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Life on "The Farm" is . . .

Orderly, Delightful,      Colorful,                               Abundant, Whimsical, Lovely,...

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Life on "The Farm" is . . .











Sometimes a little bit scary,

And a whole lot of

Edible art courtesy of Elissa

Now, That's More Like It!

Two eggs in one day! That's a first for us! Way to go, girls!!!
Now Pearl, girlfriend, we need to talk. Lucy and Violet sure are
making you look bad. Time for you to show your stuff.
We want brown eggs! We want brown eggs! 


 "Grandmama! Grandmama!"
Second Granddaughter greets me enthusiastically.
Then, without taking a breath, she asks, "Where are the chickens?"
"Where are the chickens?" I ask her back and she smiles her impish,
cute-as-a-button smile. "In the gate!" (Which means in the backyard.)
The grandkids, especially the girls, have enjoyed our chickens more than I ever imagined they would. Second Granddaughter had the sweet privilege of finding the first egg but so far has completely failed to comprehend (or maybe chooses to ignore?) the admonition,

"Don't chase the chickens!"

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Ta-Da! Presenting ''The Cottage"!


 "The Cottage" is finally complete (for now anyway.) I made changes as I went along and it was truly a trial and error thing. I love how it turned out, though, and I think the girls do, too.

If I'm at home during the day and can occasionally check on them, I let the girls free-range in the entire back yard. If I need to be gone, however, I enclose them in the circular run that I made from a discarded trampoline frame wrapped all around with poultry netting (chicken wire) and draped over the top with bird netting. For an extra cottage-y touch, I attached rolled picket fencing purchased from American Fence and Supply Co. in Georgetown, Texas (http://www.afence.com). At night, after they've put themselves to bed (and they really do that!), I close the "screen" door-- safe-keeping for them and peace of mind for us. We live in a rural neighborhood so other than a few cats and dogs, we don't seem to have the usual predators hanging around. You never know, though, so it's better to be safe than sorry. In the morning, they are eager to leave their small run and venture out into wider spaces.


The coop was originally designed to be one piece, with the roofed run screwed permanently onto the house part. Even though I could move the entire thing by myself (but just barely) to another location in the yard, I was afraid of eventually tearing it all to pieces so I removed the screws and attached the run to the house with latches, one at the top and one at the bottom, on both sides. I also secured the open-ended run by attaching a piece of 1" x 2" to completely frame in the bottom and make it stable when not attached.

I love how the screen door turned out but I wish the gingerbread trim, that I bought online from a dollhouse supply company, had been a little larger. I did find one source for "architectural corners" that might have looked better but the cost would have put me in the poor house!


                                     Just for fun, when the ventilation door is closed.




Monday, August 26, 2013

Monday Musings

I've found that I love to sit by the guest bedroom window, that looks out over the backyard, and watch the girls, unobserved. Before I know it, I'm feeling calm and relaxed, smiling at their antics and getting to know their individual quirks. When they first came here to live with us, I thought Pearl (being the oldest and most authoritative-looking) might be the girl in charge but after spending time with them, it seems that Miss Lucy just might be the Top Hen in the pecking order. Violet, for certain, is the one who gets chased about by the other two so she's definitely on the bottom rung. Speaking of Violet, we got an egg from her yesterday and Lucy is due to lay another one today. Pearl? Well, she sure likes to look like she's a super egg-producer, sitting in the nest box a lot, but so far we've only gotten one egg from her and that was at the very beginning. Lucy, though, keeps giving us those blue-green beauties she does so well. We love showing off her eggs as they always elicit a lot of "oohs and ahhs". Sweet girl!
The horses have gone to greener pastures, literally, and it sure looks lonesome around here without them. They'll be back, though, when the fall rains begin and our grass starts growing again. A pasture without horses is like a cake without icing!
I have the house to myself today and oh, the plans I had made! Projects, projects, projects. However, ''The heart of man (and woman!) plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.'' Instead of being a hard-at-work day, it is a rest-and-recuperate day. In acceptance lies peace. 

Monday, August 19, 2013

Farm Bunny!

We've lived on our place for going on thirty years but only in the last
decade has it become "The Farm" and it is because that's what the
grandkids think it is. We have horses in our pasture (not ours but still
in the family), flower and vegetable gardens,  chickens in the backyard,
and now, a resident bunny.
I knew there was a baby bunny somewhere in the garden because I could hear it crying but all my diligent searching for the nest yielded no results. One day, however, I turned on the sprinkler in the garden and began to gather a few tomatoes, peppers, and peas when all of a sudden, out hopped the tiniest bunny you can imagine. I was able to capture it and hold it for a little bit before releasing it. That's been about four weeks ago and the little guy (or girl?) has grown over twice the size it was that day. This morning, the grandkids enjoyed watching it hop around the yard and I was surprised by how close it would come to us in its travels between our houses. When I stood very still, it hopped over and sniffed my shoe!
It's an amazing experience to have such close contact with a wild thing.
A gift.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

From Chicken Tavern . . .

Once we decided to seriously embark on the endeavor of keeping chickens, I began to weigh all the housing options and very quickly became overwhelmed with the possibilities. The pre-fab coops I really loved from Williams-Sonoma and other sites were way beyond our budget. Should we buy or build? New materials or re-claimed lumber from pallets, etc.? I created a "Chickens . . . Someday"  board on Pinterest and began pinning coops. I just about wore myself out trying to decide so finally my husband said, "Just go ahead and buy one." So we did. Ordered online for a not-too-bad price that included shipping.
Soon, our Chicken Tavern, the largest the site offered, arrived. Packed in two large, flat boxes with MADE IN CHINA on the side and shipped from a state on the east coast instead of from a quaint little woodworking shop in the beautiful Rocky Mountains of Colorado (not that the website said that the coop was made in the USA but I somehow sort of got that impression.) So what now? Put the coop together and make the best of it.
In other words, live and learn.
Our coop ended up being smaller than I expected but is the right size for our starter flock of three mature hens. I located it in our securely fenced backyard, previous home to our three elderly dogs who all died within months of each other this past year. The holes in the yard that they dug and left behind are, by the way,  being fully utilized by the hens who love to take dust baths in them. But, I digress; this post is about the coop.   
The coop was fairly simple to put together (I did it all myself) and is actually pretty cute. The water-proofing/color stain appeared to be sprayed on the pieces and while most of the hardware included was adequate, some was too lightweight and didn't hold sufficiently so I replaced it. My brother-in-law suggested that since I ordered a Chicken Tavern from ChickenSaloon.com that I should name my hens Sheriff Dillon, Festus, and Miss Kitty. Well, for one thing, two of those names are male names and I was getting GIRL chickens, and another thing, who would dare insult a newly acquired hen by naming her "Miss Kitty"?  Talk about never getting an egg!
Shortly after I purchased the Tavern, MyPetChicken.com introduced an American-made coop that would have cost about the same amount, including the very reasonable shipping cost. That's definitely the route I would have taken but, as they say, it is what it is. The next coop (because almost all chicken keepers who start small end up at least doubling their flock, and I feel that I'll be no exception), will most likely be built by me since I really do love to do that sort of thing. I'll now know better what I want in a hen house and what I don't need.
And, by the way, the Wild West isn't my style at all (even though I'm totally Texan) so I'm in the process of "renovating" and customizing my coop. No longer will it be "The Tavern," but will soon be transformed into "The Cottage." I hope my girls will be as excited about the transformation as I am!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Dream Comes True!

I have dreams, like most everyone else.
Not too big, though, such as having a shiny new convertible or
a seaside get-away with its own private sugar-white beach
(although either one would be nice.)
My dreams are somewhat simpler; for instance, replacing our
large dining room window with French doors leading out onto a deck.
Or, having chickens in the backyard. A twenty+ year old dream
that seemed as if it would never come true. Until now.
Check, check, check!
Welcome to our ''Farm,''
home to our newest arrivals,
Lucy, Pearl, and Violet!



Meet Lucy, our Easter Egger. She lays beautiful blue-ish/green-ish
eggs. She's the most social of our three hens, running over and
greeting us with her signature "Bwaaack!"

Pearl is a sex-link and lays brown eggs. Our blue Andalusian, Violet,
gives us white eggs. I had not planned on having a hen that laid white
eggs but when I found out she was available, I couldn't resist.