Thursday, March 29, 2012

I've Been Clucky

Last year I started with 22 chicks (my first flock) and all the chicks survived to adulthood.  Then fall came around, the corn got tall, and the coyotes came while I was away at work.  They and/or the stray dog that someone dropped off at my farm took out exactly half of my chickens.  

Now that spring has rolled around again, so have "chick days" and I find myself traveling with a little cardboard box full of chicks not once, not twice, but three times already this year!  I finally faced up to what I had done and counted the little, beaked faces in the brooder--sixteen!  Then I consoled myself by thinking, "At least they aren't horses!"

Then, to top it all off, I have one Rhode Island Red hen that is going into her third week of being broody and my Easter Egger just started as well.  I've decided to leave the girls to it--the bugs will be bad this season and if either one of them are successful it will be interesting to see what the crosses end up looking like, since my roosters--an Easter Egger and a Silkie--ought to prove to be two very different genetic contributions!

Here's my stock so far:

1--Easter Egger Rooster 
1--Easter Egger Hen 
2--Barred Rock Hens
2--California White Hens
1--Black Sexlink Hen
1--Black Silkie Rooster
3--Rhode Island Red Hens
2--Black Sexlink Pullets
2--Buff Orphington Pullets
2--Black Australorp Pullets
1--Self Blue Old English Bantam chick
2--Black Cochin Bantam chicks
1--Black Frizzle Cochin Bantam chick
1--Red Cochin Bantam chick
1--Red Frizzle Cochin Bantam chick
1--White Frizzle Cochin Bantam chick
1--Partridge Cochin Bantam chick

I wrote "chick" for those kids who haven't disclosed their gender yet.  

I think I'll end up with quite a variety!  It's really fun to see what they grow into and how they turn out, color and temperament-wise.  Also, they're so much cheaper to feed than 25 horses would be!  That's good enough justification, right?


*tap, tap*  Is this thing on?

Ah, well.  Time for me to close up the coop for tonight.  Goodnight!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012


Someone forgot to tell the farm that this is my spring "break."  I can't wait to get back to school so I can rest!

As a continuation from my busy weekend, Monday I loaded up all the irrigation pipe that Dad and I had cut apart on Sunday.  It took me five hours to load up 3.3 tons of pipe by hand because almost half of it was buried in the blow sand out in the tree row.  Ah, good times....  I also got the one volunteer tree to by the north entrance that I really want to keep trimmed up so it looks like it's supposed to be there.

So, Monday I didn't do much else, but yesterday I went and sold the pipe, went to the feed store, came home and picked up Dad (who had driven his work truck out to to the farm), then we ate lunch, had a meeting at the FSA office, then returned to the farm where I dropped off Dad, then I went into town, put gas in my truck, drove out to Dad's work and traded him vehicles (since we're still playing musical vehicles), drove the Sequoya to town and washed and gassed it, then went to the store and came home.  Then I wormed and brushed the horses, installed a battery-operated automatic sprayer in one of the horse shelters (I thought I'd try it in one and see if it works before buying another), filled up the water tanks and did chores.  

I traded out vehicles so I could drive to the city today to pick up maintenance items for the lawnmower.  It's not difficult to guess what I'll be doing tomorrow and Friday!

No rest for the wicked!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Hi, Ho, to the Dump I Go

I'm writing this post this morning because I may no even be able to move my fingers tonight.  Right now I can barely walk and I still have miles to go....

Saturday I spent almost the entire day working on my Dad's yard, cleaning and weeding and doing all those little extras that he has a hard time (1) finding the time for while working an average of 70 hours a week and (2) physically completing because his knees bother him badly when he kneels.  We have a good system worked out--I do things for him like landscaping, and he does things for me like roofing and running the chainsaw.

Anyway, I found out after Saturday that my gardening muscles are badly out of shape.  I am sore in places that I didn't know was possible.  Even my hands hurt from pulling weeds out of the ground.  Simply put, I am really out of shape.

Sunday it took me a while to get out of bed and get chores done, then just as I headed back into the house to recover Dad called.  He wanted to come out to the farm with a welding torch and cut apart the large rows of irrigation metal that I badly need cleaned up on the north part of my little farm.  I want to get this area cleaned up much more than I wanted to nurse my sore muscles, so to work we went.

Only trouble was it ended up being quite a bit of work because the weeds around the metal (see above) caught on fire so easily.  Even after four straight days of rain it was still dangerous work.  I did my best to pre-clear areas where we were torching and then I stood by with a shovel and dirt to put out the mini-fires that arose.  It wasn't easy work, but we got all of it cut up in small enough pieces for me to take to the dump...which I'm getting ready to do today.

Then we got the trailer loaded with the fuel tank and old broken roundbale feeder, both of which have been on this farm for well over 25 years.  I joked with Dad that by now they should become the farm mascots.  I am so happy to finally see them go, though.  I LOATHE having junk around and although this pile is way, way, far away from where the horses are I still hate not being able to make the place look nicer.  I can't wait until this area is totally cleaned up!

So, this week will be many more trips to the dump--lots of loading up of irrigation equipment by myself and lots of trips into town.  By now I think I should have a frequent-dumper punch card!  At least it's all metal so the trips are free, except for gas.  Even a poor girl like me can make some improvements around here with just a little sweat equity.

And a whole lot of ibuprofen.


Sunday, March 25, 2012

Weekend Review

This weekend was the start to my spring break and I couldn't have asked for better weather.  It's gorgeous out!

The chickens think so, too.  

Evie insisted I get a shot of her.  I can't help but indulge her--she's such a cutie.

You can see the cilantro at her feet.  I rip off the leaves to use in my recipes and then toss the stems to the chickens.  They love them.  Now I just have to figure out how to get them to eat limes and tortillas and I'd have street taco chickens.....

Although I spent a lot of the weekend working on all sorts of projects (I'll share soon), the dogs did get to spend some time outside.  Charlie enjoyed watching me do chores.

And so did Milton, for that matter.

I keep telling Milton he's getting a the middle.  He ignores me and heads to his food bowl.  I guess he's making sure he's too heavy to get carried off by an owl.

Speaking of birds, my little remaining chicks are doing well.  I did add four more to the bunch--two sexlink pullets and two buff orphington pullets.  The kids grow up so fast.....

Fabian has grown up fast, too.  He's looking more and more like his daddy every day.  I am really looking forward to doing something with him. What, I'm not sure--but something!

I took two pictures of the sunset tonight and I can't decide which I like best, so I thought I'd share them both.

People ask me why I like to live out in the middle of nowhere.  All I have to do is show them these kinds of pictures.

And if they still don't get it, they never will....


Saturday, March 24, 2012


I'm praying that shortly after Bambi has her foal (hopefully before April 15th), I will be making my triumphant return to the workforce, and I honestly can't wait.  In addition to being able to adequately pay my bills, I'm really looking forward to starting what will hopefully only be the beginning of my new career.

Yes, I used "hopefully" twice in that paragraph.  I am quite hopeful.  I live on it, baby.

In the last few weeks there hasn't just been "hope" on my mind.  I've also had a lot of instances come up that have made me think about professionalism.  Whether you're a worker bee or managing your own company (or ranch,) professionalism is a very important trait to have.  However, I find myself fairly surprised and somewhat disappointed to see a lack of professionalism pretty much everywhere.

Just as class was ending my instructor asked me if I had applied for a job yet.  I told her I intend to, but I have an upcoming event that will most likely cause me not to perform at my best a work, plus the very real possibility that I could have to take off work for an emergency trip to the vet.  I feel that starting a job when I know I could very well have to take off very soon after starting is not very professional.  Yes, things happen all the time we cannot control and we might have to take off work, but I certainly don't want to start off on the wrong foot with a new employer.  Having to leave work when you just start at a place can seem unprofessional.  This is the last foal that will be born here in the foreseeable future, so I would like to just get through this and then move on.  I am so looking forward to the day when I can start work.  I LOVED my class--it is so incredibly rewarding and for once in my life I feel like I can make a difference in a person's day.  I don't want to take any chances, so I'm playing it safe and trying my best to show my future employer just how professional I can be.

Another item in the news recently, regarding employment, has been Facebook.  Facebook has become a phenomenon--it is a part of a large percentage of the population's everyday life, and the implications of that large demographic are becoming more evident with each passing day.  It is easy to forget that when we are online, we are on stage--our actions, thoughts, posts, photos, etc., are on display when they are online.  Everyone can see them--our employers, our friends, and the people we do business with.  When we rant online, we can show a very non-professional side of ourselves.  I'm not judging--we've all done it.  We all have bad days and we all have bad things happen to us and let's face it--it feels good to rant and gain sympathy from others regarding our circumstance.  However, when we write while emotional, we often do not show our best side and at the same time we become blind to the implications of our words.  A stallion owner ranting about a foal not being shown might think they are simply expressing their opinion on the value of that foal, but other potential customer seeing that might think twice before chancing that the foal they are interested in buying or breeding might become that stallion owner's next rant.  A buyer who rants about a seller might appear difficult to please or work with.  A seller who complains about a buyer always makes me think I don't want to chance buying anything from them, lest things not go perfectly and they complain about me as well.  The point is that our actions can have implications we might not even be aware of, so why chance it?  Is it so difficult to keep ourselves in check?  If it is, then our maturity certainly could be called into question.  Sure, we have every right to voice our feelings, but the question we should be asking is "Should we?" in such a public forum?  Seeing parents fight with kids, people being passive-aggressive and just general negativity can certainly make employers and other people who you might do business with view you in a negative light.

It's not difficult to be professional, but sometimes it isn't easy.  A lot of it has to do with knowing our own demons.  For me, I have to make a very real and intentional effort to be on time.  I know if I am not on top of things, it is very easy for me to be late.  Being late to anywhere--an appointment, a meeting, a class, and certainly to a job, is very unprofessional, not to mention disrespectful.  It says to the other person, "my time is more valuable than yours."  While anytime I have been late I never, ever meant that, part of being professional is knowing the messages we communicate, even unintentionally.  

Another part of being professional is taking accountability for one's own actions.  Being able to say, "yes, I messed up and I apologize, I will do better," is one of the things I admire most in others.  A friend of mine was once late in paying me for a horse.  I brought it to her attention and she immediately said that she was in the wrong and outlined her plan to make it right, which she did.  Ever since that day my respect for her knows no bounds.  It is difficult because to accept accountability sometimes means swallowing our own pride and it's not something we can skimp by on.  False apologies (i.e. "I'm sorry you were unhappy/upset) doesn't work.  We're all human and we all make mistakes, but we only look like we care when we accept the things that we've done wrong and try to correct them.

We seem to live in a society that, as a whole, thinks that they have the "right" to act how they would like, regardless of consequences.  What we need to keep in mind, though, is that there are always consequences, and they aren't always the ones you think.  For example, I ate toast by my keyboard this morning, thinking as long as I was careful it would be fine.  Now my "t" key sicks.  

See...unintended consequences.

Anyway, I certainly don' mean to preach as I am as much in the wrong on professionalism as anyone else.  When I write these sorts of posts they are as much for me as for anyone reading it.  I'm truly lucky in that I have an opportunity to start all over in a new career and honestly making the most of that fresh start preoccupies my mind more than anything else.  If I have to do-over, I certainly want to do-over right, which means taking a mental note every once in a while about the message I'm sending out into the universe--intentional or not.

And on that no e I'll say  a-ta for now!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Rain, Rain

Over the course of the drought over the last year I thought that perhaps I would never write the following phrase: It's been raining for four days.

Although as we enter into the fourth day of this gloomy, chilly, wet weather, along with the mud it creates, it is awfully tempting to start complaining, I refuse to do so.  The memory of the drought is entirely too fresh in my mind.  I embrace the sound of the falling rain.

After all, it makes for perfect napping weather.

Even if your butt is too big for your bed.

I do hope it stops raining just enough for Bambi to foal, though.  She's about three weeks away and starting to bag up--slowly but surely.

She's still not huge, but is showing a lot more than she was.  Hopefully the foal is small--and I say that because Bambi is so small.  The foal can certainly grow later.  I'm not out to impress anyone with a 41" foal at birth.  More than anything I just want a healthy momma and baby.

Speaking of babies, last week I bought ten bantam chicks from TSC.  Unfortunately two died right away, so I won't be buying them from TSC again.  Last year I bought 22 chicks from Orscheln's and didn't lose a single one, so that's where I'll get them from now on.

If I don't lose any more, it looks like I will end up with one Self Blue Old English Game and seven Cochins--3 black (one of which is a frizzle), 2 buff (one of which is a frizzle), one partridge, and one white frizzle.  

Then, my mature Rhode Island Red hen has decided to go hide and go broody on me.  I know she's alive because she snuck out one day, briefly, for a drink, but I didn't get outside in time to see where she went back to.  I hope in a couple more weeks she'll emerge with a few mutt chicks.  I have an Americauna rooster and a Silkie rooster, so it will be interesting to see what kind of crosses she ends up with, if she can get them to hatch!

One thing is for sure--spring is an interesting time on the farm!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

A Song in My Heart

During the course of my class I've learned some pretty amazing things.  A lot of it hasn't been just about medicine--it's been about people, relationships, connections, and empathy.  In all honesty I wasn't sure about taking a CNA class--it isn't exactly the kind of job an ex-law student takes, but now I am so glad that I did.  I feel like I've grown in so many ways.  The experiences that I've garnered will not only make me a better health care provider as I move on through the ranks, but will also help make me an overall better individual.  Many of the connections I've made with the people I've cared for I will never forget.

There is one particularly interesting fact that I learned that I think speaks volumes about us, as human beings.   As Alzheimer's robs the brain's ability to transform the patient's thoughts and emotions into formal language, the patient's ability to sing remains.  The reason being is that formal speech and singing are on opposite sides of the brain.  

So, to think that even after patients are robbed of their ability to speak that they can still express themselves through the songs that they know and love is amazing.  If you think about what music does for us--how it helps us connect and relate to each other on such an emotional level--it becomes no surprise that a form of expression that is so meaningful, to us as individuals, outlasts the spoken word.

"In the depth of my soul there is 
A wordless song - a song that lives 
In the seed of my heart. 
It refuses to melt with ink on 
Parchment; it engulfs my affection 
In a transparent cloak and flows, 
But not upon my lips."
--Khalil Gibran

Monday, March 12, 2012

Good Afternoon, Good Evening, and Good Night

I have been meeting myself coming and going over the past couple of weeks.  If you think I'm kidding, I'm not.  I actually said "hi" and "bye" to myself last night and again this morning.  I made coffee for myself but then I didn't return the favor.  I can be rude like that sometimes.

This weekend I did get to spend a little time with the horses, though.  I tended to Bambi's neglected mane and tail, treating it with conditioner and then braiding it.  Then she ran through the sand like she was Babs Derek.  

I think she's a "10" (which is a line I unashamedly stole from one of my friends)....

I also got the horses groomed and they are shedding up a storm!  Bambi is due in close to a month now and while she still isn't huge, she is quickly gaining in the baby-belly department.

The problem, though, is so is her brother.  His baby-belly is almost bigger than hers and I have no idea when he is due or who the daddy is.  I didn't even give him his pneumabort shots.  I am totally unprepared....  Then he insists on picking on her every chance he gets.  Then he wonders why they run him around at feeding time.  Then I wonder why he wonders.

Paula has been quite bored.  Homegirl wants some props (I have no idea if I used any of those words correctly).  I plan on providing sufficient props a soon as possible.

In another week or so I'll also get a few more baby chicks to replace the ones the coyotes feasted on last fall.  I hope Rusty the Rooster will be willing to share his coop.

I've told him if not, then his new name will be Soup.

I think my schedule has even worn poor Sophie out.  I don't want to let her know that next week she'll be visiting the vet and getting her shots.  She thinks life is rough enough as it is.

Goodbye, Ciao, Arrivederci, Hasta Luego, Aloha, Onosayo, and all that jazz.  In other words, until next time!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Springing Forward

This is one of my favorite times of year.  I impatiently check all my emerging spring bulbs for even the slightest signs of growth.  I eagerly plan new garden projects.  I wring my hands in anticipation of getting my fingers into the soil in my vegetable garden.  In many ways it's better than the days leading up to Christmas, because I'm not looking forward to just one day--I'm looking forward to an entire season!

One of the projects I'm really getting excited about is the ongoing work in my back yard.  When I moved in here two years ago (almost to the day), this is how the backyard looked.

Then I got it cleaned up, put new horse shelters in and ran an electrical line so I had lights out here.

Then I started putting a path in.

Then I took the path out and used old bricks from the main street of a nearby town that they were giving away.

By the end of last summer, I had gotten almost all the bricks in the ground temporarily (since more electrical lines need to be ran).  Although my shade garden didn't do well in the drought conditions, overall I was pretty happy with my progress.

Then the lights we originally installed broke, so over Christmas my wonderful brother installed new ones for me and here is how the backyard looks now, pre-spring.

Now that I have a path in, I want to start expanding the garden portion.  I'm lucky in that I have a lot of room back there and there is a lot of interest, like this fallen tree (which is positioned to the left or north of the path), for example.

I considered having it removed, but I think if I trim up the top part of it, it can actually be quite an interesting addition to a backyard garden.

Then, yesterday, on the way home from the grocery store, I had a brilliant idea.  A garden pond!!

I'm going to install a garden pond underneath this fallen tree.  I will build up the area in the center of the arch and towards the back to create a cascading waterfall, flowing into a fairly good-sized pond.

It will end up being quite a project, but now that I have had this epiphany, nothing else right there will do.   Although who knows when it will be completed, I can't wait to get started!

Ready to rock and...flow,