Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Chicks: Mine? Or Yours?

Friday the last chick hatched. I didn’t want the Little Red Hen to leave the chick and come back to discover no egg, so I added a golf ball to encourage her to stay in that nest. I also moved the entire nest box into the broody crate to make sure she stayed with her chick. 

We headed out of town to visit family. I kept the chicken coop closed while we were gone as I couldn’t keep an eye on them and was sure our dearest farm cat, Sir Puddington Cheek, would be quite interested in the chicks. 

After two days visiting family in Wenatchee, we returned home.

The good news is: all our animals are alive!

The bad news is: the Little Red Hen is still broody and either didn’t take to her chick or it fell out of the crate I put them in prior to leaving town, and couldn’t get back up and through the 1” chicken wire. 

The good news is: Harriet seems to have adopted it…

I pulled the golf ball out, and put Little Red out of the crate. The next day, I had to pull her out of the top nest box she had returned to, although there were no eggs. I pulled her out again. A few hours later it appeared that our little hen might be adopting her chick...and trying to steal the other chicks… but a few hours later she was once again in the nest box. I pulled her out a dozen times over the next two days and once she was down she would begin to cluck at both her chick and the other chicks in the motherly helping them find food way. 

I think after three days she is finally no longer broody and perhaps they have split the chicks. Two chicks favor her: hers and the abandoned one. The two that Harriet hatched imprinted their mother while the other two seem a bit mixed up on who they imprinted. 

We had a bit of a scare Tuesday when Simon found Cheek had removed the youngest (and slowest) chick from the chicken run and was playing with it in the main yard. Fortunately, it was uninjured and returned to its mothers. We should be grateful that he plays with his food before maiming or killing. 

David loves the chicks and we’ve been going out so he can hold them many times each day. 

I do not know how the mama and chick dynamic will continue to develop, but it is delightful to watch and try to figure out how it will resolve. 

Monday, May 14, 2018

Cozy Cow Family Farm: Chicks: Mothering and Abandonment

May 14, 2018
Chicks hatch on the farm: mothering and abandonment

Mother’s Day started out with one chick hatching out. Happy Mother’s Day Harriet! 

I wasn’t positive when Harriet began setting the eggs. I’d marked Tuesday but made a mental note to check on Sunday and Monday. I took David with me to check and told him this week the chicks will hatch. We looked at the chickens and listened. I heard a faint cheeping and, lifting mama hen with one hand, we saw one chick and the second egg. Well, today is the day! I pulled out the hatched shell remains so David could show Simon. We let Harriet settle back on her chick and egg. I heard no sounds from under the other two hens.

We were out of town for the last set of chicks that hatched more than two years ago so this was really exciting to personally experience. 

We went to church and then after arriving home went to check on the chick hatching. Upon entering the coop I saw that Dotte had moved one nest over. My heart sank as I saw the empty shell and unmoving chick stretched out in the nest. I didn’t want David to see it if it was dead. And had Simon look to see if it was still alive. It weakly moved, but felt quite cold. I had him slip it under Harriet who clucked at us. We chucked Dotte out of the coop. Hatching the chick didn’t break her broodiness; maybe she knew she hadn’t been sitting long enough. She simply moved to a nest containing two newly laid eggs instead of returning to the one with the chick. 

I felt acutely aware that the cold chick’s survival could go either way. Late Sunday night, I felt hope as the chick was upright and moving, although still a little wobbly. And the third egg’s chick began pipping. Monday morning, I woke early and couldn’t fall back to sleep so, yes, I got up at 5 a.m. to go check on them. Three fluffy chicks peeping under their good mama hen. 

Hopefully, the Little Red Hen, will take care of her chick when it hatches in the next three or so days. 

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Cozy Cow Family Farm: Joys of Farm Life May

May 9, 2018

A year and a half ago our last rooster, Wooster, died following a stroke at a year old. Since getting another rooster, Bertie, David has been going out to the coop every day to check and see if the chickens have laid chicks.

When we first got Bertie, it took a while for me to explain to him that a rooster doesn’t lay eggs but makes it possible for eggs to become chicks. Well, he got the chick part anyway. 

A couple weeks ago our newest hen, an Old English Game, Harriet, went broody. So, I decided to let nature take its course and, instead of trying to break the broodiness, she is sitting on a few eggs. It was 3, but one of the other chickens snuck an egg under her a few days in, before I marked the eggs. A week in, the Little Red Hen went broody and tried taking over Harriet’s nest. Harriet simply moved and sat on there eggs laid that day. I shifted hens around and put the egg that was a few days behind in its incubation time under the Little Red Hen—I candled them to see how far along each was in its development. Well, now Dotte, the blue laced red wyandotte, has also gone broody, so I may move one egg under her to complete its incubation time and see if it will break all of their broodiness in one go. 

Just under a week left until they hatch and David is excited. I took him out to candle eggs with me one evening a few days ago. I think he now understands that chicks hatch  from eggs and are not simply ‘laid as chicks.’

Allie gave birth to her first calf on the morning of May 4th. Her official due date was May 3rd, but since she was bred in the evening (July 24th), the next morning is not far off of the expected 283 days. 

May 3rd Sangria was pushing Allie around a bit with her horns, so we separated the two cows overnight. 

May 3rd between the morning to the afternoon Allie’s udder began to bag up. 


On May 4th I woke early. I went to check on the cows around 7 A.M. and, as there was no calf, I turned them loose together and planned to check on them in an hour or so to evaluate if Allie seemed any closer to calving as I wanted to separate them for the birth. I watched for a few minutes as Allie wandered up the pasture hill. She seemed a little disinterested in eating and before I headed back to the house I saw her raise her tail and kink it to the side (a few weeks ago I read a post with an attached picture that described how whenever their cows raise and kink their tails like this, a calf is generally born within 12 hours). I mused to myself that perhaps today would be the day. I’d been checking her a time or two every day for the previous two weeks, as some calves come early.

I put Willow down for her nap just before 9 A.M. I helped David get his shoes on and told him we needed to go check on the cows and see if Allie had her calf yet. “Yeah, it’s May already,” he said, continuing, “Allie is having her calf in May.”

As we headed toward the barn I heard an unusual bellow. I began to trot. The peculiar bellow sounded again. I picked up my pace and headed toward the noise. As I quickly climbed and swung my leg over the fence, Allie bellowed again. I saw my two cows on the far side of the barn’s side paddock. Allie turned and I think I saw the calf hit the ground. I approached the cows, now standing nose to nose, who were looking down at the newest addition. As I neared the newly born, and wet, little black calf, it tried to test its legs. As it stood Sangria pushed it over with her horns; Allie bellowed. It tried again, Sangria knocked it over; Allie bellowed more desperately. This repeated a few more times. I knew I needed to separate them but felt a bit concerned about stepping into the middle of two 600+ lbs cows, one of which was a new mama cow. 

This is the fence I went over that David sat on while I was in the barn. Picture from a different day.

I called to David that there was a new baby cow and asked him to stay by the fence. He sat on the fence to watch. 

I hopped another gate into the hay barn and, as the leash was all the way across the barn in the milking parlor, I opted for a rope close at hand. I also armed myself with a big stick, an old shovel handle. Thus prepared, I exited the barn slowly and carefully approached the cows. I calmly talked to them and slowly slipped the rope through Sangria’s collar. Although some people are against collars on cows as they can be a danger them if they get caught on something, at this moment, I felt very grateful that we have collars on our cows. Allie stayed standing over her calf and I gently pulled Sangria away. She very grudgingly plodded after me. I tied her to the feed trough and closed a gate between them before turning her loose again. Sangria mooed grumpily.

Allie licked her new calf and quietly mooed at him. A new mother taking excellent care of her calf. He soon stood and immediately nursed. After a little while he tried to test his legs out more by hopping around. Allie mooed, seeming to chastise him and telling him to hold still as she wasn’t done cleaning him yet. 

That evening Simon confirmed the calf’s gender: Bull. We weighed him: 47lbs. 

Welcome to the farm, Wellington! 


Cozy Cow Family Farm: Joys of Farm Life April

April 2018

I go up to the barn to feed the cows only to discover that they’ve managed to get into the barn and are happily laying in the hay ruminating contentedly. There are cow pies all over the barn as they’ve likely been in the barn all night or at least since the wee hours of the morning. Hay bales have been knocked around and are partially munched on their sides. Hay has also been pulled out of the loose stack.

I approach Sangria and, although she usually gets up immediately when I approach, instead she just looks at me. I clip a leash to her collar and tug, nothing. I push on her rump and she ignores me. 

I approach Allie and she happily chews her cud and stays laying down.

I open the gate and Allie gets up but doesn’t move toward it. So, I get some range cubes (Allie loves these) and she starts moving but stands in the barn doorway not moving out any further. I toss them in the trough and she starts eating out the back side. I click a leash to her and eventually get her out of the barn and tie her to a post. As soon as she gets out of sight, Sangria lurches to her feet and trots out of the barn to join Allie.

I close the gate into the barn, firmly latch the door they must have come in previously, and finish picking up all the cow piles and chucking them out the barn door.
Main hay barn on left side with milking parlor to the right
Barn cat also in the background.
Sangria, red. Allie, black.

We’ve always wondered about our chicken coop: thick walls, well insulated. Why did they build such an elaborate coop. Perhaps in addition to a dairy (the barn has a milking parlor and all), they ran a large chicken operation (the coop is large enough to house 50-100 chickens—approximately 10’ x 20’). On his last visit, my dad proposed that perhaps it was originally an icehouse. It is located near the smoke house, both of which are set below the barn.

Our coop has a large and thick door for us to enter, windows along the front, and two pop doors for the chickens that open into two separate runs we’ve created.

The coop and root cellar
Mopsy, aka fluff-ball, & Cotton Tail, aka Silkie, in the background

Our two newest chickens are adept flyers. They are very small and lightweight bantams. Harriet, named for Harriet Tubman as she had escaped her cage at the animal swap, flew from one run into the other. I opened the second coop door so she could get back to the other side. All the other chickens rushed out to the other side and so I left the door open. After dark I went out through the rain to collect the eggs and close the doors. I go in and count…4-5 chickens on the roost. Sure enough, the door blew shut, leaving the remaining chickens outside…in the rain. I went to find them and one by one in the darkness located them with my flashlight and carried wet chickens one by one to the coop, shoving them in through the door. About half were in a ‘chicken pile’ in a corner by the fence and garage. The other half were roosting on a maple tree we cut down two years ago. 

The joys of farm life!

A year in review Fall 2013

Summer flew by with work, garden, yard projects, girls camp, Grandma's 90th birthday in St. George, and a visit to NY with Simon's family (including Mr. Chicken and the Glen weekend).

Unanticipated, we found a house we both liked--with property and few neighbors (for Simon), and close to town (for me). Amidst the process of deciding and then proceeding, we discovered I was expecting. This was a real challenge because I, who usually handle all financial aspects for our household, did not feel well enough to do much or think critically for an extended period of time. Simon got to call most of the shots and fortunately we had parents who helped review things with us.

We closed on the house October 30th and were grateful for the help of friends and ward members with the move and cleaning both houses.  We immediately had about a million house projects to get started and do and finished up in time for Christmas.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

A Year in Review : March through June 2013

I can't believe it's been more than a year since I last wrote an update on our blog. After getting a job as a receptionist at the Chewelah Community Health Center I rapidly went from the part time hours which I was hired to work, to working 40 hours per week. I repeatedly asked when I would be able to cut back, but it never managed to get worked into the schedule. There were ups and downs as there are in many jobs, however, I loved my coworkers. Working there was a great way to introduce myself into the community and become acquainted with the people here. It is fun a year later to walk into Valley Drug, Ace Hardware, or Safeway and smile and wave at people I know both from church and the community.

March through June:

Stain the deck/porch:

Watch the birds:

 Prune the trees:



And meet Pawsapus, the neighbor's cat who was very friendly.


Enjoy the Spring:

...and the neighbors cows. So cute!


Eat Pie!

Enjoy good food
Fried chicken

English breakfast

Pita, hummus, tabuli, wild rice 

Falafel in pitas and a curry over rice

Simon's  and Heather's 25th birthdays

Hike to Emerald Lake

 Replace carpet in Simon's Miata: