• 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!

    WP_20160805_018 WP_20160806_025 WP_20160805_008 WP_20160806_013 WP_20160805_005 WP_20160803_008




  • 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?







  • family,  On the Farm

    Bounty from the Boat


    My husband loved his little aluminum boat. I couldn’t stand the thing. He thought the three times we used it each year were worth the  countless hours of motor-repair and the licensing struggles. For me, it was a headache.


    A few years ago we had ice. It hung from the branches and froze the pipes. And it went on for many days. A couple years later we saw the long-term consequences.  Trees started splitting and falling over. Let me just say, we are in no need of extra firewood.


    In front of our house stands the most majestic oak tree. The thing is huge! I walked by the trunk one day and noticed a split going straight down. This is the tree that shades our home. It’s where our kids reluctantly took turns with the swing. I love this tree.


    My husband did the  only thing he could do to try and save it…and our cars. He cut away many of the heavy branches and moved anything that was important, aka his boat, to the safe side. The split seemed to close up, and we thought all was well.


    Then one night, around ten, we heard pops and snaps followed by a crash. We rushed out of the house to find a giant limb, one we thought was fine, had broken free of the tree and landed on the boat.


    Now, I could tell you that I was a good wife that night. I could say that I patted my husband on the back and told him we’d get another boat. But I’m not here to mislead you about who I am. I laughed. Not a little hidden giggle; I really busted up.


    It’s not that I didn’t feel bad. I really did. It’s just that we were in one of those seasons of life where everything seemed to go wrong. You know what I’m talking about. If it could break, it did. Everywhere we turned there was more bad news. At the moment the tree hit the boat, I think my frustration broke too. Here we were, standing in the dark, shining a flashlight beam onto a smashed boat. A boat that was moved to a “safe” location, and still, this happened. It was utterly ridiculous.


    That boat still makes me laugh. I didn’t let the disaster go to waste. With a few holes knocked into the bottom, a layer of rock, and a bunch of soil, the boat became a garden.  For the first time in years, we are able to grow carrots without the moles eating them before we could harvest.

    Now, I love the boat. My husband, he’s not a huge fan, but he loves me, so he helped with the project.


    When I look out my window and see the boat brimming with produce, I’m reminded how great things can be born out of trials.


    And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. ~ 1Peter 5:10