Chicken Obsessed on ChickenReview.com

Today’s post is an article I wrote for the Chicken Review website: Chicken Obsessed.

Surprisingly enough, they added a few sentences to my article. Can you spot them? Scavenger hunt!

Check it out, and leave a comment if you so desire.

Thanks for visiting my blog!

Aarrrr! I'm a pirate!

Aarrrr! I’m a pirate!

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Feathery Little Therapists

There is something amazing about nature, especially animals. I’ve always felt a spiritual connection with them. They’re simple; they make sense. Sometimes, I think they are smarter than people.

Job 12:7-10 (The Message)

“But ask the animals what they think—let them teach you;
let the birds tell you what’s going on.
Put your ear to the earth—learn the basics.
Listen—the fish in the ocean will tell you their stories.
Isn’t it clear that they all know and agree
that God is sovereign, that he holds all things in his hand—
Every living soul, yes,
every breathing creature?”

Growing up, we would occasionally raise a calf to sell at the livestock auction. The four of us kids would take turns getting up early before school, mixing a huge bottle of formula, and feeding it in the big red barn. When I was in a bad mood, I’d sit in the stall and talk to the calf. It was great therapy.

Time to burp the baby!

Time to burp the baby!

We would sometimes buy steer from the livestock auction and feed them out for beef. We named one of them Stanley. He would lie down in the corral, and my brother and I would sit on his back. He’d stand up slowly…he did everything slowly…and walk into the barn. He was also a great listener.

What's bothering you? You can tell me.

What’s bothering you? You can tell me.

Now, I have 13 feathery little therapists. Each morning, I intend to quickly feed and water them and get to work around the house. But I always spend more time with them than planned. Same thing in the evenings. My husband says I spoil them, but they deserve it. After my oldest son said something hurtful to me, I sat with the chickens until my mood was better. They always know just what to say.

Those cicadas are louder than Buffy!

Soon, we’ll have cattle, goats, and bees on our little farm. (Lord willing and the fence gets built.) I may never be able to leave the house again, but at least I’ll be sane and smiling.

You Miserable Vomitous Mass

If you’re a regular reader, you’re familiar with my dog, Katie. She’s a sweet, cuddly, smart, and stubborn Rottweiler. I love this dog to pieces, but she has some annoying quirks.

Katie Up

Katie has an eating disorder. She eats everything–fabric, sticks, plastic bottles, rotten food and compost–and it makes her sick.

I threw a bag of trash out the back door into the sunroom for my husband to take out. Katie and I later discovered it had leaked ick all over the floor. She decided to help clean it up with her tongue.

My philosophy is not to clean anything major until something disastrous happens. And it always does. For example, if I mop the bathroom floor and then the toilet overflows, I’m mad. But if it overflows on a dirty floor, it’s not such a big deal. I needed to clean it anyway. (Our old house had plumbing issues. The bathroom floor got cleaned a lot this way.)

This method has worked well for me. Living with boys, a husband, and a dog ensures disaster on a regular basis.

As I said, Katie decided to help me clean by licking the icky, sticky stuff off of the floor. I figured She’s a dog. She knows what she can eat. Animals always do. It’s instinct. Apparently, she’s missing the genes that impart that particular insight.

I shooed her away and finished cleaning the sunroom. Soon I heard, “Mom! Katie spilled her peanut butter on the carpet!”

Just fill with peanut butter or dog treats for hours of entertainment for your dog!

Just fill with peanut butter or dog treats for hours of yummy entertainment!

ASIDE:

Some people buy their dogs a Kong. You know, the dog toy that you put peanut butter inside to keep them entertained while they try to lick it out. I invented the poor-man’s Kong, or the redneck Kong. It’s an empty jar of peanut butter. There’s always peanut-buttery residue left in the jar, and Katie’s tongue is almost long enough to reach the bottom of the large one. This keeps her occupied when we leave the house for a bit.

BACK TO THE STORY…

“Peanut butter doesn’t spill, honey,” I replied, walking around the corner.

First the smell hit me. Then I saw the pool of dog barf on the carpet.

Have you ever watched the Princess Bride? Where Wesley calls Prince Humperdink a miserable, vomitous mass?

Worst. Insult. Ever.

"You miserable, vomitous mass."

“You miserable, vomitous mass.”

(My favorite movie of all time! Long clip, and it doesn’t start for 12 seconds. Tried to start it at 1:50…”You miserable, vomitous mass.” But I’m technology challenged.)

Not until that very moment when I rounded the corner did I feel the full weight of that insult. My nostrils were in pain. I stood there staring, unsure what exactly to do about it.

My next thought was Thank God my husband’s not home. He has the most sensitive gag reflex in the history of mankind. My 8-year-old was doing a nice job of imitating him as both boys ran out the front door. (Note to self: stink up the house to get the boys to play outside.)

That doozy of a puddle almost made me imitate Mr. Rains, too. And I’m like Wonder Woman with the stinky stuff.

I shall deflect the offensive odor with my bracelets made from Athena's shield.

I shall deflect the offensive odor with my bracelets made from Athena’s shield.

My first step was to get the dog outside before she erupted again. Katie thought she was in trouble and hunkered down on the floor with her droopy-eared, sad-eyed, I’m sorry look. And she wouldn’t budge. So I carried her. A 50 pound puppy. I’m surprised I didn’t Heimlich more out of her.

Now, she’s playing outside with the kids in the fresh air like she didn’t just expel a demon through her throat. And I’m in here on my hands and knees over this toxic puddle.

I squeegeed it out of the carpet with a dust pan, sopped it up with an old towel (which promptly got thrown in the trash), and used a special enzyme cleaner for pet messes.

Still stinky. Putrid.

Next, I mixed alcohol, vinegar, and Febreze. I inhaled the fumes of the mixture to make sure it would be potent enough. It burned my nasal membranes. Perfect. Poured it on. Sucked it up with my carpet cleaner after soaking a while.

Still stinky.

Next, I shampooed the entire room for the fun of it. (This validates my cleaning philosophy. We moved in February and I hadn’t shampooed the carpet yet. Silver lining!)

Still stinky!

So, I took the spray head off of the Febreze, imitated Katie’s puking sound, and dumped it in the biohazard zone. After a short soak, I sucked it up with the carpet shampooer.

SUCCESS!!! Febreze is made of magic.

...and horrid dog-barf puddles!

…and horrid dog-barf puddles on carpet!

But that dog is not to be trusted.

She later hoarked down a 1/2-inch-thick disk of solidified milk that my youngest had left in the truck for a week. She got to it as I was trying to dump the cup’s nasty contents into a drainage whistle where she couldn’t reach it. But she was too fast. Motivated by putrescence.

"Bow down to the queen of slime, the queen of filth, the queen of putrescence!"

“Bow down to the queen of slime, the queen of filth, the queen of putrescence! Her name is Katie!”

Her crate and the porch had to be hosed down and bleached the next day.

She does this so often that she’s not allowed to sleep anywhere near carpet. But the porch and linoleum get disinfected regularly.

If I am to look on the bright side of this,  I could say, “Thank you, Katie the Queen of Putrescence, for motivating me to keep the house clean.”  But I wouldn’t mean it… At. All.

New Books and Blog Tours

Since starting this blog, I’ve had so many stories about our adventures on Copperhead Farm to tell that I’ve neglected to talk about my books. Gasp! I was invited to participate in a blog interview and figured that this would be a perfect opportunity to share that side of my life with you.

What are you working on right now?

A young-adult paranormal novel. It’s a total departure from everything I’ve written so far, but it has been fun. Especially since it’s a collaboration with my husband. We will release it under a pen name, and we’re currently arguing about keeping it a secret or not.

As far as a new children’s book, I’m working with my publisher to get Breakfast is for the Birds released this fall/winter. It’s in the illustration phase.

Mother bird is so frustrated with her little birdies. They don't want barfed-up worms again!

Mother bird is so frustrated with her little birdies. They don’t want barfed-up worms again!

How does Breakfast is for the Birds differ from other works in its genre?

It’s for an older group of children than my first book. The reading level and interest level fit with young elementary-school students. It’s an early chapter book.

Here are a few lines from the story:

Mama dung beetle yelled from the family burrow, “Dinner time, my little scarabs!  Come and get it while it’s still warm!”

“Mom, can’t we have something other than poop?” asked the oldest dung beetle.

………..

Mama dung beetle had had enough. “You know, it could be worse. If we were humans, we would eat meatballs.”

“What’s a meatball?” the youngest dung beetle whispered to his sister.

“I don’t know, but it sounds gross,” she replied.

The beetles decided that their dinner wasn’t so bad after all, and dug in.

If you eat your June beetle, you can have honeybee for desert!

Mama spider says, “If you eat your June beetle, you can have honeybee for desert!”

My first book, Sleep My Child, is intended to be read aloud just as early as the parent wishes to begin. Some start while still pregnant. I started reading to my son as soon as I could sit him on my lap. He is nine and his brother is six, and we still read at bedtime. We all miss it when we don’t get our reading time together.

*Getting on my soap box* Even if your children can read for themselves, it’s still important (and fun!) to read to them. How else are you going to justify reading fun children’s books? I even wrote a poem about it.

Why do you write what you do?

Frustration! My children’s books are born out of total exasperation with my children. Somehow, my frustration comes out as positive and silly stories. I have no idea how that happens.

Sleep My Child: my baby was fighting sleep

Breakfast is for the Birds: picky eaters

Horrible Hal of Halitosis: sibling rivalry and constant fighting

(Horrible Hal is finished, I just need to submit it to publishers! I really procrastinate this step. Rejection is no bueno.)

Other stories that my husband and I are working on come from dinner conversations. He really is full of ideas!  Most of them are crazy. Just crazy enough.

How does your writing process work?

Writing times are few and far between. So, the process starts with reading back into the story to see what’s in print and what’s still in my head. That’s really my biggest obstacle. Writing main points on a calendar to establish a time line and check off significant events really helps.

When the kids leave for school and the house is quiet, Katie (my Rottweiler) curls up beside my desk, and I write. Until the kids come home and the peace and quiet is shattered. Chaos ensues until they go to sleep.

(I really do love my boys! But they’re…you know…BOYS! <3)

Look for these authors next week:

Monday, September 23rd, the following (very talented) children’s authors will continue the blog tour and answer the same questions. Enjoy!

Kelsey Wagner

Laura Wintczak Eckroat

Joan Edwards

Dino Digs and Tall Grass

Our youngest loves dinosaurs. For his birthday party in the spring, he had a dino excavation party. We gathered horse and cow bones from a friend’s pasture to replicate the dinosaurs. (Ssshh. The party guests had no idea I faked it!) I placed them in the field to look like the dinosaurs had died naturally or as a result of a battle with another dinosaur.

Let's find some dinosaur bones!

Let’s find some dinosaur bones!

They began in the treehouse with toy binoculars to look for dig sites.

Dig site, ho!

Dig site, ho!

Then they boarded the hay ride for the tour. As tour guide, I described the excavation sites and how the dinosaurs likely died. I loved the look of awe on their faces.

This is the stillest my boys have ever been.

This is the stillest my boys have ever been.

The finale was digging in sand buckets for toy dinosaur skeletons.

Dig for your party favors! Mwahahaha!

Dig for your party favors! Mwahahaha!

Some guests were unable to make it to the party, so I promised them a private tour. We were only able to give one before the pasture got overgrown. (Those goats are NOT earning their keep!) So we had to mow it. Bye bye, dino dig!

My father-in-law mowed around the dinosaur bones the first time. We got lots of cute little hay bales from it. The pasture got really overgrown again, so my dad decided to mow. This time I had to pick up the dinosaur bones.

20130831-132701.jpg

The grass was really tall!

I use my hayride setup for these things. It’s an old lawnmower without the mowing deck hooked up to a trailer.

After airing up the tire with a portable air compressor, I drove  through the jungle to gather the bones.

20130831-133016.jpg

Katie came to help.

While driving through the tall grass, a snake slithered out of the way. I only saw its dust-colored tail and couldn’t identify it, I stopped and tried to look for it. (It was probably a copperhead.) I didn’t look too hard. The grass was really tall, and copperheads are good at hiding. So I moseyed on.

When I was leaving the pasture, I turned too sharply and lost the trailer. It was too heavy to lift and put back on the ball hitch, so I improvised.

20130831-133147.jpg

Redneck lever and fulcrum. Y’all thought I was kidding when I admitted to doing this in my last post.

I unloaded the bones and branches into the burn pile just as Dad arrived with the tractor.

20130831-133741.jpg

Farewell, dinos. We shall cremate you soon.

The pasture is being mowed as I type. It’ll look so much better, but I’ll miss the dig sites.

The dino party was a lot of fun. I love to see awe and wonder on children’s faces. That alone made all of the work worth it. But how am I going to top that next year?

Making Memories and Sexing Chickens

20130827-211727.jpg

My oldest son wrote about us in class today. So stinkin’ cute!

It’s little things like this make me glad we moved out here. He loves those chickens. He loves to chase them and catch them and hug them and squeeze them and call them George…er Lacey, DeeDee, Buffy, and the rest. (We can’t tell the Rhode Island Reds apart!)

He loves those girls!

He loves those girls!

They definitely have their own personalities. One is always the last to leave the coop in the morning. She lingers in the doorway, checking things out. Another hen won’t let me push her around. When I try to herd her in a certain direction, she does that chest-bumping move against my hand or foot.  She even pecked at me once.

IMG_7732

They were so little then!

Several of them think I’m a pirate and they are my parrots. If I stand still, one or two will fly up to my shoulder. They stay there while I walk around and take the occasional selfie.

I acted like I was going to eat her, so she turned around and pooped on me. Well played, Lacey.

I pretended I was going to eat her, so she turned around and pooped on me. Well played, Lacey.

They are fun to watch in the morning. I open the door and they dash into the yard. They fluff up their feathers and fight. If one finds a cicada, she picks it up and runs. Several chase her until she chokes it down. It’s hilarious. So I throw them in the chicken run whenever I find them.

Lacey loves corn.

Lacey loves corn.

Besides cicadas, tomatoes are their favorite breakfast. They also love the corn we left on the stalk too long, tolerate bell peppers, but don’t touch hot peppers. I snuck some in for entertainment value. No takers.

Recently, I noticed one chicken has a more-pronounced comb and wattle than the others. It hasn’t crowed but might be a rooster!

Rooster or butch hen?

Rooster or butch hen?

Are there any chicken farmers out there that can tell? Should I perform a crazy, chicken-sexing, voodoo experiment to find out? Supposedly, if I attach a needle to the end of a string and hold it over the bird, the direction of the circle should tell the sex. If it goes clockwise it’s male; counterclockwise for female. Or is that only with chicks?

I can just imagine trying this. I’ll have to catch it first!

They routinely make me look foolish. Last week, I tried to herd them into their house before it got dark, and they didn’t want to go. They dodged me, ran around me, mocked me with their little chicken laughs. So I lost my temper and chased them. Cussing. I realized how ridiculous it must have looked, but no one was around. Half of them got chased in, the other half had to be caught individually and tossed in the door. By the last one, I was feeling pretty smug. I probably looked like Rocky when he caught his chicken.

I hope you seriously didn’t watch that whole video. It’s the most obnoxious one I could find!

Check out my post on September 16th about my upcoming children’s book.

Wild Pigs and Car Trades

“Redneck is a derogatory slang term used in reference to poor, uneducated white farmers, especially from the southern United States. … [S]ome Southern whites have reclaimed the word, using it with pride and defiance as a self-identifier.” –Wikipedia

‘Cuz we ain’t all technically farmers, ya know. And farmers around here sometimes have a degree in agriculture. And a crazy streak.

'Nuf said.

‘Nuf said.

My neck is not red (long hair), but I am rockin’ a farmer’s tan. My husband still requests a short version of the mullet.

“Just leave it long in the back so my neck doesn’t get sunburned,” he says.

But I’m in charge of the clippers, and mullets are banned. At the rodeo, I noticed a teenager with a mullet like my husband used to have when he was a teenager. (That’s when I fell in love with him. What was I thinking?) Our son laughed. Hard. My hubby said he missed that haircut. He’s so lucky to have me. I won’t let him wear a certain plaid, button-down, sleeveless shirt in public, either.

Okay, I've done this before. But just because the 1-ton jack was too hard to roll through the field.

Okay, I’ve done this before. But just because it was too hard to roll the 1-ton jack through the field.

He has some redneck qualities that aren’t going anywhere. And I kinda like ‘em. For instance, trading guns for vehicles. Seriously. We’ve done this twice. It makes me laugh, because it confirms the stereotypes Okies have earned. Like when we took our gun-permit class at a Baptist church.

Stereotypes: they come from reality.

Stereotypes are based upon reality.

Years ago, the hubs bought a 50 caliber Desert Eagle. Then he decided a hand-held cannon was no fun to shoot and traded it to another redneck down the street for a truck.

Recently, our boys complained that the back seat in my fun little sports car was too cramped. Apparently, not enough leg room is a good reason to sell my cute car. Their priorities are messed up.

But in sparkly dark green. Sniff... I'll miss taking corners at high speeds in you.

My Rexy (RX8) was sparkly dark green. Sniff… I’ll miss taking corners at high speeds in you. And your suicide doors.

The hubs texted a neighbor that we’d sell it for X amount. Said neighbor countered for less. Hubs’ reply: “Do you have any semi-automatic rifles to trade?” Yes, he did.

So, we traded my car for cash and an assault rifle. (It has a friggin’ bayonet!) And bought a sensible family car. (Sad face.)

Our new car has much more kid room, a big trunk, and gets very good gas mileage. But my inner punk fantasizes about this truck.

Drool. Fuel economy, Schmool economy!

Drool. Fuel economy, schmool economy!

Why do I need a large-caliber, fast-shooting rifle, you ask? Wild pigs. With thick hide and thicker skulls. If they’re charging and you don’t shoot them in the right spot with a large-caliber bullet, you better shoot them a whole lot and quickly.

Wild pigs are an invasive species, and they reproduce at an alarming rate. While mountain lions, coyotes, and even large birds will eat small pigs, that’s not enough to keep the population in check. That job falls to land owners.

I've heard rumors of helicopter pig hunts along the river.

I’ve heard rumors of helicopter pig hunts along the river.

According to A Pickup Load of Pigs: A Feral Swine Pandemic video series by Mississippi State University’s Extension Service, “wild hogs damage crops, farmland and pastures, spread diseases to livestock, pets and people. A male’s average weight is over 200 pounds and a female’s is 155. But they can get a lot bigger. ”

And they’re mean. But if you cook one under 70 pounds, I hear they’re tender and delicious.

Because of all the rain we’ve had this summer, the river is well beyond its banks. Wild pigs have been coming closer to our homes. Some friends a few miles north were horseback riding with their full-grown Rottweiler tagging along. They ran into two sows with twenty babies. The two women on horseback got away, but they never saw their dog again.

I’m not carrying that big gun around. It’s too heavy. Plus, I might stab myself in the foot with the bayonet. If I ever see any pigs, they will have to wait until I run into the house and unlock the gun.

Here, piggy, piggy. Mama wants a luau.

Wait here, piggy, while I get my gun. Mama wants a luau.

I’d probably have to go looking for pigs, though. They are active at dusk, dawn and at night. Maybe I’ll track down a sounder of pigs, sit in the deer stand at sunset, and score a luau pig or two. We have a deep freeze that would fit a few grown men.

My husband’s grandfather used to hunt wild boar with only dogs and a knife when he was stationed in Hawaii in the military. The Hawaiians taught him how to cook a pig luau style. After a hunt, he’d invite the whole neighborhood over to help eat the day’s game. So if we ever get one, I’ll be calling him. “Grandpa, bring your grass skirt and lets dig an imu (Hawaiian for pig-roasting pit). It’s luau time!”

Watch your inboxes for invitations.

My redneck, stud-of-a husband wants us to have every kind of gun for every kind of emergency he can think of. Zombies, burglars, dystopian regimes and looters, angry sows, snakes, etc… So what if he trades my sports car for an assault rifle. I guarantee that if times get tough, my boys and I will be in good hands.