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.

Where my GOAT at?

So all those stories that were shared with us…. The stories about Billy Goats, the stories about the goat cologne and the like, shockingly accurate. Several weeks after the birth of the three babies, Friedrich our resident leash walking Billy decided it was time for the ladies to start noticing him again. I guess he assumed his children were old enough for him to move back in with his ladies. The guys around here started telling me stories about Friedrich peeing in their general direction, about him rearing up, about him becoming more aggressive with them in and around the barn. And I thought to myself, Friedrich my sweet little friendly man?

The week of the eclipse came, and as we were all looking and worrying about the effects on the animals, much of which was completely crazy. Friedrich became more and more atypical billy like. The day of the eclipse we had some friends here enjoying the amazing experience, by the way being in the line of totality was not all hype it was unbelievable.

As the eclipse passed, Friedrich decides to come over to the back pool deck and say hello to all our guests, it was at this point that I started noticing, he wasn’t my sweet little boy anymore he was a hormonal billy that wanted to do billy-goat things.

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The very next week Dylan was in the barn mucking stalls and he came running in saying Friedrich won’t leave me alone in the barn, he keeps trying to pee on me, and butt me. My first reaction was to laugh, I thought seriously you are afraid of Friedrich, Jody walked out to the stalls and moved him into the pasture, only Friedrich was making this noise I had never heard from his goat mouth. Dylan said, “That goat is crazy, he was trying to lick me!” Lick you I said. What in the world! The next weekend we had company here visiting, and Friedrich did not disappoint, he chased us girls down in the side pasture, he sang a weird song every time he saw us, and you guessed it attempted to lick us every chance he got! (If you see me in person I can mimic this behavior with pretty amazing accuracy)

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The question came to mind, now what!? What are we going to do with this weird hormonal goat? How about a goat stud service? There has to be a need for this around here, he really makes some beautiful babies.

So that is exactly what we did, I’m not sure it is going to be a new business venture or anything, goat pimping, but right now he is at the neighboring farm helping bring some “kids” into this world.

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He is a happy goat, temporarily apart of a new “lonely goatherd” singing his little “O ho lay dee odl lee o, o ho lay dee old ay O ho lay dee odl lee o, lay dee odl lee o lay.” 

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Meanwhile, here our “kids” are really growing, hopping, rearing, and getting more and more mischievous everyday. They daily interact with each other, the chickens, and us. And if you ever think you are having a bad day, watch little goat’s play it is not possible to watch them interact and not at the very least smile.

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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.

 

Everybody Does IT!

Certain subjects can produce reactions in different types of people, like women, somehow when a group of women get together childbirth stories, or talks about hormones, at some point seems to come up. Some women have horrific stories of labor and delivery; others talk about hot flashes and menopause. Young or old, it’s a subject that somehow bonds the masses. Men though talk about much different topics, sports, beer, cars, how they got a particular scar,  hunting, or grilling. Kids both boys and girls, between the ages of about 4-8 seem to get an absolute kick out of talking about poop, their own, their siblings, an animal, it’s a topic that often embarrasses the mothers and cracks up the fathers. It’s such a fun topic for children that there is even books about it. Imagine a child’s reaction in this age group to the farm, where we have lots of well POOP!

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It never fails whenever anyone comes to the farm, within moments we can tell how the visit is going to go. If they immediately start high-stepping through the pasture like they are walking on hot coals, we know that they haven’t spent much time around horses, or the like. I always laugh when we have kids come to the farm, and we hear oh my are those your…. Before they can even say horses, either giggling or eeewww it’s pooping follows it.

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This is probably the point you all are like really? Is she really blogging about poop? The short answer I guess is yes.

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You see like with everything else here, there was a learning curve. We honestly didn’t know how to handle or what to do with it all. It’s something after the age of 8 stops becoming amusing, and there is no manure for dummies books out there. So we had to learn on the fly (literally). This is where things started to get really really interesting. After several months, of waiting for it to break down, moving it around, and using it as fertilizer we realized this was not working, there was WAY to much of it. So we decided to build an area where we moved it all, we got some composting worms, and allowed them to do their thing. Then came some discussions with people asking us if we were going to sell it? Sell it? Are you kidding me, who would? Wait people actually pay for poop? This made me laugh. So my husband the Craigslist King, decided he was going to check  out the market for manure sales. Well I grew impatient and wanted the stuff gone, so we opted to put an ad up for free manure. And I’m sure you all know what happened next.

The phone calls started coming through, and Jody and I both became 7 years old again, every single time the phone would ring and we would hear someone say, “we are calling about the manure you have on Craigslist” (insert obnoxious laughter).

'I'm collecting manure for my strawberries.' 'I always put cream and sugar on mine.'

Suddenly the pile started to dwindle, we had people come in trucks, we had people bring trailers, we had a woman in a mini van drive an hour to load her van full for her potato farm. I now know more about manure than I ever dreamed possible, and it started as one of the few things here I gave little to no thought. What I thought the animals did with everything I researched feeding them is completely beyond me. But just like anything else in life, the more you are around something and the more you do something the more you learn, the more it becomes second nature. You can choose to embrace it (let’s hope not literally), or fight it. If only we were as smart as a guy I just recently read about named Brett Reinford, who converted manure from his cattle into electricity, he went from spending $2,500 a month on electricity for his farm to absolutely nothing, that is amazing.

Since we don’t live on a Suessical Farm where everyone’s a pony that eats rainbows and poops butterflies, we will continue to have a plan for poop, because what goes in certainly does come out.

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What are they all looking at?

I’m sure everyone has seen those dinner bells on the front porches of homes, most of the time they are depicted on older television shows, or in a farm setting like we have here. The wife prepares dinner and calls everyone in using this dinner bell. Living here on the farm I have realized that the bell would be a waste and definitely not needed. In fact we have become almost secret service agents in an attempt to not alert anyone around to our whereabouts yet somehow they always seem to know.

A typical day here on the farm is coffee (because life without it would be scary) and then the morning check in. We make sure everyone is present and accounted for, and then the job of feeding the masses begins. Dogs, cats, chickens, ducks, goats, sheep, donkeys and horses, are you out of breath? As the day progresses we personally check on everyone make sure they all have water, we listen for odd noises (like baby Kurt whose new budding horns got stuck in the fence so he screams until someone frees him). This week has been an interesting week for odd things. You see normally when the masses even here a peep they all start making themselves know, the squeaky wheel gets the oil they say how about the loudest screamer gets fed first. It seems that no matter where I turn there is a set of eyes staring at me.

It is a very common thing to walk towards my car, walk out on the porch, drive thru the front gate or even when I’m on the phone, someone will hear me and demand something from me. Since I think I have learned how to speak the foreign languages of Christina the donkey, Gretl the goat, Feather Locklear the chicken, Ellie Mae the duck, and whatever language Zuri and Zahara the sheep speak, I have been able to discern for the most part what exactly everyone is needing or wanting. For instance, if I go into the barn to put feed into the feed bins you will hear the sheep begin to baaaaa at a volume that is almost shocking for their size, which will get Christina and Shawnee braying so loudly that if you are inside not aware of what is happening you would assume they are in labor (one can dream at least), which will get Friedrich the goat bleating for food, attention or because he just wants to be louder than the ladies, which will get Beep Beep crowing so loud from the chicken coop that he could wake the neighbors down the road. I know this sounds like a bad soundtrack to a farm based horror movie, but you get so accustomed to the noises that if you don’t hear them you begin to get nervous. It’s exactly like when your children decide to play quietly, you immediately run to check on them because something has to be really wrong.

The other night I walked outside and looked over towards the pasture, at the chicken coop, and I see all of the chickens and ducks jammed up in the smaller section of the oversized enclosure.  Now this was a very odd sight because there has never been a time when the chickens see me that they all don’t run towards me and towards the area they know I am going to enter, this time though they all just stood huddle together and not making a peep. This was concerning, so I decided it was time to investigate, which made everyone come alive, wanting attention, food or to just be heard, so much so that for a moment I was distracted and almost lost sight of what I was really doing out there. As I entered the enclosure a couple of the ladies came towards me, but the majority stayed huddled all together, and I got a sinking feeling like maybe something is in the coop trying to attack them, as I threw down some treats for them, I noticed Heidi Plume (one of my Columbian Wyandotte’s) hanging out in the nesting box, but where was Cruella DeHen her Wyandotte sister? And then I saw her, almost completely flat like a little pancake stuck between the big main enclosure and the small coop where we put the smaller chickens that we raise. She was bleeding, and it didn’t appear she was even blinking. I yelled for Jody, because getting her out was going to be no easy task, we had to pick up the small coop, and move it so we could free her.

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At this exact moment our vet Dr. Jessica was driving in to check the still very pregnant Christina, so Cruella immediately got checked out, she was going to be okay but she did have a broken tail, her neck was missing most of her gorgeous feathers, and her skin was severely bruised. We still have no idea how she got in there, or how long she was in there, but she lived to tell about it, and is now separate from her girlfriends because chickens will bully or peck at the one they feel is injured or weak, so at night she sleeps in her own secure area and during the day we allow her to hang out with the goats and Heidi, until two days later, when she apparently convinced Heidi to squeeze into the very same spot we rescued her from before…..apparently chickens do not have memories like elephants.

What I have learned from being a mother to human and non-humans is noise signifies life, the louder sometimes the more alive. Although we can often bask in the quiet and feel that silence is golden, if it lasts too long, and it’s an animal or a child investigate. Cruella is improving although her tail is crooked, and her feathers don’t look like they will come back around her neck, she is alive and we are hoping she doesn’t continue to try to make herself into a chicken patty. And tonight just like the night before, all of the farm sang their song as soon as they heard me coming in their direction, and as usual all eyes were on me, all of them rudely staring so unapologetically.

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As the saying goes people (animals) are going to stare, make it worth their while.

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Chandler Meets Kramer

Déjà vu…. How do you define it? It’s a French term that basically means something you have already seen or something you’ve already lived through. Or how about the feeling where you meet someone brand new, but you feel like you have known him or her for years. This past week we experienced a little bit of both, as we returned to Winchester, Kentucky.

The day had finally arrived and with the tough week I had experienced I was reluctant to make the trip especially in pain, but I figured that sitting in a car in a reclining position wouldn’t set me back too far in my recovery. This time I wouldn’t be driving; Jody was coming along, as well as Dylan, Kayton and Chandler. (Phoebe’s condition isn’t  conducive to long traveling anymore) As you can imagine, the car is full of excitement for some and what in the world is happening for one.

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Then begins the déjà vu as we crossed the state line into TN, the rain began. Three hours later as we crossed the KY state line the rain continued and continued and continued. As we pulled into Flanagan Springs, there was no sign of the rain diminishing. We pulled through the gate and up the drive and the rain kept falling. Now after such a long ride in the car even with a couple stops, if you are 1-year-old Setter, you have had just about enough of well setting. So out Chandler came, to be greeted by Chandler Doppelganger’s. One’s that weren’t quite as large as he is but were just as friendly, and suddenly this semi confident boy became a big ole baby. We were reunited with Susan who took us around the corner to find our sweet little man, and we all felt it again love at first sight.

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We decided the weather was not going to rain on our parade, so we walked up to see Flag Kramer’s dad, along with the other puppies, the wild rumpus began. In the rain down the drive to the lower field Chandler the puppy pied piper led the crew.

 

One puppy in particular became completely enthralled with Chandler, that puppy knew exactly who his big brother was. It made me have flash backs to the day Dylan first laid eyes on Kayton and he asked us, “Is that mine?”

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At this point we were all soaked, the puppies were wet and muddy, Chandler was wet and muddy, but we didn’t let it stop us, in fact nobody seemed to really care. Not long after going down to the lower field the sun came out from behind a BIG BLACK CLOUD. And then the real fun began for Chandler and all the puppies. They ran, they chased, they handed out dozens of puppy kisses, they did everything puppies want to do, and need to do, and Chandler all 85 lbs of him did it too. Chandler was reunited with his dad Brandon, who 1 year ago looked like a giant compared to Chandler only now stood shorter and leaner next to his son.

Any apprehension about these two boys I had, born exactly one year apart (Memorial Day 2016 and Memorial Day 2017) had vanished. They immediately bonded. Before we made the long trek home, these dirty dogs needed baths, and to say some goodbyes to Susan, the puppies, and the new friends we had met (the new owners of another litter mate Copper). As we loaded Chandler and Kramer in the car, it hit me again the déjà vu only this time as I was looking at the paper work. It wasn’t just the Flanagan Springs name across the top or the fact we were pulling down the very same drive with another precious family member, it was the date July 28, 2017, and thanks to good ole Facebook and the “on this day” feature I was quickly reminded that one year ago on the exact same day, I was pulling down this very same drive with Chandler, life can be ironic sometimes.

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7-28-17 Picking up Kramer

The drive home was LONG, and by LONG I mean LONG. The rain started again, and came down, sideways and at times almost appeared to even fall upward. The traffic was awful, Google Maps kept redirecting us around numerous accidents and road hazards, a 4.5 hour drive started to look more like 6 hours, and just as we had spoken to Susan and Copper’s new parents about the questions started.  When we stopped for gas, stopped for potty and stopped for food, people come out of the woodwork with questions and comments. What kind of dog is that? Where did you get them? They are so soft. They are so cute. Is it a mix? Is it a long-haired Dalmatian (always my personal favorite)? So we become walking talking spokespeople for a breed that we think is AMAZINGLY special. The two new “friends” Chandler and Kramer did perfect on the ride home, even with all the delays, the children they were just like any siblings on road trips, only it wasn’t the normal “Dylan is touching me, Kayton is being annoying” no this time it was “Dylan is hogging Kramer” or “Kayton keeps messing with the puppy trying to take him from me!” Awww how cute they are fighting over the puppy… Jody and I smiled, and thought wouldn’t it just be wonderful if we heard them fighting over feeding and taking the puppy outside (yes I know but parents can dream).

The two great 90’s comedy sitcoms aren’t just running as an old rerun on Nick at Night. New episodes are being created here on the farm, in fact in just two days lots has already been filmed along with plenty of blooper footage, first episode, “The one where Kramer discovers Sinatra” or “The one where Kramer’s noises scare Chandler” or “The one where Kramer meets the French Man”….

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So for all those wondering what a Friends-Seinfeld cross-over looks like, well it’s black and white, set in the country and kind of barks at you!

Welcome to the Farm Kramer!

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