For the Birds, Part 3

broken eggshell  isolated on white backgroundOne morning, she did not come.

I opened the door and she simply was not there. No soft clucking.  No feathery fluff milling about my feet.  No foul offering to step into.

I called for her. I cackled. I hooted. I hollered. Nothing. Silence. There was no sign of our quirky bird. That was it. She was gone. And the homestead suddenly became hauntingly empty. I vaguely recalled that the evening before, the neighbor’s two large bully dogs were once again roaming free near our place. I could only imagine the worst.

Days passed. Into weeks. Clover was still gone. On a whim, The Man decided to give the garage a good, thorough cleaning. And to our bewilderment, he found eggs. Piles of them! All over the place. That clever, old girl was doing her job all along. But it no longer mattered.

Nearly three weeks had passed. The Man and I were soundly sleeping when an awful, deafening sound arose from the deck area just off the kitchen. I bolted upright and looked at the clock. 2:00 am. I could not be sure, but that ghastly noise sounded something like a chicken in distress. Or the zombie apocalypse. But the former seemed a trifle more possible.  Although, I really could not be certain since I had never before actually heard… anything quite so terrible.

I woke The Man. “Do you hear that ghastly racket?

“Yes,” he muttered, eyes still closed.

Does it sound like… a chicken?“.

“Yes,” he repeated, not moving.  At this point, I was pretty sure the situation called for some investigation.

Should…. someone check?” I asked sweetly, hoping to stir him into action.

“Yes,” once more, lifeless.  Clearly, The Man was still bitter about the turn of events surrounding our attempts at raising chickens and remained unmoved at the plight of one discombobulated chicken.  I reached for my robe and slippers and steeled myself for whatever horror it might be.

Do I… need a gun?”  

Silence from The Man, accompanied by a minimal snore.

I am not sure why I thought a gun would seem appropriate, but the mere oddity of a the situation seemed to call for it. I opted for a baseball bat and a Mag Light.

I crept out to the kitchen to investigate and as I pulled back the window covering, I gasped in surprise. Clover!!?? There she was pacing the deck with maddening speed, squawking like a banchee, and while clearly alarmed, she appeared to be alone and intact. Perhaps she was very hungry? Or thirsty? After all, God only knows where the poor bird had been for three long weeks. I rummaged around the refrigerator to find a few choice morsels along with some fresh water for my sweet hen and placed them in a dish outside. But she would not have it. Clover continued her blaring routine, wearing a path into the already weathered wood. (I am certain every neighboring farm within a five-mile radius was now awake and hurling curses in our general direction.) 

The countryside by cloak of night is an impossible thing. I could see no predator, but Clover insisted quite to the contrary. I could do nothing more, and since there was no calming her, I reluctantly left her to her routine.  I halfheartedly prayed that she would be there in the morning. But perhaps I was dreaming? I returned to bed.

And the next morning…

 

Cozy up, bring coffee, and come back tomorrow for Part 4!

If you missed out, you can catch up here: 

For the Birds, Part 1. 

For the Birds, Part 2.

Can’t get enough of the chickens? You can read about our previous flock here: 

Counting Chickens

Love & Coffee!

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For the Birds, Part 2

eggs isolated on white backgroundHe. Was. Right.

That crazy bird fared much better on her own than we could have ever done for her. Clover feasted on multitudes of farm-fresh delicacies, including but not limited to crickets, dandelions, and earthworms.

It really turned into a beautiful, natural sort of relationship between man, woman, girls, and chicken. The girls would set out special treats or extra water for her when it was hot, but mostly, that clever hen was just fine. She chased the kids around the property and kept me company as I hung the day’s laundry. We fashioned a nice little nesting box for her, but she would simply have nothing to do with it. Many nights she chose to roost in a low-hanging tree near the house. But eventually, she had a change of heart and decided the patio table was better suited to her needs.  (Meaning, the patio table where The Man and I have our morning chat over coffee in full view of the sunrise.  The Man was still not happy.  Clearly.)

She stuck close to the house, taking a particular shine to the side deck. Much to our chagrin, she left “evidence” of her existence all over the place so we made like pirates and took to swabbing the poop deck pretty much every day. One of her favorite places was right smack in front of the door so most mornings we would step outside and right into a lovely pile of aromatic unpleasantness.  Country-fresh.

I still loved her most of the time. The Man did not. He muttered terrible things under his breath and hurled insults at the poor bird. We could no longer find her eggs. That is, if she was still laying them. And as far was he was concerned, that was the only thing she was good for.

At the mere opening of the door, she would awkwardly cchicken editome running across the yard, ready to greet the lot of us. (Because pretty much everything about chickens is a little awkward, but that’s what makes them so eerily interesting.) We set out food for the cats and that silly bird would fight and peck her way through the felines for a spot around the dish. I am not sure if she even knew she was a chicken anymore. Clover held her own around those feisty tomcats and we certainly took pleasure in a hearty chuckle or two as we watched the daily farmyard drama unfold.

But then…

 

Grab a coffee and stop by tomorrow for Part 3!

If you missed Part 1, you can catch up here: 

For the Birds, Part 1. 

Can’t get enough of the chickens? You can read about our previous flock here: 

Counting Chickens

Love & Coffee!

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Life, Love, & Coffee.

cheerful heartHey there! It’s another unusually balmy January day in Iowa and we have tumbled headfirst into 2015 happy, healthy, and fully intact.

Can you believe it?

The holidays were busy. And beautiful. But also deeply contemplative. Deeply.

Do you ever just take a moment to pause? Or as in this case, a very long moment? The end of the year seemed to be an appropriate time to re-evaluate. To reflect. To adjust. There was something of a dissatisfaction. Some things in my life were just not working quite the way I wanted them to be. I needed time, good people, and some introspective moments spent lingering over a familiar cup of coffee. The withdrawal was cathartic and upon emergence I feel renewed, focused and expecting wonderful things for the coming year. Very good things, perhaps new and different things, are in the offing.

Anticipation is a lovely thing.

And while I plow ahead, I realize I have left ends untied… Chickens. The story is truncated and far from finished. So, I have aptly dubbed this week: Chicken Week. This will be a daily 5-part-series beginning with a recap from Part 1, originally posted last October. You can recap and refresh by reading that post here: For the Birds. Part 1

Check back each day this week to read more about the unbelievable chicken saga happening here at The Homestead. So cozy up in your favorite spot and don’t forget the coffee!

And just in case you missed it, Part 1 of the Chicken saga begins here:

For the Birds. Part 1

Love & Coffee!

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My heart is full.

DSC01626The day is yet dark, my coffee is piping hot, and it seems that winter has finally arrived in Iowa.  The chill is a trifle scathing, while the world outside lies suddenly dormant in a wind-blown white.

Still. Quiet.  I reflect.

My heart is so full of things.  Good things.  Wonderful things.  Christmas things.  Worrisome things (like the mouse I just caught scurrying across the laundry room floor. Eek).

Full.  Of.  Things.  To peruse, ponder, and pray about.

This week will also be full.  Calendar limits will be tested.  Coffee will be my constant companion.  For just a moment more, I linger at the window, warming my hands at the cup, and savor the view: winter white in the just-breaking dawn.

“You will keep in perfect peace
    those whose minds are steadfast,
    because they trust in you.”  Isaiah 26.3 (NIV)

Happy Tuesday.

Love & coffee. 

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And the chicken???  Part 2 is coming tomorrow.  You won’t believe what happens next…
(In case you missed Part 1, you can catch up here:  For The Birds, Part 1.)

 

Things I Should Do?

cakeThere are all of these new-fangled parent things that I keep hearing I should be doing. I am not sure exactly when it happened, but suddenly, I find myself living in a world full of souped-up Betty Crockers and hyper Suzy Homemakers.

I blame Pinterest. Mostly. And seriously? I am too old for this.

I guess the one-year-old cake smash is the thing to do now? *shudder* So I am supposed to purchase an over-priced, over-the-top cake, chock-full of artificial food dyes (because that is what makes it so pretty) and let her utterly destroy it while wearing an equally over-priced, brand-spanking new outfit (which will wind up impossibly ruined because of the aforementioned food dyes). Furthermore, this should be done before the actual first birthday so as to have proof-positive of the entire shenanigan on display at the forthcoming birthday festivities. And on Facebook. And Instagram. Twitter. And so on.

(Honestly, I just see dollar signs, an ungodly mess, and the potential plethora of “likes” from my social media friends whom I never talk to in real life.)

I also missed the gender reveal party that I should have done, too. (Any reason to party, right?) This is where we choose a fabulously cute (and probably complicated) idea from Pinterest, creatively incorporating pink and blue to reveal the gender of my baby in front of select amount of family and friends. And probably post the video on Facebook, too. And of course, issue a press release.

I do not mention these things to offend, but only to say… not.  for.  us.

And ultimately, I can not get over the fact that somewhere along the line there would be future sibling angst over the fact that Cupcake got extra “pampering” even though these things were quite unheard of when the big ones were little.

There are probably other things I “should” be doing, too, but I simply have too many other lovely moments to make happen in my day like: scrubbing filthy little hands after an afternoon in the dirt, baking another delectable loaf of pumpkin bread with my sweet girls, and watching the sun set over the field from the deck off the kitchen.

(What do you think?  Is this mommy guilt for real?  Or am I just grumpy and have not yet consumed a sufficient amount of coffee on this chilly Monday morning?  Comment below!)

Love & coffee. 

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For the Birds. Part 1.

Eggs

Eggs. Finally.

I put off things. I especially put off writing about unpleasant things. Like writing about my chickens. They are dead. Mostly.  There is no sense in going about sugar-coating the grim fact of it all. All but one. 12 of 13 dead and gone.

The Man went out to care for our brood months ago and there was nothing left of our precious flock. Not one.  Oh, The Man was angry. Spit fire and venom. He discovered a hole under the door, nearly the same as last year. Upon further inspection, he unearthed a clever little den. Under our chicken coop! As fate would have it, the feet of one dead chicken were visible within. Angrily, The Man yanked the carcass away. “Not this one! You won’t get this one!” he steamed.

It was then that he caught a glimpse of a small badger. Small. Meaning, surely there were more. I think I saw smoke fizzle out of his ears and from each flared nostril.
Not. Again.

The Man waited until evening. He disappeared into the black with the dog and his shotgun. Nothing. The next day, we found one traumatized (but seemingly healthy) hen hiding in the tall grass. The girls call her Clover, for she is a very lucky girl.

Clover

One lucky chicken.

So we have a badger problem. (And The Man is still pretty steamed about it.) And ultimately I had one very lonely chicken who did not have any interest in laying an egg.
Twenty-two chickens lost. One survivor.

What. To. Do.

I was fearful of again free-ranging that brave bird so we cooped her up in the barn, making sure she got plenty of sunlight during the day. The Man was still miffed at the badgers and the whole chicken situation in general. He refused to spend another penny on anything to do with chickens. Without chicken feed, I set to work to spoil that chicken rotten. All I wanted was one egg. ONE. EGG. For our two years of hard work. Every day, Peanut and I worked together in the kitchen to concoct he most wonderful things for her: melon scraps, seeds, oats, strawberry tops, corn meal, etc.

And, wonder of wonders, that girl eventually laid an egg. And kept on laying them! Twenty-two chickens and we finally had a handful of farm-fresh eggs.

But sickness hit the homestead. Really hard. All six of us. We tried to give Clover away. We did not really know what to do with her. So at some point during our week-long family illness (we share everything) The Man sneaked out to the barn and set her free. He figured she could take better care of herself than we could at that point.

Was he crazy? Or right?

Continue reading the series here:

For the Birds, Part 2

For the Birds, Part 3

Or you can read more about the demise of last year’s flock here:  Counting Chickens.

Anyone else have the same wonderful luck with chickens that we do?  I would love to hear about it (and maybe commiserate just a bit).  Comment below!

Love & Coffee.

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Something to Do.

Tea and biscuitsA barely there Monday commences with a dark October sky, a warm cup in hand, and a stinging chill in the air.

Ready or not.  Another week comes.

Since the school year began this past August, I feel like this family of six has been burning the candle, not just at both ends, but every possible which-way.

Slow down.  Please, stop.  Let us breathe for a moment.  New plan?  “No.”  Just.  Say.  No.

To unnecessary goings-on.  To rat races begging to be run.  To the things that wear away at our little (maybe not-so-little?) family.  (And to drugs.  Always so no to drugs.)

We only one get one chance.

Peanut, Ladybug, Lovey, and Cupcake are sweeter than an Oklahoma tea on a sunny day.  And The Man?  Well, he is just as lumberjack handsome as a man can be.  (swoon)  Sometimes, we just need to be together.

No screens.  No phones.  No distractions.

Most of you know how adorably rambunctious my sweet 5-year-old Lovey can be.  Last week, she absolutely outdid herself all in one day.

Oh, let me count the ways:

  • The entire salt container emptied onto the carpeted stairs.
  • The unwanted cheese from lunch strategically placed in my boots.
  • The mysterious disappearance of all the breath mints and gum from my handbag in one sitting.
  • The “lemonade” she made in her own bedroom for the Barbie doll party.
  • The markers she used to make Cupcake into a tiger.
  • The “washing” of the entire bathroom with the cloth diaper sprayer (massive amounts of soap included).

Her response?  “I was bored.”  That sweet little thing just need to something to do.  And attention.  Intense, undivided, full-of-wet-mommy-kisses, attention.

But then… books.  “Lovey, let us read.”

We reorganized the book shelves together and put our favorites all in one spot.  The new books we ordered the prior week arrived just on time and we organized those, too.  And we read.  And read.  And read.  Fairies, pirates, and Curious George.

She was not bored anymore.  My boots remained pleasantly cheese-free, my handbag was locked away, and the bathroom stayed dry.

(Cupcake garnished my hot coffee with a red crayon, but that is a story for another day…)

Here’s to a beautifully beginning week of stimulating busy little minds, keeping busyness at bay, and a healthy dose of coffee.

Happy Monday!

Love & Coffee.

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