Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Just a few snaps of the newest little chicks. Two light colored ones and one little dark one.

The proud pappa.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Big News!

When I went out to feed and water the chickens today, I found only 6 eggs waiting for me. That's pretty unusual since we have been collecting 10-12 per day. So I searched under each of the two broody hens in case some other persistent little hen laid a couple of eggs in with the incubating eggs. And look what I found.......

There are three little fuzzy headed babies under there. One yellow and two dark chicks. Only one is brave to peek out from under it's momma's warm belly feathers. I just took a quick glance because I didn't want to chill the little guys. Some of them are still damp. I can't wait until the momma hen takes them for their first walk around the coop to show the other hens what they are missing! Motherhood! (Or "henhood" ?)
It's exciting to see this next step in our family's journey to food independence actually taking place. Now if I could just get the tomatoes to make before the first frost. It's going to be a race.......tune in!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

A couple of weeks ago my youngest received his small flock of banty chicks from the hatchery. His plan is to raise these adorable little birds to show at our county fair. Then maybe sell several for backyard layers. (He is an entrepreneur at heart). The banty babies proved to be a challenge to keep alive the first few days home. The fact that NW Montana was experiencing one of it's wettest, coolest springs in recent memory didn't help. In the same box that the banties were shipped, we also received seven "filler" chicks. These chicks were used to keep the banties warm in transit and were labeled "red star roosters". While the banites struggled to survived the next couple of weeks, these little roos did great. They grew fast and fat and at three weeks they were bursting from their small rubber tub. So I introduced them to the rest of the coop. At first they stayed in an unused rabbit cage placed in the floor of the coop. This way they could be in contact with the other mature birds but remain separated until all were acclimated to each other. It also kept them safe from any surprise visits from marauders that might find their way into the coop at night since they weren't roosting in the rafters with the other birds. (We have not had any night time marauders in the coop yet..... domestic dogs not with standing. But you never can tell when a surprise visit might occur. I've heard tales of unsuspecting farmers opening coop doors first thing in the morning to find carnage from coon attacks the night before.)

Anywhoo, I guess it was all the peeping of the little roos that caught the attention of the black broody hen who had so faithfully stayed on her clutch of eggs all these many weeks. Because no sooner had I placed the new little guys in the coop that the broody hen jumped off her nest of unhatched eggs and came right down beside the rabbit hutch. She marched up and down the outside of the cage purring and cooing. When I let the little birds out to see what would happen, she snuggled up to them trying to cover the half grown chicks with her wings. She was convinced that this was her long in coming family. She ran at the other birds who got too close. She bluff charged the red puppy who was only sniffing the new babies. She puffed up and chased the big roosters with warning calls. At first the smaller birds didn't know what to think about this pushy, black hen that was so insistently trying to mother them. But it didn't take long until they were following her around as she demonstrated how to scratch at the soil to unearth small bugs. When she happened on a worm, she called to the family to partake In "the greatness that is worm". At night, when it was time to fly to the rafters for sleep, she made a nest in the floor straw because the little clutch of roosters didn't understand roosting yet. I'm sure she will teach them. It's only a matter of time. She's a wonderful mother to orphaned little boy chickens. Today I found them all huddled up on the floor in the corner of the coop in a small pile taking a nap while their "mother" kept watch. I'm glad they found each other. The little black hen deserves a family for all her patience. The little roos need a mother to teach them how to get along in the community of others. I'm glad we were able to watch the amazing way nature takes care of it's own. I'm happy to know a God that made it all.

Side note: What happened to the nest of eggs that the little black hen was sitting on? Amazingly enough, another hen stepped up and, without complaint, took her place on the nest. Now she is patiently waiting for the eggs to open and give her a new family, too. Will wonders never cease? I hope not......

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Clothes pins and laundry baskets

I love hanging my clean laundry on the line out back behind my house. I love the actual act of pulling the damp clothes out of the washer, lugging the clothes tub out into the yard and one by one, pinning the wet items to the line. It's one of the best chores I do. Hanging laundry ranks up there with soaking beans for supper and baking bread. Plus, it's a really easy way to save a few bucks. The breezes are free for the taking. I love the smell of the freshly dried clothes and I often bury my face in the cleanness of them. My kids like to do that, too. But I think the real reason I like to hang out my clean clothes to dry is that the actual act of drying can't be sped up. It's like cooking in the crock pot. Slow. In my really (sometimes impossibly) busy life, it's good to have some things that can't be rushed.

I have an "umbrella" style clothes line (weird that it's still called a "line" when it's really a circle. I guess I could say "I'm going out to hang the clothes on the circle".....but it doesn't have the same ring). My mom taught me how to hang laundry. She had a system where no action or clothes pin was wasted. She made it an art, though I didn't know it at the time.
My mom had a simple set of lines out back consisting of three strands of heavy gauge wire bolted and strung between a couple of big iron T-shaped posts. She would hang items in batches according to how she washed them and then how they went into the linen closets. When she washed sheets, she washed all of them at once, folded them damp into the basket from the washing machine then hung them on the line. She hung the sheets partially folded so they didn't take up too much room. Plus they were perfectly ready to fold back into the laundry basket when dry, shortening the time spent out in the yard on a toasty Texas afternoon. Where we lived in Texas, the breezes blew hot almost constantly in the summer months so there is not much worry about the clothes mildewing on the line. Plus, because it is so warm, the sheets dried in record time even though they were hung in layers. Here in Montana, the clothes dry but it takes a little longer due to the cooler climate. But I don't mind. The mountain air imparts a great smell to the clean, line dried clothes. They seem to take on the smell of the warm, grassy fields.
The outcome is a bunch of tubs filled with clean clothes ready for our drawers.

Unfortunately, there's also this:

a basket of single, orphaned socks.
I can't seem to escape the single socks. They are the bane of my life! What can one do? Of course, I can't throw any one of them away.....what if the matching sock should suddenly appear? Then I wouldn't have a complete pair because I had a wild hair and threw the other one away!
Consequently, I have a huge collection of single socks. It grows weekly.
I have nightmares of drowning in piles of socks.
But at least they smell good!

Hanging clothes on the line to's a good thing.

On a completely random note- 12 year old boys have a, aroma after they mow the lawn. Just thought I'd pass that fact along in case anyone was wondering.