embarrassing

A Year in Review at the Chicken Coop

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One year ago, I became a chicken veterinarian. Well, not really, but I played one on television. O.K.! That didn’t happen either. I actually became a self-proclaimed chicken doctor at home. I really did. You see there’s not that many Vets who will actually treat a sick pet chicken. (I did find a Vet that is about 45 minutes from here that will treat squirrels, chickens, turtles…you name it and they work to cure them for a price! And, I am sure that they have many stories to laugh at during dinner conversation or when they are driving to the bank!)

A little over a year ago, my beloved rooster, Thurston had been protecting his flock when he was attacked by the infamous chicken hawk. For three months I bathed him…in Bill’s bathtub. (Don’t worry! I cleaned it after each time. Trust me, that bathtub was cleaner than your bathtub on its best day! Yes, it was! And, that is a great husband who allows those kinds of shenanigans!) I even used my blow dryer to dry his feathers. He loved the warm flow of air and he’d coo. I treated his wounds with the necessary ointments and antibiotics. During the day, he stayed on our enclosed porch. (I cleaned that everyday, too!) He spent his nights in a crate in our laundry room. (Just so you know, I cleaned that everyday. Sheesh!) He was well cared for while he was sick.

Thurston would get better but then would reopen his wounds, as he would start to heal. It was so frustrating. To protect himself…from himself, I made a “cone of shame” for him. With this contraption around his neck, he wasn’t supposed to be able to reach his wounds. That worked for a while, but then the foam cone started to irritate his neck and it had to be removed. Eventually, he developed an infection. There was nothing I could do to make it better. Before he was put down, he actually came to the front porch and stood on the steps near where I was sitting and cooed at me. Running inside the house, I couldn’t stop crying…over a chicken!

When we bought Thurston and Lovey, we walked them to the car and we discussed names for them. Men who were there selling meat chickens suggested their own ideas:

Fried and Dinner!

Tired yet excited from our chicken swap experience, we stopped to pick up lunch on the way home. It wasn’t until we had the fried chicken in the car that I looked at Bill with the look of horror as they then rode in the backseat. (Maybe “those men” were right.) It just felt wrong.

Nature is not kind, my friend. In the last year we have lost our beloved Thurston and Lovey. We got them three years ago. They were our first chicks. I cried with each loss. I am not sure what happened to Lovey because she passed away while I was out of town. Bill said he didn’t want to tell me over the phone, but he had to let me know she was gone. A few days later Bill posted on Facebook that he’d made the BEST chicken piccatta that he’d ever had. (Discuss amongst yourselves!) I did ask if it was a Lovey picatta. (To clarify, he said it wasn’t!)

Having little living creatures to care for is not for the faint at heart. There’s loss because of other creatures and there’s the cleaning aspect. Oh, that’s not my favorite part of having chickens but I do it. Summertime is particularly difficult as the smell of chicken poo is at its full glory! Wow. It can be quite the experience. In fact, I was out cleaning on one particular day with my bucket and shovel inside the rather large coop that my sweet husband built for me. He was outside blowing leaves and didn’t know I was inside the coop but somehow noticed the latch outside wasn’t locked. He locked it and went about his chore of leaf blowing. (That machine is loud y’all!) I turned to open the door and to my dismay, I couldn’t. Looking out the beautiful antique window with chicken wire on it, I see Bill and begin screaming through the screen! (Imagine a man with earphones as he listens to his favorite music with a leaf blower while a woman in a chicken coop tries to get out of the tiny chicken door. Imagine her as she stares at a window that is covered with chicken wire and also only opens halfway. It was not calm, dear friend!) Finally, after about thirty minutes of looking for a way out, I imagined that the chickens were definitely safe at night. I also imagined ways I would punish Bill, if he ever figured out that I was missing. Then it happened. He eyes me from across the yard as I was jumping up and down in the window. I’ll let you figure out what happened next. The good news is that there was actually side splitting laughing on both of our parts! It’s part of my marriage that I love the most!

Maybe you’ll remember that last year at this time, I was asking Bill if I could start harvesting honey. Of course that involves having bees in our backyard. Bill is not a fan of bees, so we didn’t get bees. I even vowed not to get any chicks but to simply handle the animals that we had. That all changed after losing Thurston. Believe it or not, it was part of Bill’s idea. I never thought I’d want another rooster. I mean you don’t need a rooster for eggs. (I know that half of you reading this didn’t know that! Admit it! You didn’t! I didn’t know it until we had a rooster and a hen! I’ll admit that!)

It wasn’t until we attended the largest Chicken Swap I’d ever encountered in May that I considered more chicks. (Remember I said this was Bill’s idea!) This farm only hosts this event two times a year where they invite others from all over to visit their farm. They have every kind of animal you’d see on a farm that visitors could buy or trade. I mean there is an ark of a selection there!

Walking every aisle at the swap, I found him. He was lying on his back in the arms of the owner as she rubbed his stomach. (I couldn’t believe it either! I mean, who doesn’t like a good belly rub?) Every other chicken in the place was between ten dollars to fifteen. This little man was thirty-five. His breed wasn’t rare, but his color was. He came as a second generation from a famous farm. (Bill mouthed the words “rare” and “Gucci bird”, etc.) As soon as I held him, I wanted him. As soon as Bill saw me holding him, he asked how much for two birds because this rooster couldn’t be alone as we were raising him! And, well he knows me too well! We got two birds.

We’ll swing by to pick them up as we try to find a box to put them in.

These people weren’t giving us a chance to walk away from them without a sale. They had a box and they filled it with some shavings and as they handed the BEAUJANGLE’S FRIED CHICKEN BOX to us. In fact, we had to walk all the way through the swap to the car with this fried chicken box and two chicks poking their heads out of the holes! People stopped us. They pointed at us! They took selfies with us and laughed. (I couldn’t make this stuff up if I wanted!)

We named him Beau. It just seemed natural! The hen became know as Henrietta. That seemed equally as natural! After they’d grown big enough to blend with the rest of the flock, they stuck together like glue. Beau is not as large as Thurston was. They are the same Wyandotte breed. That said, maybe he’ll grow in the next year. Only time will tell his story, or I will relay it to you as it progresses!

Months later, I allowed the flock to free range. They typically will stay pretty close together. They don’t leave the property. During the day, the only predators are usually just hawks and dogs. On one such day, I stayed outside raking and cleaning while they were out running the property. I heard an unusual SQWACK! Slowly I turned, step-by-step, inch-by-inch and then into a run toward a man who had SaraAnne underneath his arm. He had jumped a four-foot fence, walked at least twenty feet and snatched up my beautiful white hen. Before he had a chance to get back over the fence, I tapped him on the shoulder and asked his intention.

I’m taking home dinner.

Needless to say, I grabbed her from him and informed him that I was taking back my SaraAnne. He looked to the left and right and I wasn’t sure of his next move and then he turned and left. By the urging of my neighbor, I called the police. Thankfully, he was a kind officer. He was a chicken owner as well, so he understood. His belief was that this chicken thief left because he saw the black SUV with state plates. The police officer said I was lucky. He asked why I confronted him and grabbed the chicken.

It’s my chicken.

In my mind, that guy was lucky…no one takes my pet I’ve never given consent for a play date for any one of them, by the way.

And here we are. It’s spring again. At least I think it is. We had snow last week! I found myself at the local feed store getting feed for our four dogs and our sixteen chickens. There was an entire display for harvesting honey. Here I am again. Every year I see this display and think bees are a good idea. Every year Bill says no. I suppose he’s right about that. I’ve had a few accidents along the way. And how would you name each of those bees? (You see my dilemma?)

“The chicks just came in today! I haven’t even put them out yet. Do you want to see them? I’ll make you a good deal! I know you want some!”

Like a deer in headlights, I said no. She seemed confused. My heart was saying yes, but my husband’s answer came out of my mouth. All the way home with two babies in the floorboard of my car, I kept thinking of how to explain this to Bill. Driving home, I called my sister to get her help and she confirmed that I was in trouble. I pulled into our long driveway that seemed like it was longer that day than it ever had been! As usual, Bill came out of the house. (He always helps me with groceries, etc. every time so I knew he’d be there. Now what?) I hushed the chicks. Bill immediately started getting the feed out and “peep…peeep”.

Summer….No.

They are Jean’s!

She is my mentor and she also has chickens. She mentioned that she’d wanted to get some chicks to add to her flock but she couldn’t raise them from the baby stage right now. In order to redact my lie to Bill, I texted Jean and asked her if she wanted two Speckled Sussex hens when they were old enough to add to her chickens. She was thrilled and asked how many I got for myself. I cried…none. These are just for her. She called this a blessing, I was thankful to God! (Don’t tell Bill!)

Several weeks later and I was again at the feed store. My favorite breeds of chicks were there that day. I got what I needed and left to go home. I was so proud of myself until I found the car driving back to take one last look at the chicks. Next, “peeep peeeeeeep” was heard in the floorboard of my car. I justified this because I knew my husband would (1) not be home before me that day and (2) wouldn’t be able to determine two more sets of peeps before he left town the next day! Hurried, I placed the other box on its side next to the other box in the bathtub upstairs. I got the larger water container along with the other large feeder. It was set and Bill wasn’t home. Free and clear, or so I thought.

Whew! He was gone. I was cleaning the tub all by myself as they ran the length of the bathroom and my phone rang. It was Bill. He calls to tell me his status on the road. He then said some other things that had me baffled.

You know, last night your chicks were making quite the ruckus last night. I decided I’d better go check on them.

Yeah?

Yeah, and you know what? They multiplied!

They did?

Yeah, and you know what else? They have quite the skills because they’ve built another condo, too!

Really?

Yeah. You don’t know anything about this, do you?

I know that it takes 21 days for an egg at optimum temperature to hatch. Those two that are up there aren’t even old enough to have eggs!

Hmmmm….This is a true mystery then.

Insert continuous laughing by both of us! I had tears in my eyes. I’m so grateful to be married to this man. Any other man would have run for the hills long ago. I don’t know that he hasn’t thought about it, but I’m thankful he’s still here!

So, consider this a cautionary tale. It’s not really a tale. It is my life, but consider this a caution and remember:

“Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. ‘But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows.”
~Matthew 10-:29-31

Since this is true. I must be really valuable! I’m truly grateful that God is in control.
I’m more thankful that God loves you and me more than I could actually love these beautiful fuzzy little creatures. THAT is love. You are loved. You are worthy. Claim that truth for yourself today! I know I will.

Until next time….Let me know if you have name suggestions for these two chicks!

Chick talks “Birds and Bees” A Cautionary Tale

It’s spring…kind of…and I’m thinking of the birds and the bees. We already have the birds, specifically the chickens, but we have no bees. We have fresh “free”eggs and wouldn’t it would be great to have fresh honey, too?

My husband hates bees. Hates…them! Every year the conversation between us goes like this:

“I’d like to get some bees.”

“If you got bees, who says they won’t just go next door? They sting. Why do I want anything that instinctively wants to harm me? For what?”

He had a point. (Pun intended.) So, I decided to table that discussion for next year…since currently we’re nursing our rooster back to health. (Soooo, we’re back to “just” having the birds!)

Thurston, the rooster is on my enclosed porch as he’s healing from a hawk attack. He was just doing his job to protect his ladies and BAM! He was scooped up and fought his way out of the talons of a bully chicken hawk. He’s now wearing a (custom made by moi) cone of shame to deter him from pecking himself to death.

So yesterday I went back to my second home, aka the feed store, to get medicine and food. (Just a reminder to those thinking of getting chickens for “free eggs”…there’s no such thing as “free”!) Since I knew what I needed I went directly to the order counter and paid for the goods.

“You qualify to receive 6 free baby chicks!”

“No…no…no. Oh, their so cute! I already have the heat lamp. My husband will give up his shower for another month, again. I’d just need a bag of crumbles….”

I slapped my own face and said…”NO!”
The sales lady said she understood and quickly walked away. (She basically dropped the chicks and ran!)

“I mean, I have enough to take care of right now!” (Did I just say that out loud?)

Feverishly I grabbed my supplies and exited the store. Surely someone else has had that same reaction…surely. Embarrassed, I scrambled out of that parking lot and insult to injury, my tires may have spun some gravel. (No one was harmed….that I knew.)

There’s so much to know when having chickens. Mine happen to be pets so I don’t cull them when they’re ill. I treat them. In fact, my husband almost died when he heard I’d taken Thurston to the vet…in my car. (I left the sun roof open. Gosh!)

I can’t believe I was able to walk away from then but sometimes you have to know your limits. I mean, they weren’t the kind of chickens I really liked so that helped! The saleswoman who knew me hollered as I was leaving the building.

“Next week we’re getting Buff Orpington’s!”

“Really?! I love these birds! Maybe next week.”

Did I really just say that? I was so proud I didn’t get the chicks and expressed my pleasure to the hubs in being able to walk out without a half dozen chicks. He was relieved, too. Then I told him about next week’s arrival of Buff Orpington’s and shockingly…he spoke…

“We’ll, since you’re not doing the bee hive…”.

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Chick Not Prepared for Pup Emergency, on the whole

Tired from work, I was in auto mode when getting home.

1) Let dogs out.
2) Let dogs in.
3) Feed dogs.
4) Let dogs out.
5) Put chickens in coop.
6) Once inside, notice tube of half eaten medicine container on floor. Wait. WHAT?! (PREPARATION H, to be exact…it was not my medicine, by the way…as far as you know.)

Shocked by this, I thought, it had to be our beagle-Lucy who had shredded the tube of Preparation H. She was known to get into stuff, specifically food, when left alone.

Panicked I called the poison control center for children.

“Um, Hi. What happens when a slightly overweight, um…child…I mean, a dog the size of a small child eats a tube of Preparation H? What do I do?!”

The phone fell silent. Well, I thought I heard someone laughing with her hand over her mouth until she said, “Ma’am, we don’t treat dogs.”

“Her name’s Lucy. She’s like a child to me. Does that count?”

There was that stifled laugh again….After she contained herself, she gave me the number to a poison control center for dogs.

I called. They needed my credit card number before they could speak to me. Although I understood, I tried to ask the question quickly…thinking they’d heard this before now and maybe she’d have a quick response. (Because of her snickering on the phone, I began to think the girl from the children’s poison control line was pranking me!) No such luck in getting help for free, so I just hung up and looked for Plan C.

Plan C: I knew my friend Pat had dogs…lots of ’em! She’ll know what to do.

After her uncontrollable laughter…and after explaining that the Preparation H wasn’t mine, she agreed to call her friend Bart, who was a Vet.

(Finally…Thank God! Relief was soon to come for Lucy…pun intended.)

Bart needs the ingredients for Preparation H.

“but the tube is in a million pieces….”

Pat could not stop laughing. Lucy followed me through the house just panting and carrying on as if she was about to get a treat. It really didn’t seem life threatening, but I didn’t want to wait and see what might happen if I didn’t act to find a solution.

The nearest pharmacy was nice enough to read me the ingredients over the phone. When I thanked her, she started laughing. (I’m glad everyone is having a good chuckle at my expense!)

Just after hanging up the phone, Pat rang me back since she’d spoken to Bart again. It turns out, his wife was pregnant and he found a tube of it “on his ‘wife’s’ nightstand”.

(Right…Apparently, “we” don’t use this medication…”others” do.)

Bart tells Pat to feed Lucy some rice. That would help bind her. He advised that this medication, if eaten could cause vomiting and diarrhea.

We immediately got the rice going. (Lucy was so happy. I could have sworn she was smiling!) We babied her. We loved on her. She even got the choice spot in our bed. She could not have been happier.

With four dogs, Lucy was the rival of the other dogs. They stared and wondered what they needed to do to deserve this kind of royal treatment.

It was 2 a.m. Lucy was laying on her back with all four legs in the air. She was in heaven.

At 2:15 a.m I heard a dog trying to hurl. It didn’t sound like it was coming from the bed…It wasn’t Lucy.

In the end, it was our dog Bud…old faithful. He was 10 years old. He never got into anything when we were away from home. This time, he got into some Preparation H. Who knew why?!

So, in the end, we learned that even an old dog may have a few new tricks up his sleeve!

It wasn’t my tube of Preparation H! (Maybe it was…) Do you believe this? Has anything like this happened to you? I’d love to hear about it. Leave me a note!

Chick Strangles in shape wear

Recently it was reported that “shape wear” may be hazardous to your health. From personal experience, I know this to be true. Embarrassing…and true.

While I was home alone one day, I tried on several outfits for a wedding.
Determined to make a dress “fit”, I pulled out my shape wear. I (struggled to) put it on and then added the dress. Perfection! I thought. I photographed myself and sent it off to my sister via phone message in another state for approval. Done…or so I thought.

My husband was out of town. I live far from family. I attempted to remove the shape wear by myself.

As it was stuck around my arms and near my neck, I couldn’t get it off OR back on my body. HOLY! I couldn’t even reach my phone because my arms were in the air! I was breaking a sweat. I was breathing heavily. My heart rate was out of control.

What to do?! I decided to lay on the bed. Just breathe. Just relax. Just pray. God, help me. (And, admittedly, I was laughing there…all by myself!)

Thoughts of dying like this crossed my mind. As I was laying there with my arms above my head I just said,”I surrender!” Giggling…I finally relaxed.

And so…I’m here to confirm that shape wear may have an adverse affect on your health. It did mine. Thank God my humor and humility are in check! I guess this means there’s more adventures to follow. I hope so!

What has shape wear done to you?

Chick Can’t Do Secrets: The Tree

Keeping secrets from my husband is not just a bad idea. It’s impossible for me.

A decade ago we moved to a rural area. I wanted a fragrant and live Christmas tree. He said to wait until he returned home from a business trip. (He didn’t think I could get it home alone.) Like anyone who tried to start our fireplace alone and ended up meeting our neighbor. (Meeting him because he spotted the smoke spewing from the second floor windows of our house and responded! This same neighbor, who subsequently put the fire out for me…burned his eyebrows & arm!) I decided I could surely get a tree home alone.

Stopping at the local produce stand, I chose a beautiful tall tree. The big bubble glass lights were twinkling. the Christmas music was blaring. The boys loading it laughed loudly but said they’d strap it to my beetle bug. While raining and cold, I happily waved and pulled out onto the rural road. As soon as I gained any speed, that tree shot off the top of my car like fingers struggling to secure an oiled pig!

Reluctantly, I pulled over for a quick cry. In my rain sweat windows I saw the boys laughing hysterically; but the scene wasn’t over yet. I stepped out of my car to drag the tree back to the side of the road…but not until after a semi-truck came along and ran over it…transforming my beautiful tree to “road kill”.

Returning to the produce stand, they could barely contain themselves with laughter and tears. I was crying too, but I was simply embarrassed. The owner said,”How ’bout I deliver it to your home?” Gladly, I accepted but only if he could do it before my husband’s truck was in the driveway. (I wanted the hubs to know I could do this without him!) He offered to bring it in the house but I declined stating that would be more than I could of handled “alone”.

For many years, this “adventure” remained a secret from him, until his mom said,”What about the tree that year?”

We don’t do secrets anymore. (At least, that’s waft he thinks.)

Chick is NOT a stranger

We live in a world where everyone is a stranger. I understand the need and-or the option to talk, to smile at or be friendly to just anyone…or NOT. I know we need to be careful.
I happen to trust my gut on who to talk to…or maybe just to smile at a total stranger. We need to trust that intuition or gut instinct.
My husband and I don’t have children. We don’t eat out a lot because we like to cook & we simply enjoy a healthy dinner at home. I say this because we invited another couple to a night out for dinner and, well…it was anything but normal.
We met early. We ordered early, so there weren’t many patrons when we began eating & visiting. As we ate, we noticed one family after another, with children began walking through the door. At first this place didn’t seem so kid friendly. It was more of a a burger/bar…hole in the wall.
“Kid Karaoke Night!” How in the world did I miss that sign by the road in front of this place? I did. I missed it.
The place quickly filled with “Taylor Swift” wanna-be’s. Cute little girls with sweet printed dresses and their favorite cowgirl boots! Horrified, everyone else we were with was ready to leave.
“Since we don’t have that many children volunteering to sing at the moment, we are welcoming adults to get us started!” Turning to a table behind us, there was a family there with the book of songs in front of them.
Looking at two girls at about 9 years old, I ask to see the book. They pushed it to me. Glancing at the book, I ask them if they are going to sing. (Silence). “I’ll sing with one of you, if you want.”. (My eyes are turned to the book. I wasn’t even looking at either one, when asking, by the way.).
“Do you know any songs?”, as I flip through the book. “Stranger.” I looked up. “Excuse me?” She said,”Stranger!” I said, “I don’t know that song. Who sings that?” (Silence. They stare at each other.).
Wait. I look at the other 9 year old and say,”Oh. Wait. Is she saying that (louder) because I’m a stranger?!” Pursing their lips, they both say “Yes!”
I got up to go explain to the parents, who by the way, were seated at the same table, to explain.
Their mother got up from her chair and patted her children on their heads for doing *the right thing*!
Really? I said how saddened I was that as they were seated with their parents…and a simple turn of my chair…while they were right there, that I’m being humiliated for being friendly to them.
She congratulated them. I cried on the way home. What a sad state we are in that people cannot be “friendly”, while the parents are less than 24″ away from them.
I’ve received criticism since I don’t have children, for not understanding the parents point of view on this. I get that. What I don’t get is that IF the parents saw me as a threat from the beginning for talking to their children, WHY didn’t they speak up to me BEFORE…the kids said “STRANGER” to me…?!
Even when I tried to explain, the mom was so proud.
Here…having no evil intentions, I wonder. With computers, television & the disassociation with anyone these days, WHO is the bad guy and should I just remove myself from being nice…to any child…any where?!
God help us if everyone is a threat, even when the parent is practically sitting next to them?!
I love “my neighbor as myself”. I know not everyone is like that, but WHERE do you draw the line? WHO is ok to help socialize your children? I mean, I let most people touch my dogs in public. I am at arms length. I’m not screaming “STRANGER”! And they aren’t human beings, but I love them…as I would a child.

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Chick Can Survive a 16th Birthday

So, I was turning 16 years old on September 11th….a number of years ago. My family always invited a few friends over. My mother always made a cake, as that was her hobby and she was terrific at it!
We did church on Sunday the 11th, so I wasn’t expecting much “fanfare” over my day until they could get the parade together at a later date. I mean, it didn’t really matter to me that we celebrated on THAT day.

After our service at church, our youth group was getting together to have a devotional. I loved and still love many of these “kids”! What I didn’t know was the fact that about 50 of my closest friends from my high school would be attending our youth devotional!
Imagine my surprise and jubilation to be “surprised” on my birthday! THAT was fun!

We laughed. We ate. they sang, while Mom brings the cake out with a drawing of a cheerleader…16 candles…and the lettering on the cake said, “Sweet 16 & never been kissed! Happy Birthday Summer!” Oh joy!
After hugging everyone and sharing some cake and ice cream, I exited promptly to the kitchen with Mom. I was drawn to tears. You see, I’d never heard the expression “Sweet 16 and never been kissed”! THIS was not fun. In fact, I was 16 and I truly had never been kissed. Imagine my horror that my mom announced it to 70 or so of my closest friends and family! (Oh hi! It’s me…the girl with the announcement on the cake! Any takers?!).
She hugged my neck and explained it was just a saying. Well, ok…if I didn’t get what that meant, then the other FIFTY OR SO FRIENDS DIDN’T GET WHAT IT MEANT EITHER! (Just thinking out loud for a moment…)

On that day at age 16, September 11th, I remember what a great family I had. I remember the friends I had. I don’t dwell on the birthday cake saying…that much…anymore…I digress.

On this day, September 11th, I count myself thankful that I had never been kissed, yet. I don’t count it all joy that my friends found out about that, but I digress, again!!

I count my blessings. I am grateful for a mother who loved me more than words. I am grateful I had a daddy that said,”no”, when he had to do so. That’s love. And, I’m thankful for my sister, who reminds me to live, to love and to trust God.

I cherish that I still have most of those friends I had when I was 16. God put you right there for a reason…a purpose and I see that, with a thankful heart.

On this September 11th, just know that grace matters. That’s God’s unmerited favor. You are worthy. And, I’d love to have you for a friend, if you want. Happy Birthday…to you, too.

Stupid cake! LOL.

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