New Beginnings

We have a new addition — Ruger, the latest little Corgi to join the pack.  He’s sweet, stubborn and has already made a playmate of his sister, Josie Wales, who is just one year older.  He’s been home for 3 nights now and has settled in well.  We are in the process of crate training and I swear I don’t remember it kicking my butt like this in the past — but that may have been due to sleep deprivation and memory loss.  It is the first time I have entrusted the dogs to dog sit for me while I took a much needed nap.  All is well that ends well and we sure love the little guy.

I am back on night shift at the hospital and will be spending more time back in the ER.  It’s where I do the most good and feel like I’m in my element.  The old saying that if you make a job out of something you love, you’ll never work a day in your life seems to fit my situation well.  I feel a bit rusty and out of sync but I’m sure it won’t be long before the flow returns.  I love my job most of the time and I know enough to realize how lucky I am for that.  It’s where I belong and I’m doing what I was always meant to do.  That is a satisfaction that I do not question.

It’s been a tough year.  I thought the year my parents and my husband’s dad got divorced was tough but it seems like just as the dust was settling from that is when my Dad died and everything that had been “unsettled” just came apart.  It’s hard to lose a parent.  It’s harder to watch your siblings experience that grief and know that there’s nothing to be done to fix it.  I think I thought moving to day shift would make me more available to them to help fill some of the void my Dad left behind but I was wrong.  That void is too vast and nothing within my power will make any of this easier on them.  We all have to find our own way through it.  That being said, I sure miss him.  Every day I miss him.

I have a lot to be thankful for and even more still yet to do.  Crate train the puppy, clean the hot tub, fill the pantry, play in the dirt, save a few lives, laugh some good laughs and live the dream that we all call life.  I think that is the best way to honor everything my Dad made certain to ingrain in my existence — to simply live it to the fullest and do the best that I can do.

A New Normal

Spring was not a time for growth and regeneration this year.  In fact, it’s been one of the tougher seasons of my adult life.  We said goodbye to Bitsy the Wonder Dog, then we said goodbye to my Grandpa Pete and then we lost my Dad.  It was bitter, it was cold and the storm front didn’t pass until about last week when the sun finally peeked out from behind the clouds and the daily temperature shot from the 60’s into the 90’s.  I’m not going to pretend that it hasn’t been rough.  It’s been hell.  The important part is that we found our way through it and we did it as a family.

Things are different around here now.  The story continues but it’s a definitely new chapter and the newness of it hasn’t quite worn off yet.  There’s a new crow from the chicken coop, the sound of a puppy yapping while she plays in the yard and the husky bark of my Dad’s dog as he adjusts to his new home.  We have the bottom hay fields leased out to a neighbor, most of the cows have been moved to a different pasture closer town and even Tinkerbell has a date with the auction block in the next few months.  I’m slowly but surely decreasing the size of my chicken flock, I don’t work as many overtime hours and I spend a few minutes of every one of my days literally watching our green grass grow — yes, you read right, we finally have a lawn.

So yes, things are getting back to normal around here.  It’s a new normal but we’re all adjusting to it and embracing what it brings.

Not Much Happening…

I believe we are about finished calving out here on the farm.  I’ve decided to let go of the responsibility and let my father-in-law run the entire show.  If he gets to make all of the decisions then he can figure the rest out, too.  I just have Tinkerbell to worry about now and that seems to be enough for me – well, Stinky-Tinky AND the chickens, of course.  Tinkerbell had her calf last week.  He’s a cutie.  He got a little confused after he was born and followed me all the way back up to the porch.  Tink was not happy about that but they figured it out and things have been fine since.

We will be bringing home a new puppy in another month or so.  She’s a little Corgi.  I never thought I’d like that breed but I some how fell in love with the little beasts.  They are a big dog brain on little dog legs.  They are herders, which I think helps me understand them a little bit better than other breeds.  We’ll see how Scout likes the company.

I’ve been spending my nights either at work or at home learning all about digital scrapbooking.  You’d think it would cost less and be much quicker but that hasn’t quite turned out to be true in my case.  It probably has something to do with my ancient desktop computer that I still refuse to upgrade from XP.  

Chicks will begin arriving at the Feed Store this week.  My goal is to get a couple Americaunas (green egg layers) and a few little bantams.  That’s it.  Now that I’ve figured out what I like and don’t like about this chicken business, I’m going to thin down the flock some.  I think 30-40 chickens is about the perfect number.  So if you’d like any 1-2 year old hens that are already laying great eggs – just let me know and I’ll get them ready for you!   

You Might Train your Dragon but ….

How do you bathe a chicken?  I’m afraid this is my next adventure and I’m not looking forward to it.  And why is it that the roosters that fit within the breed definition are a bit mean and too rough on the hens but the ones with all the wrong colors are the gentle, nice guys?  I think Darwin is off the hook on this but Murphy and his annoying law come to mind…  Not sure what to do about it all, either. 

I’m averaging between 15-20 eggs a day and the best news is that my little Black Copper Maran has started laying those infamous “chocolate” colored eggs made famous by James Bond.  I’m still hoping to “bump” into someone willing to bring my eggs with them to a local Farmer’s Market to sell this summer but it all usually sounds easier than it winds up actually being.  I’ve taken the “wait and see” approach.

Working night shift has been kicking my hiney and zapping me of energy these past few weeks so all of my great intentions have gone to the wayside.  Landscaping feels futile at this point.  Oh well, at least the house is clean and the hot tub has been refilled.  It’s a start.  I keep expecting to tire of the chickens but they continue to entertain me.  I decided that it is because it’s like an Easter Egg hunt every day.  I never know how many or what colors or what size will be next to fill my basket and every day it’s a little bit exciting to find out. 

Today Scout snuck into the hen house while I wasn’t paying attention – then she wouldn’t come out!  She mostly herds them with a random good chase or two thrown in for good measure.  Hasn’t hurt one yet but I keep a close eye on her.  Bitsy is more of a control freak.  She will bite them – not to kill but to hold.  The other day I picked one up and about the time I realized it was too heavy to be just a chicken, I saw Bitsy with her jaw locked on it’s tail-feathers!  She let go but the trust is gone.

I’m still battling feather loss and mites.  I thought I had everything under control but I think it’s going to take a few weeks to get ahead of the problem — hence the chicken baths.  That should be interesting!

Spring Improvements

The chickens are free ranging and the dogs are not, I think we only have 1 cow left to calve this year and a friend is finishing my much desired garden boxes.  As much work as our lives can be at times, this is what makes it all worth it.  A ray of sunshine, two baskets of fresh eggs, playful calves running around the pasture, healthy happy dogs and dark fertile soil full of promises – this is the good stuff.