WARNING: There is talk of killin’ in this blog post! Proceed at your own risk!
I woke up at 3:00 a.m., wide awake, so I decided to get up, get dressed and crank up the heat…both the wood stove and the propane heater. Our excitement over using our wood stove vs. the trouble and time to get the firewood has equalized.
Bud cuts down the dead trees, and cuts the tree into logs. Then, he splits them into smaller pieces. We have an awesome gas-powered log-splitter, which saves so much energy and time! I’m right there with Bud when it comes to stacking the wood or moving the split wood, but Bud is doing the dangerous, really heavy part.
Though we still love our wood stove fires, we’ve decided not to light a fire this season unless it’s really cold. At night, when we are under the covers, we really don’t need to heat the whole house. We are nice and toasty. Right now, our house is not air tight, so it’s pointless to keep the heat cranked during the night in other parts of the house where we don’t need it…and it saves some time, trouble and energy used in getting wood.
It has gotten close to freezing, and we had our first frost the other night. I picked most of what was left in our garden…some tomatillos, a few tomatoes, and some bell peppers. There are some sweet potatoes I planted late, and though the leaves have not yet started dying back, I did notice that the frost got some of the leaves, so I guess I’ll go ahead and dig those up soon.
Grace has already caught two mice in the house this morning. Honestly, we’ve seen no signs -whatsoever- that mice are living in the house. It’s just part of living in the country. Everyone around here has them, in spite of their best efforts to keep them outside. In Houston, we had huge Grandaddy Cockroaches. Here, we have mice…and I’ll take mice ANYDAY over the Flying Wallenda Cockroaches from Hell.
At first, I always tried to save the poor mice that Grace catches. They are so cute. Honestly, I can’t stand to see her ‘play them’ to death; however, lately…if I hear the typical rustling sounds in the house in the middle of the night that tell me Grace is in ‘hot pursuit’, I don’t get up to save the mice anymore. (I think I am finally turning into a hardened ‘Farm Girl’…more on that later.)
This morning, I had gotten up early, and saw Grace in ‘mouse-stalking mode’. I let it go on for a while, but the poor thing kept squeaking and I finally got a hand towel, caught it, and put it outside. Then, the episode repeated itself. Grace is just doing what cats do. She’s a good cat, and she’s finally mellowing out of her kittenhood rowdiness –most of the time.
Last Spring, we got 6 Rhode Island Red chicks, and we raised them, rather than going with a broody hen. If you want to read the back story, >>>HERE IT IS<<<. Anyway…one of them turned out to be a rooster.
Wally. Wally turned out to be a mean ol’ cuss. He was terrorizing the ladies, and most especially Betty and her chick! Over and over…he would repeatedly rape her…it was like she was the only Babe he could get or something. There is not much I hate more than when the vulnerable are taken advantage of. I hate bullies. Betty and the chick were traumatized. I took to penning Wally up in the fenced off garden, to give Betty and her chick some peace..to learn that the world CAN be a peaceful and loving place.
Finally, I hiked up my Farm Girl Panties and gave Bud the ‘okay’ to do ol’ Wally in. Bud took him down the trail, did the dirty deed, then skinned ‘im…so that I wouldn’t have to pluck ‘im. I admit it was a little hard to see the skinned Wally lying in the sink when I came inside. Even though the head was gone, it still looked like Wally. It was hard. I tried cutting him up, but his tendons were just too tough. I asked Bud to cut him up, and then I cooked him in the crockpot. I deboned him, put the meat in the freezer, and made stock with his bones.
Days later, I made ‘Rooster Soup’. It helped to have some days distance between the time I last saw him alive, and the time we ate him. He tasted pretty good. Before we decided to do him in, Bud wrote a piece of music for Orchestra called, “Wally’s Song,” based on Wally’s crow, which is a motif throughout the piece. Though Wally has long since passed through the draught, he has been immortalized forever.
We let Helen hatch a brood of chicks shortly after the raising of the Reds. We named them Bonnie, Sadie, Gretel and…and I can’t remember the other one’s name. Unfortunately, they ALL turned out to be roosters, and we have taken to referring to them as ‘The Terminators’.
For those of you who don’t know, Too Many Roosters = Bad News For the Ladies. If there are too many roosters, the ladies get serviced too frequently, and they get ‘toe up’ (torn up), not to mention stressed, which means NO EGGS. The Terminators will soon be going into the pot, too, because they are MEAN suckers, too. They peck me when I go inside the hen house in the evening to get them settled for the night and it hurts!
Betty went broody for the first time, recently. She is part of my original flock. I was going through some old pics, and found out that we got our first hens in August of 2011, so Betty is getting on up there. She’s no Spring Chicken anymore. We put a clutch of eggs under Betty, and most of them died in the shell or shortly after they hatched. It all turned out for the best, though. It left Betty with one chick to raise. It was a nice ‘breaking in’ for an older mother. She has been an excellent mother! Betty and her chick are ‘best buds’!
Usually, the mother hen detaches from the chicks starting at around 6 weeks and runs them off. Sometimes, it happens later than that. Betty’s chick is almost 3 months old now! They are now both roosting together at night. Though the chick is taking care of itself, and Betty doesn’t come to it’s rescue if it gets into trouble, she is allowing it to ‘hang’ with her. Though the chick definitely is lowest on the pecking order, the older hens don’t run it off and out of the pack. I have been so relieved, seeing how the chick didn’t have any hatch-mates to buddy-up with like the other sets of chicks have had.
Lucille went through a particularly horrible molt this year.
The shame of it all! I confess, we laughed at her sometimes, poor thing.
She is back to normal now, and looking mighty fine!
Henrietta molted pretty badly, too…lost her ‘personality’ (her tail) for a while, but it’s coming back now. She always feels a little insecure without her tail–her one speck of beauty.
The ‘Red Set’ (as we’ve taken to calling the Rhode Island Reds) are laying now. Though we’ve been getting lots of eggs, I’ve been worried that some of the new girls might be laying outside somewhere, instead of the nesting boxes. Yesterday, Bud was out around the log cabin where he keeps his chain saw, and called me outside to look at something.
There was a little Rhode Island Red on top of them. I promptly took her to the nesting box and showed her where she should be laying, but based on the varying shades of tan and bown in the clutch of 11 eggs we found, I’d say it’s more than one hen that has taken a liking to that place for laying.
At the risk of sounding like a psychopathic killer Farm Girl Monster from hell…since we didn’t know how old the eggs were, I scrambled them up and fed the eggs back to the chickens. They love eggs, and it’s a great source of protein for them.
To end on a lighter note, we had a visitor to our yard for a week or so. It showed little fear of being so near to humans and chickens…not to mention Grace, the cat. We often see deer at a distance, but this one came really close in different places in our yard for about a week. It even ate some of the leaves off of our peach tree (which we were not too happy about).
Thankfully, it’s just bow hunting season right now. In a few weeks, it will be ‘shootin’ season’, and Bud will climb up in the tree, hoping to bag a deer. I actually don’t care for the taste of deer meat that much. I’d much prefer it, if he could shoot a wild turkey.