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:

  • I’ve been asked to write up the Zelda hen-rooster-hen story for a national poultry magazine – will let you know when it gets published.
  • An edited blog post of mine is published in the recent edition of Mother Earth News.
  • I’m working on a project for my college and full-time working – aged chicks on how to combine some home cooking with premade foods (I’ll be using Whole Foods Market buffet foods) in order to make quick, healthy, and delicious meals that are cheaper and better for you than the fast food they’ve been eating (evidenced by the bags and wrappers in their cars.) I get it, cooking is tough and it’s especially difficult to cook for one, (or maybe two someday? ), but trust me on this, it’s not impossible – I’ll show you how.

STOP BUYING BIG MACS NOW! – love mom

I had wanted to start that cookbook project last week but then the Zelda story took over. With the kids home next week, I’m sure I’ll be able to find enough taste testers for each recipe, so after Thanksgiving, I’ll start putting up parts of the cookbook on the blog.

  • I’m a sucker for sappy Christmas and Holiday stories (we don’t get the Hallmark Channel because I don’t think the world has enough Kleenex for that to happen.) I’ve recently read these two feel-good holiday books – check them out if you need a little boost of that warm and tingly feeling:
    • The 13th Gift – quick read, true story about the strength of a family that tries to deal with a recent death during the holiday season, will put you in the holiday spirit
    • A Redbird Christmas – while a delightful (if somewhat predictable), happy Christmas story, I loved the attention to detail with regard to the wildlife and plants around the town. Made me want to take a trip in order to do a little bird watching myself.

 

 Be safe and see you all next week.

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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.

Like what you read here? Consider subscribing to this blog so that you’ll never miss a post. And feel free to share with those who may need a little chicken love.

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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.

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Here is a close up of her feet. When you get really close like this, you can see that she has still retained some of the original grey color. It might be important to note that Zelda is at least 6.5 to 7 years old (we bought her when she was “about 2 years old.”)

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And lastly, when we were finally able to hold her, we discovered that the grey “spot” on her side was actually a set of grey under feathers.

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She also has some identical grey feathers on her other side. So she didn’t turn completely white.

Some people have questioned how I could not have noticed that she changed so drastically. We live with our chickens in the backyard during the summer. Once September comes around, with busy school schedules and me sitting at my desk for up to 8 hours a day, we hardly do more for our flock than open the door in the morning, feed and water them, let them free range and then close the door in the evening. Even our weekends are packed with school events and other obligations.We do daily counts but other than that, we let them do their thing while we do ours.

Obviously Zelda turned white sometime after September.

And yes, I know that her beak and feet have changed color, but they changed when she made her initial switch to being a rooster (and yes, I know that she wasn’t *really* a rooster.)

I realize that there will still be doubters, but that’s okay – you should question what you read and you should demand verification. We all should.

 

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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.

Like what you read here? Consider subscribing to this blog so that you’ll never miss a post. And feel free to share with those who may need a little chicken love.

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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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Lesson 1156 – Quotable Chicks

Friday’s Quotes for the Chicks

isabelle

Goodbye friend.

There are many things that will definitely get a mom’s attention. “She’s choking” is one, “He’s bleeding” is another and yesterday it was “Mom, there’s a big bird attacking a chicken.”

And I had just written about birds of prey in our neighborhood.

I ran from my desk to the backyard to see a large bird (larger than a hawk, smaller than an eagle, my guess is still falcon) pulling meat from something on the ground. Other than that terrible bird, there were no other chickens in sight. Continue reading

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Lesson 1155 – Ask Others For Help

One of the projects I’m working on (by request from my kids) is compiling all the life lessons we’ve learned into one family document. These are the lessons this mama hen wants her chicks to know before they leave the nest.

Ask Others for Help

A chicken is a flock animal. It does not exist well (or long) living by itself. Let’s face it, a single chicken is usually a very short-lived chicken. They live in flocks for a reason. That old saying – there is strength in numbers – is an old saying for a reason. There’s truth to it – with many, there is accumulated strength.

Along with strength, those in a group can also offer guidance. A rooster, the leader of the flock is always on the lookout for danger. If perceived, he will alert the flock. He is the protective army so that the flock can do their work of getting food, laying eggs, and looking after the chicks without concern. The strength he gives to the flock leads to security.

In the winter chickens survive the cold by using the warmth of each other. If you’ve ever gone into a henhouse at night on a cold and chilly evening, you will see that the chickens are on their roosts huddled tightly next to each other.

If you place your hand between the birds, you will discover the incredible warmth that these bids have been able to generate through united work. Working together, they will survive the bitter cold.

A solitary chicken in the winter is a bird that will eventually freeze to death. A chicken in a flock who uses the heat from her flock mates, is a chicken that will live to see the spring.

You don’t have to do everything by yourself. Take a look around you and see what strengths you can use from others and which you can add of your own. Don’t be afraid to ask for help – this doesn’t mean you expect people to take care of you, it just means that you might be able to combine your strengths and talents with others to overcome whatever it is you need to overcome.

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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.

Like what you read here? Consider subscribing to this blog so that you’ll never miss a post. And feel free to share with those who may need a little chicken love.

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