Happy Thanksgiving

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From our flock to yours – a very happy Thanksgiving! May you enjoy family, friends, good food, and comfort.

I’m signing off until Monday, got too much baking and shopping to do. Safe travels everyone.

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Lesson 1162 – No Children’s Blizzard here

Snow. It’s coming, and yeah, I know that I shouldn’t complain (condolences to Buffalo), but still.

This weekend, we got out our mittens, hats, scarves, and winter coats. My kids think I’m jumping the gun and blame a book I read years ago called The Children’s Blizzard (because of that book my kids CAN NOT leave the house in the winter without mittens or a pair of gloves.)

But it’s more like I saw this in Vermont when I went to pick up my son at Norwich on Friday. Yes, I know Vermont is to the north of us and that his school is situated between mountains.

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But I’d be a fool to think that the snow is not making its way to our neighborhood. It is, it’s just a matter of time.

And while the first few snowstorms ignite a certain amount of childhood magic (especially in the most curmudgeoned adult) it’s the storms that continue into January, February, March, and sometimes even May that take a toll on even the seasoned spirits.

Blankets are out, the coop has been inspected – cracks have been covered up, and the flock’s water heater is up and running. Emergency kits have been placed in each of the cars (blanket, Spare mittens, an extra ice scraper, clay pot, candle+ matches, granola bars.) We still need to find our boots and see which ones need to be replaced, but we’re well on our way to being ready.

Go ahead, bring it on.

 

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Wendy Thomas writes about the lessons learned while raising children and chickens in New Hampshire. Contact her at Wendy@SimpleThrift.com

Also, join me on Facebook to find out more about the flock (children and chickens) and see some pretty funny chicken jokes, photos of tiny houses, and even a recipe or two.

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Lesson 1161 – Quotable Chicks

Friday’s Quotes for the Chicks

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While I relish our warm months, winter forms our character and brings out our best. Tom Allen

It’s Friday and I’m doing a bit of a happy dance because in a few hours I’ll be driving up to Vermont to bring one of our chicks home for the holidays. He hasn’t been home since he left for school in August so I’m sure this will be a week of eating tons of home cooked meals, connecting with his siblings (we have a new wii video game in the house), and spending time in the laundry room trying to locate some of his winter clothing.

Aaaaaaand, as long as I’m up in Vermont, I might as well stop in at the King Arthur Flour store – um, just to take a look around. I’ve written about it before and I’m sure I’ll write more (maybe even next week) but King Arthur is an adult candy story. I’ll take one of everything.

Although we haven’t had any snow (which is just fine with me) in New Hampshire, the temps have dropped below freezing in the mornings and evenings. For all of us, hats and mittens have been taken out of storage and I’ve personally re-connected with my beloved fingerless gloves which will probably be staying on my hands until the Spring thaw.

With regard to the chickens, they are still free ranging (that usually stops when the snow comes) but we’ve had to plug in the water heater so they can get something to drink. As long as they are free ranging, I won’t be adding supplements to their food, but once the snow comes, we’ll be giving them seed blocks and two suet blocks (27 birds) every other week.

There’s no denying it anymore, winter is coming.

A few notes: Continue reading

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Lesson 1160 – Lyme Disease update Fall 2014

This pillow is at our doc's office. We like to turn it into a puppet.

This pillow is at our doc’s office. We like to turn it into a puppet.

Yesterday, 3 of us in the family with Lyme disease went to visit our doctor for a check-up.

All of us have been off of medication for at least the last two months and we’re in that terrible holding pattern where you worry if an ache is really an ache or if it is the disease returning.

Although it is very likely that at least a few of the 5 people with Lyme in our family will have another relapse at some point (it’s already happened to all of us) for now, we are cautiously optimistic that things are under control.

In my case, I still have some low-level symptoms including: Continue reading

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Lesson 1159 – More about Zelda

Let me put this right out there. As a  journalist, I’m taught to verify *everything* before I put it into print. I don’t blame people for doubting Zelda’s story (but you don’t have to call me a liar.) As someone who writes about chickens, I, myself would have doubted it. Your hen changed into a rooster and then she changed back into a hen, ooooooo-kay.

So, in an effort to provide more proof, Marc and I went out to the coop to take some close-ups of Zelda.

Note: even though she is a family favorite, she is not the type of bird to let you cuddle her. She’s never been particularly friendly, but (and this is her claim to fame) she was the very first bird in our flock to lay an egg and so she will always be a family favorite.

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Here is a photo of Zelda’s bubble gum comb when she was a rooster. A comb is a bit like a fingerprint. Each bird will have similar but distinctly different combs.

Here is a photo of Zelda’s comb that we took this morning. And that’s the same Zelda eye there glaring at me. Continue reading

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Lesson 1158 – There’s something else about Zelda

zelda grey

 

In past posts, here and here, I wrote about how our grey Easter Egger, Zelda had turned into a rooster over the winter. Something had happened to her and she threw off enough testosterone to show male characteristics. Guesses for this change ran from a tumor on her reproductive organs, to hen-o-pause, to an illness, no one really knew what was going on.

zelda rooster

She changed color, her neck feathers grew long and spiked and she developed a rooster’s tail.

I had heard of this happening (rarely but there were stories) and so I figured that Zelda was just being Zelda – so she’s transgender, it’s a little weird, but that’s okay, all are welcome in our flock.

With the recent falcon attack, I went out to the coop to take a full inventory of our chickens.

“I can’t find Zelda,” I told Marc fearing the worst. The Falcon must have gotten her. I mean it stood to reason, she was the alpha of the flock and if anyone would stand up to a predator, it would have been Zelda.

As Zelda is one of our family favorites, I broke the news to each of the kids one-by-one. When I told Addy, she replied with “No, she’s there, but she’s all white now.”

Some of my kids have speech impediments and so I had to clarify, “She’s all right?” I said a little confused. If she was all right, then where was she?

“No Mom, she’s all white. She’s turned white.” Continue reading

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Lesson 1157 – Find a safe spot to sleep

 These are the ongoing lessons this mama hen wants her chicks to know before they leave the nest.

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When I was younger, I read the book “Night” by Elie Wiesel. I remember reading about Wiesel’s horrific living conditions in the German concentration camp and his having to sleep in the snow during a mandatory multi-day march from the camp. Ever since that world-view changing book, I have never gone to sleep without being grateful that I have a warm, safe place where I can rest. Protection during sleep is so vitally important to our physical and mental health. Chickens intuitively know that this is important. When it starts getting dark, the flock heads into the coop and takes to the roosts.

Roosts are raised bars upon which the flock members can perch and sleep. It keeps them above the predators that may prowl the ground at night. Continue reading

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