Sunday, March 31, 2013

Easter Crossings


On our way home from church this morning, Dan once again had to slam on the brakes to avoid hitting a chicken out in the middle of the road. This occurred by the home where you know to slow down because chickens have been known to get hit and killed here. We had a similar experience a few months back one early morning where I screamed, "Don't hit the chickie!"....I did a post about that too.

Since today is Easter, I joked that this particular chicken's motive was to literally get to the other side of the road since a small country church sits there. All the poor girl wanted to do was get to Easter service! Can you really blame her? Well after her near hit and run, she scrambled back to the side of the road she had originally come from, and I don't know if she ever made her worship service or not. However, I bet that Jesus knew she tried to get there and almost died in her efforts.

I don't mean to give a sermon here, but as I thought about this funny little tale throughout the day, I couldn't help but see a connection. Are we all crossing a road in our lives? Is that road a dangerous one? Or a scary, hard one? What challenges do we face to arrive at our sanctuary?

We all have our problems. What might seem like a big one to me might seem small to you and vice versa. I learned at church today that a 7 year old boy was diagnosed with cancer. Personally, I don't have problems like that. Just think of the obstacles in his road right now.

On a larger note, look at Facebook and the daily disputes people insist on wasting their time getting into about the issues we are facing as a country right now. I guess human beings can't have a face-to-face debate anymore, it all has to be done behind the security of a computer screen or either side won't budge, so why work up your blood pressure? Still, we need to find ways to cross that road in ways that improve our lives for the better, but personally, I feel like it's going to be a hard road to cross with multiple red Escapes zooming along due to un-posted speed limits!

I want to wish the very best of luck to everyone of you birds out there crossing the road to your sanctuary... remember to look both ways and rely on your faith. If you believe, I'm sure He will lead to the safest place there is.

Happy Easter!
The Chicken Lady

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Innocent Chicks Accused of Being Scabs

Local Chicken Flock Protests Egg Laying Due to "Scabs"
Written By: Jack Kelly of the Manhattan World
  Once again, Dan and Rebecca Shawhan's farm is making local headlines. Dan Shawhan reported that a possible egg-laying strike just might happen on his farm.
"As Vice-President of the company, I have had several complaints from members of both Flocks 1 and 2. They are upset over the arrival of the new chicks." Shawhan reports. Their issues range from fear of over-crowding coop space, one-on-one dates with the roosters, sharing the coveted nest box space with even more laying hens, arguments over treats and even jealousy from the extra attention needed to raise the chicks.
"I have gone through this once already and it is ridiculous!" Says Miss Prissy Cluck Cluck,, a member of Flock 1. "I don't see why we are so great and special one day, and then the next a new group of younger models show up. All the attention is diverted to them. And they EXPECT us to keep working!?"
Currently, tensions are high for both parties. "The hens have already backed down with production." Shawhan said. "I guess some have already begun to protest."
The chickens have not yet officially confirmed a strike as of yet, however, a spokes hen from their party did confirm that there are definite talks of a strike.
One hen did talk to us, but wished to remain anonymous. "Some of us are not currently laying any eggs. We are upset. We can't believe some of us have only been a member of this company for just a year, and already they are brining in "replacements"? It makes us feel as if we aren't good enough. So maybe we aren't. Why lay any eggs then?"
We asked the President of the company the very same question. She responded, "Why shouldn't they lay eggs for us? I can tell you why. The price of chicken has gone up considerably at the grocery store. That is exactly why! The hens know is written out in their contracts. They also know that each spring we hire on new employees. We are very lucky to do this as a company due to the economical situation of the United States. However, due to that same economical state, we will not stand for non-working birds. Once that happens with any employee, they get retirement in the freezer."
The threat has had no impact on the working flock. According to our anonymous source: "At this point we are so mad that we don't care. It's probably just threats anyway. More than likely a full-blown strike will be in place by June. That is when the scabs will have to cross our picket line. And we will use violence if necessary."
Shawhan also feels a full strike is on the horizon. "We found this the other day in Kennel Bar. Looks like the girls are getting ready for the picket line."
As this story went to print, no resolutions have been made. The Manhattan World plans to follow any new updates about this story.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Daily Diaper Change and Other Chick Chores


(Note: It's hard to get the pictures of the chicks that I want since the flash scares them...hahaha it's funny, but I wish I could get better pictures than what I got!)

Well I am very happy to report that Flock 3 is flourishing here on the Shawhan farm! Everyone seems to be bright-eyed and fluffy-tailed.  Some are even starting to grow their big-girl feathers. (They grow up too fast.)

It was only about a year ago that I was standing alone in the garage - a group of pasty-butted chicks in a box - overwhelmed and crying, feeling like I was losing it...and maybe even the lives of my feathered babies (see post "I am Now an Expert of Chicken Butts...") Dramatic, right? This seems to be smoother sailing and so far, I haven't broken down into tears.

But we learn from the thing that has helped with all that is the "daily diaper change." From my lesson learned last year, chicks do better on newspaper for the first three weeks or so of life. Though I find it strange that every store selling chicks has them on sawdust. My reputable source told me chicks aren't smart enough to decipher those little crumbs of food from sawdust shavings. Hence a reason for pasty-butt.

This year the brooder was all set to go on chick arrival day with a plethora of pages for the babies to read. Everyday or so, either Dan or myself, adds a fresh, clean layer of newsprint for the chickies. They enjoy all kinds of news given to them by The Cincinnati Enquirer, The Highland County Shopper and Ohio's Country Journal. Their favorite reads include the comics and "Dear Abbey". Rumor has it that Fye, one of my Bantams, has already posted a letter to Abbey herself, claiming her name of gigantic proportions has given her a complex. Others have actually sent resumes in response to job postings in the classifieds. I guess laying eggs for a living isn't good enough.

The only thing I get nervous about when changing this big diaper, is Marshmellow, the killer barn cat. He likes people so he likes to be around as the brooder lid is wide open and all the helpless chicks are around. I'm scared one day he'll jump in and go to town on the buffet inside.

Other daily chick chores include filling up the feeder twice a day and changing the water daily. I like to change the water every day since it sits under two heat lamps 24/7. Personally, I prefer a cold water to one that has sat in a warm car all day.

Our other, very important, chick chore is simply checking to make sure we don't have any dead ones.

I wonder if kids are like chicks...the first one you don't know enough about what you are doing (ignorance is bliss), therefore not noticing when or if you do anything wrong. The second one, well you learned a few things from the first one and are therefore more cautious and paranoid so you break down in the garage crying because there are things going wrong. Finally, by the third child, you feel confident in what you are doing and have all the necessities, making the third child much more fun and cost-efficient than all the rest.

I guess one of these days we'll find out!

                                                                                 ...cluck... cluck... cluck... chirp... chirp... chirp...

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Big Brother Visits and More "Squirt" Eggs...


It was a rather interesting day yesterday here on the Shawhan farm. Kenny got to visit his little Barred Rock chicks, and Dan made yet another interesting discovery in the nest box.

It must have been every one's plans yesterday morning to go into Hillsboro and get errands ran. Surprise, surprise, both Dan and his brother had to make stops at Napa so I got to visit with Kenny, Nicole and baby Blake. Kenny kept asking what I had named his chicks...I told him I didn't name them...that was his job. I told him to come by the house after his nap that afternoon to see them.

Later on in the day, Kenny showed up and asked again if I had named his chicks while he was taking his nap. I told him, no, it was his job to name them. He was super excited and immediately wanted to hold one.

The only draw back to using this huge brooder is that you can't easily catch the chicks and hold them like we have been able to the past two years. So Uncle Dan had to climb in and get one. (You can see him in the brooder...haha!)

I think Kenny got to hold one of each. I even held my little Bantam, Fumm for a few minutes, though it was hard holding the brooder lid open and the camera.

While everyone was still in the barn, Dan went inside the coop to check the nest boxes and came out with an egg even smaller than The Squirt! I really want to know what chicken is doing this...someone has a real sense of humor!

This thing is smaller than the first tiny egg! Here they are side by side...the Squirt Jr. is the dark brown egg:

Here is a random egg I pulled from the carton, the Squirt Jr. and the Squirt:

Maybe we are being prepared for our Bantam eggs...or maybe this hen is the perpetrator...

P.S. Happy St. Patrick's Day! This post is dedicated to my Grandma Smith, who was born in Ireland and came to the United States at age 3!

                                                                                   ...cluck... cluck... cluck... chirp... chirp... chirp...

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Chick Days are Here!!! (and so are the chicks!)


Oh, it's the most wonderful time of the year!!! Chick days have sprung! I am happy to announce the arrival of Flock 3....Flock 3 can you believe it!? Nothing beats baby chicks...well, I guess nothing until Baby Shawhan arrives...but until then, I'll have to settle with being mommy for 20 chicks. And it's a job that I absolutely love doing!

Last Saturday (it's been almost a week already) we made our annual chick trip to Master Feed Mill. (So I'm sure we'll end up with a rooster or two...) We originally wanted more Golden Comets A.K.A. my Golden Nuggets, but Master Feed didn't have in yet and we were too impatient to wait. On the plus side, we have new breeds of birds we haven't had before. I like doing that for variety.

Flock 3 consists of 5 Buff Brahmas. We already have Light Brahmas, which are the big white birds with feathers on their feet. The Buff Brahmas should have that cute feathering too, but instead of being white birds, they should be light brown. I'm excited to see them all grown up.

We got 5 Buff Orpingtons, which according to the picture, are a brown/golden colored bird. They look lighter than the Comets, but still look to be very pretty birds. I believe those are the chicks pictured above.

One more Araucana joined the I guess we didn't get all new breeds after all. Have to keep those blue eggs coming.

Four Bantams round out the mix of Flock 3. Now personally, I've never been a fan of Bantams simply because they look kind of ugly to me since Bantams are very small chickens. (They are only about 1/4 the size of normal chickes.) I never thought I would own any. However, the four we chose were lucky that Dan and I saw the movie "Jack the Giant Slayer" the night before we bought our chicks. Always the name person here and I like to get creative with the names, I picked out 4 Bantams in honor of the 4 giants that were in the movie. So... Fee, Fye, Foe and Fumm are my 4 Bantam chicks. (Fumm is the cute little yellow one:)

The Bantams ARE cute little things now...and I hear they lay really small eggs, so we should enjoy seeing the differences.

We did get 5 Barred Plymouth Rocks (which we got in Flock 1 and in which Prissy is one) for Ray and Nicole (Dan's brother and his wife.) Their chicke brooder is officially out of commission and we have plenty of room on the Shawhan Farm until their chicks are big enough to be incorporated with their existing flock. So for 3 months, I'll also be a surrogate mother!

Things are starting to kick into gear and June will be here before you know it! LOTS to do before then!

                                                                                ...cluck... cluck... cluck... chirp... chirp... chirp...

Sunday, March 10, 2013

My Fabulous Florida Fans!


The Chicken Lady has a lot to be thankful for recently. Dan and I were able to get away for a few days and take our "baby moon" (if you wish to call it that) and visit the Sunshine State of Florida. We stayed with my Grandma and Grandpa Shaw who are snow birds in Ft. Meyers. Not much else beats Grandma taking care of you while you are six months pregnant!

It is to Grandma that I credit for my Chronicles going farther than Facebook as she forwards them on to her least a few, and probably most die-hard fans...and thanks to Grandma and Grandpa, I got to meet them last week.

Dan and I arrived at Grandma and Grandpa's condo and went to the guest room, where on the burrow, she had placed the mother hen and chicks pictured above. This little fabulous flock was handmade by a very talented woman named Pearl. (Below with her husband John...whose stew recipe I gave such justice and my hen.)

I really would love to thank EVERYONE who reads my work. I won't lie, there are days I struggle to find the words; the storyline; the gumption to even turn the computer on and type something fitting enough to post. So often I tell Dan I would rather not post anything at all than something rushed that doesn't sound good. Other times I feel like maybe no one is interested anymore, but thankfully, when I see people in person they comment on it, so I know someone is listening!
These people on here today gave me so much praise and compliments, and I was very touched with what all they had to say. It definitely gave me the resurgence and affirmation that I needed...even though I know there will be days that I struggle with creativity.
So a big THANK YOU to some very special "fans" of mine:
 Pete and Kathleen:

Anita and Ruth:
Grandpa and Guy:
Pete and Anita:

Who knew a little flock of chickens in Ohio would become so popular? I never dreamed that when I started this, it would touch so many people. I'm glad there are some who enjoy what I do...and don't sit there and think that I have nothing better to do than write about a bunch of old chickens. At a year and half and a baby on the way, I have no plans in stopping...especially not after meeting my Florida fans!

                                                                                                       ...cluck... cluck... cluck...