December 2nd

Sunday, December 2nd, 2018

I’ve always had and loved animals, but I’ve never had an animal that’s provided me food.

Let me tell you, it’s a whole new experience.

I love these chickens for who they are, and all of their weird quirks and personalities, but I’m always so proud of them when I open up the coop and there are eggs in the nesting boxes. Especially since they’re all new layers – it’s so cool to watch an animal that God created do what it’s created to do. Other than give them a clean, stress free place to do their thing, I can’t change what they do or why they do it.

Not only am I proud of them, but they’re proud of themselves and each other.

While that may sound strange, it’s true. If one of our chickens lay an egg, she squawks and struts and lets everyone know she laid a good one. In turn, they all join her in head bobs and happy clucking.

The coop is quite the community, and I love being a part of it. The girls have started to recognize the sounds of the house, so for example they’ll hear the garage door open, and they’ll all start calling to us and they’ll come meet us at the door. If something scares them and Paul or I are outside, they come running and gather at our feet.

While all of the mentioned above is true, me gushing over my girls wasn’t the main objective of my photo today. I recently have had a couple people ask how clean the eggs are when we collect them, and if we wash them. The answer is no, we don’t wash them. The first reason why is simply because we don’t have to – I had just collected the egg pictured and brought it inside; it’s completely clean to begin with. The second reason why is because washing eggs can actually drive bacteria into the egg itself. An egg shell is porous, and is actually laid with a thin layer over the entire egg called a bloom. The bloom protects the egg from bacteria, and by washing the egg, you wash away the bloom.

Quite honestly, we rarely get dirty eggs; I think we had two last month. In that case, if we get a dirty egg it goes in the garbage.

Bottom line: They take good care of their eggs! 🙂

November 29th

Thursday, November 29th, 2018

Paul and I learned something fascinating about out chickens today.

They don’t like snow.

Evidently, being a “cold hardy” breed of chicken simply means they tolerate cold well, not snow.

Which really isn’t the end of the world, the have plenty of space in their coop and run, but it was just unexpected.

I opened the coop door today, and they all crowded around the front porch, looked around, turned around and went back in. They did the same thing when I opened the run door.

Penny wanted to make sure I understood just how displeased she was, so she stood on the front porch for a few minutes with one leg up as if to say “make it go away”.

Paul and I Googled it, and evidently that’s the common consensus among chicken owners – that you have to lay down bedding or hay/straw on top of the snow for them to walk on if you want them to venture out of their coop.

They may be out of luck on that.

November 13th

Tuesday, November 13th, 2018

Amidst a busy day, it always slows down a little when I go to collect eggs.

Since it’s been so cold, we have to check for eggs quite often so they don’t freeze. While it becomes a bit of a chore to go out and check for eggs every hour, there is always a small thrill when there’s a pretty little brown egg sitting in the nesting box.

It’s like an Easter egg hunt every day, and I’m the only one hunting!

The girls are pretty proud of their eggs. When I open the coop door and kneel down to look for eggs, they often come and congregate around my legs, happily clucking.

I stood up from one of my gatherings today, and sure enough, there they were. Red, the chicken looking at me here, is the easiest of our chickens to tell apart. She’s easily the biggest, darkest, and she has the shortest comb and wattle.

November 1st

Thursday, November 1st, 2018

As the rising sun broke through the clouds this morning, I was walking into my kitchen.

By the end of October, it’s habit for me to look out into the pumpkin patch, looking for parents and kids on the hunt for the perfect one. Many times, especially early in the morning, nothing is out there. Most times, my brain plays tricks on me, and I think I see something, but nothing’s there.

Today was different.

I walked by the window, and almost fell over because I double-taked (is that a word?) so hard. There was either a large dog or huge coyote walking through the pumpkins.

Spoiler alert: it was a massive coyote.

We’ve had huge population issues around our house – my parents have woken up multiple times over the past couple weeks to Henna facing down packs of over 3 coyotes in their front yard. One morning, they were between the house and the barn; for those of you who know their farm layout, that’s basically as in the middle of the farm yard as you could get. They aren’t shy. The opposite is true, actually – they’ve become extremely bold.

I took this image at 8:30 this morning – that’s on the later side for a coyote to be out. He also stood out in the middle of tarnation, right on our driveway, for over a minute. They aren’t afraid. And this one was by itself, so that raises the “bold bar.” He even noticed I was watching him at one point, and didn’t budge.

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And, for those of you wondering, no he wasn’t interested in my chickens. Maybe he was interested in the neighbor’s chickens (he was heading that way before he saw me),  but I watched him come across the field, and he didn’t even glance in the direction of our coop. That doesn’t mean that in the future he wouldn’t notice it, but at least for this morning, the girls were fine.

Also – don’t take this as fear mongering. The moment I walked outside, he split. A healthy coyote is not a danger to you or your kids. However, I’m not a fan of having so many around. They rotate territories, so soon they’ll move out, but they’ll be back after a few weeks again. Hopefully by then, they’ll have feasted on gut piles left behind by deer hunters, and be satisfied staying out of the farm yard.

October 31st

Wednesday, October 31st, 2018

With the gorgeous weather today, I was out with the girls all day.

It was the perfect day to weed our landscaping, remove perennial plant debris, and empty my annual planter that surrounds our front porch.

Let me tell you a secret about bonding with chickens: Weeding. No joke, I started weeding, and I was surrounded by the flock, curious about what I was doing, wondering if I was finding any grubs. I’d pull a weed, hold it out (root side out), and they’d all clean it up. Then I’d toss what was left of it in my wagon, and move onto the next weed.

By doing this, I also got to really examine the girls up close, and watch their behavior with each other. By the end of the afternoon, I could tell them all apart. I also was able to learn their sounds; I feel like I’m taking a crash course in chicken husbandry, haha.

I also witnessed my first dirt bath, and it was slightly terrifying. All six of them plopped down in the dirt under our sun room, and flailed around.

Flailed.

They looked like they were seizing. Like broken legs and wings flailing around.

And they all did this at once! I thought they were all dying right in front of my eyes. Until I realized they were, in fact, ecstatically happy bathing in the dirt.

Then it made me smile – laugh even. I’ve quickly learned that chickens are happy creatures – lots of pure joy.

Take today’s picture for example. I was in the front yard working, when I thought it was too quiet. I came back into the backyard, and all of the girls (two aren’t pictured) were perched on our wood pile preening. Feeling safe, happy, and content, they were all chit-chattering as they arranged their feathers.

You’re smiling, aren’t you?

See? Joy.

October 28th

Sunday, October 28th, 2018

The stages of love is a miraculous thing.

You meet someone, and eventually fall in love. You get engaged, plan a wedding, and when the big day comes you think “I couldn’t imagine being more in love with you than I am today.” But then each day, with each new experience, each new hurdle conquered together, every happy dance in the kitchen, heart to heart, losses, big dreams dreamed together, every accomplishment, every laugh, every hurt feeling worked through…a love story is always evolving. I love Paul for the same reasons I did on our wedding, but now for so many more than I couldn’t have ever imagined. We’ve grown together so much, and he is the best friend God could’ve ever blessed me with. He’s stepped up to every occasion to love, support, and cheer me on, and I hope he can say the same of me. (Note: I’m crying big happy tears as I try to type this, so ignore any typos from this point forward).

My big love of animals can be intimidating – especially for someone who didn’t grow up with pets. And I don’t make it easy, I’m not satisfied with just a cat or dog – horses, rabbits, and now chickens – I love obscure, somewhat complex critters. Add in a pumpkin patch and photography business, and I’m always amazed at Paul’s continued ability to say “YES” to me.

So when that little play house popped up on my screen, I sent Paul a screen shot of it, and his simple reply was “Well, does this mean we’re getting chickens?”

Not only that, but within an hour, he did research on what kind of chickens would be best for our climate but still good egg producers, narrowed it down to Rhode Island Reds, and had sent me a few different listings of some for sale. Then yesterday, he spent one of his days off building with me, and today driving over two hours round trip to bring “our girls” home.

And within one week, we went from well, one day that’d be fun to we’re actually doing this!

I’m pretty sure people think “Oh Lord, what are they up to now?”

But as I watched Paul puttering in the garage yesterday, three chickens following him around watching him work, both sides enjoying the company, I thought to myself, I wouldn’t want it any other way.

Especially when we pulled three pretty brown eggs from the coop today, on day one.

Just for fun, here’s a couple more pictures of our girls out in the yard, and hanging in the garage.

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October 27th

Saturday, October 27th, 2018

WE GOT CHICKENS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I may have teared up more than once today, and I’m not ashamed.

Paul and I have been talking about getting chickens for awhile now, but money for a decent, MN-weather-worthy coop just wasn’t in the budget.

Until last Saturday.

Last week I opened up the NextDoor app to create a post about our pumpkin patch, and there it was. A beautiful little kids play house – for FREE. With thumbs of fury, I messaged the gentleman and told him my husband travels for work, so we wouldn’t be able to come get it until Saturday, but if he was willing to hold it for us, we’d be there right away Saturday morning to pick it up.

I honestly thought he’d tell me “first come, first served, if it’s still here Saturday you can have it,” but instead he told me he’d hold it, it was mine for the taking! We borrowed our neighbor’s trailer, and brought it home Saturday morning.

Paul worked most of this week, so yesterday we worked like mad to modify it into a coop. Nesting boxes, a roost, poop tray (yep, that’s a thing), a feeder and waterer. We already had a kennel that we had used as a run for our ducks a couple summers ago, so that was easy to set up quick and attach to the coop. Then this morning we contacted a person selling 5 month old Rhode Island Red hens on Craigslist, and we drove out to Hutchinson and picked them up. We initially thought we’d get four, but my smarty pants husband sneakily brought extra cash just in case (he knows me so well!), and sure enough, when the flock of 18 happily ran up and greeted us at our truck when we pulled up, I fell in love with them, and we ended up bringing home six.

The first one I reached for let me pick her up, and nestled into the crook of my arm. I was a goner.

So we loaded them up, brought them home, and when we let them out in the run, they were so curious with their new home! We left them in today (and will overnight) so they understand where their new home was, but we’re hoping to let them out tomorrow!

I’m now a chicken lady, and it’s the best thing.