Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Chicken update

Well, the last four months have been full of LOTS of learning about chickens. I guess I knew adding a totally new animal to our mini-farm would be challenging, but the biggest challenges we faced were totally not on my radar.

Challenge #1:  AKA Heinz. The best, most trainable dog in the world. It took 4 chickens, 4 incidents, before he really figured out that he MUST NOT play with chickens until they stop playing back. He knows it now. I trust that, if exposed to a chicken, he will resist as long as his still-semi-puppy nature will allow. Think the kid and the marshmallow test.  I think the chicken would have at least 15-30 minutes unmolested. Not that I'm willing to test that theory and risk another Incident.

Challenge #2: Random possum attack. One chicken down several months ago. Hasn't been back. My theory is the dogs might kill the chickens, but they also scare away predators. So that's sort of a win, right?

Challenge #3: This adorable puppy, RollyPoly. You wouldn't know he's a chicken killing machine, would you? He looks all adorable and sweet. He's cuddly and fluffy, too. And he REALLY likes to play with the chickens. Until they stop moving. Because really, they are just fluffy squeaker toys, right? Oh, man. He got in the pen with a new batch of chicks through a hole in the fence we didn't know about. It was truly awful. Our fences are so much better now. He's also starting to respond to training, so there is hope he'll calm down once he gets out of the young puppy stage.

 Challenge #4: Random chicken stupidity. I forget what all the chickens have done to get themselves killed.  We've lost at least a couple to sheer birdbrained stupidity (and that's not including the ones that flew over the fence to play with the dogs. Fence is taller now). I'm ALWAYS sad. I ALWAYS cry when I find one. But at the same time--seriously? How many crazy things can a bird do?? That said, we always fix whatever it was that the chicken did and never loose two to the same stupid thing. At least we are learning, even if they are still birdbrains.

And, for all that, we still haven't gotten our first egg. Though it is really hot here right now, and they are still a couple weeks out from normal egg producing time.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

New family additions

A couple weeks ago we added 12 new additions to the homestead. Chicks!!

I'm a total newbe to chicken keeping, but a backyard flock of chickens has been high on my new-home wishlist. I selected a dozen chickens--five Buff Orpington, five Australorp, and two Black Copper Marans. They are all female, since our city isn't crazy about roosters in city limits (which is okay, roosters don't tend to lay many eggs).

I chose breeds that are considered "dual purpose." They will be good for both meat and eggs (but won't get as big as a meat-only breed, or lay quite as many eggs as a layer breed). Eggs are the most important part, but I also want my daughters to grow up okay with the idea that we eat meat, and the meat we eat used to be an animal. We raised the creature in a humane, loving way and then gave it's life to make our dinner. It's part of the cycle of life, and it is silly to be squeamish about it. (That said, I am squeamish about it, and I'll have to work on that before any of these girls end up going in the soup-pot.)

The chicks are living inside with us until their feathers come in and they can move outside. Right now they are in two giant uhaul boxes that I've taped together to make a brooder. It isn't nearly big enough, especially now that they have started growing. Later today I'm going to add two more boxes so they have a bit more room.

I'm not naming them. I'm not sure how many will become chicken soup, but just in case I don't want to turn them into pets. Some of them are easy to tell apart, of course. The runt is half the size of the others. There are only two Marans. A couple of the Buff Orpingtons are HUGE. But no names until I know I'm okay with "Runty McNugget" potentially turning into real McNuggets.

Whoops. So much for not naming them. I guess Runty has a name now. Well, we won't name the other 11, then.

In a future post I'll introduce you to the Hall of Golden Yolks, which hubby built with a good friend of his. It is absolutely beeeeeyoutiful, and deserves its own post.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

What is your art?

I've been reading A Million Little Ways by Emily Freeman of Chatting at the Sky. I started it a well over a year ago after hearing her speak and being given a copy. It isn't an easy read, but it is such a good one. In it Emily Freeman explains that God is a creative God and has made each of us in his image--an artist. Our art reveals a small part of His nature. Perhaps our art is the traditional kind--painting, drawing, music. Or perhaps we are called to show God's glory in accounting. Or Teaching. We all have art, and each of us is called to make that art a little differently. There are A Million Little Ways for us to show the glory of God.

As I read the first portion of the book I struggled to see where my art fit in. I like to draw, but drawing isn't my calling. I sew beautiful things, but it isn't something I must do. I like to blog, but blogging isn't a primary ministry outlet. There are many things I enjoy doing, but few of them are drives the way that Emily Freeman describes.

And then it hit me, around page 91, my art is right in front of me every day. My art is covered in jam and oatmeal, and marker art from yesterday evening. Mothering is my art. My children are the canvas upon which I show the glory of God. Sometimes being a mother means I sew cute things for my girls, or write a blog post, or take marker in hand and show my daughter how to draw a person (or, more often, every person in our family and extended family with "ABCD names" right beside). But those things are not my art, they are expressions of it. Mothering is the art.

This morning I was thinking about this as I began my day. The children were still in bed, and after yesterday it was easy to think of mothering as an art. I had the most pintrest worthy morning yesterday. I got up early and drank my coffee while reading a few pages of a Christian classic. I had breakfast on the table in time for the family to eat together. My husband had a homemade lunch to take to work. I worked on Bible verses with the children, complete with handmotions. I taught my oldest to balance on a balance beam. We learned about Noah while coloring pictures of Noah's ark. we spent time outside. We went to the store. Yesterday morning was art, if ever mothering was art.

The baby woke up while I was thinking these things. I got her up and as I was walking to the kitchen felt something run down my leg. In the time it took to walk to the kitchen the diaper had exploded and was running down my leg. Did I mention we're on day 6 of norovirus (for her--she's the last to catch it) and I've been changing poopy diapers nearly every hour? Nursing around the clock? Yeah. Baby cried for the next 3 hours. I never put her down. It wasn't a pintrest worthy morning. It wasn't a blog-worthy morning. It was a down-in-the-trenches, jaw gritted, holding on till naptime sort of morning.

When I'm a pintrest mom it's easy to see how my mothering is art. It's a little harder to see the art when the baby is crying and I can't decide which poo to clean up first. Sometimes art gets messy--but messy, imperfect art is still art. An artist can't throw in the towel every time their art doesn't turn out just the way they envisioned--any artist knows it NEVER comes out entirely perfect. We just keep making art, keep reflecting God's glory, even when it isn't exactly how we'd had in mind. And that's okay.

What is your God reflecting, messy, beautiful art?