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empty nest syndrome....

...that's what we have. Our chickens are just not pulling their weight around here yet. And although we love to be surrounded by God's creatures and have tons of "life" around our home.....with the economy forcing us to tighten up our already suffocating financial belt......we had to make a solid decision last year that we will choose to have animals/creatures that "give back" rather than just "take". No more cute little pygmy goats..... who were supposed to teach the children responsibility and clear out some land for us.....instead they only cleared out $80 worth of blueberry bushes, two years worth of gorgeous perrenials and a good part of our budget.

We are following God's Word and promise and now have dominion over all our animals. :) Well, for the most part.....Mufasa, our Rottie who is still in his teenager rebellion stage....still needs direction on who is boss. His job is to keep all predators, human and animal....away and protect our home. He does get a little carried away with his responsibility by destroying those bad basketballs or garbage bags that are posing such a threat to us. He also feels his mouth should serve as a taxi cab for the smaller creatures running around here....at least that little chick got a bath on her abrupt exit, thanks to Josh's boot.

The cats take care of the barn pests, such as mice.....and they are so kind to lay them at our feet every morning on our deck. A standard rule is to look before you step out. I do feel bad as most of these little critters are so cute in their own little rodent way. I would not go out of my way to hurt any creature, but I have to accept this is the way God created the animal kingdom and circle of life. We did save a small litter of baby rats this summer...H went to mow the lawn and thankfully pulled the lawnmower out in the driveway before he started it up. Just when he was ready to pull the starter thingy....he saw a mama rat scurry out (the cute small breed, if you can consider that "cute" and "rat" can be said in the same sentence).....and then he noticed something wriggling nearby....it was one of her babies, who didn't even have it's eyes open yet. It was most likely nursing when the mom made her great escape......we then found another little guy wandering aimlessly nearby. Later that afternoon, I was talking to Josh as he was sweeping some leaves off the driveway.....he was in mid-sentence when he let out a loud "OH CRAP!", threw down the broom and dove under our camper. Not having a clue as to what was going on, I dropped to the ground and started the army crawl myself. Before I could get my head under the vehicle, I see Josh's arm poke out with our rescued friends' sibling, who was clearly as dazed and confused as I was. I am still not sure how Josh noticed this inch long critter tumbling among the pile of debris, but quite certain that if he hadn't,.....it would have ended up as a "gift" on our doorstep soon enough.

So yeah, we ended up with three blind mice (let's call them mice as it sounds cuter in a Mother Goose kinda way). We did what anyone else (needing psychiatric evaluation) would do....we went out and got some kitty formula, a teeny syringe and nursed them until they opened their eyes. We even rubbed their little bellies with a wet cotton swab to stimulate their digestion system. So after a full week of 3 AM feedings, they finally opened their sweet little eyes. It was time to pass the torch of motherhood so we brought them to their new adoptive mama's home (aka the local pet store) where a pregnant hamster took over the duties of lactation and raised them up. At least that is what the pet store assured us.....I am blocking out the possibility that these little guys became Sydney the Snake's lunch.....yeah yeah, I know.....the circle of life.

So getting back to our empty nest syndrome......our fine feathered friends better start producing some eggs soon....they are at the "age" where are supposed to be. Our reason for investing in chickens, is for the blessing of having free range fresh eggs whenever we need them. I know it sounds corny, but they really do taste better than store bought eggs. And you never have to do a hissy dance in the kitchen and cry out "WHY? WHY? WHY?" when you are in the middle of baking and reach in the fridge.....only to find out that someone put the carton of eggs back empty.....not that I have ever done that, but I heard it happens. ;)

We do know why one nesting box will remain empty forever.....we found out that one of our chickens, is actually a rooster. Which actually is cool, as we will have baby chicks next spring and it will be awesome to watch them hatch. We've never had a rooster in all these years so this is all new to us. It is pretty difficult to tell roosters from hens for the most part when they are growing up....but like many species in the bird family.....the males are usually "prettier" with more vibrant colors and fluffier feathers. I suspected one was a rooster when I noticed one was also leading the flock around and puffed out it's chest often, another "male" trait. But, the dead giveaway was this terrible sound we heard one morning from the barn a few weeks ago.....it sounded like a painful screech, followed by a bah-kah. I just thought it was one of the chickens finally passing her first egg! (considering the size of the egg, doesn't that still seems like a painful thing to do.....everyday??.....this coming from a natural child-birthing mom) We later learned it was our rooster discovering his cock-a-doodle do. We also are learning that it process to perfect this God-given talent. It really doesn't sound like the cock-a-doodle do that you hear in the movies......it sounds more like a chicken is dire need of a cough drop and some singing lessons. All I can imagine is him clearing his throat, with little feathers flying out, before he attempts to belt one out. Apparently, he didn't get the memo that he is only supposed to do it in the morning.....he makes this very unpleasant attempt all day long.....and he also will do it in the middle of the night.....it will be pitch black and if he hears someone outside, he will let out one of his awful shrieks. I think it makes our house sound like an insane asylum to our neighbors.....

So meet "Strep".....named for what seems to be one of the chronic condition he suffers from.......the other being an identity crisis as he thinks he is a watch-dog.

Never a dull moment here.

Thankfully, our empty nest syndrome is only referencing our non producing chickens at this point.....I don't even want to think about the "real deal" that I will have to face soon enough. Josh and I have dreams of buying more land and having our own "compound" where each of the children can have their own plot of land to build their home and raise their families so as to never have to deal with ENS (my own medical abbreviation). We can have large gardens and livestock and go back a little bit to the pioneering days of living off the land......We actually are trying to figure out a plan to make that dream become a reality.....but for now, we are just enjoying our little gentleman's farm in the quiet corner of Connecticut, feeling ever so blessed.


Cajunrose said...

Michelle, you are a riot. Love the description of Mufasa. Too funny!
Hope your hens start producing!

Catherine said...

What a great post!

I laughed so hard at the hamster becoming surrogate mama to the rat babies!

I hope your chickens start laying soon. Could it be the change in temperature? I have no clue, just the first thing that popped into my head! I would love to get some chickens, and I would get Araucanas (or however you spell that) because they lay such pretty blue and green eggs. However our homeowner's association prohibits chickens and other livestock. I suggested that maybe we could get one of those patio cows from South America and disguise it as a dog, but my Josh is a stickler for rules and said that would violate the spirit of the agreement, plus that shipping a cow, even a very small one, from South America would be cost prohibitive.

Sad. Maybe someday. Meanwhile I'll enjoy hearing about your animals!


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