Through the Cold Night -Thankful Thursday

So, yesterday,  my eldest nephew and I were going to finally finish the new pig pen before it snowed last night and into today. While we were over there getting the first of the last four panels ready, he heard cheeping.

But there were no birds anywhere around us.

So Chris looked over the fence between our yard and our neighbor’s calf yard (which is currently empty).

“Martha! Martha! Look!”

I glance over the fence and there I see it too.

Our broody hen that went missing had eight little chickies following her around the pen our neighbor puts bulls in when they get hurt or sick. (It was currently empty as well, thank goodness.)

Chris climbed the fence while I got a box and went around the long way. (I was not climbing that fence, no sirree.) It took us a bit, but we finally caught the chickies and the mama. We had to let the mama go, because we found her nest where she was still spending most of the day sitting on eggs. (She must have been on break with the littles. I’ve seen her do that before when she still had eggs to brood over.

We moved the eight little chickies into a nice brooder box (after hurriedly assembling one) and put them in the garage with the bunnies and some nice heat lamps and prayed that they would survive the sudden drop in temperature that was coming last night.

They made it. (Their mom also returned to her broody nest that we weren’t going to try and roust her from. Hens peck something fierce.)

So today I am grateful that Chris heard the chickies yesterday. (Even if we still haven’t finished the pig pen and now must do so in the snow.)

Check out the original Thankful Thursday.

It’s Hard To Be

It’s hard to be vigilant when things feel comfortable and convenient. – Matt from mustbethistalltoride.com, Diagnosing Relationship Failure is Not for the Self-Assured

If there is one thing I have learned about living out on a farm it is that the convenience of living in the city was hard won by those who came before us. But at the same time we take most of it for granted.

It takes twenty minutes for us to get into the nearest town. Just to get to town, not the store or the gas station or a specific place, just the outskirts of town where the first houses are. And that’s if the weather’s good and there’s nothing wrong with our car. (The car wouldn’t go over 60 mph for a while there without overheating within 10 minutes. In hindsight, it was only a matter of time before it died and we had to get the truck.)

I grew up in a small city. I have to call it a small city because  to most people that’s what it is. It’s not a small town because it’s bigger than that, but if you compare it to any other size city anywhere else (including Denver, Colorado, just one state over) it really is just a small city. But that didn’t mean it didn’t have it’s conveniences just the same. I grew up being able to walk to a 50 cent and then dollar movie theater, a community swimming pool and a public library (although that last one was a bit further away and up a very steep hill that was more a part of the mountain we lived right up against.)

Now the only library that’s convenient is the one that I’ve spent my whole life compiling. The movie theater is what movies my niece buys at the thrift store to go with the old VCR that her brother found at the same thrift store (those VHS tapes are the sturdiest things outside of a nokia phone, I swear) and we try to visit one of my sisters who live in an apartment at least three times during the summer to go swimming there.

But we have our own animals that have helped supply a good portion of what we would be getting at the store: milk, eggs, cheese (we have to make it), sour cream (ditto), and meat. We try to grow our own vegetables, but something always goes wrong. (It’s funny that the garden that had goats and pigs getting into it actually fared better and gave us more crops than the one that three chickens got into. The irony.) We gather wood and straw for the winter and have to repair the shelters and sheds that we use for the farm ourselves.

I have learned things that I never thought I’d learn (how to midwife for a goat is always the first thing that pops into my mind).

But while there’s a lot less convenient things out here, it’s also the place I’ve been the healthiest and happiest since I was a small child. It’s hard work, but it’s work that I have found to be very satisfying. Most of all, I’m happy here.

(Though I will still be grateful that the store is less than an hour away.)

Winter is Coming

She rushed about the farm, gathering straw, stuffing it into the containers needed for she had no bailer. Feed gathered and stored in dry areas that wouldn’t freeze but wouldn’t heat up either. Cracks were discovered in various buildings and fixed. Leaking roofs fixed. Hinges oiled. Fencing fixed. Gardens mulched and covered over with straw and leaves for the coming weather.

She didn’t work alone as others worked alongside her to finish before the sun went down.

It would be several more weeks of this before they were done.

They hoped they’d finish in time.

Because not being ready was not really an option.


It’s not really this dramatic, but I’m tired right now and it feels this dramtic in my head.

He’s Up All Night To Get Funky

So we’ve been having skunk problems. Every night they try to get our chickens or ducks or rabbits. So our dogs (mostly Vincent) keep guard all. Night. Long.

We wake up in the morning and the dogs are exhausted and sleep most of the day away. They’ve earned it without a shadow of a doubt because we can certainly smell how much they’ve been working. Even if they aren’t sprayed, the backyard is definitely smelly from the skunks they’ve chased off.

(I’m so glad, now, that Vincent is so good at dodging things, because we don’t have enough tomato juice to bathe him in.)

We’re trying to get another dog, because Vincent might be young and spry and energetic (and super protective of ‘his’ animals), but Sissy is getting up there in years and there’s no way she’s going to be able to help Vincent out with guard duty once the temperature drops like lead in water. I have no idea how she’s keeping up with him now.

Seriously, though, Vincent does a head check on the rabbits every morning whenever we open up the rabbit garage (there are no vehicles or machinery housed in the rabbit garage, just rabbits and animal feed). He walks through and touches noses with all of our long-time residents and even some of our short-time residents, then he turns and walks out with me as soon as I’m done filling up their water bottles/bowls.

He takes his duties very seriously and won’t let us go to bed until we’ve made sure to let him outside to start guard duty, even if he was napping when we were getting ready for bed in the first place.

Now if only we could find a way to stop the skunks from coming over in the first place so that our backyard would stop smelling skunky in the morning.

Where in the World?! – One-Liner Wednesday

Forget Carmen Sandiego, where in the world are my chickens’ eggs?!


Seriously, just went out at the end of the day to get eggs: 9 duck eggs and only 5 chicken eggs when we have the same amount of laying hens as ducks?! I know they’re hiding them somewhere out there…

Check out the original One-Liner Wednesday. (Will update link at some point in my life…)

Breakfast of Work – Thankful Thursday

I have often written about how grateful I am for this or that food, because really, who wouldn’t be? Food is awesome! (If it’s made right, and sometimes failures even taste good even when they look extremely questionable.) Food is more than just fuel for our bodies to continue moving, it’s an experience that most of humanity has turned into something to be treasured with all of the recipes and different dishes for different occasions.

But there is something different when you are eating because of the work of your own hands and the hands of your family.

Eggs laid and gathered, bottled jars of preserves laid down from the previous fall and the bacon sizzling from when we had pigs.

I am grateful for a glorious breakfast.

Check out the original Thankful Thursday. (Will update link when able.)

Not Goodbye

My heart beats unevenly

Only to choke me on my breath

Reality is not my friend now

Taking the small figure in shaking hands

And leaning over the too stillness to cry

Letting parts of prayer soothe the ache

 

The first time I had an animal die on the farm, it wasn’t just one. It was a whole litter of seven little bunnies. I sat and held their mother and cried all over her. I think she took it a lot better than I did, though she let me cry into her soft fur for over thirty minutes after Sissy (dog) had abandoned me for somewhere with less excitement. (Sissy doesn’t take people being upset very well…or at all…she hates crying and yelling with a passion and will leave the house to get away from it if she has to.)

The next three times it happened all I could think about was how I was always the one to find the bunnies after they’d died instead of anyone else.

By the sixth time, it was a goose that had been sick and not adjusting to its new home well.

Each time it happened (bunnies, bunnies, bunnies, goatling, bunnies, chickens, geese, chickens, bunnies, more bunnies, we have a lot of bunnies…) I would wrap the body (except for the goose) in bags and say a small prayer before burying the bodies in the only place available at the time (the garbage, because the ground freezes really hard). I still don’t like it when one of the animals dies, but I know that this life isn’t the end, so that when they die they aren’t vanishing while leaving only a body that will crumble and decay behind. No, they’ve gone somewhere else.

This isn’t the end of it for them, nor is it the end of this for us.

There is more. What we each believe that more is will change, but there is something there and I take comfort in that.

This isn’t a goodbye, just a see you later.

Re-visit of Dungeon Prompt: Mortality and the Human Psyche.

Benefits of Rain – Thankful Thursday

Today I am thankful for rain, without it I would have had to haul an awful lot of water today in order to fill all of the animals’ waters as well as the garden.

Also, it encouraged the pigs to stay in their pen and not break out and run all over the goat pen. My pigs love mud, but not rain, who knew? So today? I am very grateful for rain. (Also, for the water it brings to our underground aquafer that is super important in a desert.)

Check out the original Thankful Thursday. (Will update link when able.)