Big news!

I have so many things to write about, from the chickens to the new baby pigs and our first calf disaster. But, the big news gets to go first!

The Sunday Dinner Farm will be moving out of my imagination and into reality by the end of this year! We will soon begin the slow move to the farm on the mountain and start planting our roots. It will not be quick or painless, I’m sure. But it will at least be a step towards all of our future plans. Now, who wants to pack boxes? And where’s the number for the dumpster company? Pretty sure all of those boxes that have been sitting in the attic, that never got unpacked during the last 3 moves, don’t really need to go with.

Winter fatigue.

I haven’t posted much lately because this never-ending winter is sucking the life out of me. The chicks are now birds, the first garden seeds are planted, the camper coop is underway… and still spring just won’t arrive. My blood is sluggish and winter-weary. Can’t wait for spring to actually arrive and start feeling like spring!

The obligation of memories.

I live in a rambling Folk Victorian farmhouse that has long since seen the glory days.  It is old, worn-out and tired after more than a century of raising families.

It looked like this many, many years ago:bluehouse 1900

This farmhouse, and the two barns that were part of the property, were built on the  outskirts of my little town well over 100 years ago.  Now, my house is no longer a farm and the barns are long gone.  “Town” kept coming in the late 1800’s and my house is now one of many lining both sides of Main Street.

I love this house dearly, but some days it is overwhelming to stand outside and look closely. You can actually hear the to-do list growing.  The porches are sagging and the roof needed replaced longer ago than I have been alive. The days of insulation have not arrived here yet and standing by the windows when the winter wind blows will chill you to the core.

It is overwhelming, but I cannot turn my back on it. When you drive past, you may only see that this house is run-down, only  see what needs fixed. You wouldn’t see that I moved back into this house as a young wife, alone with my first baby, while my husband was deployed again. You wouldn’t see the scuffs in the floor where I paced at night, to calm the baby, while I waited and prayed for his weekly phone call.

There is no way you could see the memories I have of the years I lived in this house as a child. The memories of staying here with my older brother, those memories fading at the edges now that he is gone. We fought like warriors, racing around this house and taking full strategic advantage of the loop created by the stairs at the front and back of the house. More than once, I was ambushed coming around the corner at the back stairs and forced to admit defeat. I hope we have the renovations finished in time for my own children to stomp up the front stairs and hurtle down the back stairs in their own epic battles.  If  we are still living here, I will cheat this time and show my girls that sweet spot to take their brother out as he comes around that corner.

You won’t be able to hear the hours I spent with the front door wide open, swinging on the porch swing, lost in whatever book I was reading, listening to Creedence Clearwater Revival pouring out of the house. I am 12 years old again, melancholy, every time I hear the music in my mind. I have seen the rain, I’ve lived in the rain for the last 2 years.

You wouldn’t realize on your drive by that my father bought this house to bring it back into the family. That it was built by his mother’s grandfather. That her father and uncle carved their initials into the foundation stones and steps.  That her family owned this home through the turn of the century, the Great Depression and the Wars. That I owe it something more than letting it be forgotten.

But at what cost? My husband and I dream of the day we will have our own farmstead. We are slowly working towards that day. My heart hurts to think I will have to turn my back on one dream to achieve another. We will put this old house back together over the rest of our lives, but we will not be staying here for my children to grow and come back here with their own children. We will rent it out someday and pray that we can choose carefully who will live here and respect the history. But history is not meant to be a handcuff and I can’t live in two places at the same time.

Vanity, thy name is chicken.

I love watching the baby girls preen and groom their feathers. They are more intent than a teenage girl in front of the mirror.

The chicks are getting big enough to start playing and flapping around to land on each other. It makes me laugh when a chick finally gets comfy to fall asleep and a couple other chicks put their little heads together, like they are plotting, then pounce on the one that is sleeping. They run away so fast you can almost hear them saying,” Neener Neener Neener…”

I’m happy to see they are getting used to me. They still go into their high alert huddle when I open the brooder lid to clean their dishes and fill them up. But, they are getting used to me talking through the top and they don’t startle when I stick around for a bit to chat with them.

I have been trying to figure out which chicks are which breed. We ordered 10 EE, 5 Welsummer, 5 Silver Laced Wyandotte, and 5 Speckled Sussex. The chicks that arrived have three distinct patterns; brown chipmunk, black chipmunk, and almost all black. We lost two brown chipmunk and two almost all black. The remaining chicks are 4 black chipmunk, 1 almost all black (but with the same head markings as the black chipmunk) and the rest are various shades of brown chipmunk. The 4 black chipmunk are the SL Wyandottes, but not sure if the little black one is a SS or SLW. Thankfully, some of the brown chipmunks are developing green legs which will make it easier to pick out the Easter Eggers.

Any tips on how to figure out which chicks are which? The hatchery photos for SS, Welsummer, and EE all show chicks that look like brown chipmunk. Not helping me figure them out!

Let Me See You Shake Your Tail Feather… And Your Pea Comb

The fuzz-butts are a week old today. They are changing so quickly. Many of them have lost all of their wing fuzz for feathers and about half have their pea combs starting to emerge. I have heard over the years that you can tell the sex by the initial pea comb characteristics, which makes me a little nervous since I ordered sexed chicks and really don’t want to have to cull very many roos.

Here a few photos of the week old chicks. It is not easy to take pictures of little fluff balls, running like crazy and trying to hide from me, through chicken wire and with a red lamp glowing.

Tail Feathers and Pea Comb starting

Tail Feathers and Pea Comb starting

Broad Flatter Peacomb

Broad, Flatter Pea Comb

Wing and Tail Feathers

Wing and Tail Feathers

Sleeping and Cuddling. These two are inseperable.

Sleeping and Cuddling. These two are inseperable.

Chick Stare-down

Chick Stare-down

Narrower, More Defined Peacomb

Narrower, More Defined Pea Ccomb

Flatter Broader Pea Comb

Flatter Broader Pea Comb

Chicky Baby Photos!

Warming up after a cold trip! The red light throws off the pictures, but they were so cold when we picked them up that I wasn’t going to take them out of the light to take pictures. They are spreading around the box, running around like maniacs. I will try to get better pictures this week now that they are on the move! I love to see BossyBritches with a smile on her face.

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Empire of poo

Teeny tiny chick just wasn’t big enough, she didn’t make it.

It’s time for my least favorite part of chook rearing…Pasty Butt. Only 3 so far, and keeping a close eye on the rest. Mountain Man cleaned up the first round of pasty bums before the rest of us were awake.

Our two year old was happy to join to poo tide and woke up informing us he wet the bed, which always means his diaper/pull up slid off and there is undoubtedly poop involved.

I spend my days wiping two little poopy butts. 24 more little fuzzy bums to wipe just adds to the crazy around here!