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Chicken Funerals

So we had our first death among the chickens. It was a very sudden thing and she died very quickly. They are 7 months old and when we first got them from 4-H they told us there would be about a 20% mortality rate among the chicks. We also heard out and about, as we were gathering supplies or picking up feed, that one of the neighboring towns had gotten a bad batch and nearly all of them had died.

We’ve been so proud that all 12 hens and both roosters have survived and are laying. We have had to change a few things like wood shavings instead of straw and we need metal water/food containers instead of the plastic ones for the winter. We also put a tarp across the top to help insulate against the cold nights. We have learned quite a bit in the process of raising them as well. I have found it both fun and fascinating.

Twice so far we have had the dominant rooster we named Kellogg have his wattle pecked bloody. The first time it happened we did some research and came up with some stuff called Blue Kote. (we picked up a different brand from Tractor Supply but it does the same thing). It had antiseptic properties, helps numb the injury and covers the smell of blood so that the hens and other rooster don’t peck him to death. He healed so quickly the first time and we coated him a couple of times a few days apart.

Well when Ordinary Dad and I were out gathering eggs one morning and I looked down to see the back of my hand was covered in blood. Sure enough, Kellogg was bloody on his other wattle this time. We are pretty darn good at getting this done now without struggle from the chicken or getting ourselves stained blue in the process and we grabbed the blue junk and coated him. Now there are a few hens that seem to chase Kellogg around and pick on him but that stuff tastes nasty so we just throw him back in immediately and figure he is gonna be safe after they get a whiff of him.

Later that day I went out and checked the egg situation again and one of the hens was huddled in a nesting box. That usually means one is sitting on an egg or a few of them. So I tried shooing here but she wasn’t budging. I rolled her out of the way and then stopped short. She didn’t even respond. I rolled her the other way and then laid down the eggs in my hand. I picked her head up by the feathers on her neck and shook her gently. Her eyes barely cracked open and my heart jumped up in my throat. I hot tailed it inside to tell Ordinary Dad that I thought we had a dead chicken.

We went back out the check the situation out and decided she was definitely sick. We took her inside and put her in a box with some newspaper and set her up near the heater hoping she would get to feeling better. In the meantime I headed out to pick Tornado up from her detention. Bubba and I rode down, picked her up, ran some errands and headed back to her school to go to parent teacher conferences. After that was done we went over to Bubba’s school for open house and their bookfair.

On our way home, I warned Tornado what was up with one of her chickens. She of course got upset and when we got home she made a beeline to go check on her. Unfortunately I did not beat her to it and the chicken was dead. It was already too dark and cold to do anything about it that night but the smell was atrocious. We put the box in our toolshed until we could deal with it the next day.

Ordinary Dad got called out of town for one of our clients and didn’t get home until late. So that left me, Bubba and Tornado to do the honors. I am still in the sling for this torn rotator cuff so I cannot help dig the hole either. It was already dark when Tornado got home from her second detention and dad had run off to take care of stuff. We are all out there in the dark, I’m holding the maglight and the kiddos were digging the hole. Two shovels and a post hole digger later we finally have a small, round hole that is roughly a foot deep.

So I get the box and realize I forgot to grab some gloves and I figure it should be easy to lift it out with the shovel and put it in the hole. NOPE!! The darn thing was matted solid and so as my kids watched horrified I keep trying to scoop this corpse out of the box while trying not to burst into tears. LOL. Finally I get it and then the damn thing rolls off the shovel and falls with a thud into the hole. I look over to see my daughter’s lip quivering and her eyes wide as saucers. I sigh and try to gently rearrange the chicken neatly in the hole and that is when it all unraveled.

Without gloves, I was unable to set it at the bottom and so when I finally get it wiggled into place I notice that one leg is sticking straight up. At this point I am sure that I am going to scar all of us for life and I take the shovel and try to push the leg gently down. It isn’t working and the more I try the worse it gets. I’m jabbing desperately now in between apologizing profusely to my daughter and praying the damn thing will just freakin get in the hole already. FINALLY we get it decently settled and I drop the newspaper on top of it and tell them to start burying it. We flattened it down and said a few words over it. My daughter couldn’t find any flower but she put a handful of their favorite type of clover on the grave.

So, if this every happens again we will be doing it the first day it happens, in the light and with gloves so that the whole thing is not one horrible traumatizing event again.

She was very distraught when I spoke to her later and I pointed out that the chicken had a great life. Food and water on demand and a safe and cozy spot she didn’t have to worry about predators in. I explained that she at least died safe, warm and not pecked to death by the other chickens. She started to wail “She died with dignity….” it took everything I had to hold it together. It was so funny and yet I feel so sad for her.

We figure that when we coated the rooster’s wattle that the hen continued to peck at him, got a mouthful of that stuff and perhaps a piece of his wattle and it poisoned her. The stuff is heavy duty and it says not to use it on an animal that you intend to eat. It also has poison control warnings for touch/ingest/eyes etc. All of the other chickens are fine as well as both roosters. She was a very aggressive bird so it is highly likely that is what happened.

Tornado hasn’t really mentioned it since then but I’m hoping she isn’t too upset and I really hope that my parenting fail the other night didn’t scar her forever LOL – because that was just awful and funny and absurd all at the same time.

I will say one thing my friends, if you had told me when I was my son’s age, that I would live in the mountains of TN and have 4 dogs, 2 cats and a butt load of chickens I would have laughed right in your face. But I would not change it for the world.

Until we meet again my friends, stay safe and be blessed.

chicken crossed the road

Road Trips, Bad Customer Service & Chicken Stuff

So hubby and I took a day trip Tuesday and ran up to Knoxville to get him a good pair of boots for work. (Finally) Yes I have been nagging for a while. It was a wonderful drive and a beautiful day. We went on up, found the store, the shoes he wanted weren’t there but found a good AMERICAN made pair. The service was even better than we expected, they even sit down and lace them up and check for proper sizing. He found something perfect that we think will last longer and feel better than the cheapo Walmart boots he replaces every 6 months. He is very pleased with the fit and feel. Oddly enough he has found that whether he realized it or not, a TON of people have actually noted the change. He wasn’t aware of just how big of a detail that is to many people in the business world until they started to comment on the new pair.

We headed back to the little town near us to go to the one-hour eye place. We pulled up to an empty store and and empty parking lot – BONUS!! Well as we were getting ready to get out of the car another vehicle pulled up with two women inside. We get to the door and my husband, being a southern gentleman at heart, held the door open. The two proceeded to practically run across the store and despite the scene we all got to the front desk at the same time. Three of the clipboards are handed out and as we begin to fill stuff out the other guy interjects with a rude and abrupt “These ladies are first”. He then turned and proceeded to slowly explain it to the two women, who (absolutely no offense intended) didn’t even speak English. So instead of the normal first come first serve, who is ready with their information and paperwork, the guy in front of us turns to us and says that the wait will be a little over an hour. Excuse me….um what?

We turned around and left. Problem is, my hubby is in desperate need of getting a new prescription to the point of having constant migraines and tension headaches. So I decide to call the store and speak to the manager and perhaps make an appointment. The only problem was the asshat in front of us WAS the manager. He was a complete tool about it and I ended up saying, “Okay well I wanted to make you aware that your treatment lost you the business of a 5 family household, but if you don’t care then have a nice day, I won’t waste my breath”.

I don't take kindly.....

I don’t take kindly…..

Okay well on to step two. I call the same name store only the one in the next town over (on the opposite side). Well interesting little detail comes out when I speak to the woman in charge. I relay our story, come to find out she owns the place and her sister owns the store we had an issue with. Yup. Nothing like good old fashioned sibling rivalry tossed into the mix. She apologized profusely and totally disagrees with how we were treated and then brushed off by the manager. She made an appointment for us at her store after assuring me she would be speaking to her sister. Then we found out the doctor there is the best in the area anyways. So poor customer service ticks me off and luckily Karma stepped in andย  helped me handle it politely. LOL. Hey, you want me to lie? It tweaks me, because I have worked in customer service in one way or another since I was old enough to hold a job, if you can’t hack it, find something else; it isn’t for everyone.

That put a bad taste in our mouth and then everything kind of unraveled after that. The rest of the day ended up being stressful and annoying. We get home from driving and the school calls me. The blonde tornado thinks she may have been bitten or stung by something on the playground. She has little bumps that look like fire ants or something. She feels like throwing up, her head aches and she was dizzy. So after being on the road all day, I have to turn around, go get her from school and take her to the ER, hoping like hell it wasn’t a reaction. Long story short she has a wicked upper respiratory infection and the bumps were just irritated skin (in layman’s terms). So she is on an antibiotic (her first since she was little) and I’m spraying a mixture of tea tree oil and water on her skin. Cool thing is she has only been on the antibiotics a day and a half and the spray already has her skin clearing. I love tea tree oil and it is in my medicine cabinet as a staple. It is one of those “miracle” naturals that cure everything from impetigo to warts. (I can explain more about some trusted natural remedies for your kids if you would like – just leave me a note) Doing Benedryl or NyQuil in between as needed. Hopefully she feels better soon, poor little peanut.

I kept her home the next day just to get a leg up on this and a full day of antibiotics. And if I thought sick Peanut was bad, well sick but not sick Peanut is a pain. lol She of course milked it for full effect and had me fetching and carrying till bedtime. This no sleep, no nap thing is starting to wear on me. I don’t do exhausted very well. When I am tired, it is harder on my health issues and my anxiety levels. Thankfully little by little the week has calmed down.

Yesterday, I has a special appointment. I am looking into something that will change our lives. I promise you will be the first ones I share it with when I know for sure, but I don’t want to jinx myself just yet. ๐Ÿ˜‰

This morning both my husband and I spent most of our time nagging and scolding the kids. All for different things of course. Now normally we wait till they get home to deal with stuff, we don’t like to send a powder keg out to school in the morning, lol. (if you catch my drift) But there is also a limit to the behavior we will tolerate. They have lived in the same house and had the same routine for more than one school year, so they know by 6:15 they need to have shoes on, backpacks in hand, and be at the door watching for the bus. The bus is here somewhere between 6:22 and 6:30 and then after about an hour drive around the back areas of the mountain, they get to school. Yes it sucks, yes we are tired as heck, but their bedtimes also still reflect the early hour so they really don’t have a good excuse for the constant reminders of what they should already be doing.

I’m always running through the same list with them. Are your teeth brushed? Have you brushed your hair? My GOD!! Are you wearing the same pair of pants that you wore the last two days? Where is your backpack? Well you get the point. I really hate sending them off upset and teary but Geesh, what am I supposed to do? And yes I “stand on them” and I have tried lists on their walls, I have tried “trusting them” to do it………..and still here we are. *sigh*

you can see the runt here laying down, still small with stubby wings but still kicking

you can see the runt here laying down, still small with stubby wings but still kicking and totally my favorite. He lets me stroke his tummy.

Anyways, the chickens are another topic added to the pile of questions now. Did you change the water? The food? Wind the clock? They have grown so much in the last week and now they are almost two weeks old. They are getting big, growing wings and now have the potential to flap out. Today OrdinaryDad is going to pick up some screen material to put over the top so we don’t have to worry about escaping. It is still too cold in the morning to have them in the chicken tractor outside. I still don’t think they will make it a full 6 weeks inside. We may have to put the heat lamp inside the house and just block off the outside access till then. They say that 2-3 of the dozen would be the average mortality rate. Well we are kicking so much ass at this that ALL 14 are still alive. LOL. Hey we are good at this stuff, surprise ๐Ÿ˜€ We even rigged up a mini roost to fit in their new container. I will try to post the pictures on my FB page at some point today.

..notice the tail feathers sprouting and the wings. Rooster is the yellow handsome fellow

..notice the tail feathers sprouting and the wings. Rooster is the yellow handsome fellow

Our satellite Internet people should be out today to fix the issues we have been having. It is driving us crazy and impacting our ability to run our business smoothly. We are getting around it, but it doesn’t help to have the added aggravation. He will also pick up the rest of the dirt we need to make our “faked” raised flowerbeds this year. Again, more pictures of my projects will be posted today on my page.

I spent some time on Monday planting some climbing plants and flowers in the front and rearranging the landscaping on one side of the porch. I’ve rigged up a place for them to climb that should provide some privacy as well. Then we did one of the raised gardens before it poured rain. I still have one garden to plant and another of the flowers in the front that I missed for some weird reason. I can’t wait to get all the planting accomplished. This year, to go along with the blueberry bush and blackberries we have in the yard, we are adding strawberries in the raised beds so when I make jelly, we are going to be spending less. We use the strawberry for 3berry jelly and for strawberry so it is a favorite; I figure why spend the money if I can grow it successfully.ย  I want to be able to can salsa as well as cucumbers this year. I’m also hoping the lettuce will actually grow. Last year anything underground was a bust, I think the soil is too Nitrogen rich so we are giving a new method a try.

Overall it should reduce the grocery bill especially if everything grows. I also can make nearly every kind of bread we eat so that helps too. If you guys are interested, I can start a day where I do a run down of some of the easy ways to save money. Seriously most of the canning and baking are around 4 ingredients and not too much prep time. Just let me know.

Well I’m going to sign off for now, until next time my friends, stay safe and be blessed.