For the Love of Hens and Chicks


I am loving having a mother hen with chicks running around the barnyard. There was a time or two back in Stringtown when a hen managed to hatch a chick or two in secret, but the chicks never seemed to make it. They’d be there one day, gone the next. Which made me not want to let them have chicks. It was too sad when the chicks disappeared. This time it’s different. I’m not sure why, but nothing is bothering the chicks and they’re growing.

Here’s how it happened.

We have several game hens. They’re about the size of banties. We have netting over the top of the chicken yard (those game hens can fly like crazy, you can’t build a fence high enough for them), but they manage to push out under the fence, constantly, so several of them have ended up outside the chicken house/yard. (None of the big chickens get out, just the game hens.) They’re feisty devils, those game hens. One of them made a nest in the barn then started sitting on it. Game hens, like banties also, are determined mothers and good sitters. Alas, there are no roosters outside the chicken house, so she was doomed to disappointment. We thought we’d help her out, feeling slightly sorry for her, so one time while she was off the nest to grab a quick drink of water from the creek, we switched out her eggs for eggs from the chicken house. Eventually she hatched five chicks. They were hatched the day before the flood, so they are almost a month old now. She’s been a very good mother and still has all five of her chicks. I decided I like getting chicks this way! They were free, no ordering from a hatchery! I haven’t had to buy any starter for them–she makes sure they get fed! It’s interesting to watch her. She will scratch at the ground, then step aside and let the chicks eat what she’s scratched up.

It’s also so enjoyable to walk into the barnyard and see her strolling around with her babies. It’s adorable. And then there was this sight one recent morning.
Do you see? Up on the hay feeder. That’s about four feet up off the ground, which is amazing.
That the game hen could get up there is no surprise. But the chicks? The CHICKS got up there?
And not ONLY did the chicks get up there with their mama, but one of them is on top of her back!

Meanwhile, by the way, another game hen appeared last week with two newborn tiny chicks. Really? We didn’t even know she had a nest! We were ready to call her The Virgin Mary, then I saw her sneaking back under the fence, into the chicken yard to get to the feed, then back out. That’s how she had some fertile eggs, and probably why she had only two that hatched. She’s going in and out of the chicken yard to eat, and occasionally engaging with a rooster, but not all the time, so she only had two fertile eggs. But, she’s quite proud and happy with her two chicks.

And if this doesn’t stop, soon I’ll have 100 chickens.

The Flood


They are calling it the “thousand year flood” in this area, and I know many of you have seen the pictures on the news. It was the worst flood here in recorded history. We have been out of power until yesterday, and are trying to get cleaned up here and deal with the situation in which we are on day 7 with no water. (Water, water, everywhere, but not running in the pipes.) We are okay. The house, studio, and barn are on high enough ground, though it got close with the barn. The creek and culvert were torn up, a new culvert will be needed, and a lot of fencing was torn out and swept away. But we were the fortunate ones. The nearest town here is Clendenin, West Virginia. The entire town was under water. People were on rooftops trying to save their lives. Every business in Clendenin was flooded–the grocery store, the library, the post office, the bank, the gas station, the churches, everything, and all the homes. Much of it may never be back–FEMA is here, and many people and businesses are selling and leaving. They have nothing left here. I’ve been through Clendenin and Elkview (also a massive hit from the flood) several times now and it’s truly a disaster area. People’s lives are in piles at the sides of the roads in front of every house as people try to pull out and salvage what they can–then it all ends up in mountains of debris in parking lots where it’s hauled away. Many homes were also flooded here on my road, and all around. People’s cars were flooded, bridges to their homes washed away, porches and decks torn off, propane tanks laying in the middle of the road, it’s just a total devastation around here. Thank you to all who have been concerned–I only had cell service for days, and even that wasn’t very good for the first few days.

Here is how the farm looked on the day of the flood, which is nothing compared to the entire town of Clendenin under water, but will give you an idea of the force of the water that day when all we were dealing with was a normally-small creek, not the river they were contending with in Clendenin.
Ways to help:

If you’re in the area, they need help at the relief stations in Elkview and Clendenin–you can give supplies of water and non-perishable food and cleaning supplies and hygiene supplies and diapers, everything. (They don’t need furniture or household type items at this time–the people who need help don’t have houses to put furniture in.) You can also give your time if you can help out at a relief station. (This is where I’m headed today.)

If you’re not in the area, you can donate through the Salvation Army or Mountain Mission or Matthew 25 Ministries or many other relief organizations that I’m sure you can find by searching online for West Virginia flood relief.

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Got cows? Then you’ve got milk! And the baby doesn’t need all of it. You could use the original cow milking system….you know, your hands. After all, hand-milking is a low-tech operation. You need hands and a bucket. Clean up is as easy as putting the milk bucket in the dishwasher. But milking the cow…....
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Two strainer pots of chevre draining in my fridge. Can’t wait. I love goat cheese. I’m really enjoying having dairy goats again, especially better behaved dairy goats. And just as important as the cheese, the goats are filling a gap while Glory Bee is dried off awaiting her next calf. I like being able to...
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