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4/12/2012

Shana head shotI’ve kept you hanging about Baby Banzai for long enough.  Here’s the whole story. 

You know that I have two Phoenix/Yokohama crosses.  One day, Sushi (the pullet) started to lay.  Sure enough, I think my Silkie hen (Beautiful Sweet) got the radar.  My Silkie is an amazing layer for a couple of weeks at a time, but after that she goes broody if you look at her crosseyed.  I must have looked at her funny, so she was broody.  I figured what the heck.  If she wants to set eggs this bad, why not let her?  After all, I was pretty sure that the Phoenix eggs would be infertile at this stage.  I’d just have to candle them to make sure they didn’t go rotten.  

Maki the roo and Sushi the pulletSo I put three eggs under Beautiful Sweet.  She was rather disconcerted to be moved to new quarters at night, but she quickly settled in.  I put her in my screen porch in a large dog crate with a milk crate stuffed with hay as a nest.  She soon made it her home.  She started to brood with a vengeance.  I’d never seen a chicken go broody before her, and her zombie-like trance was nothing short of amazing. 

Enter my son.  He wants to HELP.  He’s  four.   A few days after I put the eggs under Beautiful Sweet, he decided to help by gathering them for me and leaving them on the counter.  I put them back under her as quickly as I could, preparing for doom.  Several days later, he wanted to check them and dropped one.  Shortly thereafter, he broke another one.  So, we were down to one.   

Again, I thought, what the heck.  I put three more eggs under that gorgeous Silkie.  By now, she’d been setting for about a week, showing no signs of boredom.  I locked the cage.  I chastised my son.  Soon it was candling day.  You could have  knocked me over with a Silkie feather when I found that ALL FOUR were fertile . . .and one was due in a week and a half.  The others had another 2 weeks to go.  It had to be a mistake, I thought.  After all, I haven't candled anything for 20 years, and that was parakeet eggs.  I settled in for the wait.

I went out to candle on what I thought was the night before due date and heard very tiny peeps.  WOW.  I reached under my (thankfully tolerant) Silkie and found the tiniest little chick I’d ever seen in my life.  For some reason I was surprised at her tiny size, even though I knew she came from an egg about the size of George Washington on a dollar bill. 

baby BanzaiNow what to do?  If I left that baby with the hen, she’d abandon the other three eggs.  Then there was the question of keeping the baby warm.  Both of my heat lamps were already being used.  I made the choice.  I took her out and set up a box on top of my other chick brooder to use some of the heat from that lamp.  I put some hay chop in it, then covered it with paper towels, even the cutout handholes.  She’s just born, I figured.  She won’t possibly get out of there.  I set up a waterer with marbles and scattered feed.  I put her in the box. 

Shortly thereafter, I heard a very tiny thud.  She had fallen out of the handhole in the box on top of the brooder (which is over 2’ tall and sits on top of a 2’ platform).  With my heart in my mouth, I cradled her tiny body in my hands.  I willed her to be OK.  Soon, she moved and hopped up.  She seemed OK!  I found her a different box (with no handholes!) and placed her in it.  She was promptly christened Banzai in honor of her leap. 

I checked on her constantly.  I had shown her how to drink, and I saw her peck at the food.  Still, on the third day after her hatching, she spent a lot of time sleeping.  I thought she might be cold and lonely, so I picked her up and carried her around with me.  When I had to make supper, I put her back in the box. 

An hour later, her tenacious little heart had stopped beating.  I’d lost her.  I felt like I let her down but I wasn’t sure what I could have done.  

Beautiful Sweet and her new broodHer 3 siblings also hatched just a little earlier than I expected, but I thought I’d stay out of it this time.  They’re with my broody Silkie and all are doing wonderfully.  So, lesson learned for me!  



3/25/2012

Shana head shotI want to go on record as saying that my chicken addiction is my mother’s fault. She started sharing Backyard Poultry magazine with me, even though she had absolutely no desire to own chickens. I lived in a city. I didn’t want chickens either. I still have no idea why she started getting that magazine. But somehow, reading the articles and peeping at pictures of pampered poultry, the idea started to grow on me. After all, I’ve always liked birds, and chickens are MUCH cheaper than parrots. 

Then we moved to the farm, and lo and behold, it had a coop. Old and dilapidated, yes, but still a coop. I put the matter out of my mind until I took the kids to TSC one day to get horse feed.  Wouldn’t you know it, it was chick week. Sure enough, they had straight run bantams, and some of them looked like Silkies  (a breed known for their docility and fur-like feathers). The kiddos started clamoring for “their own pets.” How could I resist at $1.50 each? Scott said OK but told me to also get some that laid eggs.  Why, I’ll never know, since he won’t eat eggs. 

Naming the banties was an event. Each kid got to pick one and name their own. Caitlin called her Silkie pullet “Beautiful Sweet.” Arthur, being a boy, named his Bantam Cochin pullet “Spiderman.” Scott was reluctant to name his. “You WILL name this chicken,” I intoned. Thus, Murphy the rooster was christened. The kids started carrying on about when we were going to get a cow since we live on a farm now. I pointed to the remaining chicken and said “Voila! Now we have a Cow!” Yes, a rooster named Cow. I warned you that I was crazy.  (and, in my defense, I only learned which was which after a few months.)

I picked up some traditional layers from the “pullet” tanks. After they matured, I discovered that we had ended up with five roosters and 8 hens (counting the bantams). EEK. A few months followed while I caged them at night, but moved some chicken pen with screens on top (to keep the hawks and cats out) around the yard so they could range during the day. We fixed the floor in the coop. We fenced a run. I bought a nifty new nestbox arrangement. Finally we were ready.  I even gave Murphy to a new home.

For those of you who have never met a chicken, they poop.  A LOT. I kept them cleaned up while confined (good compost, you know) but it seemed like the poo increased in proportion to the available space. WOW. Thank goodness for Harvey Ussery’s deep litter idea. Deep litter is laying down at least 8 inches of loose litter (like leaves, grass clippings, chopped hay, etc) in your coop and run to absorb the nitrogen and ammonia from the poo without having to clean your coop every week. The material then starts composting and you can scrape it out once or twice a year. Sounded good to me!

He also mentioned ventilation. Mind you, I’d been feeling bad because I just hadn’t gotten around to fixing the coop windows. The theory is that enough ventilation will prevent harmful fumes from harming the chickens’ lungs, while keeping the air dry and eliminating frostbite. This sounded better and better to me, since I don’t have
electricity out to the coop and can’t heat it. So I left the windows open.  I have noticed that now, even after 7 months, my coop doesn’t stink and my chickens are all still healthy.

The first night it got down into the teens, I couldn’t sleep. I was convinced that I’d go out to the coop and find them all frozen, or Stewie’s magnificent comb frostbitten. It
was a bit of an anticlimax the next morning, but everything was fine. Sure, the water was frozen, but I’d brought extra. Nobody had frostbite. I would have done the happy dance, but none of the hens would have laid for a month afterwards. My happy dance is a little scary.

Fast forward to this year.  Few human women have planned for their babies as I’ve planned for my new chickens in the last few months. The perfect breeds, the necessary equipment, the places to keep them through their stages of development . . . my brain is still spinning happily along. I can’t wait to see how my carefully selected new babies will work out. I can’t wait for my first dozen “rainbow” eggs later this summer.

In the meantime, I had fallen in love with the longtails - I wanted an Onagadori (sometimes their tails get up to 30 feet long and that's not a typo!) but you can't get them in the US, at least not without selling your firstborn child.  So, next best was the Phoenixes and Yokohamas (their tails can get up to 5 feet long).  I managed to get a mixed pair AND another coop, but that's another story!

Finally, here came the mail.  I had ordered some of the rarer breeds from My Pet Chicken - a Jersey Giant, a Barnevelder, a Welsummer, a Black Copper Marans, and two Silver Laced Wyandottes.  I wanted to get some Ameracaunas to go with them (for blue/green eggs).  I thought my order at Orscheln fell through, so I found another source (and ended up with a blue Silkie to boot).  Then Orscheln called to let me know that they were still holding my 4 (that I thought they didn't have).  My ever so patient husband let me get them too.

I thought I wanted to raise my own meat birds too - I even found someone local who's willing to teach me to slaughter.  Off I went to the feed store again, planning to get 6 Cornish Cross meat birds.  Well, they had some older ones and I picked them up at a steal for 50 cents each.  Sure, it was 18 instead of 6.  No big deal, right?

Let's not even mention the 8 more that are coming in late April.  Speckled Sussexes, Anconas, and Salmon Faverolles.  I'm really going to hit the rainbow egg idea hard!

I'll post the story of Banzai the Phoenix chick soon - it's funny enough that it deserves its very own blog.

Sure, it can be a pain venturing out in the cold to collect eggs or carry unfrozen water 4 times a day. Sure, it looks odd to throw frozen veggies into the pen and put out frozen water bottles in summer.  I’m sure people driving by have laughed at that crazy lady on the side of the road pulling up weeds in the dead of winter. But just one afternoon spent surrounded by feathery bodies clucking contentedly is worth it. Those perfect eggs are WAY worth it. And I can’t wait to see what that compost will
do for our garden.  So, from city girl to farmer.  I think it's funny that people around here are starting to come to me for advice on chickens.  Still, I'm happy to share what I know!

You can see pics of what my flock will look like at http://fearlessfarmfrau.blogspot.com/2012/02/chicken-fever.html.  Catch chicken fever with me!



3/14/2012

 Andrea the Jersey Giant

They're heeeeeeere!   Eleven new cluckers, including a Black Copper Marans, a Barnevelder, a Welsummer, a Jersey Giant, 2 Silver Laced Wyandottes, 4 Ameracaunas, and one "stray" blue Silkie.  Later this year, another batch of Speckled Sussex, Anconas, and Salmon Faverolles will arrive.  As soon as they're old enough, they'll join my laying flock of Rhode Island Reds and Buff Orpingtons.  I'll tell you the story of how I got hooked on chickens soon.  After all, before my little fluffy lovelies got here, I was up to 13 chickens (including 4 roosters).  My very patient husband even let me get some ornamental birds--Maki and Sushi the Yokohama/Phoenix crosses.  It's only going to get better!

I've been planning for them since January. I thought it'd be easy to just go to Tractor Supply and grab a few Ameracaunas. Apparently they're a popular breed this year, and even the Orscheln nearby that was supposed to have them this week didn't.

Enter my new friend Keena. I'm not the ultimate authority on chickens, but she calls me for clucker advice. Hopefully I haven't steered her wrong! Well, after the deal at Orscheln fell through, I posted madly on the poultry swap site that I was in dire need of Ameracaunas or Easter Eggers. I mean, I've planned for rainbow eggs . . .what's a rainbow without blue or green? Keena came through. She called a friend of hers at her local Orscheln, went in first thing this morning as soon as the chicks came in, and grabbed the 4 that I wanted. She also picked up a cage that another friend was holding onto for me.

While Keena was getting my chicks, I was getting hers. She had arranged to buy some Silkies from a lady who lives just up the road from me.  We met halfway between our towns (and had a nice chat too!). I picked up and paid for Keena's chicks, then headed out for our next rendezvous point to "do the deal."

It turns out that Keena owed me $5. I (half) jokingly suggested that instead of getting change for a $10 bill, I'd take a Silkie. Well, bless her, she said yes. So, my "stray" blue Silkie came home. My daughter thinks I should name her Blueberry. Well, at least that's a fairly non-gender-specific name just in case it happens to be a rooster.

So these little balls of fluff are jetting around the brooder like waterbugs. They're eating and drinking like there's no tomorrow. I guess I would too if I'd spent 2/3 of my life at the mercy of the postal system, living off my yolk sac. Every now and then, one will nod off a little bit, or just fall over asleep. I forgot since last year that they do that--this morning, the one I'm pretty sure is the Barnevelder (her name will be Barnie) just flopped over. OH MY GAWD DON'T DIE!!!! YOU WERE EXPENSIVE!!! When I started breathing again, I noticed that she was too, and in about a minute popped up and zoomed for the food again. They also seem to need some time to get their "land legs." Every so often, one will trip over her own feet and go rolling. You should see them flap their little tiny wings. ADORABLE!

And yes, I have begun to name them. Not only do we have Blueberry the Blue Silkie, we have Wy and Dot the Wyandottes (say it out loud, you'll get it), Barnie the Barnevelder, Ginger the Welsummer, Juliet the Marans, and Hawkeye the lightest Ameracauna. I expect that I'll name the rest of the Amers one of the following (you've got to say these out loud too!) Miss Teak, Miss Steak, Miss Demeanor, Miss Information, or, my favorite, Miss Cellaneous.

Who am I kidding? I'm in love.  I can't wait to see the EGGS!



3/7/2012

Aurora on the left Aces on the right 

It was a dark and stormy night.  Well, OK, it wasn’t.  It was a chilly, cloudy, windy day, with drizzle and rain forecasted.  I got my gumption up to go out and do chores wearing my typical hoodie, jeans, and lined denim jacket with work gloves.  I figured I wouldn’t be out that long. 

Stumbling out to feed the cats went as usual.  I stumbled.  I fed cats.  They purred.  I was on my way to let the chickens out into their pen when I noticed that the gate to the horse pen was hanging wide open.  Sure enough, I looked up and there were both of my horses just across the road.  Argh. 

I went to the barn to get some alfalfa pellets in a bucket to rattle at them.  I had high hopes that they’d follow me home.  They, on the other hand, had high spirits.  I called them sweetly, rattled the bucket, and they promptly charged away across the field.  Luckily I’ve gotten into the habit of wearing my cell phone.  I called my stalwart husband who, THANK GOD, had the day off from work, as I tried to keep my horses in sight.  He corralled our son (no mean feat) and jumped into the truck to help keep an eye on the horses and try to get them back home. 

I did call my neighbors to ask to borrow their Rhino like last time, but since they were out of town, it would have taken a boltcutter to unlock it.  I’m just not that kind of person, SO . . .on foot and in trucks it was.   

They played quite a game of silly buggers at first, coming closer to the house, then dashing away. At one point, we were within 100 yards of their pen. Up on the railroad tracks, back into the unfenced pasture, then OVER the tracks and away they went. Scott and I ended up in two vehicles just trying to keep tabs on them. "Does nobody out here believe in FENCES?" I thought, for the first time in my life. Usually I’m impressed by a landscape with no fences, but dangit, today I needed one. 

After several hours of chasing and calling back and forth (our cell phone minutes are probably GONE for the next 6 months), we finally found someone who DID believe in fences, and as a matter of fact had their own herd of broodmares - and his unused pasture had an open gate. Mind you, we were a couple of miles west of our house by now, and had spent plenty of time trampling around outside the vehicles in 40 degrees with about 40 MPH wind. It was COLD. 

We got them in the pasture (separate, but next to the broodmares), but they got out again. The air literally would have turned black if my son hadn't have been with me. Another hour or so of chasing ensued, and wonder of wonders, we eventually got them back into that same pasture. Now mind you, it's a BIG pasture. By then we were ALL tired, cold, and cranky. Scott went home to get the trailer.  A girl can always hope for a miracle, right?  Maybe they’d recognize it and walk in?  I sure wasn’t walking home with them even IF we could catch them. I stayed in his car, shivering. His heater really doesn't work that well, and all I was dressed for was a morning round of chores - not trampling around all over creation in this weather. 

He soon came back with his Carhartts coveralls (the ones with full sleeves) for me to wear. I'll tell you what, that was the best Christmas present I ever got him. I’m SO glad we’re close to the same size.  We trampled around some more. A LOT MORE. Arthur, to his credit, was awesome at staying in the truck and amusing himself without destroying anything (a rarity in itself), especially since he was wearing shorts under the Spiderman costume that he insisted on wearing that day.  At this point, we’d been chasing these critters for almost 4 hours. 

I was ready to put up LOST HORSES posters (and tell whoever found them that they could keep the hussies). Scott hadn't eaten, and Arthur had only had some granola bars and juice. All the while, I was cursing myself for having Arabian crosses. Arabs are known as "drinkers of the wind" and prized for stamina. Heck, if I would have had Quarter horses, they probably would have been worn out by now! 

We were headed back home to take a breather (since they were confined in that pasture) when Barb called to let us know that she and Ralph were back, and had a pretty good idea of who owned that land. Scott ran into town to get oats (since alfalfa pellets, after all the fresh mouthfuls they'd had that day, were probably unappetizing). Sure enough, Barb made a call or two, and the landowner said he'd come out and help us. 

So we remobilized. Back in the truck. Ralph, being the wonderful person he is, not only came to help, but brought BEER. (I really needed one by then!) Barb headed back to our house to meet Caitlin coming home off the bus. We got out to the pasture and met Gary, Toby, and Lisa. They went tooling around the pasture in their truck after the horses. I'd have done that myself, but . . .the pasture didn't belong to me and I didn't want to impose any more than I already had. Sure enough, within 15 minutes, they had my *bleeping* mares caught and headed back towards the trailer. 

Then the fun ensued. Remember, the wind is whistling along at high rates of speed. It's making the trailer whistle too. My girls haven't been trailered in over a year. And, to top it all off, there's a thunderstorm coming in. (Thank GOD the weatherman was wrong and it wasn't raining all day.) So, with much prodding, pushing, and cooperation, we got the horses into our trailer just in time for it to start raining. YAY.  

We got home in full rain. Scott had to get the tractor and move the plow to be able to pull the truck around to the horse pen. With Ralph guiding, he finally got it backed up and got the gates set up. We were ready to unload. Amid cracks of lightning and crashing rumbles of thunder, we got Aurora out first. She didn't seem to want to come out, after all the work it took to get her in there. As she was coming out, it started to hail. With groans, we took her halter off and turned to Aces. 

One of their adventures was running through a barbed wire gate. Aces had gotten a cut on her upper leg, plus a nick on her nose while trying to load into the trailer. I was armed with Bag Balm, and there we stood in the rain and hail, trying to smear the balm on her cuts. She was dancing and flinching, and we were all getting wetter and wetter. Hail was pounding on our heads.  I slathered a thick layer of balm on her and decided to call it good. 

Well, now that they were back, better feed them, yeah? Make home a nice place again? So I trudged down to the bale (still in the rain, hail, and lightning), forked them plenty of hay, and stopped to close the chickens in . . .but wait, the chookies needed food. Back to the barn. Feed the chickens. Throw the cat out of the coop. Wait, there are more eggs. Put them in a bucket that I hold at an angle to my chest so they don't get wet. Aaah, the hail has stopped and the rain is lightening up.  Get inside. What's that? Now that I'm inside, the SUN IS SHINING?!? GAAAAH. 

Scott is a truly wonderful husband. We both got in (dripping wet) and he said "how does pizza sound tonight?" I would have kissed him if I had the energy. As it was, smiling was an effort - at this point, my back was locked up tighter than Fort Knox and I needed dry clothes. I decided in favor of the pajama strategy. After all, even my UNDERWEAR were wet. He was awesome enough to run into town to pick up the pizza after he changed too.  

Padlocks for the gates are in order. More gifts for neighbors are in order. (I took Ralph half a dozen smoked eggs today and I hope that Gary, Toby, and Lisa liked the loaf of barmbrack that I brought them.) I'm still exhausted and sore, but so very thankful for folks willing to help. Folks, no matter where you live, cultivate good neighbors. BE NICE TO THEM. Someday you're going to need their help. Just be sure you help them back.  And for the record, both horses are doing well after their little "adventure."  The Bag Balm really did help on Aces' cuts. 



2/25/2012

Shana head shotI think that my daughter is just about the sweetest thing in Creation. When I was whooping and hollering and doing the happy dance around the house after finding out that I get to write a newspaper column for a local paper, she said “Mommy, what’s wrong?”

“I’m going to get published in the paper!” I hollered. (Of course, I’m leaving out many more exclamation points!)

Well, when my husband got home, I couldn’t wait to tell him the news, but she beat me to it. “Daddy! Guess what? Mommy’s going to get punished in the paper! Can I get punished in the paper too?” Of course, I had to promise her that she’d get “punished” too. Now she’s going to be “punished” in this blog. That should make her day!

Thinking of her reminds me of the night of her parent-teacher conference last fall. Since it was my first PT conference, I dressed up a little bit (nice jeans, nice shirt, you know the drill). We were on the way out the door to take the kids next door for our neighbors to look after while we were gone. I looked out to see that one of my horses (Aurora) had her head stuck under the fence in search of more green goodness. Intending to shoo her back in, I walked down and raised my arms. She raised her neck ... AND the fence. She then proceeded to walk straight through.

 Aurora the Perpetrator 

Just to give you a bit of background here, I got both of my horses for free. Aurora is a black 14-year-old ¾ Arabian mare that I got from a lady who was moving and needed to place her horses in less than a month. Aces is a dapple grey 5-year-old ½ Arabian mare that I got from a friend who couldn’t ride anymore. They’re both broke to ride, but I haven’t worked them in a while.

With a sigh, I went to the barn to get a halter and lead rope. That was a MISTAKE. Aurora took one look at them and took off down the road at a dead run. Mind you, she’s a gorgeous horse. She’s even more gorgeous when she runs, but when it’s away from you down the road, it’s not so pretty. I was trying to get the kids to go get my husband to help chase her down. They were more concerned with telling me that my horse was out. My intrepid husband finally made it outside after hearing all the commotion, so I shoved the halter and rope at him and told him to try to keep her in sight. He jogged away while I trampled after her too, trying to cut her off.

Luckily, my neighbors had seen her charge by. Barb came to corral the kids, while Ralph fired up his trusty Rhino. The last thing I saw was Scott climbing into the Rhino with Ralph. The guys tore off in hot pursuit. I was going back to get a bucket of oats to lure her with when it dawned on me: what if Aces  figures out the same thing? I grabbed a few pieces of cattle panel and baling twine to shore up the fence for a temporary fix. Then I thought “I need to call the teacher so she knows we won’t be on time!” Well, I couldn’t find her number, so I did some calling around and found a way to get a message to her. Then I had to rearrange the gates so that we could bring my errant equine (provided that we could find her) into the pen without losing my other one, who was running the fence and whinnying at the top of her lungs.

Finally, I got the oats and started trudging down the road. I couldn’t see hide nor hair of Scott or Ralph. And here we were, looking for a black horse at dusk. I was calling her, rattling the bucket, and wishing I’d thought to put on a jacket. Then I saw headlights in the field near the next mile road. They were weaving erratically, stopping, starting, and bobbing. After deciding that it couldn’t be a drunk driver, I was pretty sure it was the guys. “Oh good,” I thought with a sigh of relief. “They’re herding her back.” I didn’t know it was just Ralph until my mare got close enough to hear the oats. Scott (with the lead rope and halter) was nowhere in sight. Aurora seemed glad to see me ... or maybe it was just the oats.

Well, what’s a Fearless Farm Frau to do at that point? Walk home and keep rattling, of course. Ralph followed us in the Rhino to light our way since it was getting pretty dark by then. I gave her a “good faith” bite every now and then just to keep her attention. Sometimes Ralph got a little close and she’d startle a bit. Since she was walking slightly behind me, at those moments all that was going through my mind were endless repetitions of “please don’t bolt,” but we made it home. I guess I wasn’t quite as fearless as usual. My heart was pounding the whole time. I breathed another sigh of relief to see that Scott was back and manning the gate. She walked in nice as you please, as if nothing had happened. Hmph.

All said and done, we still made it to conference only an hour late. Good thing the teacher was willing to stay a little later than she had planned. Good thing we have neighbors as great as ours (and they have an ever-handy Rhino!). People have told me Aurora would have come back anyway, but none of them saw her take off like her tail was on fire.

Ralph said (as I was falling all over myself thanking him) “Aw heck, that’s the most fun I’ve had all month!” Needless to say, we spent the rest of the next couple of weeks putting up better fence. And if it ever happens again, I’ll just get the oats.



2/16/2012

Shana head shotSince it’s still technically winter, I thought you all might be interested in one of my first farm adventures. I grew up a town kid, but I had friends that lived on dirt roads. When we moved to our home on a dirt road, I thought I knew what it was all about. Granted, I’d wrecked my dad’s MG on one of those roads, but that’s another story for a different day. 

Just after we got moved in and settled (and thank goodness the weather held that long), we got buried under almost 2 feet of snow.   

 The front end of my truck about halfway through the snowstorm 

But then I had to make a grocery run. I have a truck, and plenty of vehicles had driven by on our road, so there were some ruts worn into the snow (since the plow doesn’t come out here). Easy, right? Stay in the ruts! 

Sure, it was easy until I got too big for my britches and went a little too fast. (I’ve always been a speed demon. They don’t call me Leadfoot for nothing!)  I varied only slightly from the ruts, but ended up burying my truck bumper deep in a drift across the road.   

I won’t bore you with what I said. Suffice to say, the air for about a mile in each direction turned blue. Luckily, my kids weren't with me. My husband was working from home that day, so I called him on my trusty cell phone.   

“Honey, I got stuck. Call a plow!” 

“What good would that do?” he replied in a puzzled tone. 

“You know what I mean. Call a tow truck.” 

He gave me the usual male advice about how much tow trucks cost and how to go forward and back in small increments. Under NO circumstances was I to gun it and spin the tires. He said to give him a few minutes and he’d get something arranged.   

The thought did pass through my head that I was less than a mile from home, and I have horses. I could just go back and get one and have HER pull me out. Almost immediately, the absurdity hit me. What was I going to do, tie a tow rope to her tail? I don’t think that either one of my horses would be pleased with that. Still, it would have made a great picture. 

Growling under my breath, I persevered. Back and forth, back and forth I went. The air got bluer. Lacking a shovel, I grabbed the next best thing: my ice scraper. I scraped and scraped snow out from behind my tires. By now the air was deep indigo. I had snow in my boots, halfway up my legs, and inside my gloves. Into the truck I climbed. Back and forth. Back and forth. I could barely see through the cloud of profanity. I lost my patience. I gunned it. 

And I got out. Or, more accurately, I shot out of that drift backwards like a four-wheeled cannonball. I just barely managed to stop before I slid into the opposite ditch. I called hubby to let him know that I was out, and he didn’t sound nearly as impressed as I thought he should. With some jolting (and more judicious gunning), I got back into the ruts. I made the grocery run. 

Coming back home, I saw my ruts in the snow and wondered how many people had driven by and wondered what dummy did THAT. My chagrin only increased when, as I was unloading the groceries AFTER getting back home, I remembered that WE HAVE  A TRACTOR. No wonder hubby was reluctant to call a tow truck. 

All that snow sure was pretty when it started to melt. It got easier to stay in the ruts too. 

 closeup of icicles   

  more icicles 

At least I’m more used to farm life now. And now I always remember that we have a tractor. 

 



2/15/2012

Shana head shotHi there. Pleased to meet you. I’m the Fearless Farm Frau (AKA the Crazy Chicken Lady), and it’s been quite a journey to get here. I’d shake your hand, but I’m not at your computer, and asking you to shake your computer sounds like quite an imposition. However, if you were to offer me a virtual cup of coffee, I wouldn’t turn it down.

I grew up in a small German town here in Kansas. Both sides of my family grew up farming, but moved to town. As most kids do, I moved to the big city as quickly as I could. While cities have their pluses (sushi, delivery pizza, etc), I just didn’t ever feel comfortable. For a while, with an ex-husband, I lived in deep South Texas. At least there I could indulge my love of horses and meet some great folks. Alas, that deal went even farther south, and I found myself back in Kansas.

Lots of people knock Kansas. I still think it’s one of the best places to be. Open space, good land, lower cost of living, and just plain nice folks. After meeting and marrying my husband (our first date was making chainmaille — the armor, not the pesky letters), we formed a 5-year plan to get a place out in the country and get away from the constant traffic noise and sirens, plus getting our (then) future kids into good schools. Well, the 5-year plan turned into a 10-year plan.

So here we are. We bought our dream farm. (Hubby’s aunt and uncle had lived here, and we fell in love with the place.) It’s been maintained as organic for at least the last 30 years, plus being certified as a tree farm. We were so excited when we found out it was on the market. There’s such a peaceful feeling here that seems to include everyone who comes. Yes, we had quite a time selling our city house, and that’s another story. But here we are. Organic farmers at last.

Peace welcome sign 

I’ll be happy to regale you with more stories (mostly funny) as we get to know each other. It’s certainly been a learning experience for me, and I’ve still got lots more to learn. Hopefully stories about kids, chickens, horses, dogs, cats, and cutting and heating with wood won’t bore you. If they do, feel free to tell me so. I’ll take it as another learning experience. I’m not bored out here, and hopefully you won’t be either. Buckle in and saddle up. It’s going to be a great ride. 





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