Found – one chicken!

Every morning I don appropriate clothing – this particular season of freezing temperatures and snow calls for many layers and good sturdy shoes – and go out to care for the chickens. Some might dread this sort of thing, but honestly, I enjoy it. I love talking to the girls – they’re so fun – sometimes they actually talk back, in their own chicken-y ways. It’s always fun to check up on them, interact a bit – they love being petted, and Millie (who is queen of the flock nowadays) always has a report to offer. I bring them fresh water, fill up their feeder, and then gather the eggs.

Today was no different from any other morning, really. My morning routine has been altered slightly since Shelly is broody and in the pantry – and this morning I planned to clean out her temporary housing (she wasn’t amused, btw) and check on her overall health.

I’d gotten the flock cared for, got some pine shavings and went to the pantry to deal with Shelly – and heard a car pull up, and after a moment, a door close. I assumed this meant that John was off work early… only, he never came in. I opened the pantry door and what did I find?

A chicken.

What appears to be an Americauna.

On the top rack next to the door.

Looking, well, a little confused.

!!!!!!! Here she is… Isn’t she cute?

I was worried about taking her out to the coop right away – but I figured it was warm – I could babysit – and she could get food to start things off…

Here’s Rooth giving her the once over – making sure she’s okay to be in her coop. Millie looks on thoughtfully… trying to figure out if she’s seen this one before!

A lot of thoughts are going through my head by this point in time… Like:
Did someone drop her off?
Or did she loose her way and somehow make it through over a foot of snow and land on the top of the rack of shelves next to the pantry door?
How old is she?
Do we get to keep her?
Is she really an Americauna?
Isn’t she adorable?
So, of course, I couldn’t keep this news to myself, and so I went and woke William up to tell him.

He was so excited he threw on shoes and raced out to the coop – while wearing a short sleeved t-shirt and SHORTS! – to see the new arrival!
He said, “She does look like an Americauna, doesn’t she?” Then, he thought an moment and added, “I think we should name her Crayon – if she lays colorful eggs, anyway. Maybe we should wait and name her, though…”

So, after a little sojourn with the girls in the coop, we brought her back inside to the newly modified dog bed to spend the day. We don’t want the bossy girls to be mean to her, so will wait until after dark – after the lights have shut off – to relocate her into the coop on one of the roosts.
So – the plan at present is to make her comfortable… and quietly hope she really was a gift! Hmmm… maybe we should call her Christmas!
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My, it’s pretty!

This is the view out our front window this morning… Yeah, we got a bit more snow!I got up – put on my long johns, pulled on my jeans, found a nice warm sweater, pulled on my warm socks, boots, coat, scarf, hat – and set out… The snow came up to my knees is some places! I couldn’t even find the stepping stones!

And yes – getting the gates open was a bit of a chore! Not that lugging warm water out there to the girls isn’t!

Here’s the view past the coop out to the yard… isn’t it pretty? That’s my egg basket hanging on the fence post while I take care of other business.

The willow that the chicken coop is nestled under is beautiful with the ice and snow on it!

Oh! And we’ve had some really great visitors to the bird feeders the past few days! I think this is a Wood Pigeon – if the lady at the Audobon Society was correct in her identification.
It’s really a pretty big bird – but so graceful.

Speaking of birds… Rooth is determined to check out the snow every opportunity she gets! Problem is – she really doesn’t like it when her toes get cold! She flies places, finds herself kinda of stuck, and then waits – sometimes patiently, rarely quietly – until one of us comes and rescues her and takes her back to the warmth of the coop!

We have what seems to be a whole flock of robins that are hanging out – a lot! – in our crab apple tree. They come to the feeders for seed now and then, too. They must REALLY be hungry!

My Mom received a gift of a lovely little shrub from my friend Charissa (who used to work for my Mom years ago) for her birthday one year. Mom was adamant that we take it with us when we moved her out of the house we all grew up in – we transplanted the beautiful little shrub into two planters – and they have thrived.
Here’s a close-up of the snow and ice on it. It is lovely – but oh, you should see it in summer when it’s in bloom!


I should report that Shelly continues to sit on her eggs (and no! I’m not brave enough to reach under and take them away from her!) and be committed to future Mommy-hood. I’m still searching high and low for fertilized eggs. I really hope we can find some!

Getting Ready for Winter

This is a very pretty flower I picked up at Home Depot in late Spring. I wanted it in the vegetable garden because I felt it would attract pollinators. It did. It’s lovely. And, it’s pretty darn hardy. Today I transplanted it out of the garden – which hopefully will get tilled tomorrow – and into planters on the front porch. Here’s the info about this flower – Sunny Day Tickseed – a type of coreopsis. But you wanna know what bugs me about this plant? This little blurb on the plant identifier tag: “Protected by US Patent Laws and/or Canadian Plant Breeder’s Rights. Illegal propagation is prohibited.” Okay – how stupid is that?! I’m sure someone somewhere thinks it’s a good thing to have intellectual property rights to the propagation of this plant – but one has to wonder… what if it accidentally is propagated naturally? Will I be prosecuted? Ugh!

I hope this pictures comes out okay… In the background – see that truly BIG pile of leaves? The boys worked hard today to amass it. They’re planning on building a fort from the raked up leaves. Ummm… today was one of those rare REALLY blustery days here in Oregon. Supposed to be tomorrow, too… This Mom can’t help but wonder if this plan may somehow be, well, difficult to execute fully. 🙂

ALL of the animals are loving the leaves. Pepper likes to roll in them. Jake and Caleb like to curl up in them. The chickens like to scratch through them… And soon, I hope, they will be moved to my compost heap – helping to make wonderful compost for my garden one of these days!


Today John worked hard to finish up pulling up all of the remnants of the garden. The chickens LOVED following behind and scratching through everything.


Wow – it’s that time of year ago – time to start strategizing what next year’s garden will be.

It’s wild how strange it is that we’ve come full circle. No more green beans… This will be my garlic patch – and soon! Thanks to Danni‘s and Melinda‘s examples and excellent information – I will FINALLY – after years of feeling completely inadequate and definitely not smart enough to attempt it – plant my first garlic patch. Woo Hoo! I’ll be sure to report later!

And here is my piled-high compost heap. The girls are investingating – trying to determine if there’s anything worth finding in there.

And here is my new composter. Kinda wild, huh? It’s called Earthmaker – it’s an Aerobic Composter. It involves a three step process – it has three different compartments – see?

Interesting, huh? I like it thus far, and will be sure to give updates as to how effective it is – or is not!

It occurred to me today – Hey! I should harvest the seed from my basil! Why have I never thought of that before? So, I went out with my scissors and a saran wrapped basket (so anything that escapes a seed pod will not be lost between the slats of the basket), and went to work. Here’s a peek. I’ll probably get around to coaxing the seed out of the pods tomorrow – I’ll be sure to report back! But here’s a great resource I found online about harvesting basil seed.

So – it’s true… it’s full force fall with winter on the way. I find it nearly impossible to believe it’s only a week until November. But I think I’m ready for it now. I think the fact that it hasn’t been horribly soggy has helped. I may even be ready for the rain. We’ll see!

Should we? Or shouldn’t we?

We’ve always just pretty much assumed we’d never own a home. We will be celebrating our 15th wedding anniversary in November – and – for us – it has never seemed an automatic that we should or would join the ranks of homeowners. We decided long ago that it was far more important – for our family anyway – for me to be home with the kids (where I want to be) than to be out in the work force. Yes, that means we have much less income coming in. Yes, that means we must be very intentional with every little penny.

We’ve been so blessed to be renting an older home – in NW Portland – on half an acre. It’s not a fancy house at all. In fact, it has original a bunch of stuff – not good stuff to have original just to be clear – you know, wiring, plumbing, etc. It’s not insulated. It has issues. Big issues. But it’s affordable – AND – it’s HALF AN ACRE IN NW PORTLAND! The reality being – our landlords are pretty committed to not improving the place. So, we must do with what we have.

For years now we’ve been working diligently to pay off debt – including mountains of school loans – we’re exceptionally well educated but of course, in fields that neither of us ended up working in. We’ve put our extra pennies into savings, and done without as much as possible.

As a result, we find ourselves in a place we didn’t think we’d be… contemplating purchasing our first home.

If the truth were told, we’d confess to longing for…

A home with enough room for all of us – the human contingent of our little world – two adults, the three kids, with an additional nephew thrown in for good measure at the moment.

Enough land to grow what we want to grow – lots and lots of organic stuff.

Enough land to have our chickens – and maybe even a small flock of turkeys.

Enough land for a goat or two.

Enough land for a couple of cows.

That doesn’t exist in the area where we live right now – at least not in our price range. Speaking of price range – ours is pretty modest – compared to the values of the places that we can see in a five mile radius of where we live. VERY modest. It’s a given that if we end up buying a house it won’t be nearby.

We figure we’re gonna need a place to be within an hour drive for John’s commute to work. We know we won’t move to a place that has schools that don’t meet certain criteria. We know it’s going to be a big deal – moving our kids from one set of schools to another, as well. And we know that it will be a big adjustment – going from suburbia to a more rural lifestyle. When we lived in Kentucky we lived about 20 miles from the nearest town. The places we’re looking at now are nowhere near that far out.

So we’ve been looking. A bit passively, actually. Not many places come up that fit our criteria! But of the ones that do – it’s kind of funny how many places look amazing on ads – but not so much in real life. Seen a bunch of those. But what do you expect given our price range?!

Today we did a drive-by on a place that at first blush is beautiful. See?

We were happy to learn from our real estate agent that it is vacant, so we could peek in the windows. Bottom line… from the outside it’s REALLY cute. Come Monday we’ll actually peek inside to see more.

But the real question is this, I guess: Just because the lender says you can afford to buy this house – can you really? Or more specifically – can we? Or should we?

There is a great yearning in our hearts to own some land… Usable land. Land that we can do something with, and that will sustain – well – not just us but our animals.

But at what cost?

I’m guessing we’re not the only ones asking that kind of question right now – given the current state of financial affairs in our country.

Owning, of course, has it’s advantages. Not owning does as well.

Oh – if only we knew what it was we really ought to do.

It may well be we’re not the first ones to ponder that very question while standing a ways off gazing at the potential of this being our home – it was built in 1890, after all.

Hmmm…. we’ll see.

On a completely different note…

We get the magazine Backyard Poultry and this month’s issue arrived today. There’s an article on Barred Rock chickens. Know what? I’ve got a sneaking suspicion that our BB and Speedy just might be Barred Rocks! But after reading this article today – I’m convinced that Ducky (below) is a Dominique. (Our only Dominique pullet – out of the six chicks we started out with!)

Wasn’t it nice of her to stop and pose for me?

And here’s Rooth – not to be outdone by Ducky – she wanted her picture taken, as well. Isn’t she growing up?

Sigh… it really would be nice to have a place of our own…

Now that’s a BIG egg!

Yesterday BB laid her first egg…


That’s BB on the left. Her name stands for big black – yeah, I know, not very inventive – but we were trying to keep a LOT of chicks straight – and she was just consistently bigger than the other chicks! She (and the rest of the “middle” girls) was 18 weeks old on the 1st of September. So we’ve been watching for her first egg.

Yesterday was the day! It was exciting – but a rather average, albeit a bit smaller than average (compared to the big girls, anyway).

THIS is today’s egg from BB:


Yep – that says 2 7/8ths ounces.

DANG! That’s a BIG egg!

Compared to Rooth’s eggs…And in with the other eggs from the big girls – who routinely lay about 2.25 oz eggs…

By the way… Aren’t they pretty eggs? I love the color variations. The kids are getting expert at being able to identify who laid what egg. Wild!

We live in an old house – and sometime shortly after the house was built (in 1946) someone planted a hydrangea right under the kitchen window. It’s a very large bush! It is kind of wierd, though – the colors on it tend to wash out to almost white in late summer and early fall, and then it seems to shut down production, as I assume other hydrangeas, do. I was walking past the bush – as I do many times each day – and was shocked to see one cluster of flowers on the back to a truly stunning blue. Isn’t it pretty?

Here are a few of the girls out sunbathing the other day… So much for cleaning the carpet and letting it dry in the sun!

It didn’t take us very long along the road of chicken ownership to figure out that chickens make the funniest noises. Henrietta makes the funniest little chirping sound when she’s on the nest box and you dare to disturb her. Here’s a tiny little video clip that Jessica took of her the other day.

And here (the lightest brown egg) is the egg she laid shortly thereafter!

Interestingly enough – Henrietta is still the most consistent egg layer. We get an egg a day from her – pretty much without fail. Rooth is right behind her in consistency. Interesting, huh?

Our Rooster Laid an EGG!!!

So we have this neighbor…

Well, I should back up a bit… If you remember Harlan the rooster, you’ll remember the neighbor – you can get the whole story here. Suffice it to say – our neighbor does not approve of roosters.

In the past week I’ve had several alarming mornings… picture this… me, in my nightgown, wearing my muckers (the world’s best shoes for running around a dew-wet yard), a cardigan, my hair all over the place… madly trying to coax my California White chickens out of the neighbor’s (yes THAT neighbor’s) newly seeded lawn. I nearly have a heart attack every time I glance out the bathroom window and see that they’re THERE – AGAIN!

About a week ago the neighbor’s wife came and knocked on the door to let me know our chickens were in her yard and I should come remove them… I, of course, quickly donned shoes and followed her to the sight of them scratching in her yard.

This neighbor and I have never spoken before. It was an interesting conversation. She mentioned casually that she used to raise chickens. She shared some tidbits on the best methods to raise chickens. And then she informed me that one of my California Whites was, in fact, a cockerel – not a pullet and that I should be cautious. I responded that I was pretty sure that it was, in fact, a pullet, not a rooster – we’d already gotten rid of our California White rooster – and that it wasn’t unusual for the pullets to develop more pronounced combs and wattles right before they started laying eggs – just about the age of these chicks. She made certain to let me know that she had no doubts we had a roo on our hands, and that she’d be keeping an eye out.

Today – our “rooster” laid an egg!

Here SHE is… she doesn’t have a name, but since she’s so easily identified visually from her peers now, I suppose we’re going to have to come up with a name for her! Any suggestions?

And here’s her egg. It’s our first white egg! Woo hoo! It was petite – only 1.375 oz – but perfectly beautiful!

How’s that for a display of variety?! The darkest eggs are Millie’s, the lightest of the brown eggs are Henrietta’s, and the medium brown ones are Hallie’s.


Oh – and Jake has found a new favorite place to nap during the day:

Yes, that’s him curled up right underneath the nest boxes. The girls don’t seem to mind him there – and he doesn’t seem to mind them, either. He’s such a goof!

It’ll be interesting to see if he’s allowed to continue to nap there as more and more of the chicks start laying… The middle girls are now of an age where that will begin. I’ll be sure to report!