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Chick Fever February 26, 2007

Posted by Laura in Farm.
11 comments

Yes, it’s that time of year again. That season when I am stricken with The Fever.

I don’t have a stomach bug or that nasty upper respiratory thing going around. No, this has more long-term repercussions. Chick Fever.

We have been unable to keep up with the demand for our eggs, so we have been planning to expand our flock. For months now, I have been perusing hatchery websites, checking out various breeds, comparing prices and so on. I knew I couldn’t order hundreds (though that would tickle me pink!), so I very carefully chose two pullets of this breed, three of that, a cockerel to bring in new bloodlines, a set of birds to raise specifically for meat, etc.

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(I asked the hatchery to identify what breed each chick was. They used different colored markers to differentiate them -note the dots visible on some of their heads. They then put a color code on the invoice so I could tell what breed each color indicated. An order must contain at least 25 chicks so that they can stay warm enough during the trip. Just prior to hatching, a chick absorbs the remaining yolk in the egg which allows it to go up to 3 days without additional food and water. This sustains the chick during shipment).

The order came in early Friday morning. I know they arrived early because the post office called me at 5:38 a.m. to let me know! They were eager for me to come pick them up.

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(Benjamin and Rachel couldn’t wait to help unload the chicks. They lovingly passed me each and every one, complimenting them on their cuteness as they handed them off).

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(Warming up under the heat lamp in their new, but temporary home).

Our box of tiny fuzzballs contained New Hampshires, White Rocks, Buff Orpingtons, Delawares, Silver-Gray Dorkings, Buff Brahmas, Blue Cochins, Cuckoo Marans, Welsummers, White Giants, White-Faced Black Spanish, and a Silver-Spangled Spitzhauben. One Spanish had perished during its journey through the mail and one more has since passed away (the one Spitzhauben or a Blue Cochin, I think), but otherwise they are doing well. They will soon outgrow the stock tank brooder we are presently keeping them in.

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(Though we locked him out of the barn, Coco couldn’t help himself when he heard all the “cheeping” of helpless chicks. He scaled the outside wall of the stall and came in under the eaves).

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(After he got in, he regretted it. He was 10 feet up with no way to get down from his 2 inch ledge. At least he tried to look graceful when he fell. We picked him up and tossed him right back out of the barn. He stayed out that time).

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(Cousin Kay came to see the new chicks. Aunt Brenda was afraid she would love them too hard, but she did well with them).

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(Benjamin with his third or fourth “favorite one”).

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Lydia: The First Six Weeks February 24, 2007

Posted by Laura in Family.
2 comments

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We saw this face (sleeping) most of the first two weeks.  Then, one day she seemed to just “wake up.”  Maybe it has to do with gestation- once she had passed her due date, she slept noticeably less.

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(You can just about hear the wail, even without audio.  Almost makes you feel like you’re here, doesn’t it?).

This has been the face we have seen more recently.  Lydia got a cold a couple of weeks ago and became very stuffed up.  She didn’t sleep well, so of course, neither did Mommy.  She also has realized that she would much rather be held than put in her swing or crib.   It has dawned on her that if she does this, someone usually picks her up.

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She is pretty patient with diaper changes and baths.  She even seems to enjoy the soak in the tub, though you wouldn’t guess from her expression.

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Here is her audience, ever ready to help and encourage her.

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Lydia (in fashionable bunny slippers) gives Uncle Chris the “thumbs up.”

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This shot followed a discussion about taking her temperature, I think.  🙂

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We recently made the trip to Montgomery so the rest of the family could meet Lydia.  Here, she and Rachel are with their cousin Sarah Elizabeth.

Lydia is growing well and making the adjustment to having a newborn again has not been as difficult as we expected.  We hardly missed a beat in homeschooling or in farmlife (new chicks arrived yesterday), though we can’t claim to have a neat, orderly, or clean house.  I think we’d gladly have another “wee one” soon if that is what God has in mind.  We’ll see.

Betsy’s Hideout February 22, 2007

Posted by Laura in Farm.
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About a month back, the turkeys started acting a bit strange.  Betsy and Martha started looking for beaus.  Not knowing any nice toms, they both decided on Percy.  He wasn’t interested.  That did not deter them from wanting to start a family, though.

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(Betsy in the foreground with Martha keeping her company).

A few days ago, the turkeys began to be hard to find.  Only sometimes did they showed up for meals and did not always go to the henhouse to sleep at night.  We were concerned that they would join a flock of wild turkeys, (as a friend had warned could happen), and then we would truly be starting our flock all over.

Two days ago, Betsy stopped coming around at all.  Worried about her fate, I went searching on our property for her.  Lo and behold, I found her.

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(Betsy must have heard Punxsutawney Phil’s prediction that spring was almost here).

As I approached, she hunkered down further, hoping I couldn’t see her, but she forgot that she has no natural camouflage for hiding in the leaves.  (She would have a shot at blending in to a snow bank, but unfortunately for her, we don’t have that much snow). 

Having been hatched and raised on our farm, Betsy and Martha are usually both quite comfortable with us and easy-going.  But, the protective instincts of a female who intends to be a mother changes things. 

The closer I got, the more unhappy she got.  She fluffed herself up and hissed at me, warning me to stay away from her makeshift nest.

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Poor Betsy-  she may have had a big pile of eggs, but they weren’t fertile.  It was going to be a long wait if she thought she was going to hatch babies from them.

(For their own safety, we put both turkeys into a chicken tractor so they would not fall victim to a predator).

A handy update February 15, 2007

Posted by Joe in Family.
4 comments

Just a quick update on my left hand. The physician who stitched up my hand on Superbowl Sunday told me to have them removed in 7 to 10 days. He said I could come back to see him at the Emergency Room to have them taken out, or better yet, have my primary care physician remove them.

Since I don’t have a primary care physician (and I know that I do need to find one since I’m turning 39 this year and you’re supposed to start doing things like that when you turn 40), I opted to return the ER and have the stitches removed there.

However, it doesn’t take a lot to realize that the ER is not really a place for non-emergency procedures like having stitches removed. An ER, of course, is going to call patients back to examination rooms based on their need, not first come first served. Makes sense; that’s the way it should be. But, that means I could probably expect to be sitting there in the waiting room for quite some time awaiting my turn with the physician.

So what do do? Tuesday was day 9 with stitches and they needed to come out.

Well, after a short while I came to realize that although putting stitches in takes a certain amount of training and skill, removing them probably is not nearly as difficult. So, I decided to remove them myself.

I borrowed some really sharp and pointed scissors from Be-Pops, and set out to remove my own stitches.

I asked the kids if they wanted to watch; they did. Benjamin even helped with the last three. I think he enjoyed it.

And no, I did not once consider screaming at the top of my lungs and collapsing into a pile on the floor as he pulled a stitch out. Well at least I didn’t seriously consider it….for long anyway.

As of Tuesday night, I’m stitch free.

By the way, Lydia did go to the doctor on Tuesday. She battling a common cold that’s keep her fairly congested. Nothing serious, but annoying to her and Laura since it means neither are sleeping well over it.

The albino deer February 7, 2007

Posted by Joe in Uncategorized.
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Now that deer season is over, I saw 12 deer in the field near our house, including the albino deer!

The picture is extremely poor quality, but you can make out a normal deer on the left and the albino deer on the right. The picture was taken at approximately 200 yards and cropped & enlarged to narrow the field. Hopefully I’ll get a chance to sneak up on the white beast and show you a better picture soon.

A picture of my hand February 7, 2007

Posted by Joe in Uncategorized.
2 comments

Due to popular demand, here’s a picture of my stitches. It’s healing very nicely if you ask me.

SuperBowl Sunday and a trip to the ER February 6, 2007

Posted by Joe in Family, Scouts.
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Benjamin absolutely loves Cub Scouts. The Scouting activities prompt us to be intentional about spending time together, doing quality things. We have fun, but it also teaches Benjamin sound values and important life skills. Rachel, who is not old enough yet to join the Girl Scouts, frequently accompanies us to the Scout meetings and has a ball, too. I’ve posted more than one blog entry on these activities.

Sunday afternoon during the interval between worshiping our Lord in His house and the SuperBowl game, we were once again spending time as a family. While Laura and Lydia had some time together, Benjamin, Rachel, and I began carving his Pinewood Derby car.

When it’s time to pick a design for the vehicle, I have Benjamin go to his collection of little Matchbox cars and pick the one that he likes best that day. We then try to recreate it in a 3 inch by 7 inch block of pine. This year he chose a 1940 Ford pickup truck. He apparently thinks quite highly of my skills; this was not going to be easy.

As we began slowly removing the excess wood to release the old model Ford from its confines inside the block, we talked about what we were doing and the tools we were using. Specifically, we talked about how sharp wood chisels are and why his part in the carving would be limited to using his pocket knife and sandpaper.

Unfortunately one thing we didn’t talk enough about was safety. As I was working on the front wheel wells, the block of wood slipped and the wood chisel connected with my left hand at the first knuckle on my index finger (where my finger attaches to my hand).

I immediately knew that this was not something a little band-aid was going to cure, so we quickly loaded up the family in the Mommy-Van and headed to St. Thomas’ Emergency Room. Once there, I had Laura drop me off; a germ-filled ER is no place for a month-old infant during the flu season. They were able to see me very quickly.

As each of the medical personnel (triage nurse, vital signs nurse, etc) saw me, they, of course, asked how the accident happened and I gave each an abbreviated version of the story. I was trying to keep myself distracted by trying to make them laugh during the story. One nurse even asked if I had earned my first-aid badge that day. 🙂

After several shots to numb the area, 5 stitches, and a tetanus shot to prevent other illnesses, I was on my way back home. We made it back almost in time for the SuperBowl.

I was very, very lucky. Despite the location of the injury,
no nerves were severed and there is no indication of ligament or tendon
damage. Again, this really amazes me considering the location of the
injury.

On the way home, we discussed how this silly injury could have been avoided. I also underscored in the kid’s minds that this was not their fault, that there was no way they caused it and no way they could have prevented it. (We had already had this discussion during the ride to the hospital, but I wanted to make very sure they understood this. Just before the accident happened, I had asked the kids to stop bouncing around so much because I was working with a very sharp tool. A minute later I cut myself. On the way to hospital, Benjamin remarked that he and Rachel shouldn’t have been bouncing around so much. Poor kid.  I needed to make sure he didn’t blame himself. He doesn’t, but wishes it didn’t happen.)

This was not the way I wanted to spend that Sunday afternoon. But I am thankful and feel very blessed that the injury was far less traumatic than it could have been.

In Cub Scouts, most everything can be a teachable moment – not only for the Scout and his little sister, but in this case for the father of the Scout, too.

Not a snaggle tooth February 5, 2007

Posted by Joe in Family.
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In many ways, Benjamin is much like me at his age. He was born a rather chunky kid but his growth in height has far out paced his gain in weight so he has become a rather lean kid. There are many other similarities as well.

Unfortunately he seems to have gotten one trait from me that I’d rather him avoided. Like his old man, Benjamin’s permanent teeth do not seem to be able dislodge his baby teeth very well. His front permanent teeth are coming in behind his baby teeth, giving him, at least for a while, two rows of teeth. We call them his shark teeth.

Saturday at Grams and BePops house, however, he lost a bit of his resemblance to the most feared predator of the deep. I pulled one of his front baby teeth; it was the third tooth he’s lost.

Since he already had a replacement behind the baby tooth, he doesn’t have a snaggle tooth smile.

Cupid’s Mistake February 1, 2007

Posted by Laura in Farm.
6 comments

We have mentioned our Alpha rooster, Percy, several times in recent posts. He is quite “the man” as far as the female poultry is concerned. Until recently, though, that went only for the chickens.

Last spring, we gave some of our broody hens Royal Palm turkey eggs to hatch. They dutifully brooded them and raised them never knowing that “their babies” weren’t even of the same species.

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(“Mama,” a Buff Orpington, is teaching her babies how to forage).

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(First wing feathers coming in, already beginning to exhibit the Royal Palm markings).

After the predators took their share of the poults, we have ended up with only 2 females, Martha and Betsy. Royal Palm turkeys are a heritage breed. (A “heritage breed” is defined as one that is historic, can mate naturally, has a long and productive outdoor lifespan, and has a moderate growth rate. Commercial turkeys available in grocery stores come from specialized strains of birds chosen for their ability to put on weight quickly and grow extra large portions of breast meat. These birds cannot survive outside, mate naturally, or make it to market weight without lots of antibiotics. Mortality rates are high. Commercial turkey raising is much like commercial chicken raising).

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(Betsy as an young adolescent).

When we began this turkey project, we hoped to help preserve Royal Palms, to create a breeding flock, and to raise our own Thanksgiving turkey. With our first successful hatching of poults, we thought we were well on our way. We started another set from a different source to diversify our gene pool. But we were not to meet our goals last year since we have been left with only 2 “calico” females who are related. We are planning to try again this year.

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(Martha, looking rather like an ostrich here. She’s halfway between chick fuzz and grown-up feathers).

Martha and Betsy are about full-grown now. They’ve never met a tom turkey, but nonetheless they feel Cupid’s arrows as they approach Valentine’s Day and egg-laying season. With no suitors of their own kind, they have taken a shine to Percy just like the chickens. Percy seems to be a bit flustered by their attempts to court him– maybe he’s intimidated by their larger size or maybe he doesn’t like fast women. Maybe he has just been around the block enough times to know that a chicken-turkey relationship is destined to not work out. Whatever the cause, he is not returning the affection.

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(Betsy displays her unusual coloring).

Betsy and Martha follow him around the yard, flanking each side, nudging him gently with their heads. He stares straight ahead, pretending not to notice them. When he pauses to eat a bite, they run around in front of him and lie down side by side with their backs to him. He tries to sidestep them and tiptoe away. Ever persistent, they hop right up and escort him again.

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 (Percy casually steps around the romance-minded sisters).

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 (Since the”bow and wait” method of flirting didn’t work, Martha tries a “speedbump” technique to get Percy’s attention).

It’s interesting to me that the turkey girls are not like humans (or even the roosters) would be in this situation. They are perfectly content to share the same mate without competition or fuss. But then again, maybe that is only because he doesn’t give either one of them the time of day. It might be a different story if he returned their affections, especially if he chose a favorite as roosters sometimes do.

It will be interesting to see how this works out. Any one have a gentlemanly Royal Palm tom for sale?