New additions

We’ve had some new additions on our homestead.

Two of our hens have been broody for several weeks. Here is Maggie holding the first chick to hatch:

And if chickens on the trampoline aren’t entertaining enough, we now have a goat on the trampoline, too. Meet  our new lawnmower, Clover:

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What’s new on our homestead

It’s been a while since my last post, so I thought I’d get caught up on all the things that have been happening around here lately. It’s been a busy summer!

We are slowly making some progress on the new house. Mostly we are finding more and more things that will need to be done, but that is progress in itself. The front porch is going to need more work than we thought as one of the support joists is rotting. The lower portion of the living room walls was covered very badly with an extra layer of drywall. I took that off and was pleasantly surprised to find that the walls were in very good shape with nearly all of the damage coming from the extra layer of drywall. I’m using the drywall I removed to patch some of the larger holes in the boys’ room.

Matthew has his learner’s permit. He was able to take driver’s ed through our local high school even though he is homeschooled. He enjoyed the class and Todd and I enjoyed not teaching him to drive. (He’s still learning, but mostly just needs practice.)

We got a dog. We were planning to wait until we moved out to the new house before we did this, but a friend of ours was looking for a home for her German shepherd puppy. Amy is almost a year old now and mostly well-behaved. We are still trying to teach her not to chase the chickens. She is under the mistaken impression that they need rounding up.

Amy

I finished the henhouse. Well, most of it. I built most of it about three months ago and the chickens were able to start using it–and more importantly stop sleeping in the bathroom. Matthew and I finished putting the shingles on the roof about a month later and it still needs a coat of paint, but the chickens don’t care.

We lost another chicken. Snuggles was our broody hen. She sat on her nest from dawn ’til dusk every day, rain or shine, with eggs or not. Her broodiness was in all probability the direct cause of her demise. We think that a Cooper’s hawk swooped down and tried to carry her off. I say “tried to” because we found her hanging in the fence. Any other daytime predator would have raised an alarm with the other chickens. I doubt that the hawk realized how big and heavy she was, just that she was an easy target–a sitting duck, if you will.

We have come to the realization that three of the six chicks we got were not pullets, they are cockerels. I don’t mind having a rooster, but three is too many for our small flock. I’m not sure what we will do with the extras. In the meantime, we are enjoying laughing at their attempts at crowing.

Yellow

We are trying to settle into a new routine with church, school, therapy, and work while still finding time to work on the house. I’m thankful that we don’t have a deadline to have everything finished and moved in.

Never a dull moment

They say a picture’s worth a thousand words, but this one just begs for an explanation. Yes, those are our chickens. And yes, they are perched on the bathtub.

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Last fall we lost several of our chickens to an overnight skunk attack. (I didn’t post anything about it because it seemed unimportant in the of other events at the time.) Matthew and I spent the next day skunk-proofing the hen-house to ward off any future attacks. While the hen-house is now skunk-proof, we have discovered that it is not raccoon-proof.

Thursday night we lost one hen and one chick. We initially thought that this was the work of the skunk, too, since we found a place where the wire had come loose. Saturday morning we discovered the door to the hen-house wide open with all five remaining chicks nowhere to be found. After fixing the broken door (more on that in another post) and thoroughly checking the hen-house for any other holes, we decided it was safe.

Oh, did I mention that we had severe thunderstorms (no local tornadoes) and torrential rains with flash flooding Wednesday through Saturday? Saturday night around 10:00 pm I heard squawking from the hen-house so I ran outside in the pitch dark in my sock-feet yelling for Todd to come out there as I ran. When I got out to the chicken pen it was too dark to see anything. (It’s around the side of the shed from the house, so the porch light did no good.) I was yelling and the chickens were squawking, when all of a sudden I see something streak past me toward the house and I realize that it is one of the chickens. By this time Todd has gotten out there, but we still don’t have any light.

I went back inside to get a flashlight and discovered the chicken that streaked by me (Pecker) was in the dining room–smart chicken, she knew where she would be safe. I yelled for Maggie to get up and go help and ran outside with a light. We determined that all of the hens were safe and whatever had attacked was gone. We found a place where the raccoon (which was kind enough to leave a telltale pawprint) had ripped several boards off the side of the hen-house. There was also a place where Pecker had ripped off the screen in her determination to get away from certain death.

Around this time the adrenaline starts to wear off and I realize that I am soaked almost to the knees (and still in my socks) from running back and forth through the ankle-deep puddles in the backyard. Todd and Matthew were outside trying to patch the hen-house in the dark. Maggie was inside trying to find Pecker (who had decided the dining room was still a bit to exposed for her taste and had hidden behind the piano). I realized that I would never get to sleep wondering if chickens were safe out there, so I decided that they could sleep in the bathroom for the night. Surprisingly, they settled right down and we didn’t hear a peep out of them all night.