Author Archives: Wendy Thomas

About Wendy Thomas

Wendy is a journalist, writer, blogger and the Tech Blog Manager at Constant Contact.

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:

  • Leg muscle twitches
  • Eye twitches
  • *Some* pain in the bottoms of my feet (nothing like it used to be)
  • Digestive issues (there are some foods I just can’t eat anymore and forget hard alcohol – instant belly ache)

Who knows if these symptoms are a result of getting older (but I hesitate to use that excuse because really, 55 is the new 30), permanent damage from the infection, or if they are the result of bacteria still setting up shop in my body. The only way to really know is to wait and see (something I’ve never been that good at.)

I can tell you though, that I do not feel like I did last winter when I had to use my hands to crawl up the stairs due to pain and muscle weakness, and where I told my doctor that if he could just cut off my legs above the knees I ‘d be fine (one can still write from a wheelchair was my reasoning.) I was in a boatload of pain back then.

These days I’m regularly doing hot yoga and I have plans to get back to swimming. The challenge now is to try and drop some of the weight that was put on during the time when getting off the couch was just not worth the effort. You can only understand the pain of Lyme disease if you have Lyme disease, you’ll just have to take my word that it is an all-encompassing, body-wrenching pain.

The steps we will be taking to manage our Lyme (and general health) this winter include:

  • Supplements (Fish oil, Vit D, and Vitamin B)
  • No sugar or at least reduced – (I know, with the holidays this is a tough one for all but the most motivated)
  • No processed food.
  • Plenty of clean water
  • Reduced wheat products, use ancient grains or organic flour in cooking
  • Regular exercise – walking, yoga, biking, swimming

It’s not really rocket science, in fact it’s what everyone should be doing, if there’s anything positive about our Lyme experience, it’s that we finally realized we have to work to maintain our health. Good health does not  happen all by itself, you’ve got to want it and you’ve got to work for it.

Unless we have a problem, our next check-up is in 3 months.

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As always, I share our experiences with Lyme disease and co-infections to educate and raise awareness. This is the treatment my family is getting, it may not be what is appropriate for you. Ask questions, find a Lyme board, join a support group, and if you suspect you may have Lyme disease consult your physician.

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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 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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Filed under All things chickens, Backyard Chickens, chicken care, Personal

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.

SONY DSC

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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 1154 – Choose your boots wisely

Never underestimate the importance of a good pair of boots

My trusty Bogs.

My trusty Bogs.

Boots are some of your most important pieces of equipment around the flock. They protect you and they help to keep your flock healthy by avoiding transmission (you should have a dedicated pair that is only used around your yard.)

Oh, to be sure, there are tons of boots to choose from, some are cute, some are fanciful, and some even come with stacked heels.

Here’s what you need to know. Fit the boot to your purpose. For some of us, we spend hours in our boots and that means we want boots that will give our feet support. The day you find me wearing high –heeled boots is the day you can pack me up and send me to live at the home with grandma.

Another thing is that my feet have to remain dry. Dry and comfortable feet are happy feet.

What this means is that you need to not be swayed by the cute boots. While they may be adorable, during a cold snap (and we’re talking well below zero, here in New Hampshire) that cute neon-colored thin rubber just might crack. Cracks let in water as well as bacteria. This is not good. Your feet will not be happy.

Figure out what your needs are and then match a boot to those needs. If you live in a warmer climate, you probably don’t need insulation. If you don’t worry about tucking your pants into your boots then you won’t need one that is wider at the top. My point here is that you need to figure out what your needs are *before* you buy the boot. Match the shoe to the purpose. Don’t just buy the boot because it’s cute or on sale.

Those will be the boots that sit, unused in your closet.

I look for tall boots that end right under my knees. I want a steel shank in the toe box in case something falls on my foot (and when you work around a coop, something will always fall on your foot.) I want my boots to be able to withstand the elements while keeping me comfortable – this means I have a summer pair and an insulated winter pair.

It also means I stay away from the trendy boots and instead go to the more expensive, durable brands that are well made and will last years. When you’re outside, standing in a pile of coop muck, or you’re wading through the spring mud in order to get feed and water to your flock, trust me you’ll appreciate the work you put in selecting a good boot.

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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.

1 Comment

Filed under All things chickens, Backyard Chickens, chicken care, Personal