Eat, Drink and Be Merry

I dreaded it for days–no weeks–prior.  Every time I’d look at them I felt guilty.  But it had to be done.  I had too many free-loading chickens eating me out of house and home and it was time to do some culling.

So Saturday I shipped my daughter off to Nana’s house and got down to business. 

We did seven stewing hens in about 2 hours.  A record time for us!  This is our 5th time butchering and you really do get faster as you get experience. 

I think the first 2 or 3 hens I apologized to and thanked them for their sacrifice, but it got easier.  My husband does the killing and plucking (or skinning) and I do the cutting up part.  It’s a good system for us.  Honestly, what relief I felt (as I do every time) to have less crazy chickens to worry about.  I had 39.  Now I have 32.  39 chickens are too many for me.  Too much drama!  And I was finding myself filling the feeder far too often. 

When we were done processing our stewing hens, my husband came over to me and said, “you know, when you get married you think you know what makes a woman happy…until you see how she looks at you after you kill a chicken.”  My Bright-and-Shining-Farmer.  He knows that getting projects done and worries off my mind is something worth more to me than diamonds.

Now if these new pullets (all 26 of them) will just start laying here soon…  I really hope I don’t have to feed them all winter without recouping any of my costs.  I usually get my chicks in March or April.  I was a little late this year.  Plus I haven’t had any eggs for sale in over a month since the older girls began moulting. 

I kept the five Easter Eggers to assure us of eggs over the winter.  They have been wonderful layers all along and I may keep them an extra year or two if they keep up the good work.  Two of them, Kitten and Sunbeam — they have become pets.  I think they will be with us for a long time.

                     

Once the last of the Black Australorps were gone, Little Boy Blue the cockerel (young rooster) realized his advantage and immediately seized upon it.  He jumped a couple of the EE’s just to show them who was boss.  I dislike him already even though he is good-looking.  Rooster attitude just rubs me the wrong way.  I told him he better watch his back or he’d be next in the pot.  Bad roosters make good dumplings!  As long as he doesn’t get smart with me I’ll allow him to hang around my coop and eat my feed for a while.  This may be the last time I let Murray McMurray Hatchery trick me into falling for their “free” rooster ploy…

Blue Splash Andalusian cockerel

Eat, drink and be merry.  That’s the life of a chicken.  They take no thought for tomorrow (Matt. 6:25-26).  They just enjoy today.  Eating, dust bathing, laying in the sun, chasing bugs, eat some more, go to bed early, get up early and do it all over again… Isn’t that how we all should be?  And not worrying about things we’ve put off until tomorrow.  I’m a little jealous of how easily it comes for them.  I’m going to have to start channelling my inner chicken.  Especially the early bird part, because I am so not.

It’s been a couple of days now and my daughter has not noticed that there are any chickens missing at all.  She has plenty left to entertain her.

One evening not long ago when we were having barbecue chicken for dinner, my little girl got out of her chair, drumstick in hand and looked out the window and declared, “thank you chickens for my chicken!”  She really likes her chickens, but her statement rings truer than she at this age can quite know.

Always got a chicken in her arms! 

A Little Color on a Dreary Day

It has been unseasonably cold the past few days.  I’ve been a little under the weather anyways and this dark, chilly day makes me want to take some more NyQuil and go back to bed.

I had to go outside to feed the chickens and get the mail, so Ava and I stopped to smell the roses (and pick some strawberries) along the way. 

These are a few shots of what is still in bloom in my garden this early October.  Knowing that winter is on its way, I’m going to try to appreciate all this color while I still can!  Two more weeks and we’ll be looking for our first frost…

Click on any of the images below to see a larger version.

Tomorrow will mark two years since my husband’s father went to be with Jesus.  He was always one to stop and smell the roses and encouraged others to do the same.  You can see pictures of some of his famous roses and read the tribute I wrote for him last year here.  I hate that my daughter wasn’t old enough to get to know him.  He was really an amazing person and more like a father to me than an “in-law”.

Wooly Bear

The wooly bear caterpillars are back.  We’ve been finding them everywhere the past couple of days.

Ava found this little guy this morning and has been carrying him around all day, riding on the back of her hand or the tip of her finger.

She’s been so gentle with him.  She’s not afraid of any bugs, except spiders!

So if a frog kisses a caterpillar, will it turn into a prince…er, moth?  Wrong story…

She has to have a critter of some sort with her throughout the day.  Usually it’s a chicken.  Let’s hope the two don’t meet up.  It wouldn’t work out well for the caterpillar.

Most wooly bears I’ve seen have 3 bands.  I wonder if this long orange band means it will be a really long winter?  Usually by January, you at least feel like it will never end.

We’ve spent most of today (and yesterday) working on getting things ready for winter.  BW is cleaning the chimney right now.  The wooly bear and Ava are “helping”.

Right now I am looking forward to fall/winter.  I am ready for some downtime.  I am ready to break out my craft supplies and do some inside things…

Chicken Wrangler

Persistence pays and my child is learning that at a very young age.

Barefoot, in the rain, chasing chickens…

Feed the Dog

I had forgotten about this video and just came across it today.  This is Ava, 2-years-old, this time last year (as I can tell from the sunflowers and the canning paraphenalia in the background.)

She was throwing her dinner to the dog, saying “boop!” with each bite she tossed.  So funny!

I look at her now and think, how on earth did I end up with a preschooler so fast?  Where’d my baby go?  I don’t feel so far off from those days when I realize she was just in diapers this time last year. 

I gotta get this kid a brother or sister before she takes over the world!  LOL

Winning the War

Last night I enjoyed a significant victory in the battle over picky toddler eating habits.  11 o’clock at night, my darling three-year-old finally ate her chicken leg.  The whole thing.  And she even found out that she likes chicken.

Yes, I take it a little bit personal.  Not only for having slaved over a hot stove, but because I personally raised, butchered and processed that little chicken leg.

There’s no tossing it in the trash.  Even the dog is not worthy to eat it.  Prior to developing my winning strategy, the best I could do was eat it myself or pack it in daddy’s lunch for tomorrow.  It places a whole other aspect of value on your food when you raise it yourself.  I know how many hours it took, the sweat, the effort.  I knew that chicken personally.  Sure…I could buy it cheaper in the store, but it wouldn’t taste as good or be as clean and healthy.

Nope, picky eaters will not be tolerated in this house.  I am laying down the law.  If you don’t eat your dinner, then there will be no snacks!  I will wrap your plate and put it in the fridge.  Just let me know when you want me to heat that up for you!

Toddler Eating Habits

I baited Ava to eat her salad last night by cutting up strawberries and mixing them in.  They say if you present a certain food to your baby/toddler repeatedly that they will eventually accept it.  We have salad almost every day.  She still has not accepted it.  Twice she ate her whole salad because she was very hungry and I gave it to her while she was waiting for dinner to cook.  That only worked twice, never again.

Here she is nearly finished picking out all the strawberries.  Then she asked me for more.  I said no, so she moved on to the cucumbers (pickles, as per Ava).  When she’d finished hers, she decided to pick all the “pickles” out of Daddy’s salad.  Occasionally a piece of lettuce would cling to the cucumber and make it down the hatch unnoticed.  Once the strawberries and “pickles” were gone, she pecked around on the cheese for a bit and dipped her fingers in the salad dressing and licked it off.  And that was that.

 

This is how she eats her eggs.  EVERYTHING must be dipped, even scrambled eggs.  Once all the jelly is gone, she’ll eat the toast.

But not the crust.  Of course…

The chickens will get the leftovers.

This is how she eats french toast.  This was the first (and last) time I made it for her.

She systematically licked all the syrup and powdered sugar off the toast.  Not a bite of toast passed her lips.  Then she bounced off the walls until nap time.  I put her in the bed and she continued to bounce until she finally passed out.  No more french toast for this girl.

Oh, and I forgot to mention that while she likes oatmeal, she prefers to eat it dry.  Plain, dry, rolled oats.  She will come back repeatedly and beg for more.

Every so often, when I make something she actually likes (or if she senses that I am about to give up and cry) she will look up at me sweetly from over her plate and say, “Mommy, you’re a good cook!”

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