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Sunday, January 30, 2011

Another day on Pooh Acres

What a year this has been already. We are certainly newby chicken farmers .. but I didn’t think we would be such BAD chicken farmers. We have tried to follow all the rules, as far as we understood them.

Since bringing chickens to our home last summer we have learned a lot. I thought I knew so much (being raised by farmers and around farm animals) but the longer we have animals the less I realize I know. I had no idea that chickens can catch a cold that will turn into pnemonia. We lost quite a few chickens….. I didn’t count and I don’t want to know. We not only lost the chickens, we lost all the eggs from ALL of the chickens for a minimum of a month. Last weekend was the climax of the illness. Our favorite hen, our only Rhode Island Red got sick and died in Phil’s arms. It appears that the worst is over, we have two hens that are still suffering, the rest seem to be much better. In a couple of weeks the medicine will be out of their system and we will once again get back to selling eggs. My customers are understanding and anxious to get back to production.

I have been getting up at 3:45 every (weekday) morning and going to the gym before work. Although it is good for my body, it makes me very tired and probably cranky. Phil says I pretty much fade out after dinner. I try to sleep in on the weekends to “catch up”. Sleeping in for me is 7 AM!! I had planned to get up at 7 because we have some things to do this morning but at 6:45 I was awakened by a loud Cock a doodle doo from the barn area.

I am amazed to see Phil becoming more and more like my dad. They never met so this is kind of crazy. Phil was a city boy. He used to pay his guys to take care of his garden! He had never lived in the country, never taken care of machinery etc he paid his workers to do all of that. (He owned a sprinkler business) Now, living out here he is maintaining all of the machinery. He builds whatever needs to be built, and he keeps this place running. He will take some scrap wood and make a chicken “hospital” or fix something that I would have thought unfixable. Every day he is growing more like dad in all the good ways.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Reinventing Myself

I sometimes feel as if the person I was four years ago is gone and replaced by someone else, not entirely but in many ways. The person I used to be enjoyed going out frequently. I was an avid follower of the local arts and went to many productions of theater, opera, etc.

The new me. I really love to stay home. Our house is not beautiful. It is not a house to entertain in and I don’t really like it. Our land is breathtaking. I am so happy that I feel like I am in a place I belong. I love watching the gardens grow and change. It is so exciting to pull up a fresh sweet carrot unlike anything you will ever get in a store. The blackberries are so sweet and juicy; you mouth smiles without realizing it.

Winter is tough. I go through a time when I am at least somewhat depressed. The lack of sunshine affects me more than many people. I try really hard, but it still makes me crazy. I have found a new project this winter. My boss, Dale, is a hunter. We hit it off when we first met, and have been building a friendship every since. He brought me some deer meat a while back and I made it into jerky. Since then I found that you can request deer meat from hunter who want to hunt but don’t want the meat. I butchered my first deer a few weeks ago. I wasn’t sure if I could do it. Phil went with me to pick it up and by the time we got home it was pretty late, so left it for a few days (it was quite cold outside). The day I worked up my courage it was still cold outside! Phil helped me drag her into the garage and onto a makeshift table. He said it was up to me to do this, and he played Packman.

The first cut was the most difficult. I started at the neck and skinned her out. I was surprised that I got it done so quickly. Cutting the meat off was not difficult, but I am sure I didn’t get all the cuts right. I washed it all off the next day and started making jerky. The rest I froze until I am ready to start on it again. I was amazed that I was able to do that! I am (was) pretty wimpy. My next step I guess is to actually go out into the yard and shoot one all by myself.

I started another new project recently. I have always wanted to make a rag rug. I have been saving wool and denim for quite some time to complete this project. I broke out the denim and started cutting it into pieces and then started the project. I want to braid one and crochet the other. This one is crocheted. I think I started out with a fabric that was to thick for a novice. It is going together, and honestly I think it is going to look pretty darn good, but it would have been easier with thinner fabric. I will post a photo when it is done. I think if I cut more tonight I may be able to finish this over the weekend. I think that the braided rug is next on my agenda.

We have been struggling with sick chickens lately. Some of them have caught a cold (I didn’t realize that happened). We have them on Antibiotics and away from the rest of the laying hens. They will have to stay isolated for a while until all that gets out of their system ….. so we don’t eat the antibiotics. One poor chicken has a really icky eye. Phil is building her a special isolation cage to keep her away from the rest. I am not sure if she is going to make it or not.

In September I got 3 baby chicks for free. Phil raised them by hand in his garage then built them a HUGE cage in the barn. We found out last week that at least one of the three is a rooster. I was out in the garage feeding them when he crowed! It startled me … then he did it again! We did some research about how to trim their spurs and keep us a little safer when he is big. Our last rooster was pretty hard on the hens. I wonder if we will have some babies this spring?