Life, veggies, and chicken poop.

The countdown is on. Only 177 days until I graduate from my Nurse Practitioner program and boy am I feeling the jaws of grad school clamping down! We have somehow managed to squeeze in enough time to get the new chicken run up and running, plant some flowers and get my vegetable garden going inbetween clinical days, class days, work days, and volunteer days. Oh, and as if hubby and I weren’t crazy busy (or just crazy) enough, we started renovating our downstairs!

It will all be ok. Woo-sah. (*Rubs ear lobe).


I won’t bore all of you with the details regarding grad school. I’m sure a lot of you have experienced this first-hand and just those two simple words, “grad school,” makes your stomach turn over and you get a little acid reflux. Long story short, I’m what they call an “adult learner” now, meaning you don’t get to live at home with mom and pops and have your dinner cooked for you and no bills to pay while you go to school. Oh no. You get to navigate a marriage, a mortgage, fur babies, feather babies and a career while sacrificing free time, friends, family, and basically- your sanity. For those of you who are conquering or have conquered “adult learning” while having kiddos- YOU are the real MVPs. I don’t know how you do it.


The new Chickie Babes are young adults now and they are quite the spectacle. They are delighted to have their run built so they can dust bathe and scratch around in the soil. I have even heard my silkie rooster, Fiona crow a few times! Yes, his name is Fiona, and it suits him well. He’s confident and sassy, and is every bit of a Fiona now as he was when I thought he was a hen. The other roosters have not begun to crow yet, but I imagine it will be quite entertaining when they achieve this milestone. A new roo crowing sounds quite pitiful. It’s more of a squawk than it is a crow. I’ve had to reassure Fiona that I am laughing WITH him, not AT him when he attempts to crow…


Ok, let’s talk veggies. Fresh, home grown, garden veggies. I was all amped up to start my veggies from seeds for my first go-around with this whole gardening thing. However, because I tend to obsess over homestead-related projects, I decided to wait it out and get veggies that were ready to plant. Even though I feel like I am somehow cheating the system, I am glad I went this route. 


Mom and hubby were rock stars when it came to helping me get my veggies planted. Mom, as you know from previous posts, is a green thumb when it comes to all things garden related. She spent the afternoon with me teaching me about each veggie and what their preferences are. Hubby scored me a truck bed full of horse manure to till into the soil, and also shoveled all of it out of the truck bed for me. All of this help and hard work with tilling the soil, planting, watering, and weeding has paid off! I now have a few yellow squash, zucchinis, lettuce and tomatoes sprouting with beans, peas, cucumbers, and peppers not too far behind. It’s rewarding to watch something you have planted and nourished begin to grow. My only hope is to have an abundance of veggies to share with family and friends!


As bummed out as I was from not starting my veggies from seeds, I have recently discovered a better alternative… chicken poop. Yup. Chicken poop! Would you believe I stumbled upon more than 10 tomato plants in the OG chicken run? After calling my mom in total disbelief, she helped me figure out how these got there. I feed the OGs cherry tomatoes as treats all the time, they absolutely love them. Well, a combination of their chicken poop and tilling the soil in their run this spring led to planting the tomato seeds from their poop and sprouting some tomato plants! This is true organic gardening if you ask me… Ha!


Finally, a brief mention of our home renovation… We have waited two years to begin renovating the downstairs of our home. Our old farm house came fully equipped with all of the bright red carpet, plaster, and ceiling fans you could ever hope for. Can’t say I’m going to miss any of these things! Each room was also conveniently separated by a wall so as not to confuse the mud room from the kitchen from the dining from the living room. All of these walls are going! Hello, open floor plan! I can not wait to see the end result, even if it takes us half a light year to finish!


So now I am just trying to power through these clinical hours, continue to grow my veggies and admire my flower garden, and tip toe around my home so as not to step on a nail. Life is busy, but life is good. I have a hubby who means more to me than words could ever explain, a happy home, and hopefully more cherry tomatoes than anyone could ever need. 

Coop Palace Progress, Let There Be Light!

Boy do I love my husband.


I’m reporting to you live from my Coop Palace where hubby is currently up in the rafters wiring five new lights. He’s no electrician but he is a go-getter when it comes to DIY projects. In his own words, “Either it’s going to work or I’ll get electrocuted.” Touché, young grasshopper. Touché.


So here I sit, handing him tools, staples, and wire nuts when he needs them and admiring his hard work. Over the past couple weeks he has framed in the roost area, built a beautiful door mostly out of recycled wood, and finished two hatch boxes. Of course these things didn’t come without a few miscalculations and more than a handful of swear words. We even dodged a trip to the ER. (I’ll save that story for last). I will say compared to previous mishaps, hubby handled himself with such grace and poise this time around! (If you can imagine what that looked like…)

It all started with the door. In a perfect world, the door should have fit nicely into the door frame, but of course this old *rather cute* barn is living on a slant and nothing is level. We carried this whopper of a door over to the coop and put it in its place… *Shoot.* The door wouldn’t close. Hubby tried muscling it a few times… nope. Wasn’t fitting. A few hard hits with the sledge hammer to the door frame and still no luck. I ain’t a builder but I know when something ain’t fittin’…


So to solve the door problem, we are going to go straight hillbilly-builder on ya’ll and shave off some wood with a planer to make it fit. Problem solved.


Next comes the hatch boxes. Aren’t they the best hatch boxes you ever did see?! I love them, and they are exactly how I asked hubby to build them. I love when he brings my ideas to life!


Anyways, the darn hatch boxes… Hubby got all excited to build, build, build and he didn’t take into account how they would fit into the wall. He had to take down the frame and wall he put up on one side of the coop and reframe it to accommodate my hatch boxes. A pain in the butt, but I’d say he handled himself with class. Crisis averted on my end of things. Whew.

HOWEVER. This was also the portion of the project where I dodged a bullet (or should I say NAIL… TWICE).

Let me preface this by saying hubby is fearless. He gets his power tools fired up and there will be saw blades flying, staples flinging, nails shooting and zero shits given. He works quickly and he gets into a groove. Sometimes he asks me to help him by holding things while he saws, or staples, or nails and I quickly jump in so I don’t ruin his mojo. And today that meant my hand was almost nailed to my chicken coop not once, but twice.


If you’re picturing a hammer and a nail, you are sadly mistaken. I was almost nailed to my coop with a framing nailer. In my opinion you should be required an 8 hour framing-nailer safety course and be licensed to use one of these things. They are powerful and shed no mercy on whatever body part may be in its way should it accidentally be aimed inappropriately. Knowing as little as I do about framing-nailers, I knew enough to tell hubby had missed his marked when I felt the nail graze my hand…


I let out a high-pitched squeal, as I had every right to do, and his eyes got as big as softballs. I shook it off and trusted hubby to hit his mark the second time around. I bravely held the 2×4 in place again….

WHAT THE HECK, KYLE?! I felt another scrape and heard the nail hit the ceiling as he missed his mark a second time.

I quit my wifely 2×4 holding duties after that attempt. He proceeded to hold the 2×4 himself and shot off a third nail which stuck him in the side of his hand far enough to draw blood. He’s tough, though. He laughed about it and continued on…


My Coop Palace is just a few odds and ends shy of being finished and I can’t help but smile… everything about it is more perfect than I could have ever imagined! Hubby doesn’t half-ass anything, and that’s another thing I admire about him.

And now I can proudly say hubby is a self-proclaimed electrician! My coop has 5 new working lights! (Nobody was electrocuted).

I’ll end this post with what hubby just said, because it sums up his hard work perfectly. “Today was a good day.”

 

Let what you love be what you do. 

 

“Do what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life.”

This cliche has been on my mind quite a bit lately. I decided to sit back and think about WHAT it is I LOVE to do, and how can I turn this into WHAT I do…

Squirt. Seriously, how cute is she?!

As many of you know, I am a nurse. I make a living out of caring for complete strangers and their families. I see people when they are vulnerable and often times feeling defeated. I have listened to people contemplate life, wonder what they could have done differently, who they could have spent more time with, and what they wish they could go back and change. I’ve rejoiced in good news, held hands in prayer, hugged-it-out, danced-it-out, and cried-it-out. Nursing has opened my eyes to the miracles and sometimes harsh realities of life. It is a profession I have come to love, and I feel fortunate to have the opportunity to continue my education within this profession and become a future Nurse Practitioner.

What else do I love?

Chickens. (Bet you saw that coming.)

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I also love my dogs, I love my yard, I love my back deck, and I love our front porch. I love how the sun sets over our field, and when the sandhill cranes show up in the backyard every spring. I love the rumble of tractors driving up and down our road, and I even love the occasional scent of cow manure that lingers down from the Howe’s farm. I love just being HOME. I’m content here. I’m happy, and relaxed. It’s where I love to be.

Here’s my DREAM…

“Samantha Sherwood, homesteader.”

When you’re done laughing, hear me out. If you pictured me falling off the grid and regressing back to no electricity, pumping my own water from a well, and washing my clothes in the mill pond down the road, I’m going to need to you to relax a little. Homesteading can look quite differently to many people. To some it’s having a large farm with cows and baling hay…. Others may have a few plants on their back deck to can their own vegetables. To me, it’s all about learning to live more simply, to the best of my ability. Chickens have represented a small part of the self-sustainability I’m working towards. There are so many areas of life to be made more “simple,” and I think chickens were a darn good start.

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I felt settled in to my chicken mom role this year and was ready to take on my next self-sustainability project. I planted my very first vegetable garden! Thanks largely in part to my fabulous parents, I learned how to man the Rota-Tiller, how to organize my vegetables based off of how they grow, and even planted them in fairly straight rows. Hubby scored me some horse manure to help fertilize the soil. I have to say, there’s nothing sexier than my hunky-hubby shoveling manure out of our 99′ Ford pick-up truck. (I digress…)

With any luck, one of my veggie plants will survive and I will get a cucumber or zucchini out of it! I may have been a tad over-zealous with how many I planted for a first-timer, but this will only increase my odds of getting a veggie or two!

This is what I love about the idea of homesteading. Taking on different tasks as you are comfortable. Learning new ways to increase your abilities to be self-sufficient. Celebrating your successes, and learning from your mistakes. This vegetable garden represents one step in the direction I hope to continue going. I may even learn how to can my own vegetables by the end of this summer! Check that box off my self-sustainability list! (That’s IF my garden turns out to be a success. My fingers and toes are crossed!)

Slowly but surely I will continue to learn the “old-fashioned” ways of living. There are no deadlines and I can take on new (exciting) challenges at my own pace. I like the progress I am making and I have to say I am learning a heck of a lot along the way. (Such as peppers don’t like to be buried deep in the soil, but tomatoes do. Thanks, Mom).

So there you have it. That is WHAT I love to do. I love to be home. I love the idea of self-sustainability. So I want to make this WHAT I do.

Perhaps you will be inspired to think about what it is YOU love to do. Small changes add up. Before you know it, your dream will have become your reality! My dream began with chickens.

Oh, and if you took time from your day to read my last blog, you’ll be happy to know my hostas are growing back!

Until next time, my dear chickie babe followers. Hope you have a relaxing weekend!

Spring Blooms and Little Chickie Babes

My mother has a green thumb.

Actually, I think all of my mother’s fingers are green. Perhaps her toes, too. She’s THAT good with flowers and anything gardening related. She knows every type of flower I could ever think of, as well as when to plant it, how much sunlight it needs, if it is an annual or perennial, and other tidbits only an experienced gardener would know. She loves lillies. And poppies. And I want to say zennias, too. Or maybe that is my dad. Dad doesn’t like lilacs, but mom does. I like lilacs, also. They smell nice. At least better than fresh cow manure that ripens the air around these parts. And boy let me tell you, it gets pretty RIPE at times.

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When I think of my mom, I think of tulips and irises, moon flowers and tall grasses, hostas (that are always getting ate by the deer and rabbits), lillies of course, sunflowers and cosmos… petunias and daisies. Flowers are kind-of my mom’s thing and she does a darn good job at it.

Then there’s me.

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I planted hostas around the chicken coop last summer. I got them half dead and super cheap from Meijer. The guy working the outdoor area asked me if I was sure I wanted to purchase them “in that condition.” Yes, buddy. You think those withering, brown leaves scare me? No. Because regardless, that’s likely how they’ll end up. I have zero expectations when it comes to gardening. Zero. No expectations equals no hurt feelings.

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I absolutely love watching spring unfold around our new home. This will be our second spring here and I forgot how lovely everything looks when it’s not covered in three feet of snow! I also forgot how much dog-poo accumulates in the yard throughout winter. And how annoying those helicopter things are that fall from our maple tree and cover our deck. Hubby begins his seemingly never-ending cycle of picking up sticks and mowing the lawn with equal parts of complaining about picking up sticks and mowing the lawn. Boxelder bugs are sneaking in through our windows and Boomer won’t stop eating them. Two trees in our back yard randomly fell a few days ago. The chickens occasionally poop on the concrete patio. BUT, as for the half-dead hostas I got last summer? They GREW BACK!

Then my chickens ate them.

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Don’t get me wrong, I really do love everything about spring-time and being a homeowner… yard work, dog-poo, and hosta-eatin’ chickens included. I am thankful for longer days and warmer weather. For being able to study on the back deck in the fresh air. To watch the sandhill cranes arrive in our back field and spend the spring/summer hanging around the yard. I love watching the OG chickie babes scratch and hunt for bugs and dust bathe beneath the trees out back. The dogs run full speed chasing each other in the field and I swear they have smiles on their faces. Our crimson king we planted last year for our one year “house-iversary” has buds on it and I couldn’t be more excited to watch it grow as we live here! And, my most favorite thing about spring? BABY CHICKS!

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The newest little chickie babes are growing, growing, growing! All 19 of them… They are still fairly small and I can fit two of them in one of my palms. It is such a fulfilling, delightful feeling. Two little fuzzy peepers sitting in your palm, staring at you. Their warm little bodies and soft down feathers paired with those adorable little chirps makes my heart melt every time.

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The light chickie babe is one of my olive eggers. I am hoping she will grow to lay beautiful olive-colored eggs to add a unique pop of color to the browns and whites. The black chickie babe is one of my black copper marans. She will grow to lay a “chocolate” egg… a deep, dark brown color that is almost too pretty to crack open! I love watching these happy chicks grow and gain their own personalities. They put a smile on my face and give me something to look forward to each and every day! I am one happy chickie mom!

 

Project Coop Palace

As  many of you saw, we finally broke ground on the coop project! I’d like to say the whole thing started off without a hitch and it was a joyful afternoon full of marital bliss as we strengthened our bond through teamwork and communication… BUT, let’s be real here. “Projects” were not created for marital bonding. “Projects” intend to bring out those differences in personality that make each of you so very special. I’m not talking about the ones that make you two-peas-in-a-pod, a match-made-in-heaven, meant-to-be-together, blah, blah, blah. I’m almost positive most of you know exactly what I am talking about! (For the record, my hubby is the peanut butter to my jelly. I really like peanut butter).

BUT, if I’m being perfectly honest, Project Coop Palace started off a bit rough. Apparently I don’t pull old nails out fast enough, hubby can’t measure correctly before he cuts, and of course none of the walls in the old-as-dirt (but rather cute) barn are level. I whacked my shin so hard it made me cry, and hubby had to take apart the entire wall frame and redo it because of a 1/4 inch difference. I was beginning to think hubby was going to make me move out and live in the coop by the time it was all said and done.

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Thankfully, we did not succumb to the evils of Project Coop Palace. We are still happily married and I admire hubby for his ability to build me things! Seriously, it amazes me. As he was laying out 2x4s, measuring his spacing and finally nailing things together, I watched  him begin to bring my coop dreams to life, for the second time. I kept thinking how lucky a girl I am to have married such a hardworking, get-your-hands-dirty type of man! I tried my hardest to watch what he was doing and understand the why’s and how’s. I even knew what a “header” was when he was building the doorway. (Surprised him by using the correct terminology). Hey, I know a thing or two.

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We are brainstorming ideas for the roosts and hatch boxes and where a good place for a chandelier would be… Ok, we didn’t discuss the chandelier, but I’m rather confident I will have one in there before too long. There is also a pretty large “clean” area I intend to put a little creativity into and have fun with!

 
While we survived day 1 of Project Coop Palace, I let the older chicks spend the day in the fresh air and sunshine in the OG chickie babe run. They especially enjoyed the dirt and having the chance to dust-bathe. Dust baths are important for chickens as this is how they protect themselves from mites and lice! The girls were also practicing their foraging skills as they scratched and pecked through the dirt. Briggs and Boomer also enjoyed visiting with the girls and occasionally I had to remind them they weren’t chickens. Marty was never too far away from me as she is the little one in this group and she is not quite confident enough to stand her own ground against those bossy gals yet. That’s ok, momma will baby her…

You can see the red buds starting to pop out on Fiona’s comb, and the turquoise coming in on her beak. I’m beginning to believe Fiona may be a rooster! Squirt, the other fluffy white silkie, has some characteristics that have me leaning more towards her being a hen. Only time will tell, though! Silkies are near impossible to sex until they either lay an egg or crow!

I realize I haven’t introduced my newest tiny chickie babes very well and I will dedicate a blog to them for my next post. When they are this little, they need to stay warm and protected from mother nature, and this past week has been rather cold and rainy! I am looking forward to a sunny, warm day to let them roam around in the grass and begin to enjoy the world outside of their brooder. Thanks for following us, don’t forget to check out how you can get a dozen of your own chickie babe eggs! Please don’t hesitate to contact me!

Welcoming More Chickie Babes!

CHOCOLATE EGGS…. Reese’s peanut butter eggs are my absolute favorite. Anything chocolate (especially with peanut butter) and you’ve got my full attention. I’ve dreamt about loading up a cart full of 75% off Reese’s eggs after Easter, but somehow I have managed to resist.

Chocolate eggs took on a whole new meaning once I saw a photo of the darkest, most beautifully intriguing chicken egg. This egg was a deep, dark brown and had speckles on its shell. This truly was something that made me scrunch my nose, tilt my head sideways and say, “Huh…” Paired next to the gorgeous shades of blues and greens laid by Ameraucanas and Easter Eggers, my egg envy was sent into overdrive! I decided I needed some of these chickie babes for my own because… well, chocolate.

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Black Copper Marans lay this chocolate egg. BCMs are a French heritage breed of chicken not commonly found in North America. These hens lay the DARKEST egg color of any poultry breed!

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Along with my BCMs, I also added Olive Eggers to the chickie babe flock. Unlike chocolate, I absolutely despise olives. Quite honestly, I have attempted on multiple occasions to try and force myself to like olives… I have yet to be successful. Something about olives appeals to the vomit center of my brain and not my taste buds. They make me dry heave, which I find to be a bit dramatic. Anyways… I digress. Fortunately, I finally found a type of olive I actually like!

Olive Eggers are a chicken hatched from a dark brown egg layer (such as a BCM) and a blue egg layer (such as an Ameraucana) to create an olive green egg. I’m excited to see what shade of “olive” these girls will lay!

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When I first brought forward the idea of selling chickie babe eggs, I had in mind creating cartons full of beautiful and unique egg colors you won’t find in your local grocery store. To me, raising chickens is a hobby just as much as it is an opportunity to provide for  community members, friends, and family. I am so excited with the positive feedback I have received and with that feedback, I decided it was only right to add MORE chickie babes to my already growing flock! This means more chickie babe eggs, more colors, and more opportunity to share my happiness with others!

 

Chicken Math & Coop Palace

Exciting things are happening around the chickie babe homestead this week! First let me ask you… Have I mentioned math is not my thing?

Like… Not even a little bit. Especially mental math. In fact, mention “mental math” around my big(gest) sister and she will vividly recreate the scene of an evening some 15 years ago involving me, my mom, a simple 5th grade math assignment, and some terrible adolescent coping skills…

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Picture this, if you will… Nine-year-old me, toe-headed and freckle-faced. Probably wearing my favorite pink sweatshirt with a picture of a basset hound lying in a hammock that said “lazy days.” I was trying desperately to do my homework for Ms. Kinch’s class, which consisted of simple addition and subtraction math problems (WITHOUT USING MY FINGERS TO COUNT). This is because we were supposed to be practicing “mental math.”

I couldn’t do it.

After several attempts at this whole “mental math” thing, I was overwhelmed. I was quite the spectacle as I cried that typical overly dramatic, pre-pubescent cry. The theatrics peaked as I repeatedly said through snot and tears, “I CAN’T DO MENTAL MATH!” (Fifth grade was hard, guys.) Meanwhile, my big(gest) sister (I think she was 25 at the time) was in her bedroom, (un)conveniently located right off of the living room. Much to her dismay, mental math was (not) happening and it was causing a ruckus just one room away. She was most likely trying to avoid any type of human interaction, especially with a pitiful, blubbering little sister. She was not impressed with my crybaby antics and essentially told me to SUCK IT UP (and quit your crying). To this day, she likes to mock my most famous line to date… “I CAN’T DO MENTAL MATH!”

So now I’ll bring it full circle and introduce you to a little thing called “chicken math.” Chicken math is this strange phenomenon that happens in the world of chicken motherhood and it happened to me this year. Chicken math, simply put, is the complete lack of math skills when counting your chickens. Unlike 5th grade mental math, chicken math is desirable, and it’s something I am surprisingly good at! The concept is quite simple: You just keep buying more and more chickie babes thinking you have a rough ballpark estimate of how many you may have, will have, hope to have, forgot you had, might one day have… but never actually have a solid cut-off point for when you are no longer allowed to bring home more chickie babes. Before you know it, you’re rolling 30 chicks deep and you’re wondering if you need to drop out of grad school and quit your job so you can be a full-time chickie mom. (It’s quite tempting).

What I’m really trying to say is, I ORDERED MORE CHICKS! They are set to arrive to our chickie babe homestead this week!
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So where am I going to put all of my chickie babes?! (Since the bathtub is out of the question, hubby says no). I am very fortunate to have a hubby that builds me things! He is converting one of our barns into my chickie babe palace! He told me he knows “exactly” how I want the coop so I am going to put my trust in his carpentry skills. (Right after I send him an entire Pinterest album worth of coop pictures… but I swear I totally trust him). The coop will accommodate *insert chicken math amount* more chickens and will allow me to expand their chicken run. I will be keeping the OG coop and run intact just as they are.

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I will update all of you chickie babe followers on the new chicks and our progress on the coop later this week! I am so excited to expand my flock with hopes of providing many of you with fresh, colorful eggs (or should I say butt fruit) from the chickie babe flock later this year!

Chickie Babes: Laid With Love

I am so excited to finally share this with you! I have had this dream as a chickie mom to spread some chickie babe love to the local area. Yes- I want to share my eggs with you! Although I genuinely adore my feathered friends for their eccentric personalities and their delicious butt fruit (there’s that word again), most of all I enjoy sharing their hard work with friends and family. I have a small circle of regular egg-consumers and with the additional members to the flock this spring I am hoping to add more consumers to my list. Would you be interested?

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Personalized stamp: “chickie babes: laid with love”

This spring the focus is on the new chicks and expanding the chicken coop and run. I am fortunate to have a hubby that supports me in pursuing this hobby of mine! I sure as heck have no clue how to build anything, let alone a chicken palace- I mean, chicken coop. Fortunately we have an old barn we plan to convert into the chicken palace… COOP (there I go again). Hubby has sent me a photo of a chicken palace (let’s just roll with it) with a chandelier inside of it… Not that I would ever be one of THOSE types of chickie moms. Wait, I am EXACTLY that type of chickie mom! Give me all the glitz and glamour a chickie babe could ever dream of. After all, laying an egg every day deserves some type of appreciation!

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Beautiful eggs from the OG’s

Circling back to my original intention of this blog post… Who would be interested in becoming a member of the chickie babe family? As I’m sure you know, egg supply will be limited and will be given on a first-come first-serve basis. I would love your feedback! I 100% believe in supporting your local chicken people in supplying delicious organic, cage-free eggs. I hope to share my happiness with you!

Message me or comment on this thread!

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Homemade egg cartons and personalized chickie babe stamp

“Are You Gonna Eat Your Chickens?”

Eat my chickens? Let me think about that—- NO. Actually, that deserves an exclamation point. NO!

Ok, ok just hear me out all you dang hillbillies. I can feel you rolling your eyes at me. My husband is especially rolling his eyes. Let me try to justify my reasoning behind the fact that I never once have considered eating my chickie babes. Never… Not even a millisecond, or a trillisecond, or a nanosecond… You get it.

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Quirk, my Barred Rock.

I’m going to preface this so you get to know me just a little bit better. I harvested a doe once. It was a pass through shot with my bow, right behind the right shoulder blade. Textbook perfect. I grew up hunting with my dad every year on opening day of gun season, which just so happens to be my birthday. I was even lucky enough to totally biff a perfect broadside shot at a monster buck at roughly 20 yards… (My dad will probably say it was only 10 yards…) But hey, it’s a great story and my dad will never let me live that down. I’m 3 for 3 with a shotgun on turkeys. Even provided my family with our Thanksgiving turkey with one of those bad boys. I’m the bullet-slangin’, shotgun-shootin’, turkey-harvestin’ queen in these parts of town, and I will remind my dad of that every chance I get. I know all about Fred Bear, Ted Nugent, and can sing you the Michigan Out Of Doors theme song. I know all the lyrics to “Thirty Point Buck” and I’m willing to bet you’re not a real hunter if you don’t! I most certainly was raised with a hunter’s mentality. You eat what you harvest and you are damn thankful for it. You don’t kill just to kill, and you better be certain you can get a good shot on it before you go flinging arrows or bullets. Respect mother-nature and the gifts she gives you…

But my chickie babes? Oh my. Oh my, my, my. I gotta sit down for this. Thinking about eating them has me all light headed and feeling guilty. (Gosh, I hope I don’t dream about EATING them tonight… That will be traumatizing.) I nourished those sweet little nuggets and watched them grow. I look them IN THE EYES and talk to them like they can understand me. (Oh hush, we all do it with our dogs. I’m not crazy.) They are not food. They PROVIDE me food. I’ve heard a few fellow chickeners refer to eggs as “butt fruit.” I like that… I think I might use it more often.

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Butt fruit. 

**Sigh** I just can’t eat my chickie babes, guys. I look at these girls and I smile. I see personality. I see chickie babes that are smart, clever, and downright intelligent. They are every bit of curious, and sometimes ornery. But mostly they are just happy to be… chickens. They cluck and whine and carry-on a whole chicken conversation with me when I let them out in the morning. The run up to me when I get home and follow me around the yard in a single file line. I am the chickie mom. I can’t EAT them! Some of them even have NAMES. Gaaahhhhhhh…. You can’t eat something you NAME.

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Squirt and Fiona, my silkies.

Ok… so what in tarnation am I going to do with them when they stop laying their delectable butt fruit? You know, I really haven’t given much thought to it. Perhaps I’ll just sip my coffee and watch them peck and scratch around the yard and admire their personalities much like I do now. Maybe I’ll have a whole separate run for my OG chickie babes that are “out of commission.” It will be their very own chickie babe retirement community… I’m not really sure quite yet. But I can’t eat them…. I just can’t.

Egg Envy

When you venture from the path of normalcy and join the delightfully unconventional chicken community, you most likely headed straight for a DSM-5 diagnosis of OCD. (The nurse in me comes out.) In layman’s terms, this is what we chickeners like to refer to as “egg envy.” Yes, egg envy- where you search for those special rare breed chickens that poop out shades of brown, green, blue, and what-have-you to put together the most visually aesthetic and irresistible combinations of colors. (Speaking of pooping out eggs- did you know that chickens poop and lay eggs out of the same hole? Mind blown, yet again.)

Ok, deferring from the “poop” connotation and back to the eggs and colors… (nurses can talk about poop ALL day) If you are at all curious like I was, egg color is determined by the hen’s genetics. Different pigments deposit in the eggshell as it makes its way through the oviduct, giving the shell its color. Hens are amazing female creatures (much like any female creature); they will produce an egg regardless of whether they have been fertilized or not. Hens have an inherent amount of ova that mature and release (ovulation) roughly every 26 hours, hence the fact you can have only hens and still get fresh eggs “on-the-reg.”

That was my very brief and simplistic chicken reproductive/anatomy lesson. I’m still learning quite a bit when it comes to my beloved chickie babes, but understanding their reproductive system is essential to having happy, healthy chickie babes. Back to the EGG ENVY— until I became a chickie mom, I assumed all chickens laid the same color egg each and every time… But that is far from the truth! Some days I get freckled eggs, some days I have beautiful reddish/brown colored eggs with a matte finish, some have a pink or purple hue to them, and there’s the occasional “egg acne” from my oyster-shell-loving individuals. Each day the OG chickie babe eggs are far from boring. One of my most favorite parts of being a chickie mom is seeing the delight on the chickie babe consumers’ faces as they open their egg carton to reveal charming color combinations, and unique textures and patterns. There are never two dozens that are alike… the possibilities are remarkable.

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Nothing tastes as good as how colorful your eggs are! I especially enjoy nourishing my body with one of nature’s most colorfully coated, natural sources of high quality protein each morning. I’m looking forward to the colors my new chickie babes will lay later this year. It will be exciting to add a larger variety of colors to my egg selection and share with others! I hope you found the photos I included of my OG chickie babe eggs delightful! They never cease to fascinate me!