It doesn’t get more romantic than Carhartt.

I can’t believe how long it’s been since I’ve sat down to write a post! Between trouble with my website host and sporadic and sometimes lengthy Christmastime power outages, an ice storm (or two) and slipping and sliding my way across the yard to tend to the animals and back in to tend to children, it’s been busy around here.

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Although I’m not sure what it was like, as Al Roker loves to say, “in your neck of the woods” this winter, it has been pretty crazy in eastern Maine. Our temps were in the negative-thirties for a stretch, and the drivers on my street had to suffer the sight of me wrapped  head to toe, eyeballs-only squinting out from the cinched-up hood of my humongous and cozy LL Bean down coat, praying my eyelids didn’t succumb to frost bite before the school bus brought my little home.  Days and days I didn’t even get my mail, because the extra 3 feet of space between where I stood shivering and waiting for the bus was just too much to traverse for the sake of gathering bills.

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Our community looked like Narnia for the weeks surrounding Christmas, and although we lost power due to the ice storm, and I had to ask my mom and grandmother to do my portion of the Christmas cooking, we fired up the generator and at least had twinkling lights on the tree and a cozy warm house. After years of my occasional grumble about having purchased a generator and then never, in years, having ever had to use it, my husband was finally vindicated.  It was a great purchase.  He is brilliant, which I knew anyway, besides being exquisitely handsome and very romantic.

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In fact, he brought me home a special something a couple of weeks ago, as a token of his love for me: Carhartt “barn wear.” In years past he has brought me home flowers, which I also love, but I’m not sure if there is anything that could have made me smile more than my cozy and indestructible work-coat and fuzzy-lined sweatshirt.  And warm leather work gloves. (I think the gloves for me were really a gift for him, because the day before I had a slight mishap wherein I accidentally launched one of HIS new work gloves – which I was borrowing of course – into the wood boiler, because my hands are littler than his.  Don’t worry!  I real quick scooped it out with a shovel and rubbed it around in the snow to be sure it wasn’t secretly on fire.  It’s a little black in a couple places, but really it’s ok. But I think in his effort not to have any of his stuff incinerated, he figured it was smart – not to mention romantic – if I had my own matching set of stuff.)

Look at the one duck egg!!!!

Look at the one duck egg!!!!  And I know, I know… I’m on the cutting edge of farm-tastic fashion.  But seriously, how cute is it that you can get work clothes in women’s!?  I know that’s been the case for decades probably, but I’m so new to this that it’s all like Christmas to me.

I’m not even being funny to say that it’s romantic to receive barn wear.  For years I’ve said how much I’d love to live in an old farmhouse and have goats. And everyone in ear shot would laugh.  Because I’m the heels and nails and eyeliner girl with the previously strong aversion to nature and anything related to being outdoors. But this old rambling place, with it’s custom built goat-and-chicken-villa and the big workshop for my husband to use for building things (which will include things for him, not just livestock projects, I promise!)… this old place is a gift.  And this barn wear makes me smile, because once again my husband has found a way to give me my dreams, whether we’re riding “marshrutkas” in Ukraine with a boy we tried to adopt or raising goats and chickens on a few pretty acres of land.  This man… this man is something.  I’m so thankful God made him for me.

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Speaking of farm animals, I’m learning a few things about raising baby chicks. People (other than me) don’t raise chicks in winter in Maine, because having to keep chickens in the house for months at a time is not cool.  They are stinky and they make a dust that is yuck. And it gets on everything.  Our baby chicks are in the brooder in the basement, which is fine, but my romanticized vision of chirping chicks in the kitchen or some such thing… that’s for the birds. Pun intended.  I think they are safe to be outside in the cold now, because they are 10+ weeks old and well feathered, but we’ve had such fluctuating temperatures that I don’t dare to put them out with the other girls, in case we have another cold snap (it’s a toasty 40-something today). (There are no current baby chick photos, because those girls are itching to get out and have freedom – poor things! – and if I try to get them to pose for a pic, they just run rampant through the basement, which necessitates my “Chicken Wrangler” named Sage to come in and help me to round up the fugitives from under the far reaches of the stairs that to up to that… what is that thing called…. a bulkhead??)

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Look compared to a hen's egg how giant Lois's egg is!!!

Look compared to a hen’s egg how giant Lois’s egg is!!!

And I have to tell you, since we’re talking about the goings on in the coop: Lois the duck has begun to lay eggs!  And that duck, she is a worker.  Every single day – except one – since she started laying, there is an egg in some spot or another, on the straw-covered floor of the coop!  Our other girls have been laying really consistently, too, which is great, since we don’t use extra light for them. We have a tinted, transparent roof on the coop, and I don’t know if that is allowing enough light in that even on days they’re inside, between the windows and the roof, they have light.

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I’m off now to bake a cake for my oldest daughter’s birthday.  Tomorrow she will be 15!  And next month my guy will be 14!  When did I get to be old enough to have kids this old!? And speaking of the birthday girl, she is having a very exciting start to her first high school track season!  If, that is, they could ever have a meet.  We’ve been to one, but the weather has prevented others, so this weekend we’re looking forward to watching her run.

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My dad and his wife and my niece came to watch Lia's meet after Christmas. He's so cute, right!?

My dad and his wife and my niece came to watch Lia’s meet after Christmas. He’s so cute, right!?

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Whatever your day holds, here is wishing you endurance to run the race before you and many happy moments.  Whether dressed in barn wear or high heels (or maybe both, just not at the same time, please), I hope you are wearing joy and find yourself covered in peace and that you are blessed.  Whether gathering eggs, tending babies or shuffling through stacks of papers at the office, I hope you have a day filled with a sense of accomplishment – and a coffee break.

First Death at the Farmhouse {Goodbye, little Hopalong}

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Tuesday morning, I shuffled into the den, groggy-eyed like usual.  Before I sit in the cheetah chairs with my husband to enjoy a pre-dawn coffee, he fills the wood boiler and I tend to all the animals, starting with the baby chicks.  When I lifted the top off the brooder to refill the waterer, I noticed little bitty Hopalong, lying still.  I breathed in a sharp breath and let out a sigh, whispering, “Little Hop…..,” I reached into the shavings and lifted her tiny, fuzzy-feathered body up.

Hopalong and Spottie (now named Fancy-Feet), a couple days old

Hopalong and Spottie (now named Fancy-Feet), a couple days old

She arrived from the hatchery with a bad leg.  My dad was in town that day, and he and I must have been quite a sight trying to follow internet tutorials about just how on earth you craft a leg splint for a chick with a 1″ leg out of toothpicks and bandaids and self-stick, non-adhesive sports tape.  As I was fumbling around with her teeny leg, I noticed she had only 4 toes.  Normal for a chicken, not normal for a Silkie chicken like Hop. She was supposed to have 5. My heart sank a bit when I saw that.

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Hopalong, enduring my feeble efforts at poultry podiatry and splint-making

Hopalong, enduring my feeble efforts at poultry podiatry and splint-making

 

The splint was an epic fail. She just preferred to get around on her one good foot and be with her girlfriends in the brooder.

The splint was an epic fail. She just preferred to get around on her one good foot and be with her girlfriends in the brooder.

Years ago we adopted a blind Bullmastiff, and when he was only a few months old we had to put him down because he had apparently more than blindness wrong with him.  Percy Jones, our sweet dog, would have his legs give out on him, and sometimes he’d drag one along until he’d worn the claw down to bleeding.  And one day he couldn’t lift himself out of his blanket at all.  We drove him to the vet, and they came to help us lift his heavy puppy body out of my Yukon.  I sat on the floor of the vet’s office and cried into his fur while we waited for him to die.

I knew Hop wasn’t just a little chick with a bad leg.  She was a little chick with some genetic problems.  I called the bird sanctuary, the local extension office and even the vet. We tried to set her leg.  We put her in her own little box. But that Hopalong was all chicken when it came to wanting to stay with her “peeps.” She cheeped loudly and relentlessly from her little box until she was set back with the other girls (and Sherman).

Sage and Hop, snuggling

Sage and Hop, snuggling (Hop was about a month old)

Probably I should have put her down right away.  But I decided to let her have a go at this life thing. She wasn’t suffering, that I could tell, so I felt like it was only right to see how she may fare. I gave her liquid vitamins and made sure she was eating and drinking.  My little Sage held her still so she could have her vitamins from the baby dropper.  And Hop was a sport about it all, tossing her tiny head back and swallowing down that stinky-smelling stuff every day.

She never really grew at all.  And her “baby feathers” never gave way to new “big girl feathers” like the other chickens’. I told Sage every couple of days, “I’m noticing little Hop isn’t really growing, and that probably means she is not going to have a long life.  She probably won’t make it to go outside, Sage.” Death is part of life, and I think it’s really important to talk about it with my kids when it’s appropriate. Especially in a farm setting, there is going to be death as a matter of course.  But even outside the white-fenced farmyard, death will come and we have to wrestle with that as humans in a broken world.

Sometimes Hopalong hopped around the kitchen floor.  She was always up for an adventure with Sage.

Sometimes Hopalong hopped around the kitchen floor. She was always up for an adventure with Sage.

So Tuesday morning, I carried the tiny chick out to the kitchen and wrapped her little body in a paper towel.  And cried.  Standing there in my pink bathrobe that has hay in the pockets (because sometimes I wear it right on outside to do my morning chores – please, no cameras), I sniffled and wiped tears that fell for a 7 week old chicken.  I set little Hop in a box that some k-cups came in, and Selden and I had our coffee.

When Sage came downstairs I talked with her about Hopalong and let her hold her.  Sage was very curious about her little lifeless body, and she patted her beak, opened and closed her eyelids and looked her all over.  And she cried.  Then she set Hopalong’s box on a stepping stool next to her chair and kept her company while she ate Fruit Loops.

“What will we do, Mom? Will we bury her?” Sage asked.

“The ground is frozen now, Sagie,” I replied, “so we’ll probably have to wrap her little body up and put her in our garbage pail.” (There’s really no delicate way to deliver such news, and I don’t believe in lying to kids about death.  No, “Oh, Hopalong just disappeared in the night.” or “Hopalong is sleeping.”  My parents did a lot of work with death and grief through pastoring and through Hospice, and it’s just how I roll.)

Sage wanted to bury her in the snow after preschool.  So I told her we could do that.

When Sage returned from school, she carried Hopalong’s box, and I had straw and a shovel.

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Before we left the yard, Sage wanted to take Hopalong to the chicken run, insisting the older chickens would want to pay their respects to Hop.  They did not.  What they did was assume that Sage came bearing snacks, and they promptly ran and pecked at the poor little dead chicken’s toes.  Certain that Hop-dismemberment would be traumatic to me and Sage both, I ushered her quickly out the doorway and into the back paddock.

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Sage and I walked quietly together out through the snow, beyond the white fence, into the wooded area that borders a creek.  We found the tree closest to an old stump, so we could always remember.  I shoveled away some snow and set some of the straw in the hole.  Sage laid Hopalong’s body in the straw and began to put handfuls of snow over her.  As I was tearing-up, Sage said, “OH! I want a picture so you can share it, ok, Mom?” She picked Hop up and brushed snow off her body with her pouffy pink mittens.

(I obliged her photos, which I will share at her request.  Sage seemed to not know whether to smile or be serious.  These are the obvious dilemmas of portraiture of this nature, I suppose.)

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After the photos, Sage returned Hopalong to the straw grave, and we both put snow over her and sniffled.  ”I don’t want to leave her,” Sage said. “When nobody could hear me this morning, I prayed beside Hopalong.  I asked God if he would please let chickens go to heaven.”

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“Sage, God loves when you talk to him,” I gave her a squeeze.  ”He made you and loves you and made Hopalong and loves her, too, and he cares about how you feel and when you’re sad.  It is sad to lose a pet.  We can always remember little Hop.  You did a really good job taking care of her.  I’m so proud of you.” Sage had big tears in her eyes.  ”Let’s mark her spot here with something pretty, ok?” I suggested.

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We walked a little farther and found some red berries growing on thorny branches.  I carefully pulled up a few, and we stuck them up at the head of the miniature grave sight. Sage and I walked back to the house, her with the empty box and me with the shovel.

Rebel Goats, Finished Chores, and Fake-looking Snow

Just in time for the snow today, the wood pile is finished!  My husband cut and split 14 cord of tree-length wood (without a splitter, as in, he used an ax the old fashioned way) within the past number of weeks.  Next year, we look forward to (ok, looking forward to that chore may be a stretch) getting it done earlier in the year, so we’re not racing snowflakes or having to tug on logs that are frozen to the ground.  But I digress.  It’s a super feeling to have a big job like that completed.  Our kids helped too.

My littlest kid and two furry "kids" - good helpers with the wood pile.  For moral support, anyway.

My littlest kid and two furry “kids” – good helpers with the wood pile. For moral support, anyway.

 

A week ago....

A week ago….

 

.... a day ago.

…. a day ago.

 

The goats have tasted freedom, with their excursion to the wood pile.  And now, I’m afraid, there is no stopping them.  They have become girls on a mission.  A mission to join the chickens. (Which is not really allowed, because then I have to plug up the chicken feeders.  Goats, it would seem, are not good rule followers.  They have some “boundary issues.”)

In the little house they share with the chickens – and on icy occasions, the ducks, Gideon and Lois – there is an adorable iron fence that separates the two sides, and each set of animals has its own door to its own yard.  Except that is only how it works in my mind.  In real life, the goats discovered yesterday how to joyfully and effortlessly leap over the divider, as though they are cows jumping over the moon or the little sheep you count in your mind, leaping over something imaginary as you drift off to sleep.  A less esthetically pleasing and more “functional” divider will be forthcoming.

Bella insits this is not a chicken door.  It is a "small livestock door," she has informed me.  But that is temporary.  She doesn't know yet...

Bella insits this is not a chicken door. It is a “small livestock door,” she has informed me. But that is temporary. She doesn’t know yet…

 

Henrie is still the top girl at the farm.  She oversees all farmyard activities and is basically the boss of everything.  Henrie is unsure how she feels about goats.  She has yet to issue her approval. Good thing she isn't part of the decision making committee. Maybe after further investigation...

Henrie is still the top girl at the farm. She oversees all farmyard activities and is basically the boss of everything. Henrie is unsure how she feels about goats. She has yet to issue her approval. Good thing she isn’t part of the decision making committee. Maybe after further investigation…

 

Henrie DOES like going to the goats' yard and scratching around the unfrozen soil beneath one of their stumps.  So maybe goats are ok...

Henrie DOES like going to the goats’ yard and scratching around the unfrozen soil beneath one of their stumps. So maybe goats are ok…

The goats aren't the only mischievous girls around here.  Henrie is not allowed in the hay.  Usually she's very good, but today she was thumbing her beak at Bella, who cramped Henrie's style something fierce by trotting around the chicken run the better part of the afternoon with no decorum whatsoever.  For a very dignified hen, it was simply  unthinkable.

The goats aren’t the only mischievous girls around here. Henrie is not allowed in the hay. Usually she’s very good, but today she was thumbing her beak at Bella, who cramped Henrie’s style something fierce by trotting around the chicken run the better part of the afternoon with no decorum whatsoever. For a very dignified hen, it was simply unthinkable behavior.

 

When you are this cute, sometimes you are allowed to get away with things.  But not usually for too long...

When you are this cute, sometimes you are allowed to get away with things. But not usually for too long…

 

While the animals were having their unruly morning, flakes of snow, the likes of which I have not seen, began to fall.  The thing about this snow that is so unique is how huge the flakes are and how fake they appear.  Like, perfect cut-out paper snowflakes.  Only not paper.

Look at this thing!  It's huge and it didn't melt for several minutes. (if that tells you how terribly cold it was!)

Look at this thing! It’s huge and it didn’t melt for several minutes. (if that tells you how terribly cold it was!)

A few fell onto my coat sleeve, and they were so pretty!

A few fell onto my coat sleeve, and they were so pretty!

 

Sage even had a huge snowflake land in her hair, and it lasted long enough that I could take off my gloves, grab my phone from my pocket and snap a photo!

Sage even had a huge snowflake land in her hair, and it lasted long enough that I could take off my gloves, grab my phone from my pocket and snap a photo!

 

Gideon and Lois hate to miss any excitement.  They spy on the other animals through the fencing rather frequently.  Sometimes they join in, but mostly they waddle around the edges, talking amongst themselves.

Gideon and Lois hate to miss any excitement. They spy on the other animals through the fencing rather frequently. Sometimes they join in, but mostly they waddle around the edges, talking amongst themselves.

 

In their honor, we have Gideon and Lois ornaments this year for the tree.  He always walks in front...

In their honor, we have Gideon and Lois ornaments this year for the tree. He always walks in front…

 

The baby chicks are getting huge now!  I’ll have to get some photos of them to show you.  And little Hopalong is still hanging in there, even though she’s a little tidbit of a chick. I’m not sure how she’ll fare.  But we just take each day one at a time here.  That’s really all we can do.  Each day is full.  It brings with it the glimmer of frosty morning ground, the sounds of children and animals, the cozy warmth of coffee and wood smoke.  And the exact measure of grace needed to face whatever comes.

 

Farmhouse Christmas Decorating with Sparkles and Branches

I may have gone too far.  Maybe my philosophy of “if one is good, lots is better” only works for shoes and chickens.  Perhaps it does not extend into the realm of tree-branches-as-decor.  But who would I be if not one inclined to push the boundaries?  Before you come inside the farmhouse to see all the Christmas wonderousness, just be forewarned.

It’s possible that I have gone beyond the point of “wintery wonderland” and created something vaguely “fairy forest” or a type of woodland habitat wherein you may see the odd hobbit.  But I’m just so darn excited to live somewhere that has actual real trees growing all over the property that I can’t stop myself from bringing in things I find outdoors!

This year, we decided that we are not getting new Christmas decorations, because we’ve had a bunch of other things to buy with moving and settling in.  At first I thought, “There’s no way all my wild hot pink and turquoise ornaments from the other house will EVER work in a farmhouse.  Eeew!  No way.”  But now I’m really glad I used what we had.  

I think that with some creativity there is usually a way to take what you have and re-imagine it.  This year, all it took was some branches.

The branch theme started with this centerpiece. And I had so many branches gathered I just kept going!

The branch theme started with this centerpiece. And I had so many branches gathered I just kept going!

The mini tree was too cute to pass up at the farm stand! It fits perfectly in a galvanized bucket I had already. It's secured in floral foam with some rocks for weight. The branch is held up with Command hooks. Pretty frame for the pretty view out back!

The mini tree was too cute to pass up at the farm stand! It fits perfectly in a galvanized bucket I had already. It’s secured in floral foam with some rocks for weight. The branch is held up with Command hooks. Pretty frame for the pretty view out back!

 

My marabou-ladies were a HomeGoods find a few years ago, and as un-farm-house as they are, they are my very favorite decorations.   My decorating criteria is that it must make me smile.

My marabou-ladies were a HomeGoods find a few years ago, and as un-farm-house as they are, they are my very favorite decorations. My decorating criteria is that it must make me smile.

 

This is where we sit to watch the sun rise and have coffee after our morning chores of putting wood in the boiler and feeding dogs, chicks, chickens and goats. The windows are a great place to drape beads, hang ornaments and display "the guys," as my little one calls Nutcrackers.

This is where we sit to watch the sun rise and have coffee after our morning chores of putting wood in the boiler and feeding dogs, chicks, chickens and goats. The windows are a great place to drape beads, hang ornaments and display “the guys,” as my little one calls Nutcrackers. (sorry for the yellowish cast… the natural light coming in makes it hard to get good photo color!)

 

The ornaments and beads create a shimmery Christmas valance of sorts, my mother pointed out.

The ornaments and beads create a shimmery Christmas valance of sorts, my mother pointed out.

 

So different at night, with the sparkles against the black night sky.

So different at night, with the sparkles against the black night sky.

 

I couldn't resist the branch... It's a whole 'nother tree! Almost.

I couldn’t resist the branch… It’s a whole ‘nother tree! Almost. (Command Hooks may be my new best friend.)

 

The branch perfectly fills the space!  Wall art... for FREE.  This, I love.  And it's a way to bring in natural elements, which I so enjoy.

The branch perfectly fills the space! Wall art… for FREE. This, I love. And it’s a way to bring in natural elements, which I so enjoy.

 

Just when you think you've seen all the branches, you go into the hallway....

Just when you think you’ve seen all the branches, you go into the hallway….

 

I'm sure my husband is amused that our bedroom has a hot pink jingle bell garland... and a branch so humongous that it snaggled on the doorways coming through the house.  You really can't get the gist of its hugeness from this photo.

I’m sure my husband is amused that our bedroom has a hot pink jingle bell garland… and a branch so humongous that it snaggled on the doorways coming through the house. You really can’t get the gist of its hugeness from this photo.

Our little entryway, with Sage's artwork, a collection of "the guys"..... and branches tied up with gold ribbon and dripping with plastic glitter snowflakes. Aw yeah!

Our little entryway, with Sage’s artwork, a collection of “the guys”….. and branches tied up with gold ribbon and dripping with plastic glitter snowflakes. Aw yeah!

 

These never really "went" in the old Victorian house we had, but little wooden sleds are perfect at a farmhouse!

These never really “went” in the old Victorian house we had, but little wooden sleds are perfect at a farmhouse!

 

This is maybe my favorite.  I love the collection of artwork, and the branch with my little peacock and some sparkles is just perfect, I think!

This is maybe my favorite. I love the collection of artwork, and the branch with my little peacock and some sparkles is just perfect, I think!

 

God made the most beautiful pink sky this morning.  The sky out here is a gift every day.  No matter what the weather, it's magnificent to look out over the fence.  None of the creative stuff I do inside can hold a candle to a sky like this!

God made the most beautiful pink sky this morning. The sky out here is a gift every day. No matter what the weather, it’s magnificent to look out over the fence. None of the creative stuff I do inside can hold a candle to a sky like this!

 

Do you have a decorating obsession or theme this year?  Certain colors you love to use?  Do you love or hate the branches? (And did I go way overboard!!!!???? You can tell me.  We’re friends.  I can handle it!)

Thank you so much for coming through a little farmhouse tour today.  If you like to hang around here, I hope you’ll enter your email in the little box at the top right of the page, so new posts slip right into your email inbox.  And please leave a comment if you’d like to.  I’ll be sure to respond. It’s fun to talk decorating!

I’m linking up to the Farmgirl Friday Blog Hop! Come on by – just click the link below.

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First snow & first year heating with only wood!

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Being here in the farmhouse, we have a whole bunch of lifestyle changes. From roosters occasionally coming into the house (our preschooler is a poultry smuggler unmatched in these parts) to goats climbing on our shoulders to abandoning our dependence on the big oil companies for our heat and hot water…. there are good things and new things everywhere I turn.

Sometimes our goats like to do things reminiscent of cheerleading stunts. I think Rose is hoping to make a pyramid...

Sometimes our goats like to do things reminiscent of cheerleading stunts. I think Rose is hoping to make a pyramid… My husband is not only smart and handsome, he is a saint.

When we saw that this house had a wood boiler (and a backup oil furnace… but we don’t plan to use that at all), it was a very interesting idea that we could use wood exclusively to heat not only the house but the barn as well.  My first thought was financial, and it definitely is a savings.  Especially because we purchase tree-length wood. As the budget-chick at the homestead, I am all about staying toasty for less.  But I’ve come to appreciate wood heat for a number of other reasons as well.

Next year, we'll be done with our wood chores before snow, but it sure is pretty!

Next year, we’ll be done with our wood chores before snow, but it sure is pretty!

The smell of wood smoke in the chilly air is so quintessentially cozy and old fashioned.  Nothing conveys a sense of warmth and comfort like a wood fire.

Getting outside together as a family and stacking up the (seemingly endless mountain of) wood under the barn-side overhang is a pretty cool, old-school chore. We’re working side by side, out in the fresh air, and – bonus – it’s not a shabby workout for those of us who don’t super-love the idea of going to the gym.  We’ve had some talks about the “old days” while out stacking up the split logs. And it definitely feels like a connection to our history to be doing this work.  It’s another way to stay slowed down, un-distracted, in the moment.

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My favorite part of using wood to heat our home is something I never anticipated at all.  I felt so cranky every time I paid my gigunda oil bill in the past.  But when a truck hauling 10 cord of wood drives out into the paddock, and a man who’s working and living right here in my community climbs out and begins the unloading of trees, I know my heating money is going to a local family and is having a positive impact right here in Maine. The man we buy wood from is a hard worker who, if anything, errs on the side of being generous with his measure.  I think most of us want to decrease our dependence on foreign oil, and for me, I feel so encouraged to know that in this small way, I can support local business and also save money and have a cozy house all winter!  (That’s a win-win-win.)

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This year we are really late getting our wood cut and stacked, since we didn’t move in until fall.  We had our first snow this weekend! A little dusting on Saturday with more snow yesterday.  We hung our lights on Friday.  The farmhouse, usually not visible from the road at night, is shimmering now, up on its little hill. The back deck is strung with sparkling lights we enjoy at our pre-dawn coffee date in the back of the house, which is almost all windows.

Starting to put lights up!

Starting to put lights up!

 

It's a little magical

It’s a little magical

 

Friday...

Friday…

 

Saturday...

Saturday…

 

Sunday...

Sunday…

Monday morning

Monday morning

The chickens are having fun pecking their scratch off the heavy snow blanketing their run.

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fluffy butts

fluffy butts

The goats haven’t gone out yet, because I wasn’t sure until now that the wet snow is ok for their hooves.  I know mud isn’t good for them and had to check about this, novice goat owner that I am! My grandmother has offered to teach me to knit (and sew!), so I’m preparing to make some cute farmhouse-tastic burlap valances for the kitchen windows and then promptly begin knitting, in order that I may one day be someone who can “whip up” a goat sweater or two.  And somehow or another I have become a girl who springs instantly to mind when any of my Facebook friends sees livestock knitwear online.  My wall is peppered with photos of goat and chicken sweaters.  I am getting inspired, y’all!  Much to my husband’s dismay.  I think he was hoping that my little Papillon, Fifi (may she rest in peace), would be the first and last fancy-sweater-wearing animal he would need to endure.  But really…. I read today that goats do sometimes need a sweater.  So that’s totally legit, right?

Lois, posing for a pre-snow portrait in the orchard.

Lois, posing for a pre-snow portrait in the orchard.

 

Gideon and Lois are clinging to all hope of unfrozen water!

Gideon and Lois are clinging to all hope of unfrozen water!

 

Monday morning, the ducks are happy that they have a little swim area left.

Monday morning, the ducks are happy that they have a little swim area left.

Very first snow angel of the year... on a one-snowflake-layer thick snowy back deck.

Very first snow angel of the year… on a one-snowflake-layer thick snowy back deck.

 

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Some Christmas trees adorn the back yard

Some Christmas trees adorn the back yard

 

Orchard and pond, in the first snow

Orchard and pond, in the first snow

 

Everything looks so pretty with a layer of white.

Everything looks so pretty with a layer of white.

 

The duck is stuck!!!!

Gideon and Lois enjoy waiting for the school bus many days.

Sunday was freezing.  The wind whipped and the air was piercing cold. Painful cold. The ground was frozen hard, and the water for the animals would form a block of ice in the bucket seemingly within minutes.

Sunday my husband spent several hours (yes HOURS) out in that nasty weather running power out to the coop, so the chickens and the goats can have electrical outlets and heated waterers. (He is a saint, and he completely rocks my world, but that’s beside the point.)

You know it's love when your husband will go out on the coldest day of the year to   run electricity to your chicken-and-goat house.

You know it’s love when your husband will go out on the coldest day of the year to run electricity to your chicken-and-goat house.

That night, we went out the back door, down the deck stairs, bundled up and toting the flash light, doing our nightly chores and getting the animals “put to bed.” The ducks, Gideon and Lois, who usually live at our pond and will have nothing whatsoever to do with such domesticated behaviors as “going in the duck house” even found it icy enough to warrant hanging out in the chicken coop all day and staying for a very wisely planned sleepover.

Love birds.

Love birds.

When we first began walking to the chicken house, we heard an unrelenting “QUACK! QUACK! QUAAAAAAAACK!” It’s important to note at this point in the story that Lois and Gideon are very dramatic and have quite theatrical personalities.  So we hear quacking pretty much always.  But this was different.

Chicken-and-goat house

Chicken-and-goat house

As we neared the coop, sweeping the beam of light across the frozen ground, we saw that all the birds had gone inside, and as we grew closer the quacking seemed to be coming from outside.  Selden bent down to flash the light under the coop, as it’s raised several inches off the ground so the chickens can hang out underneath.  And there was Lois.

They really are two peas in a pod.

They really are two peas in a pod.

Lois and Gideon are identical. The only way to tell them apart is because Lois is squawking all the time and has a much louder voice than Gideon.  He is a quiet sort of guy, and he waddles in perfect sync with her all over the yard, bobbing from one side to the other, and Lois is always talking.  There is an unfortunate and unintentional parallel between these ducks and another couple of love birds who live here, too, but that’s another story, right? So Lois is the talker, and Gideon has a deep, placating sort of quack that he interjects from time to time.  So this is why we knew it was Lois stuck under the coop.

She was all the way back, which is 8 feet, and the space under the coop is far to shallow for either Selden or me to crawl underneath. While the ducks will come at practically a gallop when they are called by name and know food is involved, they really have no use for being patted or otherwise coming near, unlike the chickens who are very sociable and even sometimes cuddly.

I think Selden and I both thought we may actually die of the cold out there (ok, that may have only been me….), and the more we tried to coax Lois toward us, the more she pressed back against the back of the area which is secured by heavy hardware cloth, so we couldn’t get to her.

“Gideon!” I said, and went into the pitch black coop. From time to time, I could make out the white feathers of a duck scurrying around in the straw, and I lunged toward him, missing him completely and tripping over part of a chicken roosting bar.  Trying to avoid the roosts, the dust bath, the waterer dangling from the ceiling, the fencing that divides the space for the goats, and the silkies who sleep curled up in the corner, I continued round and round in the blackness until finally I emerged with one very displeased duck.

With Gideon in my arms, I knelt down on the ground in the run, and Selden shone the light toward Gideon, so Lois could see her love there, quacking from time to time his apparent discontent.  ”Come on Lois… Look, Gideon wants to see you!  Come on out, Lois, good girl,” I cooed in a voice I hoped sounded amiable to a freaked out duck.

It took her a couple minutes, but Gideon’s charm worked its magic, and she soon made her way under the chicken house and out to her drake. I grabbed Lois in my other arm and scooted quickly to the coop to set them down.  They are so funny, those two.  One day Gideon was in the orchard quacking madly, and we went to see what the problem was and noticed Lois was not there.  She was up the hill by the garden.  And Gideon would not move a single step until he saw her.

Gideon and Lois enjoy waiting for the school bus many days.

Gideon and Lois enjoy waiting for the school bus many days.

Before you think he’s quite chivalrous, I’ll close by saying that on one occasion our Goldendoodle, Rigby, was in the yard and caught sight of the ducks and chased them, barking.  I shrieked and ran to grab the dog just as he had backed Lois up against the garden fence.  Gideon took off as fast as 3-inch legs can take a guy.  When danger comes, it’s every duck for itself.  But once in a while their quirky little love story shines through, and Gideon is the valiant rescuer of his soul mate from the underneath of the chicken coop.  But that’s really only once in a while.

Waddling in sync back down to the pond this fall.

Waddling in sync back down to the pond this fall.

Right Now at the Farmhouse

Right now, my teenagers are not using smart phones, tablets, computers or TV.  They are bundled up against the icy Maine wind, stacking the last of the firewood we will use to heat our house.  The landscape behind them is shades of brown and green, sculptural branches interrupt my view of the coral and lilac-colored clouds behind them. It’s almost 4 in the afternoon, and in this part of the country, it will be dark in 45 minutes.  My teenagers pause to kick a soccer ball on the paddock and laugh.  They don’t know I’m watching them, smiling.

Lia, fiercely chopping firewood.  Hardcore Maine farm girl-style.

Lia, fiercely chopping firewood. Hardcore Maine farm girl-style.

Being here in this farmhouse setting has changed our whole lives, really.  We didn’t just move to a new house. We made a conscious decision (well the adults in the house, anyway), that this would be a move to a new lifestyle.  More space. More fresh air.  More old fashioned chores, like wood splitting and stacking.  And although part of the lifestyle change I did not anticipate was my using a chainsaw, that has happened as well! (My husband got a picture of it, which you can see on my Facebook page.)

My mornings start at 5:30 like before, but instead of starting the day with an hour of solo coffee refills and reading, I start the day lugging grain and water and hay through the inky-dark early morning to my chattery goats and tossing scratch over the collection of leaves we’ve hauled into the chicken run, so the girls can entertain themselves. Then my husband and I sit in the dimly lit window area that overlooks the back yard, and we sip coffee and talk together.

I'm learning that in addition to hoof trimming, it's very important to learn proper food pan placement.  For obvious reasons.

I’m learning that in addition to hoof trimming, it’s very important to learn proper food pan placement. For obvious reasons.

 

Right now, there are 15 baby chicks fluttering around a brooder that is just behind the antique yellow sofa.  They are having weird “hair days” this week.  The new “big girl feathers” are starting to come in, and their fuzzy baby-down is letting go.  They’re trying out their wings and seem thrilled to fly a few inches.  Our Maltese mix watches them in total fascination all day long. So do I.

Sometimes baby chicks like to play Duplo farm.

Sometimes baby chicks like to play Duplo farm.

 

This chick, named either Sonny or Pipsqueak (the two are identical...), is enjoying her barn.

This chick, named either Sonny or Pipsqueak (the two are identical…), is enjoying her barn.

 

Little Red, our (wait for it.....) little red hen.

Little Red, our (wait for it…..) little red hen.

 

Pouf, the mystery chick who was added to our order.  We SUSPECT she is an Ancona or maybe a Silver Laced Wyandotte...?

Pouf, the mystery chick who was added to our order. We SUSPECT she is an Ancona or maybe a Silver Laced Wyandotte…?

Wood smoke billows out of the boiler that is off to the side of the barn, bringing the cozy fragrance of winter to me.  I love heating only with wood, mostly because I love that smell.  When my husband was gone on business for a week, I tossed log after log into the open boiler in the dark, bright orange coals glowing and flames flickering.  I felt a tad bit Laura Ingalls Wilder, if I do say so myself.

Yesterday, my friend came over to teach me how to trim my goats’ hooves.  This both excited and totally terrified me.  I watched You Tube tutorials that morning while baking her some thank-you ginger snaps. When she came over, we took turns holding a goat while the other trimmed the tiny hooves. During my 15-plus years spent doing nails on human ladies, never did I once think I would be pedicuring goats.

Rose and Bella, two very patient pedicure clients.

Rose and Bella, two very patient pedicure clients.

Right now, peppermint tea is steaming from a vintage diner mug on a little metal table beside me, and outside on the back deck, a bright crimson cardinal is hopping, pausing here and there to pick up dropped bird seed that spilled from the feeder on the deck railing. The sun is setting even as I’m typing.  I’ll have to go feed the goats and tuck the chickens into bed before coming back inside to start dinner.

One of the beauties we enjoy every day.

Some of the beauties we enjoy every day.

The best part of being here at the farmhouse is that every moment captures me.  We live in this right now space better here.

We are connecting to nature more, and it is pulling us away from the tv and the laptops and out toward wood piles and duck ponds and chicken coops. But you don’t have to live on a farmhouse or raise goats in a chicken barn decorated with folk paintings to get this soul-quieting, peaceful farmhouse heart. You can live in the city and raise a kitchen herb garden, or at your subdivision home keep a stocked-up bird feeder outside your window this winter and enjoy the colors and entertainment they provide, or you can find one of the rustic, no-knead bread recipes and fill your home with the fragrance of bread baking…

Hens make fantastic farm supervisors.  Henrie enjoys watching the goats have breakfast. She clucks bossy-sounding things to them as they eat. They don't seem to mind, fortunately.

Hens make fantastic farm supervisors. Henrie enjoys watching the goats have breakfast. She clucks bossy-sounding things to them as they eat. They don’t seem to mind, fortunately.

I hope you will make a right-now, farmhouse moment for your heart today, friend.  If you have a favorite way to quiet your soul, or if you have something you want to try to do to get a little farmhouse in your life, please leave me a comment, and I will enjoy catching up with you when I get back from the chicken coop.

 

 

Goats and Love Stories

Friends cuddled up on the fresh wood shavings.

For years I’ve bewildered friends and family with my declaration that “one day I would like to have goats.” I mean, it seems perfectly rational to me.  And if nothing else, I expect it will be a savings financially over a span of years in terms of admissions we DON’T have to pay to the York Animal Kingdom each summer, just so I can pat the goats in the kiddie petting zoo area. So really, that’s good logical thinking.  I can’t understand the consistent surprise that registers on people’s faces when I explain my dream to have a big old farmhouse… with goats.

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My husband has grown accustomed to my dreamy chatter. We have certain routines, like all married folk do.  He drives, and I talk. Sometimes on long car trips, he’ll glance sideways at me with his eyes smiling, amused at my endless tales.  One time when he had a lengthy solo ride, he called me just to hear a story.  (Bless him!)

One of the many things he’s heard me say repeatedly is this whole farmhouse-and-goat story. We love old homes, the character and the coziness and the history.  In regard to the goat part, however, he held firm to his “no.”  I knew this whole goat thing of mine was just a little happy idea that was really not going to happen. But it makes me smile to think of it. My best friend even found a whole calendar of goat photos for me as a Christmas gift last year!  It’s a “thing,” I guess you could say.  (Of all the “things” to have…. goats?!)

So two months ago we very unexpectedly had the opportunity to buy our old farmhouse.  We hadn’t been looking and the whole thing fell into place like only God can orchestrate.  There is even an adorable chicken run all built and everything!!!!  Chickens are something I had never had a desire to own.  They are not cute at all, I once thought.  They are not cuddly at all, I once thought.  Goats, on the other hand…. Goats are totally charming.

Twinkle Toes and Fred, enjoying the fall leaves.

Twinkle Toes and Fred, enjoying the fall leaves.

I shrugged and said “why not” to chickens, I mean there was a space for them and all.  What’s the harm?  And I am enamored.  Enamored of chickens. I have never in my life expected to type such words.  The last thing I would EVER have anticipated being was a woman enamored of chickens.

Me, enamored.

Me, enamored.

The sweet coop!

The sweet coop!

My husband constructed the most beautiful chicken house.  And I joked with him that there would certainly be room for goats in it’s 12×8′ space.  ”No goats,” he said. But I think he was smiling a little bit.

The chickens moved into their new digs, and my mother brought her grand-poultry a very festive hen folk painting to adorn their sleeping area.  It even looks like Henrie and Rosie!

Inside the coop, in the roosting area.

Inside the coop, in the roosting area.

I ordered baby chicks, as we discussed at length yesterday.  I planned Sage’s 5-year old birthday party with her requested chicken theme (which I may have suggested…..).  And the night before her party, my best friend texted me that her nephew is selling his goats, and that she could bring them to the party if we wanted them.

Oh. My. Word.

So I shared their darling photos with my husband, and the next day, just as my friend was leaving her parents’ farm in northern Maine, my husband said it was ok with him if we got the goats.

There must have been 3 identical texts from Tessa to confirm that I was actually serious that yes, we would in fact take the goats.  And then she called me.  Probably just to be sure.

My husband and I had developed an arrangement in regard to the goats: he would not be given mountains of goat-related building projects nor would he be a goat herder.  I swore my solemn vow to be the person in charge of all goat maintenance, including but not limited to poop-related goat owning chores. 

Bella

Bella, who I believe is smiling.

Rose and Bella, our Nigerian Dwarf girls have been here for 4 days.  And they are charming.  Even my husband agrees.  In fact he is devising (of his own accord) how to make them the perfect goat seesaw.  We’ve sectioned (and this is one of those many times I use “we” when I only mean “he”) off a part of the chicken shed, so the goats have their own area and doorway, and they have their own fenced-in back yard.  It’s fantastic!

My husband told me with a smile yesterday, “When I was building that coop, I knew there would be goats in it.”

Sage and Bella, with Rosie and Henrie curiously watching from the other side of the shed division.

Sage and Bella, with Rosie and Henrie curiously watching from the other side of the shed division. The hens are very nosy, you know.

 

Goats are good for cuddling and hugging.

Goats are good for cuddling and hugging.

 

Rose, who's kind of a goofball, in a more reflective moment.

Rose, who’s kind of a goofball, in a more reflective moment.

Friends cuddled up on the fresh wood shavings.

Friends cuddled up on the fresh wood shavings.

 

Bella is such a gentle soul.

Bella is such a gentle soul.

So truth be told, I know precisely nothing about taking care of goats.  Well, that’s less true today than it was Saturday.  I’ve been reading voraciously. This farm thing is a big new adventure.  A crazy, humorous, tender story unfolding. It’s deep, slow breaths of crisp fall air and big skies stretching up over us.  It’s a poufy black rooster crowing, making me laugh in the morning while I am out back in my pajamas and muck boots. It’s chickens in my dining room and chickens in the yard and chickens in any and every garden bed I am trying to dig.  It’s goats scooting past me into the paddock while I try to balance water pitchers and grain dishes and hay.

And it’s a love story.

This is a love story.

This is a love story.

 

 

 

Hopalong, the injured baby chick, and the other sweet chicks arrive!

Bluebell, Cupcake and Cookie

No one warned me that it’s possible to develop an addiction to poultry.  I’ve been a shoe addict.  A handbag hoarder. A girl obsessed with the perfectly done “smokey eye.” I have been addicted to spray tan.  Acrylic nails. Even cigarettes for a whole year in college. But chickens?  What kind of girl is addicted to chickens? It’s a question I had not once given any consideration.  Until it happened to me.

two chicken addicts and two silkie chickens

two chicken addicts and two silkie chickens

I’ve been dying for baby chicks ever since falling head over heels in love with Rosie and Henrie, our two Rhode Island Red pullets (farm-girl vocabulary word, meaning young hen). They cluck and coo and follow me around the garden, plump feathered bodies and inquisitive eyes, necks craning to see just exactly what I’m doing.  If I’m digging up weeds, they are digging next to me. If I’m digging a hole to plant holly bushes, either Henrie or Rosie is in the hole when I turn back. If Sage heads up to the house, one of “the girls” follows her up to the door, hoping for treats.

Rosie on the way to the house

Rosie on the way to the house

 

Henrie, in the house

Henrie, in the house

 We didn’t get to raise them from chicks, so I have really wanted to have little bitties around.  Which made Sage’s 5th birthday the perfect excuse to order baby chicks.  And really it IS the perfect gift for her, because she is a girl equally hooked on chickens. In fact, she usually has at least one chicken (or occasionally a duck) in tow when she’s outside. And sometimes when she comes in.

Rosie and Henrie, the best hens ever

Rosie and Henrie, the best hens ever

 

Gideon, the white pekin

Gideon, the white pekin, who is not impressed

A month or so ago we bought a pair of black silkie chickens, male and female.  Sage so loves the silkies that I ordered her 4 more, as well as a couple Barred Rock girls, a blue Orpingon and a bantam mottled Cochin.  They hatched on the 28th of October, and I was about to come out of my skin with excitement, awaiting their arrival.

Twinkle Toes, the silkie love bug

Twinkle Toes, the silkie love bug

I obsessively stalked the online tracking page. I followed their journey across state.  I even called a local post office when I noticed they’d made it to Hampden on Tuesday afternoon of that week.  Just in case I could scoot over and intercept my chirpy parcel…. Which I could not.

However, at 5am Wednesday morning, the postmaster called me to let me know I could come over and get them.  So I started my vehicle to rid it of frost, scurried around, under-caffeinated and freezing cold, to set up the brooder.  Then decided it was too chilly in the barn for them, even with the heat lamp, since we had not been running the heat out there yet.  So I made an impromptu brooder out of an empty plastic tote, covered the bottom with pine shavings, set up the water and food and turned on the lamp… and off I drove.

The teeny box of chicks was cheep-ing so loudly I could hear it before the woman at the post office opened the big metal doors out back at the loading area. Driving home I prayed there were no dead chickies inside (because this happens sometimes).

sweet chirpy girls!

sweet chirpy girls!

My husband was ready with coffee when I bustled in and began cutting the taped edges to peek inside at our little bundles of fluff and joy. Eight chirping babies huddled in the little next of straw. But one didn’t seem well…

One by one I put them down on the floor of the brooder.  And a little gray silkie didn’t hop around like the others.  She wouldn’t bare weight on one foot.  She fell over when she tried to move.  Her foot was limp, toes curled lifelessly. My heart sank. And broke a little bit.

Little Hopalong, cozy in Sagie's hands

Little Hopalong, cozy in Sagie’s hands

I did what any concerned mother would do: I used social media to get emergency info. Stat.

I learned she could be given Poly-Vi-Sol without iron (infant vitamin drops), so I rushed to the pharmacy and took the last bottle. (If you live in my area and cannot find this for your infant, my apologies. My chicken needed vitamins.  I’m sure you understand.)

I was directed to numerous sites displaying splints and shoes and structural support for my chicken’s legs, feet and gait, the likes of which I would have certainly needed my cousin Patrick and his masters degree in architecture to construct properly.  Although this did not prevent me from trying.

Hopalong, enduring my feeble efforts at poultry podiatry and splint-making

Hopalong, enduring my feeble efforts at poultry podiatry and splint-making

We named the little chick Hopalong.  She was the first one of the batch with a name.  Checking on little Hopalong has become a family routine.  My husband holds her in his palm, so she can drink her water.  I administer the drops of vitamins thrice daily.  My littlest girl – the family chicken whisperer – announces dutifully any time Hopalong appears to have the dreaded “pasty butt.” (farm-girl vocabulary, meaning a plug of poop dried onto the vent – aka butt – of a baby chick, which could prevent future poops and lead to some type of internal combustion I am going to assume.  It is fatal anyway…. So to remedy this, one must dip the chick’s butt in warm water and carefully remove this little poopy. The announcing is Sage’s job. The removal is mine.  We live for clearly defined roles in my house, apparently.)

I tried a splint on her, and she stood, both feet on the ground.  Then she promptly fell over, her wrapped leg swishing recklessly around her, squawks of panic rapid fire from her little gray beak.

I called the bird sanctuary.  They don’t help domestic birds.  Fantastic.  But they do recommend letting her just adapt.

I called the vet.  They recommend euthanizing her. I’ll pass, thanks.

I had a pit in my stomach for hours, trying to figure out how to wrap a leg the size of a toothpick into an “anatomically correct” position with non-adhesive bandaging.  It appeared from all investigation that she has a slipped achilles, and one is supposed to be able to feel that and manually slide it into place.  Seriously?  People can do that?!

sweet little thing

sweet little thing

So I came to the point by the day’s end where I had talked to everyone I could think of, and my husband and I finally determined we’d let her be.  She was not suffering, she is eating and drinking.  She uses her one good leg to hop.  She stands like a tiny, fuzzy-looking gray flamingo.  She balances with her little wing tips on the ground.  And she’s not being tormented by the other girls.

Each day it seems she’s faring alright.  Today the girls are a week old.  I don’t know what the future will hold for Hopalong. Chickens are pretty tough cookies when it comes to seeing and eliminating weakness in a flock. My prayer is that Hopalong will be one of those feel-good stories of a little one with the odds stacked against her overcoming obstacles and having a good life.  But I know that it’s possible her story won’t be that way.  And it’s a bit of a thing where I have to just not be in charge.  Which is not my forte. So even in these little chick-raising moments, God is stretching me.  Reminding me I’m not in charge, our world is not perfect, and bringing to mind that the Bible says His eye is on the sparrow… and I know if he sees the little sparrow, he sees my little Hopalong, too.

Hopalong and Spottie

Hopalong and Spottie

The other girls are all doing well.  We have Cookie and Cupcake, the two Barred Rocks. A buff Silkie named Sparkles. Two white Silkies, Rainbow and Daffodil.  The mottled Cochin, who is named Spottie after my mom’s childhood chicken. And a blue Orpington my dad – who was here visiting the day they arrived and who helped me in my first effort to splint Hopalong – named Bluebell.

Rainbow and Daffodil

Rainbow and Sparkles

 

Daffodil and Spottie

Daffodil and Spottie

 

Bluebell, Cupcake and Cookie

Bluebell, Cupcake and Cookie

They’re in my sitting area now.  Chattering and chirping nonstop.  Scratching around.  Eating, pooping, drinking, bustling. Being subjected to Sage’s mandatory “butt checks.”  (She’s such a farm-girl. But for real, you do have to do regular pasty butt checks on these little ones.) It’s crazy how they’ve grown and changed in a week!

And because if a little bit’s good, a lot must be better, I ordered more chicks today.  I did ask permission from my husband, though.  And he said, “Get whatever you’d like.” (He’s spoiling me with chickens, you guys.)  So I ordered his Barred Rock rooster, for whom he will have to mull over the perfect name.  And two White Rocks. Two Ameraucanas (because they lay blue eggs!!!). And another Rhode Island Red (because the first two are simply delightful).  And I’m done.  I’m cutting myself off.  This is it. For now. Really.

He must have been playing it safe when he built the 12×8 foot chicken house…. Have I told you lately how much I adore my husband?

New Chickens at the Farm (and the REAL deal about the gender question of old)

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This is that awkward moment when I tell you that I guess what I thought was an egg-dropping-slot on some of the chickens…. wasn’t. Apparently, as I caught, flipped and pawed around the feathers of Gertrude, Francis and Marilyn, the opening I managed to see underneath was something other than a slot used for dropping eggs.  I probably need not elaborate on what I must have found.  (Don’t worry, there are no photojournalistic images)

It’s not really polite conversation, this talk of chicken butts and egg slots.  I approached the issue with my husband as we sat in the near dark of 6am having coffee and squinting out the window to see the first few birds feeding outside.  He quickly cut short the whole thing.  He can’t handle talking about chicken butts over coffee at that hour.  Or probably ever.

I also traumatized him early last week with a video I posted on Instagram of Rosie laying an egg!  (click the link to watch)

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Anyway. About the roosters. My friend has a son who is a real expert about chickens, and he confirmed for me for SURE yesterday that yes, the three suspected dudes are in fact roosters.  This means we have 9 chickens, 4 of whom are roosters.  This, my friends, is not a good ratio.  Gertrude, who is a he, will stay on a probationary basis, because Sage particularly likes him. If he is rotten, he goes.  That’s the deal. (Gertrude is the weirdo rooster strutting around with the white feathers. Marilyn and Francis are the roosters below… All dudes.  Good grief.)

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And Fred (who is a new guy and an intentional rooster acquisition) will stay.  Although he seems naughty…. Oh, you must hear about the new chickens…

Fred with my Meem

Fred with my Meem

We went to a friend’s house about two hours away in a beautiful coastal town called Machais.  The drive was beautiful, with leaves amazing colors and rusty red blueberry fields all along the road, farmhouses peppering the landscape. Fall in Maine is the best.

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My friend had two black silkie chickens about 3 months old, a male and female pair, plus she gave us a precious top hat/Polish pullet (young hen) who I’d admired.

Sage named them.  I wanted to name them Stacy and Clinton (I’m a What Not to Wear fan), but my husband wasn’t really ok with that.  So we have Twinkle Toes and Fred.

Twinkle Toes

Twinkle Toes

Tina Turner Yolanda Chicken is the top hat/Polish (our friend named her Tina and my oldest daughter named her Yolanda, so we have a long name here.  It’s ok, because my dad started the trend by being named Frederick David Neil Gass.  So we can totally rock a long name in our family.  Twinkle Toes has a middle name as well, which is Pip Squeak.  And our goldendoodle is Rigby Donkey Doodle Wheeler. It’s just how we roll).

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So Tina Turner Yolanda had a really hard day yesterday.  I had been keeping her and the silkies she arrived with in a big dog crate with no bottom in it so they could scratch and peck at the grass outside, and the “big girls” (half of whom are actually guys, but anyway) could see them without terrorizing them. When I went out at lunch I was devastated to see Tina had lost feathers on her backside and was a little raw skinned!  Fred had pecked and pecked at her for what seemed like much of the morning!

They were separated, and I went to get Blue Kote, a spray I had read about that is an antiseptic and dye for animals so if they have sores it won’t draw more pecking and will be disguised. She looked so pitiful in her own little crate, sweet girl. We’re seeing how it goes.  She may do alright but she may need to go back with my friend or something, if she seems to not be safe here.  I felt like such a horrible chicken mama!

Today, I put the silkies in the veggie garden, which is fenced in, along with Rosie and Henry (who are both girls), my awesomely friendly Rhode Island Red hens. They are dolls!  Rosie bosses every one of those roosters around.  But she didn’t even look like she was close to pecking at the newcomers.  I stayed a while to keep watch. She and Henry poked around and would go near the little ones, but they are so gentle.

Sweet Rosie, who is kind to everyone.

Sweet Rosie, who is kind to everyone.

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Eventually I added Tina Turner Yolanda out to the garden, so she could get some space to wander.  Fred has one or two times seemed to try to peck at her, and I may need to put her aside again, so she can heal up.  But she liked finding bugs and greens to enjoy out near the zucchinis.

So we’ve had lots of chicken drama this week, friends.  What has YOUR week been like?

Oh, here’s some of my littlest kiddo’s chicken artwork for you to enjoy this weekend!

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 Oh, come on by the Farmgirl Blog Hop! I just discovered it recently and am enjoying other people’s farm escapades.

 

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