A little bit of kindness and a tiny chicken

Let me be crystal clear: I didn’t NEED any more chickens.  Cluckingham Palace is currently home to 11 laying chickens, 1 lavender turkey hen, and, of course, Arthur of Camelot.  I currently collect more eggs than I can personally use, and I’ve been pretty open about the fact that eggs cost more to raise than to buy.

I know all of these things, but I have a mild case of chicken math disorder…which is basically a psychological disorder, and every Spring I seem to manage to fill up a brooder.  There are some very reasonable arguments for doing so.  (Chickens lay fewer eggs as they age.  If you free-range, it is understood that you will lose an occasional hen to predators, etc.)  But, when you get right down to it,  I know that the real reason I keep buying chickens is that I like having chickens hanging around and that itty-bitty chicks are basically the cutest things ever in the history of all time; all of the other reasons are ancillary.

I had debated ordering chicks from mypetchicken again this year–I’ve been wanting a few rare breeds for several years that I know I can get through a hatchery order–but all of that went out the window when I walked into my feed store and realized that they had ordered in more than a dozen different types of chick this year.

You see, as it turns out, I have no real self-control.  Though I admirably resisted all of the cute, little fluffy-butts the first time I saw them, it couldn’t last.  A couple of weeks later, I made the mistake of going in to pick up feed while I was having a bad day; I left the store with two chick crates (10 chicks).

img_7101-1
Chicks Riding Shotgun

Chicks require special care for about a month and a half.  It usually takes about six weeks for chicks to lose the fluff and grow their adult feathers.  Until then, they have to live away from the other chickens and be kept warm and safe.  For my chicks, that means living in my basement for at least that first six weeks.  I settled my new chick-kids into their brooder that afternoon with lots of food, clean water, bedding, and appropriate heat lamps.

img_7103

I don’t worry much about my adult chickens.  Though I have an occasional issue–and I’m lucky enough to have a vet who will treat poultry–chickens tend to be pretty hardy.  Chicks are another matter entirely.  They are sensitive to heat, cold, changes in food, and stress.  Issues can arise pretty quickly, and they can be hard to successfully treat.  So, when I found one of my chicks acting lethargic about a day and a half later, I didn’t waste time.

It was already late when I found little one, but, despite the hour, I picked her up out of the brooder and took her upstairs with me.  She had “pasty butt” which can be a symptom of a bigger issue or the issue itself, so I cleaned her up, offered her some water, and tucked her into my shirt so I could keep her warm and keep an eye on her at the same time.  I didn’t want put her back in the brooder for fear that the other chicks would pick on her (it’s common for them to pick on sick birds), so I held her next to me, occasionally dipping her beak in water so she could drink and hoping she would take a turn for the better.

The two of us watched Netflix until I almost couldn’t keep my eyes open, and at three am, I put her back in her brooder, a small towel around her to give her some space from the other chicks.

The next morning, I awoke groggy and later than usual, but I went downstairs to check on my little one first thing.  She was still hanging on, but had pasted over again.  I picked her up, brought her upstairs, and cleaned her up again.  Then she and I settled into my couch for the morning.

img_7119

I would read between offering her water or food.

She would occasionally perk up.  The cats would act incredulous that I had a chick on their couch.

I called off work to stay with her, and I spent the morning with her, letting her bask in the sunlight.  I took a quick break from my reading and her basking to attend to my barn, but beyond that, I held her for most of the day.

That evening, I asked my sister to come over to “chick sit” so I could do my second round of barn chores.  God bless her, she came and sat on my bed holding a baby chicken for about an hour while I took care of things outside.  By then I wasn’t optimistic about the little one’s chances, but I didn’t want her to be alone.

Little one passed that evening.  She was warm and safe.  She hadn’t been picked on by the other chicks.  She hadn’t died of dehydration.  She had known what it was like to bask in the sunshine.

You get used to losing animals when you do what I do.  Or, rather, maybe you don’t entirely get used to it, but you learn to accept it.  With little one, I had honestly resigned myself to losing her fairly early on–I knew pretty well what was coming–but I had made the decision to keep holding her and to keep trying anyway, because it was the right thing to do, and I believe that matters.

In my mind, kindness matters.  It matters no matter how loud or how quiet it is.  Kindness matters every time it’s given, whether to a person or a stray dog or a dying chick.  And it matters even when it doesn’t make a “real” difference in how things turn out.

The fact that little one knew what it was like to bask in the sunshine matters.  I really believe that.  I think that every good thing makes the world a better place.  Every act of kindness, no matter how very, very small, no matter how insignificant it may seem, makes the world a little kinder.

In a world where you can be anything, please be kind.

 

Advertisements

Farm Fresh or Not: The Chickens Behind the Eggs

 

Let’s be honest.  You don’t need to follow this blog very long to realize that, on this sixty (plus or minus) animal, 100 acre ranch, the chickens basically rule the roost.

They free-range.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

They steal grain from the llamas and horses. They hijack hay feeders to use as nesting boxes.

Each one has her own little personality and habits.

These chickens spend their days meandering around the pastures.  They dust bathe.  They eat kitchen scraps in addition to their feed and their homemade scratch.  In short, they spend their day  (and their lives) being chickens and doing chickeny things.

I’ve found when most people think of chickens, they think of chickens like mine, scratching and pecking and chickening to their hearts content in green fields and deeply bedded, comfy coops.

But most chickens, whether raised for egg-laying or meat production, will never see a comfy coop or a green field.

The average cost of a dozen eggs at the supermarket is $1.41, so I understand why some people have sticker shock when their local farmers charge between $4 and $6 a dozen.  But, as they say, you get what you pay for.

The reason those store bought eggs are so cheap?  Confinement.  Most egg laying chickens, even today with a grass-roots push towards “cage free” eggs, live their lives in battery cages with almost no space: 67 square inches according to The Humane Society.  (That’s less than the space covered by a piece of letter-sized paper.)  Each cage holds five to ten birds and lends to a high rate of injury for the animals.  They can’t even flap their wings, let alone walk around.  Even “cage free” doesn’t really mean they have adequate space or outdoor access, but we’ll get into labels later.

These hens have short lives and are never allowed to be chickens.  On their hatch day, they are sexed.  The males, an estimated 6 billion of them annually who are useless to the egg industry, are deposed of, usually gassed or put through a grinder (yes, alive).  The females are beaked (meaning part of their beaks are cut or burned off without anesthetic to disallow pecking of other nearby hens or pulling out feathers), a painful procedure that causes great distress.  After being beaked, the hens will spend the rest of their lives struggling to properly eat.   Then, they are confined.  They cannot perch, dust bathe, or exercise.  Ever.  (For comparison, sit down cross-legged; now imagine that you have to stay there, like that, for the rest of your life.)  When they are at the end of their egg laying cycles, they are starved for 7-14 days and go through a forced molt that will cause them to lay again for just a little while longer before they are killed.  (The forced molt is linked to higher instance of salmonella due to the hen’s compromised physical state, so it is in neither the consumers best interest nor the hens’…just the best interest of the company.)

A chicken can naturally live 7-10 years.  Egg industry chickens survive maybe 3 egg laying cycles.

Why am I telling all of you this?  Honestly, it’s because I love animals, including chickens, and, for the most part I know that the people who read this blog love animals too.

Also, I like to eat eggs, and that’s ok.  Consuming eggs is not inherently tied to these immoral practices. There are steps you can take to ensure that your eggs come from happier, healthier hens.

  • Know your egg carton labels.
    • If you must buy grocery store eggs, strive for cartons labeled “Animal Welfare Approved.”  Usually these are organic eggs, and to get the label, the farmers must provide outdoor access (for specific amounts of time and with specific conditions) and enough room to perch, nest, and spread their wings.  Beaking is prohibited, as is forced molting.
    • Other labels related to animal welfare (from best to worst though all of these are better than not) are “pasture raised,” “USDA Organic, “free-range” or “free-roaming,” and “cage free.”
  • Buy Local!!!
    • Your local farmers’ market, farm stand, or chicken-obsessed neighbor are your very best egg sources.  Our pastured hens are happier and healthier.  The eggs are higher quality and so much more fresh! (Did you know that the eggs on the shelf at the grocery are usually a month old before they get to the store?  Gross!!!)  Many farmers’ market farmers bring photos of their hens living conditions and are happy to discuss animal welfare.  Ask and you shall see!  I promise if you make the switch to eggs from small production farms, you won’t regret it.

  eggs

  • Raise your own happy, healthy hens!
    • Don’t get me wrong, chickens are a lot of responsibility and keeping them should be entered into with your eyes wide open, but they are such fun, and it is wonderful to know EXACTLY how the hens who lay your eggs are treated, what they eat, and how they live. If you have questions about what that takes, shoot me an email or follow Almost Farmgirl on Facebook and connect (there’s an easy-peasy link at the bottom of your page).

There are so many happy healthy hens around whose owners would be thrilled to sell you eggs.  Of course, eggs from our hens costs more, because we give our hens the food and space and conditions that allow them to thrive.  Some of us even allow our layers to live into their natural  old age, long past their egg laying usefulness.  (I will gladly pay to feed my chickens into their useless years!)

The lives of most of these animals is short and miserable.  But it doesn’t have to be.  We can do better.  We can be better.  And it can start with you.

Want to learn more?  Check out these resources/references:

And, from the archives:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Trouble with Turkeys

Do you guys remember my three little turkey peeps from last year?  The ones we rescued from the feed store when it became clear that they were quickly destined to be dinner?

We lost one little peep (my favorite) to his birth defect.  We lost another to a predator.

But one of the little peeps survived.

And he isn’t so little anymore.

DSC_2300 (2).JPG
Arthur

Meet Arthur of Camelot.

(You know, because llamas are camelids, and he lives with them…Aren’t we clever?)

He is a year old, nearly fifty pound, broad-breasted Tom.

Being a broad breasted turkey, Arthur is basically a mutant, but he’s our mutant, so we love him.  He spends his days wandering around, looking pretty, gobbling about how impressive he is, and also following Jeremiah and I around while we do chores, requesting clover flowers and chest scratches.

After he lost both his friends, I sort of panicked that he would be lonely, so I searched online for a couple of pet turkeys.  (I’m realizing that that sentence says more about who I am than almost anything I’ve ever written on here…)

I found these two. In keeping with our Camelot theme, I named them Guinevere and Morgana.

Unlike Arthur, they are a heritage breed (Blue Slate), so I don’t have to worry about them outgrowing their own skeletal system, which, frankly, is a relief.

Of course, Arthur never really bonded with them and, instead, thinks he’s an alpaca who happens to gobble a lot.

2015-09-01 17.44.45
Arthur in the stall with his old men llamas.

And the Blue Slates never really bonded with him either.  In fact, they don’t seem to know they aren’t chickens.

So, I guess my mission to find friends for Arthur kind of failed.

I ended up with three completely useless, but kinda cute, birds that I never really planned on.  I nicknamed them “the three most useless creatures on the farm,” and just accepted their gobble-y little selves for what they were…

But, it turns out, I had it all wrong.  They aren’t so useless at all.

A few weeks ago, Jeremiah and I were standing in front of the llama barn talking while the poultry free-ranged.  They were scattered about the pastures when I glanced up and noticed a sandhill crane flying over the farm.  It wasn’t a hawk or an eagle, both of which will gladly prey upon my flock, but Arthur didn’t know that.

I watched him look up and start gobbling (apparently a different than normal gobble).  As soon as his warning went out, all of my hens and the two other turkeys ducked and ran as fast as their little feathery legs could carry them out of the open pasture and into the barn!

That was when we realized that our ridiculous, fifty pound, pet turkey had appointed himself as guardian of our flock (like any good turkey who thinks he’s an alpaca would), doing a better job of watching out for the girls than any rooster we’ve ever had.    (Guys, it was maybe the cutest thing I’ve ever seen.  I swear, he practically counted them once they were in to make sure everyone made it.)

Of course, that’s just one with a purpose out of three…

Until about two weeks ago.

2016-03-27 18.35.41.jpg
Farm fresh eggs – with a blue slate turkey egg on top!

See that fancy pants, speckled egg on top?  That was our first ever turkey egg!

The turkey hens just started laying.  So far, they’ve almost kept pace with the chickens, laying these big speckled eggs in the same nesting boxes.

The turkey eggs have higher fat and cholesterol than the chicken eggs, which makes them less ideal as a stand alone food, but perfect for baking!  (I started using them last week, making a dish of brownies for my mom, and then another for my brother-in-law’s birthday.)

Guys, you have not lived until you have eaten brownies made with turkey eggs!  They are so rich that it’s almost like fudge.  I’m excited to experiment with cakes and breads!

Turns out, my turkeys had purpose all along.  I just didn’t know it yet.

 

2016-03-23 11.26.54
Jeremiah and Guinevere…or maybe Morgana (even I can’t tell them apart most of the time)

That moment when you realize you’ve gone from “chicken lady” to “crazy chicken lady”

I never thought I’d spend so much time thinking about poultry…

When we agreed to buy the ranch, I begin mentally preparing for the chickens.  I bought books; I read blogs; I meticulously picked out the breeds I wanted.  I read articles about why chickens should only eat organic feed (for the record, even I don’t eat all organic feed…).  I read about all the ways predators can get to your flock.  I read about parasites and natural worming vs. chemical worming.  I started following Fresh Eggs Daily, Garden Betty, and DIY Diva, soaking up every last bit of chickeny knowledge they had to offer.  Continue reading “That moment when you realize you’ve gone from “chicken lady” to “crazy chicken lady””

Just a quick trip…

2015-07-03 14.41.21
Lauren, Jeremiah, and me, riding at Cavalli.

It was the 29th of July.  Jeremiah and I were sitting down to dinner, and a good friend shot me a message on Facebook.

“Do you guys know when you’ll be able to come out?  I need Jeremiah’s help.”

The message came from my friend Lauren, a teacher and ranch owner in Maine.  We met about six years ago while working at a summer camp.  She ran the horse barn; I ran the llama barn.  We bonded over our willingness to get our hands dirty and get shit done.  (That and the mutual dislike of a few of the other employees who didn’t have that same willingness…)  Since that time, we stayed in touch on Facebook and realized that our lives were moving in creepily similar directions. She became a teacher. I became a teacher. I married a farrier. She married a farrier. She bought and renovated an old house. I bought and renovated an old house. Most recently, we both bought ranches and spend most of our lives keeping them running. We joke that we live the same lives in different states.  It’s uncanny.

Continue reading “Just a quick trip…”

The true cost of an egg

Out here on the ranch, we are at the peak of our egg season.  Most of my fully grown hens lay an egg a day during the summer, which equals 5 to 6 eggs per day.  In the fall, my little ones will start laying as well.

In the winter, they lay far fewer eggs.  We have chosen not to artificially light our coop, which means our girls take their natural “break,” molting and slowing down their egg production for the season.

Next summer, I will be swimming in eggs.  With a dozen chickens joining our flock this year, hopefully all hens, I will be getting well over a dozen eggs a day.

Beautiful, fresh eggs from spoiled rotten chickens.
Beautiful, fresh eggs from spoiled rotten chickens.

Many of you know that eggs are at a premium right now, with the avian flu taking out millions of commercial birds at a time.  Additionally, California is finally legislating more humane conditions for laying hens; if you ask me, that’s a step in the right direction, but it will also require an increase in egg prices.  (God willing, other states will follow suit.)

All of this is just to say that, for the first in any sort of recent history, commercial egg prices are starting to creep up close to organic prices.

Continue reading “The true cost of an egg”

Utter Nonsense

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I present to you, my husband.

Utter Nonsense

I left for Costa Rica, and my husband went on quests and turned himself into a Legolas (yum) /Gandalf (ummm….) hybrid for the week.  And by quests, I mean taking care of the farm and constructing things (like exceptionally apt signs), and by Legolas/Gandalf hybrid, I mean he did so while carrying a quiver and wearing a wizard’s hat.

(Interesting side note: He took this photo by himself using his skid steer as a tripod.)

This photo pretty much perfectly sums up my life.  Here on the ranch, we live at the intersection of adult responsibilities and utter nonsense.

Just yesterday, someone asked me when I possibly find time to “just relax.”  He was astounded that we both work outside jobs while renovating the house(s) and running the farm.  I sort of laughed because that question has a different answer depending on the day.

On the one hand, sometimes it gets to be a lot, and I really question why I’m not the sort of person who goes to the spa or travels extensively, instead of the sort of person whose horses eat all my spare money in the form of hay…

On the other hand, there is a sort of Zen that comes from cleaning stalls, or grooming horses, or walking my fields.  And very little gives me as much satisfaction as a good training session with one of my critters, or watching the flowers that I plant bloom, or making breakfast with eggs I collected from my own chicken coop the day before.

I mean, really, does life get any better than watching a chicken ride a llama???

Joker and Marilyn
When the coop door blew shut during the day, Miss Marilyn took stock of her options and decided that Joker would make a pleasant roost.
chicken and llama
Joker opened the feed room door to alert Jeremiah that a chicken was roosting on his butt. He required assistance to remove her.

(The llama was less amused than we were…He was very polite to her, but Jeremiah said it was clear he preferred his butt to be chickenless.)

These days, things are greening up, and we are starting to shift focus to a whole new sort of work.  Fences need mending.  Our farm road is in need of repair.  The gardens need weeding.  Shearing is just around the corner for the llamas and alpacas.  New chicks are on order to come in a few weeks.  (Sadly, I’ve lost a few chickens to predators this week…but that’s a different post.)  Horses will be starting back under saddle soon.  And hopefully the ponies will start work towards their eventual jobs as therapy animals this year.  There is so much to do, and we seldom check anything off our to-dos without adding more.  But this place and this work is my “relax.”

Come to think of it though, I wouldn’t say no to a nice massage to wind down from “relaxing”…

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

With rumors of Spring…

They tell me spring is on its way.  They say it will start on March 20th.  I’m not sure I believe them.

Jeremiah took off around 5:30 this morning for another shoeing conference.  He will be gone for about a week.  Then I’ll be leaving the morning of the day he gets back for a vacation in Costa Rica with my sister.  Thankfully, one of us will be at the ranch the whole time, so we won’t need to call on too much help, but taken together, these next two weeks will probably account for the most time we’ve spent apart since we first started dating in 2010.

Until I leave, things will be cold.  Really cold.  (Like, -7 degrees tonight.)  Right now, outside looks like this.

The woods are lovely dark and deep
The woods are lovely dark and deep

The woods remind me of a Robert Frost poem as I make my nightly trudge out to the barn, but I have hopes that we will at least be above freezing temperatures by the time I get home.  In the meantime, Spring whispers sweet nothings, small promises that give me just a little hope that its closer than we think.

For example, my chickens have started laying a bit more.  A few days ago, Jeremiah collected 5 eggs, up from the 2, 1, or 0 we have been collecting each day this winter.  Of course, all of the eggs were frozen solid.  But hey, it’s a start, right?

Also, we have a bit more daylight each day.  The sun won’t set until 5:40 today.  I am in love with each extra second of daylight.

Spring cannot get here soon enough for my liking.  Everything we do out here on the ranch takes more time and costs more money in the winter, and I’m kind of over it.  Stalls get dirtier.  Chores have to be done in the dark.  We use more electricity for lights and water heaters. We have to feed more hay and more grain.  Not to mention keeping the house heated.

I’m looking forward to warmer weather.  To daylight into late evening.  I’m looking forward to riding my horses again.  And I’m looking forward to being able to go out to the barn without adding layers and layers of bulky clothes.

I think maybe the critters are looking forward to Spring too.

DSC_1803 DSC_1808

Has Spring sprung in your neck of the woods, or are you still shivering with me and all the critters out here at Eagle Ridge?

I miss sleep…and other updates from around the farm.

Ever have so much on your plate that even sleep seems to get bumped out of the way?  Not on purpose, mind you, just as an effect of your brain’s constant motion.  For me, sleep has been tenuous for about 2 weeks,.

Maybe it’s the stress of everything–the move, living away from the ranch, buying Jeremiah’s new shoeing trailer (hopefully next week), renovations, caring for all the animals, work…believe it or not the list continues–but sleep has not been my friend of late.

Yesterday, I came home from morning chores and crashed for nearly two hours.  Naps are one of those things that seem like they should help…but then actual sleep time comes around and you’re like, “Eh, I’m good.  I took a nap.”  Then you’re tired the next day, and come midafternoon you probably really feel like taking a nap again.  (Don’t do it.  It’s a trap.)

Usually my solution to temperamental sleep is to make myself busier, but I’m not sure that’s possible at the moment.

For those of you interested in updates, the new floor was put into the master bedroom about a week and a half ago.  That is a huge sigh of relief for me, as it indicates that one room is basically done.  (Hint: If you’re renovating the entire house, like we are, you need at least one room that doesn’t remind you of all the work yet to be done.)

2014-09-14 17.04.01-2 2014-09-14 17.03.54

The old, leaking window in the living room was removed and replaced.  It was super weird to see the giant hole in the house while the contractors worked.  The good news?  Turns out, while the leaking did rot out the floor, and some of the sub-floor, the studs were in perfect shape.  (Meaning we did not have to cut a giant hole in the living room down to the basement.)  The bad news?  According to the contractor, we definitely need to replace the roof ASAP.  That is now on the top of the list of Spring projects.  Luckily, our contractor is awesome and the price is pretty reasonable.

2014-09-25 09.52.07
No window!
2014-09-25 17.19.45
New Window!

We’re also hoping to wrap up the dining room soon.  Two days ago, I worked on pulling up the floor with a claw hammer.  The floor that’s currently installed was popping up in a lot of places, some tiles were water damaged, and there wasn’t any flooring in the center of the room (where an area rug used to go).  We will be putting in bamboo, the same floor we put in the bedroom.  I got about halfway through before I had an ADD moment and started another project.  Jeremiah finished before I came back to it.

2014-09-30 13.18.28

And, on the ranch:

Remember how I wasn’t going to have any roosters but then ended up with one?  Make that two.

Once "Henny Penny," now "Frack."
Once “Henny Penny,” now “Frack.”

Turns out my pullet, “Henny Penny,” wasn’t so Henny.  His name is now “Frack” to match the other rooster “Frick.”  Frick is pretty cool; Frack is kind of a jerk.  All I’m saying is he better shape up; Jeremiah has nearly ended him at least once…

Also, awesome news, I’m riding Cinco!  I’ve been having a trainer come and work with us once a week for a about a month now, and I’m fairly thrilled.  (Of course, yesterday he was pretty much a turd, but we won’t talk about yesterday.)  Now, after all these years of wishing I could keep my horse at home, I’m considering boarding him over the winter at the trainer’s.  Somewhat ironic, I know, but I really would like to be able to keep working with him over the winter, and without an improved riding area at my place, it won’t happen unless I move him.

Cinco!
Cinco!

We’ve done a lot of work together this summer; I would hate to have to start over in the Spring…

Finally, just because it’s cool…

2014-10-02 09.15.25

Albino Clover!  Isn’t it pretty?  I saw it on the way to the horse barn yesterday and had to take a photo…
By the way, my next post will be by a guest blogger.  I will be taking over her blog for a day as well.  Stay tuned.

A week at the ranch.

It’s been an eventful week at the ranch. Despite not living there, we’ve been busy!

For example, I pulled in yesterday morning and found this.  He started with power washing and proceeded to paint by the end of the day.

2014-09-06 10.01.07

Not sure if you can really tell, but by evening most of the front of the house was done.

2014-09-06 17.54.57

Fall has officially made it’s way to Central Illinois.  The weather yesterday was perfect: sunny, no hotter than 70 with a beautiful breeze.  We’re doubling down on outdoor efforts.  Lady Fall is enticing and beautiful, but she’s followed quickly by Old Man Winter, and, according to the Farmer’s Almanac, he’s going to be a doozy.  It won’t be terribly long before we get weathered out of the outdoor work, and neither of us want a half painted house all winter.

We also bought the most perfect dining room table last week.  Jeremiah and I found it in an antique store a few towns away. (In addition to all of his other wonderful qualities, Jeremiah actually enjoys going to antique stores on occasion.  I’m a very lucky girl…)  It’s a farmhouse table, new construction, but made out of 100+ year old barn wood.  I’m a little bit smitten with it.

2014-08-29 17.04.19
Jeremiah and his little brother bringing it in. Apparently it’s absurdly heavy.
The table, moved into our dining room.
The table, moved into our dining room. (The middle piece of wood you see is actually a table runner made of a 200+ year old barnwood beam.)

One of our friendly neighborhood hummers got caught in our mudroom while it was opened up to dry.  Jeremiah eventually got it to go outside.  The little bird was not overly grateful.  (If you’re not familiar with hummers, they are very cheeky little things.  We love them anyway.)

2014-09-05 11.45.012014-09-05 11.45.19

This one may gross some of you out, but I think it’s funny.

2014-09-03 10.24.03

The chickens have been thoroughly enjoying their free range time, and a few of them discovered the manure pit.  I know the phrase is usually “happier than a pig in poop,” but as I understand it, pigs actually prefer to be clean.  The chickens, however?  They think it’s pretty great.

Also, see below for the inherent hazard of letting your chickens free range:

2014-09-05 12.09.082014-09-06 10.58.17

They are pretty darn thrilled with their discovery of the hay stall.  It has excellent dust for dust baths, AND there’s a nifty, secluded corner to build a nest.  Now I have to check for eggs there every time I let them out.  But c’mon, how cute is the little nest with the colored eggs?

And finally, we took out Vinny’s stiches yesterday.  I expected a total freak out, as Jeremiah wanted to try it without sedation first, but we were pleasantly surprised when Vin stood like a champ.  He’s come so far since he came home with us!  This horse used to run away like a maniac anytime we came in the pasture, and now, this.

2014-09-06 10.42.45

He stood and chomped down grain the whole time.  God love him.

2014-09-06 10.50.51 2014-09-06 10.50.45 2014-09-06 10.42.51

All done!  He’ll probably always have a scar, but this one ended up way better than it might have.  It healed up very well.  Thank God for great vets and good horses.

Over the next few days, we’re hoping to move back in.  (We’re both losing patience with the constant driving back and forth.)  The house is vented with airmovers exchanging air in the basement 10 times per house.  The vents were cleaned earlier this week…  Hopefully, that will be enough to make the place livable again.  Fingers crossed.  If not, the movers are hopefully coming at the end of the month to clear out the basement, and then we will be free and clear to get the mothballs and the mold professionally mitigated.