And then there were five…

  
I’m feeling a little sad today.  My sweet Charlotte (above) is no longer with us.  And it is my fault. 😦 I’ve been down sick with a bad cold, along with most of the rest of the household, and wasn’t thinking clearly, I suppose, and I forgot to go out and lock the girls in for the night last night.  Jeff arrived home after a long day out around dark and wasn’t really thinking about chickens either.  

In the middle of the night, it suddenly came to me that I had forgotten them.  I wasn’t concerned that they had run off – chickens are home-bodies, and just naturally return to their coop at nightfall each evening.  I wasn’t even concerned about the fact that my forgetting about them meant I hadn’t fed them for the night – they had been out foraging the yard all day yesterday and were okay to make it until morning without feed.

No, what struck a note of fear in my heart was the fact that they were out in their pen, completely unprotected, since the gate to the pen was never shut and locked up for the night – leaving the girls veritable “sitting ducks” or literally “sitting chickens”.

  
I woke Jeff up and had him keep watch from the porch (in case a crazy night creature tried to attack me), and headed out to the pen, cellphone flashlight in hand, with trepidation about what I was going to find.  Sure enough, the gate to the pen was wide open, just as I had left it earlier in the day when I let the girls out for the day.  I started counting chickens…one…two…three…four…five…I counted again…one, two, three, four, five. I shone the light all around the pen.  I noticed the waterer was knocked over, a red flag since it’s very sturdy and too heavy for the girls to knock over themselves. And then I saw the feathers, black and white striped feathers strewn around the cage – more than the usual strays that adorn the coop daily. 

They belonged to Charlotte, one of my favorites.   My heart sank.  She was our last remaining Plymouth Barred Rock chicken, my favorite breed – I’ve always loved her ruffley, black and white stripes paired with her striking red comb – such a beauty!  Her sister, Nimrod (don’t ask), had died last month after becoming ill, so I really didn’t want to lose Charlotte too!

  
I looked around to make sure she wasn’t anywhere in the cage, but she was gone, carried away by some creature of the night – a raccoon, owl, bobcat?  I checked on the rest of the girls, who were sitting quietly, three huddled together on top of the old rabbit hutch where they sleep each night, and two roosting in the nesting boxes inside the hutch. I told them I was so sorry for forgetting them… for failing to protect them…for allowing their secure home to be invaded. With a heavy heart, I closed the gate, latched it, and headed back to the house, reporting the sad news to Jeff, waiting on the porch. 

We’ve had our chickens for almost 3 years now, and it amazes me that the one time that I forgot to lock them in, a predator was ready and waiting to seize the opportunity. I thought about these night creatures, and how they survive and feed their little ones by being aware and diligent. I imagined a contented little family of wild ones being blessed by my mistake. It is God’s way of caring for his creation,  and it is a good thing, for now, until the day He puts everything to rights and the “lion lays down with the lamb”. 

  
One thing having chickens has taught me is to hold them loosely, because their lives are fragile, and can be gone quickly. It’s part of owning chickens, and I accept that.  It also is a reminder to me that God holds all of us in the palm of His hand – our every breath is ordained by Him, and is in His control. There is blessing in appreciating all of life around us and thanking Him for it!  

I will miss seeing my pretty Charlotte scratching around the yard with the other girls, but will thank the Lord that I was able to enjoy her for the time I had her. And with spring just around the corner, I’m thinking that maybe some new baby chicks might be in our “tomorrow” – definitely some Plymouth Barred Rocks!  

 
Blessings,

Nancy

 

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Porch Weather in July??

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I can hardly believe it, but I am actually spending this afternoon camped out in my rocker on the front porch – AT THE END OF JULY!!! This is unheard of here in Texas, where July usually means 100 degree temperatures. The temperature right now is in the upper 80’s, but there is a cool northern breeze blowing and the porch is nice and shady, and it is completely and beautifully comfortable here. There are dishes and laundry to be done in the house, but they are just going to have to wait – this weather is simply too wonderful to waste!

Sometimes it is just what is needed to relax, rest, and reflect. That is what I have been doing this afternoon. I do some of my best reflecting on my front porch, surrounded by the trees, and the beauty of nature. I was reading about Elijah in the book of 1 Kings, and came to the part where he was nourished and given rest by the Lord. God cared so tenderly for him and gave him a break to rejuvenate him. What a blessing to be reminded that these rest times are so important in our life!

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This day began with a bonfire in our side yard! One of our piles of dead and discarded tree branches (we have 2 of these) had gotten so tall that it needed to be taken care of, so our neighbor came over and helped Jeff prepare and burn it. It was our first time to burn a pile, so it was really nice to have our neighbor’s help and know-how. The wood was so dry that it didn’t take long to burn down to a big pile of ash. It is still smoldering now, and will be throughout the weekend. We tried to roast some marshmallows earlier, but we couldn’t get close enough to cook them due to the heat being put off by the pile! We’re going to try again later this evening and see if we can make some S’Mores.

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I took some pictures today of the little ladies also, so I will try to get a chicken update posted soon. They’re not little babies anymore – they’re almost to laying age! I am so much enjoying having them! They are living in a pen under the trees by the pond, but soon we will be letting them out during the daytime hours to free range the entire property. Here’s a sneak peek picture of the girls ~

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Have a wonderful evening, and I’ll be back with you again soon!

Blessings,
Nancy

Say Hello to the Little Ladies!

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Well, we finally did it! After dreaming about it for 8 years since moving to the country, we finally have our own chickens! We purchased these sweet baby girls at a local feed store last Friday. We have 8 chicks – 2 each of 4 different breeds – Ameraucanas, Barred Rock, Rhode Island Reds, and Wyandottes.

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Right now the chicks are living in our master bathroom in a large plastic tub (the only place we can keep them safe from our 3 curious cats). They have to stay warm, so we have a heat lamp on them constantly at one end of the box. Their food and water is at the other end. They spend all of their time eating, drinking, sleeping a little, and making a mess.

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Some of them have a new form of entertainment – trying to fly out of the box! Last night we added a piece of mesh screening to the top of the box and so their fun has been thwarted a little bit. Soon we will be transitioning the girls to our old rabbit hutch, outside in the chicken pen. I am so looking forward to the days when I can sit on the front porch and watch the little ladies pecking around the yard – not to mention the lovely fresh eggs we will enjoy each day!

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P.S. I’m sorry for the tiny pictures! I’m experimenting with posting from my iPad, and still figuring out how everything works! I think I know what to do now with the pics, so they should be back to normal in the next post.

Have a wonderful evening!

Blessings,
Nancy