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November Snuck Up On Us

We had woken up to a white landscape last week. It stuck to the ground for two days before vanishing overnight. That lit a fire under my ass to focus on cleaning up things I don’t want incased in ice in the near future. Have I done it? No. No, I have not. I will though.

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We had planned to butcher the pigs last weekend but it was too warm to hang them overnight. It’s forecasted to be cooler this Friday night to hang them and stay cool enough Saturday to process the meat.

It was too bad. I had made a lot of plans around it, including coordinating a caretaker for our disabled son, James, for the weekend. We drove him two hours away when we ended up being home for the weekend. He had a great time there though, and that’s what matters.

He is 16 and recovering from two major surgeries, so currently he can’t be alone all day. The butcher is an hour away and we had planned to stay at an off-the-grid hunting camp just a few miles away from the butcher.

We would have brought him to the camp, but he’s not exactly rustic cabin material… he prefers games, electronics, and indoor plumbing. I would have worried about him near the wood stove and trying to walk to the outhouse and back anyway. He is not very steady on his feet yet. Plus, the phones generally don’t work there very well so he couldn’t call me… Do I sound like a mom or what!?

He can walk without assistance now, but on bumpy terrain I still hold his arm. He tires easily and is attending school for a few hours now twice a week.

The camp is in Kevin’s family. We had spend time there nine years ago when we first met. It would have made for a nice couple’s getaway for us. It’s something we need from time to time. Every couple does. We plan to stay overnight this Friday instead. My mother will be taking care of James overnight.

Our youngest son, Danny, enjoys the outdoors and chickens much more than his older brother. He is excited to help with chores and loves to snuggle the chickens, who don’t seem to mind much. He would happily live out to hunting camp.

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In other news, the chickens have contracted lice AGAIN. That’s the curse of free-ranged livestock—they come in contact with the Wild where the parasites, diseases and predators are. It’s a constant battle. We have dealt with mites, lice, ticks, predators stealing eggs and food, bobcats and fox attacks over the past few years. I always remind myself that is is us who are encroaching upon nature, not the other way around.

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We currently have 27 birds. Two are Lavender Ameraucana and the rest are white laced buff Polish. Of the polish, 16 are half-grown. We are treating for lice tonight and removing the little roosters. I expect to have about eight pullets out of the young ones. I have nine adult Polish that are all getting along nicely with the younger group. I had let four broody mamas do their thing while we were in Boston for our son’s operations. I came back to a happy and healthy tiny flock of chicks being raised by one of the mother hens. They all just barely fit under her for the first couple of weeks after they hatched.

I have not gotten an egg in three weeks. Slackers. Hopefully the lice treatment will help. Another issue is I have two feeders in the coop. One hangs low for the chicks to reach with grower crumble. The other hangs higher for the adult chickens with layer pellet. All of them are eating the grower pellet and I am at a loss of what to do. I can’t house them separately. Well I could, but I am keeping things simple right now and don’t want to. Seeing as they aren’t eating the layer pellet, I’m sprinkling oyster shell in with their morning scratch.

I’m also using a timer in the coop for supplemental lighting. It comes on at 4:20AM and off at 8:00AM. A second period begins in the evening from 4:20PM to 6:30PM. I like to extend the day more naturally on either end of the day. It’s probably silly, but it makes me feel better. Hopefully next week they will be back on track.