For the Birds, Part 5

Fresh eggsThat particular October morning was especially crisp.  We all had business in town so the day was more harried than most.  I was up early packing lunch boxes for the day, preparing breakfast, and getting a head start on the monstrous pile of laundry.  After waking the girls for the third time (at least), they scuttled down the stairs for a quick bite to eat.  I readied Cupcake and we scooted out the door, leaving a treat for Clover and blowing kisses as we left.  Of course, getting everyone situated into the van sometimes takes a considerable amount of time.  The girls have to decide whose turn it is to sit by Cupcake, consequently move Lovey’s booster seat, buckle up, and settle in for the twenty minute drive to town.

We.  Were.  Off

I dropped the big girls off at the school, while Cupcake and I set out to run errands.  We did all sorts of things that day:  The Post Office.  The copy store.  The gas station. The grocery.  And, of course, the five and dime for a little treat. We concluded our list of errands with Walmart.  Errands now done, I emerged from the store feeling exceedingly accomplished for the day.  We were done early and Cupcake and I had time to kill before our next appointment.

walmart clover 1

Chicken on the run at Walmart.

As we approached our van, however, my attention was drawn across the parking lot, 2 lanes over.  I could not be entirely sure, but there appeared to be a chicken standing there.  And not just any chicken.  It appeared to be a buttery yellow Buff Orpington, which I would only know because the only sort of chickens I have ever had in life have been Buff Orpingtons.  I chuckled as I thought to myself, why on earth would someone bring their chicken to town?  Poor thing.  For just a moment, my thoughts meandered, “Could it be…  No, Impossible. Absolutely not.”  And the idea was completely shelved.

I took my time buckling Cupcake into her car seat and loading my bags into the van, eyes never moving from the chicken.  She wandered, seemingly dazed and confused.  I had to take a picture.  Or two.  The Man was in an important meeting, but surely he would get a kick out of this.  I texted him right away.  “You’ll never believe it…”

I shimmied into the driver’s seat and watched the drama unfold, as I had nothing pressing to do for another hour and this was free entertainment.  A woman approached the chicken, the chicken sidled right up to her, and I could hear her say, “She seems very friendly!”  Soon after, the friendly fowl was drawing a crowd.  The Walmart army was not far behind, with their cumbersome walkie-talkie contraptions in hand.  I overheard words like “authorities” and “animal control.”  I found myself wishing for extra-buttery popcorn… this was getting good!  (And had the potential to become a fabulous story for my blog.)

My phone sprung to life.  I was hoping for The Man.  It was not.  I answered anyway.  I unenthusiastically listened to the caller yammer on about something or another, managing to utter just enough “yes”-es and “uh-huh”s to create the illusion of communication while I monitored the situation.

Then, a police car appeared on the scene… and unexpectedly great sorrow welled up within.  What would happen to this sweet, disoriented bird?  Should I offer to take her in?  Wouldn’t Clover just love to have a friend?  But how would I get her home? I had nothing suitable for transport and yet another engagement before we could head back to the homestead.  I decided I could not watch.  I started the van and drove away.  Quickly.

As I sped away, my phone rang again only this time it was the call I hoped for.   The Man.  Before I could utter a word, he started in, “Why in the world did you bring the chicken to town?”

Taken aback at such a charge, I replied, “I most certainly do not know what you’re talking about.  Clover is at home.”

Are you blind??? That is our chicken!” he insisted.  Well, for someone who was still pretty irritated about the chicken, I guess he had been paying more attention than I realized.  But I was unmoved.

Maybe I am still not country enough, because there certainly seems to be no difference between one chicken or another to me.  And certainly not with Buff Orpingtons.  And certainly not in the Walmart parking lot from two lanes over.

We bantered a bit more, hung up the phone, and I moved on with my day, confident Clover would come running to greet me upon my arrival at home.

But to my utter astonishment… She.  Did.  Not.  Come.  And The Man gloated that he was right.  And I have nearly lost my marbles trying to figure out how a full-grown hen could hitch a ride to town in a van full of giggling girls, ride around for two hours worth of errands, and not be noticed.

Tell.  Me.  How???

And quite unwittingly, I watched.  And photographed.  And laughed.

So two and half years.  Twenty-four chickens.  And the adventure has abruptly come to a halt.  For now.  It seems destiny to buy my eggs at the corner market.  Perhaps this year we’ll try gardening instead.

BONUS Material: 

Three days before Clover’s final disappearance, she cleverly photo-bombed our Christmas card photo shoot.  This memorable photo was the centerpiece of our Christmas card and now hangs on the family room wall.

Thanks for the memories, Clover!

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Love & Coffee.

If you missed out, you can catch up here: 

For the Birds, Part 1. 

For the Birds, Part 2.

For the Birds, Part 3.

For the Birds, Part 4.

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 4

feather on a white backgroundThere.  She.  Was.

Plump, spry, and happy as can be, Clover was once again roosting on the patio table and sullying the deck.  Upon closer inspection, I found that she was missing a small patch of feathers from her neck. If there were any doubt before, it certainly took leave: Something was truly after the bird.  Clover cheated death.  And won.  Every time.  It seemed she was destined for greatness.

My sweet girls were over-the-moon to have her back. They chased her, fed her, coddled her, and just loved her to pieces. Clover again kept me company as I hung the laundry, retrieved the mail, and performed the outside chores.  The homestead felt just a bit fuller.  Even my coffee seemed sweeter.

On the other hand, The Man was less than thrilled.  I think he even grunted.  Maybe twice.  Still jaded, he threatened, spinning tales of savory chicken dinner slow-cooked over the fire.  He did not think she could survive the forthcoming Iowa winter.  I disagreed. The hearty bird had already proven she had nine lives.  And then some.  It seemed we could never truly consider her down for the count.

Weeks passed, summer faded, and Clover was happy.  She sat at my side, warming my feet, as I sipped my coffee each cool, autumn morning.  Scrubbing the deck became a regular chore.  Again.  And the big girls fought over who would feed her each day. Life was a peach.

But no one could have imagined what happened next…

 

Stop by tomorrow for Part 5, the finale!

If you missed out, you can catch up here: 

For the Birds, Part 1. 

For the Birds, Part 2.

For the Birds, Part 3.

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

Counting Chickens

Love & Coffee!

Continue the coffee love by joining my Facebook page:
Like what you see?  Share this page with your your favorites.  Or not-so-favorites.  Or anyone really…  Let’s all be friends.

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!

Continue the coffee love by joining my facebook page:
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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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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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Spring Love.

,The end of a tired, worn-out school year is utterly exhausting. No one wants to sit at a desk (or the kitchen table) and do anything related to education. The horrendous, years-long winter has finally given way to a beautifully welcome spring. (I thought it would never come.)

We would all rather be outside.

Springtime chores on the homestead are plentiful, yet mostly enjoyable. After a crippling winter (good-bye “polar vortex!”), there is much pleasure to be found in simply being outside, smack dab in the middle of God’s creation, no matter what the task may be.

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Growing things!

The garden is partially in and we all hope, pray, and cross our fingers that something will survive the summer. My back is sore and my knees are screaming, but even the hole I wore into the thumb of my gardening glove makes me smile. I have come to crave the earthy smell of freshly turned Iowa soil. Rich. Black. Dirt. (Please, something grow. Please, please, please.)

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Lovey’s treasure.

The chickens are hearty and well. All thirteen of them. I have come to be very good at counting them quickly. (They are so fast.) The Man must finish the chicken run soon, but they are utter entertainment running amok around the yard. Peanut and Ladybug (and sometimes even Lovey) are a great help with chicken work. Cupcake is newly walking. And chasing down the chickens to give them loads of slobber kisses.

Dozer continues to steal our hearts, love on my girlies, and chew my couch pillows. But he is great with the chickens. And great for evening snuggles. And I am pretty sure he is a keeper.

After another week of illness, and another week of travel, I am settling in to Monday, somewhat wary to take on the tasks this week will require.

Yet as I sip another lovely Caramel Truffle coffee, bathed in the light of a blazing country sunrise, I am reminded that this week is full of promise, hope, and goodness.

After all, it is “the week.”

Peanut’s birthday.

My birthday.

Mother’s Day.

And graduation parties galore.

This annual deluge of celebration leaves us tired, broke, and full of cake.

But it is so much fun.

Thank. God. For. Coffee.

Love & Coffee!

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The lilacs promise to impress this year.

 

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