Friday, August 13, 2010

Velma's Feathers

The other day, I mentioned in a post that I cried after I cut our hen's feathers. I did it so that she would stay out of our neighbor's yard. Until that time, I found myself obsessively checking on her to make sure she was where she was supposed to be. Which is in our yard, which is plenty big for her and her four babies. Apparently, she has already forgotten where she came from (a barn with many, many, many other chickens. In fact, when we got her, she was in a very small cage with her four babies).

I kept contemplating building her a chicken tractor (a movable coop), but I'm not that experienced at carpentry. I was also feeling overwhelmed with the idea of finding the materials (I wanted to try to do it with what we already have) and spending time building the pen in this stinkin' heat! So, I decided trimming her feathers was the answer. Even though I was overcome with emotion at the time, I'm fine now and so is she. And I no longer feel stressed out about her bothering the neighbors.

I scanned some of the feathers I took from Velma and they really do make a nice picture, so I wanted to share it with you:

Don't you think feathers are amazing? The way they look, the many colors they come in and the incredible things they can do. I mean, they help birds fly - that is pretty awesome!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Leaf Treasury

Here is a beautiful leaf treasury by Divinedepth. She included one of my leaf tag sets. Take a look at the treasury and be sure to visit the shops included - there is some really nice stuff here:

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Just a Few Bullet Points to Get Caught Up

  • It's hotter than Hades here in Columbia, Missouri. It's expected to stay this way until at least Friday. I hate being hot, it makes me sweaty, smelly and grumpy!
  • Velma (the hen) has been escaping into the backyard of our neighbors - again. They are very nice people and have not complained. They let me toss my kids over the fence to chase the chickens back into our yard. (The hen has to fly, the chicks just run through the fence). Then I hoist my kids back over to our side of the fence.
  • Today, I clipped Velma's wings. I read about how to do it, last night in my farm book (by Joel Salatin). After I did it, I cried because I was afraid Velma wouldn't be able to protect her chicks any more with those short, stubby little wings. That, and the fact that she looked kind of stupid. But after spending time on Youtube, seeing many other people clipping the wings of their run away chickens, (and describing it as being the same as a haircut for you and me), I felt much better.
  • I listed three new items in my Etsy shop and I'm very proud of them:

These were made with rubber stamps that I had designed and carved myself. The owl, tree branch and leaves are 3 separate stamps and the tree on the little tree tags is stamped with 2 stamps. I really love carving rubber stamps, especially when I have designs I like.

  • Finally, LC's Cottage used my little tree tags in her Etsy Treasury. I think this is a beautiful treasury and am really excited to have been included.
Here's the treasury link if you'd like to see a bigger photo

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Velma and the 4 Chicks

Two weeks ago, we drove out to a farm that had many, many chickens and we bought a momma and 4 chicks. I think this is a brave move for two city kids who don't really know what they are doing! We put the chickens in a Rubbermade container (lid off) and drove them home, then set them free in our back yard.  With the exception of the hen jumping the fence to the neighbors yard to see if the grass truly is greener on the other side (which, by the way, it is - our neighbors have a great lawn), they have been in our back yard ever since. 

Although I've been warned that it is a bad idea to do so, we did name our birds. I figure it's ok since we only plan on using these chickens for their eggs.  The momma is Velma, the chicks are KC, Foofoo, Hilda and Caroline. I'm hoping all of the chicks are female, but if not, we'll be finding a different home for any roosters. We want to do all we can to keep from annoying the neighbors.

Most everything I know about chickens has been from things I found on the internet or from a few books and magazines I've read. It's fun to observe Velma interact with her chicks - all barnyard/chicken cliches come to mind as she scratches around, looking for worms and other critters to feed her family. I now understand more about someone being a "Mother Hen", about "chicken scratch", being "all cooped up" and the need for moms to "nest".  

I've also noticed that Velma is a much better mom than I am and that her chicks are better behaved than mine. She doesn't mind that her chicks climb all over her, follow her everywhere, she doesn't ever seem to be in a hurry and she enjoys doing outdoor activities with them. (I did notice that one of the chicks tried to hop a ride on her back once and she gently pecked it a couple of times. But she didn't yell, like I would have). Whenever the chicks get too far from Velma (like when they sneak into the neighbor's yard through the holes in the fence), all she has to do is cluck a couple of times, and they immediately come back to her. Unlike my "babies" who only return to where they are supposed to be after they've been threatened with no tv or video games for a week. (perhaps analysis of my parenting practices will be the topic of another blog post later on. Then again...maybe not).

We've been letting the chickens roam through the back yard during the day, then they go into their coop at sunset. So far, things seem to be working out well with them and I think they like their new environment. They have quite a nice sized back yard and don't have many others they have to share it with (except for 7 year old and 5 year old humans). I think they are pretty happy.

One of the things I did not anticipate was feeling guilty when I eat chicken. The other night I was getting ready to throw some chicken thighs on the grill. My husband was playing with the kids in the backyard and I was up on the deck near the grill. I wanted to ask him how long I should cook the chicken, but felt like I needed to whisper because Velma was roaming around within earshot.  I sure hope this isn't how it's going to be from now on - being consumed by guilt every time I want to eat chicken. I don't think I can take that kind of pressure!