Disturbing development!

I want to warn you – the next picture is graphic and more than just a little disturbing. It’s actually pretty horrible, but I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t seen it – and am amazed at how quickly everything went from being just fine to simply horrifying.

Our seven little Welsumer chicks are now 4 1/2 weeks old. We’re pretty certain that there are six pullets and one cockerel – it’s obvious who has the more pronounced comb, quickly developing wattles, as well as definitive male behavior. Funny how these chicks have remained nameless thus far – I think we’re all becoming more accustomed to the fact that they are – indeed – livestock. Yes, there are some that are more bonded to us and much more pet-like, but for the most part, the majority are indeed livestock.

Our routine of late – particularly with the dramatic increase in the temperature the past few days – over 100 degrees at our house yesterday! – has been to allow the big girls (now 15 weeks old) and the middle chicks (possibly as many as four of them are roos! – and are now 9 weeks old) out of the coop to free range. We then move the Welsumer babies into the 4′ x 16′ run to get some “outside” time in a more controlled environment. It’s been working out very nicely.

We did have one of the Welsumer chicks who seemed to be – well, for want of a better word – a runt. At one point in time we found that she was really getting picked on by the others, and went so far as to separate her out from the others for a little while. She seemed to have a slightly swollen foot, and after the separation it quickly resolved and she went back to her pals. She reintegrated nicely. So nicely, in fact, that I’d lost track of which chick exactly she was as she seemed to be catching up with the others – and they’ve all been feathering out so nicely in the past week or so.

Sundays are busy days for us. We checked on the chicks before heading out to church. Everyone was doing great upon our return. John and I headed out to Costco for about an hour this afternoon, and upon our return Jess informed me I’d better come check one of the chicks right away – something was very wrong – it seemed to be bleeding. I quickly went out to the run and quickly ascertained that, yes, our runt, was more than being picked on – she was being brutalized. The picture below is what we found – brace yourself:

They literally tore her apart. You could see completely into the cavity of her body and she was obviously failing rapidly. How could everything go so wrong in 60 minutes? What was the catalyst? She’d been busy, active, involved with the other chicks when we’d left. They had food, water, lots of space. There was no boredom going on here.

We’ve watched these babies closely – they’re beautiful and fun. They’ve been very different from the other chicks. They were actually hatched under a Mama hen – their behaviors are so distinct as a result! They’ve been so interesting to watch. How could this have happened in just an hour away from them?

Our kids are pretty deeply disturbed. They were so sad to watch as this sweet little chick died. Well, so were the adults! We disposed of her body carefully, and set out on a mission to try and determine the big WHY?! Frankly, we found nothing to be a catalyst. We did pick up her tail feathers and the little bits of her that were left in the run.

I find myself feeling even more than normal paranoid Mom thoughts… Will they do this again? Can I leave them alone – at all? How can I *not* leave them alone? They’re in a lovely coop with everything they could need – lots of elbow room. Do I go and check on them though the night to make sure they don’t find another victim from amongst themselves? *shudder*

On to happier thoughts… although it will be some time before I am able to dismiss the above event from my mind!

Our warm weather has worked wonders for our beans. The row against the wall are the pole beans. John will build the trellis for them on the coming weekend. The two front rows are bush beans. I’m so pleased this many of them have survived the chicken mauling! I am a little disgusted, however, at the mole that came up right in the front row of bush beans – the stinker!

Here is one of our – what seem to be – many roos. Comparing him to the other California Whites – he’s obviously male! He is lovely, and sweet tempered – and definitely on the bottom of the roo pecking order. He will occasionally have a stare down with the other (Dominique) roos, but always backs down and walks away. Interestingly enough, he was one of the roos that took Speedy under a protective wing when she was reintegrated with the flock.
Isn’t he handsome?
I will try and get some pictures of the other roos in the coming week. It’s been astounding to see how quickly the middle girls (and boys) are not just catching up to the big girls – but some of the Dominique roos are even MORE than catching up in size!

Earlier in the week – much eariler in the week (like nearly a week ago!) we heard the strangest noise. We were all out in the yard – I was working on the garden the kids were hanging out in the hammock and playing cards. We all looked up and at each other and couldn’t figure out what it was – then – simultaneously – we all noticed one of the Dominique roos let forth with a very pubescent sounding crow. Oh my! And he’s not the only one – it seems all of the then 8 week olds were learning the crowing ropes.

At first we thought – well, it will be ages before they get past their changing voices and figure out how to crow with the dawn.

WRONG.

This morning one of them – hard telling which one – right at 5:30 a.m. let out with a fairly polished crow. Nothing like the likes that Harlan used to belt out – but I’m thinking the junior roos took notes while Harlan was visiting!

Oh my!

Gosh, we need to move! We need a home with a couple of acres and plenty of room for roosters to be roosters and not get in trouble for it! We’ll see how things progress… I’m sending up lots of prayers – trying hard not to nag God, just tell Him what my heart is feeling!

Okay – still sad. It’s gonna take a while to get over the chick incident. 😦

Chickens and gardens – oh my!

I love blackberries. A lot. Two summers ago – the summer my Mom’s illness had escalated and we were essentially home because home was safe for her – we had bazillions of blackberries. I made blackberry syrup, blackberry jam, blackberry jelly, blackberry pie filling, blackberry cobblers, blackberry muffins, blackberry cake, blackberry lemonade… Mom particularly loved the fresh blackberry protein smoothies I made for her. You get the idea. I love blackberries! Last year we knew we were going to have to trim back the blackberries – they were beyond aggressive – they were taking over the entire property! We had a friend help us – and he did a bang up job – honestly – I worried we’d have no more blackberries every again! And sadly, last year there were not enough blackberries for much more than a few handfuls to snack on on an occasional morning – but that was about it. 😦
I’m starting to think the year off was a good thing. There are beautiful white blackberry blossoms all over the place. As you can imagine, I’m starting to plan… blackberry jam, blackberry jelly, blackberry syrup…. Sigh. Wish Mom were here to share – but I’m thinking she’s having much better blackberry smoothies in heaven!We are so thankful for the warmer weather. Pepper is particularly happy about getting to play in water! She’s so funny!The roses are loving the weather, too. Mom’s rose tree is finally putting forth the kind of blooms she routinely got from it.

One of the things I’d read about keeping chickens and letting them free range was that they had a tendancy to “nibble” on gardens. As with all things chicken keeping related – leave it to me to learn the hard way! Behold…

Yes, these are my ahem – formerly – beautiful pea plants. Yes, I can say with assurance that the chickens loved my peas as much as I did! Yes, we did put up a fence around the garden – that once the chicks are big enough they won’t fit through… Of course, they do now – and this…is the result. So, we’re adding chicken wire to our decorative fence around the garden. Gotta love chicken wire!

The final straw that spurred us to action was when the girls realized that the green beans were sprouting – and gobbled them down in great number. Grrr….Thankfully we had enough chicken wire on hand to get the green bean garden protected before all of them were gobbled down. It was amazing today – with the heat – to see how much they progressed!Thankfully we were able to intervene while there were still tomato plants to save! Well, you gotta admit – they know yummy stuff when they see it, those cute little chickens!

Speedy update

It wasn’t that many days ago that we were thinking that Speedy just wasn’t going to make it. She wasn’t eating anything that we were able to appreciate anyway. She drank very little. She mostly just hunkered down and looked weaker and more out of it each hour. It was so sad. We were pretty sure we may have to euthanize her.

After giving some excellent advice over the phone earlier in the day, Lyn (From the Portland Backyard Chicken group) and her delightful daughter visited us Thursday evening. They brought a few treats for Speedy as well. But by the time they visited Speedy had already begun to perk up.

Here are some of the excellent gems of wisdom that were shared with us:

1. Make up a batch of Carrot Tonic – here’s how:

6 carrots (leave the peel on)
1 clove garlic
Adult dose of Vitamin C
Adult dose of Echinacea


Blend this together with a couple cups of water, and then add to a gallon waterer and add enough water to fill the waterer. Give it to the chickens, they will slurp it up. It boosts the immune system, helping them over what ails them naturally.

You can offer them this in place of their regular water for a few days if they’re feeling a bit under the weather, or as on occasional treat to boost them for whatever reason.

2. Add Kids’ Ecinacea (2 to 3 drops) in food and/or water.

3. Give an option of meal worms regularly!

4. Offer organic, full-fat, plain yogurt.

5. Try giving some berries – blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, blackberries – whatever! (Thankfully, I still have a smattering in the freezer from last year.)

6. Offer cooked cereals – oatmeal, cream of wheat, multi-grain or the like.

7. Add some apple cider vinegar and minced garlic to the drinking water about once a week.

8. Offer cooked brown rice with a sprinkling of garlic.

9. Try giving some oat milk (available at New Season’s Market or other health food store).

10. Offer corn bread!

Since Thursday evening Speedy has continued to recover – in fact, today she free ranged with the rest of the flock – beautifully I might add – but only after her morning snack of oatmeal with a big spoonful of yogurt on top. (See above.) [Speedy gets first option on the treats, then the baby chicks get the treats that are left over, and when they’re done, on it goes to the rest of the flock.]

Speedy is doing so well, she’s actually even sleeping out in the coop tonight – not in the pet carrier in the pantry as she had been. We tried initially to have her sleep with the older chickens (i.e., the middle girls – her peers, and the big girls), but the big girls were just too mean. So we added her into the side of the coop with the babies. She was able to perch high up on a branch that we have up there, and settled in for the night very nicely.

One very interesting effect of Speedy’s illness is that she has bonded – big time – with us. Whenever I go out into the yard and speak – Speedy makes a beeline for me – and will then proceed to hang out – following me wherever I may go. It should be very interesting to see how this behavior proceeds – whether it will be passing or not.

Whatever the case – we are so relieved and have breathed a huge collective sigh of relief that Speedy is doing SO MUCH better! Hooray!

Vitamins

At the risk of repeating myself..

If you go to the doctor and you have hypertension, he evaluates your case, he looks at your history of your blood pressure, and then he decides (based on a number of factors – drug reps not to be excluded!) which form of medication to prescribe to you. You typically stay on it for two to four weeks, record your B/P at home and then when you return, show what your levels have been. The doctor will then evaluate how the medication is – or isn’t – working, and may keep you on the same dose, may cut your dose in potency, may increase it, or may try another drug altogether. It’s a trial and error kinda thing.

POST-OP VITAMINS ARE MUCH THE SAME!

[Frankly, there a lot of normies running around with some majorly screwed up vitamin levels, too, only they don’t pay attention to it until it becomes life altering.]

Who your surgeon is (because each surgeon has his/her own personal set of surgical protocols and philosophy of surgery), what your particular surgical specs are, your health history, your level of compliance with taking your vitamins, any other RX’s you might be on, as well as the trends of your post-op labs from your pre-ops to NOW all come into play.

This is why I believe WHOLEHEARTEDLY that every post-op ought to:

  1. Have a spreadsheet of their labs – from pre-op forevermore. If you don’t have a template, there are some in the files, or you can borrow mine -it’s at: http://www.bodybybaltasar.com/html/labs.html
  2. Have the list of their vitamins/supplements written out somewhere -including manufacturer name, strength, dosage, and any notes as to when/wherefores pertaining to tweaking of supplements – and on hand -always.
  3. DEMAND (if necessary) a hard copy on ALL labs drawn – no matter what. My doctor’s MA knows that it doesn’t matter if it’s a post-op related lab, I want a hard copy of it – so she takes a photo copy of whatever comes in and I get it as soon as possible. I’ve learned more stuff from some of those “auxiliary” lab runs that had nothing to do with my DS, but helped me to have a better understanding of what’s going on with my body. It’s *my* responsibility to know what’s going on with my body – I am, after all, the one who has to live in it!
  4. Have a copy of their op report from their DS (and nowadays more and more surgeons are providing a video of your surgery as well – important stuff to have on hand) and know their surgical specs.

Sorry – a little warning here – a rant is about to ensue: people, we go into DS knowing we’re asking for intestinal malabsorption. The DS isAMAZING – phenomenal, wild, wonderful, and honestly one of the best gifts I’ve ever been given. However, it’s a very powerful surgery – and if you don’t take it seriously, there is potential that you can give yourself a slow fairly tortuous death. And it’s not just us – we have a whole heck of a lot more in common with some of your RNY peers than a lot of us are willing to accept – at least on the malabsorption front. WLS is a big deal.

Duh – so is morbid obesity – and for those of us who were at super, supermorbid obesity and on death’s door, we were willing to accept the big deal!

Getting the DS and chalking “but I feel fine” up as sufficient for how you’re doing as a post-op and an excuse for not being vigilant about supplementing, labs, and knowing what’s going on with your own is willful NEGLIGENCE.

Okay – sorry – I couldn’t hold that in.

So yes, there are some fairly universal truths for malabsorbers. We need more B-12 than the average bear, our low lipid numbers are not a bad thing, we do need to supplement B’s no matter what the community (and some of our surgeons) were saying five, six, seven years ago. Some folks need more of one thing than another. That’s why it’s so important to take ownership for your labs and being consistent with having them done and yes, even knowing what your numbers are.

Okay – I’ll shut up now.

Speedy’s under the weather…

From June 23rd to the PDXBackyardChix Yahoo Group:



Above are three pictures of Speedy. These were taken yesterday.

She continues to reject solid food. Well, she’ll eat meal worms, and she’ll eat a little yogurt. She won’t eat the chick starter. But she does drink some water. I found a great web site with disease info: http://www.welphatchery.com/poultry_health.asp She doesn’t seem to have the symptoms of one particular disease. The things I would say she does definitely have include: loss of appetite, weight loss, seems droopy, much less vocal, doesn’t mind being picked up or handled at all (that’s a change), one of her eyes seems to close more than the other. Her eyes do look normal when they’re open (no color change or anything), so I wonder if she got pecked by one of the other chicks before we got her isolated.

She really looks not so great. Her stools are watery – but no blood. She just seems really, really weak. She does walk a bit, but mostly just huddles and prefers to sit in a location where there’s some sun. She’s lost a few (less than 10) feathers. We’ve treated her with everything we know of. She honestly just doesn’t seem to be improving at all.

We continue to keep her isolated from the rest of the chicks, day and night.

I just keep wondering if we should euthanize her – is she suffering? What do you guys think? I would very much value your input.

Our prior posting regarding Speedy below…

From June 19th to the PDXBackyardChix Yahoo Group:

When we went to pick up our order of chicks at the end of April there was a mishap and our 5 Dominiques accidentally got integrated with a bunch of Marans. It took Kelly a while to go through and try to figure out which was which – and I went home with a “bonus” chick, which he thought *might* be a Maran. That chick, we believe, is Speedy. She’s a little different from all of the other chicks – yes, she’s black and white, but seems almost tail-less. It is not at all unusual for her to kind of cry a little – almost like she’s looking for a buddy.

All of the girls are often out in the yard free ranging – they tend to travel around in two or three groups – divided either by age, or by breed. It’s really trippy to watch.

The past couple of days it seems like Speedy has seemed a little disoriented. Today it went a step further and she began to self-isolate – we’ve not seen this to this degree from her yet.

When I picked her up this afternoon I was shocked at how light she’s become! My daughter and I decided to put her into the coop with a treat of some yogurt and cracked corn, and see if she was willing to eat. She consumed the treat fine – but then went to rest – laying her head down almost like she was exhausted. When it was bedtime and the girls were arranging themselves on the roost, Speedy got knocked off and roughed up a bit by the oldest girls. My daughter and I stepped in to intervene and pulled her out. First we tried adding her to the side of the coop with the baby babies (4 weeks old) – but even the babies would pick on Speedy! We felt horrible for her!

So we’ve put her into a pet carrier with a nice bed of pine shavings and her own supply of medicated chick starter and water. She was pretty stressed out initially when we brought her into the house, but after Pepper the wonder chicken dog sat with her for a while she settled down. Right now she’s zonked out and sleeping like a baby.

Ideas? Thoughts? Suggestions? I’m worried for her!

Thanks,

Dina

Post-op Activity Levels

I think it’s really important to clarify a bit on what the expectations are about post-op activity levels.

I had my own DS coming up on 6 years ago in Spain with Dr. Baltasar. I was one sick girl – my doctors had told me I’d live no more than 6 months without drastic intervention. Hence, the DS!

I was wheelchair-bound, and had been for a couple of years. I could stand for maybe 30 seconds. My BMIwas 64. Dr. Baltasar said to me, “the goal is to walk one step further each time you walk.” I was up walking to the toilet within 4 hours of surgery.

Within 24 hours of surgery I’d walked from my bed to the doorway of the room and then one step further to just out in the hallway. That was a banner day! I had (and still have) big time orthopedic issues. I have degenerative joint disease. I’ve got bilateral grade 4 degeneration of my knees and need both knees replaced. Last August I had my right hip replaced- I’m 44 years old. Right now I’m in a cast because they’re trying to immobilize my ankle long enough to decide if I’m a good candidate for ankle replacement. You get the idea – a mess!

By the time I was 1 week post-op from my DS I was able to walk 1/8th of a mile. May not sound like much to anyone – but to me it was a MIRACLE! I walked that far standing behind and holding onto my wheelchair. By the time I’d flown home to Oregon and was alittle more than 2 weeks post-op I was able to walk nearly a mile – I had to have my wheelchair with me for the trip back from wherever it was that I’d walked to, but hey – amazing!

By the time I was 3 weeks post-op I’d given up my wheelchair and was using 2 canes. By the time I was five weeks post-op I was down to 1 cane.

By the time I was six weeks post-op I was using no canes and was finally brave enough to get rid of the wheelchair.

For me, it was baby steps.

I guess one thing that I should clarify is that within just days some of my constant high-level chronic pain had begun to subside some. I know for certain that the constant swelling I experiencedwith both knees had decreased dramatically by the time I was a week post-op.

Part of the reason I was able to stand longer and walk further was that my pain was so much improved. The other reason was that I went into it determined to NOT sit on my fanny and feel sorry for myself. I also have a history of having had blood clots (five different instances since my teens)- I knew for sure I didn’t want to have a DVT or PE or any other kind of complication, and everything I knew from my work (I worked in health care)and research told me I needed to be disciplined about moving. So I did.

I’ve now gone back to Spain ten times as a support person to lots of other patients. There are some basic things that we have to have an understandingon before I’ll ever agree to be someone’s support person:

  1. You have to do what I tell you.
  2. You have to do what I tell you even if you think I’m obnoxious and a pain in the butt.

And the things I tell them:

Never stop doing pedal exercises. (Seehttp://www.bodybybaltasar.com/html/travel.html – click on the In-Flight Exercises link.) From the moment you board the plane you keep doing the exercises – even when you’re waking up after surgery – keep doing theexercises. Whenever you’re sitting anywhere – keep doing the exercises.

Sitting up is way more comfortable than lying down.

If you’re having discomfort – try moving before asking for pain medication.

Get up and walk at least one step further each time – once an hour during waking hours.

No bending at the waist to pick up stuff from the floor, or to tie shoes, orthe like.

No lifting anything heavier than 10 pounds the 1st week post-op.

Once they’re cleared to drink – take a sip (teaspoon sized) every five minutes during waking hours.

Once released from the hospital – continue the walk once an hour during waking hours thing.

After released from the hospital – one two hour nap a day, or two one-hour naps a day. The rest of the time stay out of the bed, get off of the couch, etc.

Use pain medication as needed – but stay alert, remember the more you move,the less you’ll hurt.

Make sure to adhere strictly to the post-op diet (we do 2 weeks of liquids after surgery with Dr. Baltasar).

Be certain to get calories in at least every 2 hours – that’s probably too long those first few weeks.

It’s basic stuff, but it really and truly does help and make a big difference.

That all being said, I’ll add that I carry a pedometer in my pocket everyday – whether I’m at home or abroad. My goal is always to try and get in 10,000 steps a day (which can be a challenge now that I’m in a cast!). When I’m in Spain I make note of how much a patient walks each day. On average, most patients are able to walk a mile by the third or fourth day post-op. It’s not about doing it quickly or all in one stint.

We often go down tothe Mediterranean (Benidorm, Alicante, Altea, Calpe, the general area of the Costa Blanca – which, incidentally is endorsed by the World Health Organization as one of the best places to recover from an illness or surgery!) and stay in one of the little towns along the Coast. Virtually all of the little towns have beautiful beaches and lovely tiled promenades running along the beaches – with benches every so often. I always encourage patients to walk as long as they feel they can do so comfortably, then find a bench, plant yourself, watch the ocean, watch the people (always fascinating!), close your eyes and soak up some of the lovely sun. Then, after a brief rest, get up and walk a little further – until you need to rest again. It’s truly not about walking miles – or even setting any particular distance record – it’s about the motivation behind it. Do I want to have a blood clot? Do I want post-op pneumonia? Do I want to be on meds for pain for a long time – or free of them sooner? Do I want to heal faster? Do I want to be able to step back into my life sooner?

Every patient’s condition – is of course – individual and unique to them, even though we all share some common things that we’ve suffered from or gone through. I’ve been to Spain three times with a patient who was wheelchair-bound – but every single one of them has been willing to get up and at least try to walk a few steps if it was at all physically possible.

This most recent trip to Spain (mid-May 2008) I had a patient who had been pretty significantly immobile due to a number of health issues. This same patient is the one who walked 2.5 miles the third day post-op. I, frankly, was blown away at the level of dedication and honest assessment that was made by that patient to stop and self-assess (at my urging) periodically and say,”Am I in pain? Experiencing growing discomfort? Short of breath?” This patient continued the rest of the trip in this same mindset – the day we walked the most we covered 3.5 miles. We flew home on the 13th day post-op. During the last three days alone we saw the Prado, The Royal Palace, took a tour of Historic Madrid, took in a midnight Flamenco show, among other things!

I truly believe that a patient’s frame of mind and willingness to be disciplined those first two weeks post-op have a HUGE impact on how the rest of recovery will go.

The week of the rooster!

This is Joe… He’s a young, pretty dumb raccoon that comes often during the daytime hours to hang out on our back porch. Our dog doesn’t seem to mind much – unless the chickens are out free ranging – then she gets hacked off. And – oddly enough, our cats don’t seem to give a rip at all! I personally think Joe’s front right paw is injured. I also think Joe may need to go on a little trip to the woods where he can live somewhere other than suburbia!


Jess took this picture the other day. This is Jake (one of our kittens) realizing his sneaky hiding place to observe the chickens was no secret to anyone and he may as well come out from under the car! He’s such a goof!
Isn’t this the sweetest little flower?
Caleb – hanging out on the top of the chicken run. He loves hanging out and watching the girls do their thing! Now that they’re all so big, he just watches – doesn’t seem to have much interest in having any run ins.

Here’s Harlan – never far from the girls – keeping a close eye on them and everyone else! He takes his job seriously.
Henrietta is by far our most social girl. She is not at all opposed to just hanging out sitting on my lap while we’re out in the yard. She is very intrigued by my air cast, though!
Here they are – playing follow the leader yet again – it’s always a riot, though, when they all end up in the corner and wondering why the heck they are there!
Do you see rooster here? Cause I see rooster here!

Here are the baby girls – out for a field trip to the yard. They seem to enjoy the outdoors quite a bit. They are just about three weeks old.
There is nothing quite so right as a flock of free ranging chickens in your yard, garden, and compost heap!
Our week started – for all intents and purposes – when Harlan (yes, as in Sanders, you know, the KFC founder – yes, that’s what he got named!) the Welsumer Rooster came to stay last Sunday. You’ve never seen such a stunning, sweet-tempered specimen of rooster! We learned in pretty quick order that he’s a right at 4:15 a.m. every morning to rise kind of a guy – and that’s when the crowing would start. Then the rooster a couple of blocks over would answer, then Harlan would answer back… and so on, and so forth…

Suffice it all to stay that the neighbors are not thrilled.
I can’t say as I blame them. While we all in this particular corner of the world are on 1/2 to 3/4th acre plots the house direct to the West of us is the least amused. Today they made it clear that Harlan would no longer be tolerated.
We’re bummed – we really have come to love him. He’s absolutely hilarious to watch, and is quite intelligent – not to mention, of course, beautiful to behold. But we want to be good neighbors, so Harlan will return to Sno-Kit Farm tomorrow – much to our sorrow. We hope that in the near future we will have a home of our own with enough elbow room to welcome him back to our flock. Thank you, Sharon, for sharing Harlan with us for this week!

[Here’s Harlan – sunbathing – BUT – keeping an eye out on his flock! It was hilarious when he’d doze off – startle and awaken, then hop up on his feet and crow for all he was worth to prove his vigilance!]

School is out for the summer. It will be wonderful to have the kids home. I love this time of year!

Introducing…

our new Welsumer rooster! Sharon (from Sno-Kit Farms) generously gifted us with this stunning bird. He’s nameless as of yet – but I’m sure the kids will find a name for him in short order. We’re a little blown away at how HUGE he is! And surprised at how upset he can be over Pepper (our dog) being nearby. He obviously doesn’t know yet that Pepper is a chicken dog and wouldn’t harm him. Here’s hoping they acclimate to one another in quick order.

Speaking of roosters… take a peek at these pictures:

Do you see three roosters there amongst the (what we are now calling) “middle girls”? Today as they were out in the chicken yard it was *amazing* to watch the facing off behavior – along with several chest butting episodes. These three – I’m convinced are roosters… Sigh… We’re trying to decide what the plan will be with them.

Henrietta is a true sunbathing beauty. The minute the sun comes out – she assumes her sunbathing position. She LOVES sunbathing! Isn’t she funny?

Pepper the wonder chicken dog. Shortly after eating our mid-day meal William moved the “middle girls” out to the baby play yard in the garden. The girls quickly figured out they could fly out – and sure enough – did! Pepper was laying nearby in the shade of a flowering tree of some sort keeping an eye on them. In no time at all they had moseyed up along side Pepper and hung out in close proximity to her quite contentedly.

New babies!

Several months ago when I was researching breeds of chickens to raise I came across information for the Welsumer – an older Dutch breed. They are known for their vibrantly colored (deep, deep brown – almost magenta) eggs. They are a dual breed – good for laying and meat. However, when I made my initial inquiries I was told that the likelihood of actually getting any Welsumer’s would be pretty slim. Further investigation confirmed that.

Last evening Danni (Critter Farm Girl blog) posted to our local Yahoo group that the farm supply that we both frequent on occasion actually had quite a few chicks – Welsumers included!

John and I talked it over last night and then again this morning and decided – yep, we’d go ahead and add some Welsumers to our flock.

When I arrived at AgWest, sure enough they still had some Welsumer chicks! It didn’t take long to indicate my interest and get my order together. Seven little chicks came home!

I initially (after some input from a very experienced chicken pro) tried adding the week old girls to the 5 week old girls. Wrong-o! So I quickly gathered them up and kicked into high gear to get the pantry reconfigured with a table and brooder and get the new babies settled.

After checking out their new digs they all konked out. A little later on in the day I brought home some meal worms for a little welcome home treat for them. It took them quite a while to figure out what they were – but once they did, it was a feeding frenzy!

The Welsumers are really adorable. They are very mellow. They are happy to be handled and much more social than the last batch of chicks. Everyone seems to agree that they are the most adorable with their little racing stripes. They also look like they have ancient Egyptian-style eye liner – too funny!

We’re looking forward to watching these chicks grow up!

Just when I’m beginning to despair…

…that Spring will never truly arrive… That it will be dreary and rainy and blustery – forever. Then, God brings about little glimpses of not only Spring, but the hope of even – sigh – Summer. Yes, that tiny little red dot is a teensy tiny little lady bug – sans dots! How cool is that?

Look! There will be hydrangeas, eventually. Hooray!

And beautiful, fresh, so sweet they could make you sing – peas.
And there will be, of course, scads of tomatoes – which is only right.

Okay – so for all of you chicken moms out there – take a peek at these two chicks below – the white is a California White, the other a Dominique. Do they look like roosters to you??? Cause they do to me! I know – they’re only 4-ish weeks old, but I’m starting to think they are. There are nodules where spurs are starting to bud out, they’re becoming more and more aggressive… One lady on a local chicken email group says she doesn’t call it until they either crow or lay an egg… Is it possible to know this soon?

Oh – can’t forget this beautiful flower. I threw out some flower seed last summer – it was a mixture and to be perfectly honest I have no recollection of what was in it. I have no idea what this flower is – other than lovely!

And, just to assure my life is never boring…. saw the orthopedic specialist today (one in a long line of them since October, I might add) and do you know what he had the nerve to do? See for yourself:
FOR A MONTH! I only get to take it off when I shower. Stink. Good thing I have the Costco supply of 10 gallon trash bags – I have a feeling I’m going to be going through a lot of them cause the boot has to be covered up whenever I go out into the yard.
So, I won’t despair. Summer is coming. God is faithful. Even when I have to wear an immobilizer!