Monday, January 12, 2015

Chick hatch - Day 1

How exciting!  We're going to hatch chickens!.  I told you guys, more chickens will always make me happy, happy. 

At this time, Lucy and Ethel (Reds) are each laying 1 egg a day.  We have one Easter Egger, Mama, that is old enough, but winter in preventing her from laying.  The others will be old enough by February, but again, winter. 

MawMaw (Superman's mom) is getting two dozen eggs a day via her Red Star flock plus a few Easter Eggers.  At this exact moment we have nine dozen of those eggs, in our fridge, for eating.  Obviously, we are well stocked with eating eggs.

Aunt N (MawMaw's aunt) has some Easter Eggers that are laying, as well.  Put all these Easters and Reds together and we have an overload of eggs.  What better way to handle an overload of eggs than to hatch a batch or two?

So, I'm starting my first hatch with 31 Easter Eggers, 4 reds from MawMaw, and 6 from my own backyard.  The eggs from my back yard make me especially happy since I know and am so fond of Lucy, Ethel, and Ace, the parents of my six little eggs.  I'm also collecting for our next hatch!

Here is Ace with Lucy and Ethel (red), Mama (grey), and Martha (black). 
These 4 are his main ladies.

We set the eggs on Saturday, January 10, so they should start peeping and pecking around January 30.  It takes twenty-one days for a chicken egg to hatch.  Both Saturdays, between beginning and end, we will candle the eggs to see what is going on inside.  To candle you simple pass a light through to see if what you have is a chicken baby.  I will definitely have a candling post, but in the meantime, it looks something like this:

In order to keep the eggs accessible and yet out of the way, we chose to put the incubator under our dinning table.  It is out of the way of drafts and easy to get to, in order to check on the turner, water levels, and temp.  We want each kiddo to have a big part in each step.  Here they are setting our first batch of chicken eggs, incubator style:



Putting our first few eggs in. (These being set are from
our own back yard.)

A full incubator is a happy incubator.

Lid on and little boys proud.

Now for the wait...



Tuesday, January 6, 2015

The day has arrived.

Homeschooling, Day 1.

We have talked about this, worried about this, prayed about this, prepared for this, and worked for this.  Yet, somehow I'm still completely nervous. 

I spent all night in dreams about either public school or homeschool.  There are so many "what if's" and yet the excitement is there too. 

I didn't have to send my babies to school today, but I also have to teach them today. 

Sissy will not come home telling me about her friends' excessively "mature" (immature, but too grown up for them, may be a better description) conversations, but she may decide to tell me how to do my teaching job.

Logan will not come home with a stinky attitude, but he may have an attitude about doing math work.

Landon will not sit at the front door crying not to go to school, but he may cry when the big kids have one lesson to do and his lessons are different (that little guy does not like being different than his older siblings).

It is seems so strange to be nervous.  I mean, these are MY children, right?  I gave birth to them, correct?  This isn't a classroom full of strangers, true? 

Yes, yes, and true.

But I want to do right by them, ALWAYS!

And to be completely honest, I know that I am doing right by them in this.  I know, at least for this time, this is my purpose.  These guys are my calling and I am going forth, where feet may fail me, but the Lord will sustain me. 

I am thankful that I do not need to have it 100% figured out.  I have a tendency to want exactly that, but Jesus says I can trust in Him to have it all figured out.  I must do my part, but first, trust in Him. 

So, I put it in His capable hands.  I will continue to pray and ask for guidance.  I will study and make lesson plans and change when things aren't working (so difficult for me) and do my absolute best for our children and for our family, but for the parts I'm unsure about, I will trust in my Heavenly Father to guide me.

Lord, bless our homeschooling days.  Bless our family.  Keep our focus on you.  Amen.


Friday, January 2, 2015

Chickens and the Heavenly Father

In August we purchased fourteen, one day old chicks.  Cutest little peepers you ever did see, they were; three reds, three black, three laced, three Silkies, and two Crested Polish. 

The Crested Polish is where our story begins...
One day old chicks
One day old Crested Polish
Crested Polish "Rockstar", all feathered out

The female of our Crested pair started developing a scissor-beak shortly after she arrived here.  She made it for a while, growing as rapidly as the other, but as she grew so did the separation in her beak.  Eventually it prevented her from eating and drinking.  One morning we found her weak with the problem, unable to stand, walk, or even lift her head.  It was our first chicken sadness, putting that little girl down. 

Since then, though, everyone has been happy and healthy. 

Since our first batch of babes, we have added three pullets (young hen) Mama, Lucy, and Ethel and a  cockerel (young rooster) Ace, to our flock.  Two of the three hens (Lucy and Ethel) are giving us two fresh eggs a day and Ace, our mayor, keeps our ladies safe while entertaining himself with plenty of "relationship".  Bonus, Ace is just a funny guy and he is such a good protector of our ladies.  He's a good Roo!  

I don't know if you have had the privilege of watching a flock of chickens that you just happen to be extremely fond of, but let me tell you, they are wonderful.  God is amazing, isn't he?  He hasn't missed a thing. 

A week ago Rockstar, our second Crested Polish, much to our surprise and delight, started crowing.  So, instead of 16 ladies and one gentleman, we have 15 ladies and two gentlemen.  Still plenty of hens to go around for two males, but in the spirit of being a rooster, Ace gave Rockstar one week and then proceeded to take steps toward any competition to his mayor-ship. 

Then Rockstar went missing...with zero evidence of predator fowl play (ha ha, get it?). 

Which brings me to the real story:

Yesterday, after spending all morning on the computer, in front of the window that faces my backyard chickens (literally), I noticed that I had not seen our beloved Rockstar in a while.  He usually stays close to the flock, as Crested's are a skittish breed of bird, so I went outside to investigate and sure enough, he was gone.  I had noticed Ace chasing him around the yard earlier, but had not heard any kind of real squabble.  To a certain extent I like to let my ladies and gents work their own stuff out...pecking order and all.  If it got too bad, though, of course I'd intervene. 

Superman (my wonderful husband) is a swing shift worker.  He follows this crazy 12 hour swing shift that they call the DuPont schedule.  It can be a bit much at times, but he has a good job, that he likes, and is good at, so we won't complain too much here about that.  Besides, it means we can afford more chickens :).  He's "on nights" and I was a little panicked because I don't know the first thing about finding a rooster in a neighborhood.  Not that my Superman knows anything about that either, but as they say, two heads are better than one, and one of my heads was sleeping. 

When he's working nights he wakes at noon, I discovered Rockstar was missing around 11:30 and did what I could until noon, when I immediately bombarded a sleepy and groggy husband with bad chicken news. 

What did he do?

He put on his sweater, shoes, and grabbed his keys.  We jumped in his truck and preceded to search our neighborhood for a crazy-hair rooster with a collar. 

What didn't he do?

He did not complain.  Not once.  He didn't even hesitate. 

When we didn't find Rockstar in the neighborhood, he went out back and looked under and behind everything we could think of.  He got down on the ground more than once and lifted a number of things to see if Rockstar was hiding.  I could still see the sleepiness in my guy's eyes, from crawling out of a warm bed and plunging in the cold outdoors for this search and rescue, but never once did he grumble.  

When we didn't find Rockstar after a while, we took a break for lunch, but when I worried, seeing the animal control truck going down our road, that someone had called the city and they had come to take my Roo away, he stopped eating and we took a walk around the neighborhood and into the woods down the road from our house.

Now, my husband is a great guy.  I have never had any doubt about that.  And he would do whatever it took to make me happy, as I would him, but we have other chickens, we have another Roo.  Super and I could have said, "let's just leave him be and see if he comes back.  He shouldn't have flown out anyway."  But it doesn't matter how many we already have.  THIS Roo was missing and we needed to find him.  No questions or hesitations.  It's just part of having and caring for pets/animals/livestock, and as I watched my handsome guy crawling around on the ground, looking for THIS rooster, God, in His still small voice, whispered this to me...

"I will never leave you nor forsake you." (Hebrews 13:5 and a host of other verses) and then this came to mind:

Our Heavenly Father looks for us, He calls for us, He searches for us, He doesn't get tired of us and He doesn't stop looking.  He doesn't get too distracted.  He doesn't get too bothered by us.  He wants us in His flock.  It matters not, how many times we have flown the coop.  It matters not, how many He already has in His flock.  It matters not, how He feels about those already in His flock.  He loves them all, but He wants us too.  When we go astray, He knows it instantly and He begins drawing us back.  He begins to make us His again.

We didn't find our Roo yesterday, but this morning he was back and stuck in our fence with a badly injured leg and wing.  The theory is he flew out of the yard, by accident, trying to escape Ace's meanness, then in the night tried to fly back over and didn't make it. 

Again, I needed help.  This time I had to wake Superman, after he worked all night, for a bit of help getting the Roo caged and inside.  Again, Super didn't hesitate.  He hopped out of bed and ran outside to help.  He gathered that injured, scared, and flapping rooster up in his arms and held him in the safest place he could have been while I prepared the "hospital" cage. 

A scared Rockstar and Superman

Warm Epsom Salt soak 

He seemed the most comfortable here

Chicken sling to keep weight off of his leg

Again, it struck me...

 Our Heavenly Father does the same for us.  He rescues us, He cares for us, He meets us where we are.  He doesn't tell us to fix our problems and then come to Him.  He meets us where we are, stuck and injured by the world and He draws us into Himself and takes us in His arms where we belong.  He doesn't consider that we got ourselves into the mess to begin with.  He's just happy we've been found...and He begins to heal us IMMEDIATELY.

After some time, we believe Rockstar will make a full recovery.  He will likely never be completely the same again.  A little limp from his time outside of our protective gates and when we return him to the flock, in about four weeks, his wings will be clipped, but there is no reason to suggest he will not have a wonderful and productive life at Happy C's Farm. 

A little like us, maybe, when we've returned to our Heavenly Father's protective and loving arms.