Chicks and Kids

For any interested, and who didn’t notice the postscript to yesterday’s post, the hen has happily adopted all twelve chicks now.


She huffs up like this to make herself look more dangerous


Here she’s settled down

Isn’t it interesting that these hatchery-chicks, who were hatched in an incubator and had never seen a hen, recognize a hen and understand what they are to do? She clucks and they come running to her for protection and warmth. Makes me think of the hundreds of millions of chicks (nearly every chick hatched in the developed world these days) that never see a hen or have the opportunity to act on those instincts.

It’s pouring down rain this morning, so I fully expected to find shivering newborn kids in the pasture. But, alas, still waiting.



Following up on yesterday’s post, last night when we went to place fertilized eggs under our broody hen we were surprised to discover a chick beneath her wings.

It seems that when we removed the chicks after she rejected them, one was inadvertently left behind and then taken under wing.

Great. So we took the remaining eleven chicks and reintroduced them to their adoptive mama, who seemed pleased to have them. Problem solved.

Well, not so fast. As insurance I put a heat lamp in the brooder coop, so that if there was a problem with the new chicks they wouldn’t die of exposure.

This morning when I went to check on them, I found one chick happily peeking out from under the hen and the other eleven huddled under the heat lamp. Good grief.



Checked on this motley crew too, and still no new babies.


Any day now.

Postscript to the Postscript:

I cut off the heat lamp and guess what? All twelve chicks are now huddled beneath the hen, who is clucking with satisfaction. Problem solved after all.

Goings On

We’re down to one rooster and he is evidently a dud (as a friend puts it). Last year we tried to hatch two clutches from his flock and only one egg hatched. This year we tried again and none hatched.

So yesterday I asked a friend if I could have a dozen fertilized eggs from their farm. I hate to have the mama sit another three weeks but she seems determined not to give up. But later I had to go to the feed store for salt blocks and they had chicks for sale. So I decided to try a different approach.

I bought a dozen chicks (which we don’t need) and last night I tried switching them for the unhatched eggs. I did those once before a couple of years ago and it worked perfectly. The hen assumed the chicks were hers and she brooded them.

But this attempt was a fail. The hen not only wouldn’t accept the chicks, but she was aggressive toward them. So now we’re brooding a dozen new chicks and I’ll be going to my friend’s place for fertilized eggs later today.



In the glow of the heat lamp


The would-be Mama, in a huff. “Don’t be bringing those chicks around here.”

Still waiting on more goat babies. I put in the spring garden and it’s weed-free and beautiful (a condition that will not last long).


The asparagus is starting to arrive, along with apple blossoms.


And we have hundreds of crickets in the hoop house. Any advice on what to do about that would be appreciated.

Happy Spring y’all.

Fools, pigs and Socrates

It is better to be a human being dissatisfied than a pig satisfied; better to be Socrates dissatisfied than a fool satisfied. And if the fool, or the pig, is of a different opinion, it is only because they only know their own side of the question.

John Stuart Mill

Childrens’ Farms

Check out this interesting article about how Dutch urban planning has included petting zoos and “children’s farms.” HERE

Most of these are not true working farms, and are surely inferior to the real thing, but much better than allowing children to grow up without any connection at all to farms and farm animals.

Some excerpts from the article:

Amsterdam is something of an urban jungle, with apartments stacked tightly in three- and four-story buildings, and streets are congested with cars, trams, buses and ever-present bicycles — about 800,000 of them. But thanks to Dutch tradition and some clever planning, almost every city neighborhood has either a petting zoo or a children’s farm.

Thanks to these local farms, my daughter, who has grown up entirely in the city, feels perfectly comfortable around farm animals.

Michele Hutchison, an author of “The Happiest Kids in the World,” a new book exploring why Unicef in 2013 rated Dutch children highest in the world on measures of happiness, said that many of the ways those children are being raised today may look old-fashioned, but that this is more of a conscious choice by contemporary Dutch parents to resurrect old-fashioned family values: fresh air, nature, unsupervised play.

“Dutch kids’ parents played outside unsupervised when they were young, and now they consciously try to allow their children to do the same,” she writes.


Last night I wrote the final scenes in my novel. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I was doing research for a book about local history when a newspaper story from 1918 sidetracked me. On January 19 a story started coming to me (inspired by the article). I began typing it a few days later and now it’s done: about 70,000 words. The story, called Jim Wrenn, begins in the mountains of western Virginia, proceeds to a mill town on a river in the Piedmont and ends up on a nearby farm. The story occurs between 1909 to 1942, then jumps forward to 1995-96. I’m no Tolstoy by any stretch of the imagination, but I think it’s a pretty good story.

Now I just need to figure out what to do with the darn thing.

On to more interesting news: we’ve only had one new kid since my last update, but she’s a real cutie.


Lots more on the way.