our first two eggs

It’s the little things in life that can be so unbelievably thrilling and satisfying.

Yesterday afternoon as I went to clean out the girls coop, I was met with the greatest little surprise ever. Our first eggs!

Back in August D and I bought twenty-six baby chick to raise, use their eggs, and butcher.

Well, things changed and somewhere down the line D and I transitioned into a Vegan lifestyle and eating the eggs and meat of our chickens (or any chicken) was no longer something we wanted to do and so we were left with a difficult decision.

What the heck do we do with all those chickens?

We decided we wanted to keep a few of our favorites and the eggs that they produced, we’d give away to friends and family. We ended up selling fifteen of our flock, a mix of hens and roosters, to a lovely couple who own The Collective, which is a farm and community cooperative development project. And although I still struggle with the fact the roosters will be getting butchered, there was no way we could have kept all of them with our hens starting to lay.

So what about our eggs?

Even though we’ve made the decision to not eat them anymore, we did decided to keep four of the hens for agricultural purpuses and becuase their poop is one of the greatest things you can add to your composting bin. And, because they are four of the coolest ‘chicks’ around!

And I have to say, finding those eggs was one of the coolest little surprises I’ve gotten in a long time. We knew that the little ladies would start laying in the next few weeks but honestly, I thought it would be closer to March then at the end of January.

So now, every morning when I pull on my muck boots and trek out to the pasture, hop over the electric fence (don’t worry, the top wire isn’t on but don’t tell the goats!), and open the side hatch of the coop, I will do so with great anticipation, knowing there will be four perfectly oval eggs sitting there waiting for me.

I’m so proud of our lil’ hens, just as a momma hen should be.

 

hard decisions on a farm

We have another chicken with ‘hemorrhoids,’ which isn’t really hemorrhoids but merely something that I assume to be equivalent in chickens. This time it’s with our rare and exotic chicken, Doris. At least that is what I call her.

When we ordered our chickens back in August we purchased 25 baby chicks and they threw in one special surprise one, the rare and exotic one. She’s prominently white with little black specs all over her backside and I really love her. She has personality and she’s bigger then most the others.

The other one who had something similar never made it. I did everything in my power to fix her and I thought it was even getting better.  Then I made the mistake of putting her back with the others after about two and a half weeks but since it had been that long, they didn’t accept her back in and started attacking her. When I went out to check on the chickens that afternoon, I found her curled up in a little ball under one of the tires of the chicken coop shaking and bloody. She let me  scooped without a fight and she curled up in my arms, barring her head in the nook of my armpit as I carried her back to her safe little coop in the garage. From there I was forced to decide what to do next. And it broke my heart.

Who am I to decide what is right anyway?

In the end I made the hard decision that she was suffering and keeping her around was selfish on my part. We couldn’t keep her in the garage for the rest of her life and had nowhere else to put her.

When I got home from work that night, she was gone and I was informed that the next time I had to do it. We are either in it together, teammates,  or not at all is what David said. It’s only fair. It’s part of life out here and part of the lifestyle of having farm animals. They get sick, they die. Sometimes at the hand of their owner because above all else, you’re the only one who can make the right decision for them. And sometimes it just sucks.

I’m really not so sure I am cut out for this. I mean, I am a girl who will go as far as to apply Preparation H to a chicken’s butt to save its life. I am the girl that chases after her cats as they run away determined, with bird in mouth.  I’ve been known to rescue stray dogs, and not so stray dogs, and I had to stop volunteering at a shelter because I kept bring them home with me. I am the girl who has conversations with the goats as they walk by my side in the pasture. I am the girl who loves so deeply I’d go to great lengths to save their lives.

So how am I suppose to detach myself from that part of me, my favorite part of me?

Will I ever really know what is the right decision? Will I always wonder if there was something more I could have done?

Will I ever get use to having to make that decision?

 

 

the chicken with hemorroids


If you would have asked me seven months ago if I would ever apply Preparation H to a chickens butt I would have laughed hysterically at such a question.  Flash forward to the present and I find myself in just that very situation.

It all started last week when David and I were out taking care of the chickens. He happen to notice that one of the little guys rear end was, to put it nicely, not looking quite right. He picked the poor thing up and we both examined the situation.

My first reaction was what one would imagine. If I was looking in a mirror I suppose the look on my face would resemble disgust, confusion, and a contorted face trying to hold back bile that was creeping up my throat. I managed to pull myself together rather quickly and chime in that she must be trying to lay early. We put the ‘girl’ back down and decided to just wait and see.

While David was out running errands I couldn’t get the chicken’s butt out of my mind.I’d like to say it was because I could sympathize with the little thing but I can’t and it was mainly because I’m a softy and hate seeing any animal in pain.

I threw on my muck boots and walked back out to the coop to take another look. This time ‘she’ was hiding under the big red barn that is the new coop.  I realized something was really wrong and I needed to do a little research and by research I mean email Tiffany at Gopherboy Farms and ask some questions. I managed to snap a quick picture of the chickens behind (I’ll spare you the images) and sent if off to Tiffany with a message that said HELP!

Tiffany responded rather quickly and informing me that it was most likely a prolapsed Oviduct (if it is a female) and if caught early it can sometimes be reversed. I continued to read her instructions, 1) remove chicken immediately. Chickens go after things that are red and bloody, ie: become cannibals.

At this point I didn’t read further, put my phone in my pocket and ran out to the pasture where the chickens were. I proceeded to pick the poor girl up and carry her back into her old safe keeping, the garage. When I saw that she was safe and sound I pulled out my phone to read the rest of Tiffany’s instructions assuming that now that she was out of harms way the chicken would magically heal itself. And then I read on…after the chicken has been removed, soak it in a warm bath and vaseline the area with gloves and/or apply a hemorrhoidal cream until the chickens improves. WHAT?!

I reread the sentence several times before putting my phone back in my pocket. Pull yourself together Amanda. You can SAVE this chicken!

After my momentary panic of the idea of  having to actually touch the area, I quickly called David who was in the middle of an important meeting:

“Hello”

“I need you to pick up some hemorrhoid cream.” I said rather seriously.

“Okay…[laughter, laughter]”

“It’s for the chicken David. I need you to wrap up your meeting, get to the store, and get me that cream!” I said impatiently.

“I’m not sure there is a place to get that at around where I’m at but I’ll see what I can do.” (followed by even more laughter)

By the time David arrive home with the cream I had mentally prepared myself for what I had to do. I grabbed all my supplies, rubber gloves, two warm compresses, an extra towel, and the hemorrhoidal cream and headed out to the garage.

[Due to the graphic nature of this part of the story, it has been omitted from the final release of this post as to save its readers from horrible images and to leave them with the ability to still be able to swallow their dinner.]

When the task was complete, I put the chicken back in its (hopefully) temporary home and went back inside.

When I opened the front door David was there waiting for me.

“Well, I can check that one off my bucket list!” I said as I pulled off my boots and closed the door.

So now we wait. I soak, clean, apply cream and repeat until the little thing is healed and can be put back out with the others. There is the possibility that my efforts may not work and she/he will have to be culled which is really just a polite way of saying killed.

For now, soak, apply, repeat and hope that the little chicken pulls through. One thing is for sure there is never a dull moment on the farm.

sometimes the good die young

I knew the day would eventually come. It could have happened when I was living in the suburbs of Seattle but it didn’t. It happened here, on the farm.

If you are an animal person it’s never easy losing one of them. In a post way back in June I talked about how I anthropomorphize. In writing it I was of course trying to be funny but in all honesty, there was a bit of truth in it. My pets are members of my family and it started way back when and to this day, hasn’t changed. They may not give monetarily or even be able to give their opinion on aspects of life but they do give something pretty darn special. Otherwise, nobody would have domesticated them to begin with.

Whenever I lose one I always find myself surprised by the sadness and huge amount of loss I feel. It’s an eerie feeling not knowing what happened. Our minds start to go to those sad places, those places where one wishes and prays they went instantly with little to no suffering. My mind goes to those places, especially when finding evidence in the yard of the contrary.

If there is something as a perfect pet it was her. It’s ironic, I never really wanted her in the beginning. For one, she didn’t have a tail. What cat doesn’t have a tail? But she did everything in her power to get my attention and I realized that I wasn’t leaving that shelter without her.

I know, I know. I sound like a crazy cat woman. But if that’s the label one wants to give me because I care for my pets and think of them as part of the family, well, I’ll wear that one proudly.

You were a sweet little girl Lucy. I’m glad your determination shined through and I got to have you for these past four years.

Taken by a friend who was watching her as I was traveling the world. Lucy in her snuggie.

I guess this is the part of farm life I know I’ll never get use to. Actually, this is the part of life I’m not sure I’ll ever get use to. To be honest, it’s just a part of life that sucks. That part where sometimes the good die young.

the chicks are here!

David and I woke this morning at 6:45am to the sound of the telephone ringing. On the other end was the mail carrier informing us that our 26 two-day old chicks had just arrived. After hanging up the phone, we paused momentarily and then the excitement erupted. “The BABY CHICKS are here!!! We sprung out of bed, scurrying to get to the post office before 8am, and because we were a tad bit excited.

Upon arriving, we rang the bell and after a few moments, a man carrying a cardboard box filled with 26 baby chickens opened the backdoor. The sweet chirps echoed from within.

“You must be here to pick up these guys.”

After scanning the box he handed them over to me, their new momma chicken.

As we walked to the car, I quietly started naming them and whispered sweet little nothings that only a proud new mother would say. I know there will be a day when these little guys will be hauled off to the butcher but for now, I will bask in the glory of motherhood.

When we got home we followed the instructions from what all the books and vast information on the internet have said to do thus far. One by one we picked up each chick and dipped its little beak in water waiting for it to drink for the first time. After, we showed each chick where it’s food was and watched as they instinctively ate the grainy, hard chick food.

When all chicks were watered and fed, we sat back and watched as their little personalities came to life. Already a few are showing some interesting dominating characteristics and others just quietly laid down and fell right to sleep.

I think it is safe to say the next six weeks are going to be nothing short of eventful. When the chicks have all there feathers and the fear of them getting too cold has passed, we will take them outside to live happily in their brand new chicken coop that is being built by GopherBoy Farms.  Until then, they will live warm and cozy in our guest bedroom under the protective eye of momma chick Amanda.