Free Kittens

Our cute little kittens, five of them, are ready to go to a new home. They’re around six weeks old. They’re able to drink water and soft foods. Super cute and friendly. We’re not very good at deciding gender on kittens so we can’t tell you what they are. If anybody is interested in them, let us know.

UPDATE: We’ve given the away so far, two more to go.

UPDATE 2: Last kitten has gone to a good home, yay no more kittens.

Guts and Glory…ish

So I thought I would share my outlook on the whole meat chicken thing.  I’m really happy that I have healthy chicken to feed my family.  And there is such a sense of satisfaction knowing that when we sit down at the table most of it was provided by our hard work and the Lord’s blessings.  I think that I have really grown as a person through all of our homesteading endeavors.  And I’ve tried to push myself to do things that are hard and it feels good to know that I’ve overcome things.  Like, the whole “chickens scare the living daylights out of me” fear.  Totally conquered it.. yay me!

When Cody asked me to help with the chicken butchering, I took a deep breath and tried not to barf.  I successfully skinned and gutted three chickens.  I even cut the feet off of one of them.  I was really proud of me.  Well, after we cleaned up the mess I kept thinking of chicken guts and ripping lungs out of their body cavities.  Eew!  Sorry, kinda gross.   Then every time I closed my eyes I would see murdered chickens!

So the other night I have this dream.  I am milking Leila the goat in our little milking shed and I look over and Cody is skinning Puck the goat!  My sweet baby boy buck was murdered and Cody looked at me like, “What’s your problem?” I remember screaming in my dream and woke up all sweaty and scared.  Plus I was really ticked at Cody and kinda wanted to kick him in his sleep.

Things that I have learned from the whole ordeal…

  • I shouldn’t push myself too hard.
  • I am a caregiver, not a killer.
  • I don’t mind chopping up the chicken once it looks like a rotisserie chicken, but I can’t kill one and gut it!

So, Cody has agreed that he will do the dirty work and I will put things in plastic bags and freeze them and cook them.  I think that’s a fair deal.

Who Doesn’t Like A Little Chicken Chase

This actually happened about two years ago but I figured the story is good enough to still document. We bought our first chickens in the late winter right after we moved to our “rural” neighborhood (Dec 2009). We had never been in that kind of rural environment or had chickens. We bought our chickens from a lady that was moving due to a divorce and ended up getting three hens, one rooster and one heavy coop (thanks again dad and to my bros for helping). The house we just moved into had almost no yard work done and nothing done for the pasture area in the back.  There were no fences anywhere on our property but the coop that we just bought had an attached chicken run. So we just let the chickens hang out in there and would let them out from time to time to roam the pasture and yard. We had two dogs at the time but they really left the chickens alone and we tried to watch them when the chickens were loose. It worked great for awhile but we got a little too lax in keeping an eye on our fluffy butts while they were roaming.

This is where the story really starts. Amber had been under the weather with some bug and had almost completely lost her voice. It was really kind of funny, she sounded like one of those dogs that have had their voice boxes removed. There’s the air moving but nothing to give her voice any substance. I was washing one of the dogs in the bathtub when I think hear a loud commotion. I wasn’t sure though because the dog was making some noise. I went back to washing the dog. I start to hear this really odd noise. It sounded like a rushing wind. I know that sometimes the spirit can talk to you in this way but I wasn’t feeling like that was the case. I hear the noise a few more times so I decide I need to go investigate. But I have a very wet dog in the tub that all she wants to do is give a great big shake and spread wet dog smell all over the bathroom. So I’m trying to figure out how to keep her in the tub while I go see what is going on when I hear the noise again and it sounds like it is really close.

Turns out that the noise is my poor wife trying to yell at me. The weird noise she was making was her trying to yell “Cody, there’s a chicken in the house.” It took her a couple more times for me to understand what she was saying and get the gist of what was going on. I guess we had just washed the other dog. Someone had let her outside even though we had the chickens out roaming. Unfortunately for our rooster Spike, our dog was in a playful mood and she made a bee line for the little guy. Well the rooster and dog went all over the yard. The dog got a couple of our guy’s tail feathers out before Mr. Spike decided to run for the safest place he could find, the open door into our dining room. Well, our dog was not giving up that easily so he went on in the house too and continued to give chase. So now we have my dog chasing my rooster and my wife trying get dog and rooster back out of the house, thus the commotion that I heard earlier.

The best part of this was that this was before Amber conquered her fear of chickens. She was deathly afraid of the things. So didn’t dare pick up the rooster to protect it from the dog or to remove it from the house. And that’s where the heroic man of the house stepped in (me). Amber wasn’t sure where the rooster ended up but she thinks that it went in our bedroom.  I’m thinking “Great, now we have chicken poop all over the place.” I looked all over our bedroom with no sign of Spike and luckily no signs of poop either. I check the bathroom out, I check the bathtub and the shower stall. Apparently Spike had been studying with Houdini. I was starting to walk back out of the bathroom when I see a little movement coming from behind the toilet.  Sure enough the poor little guy was tucked back there just a shaking. I removed him from behind my glorious throne and tried to calm him down. He had lost almost all of his beautiful tail feathers. Besides a little lost pride and tail feathers he seemed to be ok.

We learned from this and a few other experiences that our and neighbor dogs don’t mix with our chickens and invested in pasture fencing before the following summer was done.

 

Holy Flying Bat … Man

Image pulled from http://allstateanimalcontrol.wordpress.com/tag/utah/

So I wish we would have had pictures of this ordeal but we were a little preoccupied. On 9/19 around 11pm, Amber and I were talking in our computer/piano room, when Amber looked above me, screamed and ran away. I’m thinking that she just saw the biggest spider in her life. So I’m trying to stand up without putting my head into a big ol’spider. As I stand up and try to look to see the spider, what I really see is a bat flying in our little room. The room has two entries without any doors so I quickly headed out one of them. We finally regrouped ourselves and mustered a little courage. I grabbed a towel with the hope of catching the flying rodent and putting him outside and Amber had a fly swatter. As I was getting the towel, Amber lost sight of him around the stairs. So we assumed he went upstairs.

I’m sad to say that I wasn’t as brave as I would have liked to have been but I did eventually go through all the rooms, windows, and corners that we had upstairs trying to find that little bat. I couldn’t find that little bugger. Our attic access has a little gap in it because it was damaged a little while go and we assumed he went up there. We decided we’d call a pest control guy in the morning. Amber was none too happy that I went to work the next morning and let her call the pest control guy with an evil blood sucking bat in our attic.  The annoying thing was that she called four different pest control companies. Three of them said that either that they didn’t do bats (even though their yellow pages said they did) or that they would charge $200+ just to come check if there were bats. So I told my sweet chiroptophobic wife that I would get up in the attic that night, check for bats, and install proper attic access molding to cover the gap and prevent future damage to the attic access.

Well the attic was clear of bats and the molding was eventually properly installed. We weren’t sure what happened to Mr. Bat until Friday night. I went upstairs Friday evening to put the finishing touches to the molding when I noticed a hairy flying guy swooping around in our theater room. He’d hang out on our theater screen, do some laps and then hang on our curtains and then do some more laps. I think he had decided to take a nap in one of the cubbies under the benches in the theater room which happened to be the only place I didn’t check on Wednesday. So I tried a couple times to catch him with a towel but for some reason he didn’t feel too enamored with the idea of me wrapping him up in it. Finally I saw one of the kids’ toy bins and had an idea. I used the bin as a big bat catching net. It only took three tries before I had a “bat in the box” (trademark pending). He did not like being in there. The bin was made of wicker so we could see into it and the poor little guy was a cute little rodent. He was scared and was making a little squeaky nose. I was proud of Amber because she even tried to see the little guy in the bin. I slid a towel underneath the bin and carefully flipped the bin over and took the bin outside. Amber told me to take it far away from the house. So I traveled long and far to the sidewalk in the front of the house (I didn’t have any shoes on so don’t look at me that way)

I quickly removed the towel and ran a few feet away. But to my dismay, Mr. Bat did not leave the bin. And then I remembered reading/hearing somewhere that bats can’t fly from the ground. They need to fall to be able to fly. I wasn’t sure that was correct but I thought I could try. So I grabbed the bin and chucked it high into the air and Mr. Bat soared (well if bats soar not sure what they do) and he seemed quite pleased to be out and about.

It was an exciting, little nerve wracking, couple of days. And I may have referred to myself as the “bat man” after I caught him.

Breasts? … Why Yes, We Have Plenty

I don’t know if you really can have enough breasts but the title sounded really funny to me at the time. We just slaughtered 21 meat birds. It was a neat learning experience. We ordered these cute little fluffy babies from Murray McMurray Hatchery. They had great reviews on backyardchickens.com and the reviews about their Cornish Crosses were pretty awesome. These little babies can grow from cute little chickies to very large breasted chickens ready to slaughter in only 6 to 8 weeks.

We ordered our set of 25 birds for June 24th. They arrived all cute and fluffy in a little cardboard box. We were very pleased that all arrived alive and looked very healthy and active. We only lost four birds due to unexpected circumstances. We lost two to certain someones, I won’t name names, placing water containers on their poor little heads, I guess they’re just allergic to not breathing. The accidental deaths of these two babies made the culprits feel  pretty bad. We lost another two because our cute little girls decided that they didn’t want to take care of the chickens that day and they died either from dehydration or being trampled by the other babies. That was a fun lesson for the girls because we made them clean up the dead chickens (ie throw them in a garbage bag) with their bare hands. Kyrah was not too phased by the whole thing but Aliyah … that was another issue. There were tears, stomping of feet and other such theatrics (they’re so creepy, etc.). She finally was convinced that it was important to do. Hopefully it was a good learning experience about being responsible.

So 21 birds survived to the big day which ended up being four big days because it apparently takes awhile to kill and process 21 birds. We were grateful to have the help of my  siblings (Derek, Kristin, Spencer and Kami) with the slaughtering and skinning. Even my poor sweet wife helped on the day that it was just us. She still blames me for the chicken lungs that she has nightmares about. So next year, I will do the killing/skinning. She will do the processing (cutting the meat into parts).

It was quite incredible to see the size of breasts on these birds. They were easily seven inches long. I know of few people who’d be quite jealous of these shapely little ladies. All without any drugs, surgeries, or all natural supplements ;). The legs were huge and really didn’t have as strong a dark meat flavor than other chicken that I’ve had. Which is great for my sweet lady because she no likey the dark meat. The meat was incredibly tender and just all around fantastic.

By the time I was done with the final bird, I was very tired of blood, feathers and guts with the occasional poop being flung at me by chicken death throes. I was wavering quite a bit on whether we’d do another batch next year. However, after seeing a fridge full of fresh, healthy chicken, I’m pretty convinced that we’ll do it again. We learned a lot of what not to do this year and hope to have a few less water containers on poor undeserving chickie heads.

Dr Amber, Goat Medicine Woman

So we got our Leila goat from the fair. She unfortunately came home with a bit of a cough and a runny nose. After a couple of days, Amber went to the vet and got some antibiotics for Leila. The vet thought it was an upper resipiratory infection. So for four days Amber has been giving poor sick Leila shots. This means of course that we can’t drink the milk that we have to get up so early for to milk, ugh! I went out to milk this morning and was saying hello to Puck and the Pygmy Twins, sounds like a rock band but they’re just our other goats. If I hear of a rock group with that name, I’m suing. As I was greeting our little rocker goats, I noticed that they all had a cough and running noses too. I think we just learned our first lesson in biosecurity.  Now we have to buy more medicine ($35 an animal) and be goat doctors for three more goats. In the future we’re going to have to be better about quarantining our little babies as they come into the flock or after they have visited somewhere new.