Haircuts for Hens

Much to my surprise, Helga didn’t peck my finger off as I gave her a spring “haircut.” And by haircut, I mean that her flight feathers needed to be clipped.

Every spring, the girls all need their feathers clipped because they’ll start flying over the pasture’s fence. And when my crazy chicken named LaFonda Flash gets over the fence, its nearly impossible to catch her.

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Meet Helga, my feisty hen, who today was actually in a lovely mood. Must be the sunshine. You will notice several feathers lying on the grass. Evidence of the “haircuts.”

Waiting in Line

The truth is that no one likes waiting in line. Even chickens.

This morning, I heard loud squawking coming from the henhouse and decided to investigate.  Inside, I found the dilemma. There were six hens needing to lay eggs and only three nest boxes. Poor girls. Waiting and labor combined, not  a good combination.

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Spoiled Rotten Hens

My chickens are not just hens…they are my girls. Each have a name and each are spoiled rotten.  Believe it or not, my hens like being held and petted. My children adore catching them, though I’m not sure the girls like being chased. At least, its good exercise for all of them.

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When I saw the little ladies shivering this winter, I went to work to make better accommodations. Heat lamp, electric waterer and extra grains.

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I snapped these photos at night while they were roosting. They looked at me like, “Excuse me, we’re trying to sleep.”

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The only thing I didn’t do was sew sweaters. But boy, it would have been cute. I like the patterns below.

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Sweater References: reginadrangel.blogspot.com, hencam.co.uk

 

 

 

Starting from Scratch

It’s easy to take things we buy or use for granted when they come already packaged and produced. That’s why I like trying to make things from scratch. It makes me appreciate the end result much more. My husband and I continue to grow on our hobby farm (Cordero Family Farm) in order to become more self-reliant. Here’s a picture tour of my continued learning in canning, cooking, and baking from scratch.

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I learned how to bake my own bread with all scratch ingredients. It takes time and lots of kneading, but it is gooood!
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My collection of canned apple sauce and tomato sauce is slowly growing!
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Processing tomatoes from our garden in order to make sauce.
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Italian Tomato Sauce
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Dicing ingredients for salsa

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Salsa with veggies from our garden!
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First time making an apple pie from scratch.
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It tasted heavenly.
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Restocked the freezer with the meat chickens we raised and butchered ourselves.
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A meal all from our own sources. Corn and potatoes from the garden and a chicken that we raised.

Zeeland Community Moms and Tots

Recently, I became the new storyteller for the group “Zeeland Community Moms and Tots,” which meets each month at the Zeeland Community Center. At our first gathering, I shared my own story called Farmer Ben’s Special Hen. The children joined me as we met Anna-Lee the Amazing hen and even learned how to do the chicken dance.

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The group is open to all mothers with children ages 1-4. We start with a story and also have a craft. We meet the first Tuesday of the month in the lower level of the community center (attached to the Howard Miller Library).

Join us on October 6th at 10:00 AM!

 

The Live Trap

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Overview of our chicken coop and pasture. The trap is placed at the bottom of the fence, near the woods.

So we finally caught something in the trap. Trouble is…it’s not what we were hoping for.

We borrowed a live trap from a friend at my husband’s work. The friend suggested we bait the trap with cat food since he’s had success catching raccoons with that. So we decided to give it a go.

Within three days, my husband spotted something sizeable in the live trap. He went out to check, hopeful to find the predator that attacked our chickens. What he found was something quite different.

Lounging in the trap was our neighbor’s black cat named Precious. We didn’t catch a coon. We caught a cat. It’s no surprise really since we used cat food. Luckily it was a live trap because had it been otherwise, it would have cost Precious all nine lives.

 

Adopting 8 Little Ladies on Father’s Day

We were so blessed on Father’s Day. Two weeks ago, I lost three of my beloved hens due to a predator attack. Since then, we’ve made adjustments to secure the rest of our flock. However, it’s made me feel quite sad seeing the coop so empty, and especially sad for my little Gretchen, who lost her best friend. She wanders alone now in the pasture and doesn’t have a buddy to roost with at night. Chickens tend to make friends and stick with them. But…on Father’s Day that changed.

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A friend from church is going through a transition and needed to find a new home for her 8 chickens. It was a mutual blessing for all of us. She knew her chickens were going to a good home, and our henhouse would once again be full of love and eggs. So on Father’s Day, we collected our new little ladies, which wasn’t easy since those rascals were fast and kept running under the deck!

Once they were settled into their new coop and pasture, they seemed happy to explore. My daughter was giddy to show them around and give them all lots of hugs.

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At night, I checked to see that the girls had all made their way into the coop and then my heart swelled. Gretchen wasn’t perching alone. She had a new friend, a little Ameraucana hen was tucked close beside her. I am sure they slept warm and happy. In this little thing, I see God’s love. He cares even about my hens. And if He cares about a small chicken, believe me when I say…He cares even more for you.

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Saying Goodbye to Three Sweet Hens

This morning, I went out to collect eggs inside the hen house. My two little children tagged along beside me as they usually do. What we found upon entering reduced me to tears.

Last night a predator, we’re thinking it was a raccoon, got inside the henhouse and wreaked havoc on my precious chickens. Three of my hens were dead and missing large parts of themselves. One of the girls is limping badly. I love my chickens. They are my little girls. They lay eggs like champions and always greet me at the gate. I have even given each one a name based on her personality. Today, I said goodbye to Josephina, Ginger, and Aretha. They were sweet, and I hate that they died this way.

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Ginger, she always strut around like the model on Gilligan’s Island.
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Josephina, aka Josie
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Aretha. She would always pause, kneel slightly and let me pick her up. She liked to be held and petted.

Needless to say, does anyone know a good type of trap that will catch medium sized predators?

 

 

 

Replenish Your Mind

-It's important to haveotherI love my chickens. I never tire of watching them scratch for bugs or wander the pasture. They greet me when I open the gate to check their food and water. My hens each have a name and a special personality. They are my girls. My egg-laying hens are a big part of my hobby farm. My small farm isn’t only a hobby, its one of my creative outlets. It’s important to have other interests as writers that will unblock a bogged mind and bring peace to a busy heart.

My husband and I chose to sell our home in the city to buy land in the country. Country life suits me well. I tend to be wired, and my brain struggles to turn off. But when I work in my garden, take walks down the dirt road or through our woods, or sit in the pasture and hold my chickens, my heart calms and my mind settles.

In spring, we buy new egg-laying hens as baby chicks. My kids love this! I enjoy hearing the little chicksReplenish chirp. We also raise our own meat chickens twice a year and do the processing ourselves. It’s not for those with a weak stomach, but its great to know exactly what my children are eating. If our barn were built, I’d have goats, sheep, maybe a dairy cow, definitely some bunnies and basically anything my husband would let me have. I’m a sucker for animals. And it’s good because in nature I find inspiration and renewed creativity.

Writers need outlets to replenish their minds. We should have more than just our writing. Perhaps try painting, reading, sewing, community outreach, biking, running, whatever will energize you.

Sometimes, its helpful to simply change up the routine and write something different. I like to dabble in songwriting with my husband and script writing for my church. Recently, I wrote a script featuring Lucy and Ricky Ricardo for our church Christmas production called “Celebrate Christmas.” Not only did I write the I Love Lucy scenes, I also performed the role of Lucy and my husband played the role of Ricky. We had a blast doing it together.

These are some examples of my personal activities that keep me fresh and inspire my flow of creativity. If you don’t have any outlets, I encourage you to incorporate some new hobbies in your life. What sounds fun to you? Do that! It doesn’t have to be anything huge. My kids and I have dance parties in our living room almost every day. It’s a riot and makes me laugh! Enrique Iglesias’s song “Bailando” never gets old, and neither does my need to refuel.

So what about you? What’s replenishing your mind?

****Today, this article was also featured on the Breathe Writer’s Conference site: http://breatheconference.com/home/category/featured-articles