All posts in Farm Life

The Terrible Two’s

We’re heading into our third year of farming. I think we’re out of the terrible two’s. I’m counting on the thrilling threes. Otherwise, I might have to be a greeter at “you know where.” Visit at the Grit site and add a comment… Or better yet, email me!

http://www.grit.com/community/humor/the-terrible-twos.aspx

 

 

When Life Hands You Lemons, Make Chicken Pie

After single-digit-weather, 17 degrees felt almost balmy. A perfect day to celebrate my farmer husband’s birthday.

We drove the short distance to the field that held the chickens and Great Pyrenees puppies. They are protected by a pliable electric fence that separates them to keep chickens with chickens and puppies with puppies.

Something wasn’t right.

Our LGD’s (Livestock Guardian Dogs), Molly and Lacey wagged their tails as we drove up. Trouble was, they munched on black feathers. And chicken wasn’t on their menu.

Tom intervened. They’d just begun their feast when we’d appeared.

I heard Tom scolding the “girls,” and watched as their tails swiped back and forth like windshield wipers in a snowstorm. They were clueless about their misdeed. All they knew was a chicken flew over to their side of the fence. I’m sure at first they were playing, but then their carnivore instincts kicked in.

When am I gonna figure this whole livestock thing out? I thought as I collected eggs from the traumatized ladies.

Tom threw the bird in the woods and we trudged back to the van.

“If we were brave, we’d go get that chicken and cook it.”

That’s all I needed to hear.  You see, we could probably have paid for another child’s wedding with the money we’d been pouring into our poultry adventure. “Someone besides the neighborhood fox should benefit from the chicken and it might as well be us,” I stated as we headed back to the forest.

We loaded the chicken in a bucket and traveled home to watch a youtube video. Also, I knew I could call my friend and farm-wife-guru, Kelly Josey, to figure out what to do with the bird. (The bird was almost completely in tact.)

“Get as many feathers off as you can, dunk it in hit water, then gut it.”

I did what Kelly said.  Soon, what I held in my hand looked like meat that would stock the shelves of any local grocery store. I boiled it, added vegetables and a crust.

I made two chicken pies–courtesy of one of the “ladies.”

When I committed to being a farmer’s wife, I had no idea I’d be plucking and cooking a chicken. In fact, before I moved to the farm, I never really thought about where my food came from. I guess I thought it magically appeared in the store.

Now I know how much work it takes to cultivate the land, plant a seed, and harvest a head of lettuce. I understand how the tomatoes on my sandwich are pruned and fed. And now I’ve a glimpse into the complicated life of owning livestock.

I have a context when I use phrases like, “you reap what you sow,” and “there is a pecking order.”

For Tom’s birthday dinner, we decided to eat my very first farm-to-table chicken pot pie. After that, I understood another phrase–”She’s a tough old bird.”

That she was.

May she rest in peace.

Enjoy the upside-down pic!

 

 

Chickens and Puppies and Kittens, Oh My

Cultivating a DreamBefore last year, almost the only time I’d seen a chicken, was on my dinner plate. On August 1, 2013, I ordered 75 chicks.

I should have had my head examined.

After two dying within a day, and my dog Sam playing with one to death and me sobbing, we’ve pretty much kept the rest. (Although they are difficult to count.) I thought they would pasture and not eat chicken feed. Wrong. If I don’t feed them twice a day at a specific time, they will fly in my hair and on my back and out of the fence as I approach them. This morning, we heard a knocking noise on our window. Our house is a quarter mile from the coop.

Feeding the chickens

“You’re late. It’s probably a chicken,” Tom said.

Also, I didn’t figure out the fact that we don’t have pasture. Now we have mud. And lots of it.

So after three or four catastrophes and about 5,000 hours of man and womanpower, a couple weeks before Christmas, we got our first egg.

You would have thought we had a mid-life-crisis-baby.

So the chicken purchase has cost us close to the national debt and we’ve retrieved perhaps four dozen eggs so far.

But that’s not the end of the story.

You see, we had to store the chicken feed somewhere and not only don’t we have pastures, but we don’t have any storage buildings so the chicken feed is stored under our house.

Rats found the feed. We needed mousers.

Enter Reep and Cheep, two male stray kittens.

Cats

Now I go to Tractor Supply and buy 100 pounds of chicken feed and 20 pounds of kitty food. That’s not counting the warm milk the kitties get every night. (I might need a cow next.)

Then there’s the safety of the “ladies.” We can’t have our national debt chickens being eaten by someone other than us. We needed a guardian. A dog. A Great Pyrenees.

Trouble was, I couldn’t just get one. She’d be lonely, so I got two girls – Molly and Lacey.

Dogs on the porch

Not only had I never had chickens, I’d never had an outside dog.

I picked up “the girls” and they got sick in my car on the way home. Big time. They’d never been on a leash and were afraid of Tom and I. After I put their colorful collars on, I leashed them.

“Come on, Lacey! Come on, Molly!” They sat.

The outside-dog-thing wasn’t going well.

“Where do we put them?” Tom asked.

I hadn’t thought of that either. So we made a make-shift pen under our porch. Then I had the bright idea of putting them on our porch. They weren’t potty trained. That was big time, too.

Tom set up a strand of electric fence next to our chicken “ladies” to hold our puppy “girls.”

Immediately, Molly and Lacey ran from zap to zap like a pinball machine until they retreated to a makeshift doghouse we put in for them.

Lacey didn’t come out for over a day.

Then it got rainy and cold. We put them back on the porch and tried potty training them. They ran away.

Tom took off in his truck and I took off in the van. We combed our 60+ acres. I knocked on the doors of a couple of our neighbors. Three hours later we still found no trace of them.

My husband thought of Sam – our inside, couch-loving, potty trained Standard Poodle.

Within five minutes Sam found them. Molly came back with Tom, but Lacey ran off again only to show up four hours later.

They have a proper doghouse now. It’s very trendy since it’s made of reclaimed oak and a shiny metal roof. They’re getting used to the electric fence, and each day I take them in with me to meet the chickens. No recent catastrophes. Although I have no doubt there will be others.

Tomorrow, I’ll head to Tractor Supply to get 100 pounds of chicken food, 40 pounds of kitty food, 50 pounds of dog food, with a stop at the local meat market to pick up large dog bones.

And the day after that, I’ll probably head to the vet.

I’m eating the most expensive eggs in the world.

And they taste good.

Before last year, almost the only time I’d seen a chicken, was on my dinner plate. So August 1st, 2013 I ordered 75 chicks.

I should have had my head examined.

After two dying within a day, and my dog Sam playing with one to death and me sobbing, we’ve pretty much kept the rest. (Although they are difficult to count.) I thought they would pasture and not eat chicken feed. Wrong. If I don’t feed them twice a day at a specific time, they will fly in my hair an on my back and out of the fence as I approach them. This morning, we heard a knocking noise on our window. Our house is a quarter mile away from the coop.

“You’re late. It’s probably a chicken,” Tom said.

Also, I didn’t figure out the fact that we don’t have pasture. Now we have mud. And lots of it.

So after three or four catastrophes and about 5000 hours of man and woman power, a couple weeks before Christmas, we got our first egg.

You would have thought we had a mid-life-crisis-baby.

So the chicken purchase has cost us close to the national debt and we’ve retrieved perhaps 4 dozen eggs so far.

But that’s not the end of the story.

You see, we have to store the chicken feed somewhere and not only don’t we have pastures, but we don’t have any storage buildings so the chicken feed is stored under our house.

Rats found the feed. We needed mousers.

Enter Reep and Cheep, two male stray kittens.

So I go to Tractor Supply and buy 100 pounds of chicken feed and 20 pounds of kitty food. That’s not counting the warm milk the kitties get every night. (I might need a cow next.)

Then there’s the safety of the “ladies.” We can’t have our national debt chickens being eaten by someone other than us. We needed a guardian. A dog. A Great Pyrenees.

Trouble was, I couldn’t just get one. She’d be lonely, so I got two girls–Molly and Lacey.

Not only had I never had chickens, I’ve never had an outside dog.

I picked up “the girls” and they got sick in my car on the way home. Big time. They’d never been on a leash and were afraid of Tom and I. After I put their cheerful collars on, I leashed them.

“Come on Lacey! Come on Molly!” They sat. The outside-dog-thing wasn’t going well. On to our next problem.

“Where do we put them?” Tom asked.

I hadn’t thought of that either. So we made a make-shift pen under our porch. Then I had the bright idea of putting them on our porch and we found they weren’t potty trained. That was big time, too.

Tom set up a strand of electric fence next to our chicken “ladies” to hold our puppy “girls.”

Immediately, Molly and Lacey ran from zap to zap like a pinball machine until they retreated to a makeshift doghouse we put in for them.

Lacey didn’t come out for over a day.

Then it got rainy and cold. We put them back on the porch and tried potty training them. They ran away.

Tom took off in his truck and I took off in the van. Three hours later we still found no trace of them.

My husband thought of Sam–our inside, couch-loving, potty trained, standard poodle.

Within five minutes Sam found them. Molly came back but Lacey ran off again only to show up four hours later.

They have a proper dog house now. It’s very trendy since it’s made of reclaimed oak and a shiny metal roof. They’re getting used to the electric fence, and each day I take them in with me to meet the chickens. No recent catastrophes. Although I have no doubt there will be others.

Tomorrow, I’ll head into to Tractor Supply to get 100 pounds of chicken food, 40 pounds of kitty food, and 50 pounds of dog food.

And they day after that, I’ll probably head off to the vet.

I’m eating the most expensive eggs in the world.

And they taste good.

 

 

A Real Farmer’s Wife, Grit Blog

A Real Farmer’s Wife

1/2/2014 3:14:00 PM

By Pauline Hylton

Tags: EggsChickensCracker BarrelFront PorchGreat PyreneesPauline Hylton

Cultivating a DreamSo, since I actually became a farmer’s wife, I haven’t had time to write about becoming a farmer’s wife.

Go figure.

I’ve got chickens to feed, eggs to gather, fields to consider, barns to take down, barns to put up, and a life to learn.

I guess when I thought about being a farmer’s wife, I didn’t think it would be so much work.

next boxes

It’s like delivering the newspaper, or raising children, or having a good marriage – it’s just so daily.

But I love it.

I love waking up to space. Lots of it.

I love throwing a stick for my dog after I clean out the chicken coop. I love watching our two new mousers, Reep and Cheep, wrestle on our Cracker-Barrel-size front porch.

I’m mesmerized by the light of the sun as it glides across my porch and shines into our over-sized windows.

I’m content.

I’ve met a hard-working couple who raise chickens and cows and pigs. They’re fine people. On Christmas Eve, I dropped by their house to buy a gallon of fresh milk. That’s a tough act to follow.

We’ve been befriended by a young farm couple who stopped by our house during the Christmas holidays, bearing the gift of flavored popcorn. It makes me smile thinking about it.

We belong here.

It’s nice to have a place to belong. My heart still aches for friends and family in Florida, but I wouldn’t want to move back.

When Tom and I think of the future, if we’re not careful, we’re afraid. But we shouldn’t be. A hundred years ago, people lived from year to year and crop to crop like we’re doing now.

It’s a hard thing, but good, too.

It’s made us realize how dependent we are. Dependent on the weather, the land, the economy, but more than any of those temporal things – dependent on the eternal God.

As Americans, we sometimes forget that.

We shouldn’t.

It’s a new year. No one knows what this year brings. Not in my old house on a quarter of an acre in Florida – not on my 64-acre farm in North Carolina.

In 2014, I’m glad I’m a farmer’s wife.

We’re cultivating a dream.

And it feels good.

P.S. In the last week, we’ve added four to our family: Two kittens named Reep and Cheep, and two Great Pyrenees pups named Lacey and Molly.

Life is good.

Read more: http://www.grit.com/community/humor/a-real-farmers-wife.aspx#ixzz2pMm0MeRD

Peeled Poplar Ladies, A Sad Day in the Life of a Farmer’s Wife

I cradled the small bird in one hand and stroked it with the other as I sat on the back porch.

“I’m sorry baby chicken that you are hurt so bad.” My body shook as tears streamed down my face.

She rested in my lap for several minutes. Finally, we put her out of her misery.

That was hard.

It came after a long day. Tom had been working on the new coop for a few days. The chicks were too big for their brooder. Each time Tom and I changed the food or water, several of them flew to the edge and escaped.

The term, “Flew the coop” has a whole different meaning to me now that I’m a farmer’s wife.

We came up with an idea of using our new EZ Up Farmer’s Market tent set low to the ground. We surrounded it with mesh to house them in the field outside the farmhouse. Catching them in the brooder was difficult but doable.

Their first day foraging. Their first day on grass eating bugs.

If there were chicken class pictures, I’d have 73 of them.

What we didn’t think through was transferring them from the outside tent area back to their cleaned-out, moved-outside brooder. Catching 73 birds in a tent area provided quite a challenge. Many escaped under the mesh. Sam watched and barked and then he chased them.

One was severely injured in the chaos.

We placed her in a separate box, hoping she’d get better. She didn’t.

Animal husbandry is new to this city girl. It’s a big responsibility.

Cradling my little ameraucana chick gave me the opportunity to think through and appreciate some things.

It made me think through the Scripture passage in Matthew when Jesus said His Father knows when one sparrow falls. I’m glad He cared about my little chick.

My thoughts turned to the priests in the Old Testament, daily making blood sacrifices for the sins of the people. Innocent animals died to cover the transgressions of the guilty.

I thought of Jesus. Wounded for our transgression. Bruised for our iniquity.

The innocent for the guilty.

Hebrews 7 states:

23 “Now there have been many of those priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office; 24 but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. 25 Therefore he is able to save completely[c] those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.

26 Such a high priest truly meets our need—one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. 27 Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself. 28 For the law appoints as high priests men in all their weakness; but the oath, which came after the law, appointed the Son,who has been made perfect forever.”

Jesus. Our Perfect High Priest.

He died for us. And now He interceeds for us. Forever.

It makes me grateful.

Even though I only have 72 class pictures left.

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