Morning Has Broken…

WARNING: There is talk of killin’ in this blog post! Proceed at your own risk!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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’!

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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.

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Lucille went through a particularly horrible molt this year.

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The shame of it all! I confess, we laughed at her sometimes, poor thing.

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She is back to normal now, and looking mighty fine!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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10 thoughts on “Morning Has Broken…

  1. That was a sweet story! Abby Gail caught herself another gopher several days ago and I wasn’t as sensitive towards the thing like I was the first one she caught. I didn’t even witness the catching of it part; but, I did see her going nutso whacking the poor thing on the head with a paw. I grabbed the leash and as soon as the critter sensed it was safe, it turned around and immediately sniffed around and found his hole and went down into the ground. Its his (or her) own fault as it left its hole wide open for days on end. When I let Abby back outside later in the day, I checked and discovered the critter plugged up the hole! i guess that’ll learn ’em. LOL. 🙂 Anyway, I think I wouldn’t feel so sad about a gopher killing if that should happen in the future. I just don’t want Abby Gail hurt in the process because they have powerful forelegs, sharp claws and mega teeth. It’s just facts of life and keeps the gopher population down just like your Grace does with mice. .

    As for Roosters, that is also facts of life. Farmers used to kill off Roosters (in addition to aging hens) in the fall to freeze for meat throughout the winter. Our neighbors (the clothesman) does the same thing. It looks like he has four roosters this year….

    I think living out here has desensitized me to the facts of life. The other day, upon spying ants decimating a huge insect, I commented to Dan that “ants are nature’s garbage disposals” Dan immediately said “Turkey Vultures too”. Yup. he’s right. This city girl (me) is turning into a country girl….

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    1. That’s what happens, Lee Ann. You don’t even have to be the one doing the killing. Once you allow it, it’s easier and easier to slide down the slippery road to killing hell. 😦

      (Just Teasing) 🙂

      That Abby is a brave and tenacious one! Those gophers sound vicious. I’ve never seen one in real life, but it sounds mean enough that I probably wouldn’t be against the cat killing one, either.

      Hope you have a great day, friend…from one hardened Farm Girl to another. 😉

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  2. Sounds like you are living your dream Kara. It wasn’t many years ago when you were dreaming of this life you live now. I’m happy for you. Love the pictures!

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    1. It seems so long ago, now…but I remember how hard it was to wait for it. God’s timing is perfect, though.

      Thank you for stopping by. I hope you are having a good week.

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  3. We found eggs way underneath our porch once and another time in a spot in the woods. Ever since, I don’t quite trust that all my eggs are making it to the coop! LOL How fun to discover them, though. I don’t blame you at all for getting rid of the roosters. We had to kill ours after he pecked Seth, myself, and then went after Rich….. that was the end of George. I love going in the coop knowing that no one is going to peck my foot off!
    Love your kitty and the pic of the hen in your metal planter-thingee.

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    1. Thanks, Shanda. That’s an old wash tub we found that was left here, and the chickens love it to dust bathe in! Poor Seth. You do understand. 🙂 I’ve been worrying about wayward eggs for a while now, and it was a relief to find the eggs there. At least we know to go look there, now, and still have one hen laying there….but that’s okay.

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  4. We’re needing to crank up the gas furnace tonight, me thinks, too, Kara. The temperature is dropping fast, brrrr, and snow is on the way for tomorrow, or so the weather man is predicting.

    Hope you don’t mind, but I’m ‘reading’ around here catching up on all I’ve missed from you, and I’m sure learning about chickens! I remember when we were young, my mother would drop me and my sister off at the babysitters … they lived on a farm, and we’d watch them ‘prepare’ the chickens for dinner there in the backyard, and needless to say, as a young girl, my stomach turned at the thought of eating it after watching it’s demise! We’d eat the biscuits and black-eyed peas, though! lol! Now, of course, it doesn’t bother me … we eat a lot of chicken and it would be nice to have our own!

    Now, as for the deer meat … not so fond of it myself, either. A while back, we got some ground deer meat from our chiropractor, who loves to hunt, and share, so, never having cooked it, or eaten it, I made a ‘deer’ loaf with it … I don’t want to discourage you, but all’s I can say is, UGH!! :/ It was so nasty tasting!! I never revisited that recipe again! lol! I have had a deer ‘stew’ that another friend made for us more recently. She didn’t tell me it was deer meat, knowing full well how I felt about it, that is until after we ate it, and I have to say it was very good compared to what I had made … although, I haven’t had any deer since, but still, a turkey would be my choice of wild game, too! 🙂

    About the eggs .. I’ve been reading online that it’s not necessary to refrigerate them … just curious if you know anything about that. Sure would save room in the fridge! 🙂

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    1. I hope you are staying warm! I had heard that there are some parts of the country that are getting snow. The high is supposed to be in the 40’s today here, and in the 20’s tonight, but no snow in our forecast!

      I would imagine if I had seen the whole butchering process of a chicken as a child, I would have a hard time eating it, too! Even as an adult, it is HARD! 😦 Bud has taken the roosters down the trail to do it so I won’t have to see it or hear it. I’m just not there yet. I do have to say that Bud does it in a human way, and has said that they don’t suffer. (I’ll spare you the details.)

      LOL. I’m imagining what your deer loaf tasted like. Even when I made stew with it, I could still taste that deer funk. I don’t know if it’s true, but I’ve heard that how it’s butchered makes a big difference in how it tastes. Bud told me that there are some glands on the deers legs that need to be cut out. He also told me his grandfather said they need to hang for a day (in cool weather, of course.)

      I did research on the egg thing, also, when I first got my chickens. When a hen lays an egg, there is a protective coating on the egg. Grocery store eggs will have been washed. This makes the egg vulnerable to diseases and bacteria which can permeate the shell, since the protective coating is gone. Free Range eggs that have not been washed can stay unrefrigerated for quite a while, and they will be fine! Add to that, Free Range chickens are much more healthy than the hens laying the grocery store eggs. Those hens live in cramped and unsanitary conditions and just aren’t as healthy to fight off diseases as Free Range Chickens are. Sometimes, eggs get dirty, either with something in the nest or well…POOP. The eggs are, after all, coming out of a chicken’s bum, where poop has previously traversed. The thing is, though…if the egg has that protective coating on it, no poop is going to affect the egg. It’s okay to get a wash cloth and wipe off tiny bits of ‘debris’, and the egg will be fine. If it’s something that is stuck fast and isn’t going to drop off into the egg when you crack it open, I wouldn’t even wash it off with a cloth.

      So, to sum up, Grocery store eggs = refrigerate. If you have someone in your neighborhood who is selling eggs from hens that roam around in their yard, ask if they’ve been washed. If they haven’t, you can store them on the counter (or wherever.) Even if they are washed, they are still healthy eggs if the hens are free ranging.

      BTW, ‘Cage Free’ eggs are no bueno. They are still Grocery Store Eggs, and have been washed. The term ‘Cage Free’ opens a whole other can of worms. For brevity’s sake, suffice to say that the hens who lay those eggs still live a very sad, cramped, unhealthy chicken life in a artificially lighted building, and often don’t see the light of day.

      Sorry for my long comment. Chickens are a ‘soap box’ topic for me. I really don’t know much, but I’ve learned a lot about chickens since I’ve been raising them, and I learn best by ‘doing’ and immersing myself in a topic in a ‘real life’ way.

      It’s always nice to see you stop by, Debi! I enjoy your comments! 🙂 Bundle up and stay warm!

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