Tag Archives: chickens

Mood Brood

Morning came far too early for my body’s liking. I’d overdone my workout again and paid the price for days; not resting sufficiently, stiff, sore and reluctant to move, moreover get out of bed.

I pushed myself however and made my way to a comforting, steaming mug.

Checking in at my desk:

  • I’d almost overlooked a payment for next month’s budget
  • One of the grand kids mentioned missing me for the 3rd time this month

Hmm… I checked the news:

  • Hundreds of lives lost in storms and earthquakes, survivors left homeless…

With the third strike in the day’s first inning, I set out for a walk.*

After I realized I wasn’t actually praying I stopped mulling over my whine list with God. Instead I began thanking Him for everything I could see.

That’s when I heard her. Before I could see her I sensed her excitement. I was barely half way to the barn as the familiar squawking drew remarkably closer with my every heartbeat. For the first time in weeks, Silly Suzy had flown over the fence and was wobble-running to me as if for dear life, clucking loudly every step of the way.

Without my glasses she looked as if her very slightly raised wings were holding a skirt high enough to not drag in the wet soil as she hurried along.

I tell myself she’s so happy to see me because she’s very fond of me – it has nothing to do with me bringing fresh food to the coop every morning. I squat down low, despite the increased ache – she all but jumped into my arms so I could carry her back to the fence, letting her flutter down with the rest of the brood.

The less adventurous hens fluttered and squawked making way for her stuttered– 3-point landing. I’m sure translated she reported, “See there, I told you Old Dog’s gone,” before they all settled back into routine. As I walked away Rooster crowed a hearty “Thanks for restoring the peace.”

Rejuvenated, my pain levels vastly decreased from the extra movement, I returned to the cottage ready to work. For half an instant I thought about a comment First Born had made recently,

“You’re far too easily entertained these days, Mom. I’m getting concerned…”

I pray that years from now, after the grand kids leave home, friends and siblings are far too busy to pop in several times a week, First Born will have chickens – with at least one Silly Suzy.

*Go Cubs, Go!

“Wisdom is with the aged, and understanding in length of days.” Job 12:12 (ESV)+

 

+The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

 

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Filed under Notes from the Apex

A-Tack Day

It was the middle of a crazy, emotion-packed week. Too exhilarated from my drive to town in perfect weather, I couldn’t force myself back indoors yet.

The cloud bank to the west served to justify another walk for the morning; it could be a storm front coming in, so I headed to the pastures – to check on the livestock, of course.

Only one head rose up as I approached the main gate, but I was glad it was Kendra’s gray mare on the east side. Naturally her head went right back down into a patch of sweet grass, but her pause to recognize me once again filled me with wonder.

The cattle watched me dispassionately from the west end as I moved from the gate to the south pasture. The mare pretended to ignore me, and yet she repositioned her hooves – taking more than one step away (only in case I was coming to bring her in) would have required more exertion. As I stepped closer she nickered as if she enjoyed teasing me. As she continued to munch a mouthful of grass uninterrupted, I shooed some flies away from her face and picked some straw from her mane. She thanked me by resting her head on my shoulder and with her head pulled me to her neck. I don’t care what equestrian experts call this, I consider it a horse hug.

One hand rubbed her chest between her forelegs as Kendra taught me, the other reached up and around to rub her neck and then her face. She hated that so much, except for her munching she stayed perfectly still while my hands moved over her.

Once again I felt like she understands these kinds of moments with her actually get me through my occasional bouts with loneliness.

Sufficiently stroked, I left her to walk briskly to the tree line at the back of the lot, opposite the cattle and then I turned back toward the gates. As I walked, I couldn’t believe my eyes zeroing in on the tiniest suggestion of yellow on the ground. I stepped in closer and confirmed my suspicions; a fresh crop of tack weeds had begun spreading out.

After losing my dearest canine companion to an infection caused by tack weed stickers, I developed a particular loathing for them. Here at the ranch we’ve been at war since this year’s thaw. I got a bucket, a large claw hammer and gloves from the tack room and set to digging the dastardly roots up.

The number of them I actually found surprised me, but I was glad for the perfect light to see them. A shiver had just shot through me as I imagined a mean goat head sticker stabbing the mare’s soft lips, when I suddenly felt overshadowed. From my periphery it seemed the neighbor’s bull had somehow gotten into our pasture, which for a heartbeat confused me. God and I have had a lifelong understanding about bulls (and rams); He keeps them away from me and I stay clear of them.

Instinctively I did not alter my slightest movement. However after another heartbeat, before I peeked out from under my hat, Hero, our 9-month-old calf let out a familiar low, soft moo. Immediately calm replaced all my concern. His 600-or-so pound self had silently grazed up to about six feet from me and was eyeing me curiosly as he munched.

While I marveled over how much he’s grown in a week or two, I recalled Brother telling me if one sits still long enough, the calf will come close to investigate. That had been eight months ago. My next thought was whether this half-ton baby remembered me lassoing him a few weeks back. He was too calm for that and content to continue grazing close by me.

Then I wondered where Momma was, and if she remembers me bringing her flakes of hay and fresh water for the weeks the pastures rested. I felt no alarm or concern about anything but the tack weeds.

After a few more minutes there was no sign of the malefactors outside my bucket. I slowly stood and stretched, eyes still scanning over the grounds.

Hero watched from about three feet away by then, but didn’t startle or miss a nibble. Momma looked up for a moment but her head went right back down. Mare went right on munching inches from where I left her. The neighbor’s bull, by the way, continued laying on his side of the fence and the hot wires. I marveled at how I often have trouble seeing my computer screen clearly, and yet I can spot a fly by a cow’s eye or a tack weed from yards away.

Satisfied and sufficiently stretched for the day, I walked toward the gate. Mare bounced her head as I went on without her. That’s when I remembered Kendra telling me about one of her favorite summer memories; her laying in the pasture grass with her newly acquired mare’s head laying contentedly on her like a pillow.

As much as I adore the image, it made my heart ache a bit. Too many times I had to leave my treasures behind. I’m too familiar with that ache to not understand how Kendra misses being with her horse and chickens every day. Images of harder times flashed across my mind. But happy new memories are gradually replacing them.

I sent up a prayer for my friend’s peace and strength, asked that God continue to guard and guide my family, and I thanked Him for these peaceful moments and again for bringing me here.

What a delight being able to lose myself out in the open; to be unconcerned, unintimidated and unaware of anything but God’s presence and my 5 physical senses. A tear was slipping down my face when the adolescent rooster crowed – yeah, at noon, bringing my focus back to the present.

By then I was completely relaxed and content in the present time. I happily returned to my work.

“The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need. He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams.” Psalm 23:1,2 (NLT)

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Filed under Longreads, Notes from the Apex

Pressed On – Walk #16

I awoke to peaceful quiet. In fact, a nano-second before steaming my latte I noticed the distinct absence of WordPress app notification sounds from my cell – on a new blog post day.

But the forecast is for 108 degrees (42.22 C), it is only day two of a new pasture routine, the hens are laying like they’re supposed to, and so I didn’t have a moment to look into it.

Four hours, six tiny, light brown eggs, and lots of fun and games later, I discovered I’d inadvertently scheduled the wrong publish date. {I sighed with a relieved, contented and slightly embarrassed smile}, Silly Ol’ Roo.

This morning’s antics

 

Ol’ Dog and I paused a moment to admire the neighbor’s haircut. Of course, out of earshot we snickered. Llamas can actually spit long distances.

Suzy has taken to swinging on the fence as the sun rises. When she falls on my side she’ll run to me even across the lot. Her squawking interpreted; “Did you see that! Am I great or what? I fully rock that stuff.”

Later Suzy couldn’t figure out how to get back in the chicken yard. She went in the tool shed door and the other hens (ahem) couldn’t open the coop gate for her. Poor, silly Suzy.

Suzy runs to me – likely admiring the teal flip flops.

Suzy was happy in my arms for a few minutes. She wasn’t upset – just chill…

Silly Suzy still trying to figure out the shiny-boxy-thingy.

 

Notice at no time are eggs ever laid in the nesting boxes:

 

Then on to games before it gets too hot

Follow the leader

Hide and seek

Simon Says

Finally we play Roo’s Done

 

“How joyful are those who fear the Lord— all who follow his ways!  You will enjoy the fruit of your labor.  How joyful and prosperous you will be!” Psalm 128:1, 2 (NLT)

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Wonder – Walk #15

The world is indeed wonderful.

Looking at the beautiful bull in the next pasture, I wonder about their mean reputation. He can nap anywhere in his pasture, but he likes lounging, practically nose to nose with our calf (the wire fence between them), naturally Momma stays very nearby .

The sweet, beautiful bull next door.

 

Ewe, the bull and a lamb.

 

Girlfriend willing me to open the gate

 

After Pepper passed through the open gate, the hot wire dragging her back, to get to the fresh, green grass, I didn’t have the heart to bring them back in.

 

The four-month-old “Rockers” thanking me for the fresh greens.

 

Ever vigilant “Dog” keeping watch.

I also wondered why all the goats are gone from the neighbor’s pasture. Then again, they had a huge barbecue last month. 😉

 

“O LORD, what a variety of things you have made! In wisdom you have made them all. The earth is full of your creatures.” Psalm 104:24 (NLT)

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Eggsact Timing

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I get eggs from an obliging neighbor’s chicken coop whenever I can. We’re huge fans of hard-boiled eggs (yolks are rarely on for me), so eggs are a mainstay for fast, easy protein.

Knowing which are fresh can sometimes be tricky, especially with free eggs. We faithfully place eggs in water before cooking. Fresh eggs roll right to their sides. Good, but older eggs stand up or roll around. These are best for hard-boiling. If an egg rises to the top of the water or floats it goes away, preferably unbroken.

 

Yesterday I realized a carton had been in the ‘fridge for longer than I could remember. None lifted, so all were edible, but some moved faster than I like. Remembering Cole loves deviled eggs (okay, and inspired by the marvelous Victo’s post), as I went about other tasks, I boiled them and then deviled them.

Sprinkling them with paprika and finely minced parsley for a festive touch, they were so pretty at my kitchen coffee station, I thought to take a picture and went into the bedroom for my phone. Tickled because I rarely think to shoot a photo, I wanted to share the joy. First I texted Cole that they were there, to please eat them. I didn’t realize the time and the shop has been unusually busy so I didn’t think anyone would respond right away.

I’d already seen Cole earlier, and still hadn’t changed from my lounging flannels, when I heard the door open I delayed long enough to make the bed – I even set the pillows that usually stay on the arm chair in the corner unless I expect visitors. When I heard the door again…

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I returned to the kitchen. Instead of a plateful of eggs all dressed up for the photo, four halves remained. The guys were hungry and the eggs didn’t suck.

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Sometimes my plans go better than I expect. But hey, there’s still lunch, a snack and maybe even breakfast tomorrow.

Oh, and I still haven’t changed from my lounging flannels. Jus’ Sayin’.

To perfectly cook hard-boiled eggs that peel easily every time:

 

 

Cover room temp eggs under  2″ of water and bring to a full, rolling boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 5 minutes then remove from heat. Let the pot stand (don’t lift the lid) for 10 – 20 minutes. Altitudes (or whatever) vary so you’ll have to figure out the best timing for perfect, yellow yolks. After ten minutes rinse one till it’s cool enough to peel and split. If the yolk’s done to your liking pour out most of the water, fill the pot with ice or ice water and let the eggs cool enough to handle – about 7 minutes.

Once cooled, crack the eggs and then roll them between flattened hands enough for air to get between the membrane and loosen the shell all around, then peel the shells off. Voila!

Quinn’s Deviled Eggs:

For 6 hard boiled eggs, 12 deviled eggs

Slice eggs in half placing yolks in bowl and arrange whites on a serving plate. Into yolks mix 2 tablespoons mayonnaise, with a splash of mustard. We like dijon, but brown or plain yellow prepared mustard is good. You may also like a little more mayonnaise. Be brave and experiment. Add salt and white pepper and mix thoroughly.

We like to grate a tablespoon of onion into the yolks, 1/2 teaspoon of sifted Coleman’s mustard, and a tiny splash of white balsamic vinegar or drops of lime juice. Be bold – find what you like best! Quinn also likes to add a hint of ground, prepared horseradish. Personally I think the horseradish is too many flavors for the pallet, but to each his own.

Pipe mixture into the whites (a zipper sandwich baggie with one corner cut off works) and sprinkle with paprika. I also add a tiny pinch of finely minced parsley during the holidays or chopped, fresh dill is delightful any time.

Advisory: Our family throws caution to the wind and typically prepares at least 3 dozen eggs for family gatherings – and they’re gone before we sit down to the table together.

“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” 1 Corinthians 10:31 (NIV)

Eggs Freshness Test, Water video courtesy YouTube and HappyEggDelivery.com
Chicken image courtesy Pixabay

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Filed under Kitchen Sync