Sunday, April 29, 2012
Friday, April 27, 2012
On kind-of-a-whim... Easter weekend, walked out of our local Tractor Supply store with six White Rock pullets. Just a couple days old and sweet as can be. We had talked about wanting chickens for quite some time and this was a perfect opportunity. We had no coop built, but there was time for that... so we bought a chicken book, then the chicks and the feed and gear and off we went!! Our very first farm animal. Well, technically, we have two dogs and a cat... (those don't count) and we live on my father-in-law's farm, on which there are cattle... but we have very little to do with the cattle on a daily basis. My father-in-law tends to them in every way... only occasionally do we get called in to help.
Once, a couple years ago, my father and mother in law went on a small trip... and my husband was working... so who got to round up the cattle? This girl. Now, before you get "City Slicker" horseback-and-denim dreams in your head of what this looked like... for me this meant hopping in our jeep, driving a couple fields over and driving around the field honking the horn and getting the cows to go back into another field where they belonged for the night. It was no less exhilarating than a full on cattle drive for me, and marked one of those "I NEVER thought I would do this" moments in my life.
Back to the chicks... these six sweet chicks are going to be our laying hens. We decided we would get a few broiler chicks as well and try that part of chicken raising as well... we like a challenge. So back to the tractor supply store we went and bought 14 more chicks. 20 in total-- 10 we would keep for broilers, and 10 for laying hens. Or so we thought...
After a small and mostly gentle incident with the dog, one of our projected laying hens hurt it's leg and became a broiler chick. We moved one of the red chicks over to take it's place. The following week we noticed that some of the red pullets weren't thriving as well as the others. The next morning, when I went to check on them, one of the sweet frail red pullets had taken a turn for the worse and was laying on it's side barely moving and breathing very shallow. I moved all of the chicks out of the brooder and took the little one outside... sitting on my back stoop with this tiny little bird, the life went out of it. I felt extremely guilty and overwhelmingly sad... my first chick lost. And in my hands, no less. I buried the little chick and went back in to check the others and get them back into the cleaned brooder... when I noticed my chick count was down to 7... I panicked. I was so focused on the dying chick when I moved them out of the brooder that I didn't count. We had recently moved the chick brooders down to the basement from the kitchen (only so much chicken smell one can take in the kitchen!) and so I began the basement hunt for two missing chicks... one red chick was hiding under a table and was easily cornered and caught. But that left one larger white rock to find... and I had no clue where she had gone. 10 minutes of searching went by and I was completely worried now that something terrible had happened. As I went to get my phone, movement by the boys toy box on the opposite side of the room caught my eye... and that chick was on the move!! Bobbing and weaving through boxes and storage, that chick was enjoying her new found freedom. She finally made her mistake when she underestimated her own growing size and got wedged between two boxes, but I learned one lesson- don't underestimate chickens with a goal.
Over all, quite a ride so far. Never thought I would be having a chicken chase in my basement... but here we are. I have separated the red pullets... maybe on their own they can thrive better without the bigger hens taking all of their food and water... I'm on the watch. Mama hen through and through...
Thursday, April 26, 2012
My husband and I met in college. He was about to graduate and I was only a couple semesters in to a degree I couldn't actually decide on. We fell in love, and another year and half later, we were married and committed to our first ministry in the Chicago suburbs. While we were much closer physically to where I was born and raised in the Northern mid-west, we were far from where he grew up in more ways than just distance. My husband was raised in the heart of the Bluegrass... the son of generations of farmers. In 2007, we decided it was time for my husband to head to seminary to achieve his Masters degree and that led us back to Kentucky and back to the farm he knew so well. We were blessed with the gift of being able to build a house within view of the house my husband lived in when he was born.
Now, looking just weeks away at his upcoming graduation and an open horizon of future ahead of us... we have started looking for ways to turn this home we have established into our homestead. Along with our three little boys, we seek to put aside some of our creature comforts in search of something purer... something more simple. To re-engage some of the legacy that the generations before us have left behind. Getting back to the land, raising our little farm and family together and learning to respect both.
This won't be the first journal ever kept of this type of lifestyle change, I pull inspiration from books and blogs all over the place on this homesteading journey. I likely won't always be full of eloquent words to describe what it's like to clean out the chicken coop... but I want to record it. To store it all up in my heart. And, I want to share it. I don't know if anyone will ever read this... but if anything I can share can inspire others, then I want to give that opportunity.
So there it is... welcome.