Wednesday, July 4, 2012

I Am Come Home

We arrived home on Monday night before 7pm, car stuffed full of tired kids and husband, bags, souvenirs and the like, two- 9 hour days of driving having fully taken their toll. That did not discourage our need to take stock, walk our land and greet each pen of beloved critters.

Where to start? I suppose it started as we crested the hill to catch our first glimpse of the partially built barn and fields. Jasmine was still in her field. That was good. The fencing around the back of her pasture was down. That was not. Sean would need to remedy this first thing.

Jedi, Leah, Rachel, and Pepper greeted us like they hadn't eaten or seen humans in DAYS, neither of which was plainly true looking at their slightly rounded bellies and lively moods. But, they carried on a chorus of steady "Meehhhh!" until we bowed to their demand for food and attention.

My goslings and ducklings had grown. The ducklings feathered out beautifully into one with pleasing standard Mallard markings and one with lovely speckled Black Swedish markings. Still more friendly than their counterparts in the main coup, they called insistently to us. I couldn't resist releasing them from their enclosure to see would they follow me around. They didn't... quite. They quacked and peeped at me, scampering about my feet, then turned to the business of stuffing themselves with fresh green grass. I purchased some freeze dried meal works as treats for the fowl, but my babies were uninterested in these. The babies kept us in sight, as we surveyed the rest of the stock.

The main chicken coop was bustling with chickens and ducks in need of fresh water and food. They had missed their morning rations and were not silent about this deficiency. We had 100 pounds of cracked corn and layer mash with us in the trunk of the car and set to the task of filling their feed and water containers. These fowl did enjoy the meal worms I sprinkled on the ground and greedily gobbled them up.

On to the piggies. Both Ebony and Patches were safely inside their pen, resting in their house, but were easily lured to petting and loves by a half scoop of feed.

Aloysius and his Cochins, living in the chicken tractor in our back yard, were in need of moving and grain. Sean moved the tractor and I filled the food for our grateful chickens. Broody Cochin had not changed her mood in our time away and needed to be encouraged out of her coop to food. I collected the one egg in that coop with a sense of peace.

Ellie, Asher, and Abigail were all contained in their make-shift pen. The kids had grown so much in confinement, I thought that perhaps our gardens would be safe from them. I opened their pen and led them back to the main pasture area. I was wrong and Sean had to be called in from fixing the horse fencing to help with the recapture of two uncooperative kids.

Bunny was still confined in her yard, but her fencing needed moving so she could access fresh grass, too, which Sean took care of after returning the kids to their temporary home.

With all the outside critters tended, I turned my attention to inside the house. Cats all accounted for, I scooped some feed into their dish on the porch on my way in. The smell of wet, foul chicks hit me at the door. THAT needed fixing. I opened all the windows on my way through to the living room. I grabbed a trash bag, fresh shavings, and a garbage pail and holding my breath, bravely tackled this chore. It only took minutes to scrape out the several inches of messed litter and replace it with fresh. The chicks did not approve of my intrusion and chirped at me and scattered madly about their cage, but I like to think they appreciated my effort of providing clean bedding for them. I refilled their food and water containers, while I was at it.

Fenn looked like a sheep in need of shearing and couldn't be let inside until that was cared for. Sean saw to that need. Immediately released into the house, Fenn darted to the chicks and began barking at them, which scattered pine shavings and rogue tufts of hair all over the freshly vacuumed living room floor. I took one look at that, one look at the newly feathered chicks and decided that it was time to move them into a new home. The one available being the chicken tractor currently inhabited by the goslings and ducklings. Since these had grown so much, we decided that they could be introduced into the main coop for a while. I had originally been against this idea, for fear that my babies would prefer other fowl to me, but I also had no time to build a new enclosure right then. Necessity being the ruling factor, Sean helped me with this quick switch. (Night is the best time to introduce new birds to a pen. The chickens had already put themselves to roost and would be unlikely to cause any ruckus. The ducks, especially Philip, took an interest in the new additions, but he quickly realized that he was no longer the largest bird in the coop and retreated with his ladies to his nesting area.

The outside birds settled, I turned my attention to the chicken eggs in the incubator. I carefully candled each egg and found 4 that were either not fertilized or had failed to progress. I had set them to hatch for Friday, but after checking them, I am unconvinced that this is going to happen. I don't know if there had been a power fluctuation that affected them, but to my untrained eye, they don't look nearly ready for hatching. The incubator read 100 degrees, so I returned the eggs to it and decided to wait and see what would happen. Maybe they will be alright, still.

It was after I finished candling the eggs that Sean finally came in from his chores. He grabbed my hand and together we "walked the land." This evening ritual is one of my favorites and the one that lends peace to my soul. Hand in hand, we check each garden bed, survey each animal pen, and discuss what needs doing next. It is a fitting end to our day of work and a transition to our time together for what is left to our evenings.

So, we are home and back into the swing of our lives. But, I didn't completely feel so until I heard Aloysius crowing to us at 4:30am. With a smile, I snuggled back into my blankets and drifted back to dreamland.

I hope you have a great day!
Sonja ♥


  1. I am glad there was not too much chaos to come home to. I am a bit sad about the furzy babies turning into feathered babies, and Abigail and Asher growing up. Don't they know everything is just supposed to stay little?
    I miss you guys!