Crazy About Chickens

I now refer to my daughter as “that crazy chicken lady.” She’s got them perched on her shoulder. She’s pushing them around in her toy cart. She’s got them with her on the trampoline. Everywhere Taegan is, there’s a chicken. We caught her and a friend “teaching them how to fly” in “chick school” today. The premise being that if you throw them up in the air, they’ll flap their wings and figure it out. We quickly put a stop to that.

The pullets we got at the local feed store are growing great, but unfortunately, a coon got one of our Silver Laced Wyandottes. So, we’re down to 5 teenage chickens.

In other news, Taegan is now on a murderous rampage against raccoons. She was sad for a minute…and then it all turned to violence. Trust me, I’ve listened–against my will– to a few different death scenarios. Hell hath no fury like a chicken lady scorned. I thought I’d put that out there for any local raccoons that read this blog. Don’t come hunting at the Kriders.

Taegan and I have named the 5 we have left. I’ll introduce them in a future post. This post is for introducing our newest additions. Taegan’s class hatched 20+ chicks and you can be sure Taegan was all about adding to the family.

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Allow me to introduce you to Apple (left) and Pear (right). Disclaimer: I, in no way, had anything to do with those names. ūüôā

And, really, we couldn’t say no when chicks bring her this much joy.

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Luxe likes the chicks…

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but from more of a distance.

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This is Taegan saying “Don’t hit it!”¬†Luxe’s intention was not to hit it, rather to let it know that it better not even think about coming any closer.

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The next question becomes…What do you do when a chick doesn’t respect the boundaries you’re trying to create?

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Sister’s starting to freak out…

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aaaannndd we’re there. We’re freaked out. Apple is refusing to take no for an answer.

So, it’s safe to say Luxe does not share in Taegan’s passion for chickens. That’s ok. We’ll find her thing.

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Apple came over to see me instead. When I asked her (or him…we really don’t know yet) for thoughts on this new life with new people, Apple replied, “I’m just going to keep winging it. Life, chickenhood, my eyeliner…Everything.”

I’m kind of enjoying all of them. Chickens (I can’t believe I’m saying this) are pretty fun. And I’ll make sure I document on video the next time Taegan and the farmer try to catch our teenagers after they’ve been let out of the coop. I’ve not laughed that hard in a long time.

All in a Week’s Time

Taegan was home on Spring Break all last week and we always try to do some fun things when she has a little time away from school. Fortunately, she had several cousins staying right up the road¬†at my mother-in-law’s, so that made it even more fun. We started off Monday with a nature scavenger hunt after the farmer finished feeding hay. I took these¬†photos with my phone.

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We enjoyed it. They enjoyed it. And a good time was had by all.

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Also during this week, we jumped in full throttle with potty training Luxe. It wasn’t going well.

Me: Luxe, where do we go pee and poop?

Luxe: In the toe-wet.

Me: So, why aren’t you going in the toilet?

Luxe: ‘Cuz I don’t want to.

I was in need of some reinforcements and the timing of spring break couldn’t have been better. I suggested to Taegan that she might be just the right person for this job and she squinted her little eyes and gave me a look that said, “What are you trying to pull?”

Mind you, this is the child that consistently says she’s never having kids “because they’re too much work.” Astute and accurate observation. I’ll make sure I tell her that she better feel really fortunate that I was not as sharp as she is at 24…otherwise she wouldn’t be here. And then I did it again.

And again.

But back to my story, I decided a different tactic would surely work to get Taegan to give potty training Luxe a shot. She’s competitive by nature, so I said, “I bet you could do this way better than me.” She took the bait. Show Mommy up? I’ll play. She asked Luxe if she needed to go on the toilet. Luxe, of course, followed her back there and I sat her on her potty seat on the big toilet. We don’t use the little one…because she can get off it.

So, Taegan’s in there reading a book and I hear Taegan ask Luxe, “Do you want me to hide?” Luxe says, “Yeah.” Taegan opens up the cabinet door and gets behind it and what.do.you.know….Luxe goes potty!!! I’m whooping and hollering; Luxe is grinning from ear to ear; and I’m pretty sure a person couldn’t have wiped the proud smile off of Taegan’s face for the next couple hours. Because Luxe did it again and again for Taegan. To the point Taegan started referring to it as “working her magic.” She’d call from the bathroom with Luxe and say, “Mommy, I worked my magic again!” Luxe obviously thrives on pleasing her sister. Now, she’s going like a champ for all of us. We’ve had a few accidents since Thursday when we started, but many, many more successes.

So, thank you, Taegan. I gladly bow down to your potty training prowess. ūüôā

Meanwhile, Luxe continues to work on mastering the very necessary skill of drinking out of the hose.

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You can’t be a farmgirl and not get this down.

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Then, on Friday, we decided to take the girls–namely Taegan–to chick day at the local feed store. I don’t like chickens. I’ve made that very clear in past posts, but chicks are cute and I thought I might be able to work a little photography around them in spring photos with the girls. Taegan is the farm animal lover. We would have everything if it were up to her. Chickens, bunnies, cows, horses, ducks, goats, sheep, pigs–you name it, we would have it.

 

I’m also the type of mother that has a hard time saying no to things that teach responsibility. Taegan is a very practical, responsible realist.She’s never really been into playing pretend or fairy tales. If she plays, it usually has a real-life component to it and she tends to ¬†give things a long, hard think before she commits her time. And she really wanted some chickens. And she told me she would take care of them and gather all the eggs when they started laying.

Works great for me because I do like eggs.

So, here we are at the feed store with a box.

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This chick is ready for her chicks…even down to knowing what kind she wants. Yeah, we had to have all that figured out, too. We looked up every breed they had available and picked out our favorites. The farmer asked me, “Now, are the ones we’re getting good layers?”

My reply: “Oh, we don’t care about that. We’re going purely based on looks.”

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Here’s the whole fam.

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Luxe can’t figure out why Taegan’s so happy, what we’re doing here, and why there’s all this incessant chirping.

So, we get up to the chicks and they.are.cute!!

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They had ducklings, too! I’m getting some after researching why I would want them. Has anyone ever had duck eggs? I read that they’re more nutritious, better tasting, better for baking, and that ducks lay year round–never really going through a rest time. I also read that ducks are excellent pest controllers (bugs, ticks, grasshoppers, etc), won’t dig up your yard and gardens like a chicken will, and will even kill small snakes if given an opportunity. Sign me up!!! Sounds like the best pet ever!

Seriously, I’m totally getting some ducks.

We told the man what chicks we wanted. He placed them in the box. We paid for them. And now we are the proud owners of some pretty cute little chicks.

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If you ask Taegan, she will accurately tell you exactly which breeds are which, but we’ve got 2 Welsummers, 2 Barred Rock, and 2 Silver Laced Wyandottes.

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And one happy little chicken-loving farm girl.

She puts her shoes on every 20 minutes, opens the front door, and says, “I’m going to check my chicks. You gotta be fast if you wanna’ catch those Welsummers! I just have to swoop in cuz they run!” I think she’s holding a Silver Laced Wyandotte here.

It was an eventful, productive spring break. I miss Taegan when she’s gone. She creates so much material for my creative processes.

The Family that Hays Together

Last weekend was a momentous weekend in my years on the farm.

It all started with knowing Dad, Mandy, and the farmer would be gathering up all the square bales from a neighboring farm we cut hay off of and split between the owner and ourselves. So, I was aware of what Saturday’s¬†plans were; I just wasn’t aware of what MY plans were until my dad informed me Friday night that I would be driving. Driving meaning I would pull the trailer with the truck as the rest of them walked along beside, picked up the square bales, and hefted them onto the trailer. Sounded simple enough even though I’d never done anything like that before.

So, what do I do? Arrive ready to do it straight up farm girl.
20160924_1157501Dad has to hook up the trailer and tells me to go ahead and drive the truck to the field. Since he’s in the passenger seat, I’m already feeling a fair amount of anxiety–because I have a good feeling he’s not going to get in the driver’s seat and back the honkin’ truck up to the trailer himself.

Me: “Are you going to back up to the trailer?”

Dad: “No, I’m going to coach you.

Oh no…said the city girl who 1) is not an expert backer and 2) cannot read hand motions or follow directions.

The farmer was already headed down the dirt road and saw us–or more importantly me in the driver’s seat–cross the road into the field. He later told me he wished he could have stopped and watched because he knew it¬†would be good. Brat.

So, he has me swing around to where the hind end of the truck is in front of the trailer, hops out, and proceeds to wave me on back.

“Ok, straighten up a little!¬†

I straighten.

Straighten up your wheels!”¬†

I am straight.

“Straighter! Turn your wheels to the left!”

How is that straight?? He’s walking towards the driver’s side window.

Pointing at the steering wheel, he says:¬†“When “Ford” is straight in front of you, you are straight.”

It wasn’t. I was looking at the tires the whole time.

Ok, so now that we got that part accomplished, he continues to hand motion me back ward and then throws up the fist that means stop. Well, I found that the difference between my husband’s fist and my dad’s fist is that Dad means for you to slam on the brakes while my husband means an easier stop.

Therefore, I have to pull forward again.

I think we did that about 3 times before Dad said, “Two inches. That’s all we need. Two inches.”

Finally, we got it as Mandy was pulling into the field on the side by side. Dad waves and points at the truck like “HA HA! Isn’t this a kick in the head?” Her expression mirrored his.

Little did I know he was going to continue to make me drive. He hopped back into the passenger seat and by this time, I’m being more vocal about my anxiety.¬†“Dad, I’ve never done this before! I’ m going to take out every fence post from here to there! I’m not coachable!”

Long story short, I’ve watched my husband more than I realized, swung wide where I needed to, used my mirrors, and trusted Dad to tell me how best to maneuver through tight spots.

So, now it was my turn to learn what “bucking bales” was all about.

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Even though it was 94 degrees outside, look how beautiful it is! It was my job to slowly drive the trailer down the lines of square bales so all the farmer and Mandy had to do was walk along and throw the bales on the trailer. Then, Dad grabbed them–as I’m continuing to drive, mind you–and stacked them. He may be eeking ever closely to 60, but he’s still spritely. Staying on two feet while stacking 60 lb. bales on a moving vehicle is definitely for the sure-footed.

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I’m just guessing here, but the “bucking” part seemed to have to do with your knee motion as you heft the bale onto ¬†the trailer. You use your knee for an extra nudge up.

You don’t know how many times I giggled thinking¬†about making the farmer¬†chase the trailer with one of those bales. If Dad and Mandy hadn’t been working like dogs themselves, I totally would have done it. Don’t feel bad for him. He’s ornery.

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There’s Mandy. I got the cush job, for sure. She’s She-ra.

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Fun fact: Mandy did not grow up on a farm and had no experience with farming until she met my dad. And yet here she is, buckin’ bales and later shouting “GIRL POWER!!” as she jumped out of the truck after grabbing a quick drink of water. I’m feelin’ it, man. I’m driving the diesel in 4-low with a trailer full of hay behind me.

The¬†trailer soon grew as full and high as it could get. I gladly hopped out of the truck and into the backseat so Dad could drive. I wasn’t feeling so confident in my newfound skills to think I could maneuver the squirrely path back to the highway without losing half the bales. In no way did I want to be the person that made all this hard work for naught.

And when Dad lost about 8 bales in a ditch along said squirrely path, I was just thankful it wasn’t me.

We arrive back at my Dad’s barn where the hay will be stored…

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and go to work undoing all the work we did before. And by we, I mean not me. I have the VERY important job of making sure all of this gets documented.

First, one must pick up the bale.

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Then, one must throw it into the barn where the man in black awaits…

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to stack it all over again.

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Mandy climbed to the top of the heap to continue to push bales down for the farmer to throw. He likes to throw stuff.

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In other news, MUSCLESSSS!!!! I’m likin’ my job right about now…

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The sweaty assembly line. Mandy may or may not have tried to take my beloved out a couple times with a flying hay bale. Don’t feel bad for him. He’s ornery.

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Sweaty sweeper. Boots were not working in anyone’s favor that day. If you look at the two above photos, you’ll see that the truck and trailer is practically parked up a cliff. Slick hay + very worn boots = an extra element of fun while working. Sliding around like they were on slick floors with socks was not part of the objective that day. So, we look like OCD farmers instead. Something appears to have my dad very perplexed here.

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Mandy doesn’t take herself too seriously. That’s one of the things I like about her. Are we surfing or working here? Well, both…in an attempt to keep herself from sliding off all the bales straight into the farmer. I personally think Mandy and I add a lot of fun to the workplace. They wouldn’t know what to do without us. No laughter. No shenanigans. Possibly more productivity. I mean, can you imagine?

But seriously, Mandy’s one of the hardest working women I know.

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Last one of that load! Did I mention that I really like my job? This view never gets old. ūüėČ

We still had some bales left to load, so back to the neighbors for the rest of them.

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After those were loaded, Dad and the farmer had some straggler hay in the corners of the field.

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In goes the hay, out comes a square bale.

 

The farmer hopped in one tractor and Dad had to drive this one out. Mandy was in the passenger seat of the truck. Who does this leave driving the truck with a trailer load of hay down the squirrely path to the highway? ME! This is bad…this is very, very bad.

But, you know what? I made it. I made it the whole way. Without losing ONE bale which totally showed my Dad up.

It mattered in no way that they double strapped everything that time.

Winning’s winning.

It was a good day.

 

Back To School Disclaimers

Today started the first day of Taegan’s last year of preschool. She was so excited!

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This little girl loves school.

Taegan’s learned a lot over the summer being on the farm with us every day. This summer she took much more of an interest in helping her dad. Morning and night, she could be found in the dairy barn milking, shoveling manure, spraying manure off the walkways, bottle feeding calves, doctoring cows/calves for various illnesses, riding around with¬†the farmer¬†feeding,¬†and sitting in a chair watching as crops were cut and baled. She’s been taking it all in.

That being said, here’s my disclaimer to her teachers this year: If the words “We had to breed last night” come out of her mouth, please don’t be alarmed. The farmer is trying to teach her to substitute “breed” with “AI,” but it hasn’t stuck yet.

And if she tells you that she milks 81 goats and that sometimes she has to treat them for “masatitis” with an antibiotic called “Colitis,” just go with it.¬† Once in a while, she has to take a few of¬†those goats to the sale barn for “rotten foot,” rather than foot rot.

She tried to milk her calf, Triumph, by hand a few weeks back and barely got her nose out of the way before Triumph tried to knock her flat. We had to tell her that you can’t milk calves and I think Triumph’s response has detoured any other attempts.

Last year, she told her teachers that “Daddy goes into the bathroom and screams!” They died laughing and then said, “Do tell us more!” This prompted the farmer’s sister to give him a call and say, “Hey, I’m on my way down, but I’ve got to stop at Wal-Mart first. Just thought I’d call and see if you need me to pick up some stool softeners or anything.” Taegan likes to throw him under the bus, most of the time, and all he can do is run his hands over his face and just shake his head.

We have no idea where that came from.

And I didn’t come out unscathed last year, either. She told her teachers that I fed her dog poop. Her teacher said, “I am positive your mommy doesn’t feed you dog poop.” Taegan’s response: “Well, it tastes like it.”

Thanks, love. You’re a real peach.

Honestly, we have no earthly idea what will come out of this child’s mouth from one minute to the next, so if you seek clarification about something, PLEASE ask. Our reputations might depend on it.

Yesterday, we just enjoyed our last day of summer vacation on the farm with the normal day-to-day stuff. Taegan helped the farmer milk that morning and then we both rode around with him while he fed. After that, we worked out in the yard and did other things that needed doing.

The day always goes by fast and then it’s time to milk again.

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Your inspirational quote for this fine Wednesday is: When life gives you manure, you shovel it.

You’re welcome.

And, obviously, Taegan does this with a smile on her face¬†because, goodness knows, there’s plenty of manure.

Let me just say that this¬† qualifies as “clean” compared to what she will look like when milking is done.

This is more like it after.

I see this coming across the yard at me and I want to go lock myself in a closet and suck my thumb.

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She likes to greet the girls as they file into the holding pen.

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And work out a little, too.

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Our cattle honestly don’t know what to think of this little creature.

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She doesn’t need a horse to be a cowgirl.

Later that evening, I walked outside to find her freeing all the bottle calves.

It just might get a little boring around here during the day.

 

Breauna

Our Cows (Silly and Serious)

If you follow along with my posts, I’m sure you’re well aware that we milk Jerseys at our farm. But, I’ve yet to introduce you to some of them. Most of them have names and they picketed outside the dairy barn the other day because they were tired of being just a number. (The farmer likes to just number them and move on. I like to give them names based on what they look like to me as a calf. Or their Sun sign. Or how the weather was that day. Or famous people. Then I have the farmer write their names on their ear tags because otherwise I would have no idea who they are. If they’re not spotted, all Jerseys look the same to me. If they don’t have a name, I can’t connect.)

But, first, let me get this out.

“Is my deodorant still working??”

I just can’t help myself….

You saw this dude yesterday. He’s the studmuffin¬†around our farm. His name is Woodee. That is his registered name…that he was given before we owned him. (The farmer and I exchanged looks and had to bite our lips.)¬†He comes from a very good bull (Gannon, if you’re familiar with AI bulls) and his mom’s name was Dee. The dairy¬†farmer’s wife that we got him from liked his mom so much that she wanted to incorporate his mom’s name into his. So: Woodee. I personally think he needs something more fierce because his name is cutesy…

and it makes me think he’s nice…

and then I want to hug him.

And that’s not really a good idea.

He’s very good at what he does. One thing that I learned when the farmer started milking is that there is a need for a “clean up” bull. You would have thought this topic would come up in everyday conversation as we were going out to dinner, right? A “clean up” bull saves the day (hopefully) when the farmer is having a hard time getting a cow to “settle” (impregnated) with artificial insemination. We use AI a lot at our farm because we can pick and choose what genetics we want for¬†a certain cow.

For instance, say a cow has a floppy utter and you want cows with utters that are high and tight. (Bear with me. I have no idea what the correct terminology for this is.) The right bull can help improve that by lending his genetic makeup to that cow’s calf. That’s just one way. There are soooo many others.

However, AI just doesn’t work sometimes on a few, so we sick Woodee on ’em.

The speed at which he undertakes this duty always amazes me. As soon as you let him loose with the cows, he immediately zeroes in on his target.

See what I mean! He’s in hot pursuit. If that’s not a look of purpose, I don’t know what is. And she’s completely oblivious.

This is Barbie.

Barbie apparently thinks her best look is with her tongue sticking out because she does it all the time. She’s not panting or anything. She just randomly lets her tongue hang out and waggle around every once in a while. I’ve tried to tell her that it’s not very lady-like but it doesn’t seem to be sticking.

This is Cheerio.

Cheerio is¬†a lot smarter than she looks. This cow is notorious for pulling her own feed rope in the barn.¬†The cows all get a set amount when they come in. The farmer pulls ropes on each feed bin that lets however much he’s rationed for them to have fall¬†into their respective feed bin. Well, Cheerio has realized that the rope is what makes feed fall. So, she just tugs on it with her teeth and gets however much she wants. Needless to say, she’s a butterball.¬†The farmer has tried everything he can think of to¬†make it hard for her to do this, but¬†to no avail. She’s the only cow that has figured this out. However, I found out last weekend that she is educating an apprentice. It would be comical if feed wasn’t so expensive.

Here’s a close-up of Cheerio. I think it’s kinda cute. I might have this one put on canvas and hang it in the house. Not because it’s Cheerio; just because it’s a Jersey.

This is my favorite cow. Ready?

Her name is Artist and I think she’s just gorgeous. She’s one of the nice ones, too.

She definitely stands out and she’s always so pretty and white.

Well, Woodee’s giving me the evil eye.

See, look, he’s getting very irritated.

Apparently, me being in my front yard still means he’s gotta keep an eye on me. It’s a good thing I have a zoom lens.

He appears to have it all under control.

Until next time,

The Dairymaid

Copyright. Breauna Krider. 03/30/2012.