Chicken Confession

They say admittance is the first step toward recovery. In a previous blog, I spoke about how chickens were like potato chips, you can’t have just one. I felt that we were at a point where we had the perfect amount of chickens for us. We were handling them, they were all well taken care of, everyone was getting along, and in the back of my mind I was thinking, we probably have enough. I was kind of proud of myself, and I thought maybe I’m really not the crazy chicken lady. What I failed to notice is what was happening around me.

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You know how when you have a baby there are different stages of care, and as the baby grows and becomes a toddler, and then later is out of diapers, things start to seem easier and the thought of having another baby becomes less of a desire? Well that is kind of what was happening to me with the chickens. When we first started with all the chicks, we loved them and held and handled them a ton, and really enjoyed all of their sweet chirping. But as they grew, were able to go outside, and then began laying eggs, they were so much easier than the chicks, and I thought you know we are good, no more chicks for a while. It’s usually about that time when boom, life hands you a surprise.

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My phone rang one afternoon, the kids were visiting a friend, and found a chick (a sweet little fluffy chick) “Mom, we think it’s a silkie!” (Exactly what I did not want to hear) “Mom, we need your help, please.” They insisted that I needed to drive across town exactly at that moment, because its chicken mom had attacked it and was rejecting the chick. Now they know how to tug at my heartstrings poor little fluff ball needed help. So in the car I went, to pick up a very tiny little cotton ball chick, we got her home and all set up in the barn, hoping that she would do as well as all of the other chicks we had hand raised. To say within a couple of days she flourished would be an understatement, she knew this was her new home and she was happy.

Okay I know what you all are thinking, one more chicken. One more white fluffy chicken that hardly will make a difference in the grand scheme of things. Agreed! But do you really think it stopped at just little fluffy Agnes?

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This is where the tables turn. You see, I am not the crazy chicken lady; I am though married to the CRAZY CHICKEN MAN!

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While sitting in the classroom with Dylan, Kayton walks in and announces that the chicks were back at Tractor Supply. I told her I knew I had noticed them the last time I was there the week before getting feed… I paused for a moment, thought about her statement then dismissed it, no they wouldn’t have gotten any chicks. A few seconds passed and I asked Kayton where Daddy was, she replied, “In the barn…. Putting the chicks in the cage with Agnes.” WHAT! Wait, chicks? Chicks as in must buy a minimum of 6 chicks? Here we go again! What did he get? They call them Asian Blue’s…. whatever that is? Into the barn I go to see 6 little black chicks, hopping around with Agnes. I gave him the look (you wives know the look I am talking about), only this was the look of seriously Jody more chickens?! The plan for these 6 I am not exactly sure… so that’s it right?

 

WRONG!

I was getting ready to leave the farm for a few days for an out of state baby shower. Before leaving a BIG box is delivered (thank you Amazon Prime), I never really saw what was in the box, but we get lots of stuff delivered so I didn’t really think anything of it. We head down to Florida for 3 nights, and then return. It was at the airport that I was informed we were on day 4. Day 4? What does that mean? 17 days left… I thought I must have lost something in translation. They will hatch in 17 more days, my chicken loving man says. They will hatch? How will they hatch? Why will they hatch? HATCH?! “Yes I put some eggs in the incubator I bought off of Amazon.” It was at this point I realized I HAVE CREATED A MONSTER! Let me get this straight, you put them in the incubator the day I left? YEP! And in 17 days we will have another flock of chicks? YEP! There better be an olive egger in this bunch that is all I am going to say. He smiles and said, “oh there will be a few!” Redemption!

So hatching day should be coming up soon, I’m not going to tell him, but I’m pretty excited about it!

As for Agnes and the other 6 they are all doing quite well.  They have grown pretty quickly and will be moving into some bigger housing in another week or so, just in time for the little house to get the newly hatched flock.

What’s IMPORTANT!

You know the nursery rhythm about the old woman who lived in a shoe…. She had so many kids she didn’t know what to do? Well if that nursery rhythm was modern-day it would be about poor interstate 75. I’m sure like the rest of the South East, North East, South West, or United States, everyone is either comforted by the constant talk about Hurricane Irma or they are sick and tired of hearing about it.

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For us here, we had a very personal involvement in it. Since I was born and raised in the sunshine state, and we as a family have many we love and care about there we waited like many residents, along with locals here who also had loved ones in harm’s way. We opened our home up to those who felt they needed to get out of harms way, and the joke was depending on how many came, all porches, stalls, and floor space was going to be accounted for. As we all watched the destruction tear through islands we as a family have spent a lot of time on, made memories while visiting, and left tiny pieces of our hearts on. We couldn’t help but be nervous for our hometown, our people. What an event like this does is show many people true colors, we see many thinking of others, and unfortunately we also see those who capitalize on the vulnerability of others. Our hometown of Tarpon Springs was spared for the most part, even though many lost trees, had some flooding, or have been without power, for the most part they were spared. Our friends in the islands, and the Keys were not.

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As family and friends came to the mountains to escape the storm, bringing the essentials, their pets, saying goodbye to their homes their solitude for what could have been the last time, reflection happens. What are your top 10, what are your top 5, if you were told to leave get to safety, what are the true priorities. All those who fled with their pets, BRAVO, to all those who accepted the displaced evacuated pets BRAVO to you too! It is often said what I love most about my home is who I share it with. As many who are left with nothing but those special people in their lives, they can rebuild.

So what can we take away from this, here on the farm, I always try to look for an application or a lesson. We were all created with an innate resiliency, both animals and humans, one where for the most part we can bounce back, or react, or readjust. Dogs, that are not used to other dogs, during times of high stress can somehow get along in a dwelling with other animals. A cat that hates the car, can often times be aloof or sometimes grumpy, can ride for 12+ in a car, only to arrive at a farm with dogs, cats, and a slew of other creatures and handle it, even when being introduced to dogs. Children can handle not sleeping in their beds or even their rooms, they willing share it with someone they feel needs the space more for the time being. A house of 4, during times of need can function as a house of 9 or 10. Stress, emotions, lack of sleep, differences of opinions, discomfort, all are normal during times of high tension, but when it’s all said and done, knowing in any way you can assist those who need help in one way or another, you are willing and insist on helping.

As the death toll numbers continue to grow, as people continue to suffer in one way or another, remember it isn’t what we say, or sometimes what we even do but it’s how we make others feel that they will remember when these life stress triggers zap! Everyone is fighting their own fight, sometimes the fights are big sometimes they are small, but love covers a multitude.

Now here’s the distraction, I know if many of you are like me, sometimes we need one, a good chuckle or feel good story. In this case I will provide you all with a visual. A couple of weeks ago, our vet came to do an ultra sound on our little chocolate mini donkey Shawnee. Shawnee took one look at the ultrasound and with a look of you are going to stick that where, she took off running, her little legs moving as fast as can be. We thought it would be a good idea to use a lead rope to secure her from running again, as I looped it around her neck, she took off, with me attached wearing flip-flops and slalom skiing right out of the barn right towards the gate where she planned her great escape. I was not about to give up, but the faster she ran, and the further and further I was pulled and whipped, the harder I laughed, thinking this is why one does not wear flip flops in the barn, this is also why one does not use a lead rope without a halter and this is also why my life is always interesting. So with everything that everyone is dealing with right now in this moment, remember a good laugh and a long sleep are the two best cures for anything.

Sometimes life stinks….and it’s okay to say it!

There is a saying… “Mostly it is loss which teaches us the worth of things.” I would like to think as a human who has lost many important people throughout my lifetime, that I can see the worth of those around  that we love before we ever have to lose them, and that’s what makes losing them so difficult.

When the children were small I use to read them a book called, “Alexander, and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.” If today were a book it would be called Kayton, and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. We all have those days in life right, where you think will this day ever end?  Where you can’t wait until bedtime so you can close your eyes to the day you just endured. Today was one of those days.

The day started with a drive to the orthodontist so Kayton could get her braces on. For anyone that has ever had braces it isn’t a jump up with excitement kind of time. It’s a tedious ordeal, that concludes with having a metal smile, that takes some getting use to, along with a very sore mouth that you never really get use to.

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Today was also Donkey Day. A day that we have been waiting for, along with lots here in our town, both friends, acquaintances and even some strangers who read the blog in other areas far and near. We quickly learned through this process that things don’t always happen as one would hope, dream, or even sometimes wish.

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Our little grey girl Christina, stole our hearts when she came to the farm one year ago, when we learned not long after her arrival here that she was expecting a little longears we were completely thrilled. She’s a special little mini, one that is loved easily by all who meet her, she is gentle, sweet, and loves attention. After many months and then many more months, we started to see that Christina was growing with each passing month but when 12 months became 15 months we started to get worried. After careful conversation with the previous owner, and our vet, we estimated that this pregnancy had gone on for we believe several months too long. So this morning Christina was given a low dose shot not to start contractions but one that would help her body if it were truly ready to begin the process. When we returned home from the orthodontist, it seemed that the process had begun. Christina was pacing, restless, laying down, getting up, pawing at the ground, all the “signs of labor” I had been watching for since May were finally here. She was being very closely monitored, and it seemed like she was handling it all pretty well. As the evening progressed our vet came back over to check Christina and her progress, and thought and even warned us that the baby appeared to be breach.

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When you are an adult you hear what’s being said, but you also hear what isn’t being said, I started to realize that this wasn’t going to go the way I was (everyone) was hoping it would, this was going to be complicated. When you are 11 you don’t even really know what breach means, you are on the wave of excitement. The innocence and love of a child is such a blessing!

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The labor continued to progress and I continued to stay stationed in the barn, and look for the continued signs. As the sunset, and the farm grew quiet, Christina became more agitated, more vocal, and now had all the symptoms of full-blown labor. Suddenly the moment we had waited over a year for happened, we saw a bubble, as I watched the bubble protrude and get pushed further and further out with every contraction, our one fear was accurate, the foal was breach. The sac though looked different from every picture I had looked at, totally different than the goats, and not at all what our vet described, it was BRIGHT BLOOD RED! As Christina gave one last push, there completely enclosed in the sac was a tiny little donkey. Dr. Jessica was here just in time, freed the baby that was trapped, and began the heart wrenching task of stimulating this little black foal, to take a breath. As the minutes marched on the harsh reality of what we were really witnessing smacked us right in the face.

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Our little baby who we nurtured, talked about, wrote about, thought about, and planned for, over the last 16 months was gone! We lost our little donkey (it was a boy). Christina apparently had something wrong with her placenta, and it was so thick that the baby wasn’t getting the nutrition or the oxygen that it needed, this could have been one of the reasons she was so overdue, and was also the reason for the sac being so thick and red. We are so very sad, Christina is even in mourning, this was a tough one.

Goodbyes hurt the most, when the story was not finished.  As someone we hold near and dear said this evening, “Don’t ever let life make you sour to the beautiful things God has created for us to experience and enjoy.”

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Thank you Dr. Jessica for your love, support, amazing care, and promptness. There is not another vet we would want to call our friend or have as part of our family.

 

Love to laugh…

One of my favorite movies as a child, and still even now is Mary Poppins, I can still sing the words to almost every song, and I always appreciated how Mary had a real way of making even the menial sometimes miserable chores seem fun and enjoyable. I also loved how she was stern when she needed to be yet she was respected and admired for it. One of my favorite scenes in the movie is when they laughed so hard when visiting  a friend that they ended up having tea on the ceiling. Who can watch that scene and not relate to all of the different laughs people can use, and it really shows how infectious laughter is.

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Some people refer to laughter as medicine. Others say it’s contagious, however you refer to this outburst of joy, no one can deny how it is often necessary, sometimes spontaneous and really is chicken soup for the soul. I have found in life that when times are dark, when things get hard, the first thing that is usually missing is some type of joy, some kind of laughter. Laughing at stupidity, laughing at a joke, laughing at yourself, laughing alone, with family, or friends, is a blessing.

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My family is laughers, we sometimes laugh loud, hardy, boisterous laughs that scare or catch others off guard, we have been known to get a case of the giggles at times when we shouldn’t and later when we think about it start all over again with tears running down our face.

Here on the farm we are surrounded by comedians, which perform stand up comedy routines, daily. Some are funny looking, some are funny acting, and some purposely do things to get a reaction from you. We are living many of the viral videos I see posted on social media, the videos of funny goats, crazy chickens, floppy clumsy puppies, or people who attempt something only to suffer great fails. Goats really do run and bounce off any and everything around them, puppies really do fall over their own feet, and people really do get drug in flip-flops attempting to hold still pregnant donkeys (okay maybe that video hasn’t gone viral yet). The term funny farm isn’t really a stretch.

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I find myself in the barn, the pasture, the goat pasture, the coop smiling, not because the task is always enjoyable but because the creatures here at Firefly Acres are always ready to perform, ready to take something menial, or miserable and make it fun. The animals are Mary; they know with every job that must be done there is an element of fun. This is life isn’t for sissies, or for the faint of heart… it isn’t something where everyone can take the day off, or one person can handle it all. But when we don’t sweat the small stuff, when we work together as a team, when we find the humor, the chores become less of a chore, and the time we spend doing these chores go by faster. This is something that young or old can surely benefit from, laughter is an instant vacation, it can transport you to a place that on the outside appears normal, dismal, or nothing special, into a moment that is enjoyable, memorable, and treasured.

When my grandmother was in her final fight for her life, we were sitting around my parent’s house just existing together really. This particular evening she was up sitting in the living room with us, from an outsider looking in, this would be what many would define in the moment as an uneventful, maybe even a bad night. The details of what transpired I do not recall, other than my French Bull Dog comedian brother Harley got very excited about something and with that excitement came drool, and some how that drool found it’s way into my son Dylan’s mouth. What transpired after that was a sprint to the restroom with the dull sound of dry heaving in the background, we though couldn’t hear those sounds because we were laughing so hard, so loud, and with such gut wrenching force that Gigi almost fell off of the couch. We all needed that moment (Dylan will say he definitely did not need that moment) but that memory, her laugh, the look on her face, the uncontrollable tears that resulted are etched into my brain, and the brain of all those that were there on that night. I truly believe what is written there is a time to weep and a time to laugh.

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When our friends and family come to the farm, we laugh, we enjoy one another’s company, we watch the comedians perform, we laugh at some who visits phobias, and we laugh till it hurts or until we can’t hold our bladders anymore. We create memories from time spent together. We take a break even if it’s just for a moment to laugh through our noses, because we love to laugh, loud and long and clear.