjoyable and provide many laughs for us.  When I put fresh straw in their box, if by chance there is a little piece of seed head that even faintly resembles a bug, one of them snags it up and starts running, thinking they’ve really found a treasure that they’re not sharing.  As soon as the other chicks catch on that their sister has a jewel, they begin chasing her around trying to nab it.  They start grabbing at that little seed head, pecking it from each other’s mouth, even playing a little game of tug o’ war, all the while, peeping loudly.

After watching this sport, I got a little nerve and decided to give them something “real”.  Something they would forage for in the yard.  A tasty morsel to fight over.   I scraped some mud off the bottom of a big flower-pot and found 4 earthworms.  Scrumptious, juicy, wiggling earthworms.  I took the smallest I could find and tossed it in their box.  At first, 2 or 3 chicks circled the worm taking turns pecking at it.  They displayed a little curiosity, but not any real gumption.  Not until this bold little chick walked right up, pushed her way through the circle, grabbed the worm in her beak with one peck and away she scrambled with the others right on her tail feathers.  After a couple of circles around the box, a zig, a zag and a fake-out, she quickly found a spot in the corner, tipped her head back, and swallowed the worm right down her gullet.  Thinking she was Hot Stuff, she strutted around, sharpening her beak on the box.  In a few minutes, the others laid down for a nap, but not Hot Stuff, she was loaded up with protein and feeling fine and frisky. 

I have since put in  a couple more worms, and every time a few of them circle and peck until  Hot Stuff struts in, nabs the worm and eats it whole.  The funny thing is she’s the smallest of the bunch, but definitely the most fearless.  It will be interesting to see if she turns out to be the most dominant chick in the coop.

Well folks, that’s it for today.

Tune in next time for more Tales From the Chicken Ranch for the latest fatality report and our special segment, “What’s on the Menu?”

Until Next Time,

Chicky Mama

Posted in Uncategorized

Signs of Morning

Morning Time is quickly becoming my favorite time of day.

I can easily say this today, on a Sunday.

More specifically the Sunday after I’ve had 8 days off of work.

Maybe tomorrow morning I won’t feel the same.  Tomorrow.  The dreaded Monday.  More specifically, the first day back to work.  The first day back to work after Spring Break.  The first day back to work after Spring Break and Daylights Savings Time.  The first day back to work where instead of driving 10 seconds to get to work, I must drive 10 miles.

But this Sunday morning was glorious, and I can easily say it was my favorite time of day.

Where I now live, in the mornings, the cows in the neighbor’s pasture lumber their way, softly mooing as they go,  to a barbed wire fence to stare down this county road.  J-Dub says they’re waiting for the neighbor’s feed truck, but I have yet to see it arrive.

Hoping for breakfast.

But their curiosity of me and my camera gets the better of them.

In the mornings, the birds sing softly.  I gaze towards the telephone poles and the fence lines looking for them, but never find them. 

As you can see, there aren’t many trees to perch in.  They must be hiding in the grasses, raising their song of hope towards the heavens.

 

In the mornings, the grass is a little wet from the dew and the fresh breezes gently blow, refreshing me.

In the mornings, I set my coffee cup in the pasture so I can operate my camera.  And the horse poses for his portrait.

In the mornings, the sun warms the blossoms of the fruit trees, giving hope of new life.  And sweet apricots.

Mornings are filled with hope. 

Hope of new beginnings. 

Hope of fresh starts. 

Hope of happy days to come.

Happy Spring!

Posted in Uncategorized

Slow as Molasses

I have officially declared myself unfit as a chicken mama.

Someone call CPS. No, not Child Protective Services, ring up Chicken Protective Services.

I lost another chicky.  I don’t know the cause of death,  I contribute it to Mother Nature.  Beneath my electrical pole, it is beginning to look something like a chicken cemetery. 

Two down, Fifteen to go.  And there may be more.  I have one who seems to be having seizures.  Every so often it begins peeping very loudly, flops over, and twitches its head and feet for about 20 seconds.  I don’t know what to do when this happens.  I don’t think I can fit a spoon in its beak. 

I have another I’m very concerned about.  It’s not eating or drinking much.  Nor does it socialize, it just stands in the corner and stares at the box. 

Frankly, if any of them make it long enough to lay an egg, it’ll be a miracle.

I don’t understand why my chicken flock isn’t stronger.  I’ve been taking very excellent care of them.  I make sure their temperature is just right, I give them plenty of food, fresh straw, and water.  

However, I can pretty much bet that I won’t be winning the “chicken caretaker of the year” award.  Let me tell you why.  Yesterday I awoke and the chicks were happy, healthy, and rambunctious.  They only had tissue paper lining their box for the first day (as per the instructions).  Day two suggested giving them some sort of litter; straw, hay, big pine shavings, but not anything too small like sand or wood shavings, as they might eat it and mess up their digestive systems.

I got some hay from a big round hay bale out in the field.  I picked each of the little chicks up, counting as I went,  and set them in a temporary box to get them out of the way.   I laid some fresh hay in their permanent box, then picked them up, once again counting each of them,  and placed them back one by one on their new, cozy, straw bedding.  Then I gave them a feeder filled with chicken starter feed.

Plastic 1 Quart Jar Feeder

I went into the kitchen, heated their water to a pleasant 98 degrees on the stove (as per instructions), and filled their waterer (pictured below).

1 Gallon Poultry Waterer

I checked on them a few more times throughout the day, then I left to come into town (spoken like a true country girl) to take care of some business.  I returned home around four or five in the afternoon and discovered the dead little black chick.  I was distraught.  My husband pulled in the drive and I met him with the bad news.  He buried my little chicky for me.  

After the funeral we were just sitting around the box watching the little chicks. I have a couple of little stools that set next to the box and my butt has almost become permanently affixed. 

I received 17 chickens and two have died so I am down to 15.  Sitting around the box, I did a quick headcount.  I counted 14.  I counted again, and again got 14.  The little boogers are running all around the box, so they are difficult to count.  I announced to J-Dub there were only 14, he counted and said, “No there’s 15.”  I mentally counted again.  Still 14. 

“Jason, I’m only getting 14.”  He counted again and this time, he too got 14. 

“There’s a chicken missing!”  I exclaimed.

“Well it can’t be far,” he answered. 

Just like a mama whose lost a kid at The Walmarts, thoughts began racing through my mind. 

Maybe it flew somewhere?  I looked around the room.  No chick, chick  here.  Maybe I left it in the other box and forgot about it?  I checked the box.  No chick, chick there. 

J-Dub says, “Maybe you miscounted when you first got them.”  I knew I hadn’t.  And then the dreaded thought occurred to me.  What if I squashed her underneath the waterer when I set it in the box?  I carefully lifted the waterer and peeked beneath, expecting to find another dead chicken, but instead out wobbled a little black chick, hungrier and thirstier than ever.  She had been underneath the waterer all day long.  Fortunately, it didn’t set flush to the floor, and there was a tiny little space where she was crouched.  But the poor little thing just isn’t the same.  It’s easily recognizable by its spraddled legs.  I think the poor thing must have been in the “splits” position all day and now her legs are very wide-spread.  She also doesn’t have very good balance and wobbles around like a little drunk man.  Even when she’s standing still, she’s weaving. 

We decided if she wasn’t slow in the head before that incident, she is slow now, possibly even retarded. 

So Ashy named her Molasses.  Slow as Molasses.

She’s a tough one, that’s for sure. 

Me?  I feel awful.  I’m relieved she survived. 

So far.

Posted in Uncategorized

Oh Happy Day

I received a phone call this morning at 6:40 from the United States Postal Service informing me that I had a package to pick up as soon as possible. 

I jumped in the shower, threw on my clothes, and rushed off without a bit of make-up.

Yes, my friends, the day has finally arrived.  The day I have longed for, anxiously crossing off calendar dates, to arrive.

Let’s open the box together!

I wish you could’ve heard the dozens of sweet little peeps that were escaping during the transport to my house.

 There they are.  Sweet little baby chicks.  And one with chicken dookie on his back.

 

Unlike human babies, these little darlings came with instructions!

They shouldn’t be handled for the first 24 hours.

They need a  box with  water and a heat lamp.  The temperature needs to be about 98 degrees.

You must take each bird and dip its beak in the water so they can begin drinking.  Also, make sure the water is 98 degrees.

It does them some good to have a little sugar in their water, and to chop up a couple of boiled eggs to give them a strong start.  Boy, did they like those boiled eggs!

You just need to sprinkle their feed in the box, so they can practice pecking for the first day, later they’ll learn to eat from the trough.

They’ve already grown so much today, I know they’ve gained at least 2 ounces each!

Also included in the instructions, way down at the bottom, was the stuff everyone forgets to mention about chicks, like: how to wipe pasty poop that gets stuck on their butt, and what to do when they pull their feathers out and start bleeding, how to prevent the chicks from pecking one another, and as a last resort for pecking how to cut part of their beaks off!!  I will not be doing that.  These chicks will surely behave.

So dear reader, this is my first chicken post.  I say that because I’m sure it will  not be my last. 

Happy pecking!

Posted in Uncategorized

A Horse Story

Spring Break has begun for me today.  I have 9 days off and 900 things on my ever-growing to-do list to accomplish.  Number one being pack, move, and unpack. 

My husband is super busy, and I can’t wait for him, so tonight I packed most of my kitchen, my china, my plates, my Tupperware, and my pots and pans, loaded them into my dad’s yellow truck, and unpacked them out at our new place.  It was dark when I drove up.  “Dark” in the country is a different kind of darkness.  It’s like dark, dark.  There’s no street lights, or neighbor’s porch lights, or flashing neon signs.  I fumbled around with the padlock on the gate using the light from my headlights, constantly looking around for fear of some critter to rub up against my leg or something.  Being in the country in the dark can be a little spooky.

I’ve always been a town girl, and the bottom line about country living is I’m going to have to toughen up.  Plain and simple. 

And perhaps invest in some night vision goggles. 

 As soon as I pulled up to the house, out of the darkness appeared this silhouette of a horse  walking towards me.  It’s not unusual for a horse to greet us when we pull up, thinking we’ve got some groceries on us.  I squinted trying to make out the color and the size of the horse, trying to recognize it.  It was a strange, gray spotted horse that am not familiar with.  I later found out,  J-Dub and some others got horseback today to get a little cowboy work done, and one of his cowboy friends left his horse at our place with the other horses. 

You want to know a little secret?  An unknown fact about me? 

I’m kinda, sorta scared of horses.  I know, I know what you’re thinking.  You’re married to a cowboy and you’re scared of horses?????  Yes, I am.  I have no reason to be afraid.  I’ve never been hurt by one, but they’re big and powerful, and they aren’t the least bit afraid of me.   They walk around with an air of authority and intimidate me.

I then noticed the other three horses came strutting over in a pack, throwing their gang signs. I began unloading some boxes from the back of the truck, ignoring the horses when suddenly I heard a pounding of horse hooves.  Spinning around, trying to allow my eyes to develop night vision, I saw one of the three  horses chasing the strange, gray horse around the pasture at a high rate of speed.   I yelled and they stopped running, but as I was unloading the truck, on my trips in and out of the house, I kept my eye on the behavior of these horses.  The three horses that have been out there and have gotten to know one another, wouldn’t let the new horse around them.  They had decided to form a clique, and like a bunch of junior high girls were bullying this strange horse. Even when the new horse was off minding his own business, the 3 bully horses would saunter over to him and suddenly one of them would break away from the others and charge at the gray horse, causing him to take off running with the bully horse right on his heels.  It was downright unnerving to me.  I could only imagine them running through a fence or running into me carrying a large box.  I wanted to do something but felt helpless and a little bit too scared to take on two charging horses.  Where’s Mr. Ed and  the Horse Whisperer when you need them?

This little cat and mouse chasing bit went on three more times, before they finally settled down somewhere beyond my vision. 

I got my kitchen unpacked and headed back to the truck, greeted this time by the putrid smell of a skunk permeating the air.  He’s probably nesting under my house.

Darkness, unpredictable horses, odorous skunks……..lawsy mercy, this is going to be quite the adventure, and boy had I better get tough or get night goggles.