Back in the Saddle


Pasture ornaments.
But no more!
(It was actually starting to rain at this point, so not such a great photo, and it was taken with a cell phone, too. But.)

I was using a borrowed saddle on Shortcake back when I first got her and was riding her a lot. I had to give it back, and the other saddle I had didn’t fit her right and I didn’t have anyone to ride with and…. I just stopped riding her. But! A friend of mine came down for the weekend and we went to the little store in town and I bought a new girth. She’s an excellent horsewoman and showed me how to put the new girth on and we got it all worked out right and we rode horses all weekend! It was awesome! I remembered exactly why I enjoyed riding Shortcake so much, and it made me want to do it again and more and I shall!

It made me so happy!

I don’t think Shortcake was really that happy about it–she’s still hard to catch. The horses both were full of burrs and we spent quite some time getting them combed out and perfect. (I’m hoping to get a brush hog attachment this year and take care of this problem.) Shortcake is such a sweet horse to ride. My friend rode Zip, and we rode all around the farm and up on the ridge. All weekend!

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Straight Run Chicks


I picked up a box of 15 straight run chicks at the feedstore yesterday.
Originally, I had been planning to get sexed chicks, hens only, but after putting some thought into it, I decided to go ahead and get straight run. I haven’t gotten any new chickens in a few years, so I need to pump up my hen numbers with some younger hens. My older hens are still laying and are going gangbusters right now, in fact, but still. As time goes by, chickens don’t lay as many eggs as they do when they’re young, so it’s time to bring in some perky new girls.
As for the roosters that are likely 50% of this batch…. I’m planning to butcher them. I don’t know what the breed is on these chicks. They didn’t know at the store. I didn’t really care–they all lay eggs. They are probably some kind of common laying breed, not a meat breed, so the roosters won’t be huge, and will likely be best for stewing chickens. Will see if I can figure out the breed when they grow and feather out.

Meanwhile, if you did want to try to sex chickens from a straight run batch at a feedstore, here is one idea that I can’t validate. Several years ago, this is how they were doing it at the little store in town, with Eddie the clerk demonstrating his chick sexing skills.

Pick ‘em up, turn ‘em over in your hand, and if they draw their legs up to their body, they’re female. If they stretch their legs out, they’re male. If one leg draws up and the other leg stretches out, you put it back and try another. (When that happens, Eddie says, “Hmm, that one’s no good.”)

Good luck if you try that! Whenever I think about eating a chicken I’ve raised, the story about the little neighbor girls at Stringtown Rising comes to mind. They came over one day while I was fixing dinner. One of them asked me what I was cooking. I told her fried chicken. She said, “Which one and what did it do?” I told her it was chicken from the store. She said, oh, and explained that when they had chicken at their house, it was when one of the chickens had made her mom mad.

I had a speaking engagement this past Monday in Charleston and a lady there told me another good one. She said when she was growing up, they always had chicken on Sundays. During the week, she said every time their chickens would go in the road, she’d be wishing a car would come by and hit one of them because that was the only way they’d get to have chicken on a Wednesday! I told her I was always hoping I’d hit a squirrel, and she looked a little aghast. I have to remember to be careful who I say something like that to because a lot of times if I mention squirrel hunting, people tell me they feed the squirrels and love them.

I love squirrels, too! In my own way….!

I’ve got these chicks set up in a big tub on top of a tarp inside the house for now. I set up the pen around it to keep Precious the puppy from diving in to meet all her new friends. (She’s very excited about them.) I’ll let them grow some before I move them to a stall in the barn….and eventually, the chicken house.
It is spring.
Let there be chicks!

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  1. IMG_5011

    April 2, 2015 - New Friends!

    Precious, studying her new friend!

    What IS IT?

    She got up to check!

    Sniffed it from behind.

    Asked it to play!

    Here’s a little video showing what happened next!

  1. IMG_4980

    March 30, 2015 - Mama Maia!

    Look what I found in the goat yard this weekend!

    See it? Here’s a better look!

    It’s a baby girl! But who’s the mama? Is it…you?

    Or you?

    Or you?

    WHO?… Continued…

  1. IMG_4958

    March 25, 2015 - The Last of the Hay

    Somebody needs to pick up sticks.

    Because somebody’s going to be mowing again soon. The grass is growing! And just in time. Yesterday evening I got the last of the round bales moved.

    A couple bales went to the horses, and one bale to the cows.

    Another bale was left in … Continued…

  1. IMG_4906

    March 20, 2015 - A Bonding Moment

    Goat Burger reached out to Chloe yesterday to share a special moment.

    The love betwixt guardian dog and goat is a beautiful thing.

    Chloe: “I love you, too, Goat Burger.”

    “I would never have named you Goat Burger. I would have named you Snuggle Sausage.”… Continued…

  1. IMG_4897

    March 19, 2015 - Waiting for Babies

    The goats are expecting.

    Mostly, I think they are just expecting their supper, but I’m expecting babies. I believe all but two of the girls are bred.

    This one.

    This one.

    This one. (Jane, sticking her tongue out at me.)

    And this one!… Continued…

  1. IMG_4812

    March 13, 2015 - Puppy Meets World

    We’ve had a fantastic and fast weather turnaround here, with temperatures in the 60s! Precious the puppy has been inside all winter, since she arrived, but it was time for her to come outside and discover that she lives on a farm!

    Or at least see it from the front porch.

    She looked and looked!… Continued…

Daily Farm


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The Slanted Little House

"It was a cold wintry day when I brought my children to live in rural West Virginia. The farmhouse was one hundred years old, there was already snow on the ground, and the heat was sparse-—as was the insulation. The floors weren’t even, either. My then-twelve-year-old son walked in the door and said, “You’ve brought us to this slanted little house to die." Keep reading our story....

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