Spring Prep: Warm Weather Welcome

What a difference a day can make! We started this week with dreary, gray chilliness, and are ending it, shining in the sun! You’ve gotta love Texas’ two-step path to Spring, cold-cold-hot, cold-cold-hot… But hey, who can complain? (Most Texans!!) At least we’ve got a nice swinging variety to keep us twirling into the shortest season on a Texan’s calendar.

Chaca, the wild hog, has been retired from her position as roto-tiller and is now relaxing in a shady spot, south of the garden plots. The rafters of the future chicken coup/well house combo went up today, and we planted a nice long row of potatoes as well as red/white/yellow onions, radishes and nasturtium. We will be steadily plotting and planting in the coming days, getting a nice start on our spring/summer garden. It was so lovely today that we uncovered the low tunnels and watered the winter garden for the first time this year.

Our winter garden is still yielding nicely. Tonight I incorporated some delicious kale into a rich potato soup that included beer, cream, broth, sage breakfast sausage and bacon, and herbs and spices because, well, WE LOVE FOOD! Last night it was a tasty spinach quiche, using our spinach and our farm fresh free-range eggs. I feel like Popeye! I have the strength of 10,000 men!!

Okay, I don’t, but I know that I am feeding my family the best of the best, and in that, I feel very blessed.

Our broccoli is on tomorrow’s menu, as are our carrots. Every other day, I feed all of our free-range and caged chickens and rabbits some of our garden greens, whether they be our various lettuces, or kale, turnip or mustard greens, as well as radish greens. Our radishes are massive, and still crisp and tasty. I was lucky enough to get a picture of our turnips before I misplaced my phone. I have become a greens maniac, and love making a big ol’ pot of greens…with a lot of bacon, of course.

Giant, delicious turnips

Giant, delicious turnips


Speaking of bacon, our hogs have been processed and are now in bits and pieces in the freezer, awaiting my culinary finesse. I am awaiting some invisible form of inspiration!

I know I’ll be grinding again soon. We have some sausage to make with the hog and venison. But other things take priority, and right now, we have a garden to plant and a coop and run to build, and well, other things will surely pop up to attempt or succeed in thwarting best made plans, as per usual. Murphy’s Law or something, isn’t it? I’m not sure, but it has been the way of the day for quite a while now. It seems to be the season I’m in.

God’s been working on my whole “control freak” persona. He’s steadily remodeling each of us, and in this case, I think He’s teaching me to “roll with it, baby”. Several things have popped up in the past six months, that in the past would’ve sent me into a foot-stomping, my-way-or-the-highway tizzy. I really am a girl who has always liked controlling my surroundings, and I never really so readily recognized the personality flaw until I faced getting to know and help the chickens!

Just saying “No” to things such as butchering venison and cleaning chicken poop/beheading chickens, seemed utterly non-sensical, if I were to become a true farm-person. Time to toughen up Nelly in a whole new way. And time to let go and go with the natural flow, instead of creating unneeded waves.

God seems to be using a friend of mine in this plan of His to elevate me to the next level of servitude and gratitude. Her visits alone bring about a form of forced domestication, of which does not come natural to me. But during this most recent visit, she began, what became a sudden increase in creatures on the farm.

You see, I’m not sure she even realized how crazy she was, until I reacted to the gift she brought to my youngest son. Recognizing my son’s love for animals, she saw no reason not to get him the perfect gift. I mean after all, he had captured an alligator turtle and kept it for a time as a pet for a time…and Pawpaw brought a wild hog to live on the farm. These people are running a happy little menagerie. They’ll barely even notice the addition and it will bring even more joy into their home.

She was right by the way…but the adults’ collective initial reaction was enough to scare my friend away for good. She brought my son a rat. A cute little baby rat named Coconut, complete with a cage and food. She brought my son a R-O-D-E-N-T. All my life, I only saw rats as a nuisance and believed the only place they belonged was stuck in a trap. I have even poisoned a few.

Yes, I had a very poor reaction to my friend’s thoughtful, but insanely crazy gift idea! My Dad’s reaction was even-keel with my own. He even told her, in jest, (we hope-ha ha) that she wasn’t allowed back on his property again.

But I must say, Coconut is a source of enjoyment for the boys and he’s survived his first week on the farm, fat and happy.

Speaking of fat, my Dad, who is also pretty crazy, brought home a year-old pot-bellied pig named Patty. Obviously, this is not an edible, or in my personal opinion, a useful creature, and yet, it is here, I suppose for the same reason as Coconut—free(ish) entertainment.

Personally, I didn’t miss the pig squeals after Dad had to put his last pot-bellied bellower down, due to chronic pain from being crippled during a surgery. I must admit, these additions have me scratching my head, but I’m rolling with it. I’ve seen smiles produced due to both Coconut and Patty the Pig, and I’m all about happy family members. So let the smiles continue. I am not going to put my foot down…at least not for now.

On the feathered end of the farm, we’ve welcomed a Buff Orpington hen, a Black Orpington hen, and a supposed Cuckoo Maran hen. Her feet are orange and Cuckoo Maran’s feet are supposed to be black. She looks exactly like Old Mama, who is believed to be a Barred Plymouth Rock.

The original owners were duped and thusly attempted to unknowingly dupe my dad. We’re keeping them caged, separate from our other flocks for a bit, just to make sure they are healthy. There are a lot of chicken illnesses out there, and our birds are happy and healthy, so we’re gonna make sure we do all we can to keep them that way.

My crazy friend's sweet and brave daughter loving on our khaki quackies

My crazy friend’s sweet and brave daughter loving on our khaki quackies

The ducks finally have their quacks! Little changes like this are so easy to notice when you’re in a place teeming with life. From the bunnies and their ever-elongating ears to the bees buzzing around the broccoli blossoms, I love the ever-changing cycle of life and it’s just absolutely magnified here. Spring is definitely in the air, I can feel the power of new life whizzing in the breeze like electricity. This has been a long, cold winter, and this bear’s ready to get out of the cave to stay!!

Speaking of bears, my cubs are demanding my attention. They want to make chocolate-covered bananas. If anything is going to pry me away from writing, it’s chocolate. So until next time, this is the Crazy Chicken Lady, signing OFF!

Vaya con Dios!

PS Plant root crops when the moon is waning, or decreasing.

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Frosty Mornin’ To Ya

The robins are going berserk this morning, trying to keep warm.  Our country is currently being slammed by what the meteorologist folks are calling a “Polar Vortex”.  The tag just makes you feel all warm and cozy inside, doesn’t it?!  Global warming at it’s finest, lemme tell ya!  Robins migrate to Texas in the winter, because we are generally a two season location, hot and hotter!

Okay, occasionally a few cool days slip past the border, but normally, Texas winters are pleasant and mild.

The cold doesn’t affect me the same way it does most of the populous, because I wake up radiating heat.  The cool air is most welcome, at least first thing in the morning…as the day carries on, I know the chill will set into my bones.  I probably should take care of the chickens before that occurs!
Owning chickens is not for the weak.  They require much care to remain healthy, fertile and happy.  Because caged chickens have a tendency to defecate in their food and water, you have to stay on top of keeping the food and water containers clean and fresh.  You also have to keep their trays clean.  (Rabbits too…have I even mentioned the rabbits?  Probably not, but I love them and this goes for them as well!)

We have five rabbits, 2 bucks and 3 does

We have five rabbits, 2 bucks and 3 does

But back to the chickens.  Although, I could carry on about this fat lil’ male cardinal who is perched on a branch outside my window…so cute.  And yes, I may or may not have ADHD, but I roll with it.

When working with the chickens, I have learned a thing or two.  They like it when I sing to them.  Not every day is a happy singing day though, as you know, and on those days that a song does not depart from my lips, I talk with them.  The chickens and rabbits each have different personalities.  There are sweet ones, mean ones, goofy ones, and everything in between.  As for the quail, well, they remind me of the aliens from Toy Story.  I cannot differentiate between any of them and they all act and sound the same.  The rooster-quail’s crow is something else!

This past Saturday, I mentioned in my previous blog, that my dad and my youngest son went to show their chickens and eggs at the local annual Poultry Show.  Well, I am happy to report that they raked in the rewards for all their hard work.  1st place in Bantam egg content, 2nd place in Standard egg content, 2nd and 3rd place in best egg trio, 1st place for our Dominiques…you may know them from the unlucky story of Lucky…killers!!  They proved the ol’ saying “the bad guys always win!”

Mr. M was disqualified because Dad was misinformed of his breed…instead of a copper maran, he turned out to be a blue-copper maran!  By just one word missing, he was eliminated from the competition.  He would’ve received 1st as well, as he was the only blue-copper maran in the building…picky picky!!

Mr. M, our blue-copper maran

Mr. M, our blue-copper maran

My little Mamas and Papas received 2nd, Dad reported, but their ribbon was M.I.A.!  Mr, White, whom I have yet to introduce, also placed 1st, but his ribbon was M.I.A. as well…something about a missing judge and his portion of missing ribbons.

Some chicken people can be sneaky!  Someone also took off with a shirt my dad won in a raffle, as a man claimed to be my dad!  Last year that same man is probably the one who made off with Dad’s chicken coop he won.  Sneaky, crafty, snake!  My first chicken love, Leonerdo, won 3rd in his division.  They also won $100 in gift certificates and cards, and won 2 bags of feed and 2 bags of chicken treats.  Made out like real bandits, they did.

He did well for his first show...and on his 11th birthday no less.

He did well for his first show…and on his 11th birthday no less.

My son truly enjoyed his first experience showing chickens.  However, last night, he did confide in me that there were a few boys there that were chiding him and being really ugly towards him.  But thus is life, and I told him they were just jealous of him because he had the coolest chickens and grandpa in the building.  He always amazes me with how he handles things so well.  Sometimes I wonder if he was switched at birth, haha, because he handles things way better than his dad and I do, most days.

My lil' rooster with Leonerdo the third place winner

My lil’ rooster with Leonerdo the third place winner

Watching him handle the chickens with grace and assurance is astounding.  He was definitely made for working with animals.  I was made to learn that I could if I just gave it a shot.  Not something I ever thought I would actually do or enjoy doing though.  But chickens grow on you, with their daffy ways, sounds and personality traits.  Even ol’ Mrs. Dominique has garnered my love for her, though I know she was the one who hurt Lucky so badly…well, she and her husband.  I may name them Bonnie and Clyde.

Naming chickens just happens.  Normally, they are not named right away, as they must grow a little and show their personalities, but some chicks are pegged from day one, such as our newest incubated hatchlings.  We have a lil’ black chick with a white stripe on his head and he is an aggressive lil’ bully, so he got named Stripe, after the Gremlin.  But it was only yesterday that I gave a name to one of our female rabbits.  It was as if she told me herself, as I was getting her water set back into place.  Daphne is such a sweet and interactive lil’ lady, and she can put the drink away like nobody can!

Chickadee, Chickadoo

Chickadee, Chickadoo

Well, it’s time for me to put the laptop away for the day.  It’s time to start school with my youngest two and we still have those chickens to take care of as well.  So, may your day be blessed and your body and soul be warmed by the Sonlight!

Until next time, this is the Chicken Lady, signing OUT.

Vaya con Dios