• 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.


    UPDATE: wp_20160907_023






  • On the Farm

    The Chickens: I Think Lucille is a Boy

    It’s been almost fifteen weeks since we brought these four little chicks home. We really wanted one boy because the hens seem to last longer with the help of a protective rooster. The man at the feed store said they’d been sent one extra rooster chick, so we bought him and promptly named him Howard. He’s the guy with the blue mark on his head.


    Mildred, Howard, Bitsy, and Lucille (on the bottom)

    Years have passed since our last batch of chickens turned into a racoon fast-food feast. This time, we took additional precautions. We built these little guys a fortress. I’m really excited to show it to you, but I want to get it painted first. Truly, this thing is a masterpiece, especially when you know I had to use old items from around the farm to build it. (I lost a bet.)


      WP_20160622_001 Mildred and “Lucille”


    It’s wouldn’t be a Nelson farm adventure without something going different than planned. Recently, I noticed that Lucille’s comb seemed large, and her tail feathers pointed up, a lot like Howard’s. My research told me that Rhode Island Red roosters are shiny and have greenish feathers in their tail and neck. That perfectly describes Lucille.


    Like most people, I prefer my life to follow the plans I’ve made. Two roosters were never in the farm plan. It’s not like we can eat Lucille or Howard now. They’ve become pets. But as with so many other times I’ve chosen my own way, God sends me another direction. I’m so grateful that this time it’s only about a chicken.

    As I scroll through Facebook, I’m overwhelmed by the number of people who are fighting for their lives or the lives of their children. And I’m warmed by the shows of bravery as friends take on battles without reservation. I see people all around me who’ve turned serious challenges into victories. Those who find beauty in the midst of hardship are inspirations. They don’t let the roadblock define their lives. I want to write stories with those kinds of heros.

    So, back to my petty little chicken problem. One of these days soon, that chicken will either crow or lay an egg. It doesn’t really matter in the long run.

    I think we’ll call him Lou.


    What do you think? Hen or rooster?