Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Our First Week with Farm Animals

My first foray into homesteading was with eight tomato plants last summer. Four died - not enough sun is my guess. Two did okay (they had a little more sun than the ones that died). And two produced so well that my stakes could not hold them up.

Note to self: move garden into more direct sunlight and buy better stakes. 

This year, my plan is to expand my garden and add a few layer hens. Yep. Chickens. And I'm determined to have more success with them than I had with my tomatoes.

So I did my research all winter, and I took a class at The Lazy B Farm (a magical homestead I will tell you about later).

Then on Monday, our family of six piled into the van and headed off to purchase the brood box, supplies, and chicks. It went something like this:

Monday, 9:32am - Arrive at Tractor Supply with shopping list: pine shavings, waterer, feeder, heat lamp and bulb, medicated feed, Diatomaceous Earth (yes, that's a real thing), and probiotics. 
Monday, 9:35am - Stop to see the live chicks, just to say hi.
Monday, 9:36am - See baby ducklings. Stare longingly and move on.
Monday, 9:49am - Realize not one member of our family can live without ducks. Pick out two to take home.
Monday, 10:06am - Drive to local feed store and purchase five baby chicks. Introduce them to the ducks.
Monday, 12:28pm - Ducks try to sit on chicks. Chicks peck duck butts. Commence the pecking order battle.
Monday, 2:42pm - Realize we don't know if the ducks are male or female. Research "how to tell the sex of a duck."
Monday, 2:44pm - Mom thinks there's one boy and one girl. You don't want to know how she knows that.
Monday, 5:08pm - Everyone seems content in their new home. Kids can't stay away from the brood box and give the birdies lots of company. Mom watches the weather channel as a "wintry mix" rolls in. She is also addicted to watching the brood box.
Monday, 10:53pm - Ice on all the power lines and trees. Limbs fall onto metal roof, giving all the animals and people inside a fright.
Monday, 11:34pm - House loses power. No fire place. No wood stove. No gas heat. Chicks and ducks must stay at 90 degrees, or they will die. Mom hyperventilates. Dad says, "They'll be fine" and goes to sleep.
Monday, 11:49pm - Mom fills empty milk jugs with hot water and sets them in the brood box. Chicks huddle between the jugs for warmth.
Tuesday, 12:17am - Mom tries to sleep. Feels something crawling on arm. Grabs (what she can only imagine was) a monstrous spider and throws it across the room. Realizes she might have thrown it on baby.
Tuesday, 12:24am - Mom lays startled baby back down in bed after vigorously shaking his blankets and sheets. Baby is very confused. Mom asks forgiveness for cursing in front of baby. 
Tuesday, 1:00am, 2:00am, 3:00am, 4:00am, 5:00am, 6:00am, 7:00am, 8:00am - Empty and refill jugs with hot water. Thank God we have such a large hot water heater.
Tuesday, 8:31am - Take all six Thixtons, plus two guinea pigs, five chicks, and two ducklings next door to the grandparents' house. Thank the Lord, they have power.
Tuesday, 3:45pm - Still no power at home. Take all six Thixtons, plus two guinea pigs, five chicks, and two ducklings across town to the parents' house and settle in.
Wednesday, all day - Parents' cat stares longingly at birds and rodents. Mom threatens his life.
Thursday, 4:32pm - Finally get the call that power is restored. Take all six Thixtons, plus two guinea pigs, five chicks, and two ducklings back home.
Friday, 5:02pm - Mom warily leaves all animals in the capable hands of Dad and 10 young men from the youth group who are staying at the house for the weekend.
Saturday, 6:30am, 7:42am, 8:02am, 8:05am, 10:28am, 10:59am, 12:26pm, 1:17pm, 3:36pm, 4:29pm, 8:22pm - Mom prays that the chicks and ducks survive the weekend without her and that her house is still in tact when she returns.  She also prays the youth retreat is going well.
Sunday, 12:24pm - Mom returns home to chicks and ducks. They are alive, but miserable.
(Note to self: Chicks are clean, dry animals. Ducks are wet and and clumsy.)
Sunday, 12:32pm - Chicks and ducks get a clean brood box, and a bath.  
(Note to self: Ducks love taking a bath. Chicks, not so much.) 
Sunday, 12:51pm - Ducks get their own brood box to spare the chicks any more soggy misery. Chicks seem happy. Ducks seem clueless.
Sunday, 9:28pm - Mom thinks about the eggs that will come in the summer. Duck eggs, white eggs, dark brown eggs, light brown/pinkish eggs... wait... no blue eggs?
Sunday, 9:30pm - Mom makes plans to return to the feed store in the morning to buy more chicks.


Samantha Jones said...

Absolutely love this post!!!

April LeCureux said...

This is hilarious!!! If our neighborhood would let us, I would be alllll about some laying hens!! I neeeeed them!!! Have fun!

Brandy Thixton said...

Thanks for reading, Samantha! It was definitely an adventure!