On the Farm

  • On the Farm

    What Are the Odds?

    What are the odds that two of the three “hen” chicks we brought home from the feed store would turn out to be roosters? Well, I’m not a math person, but my son says it’s more than 1 in 10,000. I guess that makes us “lucky.”

    You know from a previous post that Lucille was taking on a masculine look. Yep, she crowed. Just looking at her now, there’s no doubt she’s a he.


    Lucille, now know as Lou

    The real surprise was Mildred, my favorite hen. She’s a barred rock, and just looks like the traditional hen. Or, she did look like the tradition hen until a few weeks ago. Her comb and wattles just kept growing. After awhile I had to admit, she was one seriously large chicken. The long tail feathers and the beginnings of spurs still weren’t enough to convince me, but when you put that all together with the constant crowing, it equals rooster.


    Mildred or Milton
    So this is how the equation goes:

    ~We bought four chicks.

    ~One chick was supposed to be a rooster. That’s Howard.

    ~Three chicks were sold as 99% sure they were hens.

    ~We actually have three roosters and one hen.

    Do you know what that means?

    It’s VERY loud on the farm! Each morning at about five AM the boys start to crow. It’s not just once or twice. They play off each other, like it’s a crowing competition.



    I’ve settled into a new routine. They crow, and I grope the nightstand, find my earplugs, and shove them into my ears. This has meant a few close calls with the alarm, but it’s the best solution for now.

    As for eggs, well, Bitsy is at this moment sitting on a nest she made. It, of course, is not one of the beautifully designed nest boxes I built into the coop. This one is behind a bush. But she’s been there for awhile, and I’m hopeful this will produce our first egg. Our home-grown breakfasts are all dependent on this one chicken!



    Just another day on the Nelson farm.


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  • On the Farm

    We Have A Duck Problem

    This time I don’t mean the Ducks from the University of Oregon. These are actual ducks.

    My daughters brought them home as ducklings. They were cute, fuzzy little critters, and we thought they’d be great with the chickens. But they grew at an unreal rate, quickly overtaking the size of the chicks who are at least six weeks older.


    I discovered another duck issue when we started taking the chicks and ducklings to their outdoor yard during the day. These birds have some serious claws. It took a few good slices on my hands before I started wearing gloves.


    My husband kept waiting for the ducks to quack. Well, it turns out they’re a breed that’s kinda like the mule of the duck/goose world. They don’t quack. Sometimes they open their mouths and a quiet hissing sounds snakes out. It’s creepy.

    We started letting the ducks and chickens wander around the farm during the day. Acres and acres these birds had available to explore. They were immediately drawn to the deck like it was some kind of duck-magnet. One day while I was writing at my outside table, the ducks crept right into my kitchen. Seriously!


    The ducks no longer go into the chicken coop at night. Mainly, because the chickens are not fans of theirs either. Biting makes quick enemies.

    They used to sleep on the horse’s fence, then they moved to the roof over our kitchen. Now, they sleep all the way on top of our chimney.

    When they aren’t making the climb to their roost, they keep busy landing on our cars and “decorating” them.


    Now, these ducks aren’t what we expected, but they have some good qualities. I can’t think of any right now, but I know there are some.

    Anyone want a couple free ducks?










  • On the Farm

    Home from Fair

    There’s been a bit of a lull here on the blog due to the county fair, but now I’m back and almost rested.

    Fair is a four day event that sometimes feels like months then ends with me wondering how the time went by so quickly. It’s at fair that I catch up with old friends, watch my kids achieve the rewards of their hard work, and remember the best days of my own growing up years.

    I did something different this year. I judged the marketing contest. Junior 4H members came to me over the course of four hours and attempted to sway me with their sales pitches. What an honor it was for me. Somewhere between fifteen and twenty kids came through with animals like a bald guinea pigs and a llama. Some were nervous and some were seasoned professionals, but each of the kids had clearly worked hard to bring a solid project to the fair. I loved every presentation.

    My kids did well with their steers, bring home blue ribbons. The cattle were sold at the auction Saturday night. While we’ll miss the crazy critters, it won’t be long before the new calves move onto the farm.


    So, we’re home. Cookies have been baked for the auction buyers. Thank you notes have been written. Most of the laundry has been washed, but the house is still needing a good cleaning. And another county fair is closed. Time to start the preparations for next year.



    I can’t help wondering what I’ll do when my youngest daughter graduates from 4H.


    We even saw Benny the Beaver!

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  • On the Farm

    Preparing for Fair

    This week on the farm is all about fair preparation. My girls have steers weighing well-over a thousand pounds each. That’s a lot of animal to wash, train, and trim. There’s also time setting up the pens at the fairground, helping younger 4H members, and working on records. It makes for long days as we go through the lists, but this year is nothing compared to the many before it.


    “Feed me!” ~Mooshoo

    We’ve come to the point where my role in all of this is relatively light. Two of my kids are grown, no longer able to participate in 4H, and the two still involved are no longer little kids.

    It makes me think back to that very first year. My oldest son had a couple sheep to show, and I had three younger kids to keep track of. It was crazy-hot and crazy-busy. My husband’s work is the most demanding during the first week of the month. That’s usually the week fair lands on, which left me to do much of the management on my own. I ran around the fairgrounds, trying to make sure my oldest had everything he needed while not losing any of the others. If you know my second son, you know this was a challenge. He was a very social little guy who ran off toward any familiar face.

    For years now, I’ve watched my kids take on new projects, win, lose, and grow from the experience. One year I had two kids showing beef, one with pigs, and another with lambs.That makes for very little downtime.Though it wasn’t always easy, I’m grateful for the program that helped us teach our children how to work hard and see the benefit of their efforts.

    But here we are with only a few more years remaining in our family 4H adventure. I’ll miss this whirlwind of excitement. Time slips away too quickly.

    This year my girls raised Baxter and Mooshoo. While Baxter is more reserved, Mooshoo is like the beef version of a puppy. He greets me at the fence, always hoping for a handful of blackberries or an extra horse treat. The girls have done a great job with their animals, I just wish I could hit the pause button.