Tag Archives: country living
How Can You do That?
“How can you do that?” I am frequently asked this question when people hear our chickens are free-range.
“It does pose a risk,” I concede, “but the benefits outweigh the risks.”
How can that be? How can free-range chickens ever survive? There are several factors that work in their favor out here at our place. We have dogs that keep wildlife at bay. We also walk all over the farm, thus leaving our human scent as well. The horses play a big part too in keeping critters away. Though they can injure and even kill chickens as I wrote in a previous post, Faster than You Think—Ask the Chickens. It does not happen often. A healthy horse will defend his domain if feel threatened, or a ‘stranger’ shows up on their turf.
Free-range chickens are a benefit to everyone. They eat bugs which makes us all happy. I leave horse manure several days in the paddock to ‘cure’ a bit. Chickens peck through it eating the worms, thereby breaking the parasite cycle for the horses. Bonus! They also are my first composers. Manure has been beautifully broken down by their work.
Their hen house is in a stall in the barn. This also offers extra protection for them, and a plus for us as eggs are laid either in their house or feed buckets. Rarely is there need to have a daily egg hunt.
While this works here, it may not work at your place. Which does not really matter. I have seen beautiful hen houses and enclosures to keep them safe, all full of a bunch of happy hens!
So please do not feel bad if your chickens cannot be free-range. I am just answering the question of how it works for us.
No matter how chickens are kept, would you agree that they are fun and #chickensmakeuschuckle ?
Happy chicken farming!
Another season is done for our Frederick and Clarke County fairs. Such fun when they come, sweet sorrow when over.
Do you know Scripture says something about joys coming to an end? “…and the end of joy may be grief.” Proverbs 14:13 It sometimes is hard when happy times end isn’t it? Yet God in His grace forewarns us of this. And since forewarned is forearmed, I’m somewhat ready for the end of a happy time.
One thing I noticed while walking around the empty fairgrounds in Clarke County, there is a feeling of joy and laughter lingering in the air among the trees. The few folks that are there are smiling and happy. Perhaps because it is over and it is fun helping exhibitors pick up their entries. There is much work involved to putting on a fair, and those folks do a fine job.
A pleasant feeling of community also lingers. We see neighbors, politicians, our local police, farmers, and lots of young people busy with their animals, all hoping for a ribbon or waiting in line for carnival rides or for some awful, yummy junk food. Often this is the only time during the year we see so much of our community and neighbors.
And now in the end happy crows are busy gobbling up all the leftover treats. Popcorn, French fries, funnel cake. All crumbs are being happily cleaned up by flocks of crows. Even they sound happy!
So as I walk the now quiet fair grounds I smile, for the joy of fairs past and those yet to come. Hope you enjoy this quiet little walk with me.
In Case You were Wondering
I did win a few ribbons at our Frederick County Fair. Once again I was surprised by those that did not win and those that did! 🙂 Oh well, it’s still fun.
Next week I’ll take a new batch to Clarke County Fair.
My husband and I also attended the 4-H Livestock Sale. We purchased a lamb. The 4-H’ers work hard all year preparing their animals for the show and sale. All the money at the auction goes to the 4-H participant. The time and expenses of running the sale (dinner included for attendees by local bbq) is donated for the benefit of the 4-H students.
It is an honor to support and be a part this program.
In Focus #15—More Birds in the Hood
Birding is more fun with company. At least it is for me. I appreciate the extra eyes and smarts it takes to correctly identify fast moving birds around branches. A comic could easily be drawn of me with binoculars, camera, bird book and pencil hanging and flopping around my neck and filling my hands. Did I mention I also have our dog with me? It really is a comical sight, and usually an unsuccessful outing. Beautiful birds are passing through on their way to their summer homes elsewhere. It takes great skill (and another set of eyes for me) to identify them. That said, more times than not, my focus is on the easy birds that live in the fields, woods and ponds with us, and those returning home to us.
What fun to watch the male goldfinches change into their courting attire every spring for summer. They stay home year-round, but loose their brilliant yellow in winter. Also, happy, happy songs fill the air in the barn with the joyful return of our beloved Barn Swallows. Springtime is best time to see even more of our neighborhood birds because tree leaves are just bursting forth. Their small size offers big windows to see many of our beautiful local birds. It is my favorite time of year for birding. Our locals are not in as big a rush to get somewhere else, nor are they as ravenously hungry as those passing through. Making them easier to follow and identify.
A flock of beautiful Bohemian Waxwings were just chilling on a branch earlier this week. They have wonderful lessons to teach on sharing. I have seen them all lined up on a branch passing berries down the line to one another. There are so many sweet singing sparrows busy building their family homes for the year. The Red-winged Blackbirds are busy tending to home and family as well this time of year. While the Carolina Wrens could not sing a sweeter song.
I invite you to go outside, look and listen to this blessed, happy time of year the birds are telling us all about.
Five-Minute Friday Writing Prompt—Coffee
I wonder how many folks start their day, everyday, with a cup of hot, fresh-brewed coffee first thing? I’m not even sure my day would begin without one. I question if even the sun would rise!
Without coffee and quiet time before God in His Word, my family would not even want my day to begin.
After that all-important time I head out to the barn with a second cup. Whereupon the sun and chickens happily greet the world and me a cheerful Good Morning.
Such a perfect start to the gift of each new day. This country gal could not ask for more.
Five Minute Friday Writing Prompt–Order
“A place for everything and everything in it’s place.”
Rosie, the robot, always said that on the cartoon The Jetsons, as she would methodically go around the house putting everything in order.
It makes me laugh when I say it too as I clean my house. But order makes me happy and keeps me sane. Though I do not consider myself a ‘clean freak’, things must be kept in order.
It is amazing to me how well our animals here on the farm even respond to the order of the day. They know how the day is to begin and end, and are quick to remind me if I am late.
It seems our good God of order has placed that sense in all of His Creation as well. Glory!!
In Focus #9— That Old Country Flower?
“That is just an old country flower!”
Thus was the description of the humble little zinnia years ago. In fact, one could not even find them available in nurseries. It was one of those silly little flowers old country women planted in their gardens because they were cheap.
Well, every dog has it’s day, as my Momma used to say, and the day has come for this hardy, colorful flower. Zinnia belong to the sunflower family on the daisy side. They are a native in Southwestern United States. They are easy, easy to grow, and will self-seed if left in the garden over winter, though the next season flowers may not be the same as those first planted. They come in many different shapes in a huge variety of colors. They attract butterflies and hummingbirds. Every house is made more cheerful with a vase full of happy, colorful zinnias in it. Cut the spent blooms and these cheerful flowers just keep on blooming. In all colors and sizes. It is possible to purchase a specific type now-a-days.
I will let mine reseed next spring, and will also purchase a new package to mix in with them. The show next season will be splendid for sure. I have seen some blooms as big as a softball! These zinnias in my photos are a couple seasons old. I have noticed they are turning mostly red and orange. I am going to save seeds from the yellow, and white ones to see how that goes next year. In addition I will be purchasing a fresh package from the nursery.
Spent flowers, if one prefers, can be left out in the garden for the birds, most especially Goldfinches, to enjoy all through the fall and winter. They also make for pretty container plants. I have found full-sun to be their favorite choice, and moist soil. A huge bonus for us out here on the farm is they are also deer resistant, and may even help protect other plants from the deer.
For all these terrific reasons there is little wonder they were one of the favorites of—
‘we old country woman!’ Oh yeah!
In Focus #8—Birds in the Hood
Catching photos of birds has always been a joy and pain at the same time. It seems my camera is always not on me when I see a great photo. Forget about running into the house to fetch it!
Bird watching has been a wonderful pastime for years, learned from my dear Aunt from many a walks in the woods. I started keeping a ‘life list’ of the species in my 30’s. I only have about 130 species checked off so far. The last, very exciting species I saw (and have only once) was the Bobolink!
Our feeder is filled daily with sunflower seeds. The bird bath is next to the feeder. Watching a bird take a bath will make one laugh! One day I’ll catch a photo of it. BTW, sunflower seeds attract Goldfinches as well (some folks insist thistle seed is the only feed to attract goldfinches). Truly, life is not the same without the beautiful, cheerful Goldfinch in it.
Another fun discovery for us with sunflower seed is how easily they grow all around the house and garden! We have beautiful sunflowers from the seeds the birds drop all around the house. We leave them on the stem and enjoy watching the birds, especially the Goldfinches, eat on them all through the fall and winter. Bonus! If your zinnias are left to dry out in your garden, you will see the birds eating them as well, plus they will re-seed themselves next spring. Double bonus!
There are many other birds around here on the farm than posted on this blog. These are the few that just happened to turn out rather nicely. Thought it would brighten the day to share a few of these lovely, happy neighbors that are all around us.
Thank God for birds. A friend of mine recently told me where she read “of another service rendered as the birds sing their praises in the morning…that somehow the vibrations of their voices actually affect and aid in the awakening of God’s creation for the day.”
Isn’t that a beautiful thought?
The Time Warp
Shirley is a granny.
She has been a granny for ten years. She says she has grown pretty used to it by now. In the beginning it took a lot of heavy thinking and re-arranging of herself to grab onto the thought of grannyhood. Gettin’ old was for everyone else. Shirley just knew she would not have that issue. Ha! Sometimes things have a way of sneaking up on a person. Age, for Shirley, was one of those sneaky little things.
Used to be when she talked about her life twenty years ago, she was a young momma with little babies running all over the place. Not so anymore. Twenty years ago she was a middle-aged momma, with a bunch of teenagers on the loose! How did that happen? Don’t ask Shirley. Time seems like a mystery to her. An enigma. Shirley remembers her momma telling her that the 30’s and 40’s were the busiest times of ones life. What she did not realize was that those years would vaporize into a vague misty memory. Her momma never told her that.
Caught in a time warp somewhere along the way. Sorta like flowers coming up in springtime. They seem to be so slow in bursting forth to color the dull winter earth. But are they? Eyes were just taken off the emerging plants. Had there been a more careful watch, the growth may have been noticed. More times than not they actually start growing before one thinks they should. Shirley finds herself gingerly stepping all around the bird feeder as they make their tiny, magical entrance. Then suddenly blooms are dancing in the breeze!
Maybe that is what happened in the middle of lifehood for Shirley. She got so busy and tied up with daily going ons that she missed that whole transition from young momma to grannyhood. Poof! It just seemed to appear!
A real strange thing happened to her the other day. Her husband, Snoot, was looking through old photos. He came upon an old family photo of them. Shirley just looked and looked at that young woman (that was she). After a few moments she quietly remarked, “I knew her once.”
Surprised by her own words, and the feeling of the vapor of time, she was caught again in the mysteriousness of it all. How can something, dear reader, seem so long ago, and yet like only yesterday at the same time?
Not that she would want to go back. Not by any stretch of the imagination. Pushing ahead into a new day has always brought joy and excitement to her. Today is a day that has never been she thinks with anticipation to herself, wonder what’s in store for this fine, new day.
She plans her days to be sure, but there is a question to everyday that no one but God Himself knows. Life happens. Shirley would say that far more than we think is out of our hands. Just try not putting make-up on a day because it is Saturday and it simply does not seem necessary. Or putting on that ugly old shirt that should have been thrown out months ago. Well, there is the ‘invitation’. Nine times out of ten somebody will decide to drop by that very day for an unexpected visit.
There are, of course, very serious events in lives that completely re-arrange one’s whole life in a moment. Those are beyond the scope of this little blog. Shirley’s thoughts are centered around the normal, daily passage of time. Those daily moments that fill a day, consume a year, and turn into decades often without even being noticed. How many full moons do you see, dear reader? How many stars do you gaze at regularly? Do you ever watch anymore the sparks of a fire as they rise up to Heaven? Have you listened to the Mourning Dove’s early morning song? Do you even know it? Are these the things that fill the time warp?
Shirley and Snoot live on a farm. Life is very much the same day in and day out. Routine is important to the well being of livestock. Truth is routine is important to humans too. Shirley says don’t mess with Snoots feeding times unless you want trouble. Routine can become boring though. Shirley has ways of shaking things up. It is funny watching her chase the horses around the fields with an empty trash bag snapping in the breeze to get ’em going. Getting the dogs and cats all excited and watching them run around like mad makes everyone laugh.
One word Shirley really loathes, and has all her life—‘bored.’ She would not allow herself to say it as a young girl, neither were her children, nor will she hear it out of her grandbabies. Life is simply too short to ever be bored.
Intentional. That is Shirley’s word. She has determined in herself that life is magical. Every day, moment, season of life, with nothing to be taken for granted. The following song is a favorite of Shirleys. It says it all so beautifully. “Don’t let me miss the Glory”, by Gordon Mote.