Friday, February 26, 2016

Home is Where the Nest Box is

How many of you are enjoying this typical Ohio weather? One day it's 61 degrees and the next it's back down to 32 and snowing again! No wonder everyone has a runny nose and itchy throat. However, nothing about Ohio weather surprises me anymore. Thankfully the weather has been corporative in the respect that the nice days seem to be falling on weekends. I can deal with the cruddy weather for the weekdays.
Last weekend was no exception. It was gorgeous! Sunny and breezy with that hint of spring in the air. It was the kind of teaser day that made you want to go out and buy flowers and dig in the dirt. Too bad the 7-day forecast said snow again or you probably wouldn't have stopped the twitching in your hands. Luckily we had some chores to be done here on the Shawhan farm and a spring-esk day was the perfect day to get it done.
We have planned some changes for the Shawhan farm. I'll tell you about them as they happen. Last weekend was a jumping off point so to speak for one of them and honestly, I don't know why we haven't done this sooner!
Cooptown has been looking a little cramped to me for quite some time. 

We had two nesting areas for the cluckies (the regular nest box and the rarely used vertical nest box), the oyster shells were located in front of the vertical box on the floor, and the waterer on the heating pad has been of opposite that. Dan designed a roof over the water a couple of years ago to prevent poop from falling in the gals drinking water; a very nice and extremely useful construction, yet it does take up some space. Other amenities in Cooptown included the roosting perches and of course the feeder hanging from the ceiling.
'Go Big Or Go Home'
is still the motto around these here parts, so I'm always itching to grow our flock, garden, sustainable food sources etcetera, etcetera, etcetera .................................. we've even increased the number of Beefy Boys on the property. So after an insightful Bob Evans breakfast with my father-in-law, I've realized that change is going to come in baby steps.
Baby step number one was reached last weekend when we moved the nest box out of Cooptown and into Kennel Bar. Since the ladies lay their eggs during daylight hours (no vampires in the chicken world!) they technically only need to be in the coop at night. We figured if the nest box was moved into Kennel Bar, it would make more room in the coop for roosting perches. Since Kennel Bar is quite a large space and the chickens have access to the steer lot all day, we calculate that we have room for expansion within our flock and facilities. With the nest box out of the coop, when we increase our poultry numbers, we hopefully won't have an issue with overcrowding.

A little spring cleaning to freshen up Kennel Bar...

Don't worry, his head isn't stuck. He just had to add his two cents on the job I did!

Don't worry, his head isn't stuck. He just had to add his two cents on the job I did!

Here we go!

Where are Gabe and Bam from Alaskan Bush People???


My dream scenario would be to eventually make Kennel Bar into the actual coop. What is now Cooptown, I'd like to make into a storage room for feed, shavings, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera..................................OR turn it into the brooder/isolation room for sick chickies. My other dream scenario is to buy the little white house next door and turn it into the Taj Mahaal of chicken coops...but my money tree didn't produce last year.

Did yours???
In the meantime, I'll settle for the changes that have been made. Now the nest box is located in Kennel Bar and Cooptown has a little more breathing room. 

Thursday, February 18, 2016


I really wanted to post this on Valentine's Day (as the title is the color of valentines) but life got in the way and well, it just didn't happen...but Happy (Late) Valentine's Day everyone!
I've dedicated this post to a chicken I've started calling RED. I call her RED not in a positive way but from a place of anger. No I'm not bullying her out of jealousy...I'm already a unicorn and have my own red hair. I'm calling her RED because this little chick-a-dee rubs me the wrong way.
RED. There are a plethora of names out there to call red heads these days. Some nicer than others. Some have been outdated...for example I don't really hear "carrot top" used anymore probably because it's been replaced by "ginger". (I don't really get the use of the word "ginger"'s like whoever made it up was really grasping for straws when they thought of it. Not only does it remind me of ginger root, but also that beautiful chestnut mare in Black Beauty and sometimes if you catch me on a good day, when I hear it I just want to channel my inner Ginger Spice and bust out a dance move or two while singing "Zig-a-zig-AHHHH!") Ok, sorry I got a little sidetracked.
Of all these names I think I hate RED the most. Like it's so original people have to call you that to get your attention. Because they are such original people and can't think of anything better to say. When I hear the name RED being used when someone is talking about me or to me I literally feel the wind sucked from my sails.  My eyeballs can't reach any further in the back of my head. It's as dull as powder.
There has only ever been one person in recorded history that I haven't minded them calling me RED. Old Richard Chandler. He was kind enough to put a "Miss" out in front and let me throw whole bean plants at him out in the bean field. (Sorry Grandma!) Anyone else will be ignored for their lack of creativity. The only reaction you might get out of me is something as equally lackluster like, "Hey Blondie!"
So it's with these attached connotations that I call this bird RED.

I don't think RED has spent a night in the coop for probably months. Or if she has, then she is a permanent escapee.

It has sadly become a common sight around the Shawhan Farm to see this girl out and about, even on the other side of the fence and inches from the road, peeking and scratching. A NASA space ship can probably see her hoard of eggs miles above us because trust me we haven't found a stash to raid daily. (If she's not laying inside the coop then she's laying outside the coop.)
Aside from her top secret egg cash, RED was also part of an elite hole digging operation in the gardens and under the trees here at the Shawhan Farm. This past fall Carl and I raked level all the empty flower beds. We spent an entire morning blistering our hands with those rakes and my esophagus burned from pregnancy-related reflux, but we had the grounds around this place looking comparable to one of the royal palaces. That afternoon what did I look to see? RED and her counterparts selfishly indulging themselves in dust bath and scratching in the newly raked dirt. It. Was. Everywhere. Bush and tree roots now lay exposed thanks to those birds. I literally saw RED that day. I called Dan and threatened to shot her.
RED is living on borrowed time as I see it; not just from her daring escapades to the road but also with my tolerance. I made peace with myself long ago that I felt such traitorous feelings towards a sister in the ginger and now all that is left is pure annoyance.
Dan says the day he cleans the steer lot out will be the day he finally discovers how she is escaping the confines of the steer lot, but this girl is good. Like, really good.
So when you visit, please ignore the craters surrounding our house and please watch your step, as we don't need to sprained ankles. It's all the work of RED who has successfully made this chicken lady throw her arms up in defeat.  

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

They Say That Becca's Back

Can I just say "WOW!"....and not in the Flava Flav type of way...
It's been soooooo long...for a lot of things. Blogging, chickens, being creative. A lot has gone down since I last posted.
A couple of years ago I attended our church's annual Ash Wednesday services and committed myself to not only give up something near and dear to my heart for 40 days, but to DO something near and dear to my heart for 40 days. I was going to write something everyday and sling shot myself into the daily discipline. It worked too for almost two years; no matter how late a journal entry was or how busy I was or how many episodes of The Real Housewives I had DVR'd, the second Carl went down for his nap I came to the office, opened my laptop and typed away dreaming of book tours and book signings. Man was I popular in my fantasies!!
The day I found out I was pregnant obviously was a journal-entry day (as those big events are usually reserved for the books in which we record our thoughts and emotions) but something happened. All my creative juices that buzzed through my veins was suddenly redirected to the daily care of my son and the epic job of creating a new life (a nine pounder I may add!) I had nothing left at the end of those muggy days...all I could do in the evening was crawl to couch and watch Caroline Ingalls do it all on the prairie and still have the energy to run out the door at the end of the day and say "Oh Charles!" with more enthusiasm than is believable. (I still love her though.)
So...that's where I was for the past, I don't know, more than nine months now.
But, I'm happy to say that as the last whisper of postpartum pain diminishes, it is replaced with an old fire, an old pulse that still beats deep inside of me and that is to write and create.
Something that bugs me about pregnancy is the fact that you are made to sit out on the disabled list. I hate the DL...probably because I've been blessed enough in my life not to have had to spend a lot of time there. But thanks to 21st century law of wussiness, (I really want to use a stronger term here) one who is with child cannot do an array of daily/normal activity, despite what is portrayed on episodes of Little House on the Prairie.
 This time "away" gets you in a whole new mind set so that when you are officially cleared back to health and back to normal again, it feels odd at first that you don't have that "I'm pregnant" excuse. Your whole thought process is different.
For example: the day I found out I was expecting, I'd bought a 20 ounce Mt. Dew (judge me as you will). I'd taken like two sips of the thing, watched as the positive sign was revealed, tried to keep from passing out on the toilet, then threw the rest of the Dew away. Fast forward nine months and I'm heaving a wheelbarrow full of horse poo out of the stall and that voice taps my ear and says, "Should you lift this? You're...oh wait. No you're good! Not pregnant anymore!"
And so...I'm back. Even though I can't make any promises how consistent this is going to be, I have been feeling those old vibrations of my past self more and more lately.
A nice day not too long ago, Carl and I were in the barn cleaning stalls. As we went through the old and familiar motions I could feel the wheels begin to turn in the creative side of my brain, despite the rust and cobwebs that had grown there. Funny how such a place can generate such a strong spark, but it's always been that way.

And funny too that today is Ash Wednesday, the day it all began not so long ago. Things have really come around full circle.
And lastly, for all the time spent on the DL, the empty pages that have yet to be written, the eye rolling of pregnancy rules and the self berating that you didn't have Caroline's energy during the first trimester, you'd go through it all over again in a heartbeat to have the latest addition to your family.

Welcome Abigail Catherine!