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Chickens, Chicks, Eggs, and a Baby

Sometimes, in life, decisions come back to haunt you.  Such is the case in our home right now…every time I go to put Baby to sleep.  Bedtime, naptime…they both present challenges right now that no mother should ever have to face.  It’s all because of one decision made nearly 7 years ago…the decision to let my husband have his way. 

He wore me down, really.  I wrote a post about it, so, if you wish, you can go back and read all about it.  He wanted chickens.  If there was one thing in this world I didn’t want, it was chickens!  It was the one rule I had when we first moved out here.  No chickens.  How hard is that?  Honestly?  Well, apparently it was hard enough, because we did eventually wind up with chickens.  Lots of chickens.Chickens in the barnyard

Most of the time, the chickens and I keep the peace.  They stay out near their coops behind the barn.  I do my thing up at the house.  I happily eat their eggs and feed them to my kids all year.  But, once a year, in the fall, we hatch eggs*.  The lucky ones will grow to be replacements for our aging hens and roosters, but many will eventually grace our dining room table.  You may be wondering at this point what hatching chicken eggs has to do with my story, but don’t worry…I’ll get there.

The weather in Texas during the fall can be a little erratic.  One day, it’s 95 degrees.  When you walk outside the next morning, there’s been a cold front that has pushed through (often with plenty of wind damage in its wake), and it’s only 52.  Never to fear, it will be back up to 85 by lunch.  Chicken eggs require a relatively consistent 99.5 degrees during their 3 week incubation time.  With the fickle weather outdoors, that just isn’t possible this time of year…unless you have a hen with an inclination to stay with her eggs.  We have plenty of hens, but we have yet to produce a hen that is a good enough mother to stay with a nest of eggs longer than about 3 days.  We’re generally happy when they don’t break their eggs…asking one to sit on a nest may be a tall order!  So, up in the loft above our bedroom sit two egg incubators.

Hens hunting grasshoppersThey have been there, full of eggs for three weeks.

About a week ago, we began to strain our ears, listening for the first little cheeps and pecks coming from the loft.  Then, on Friday, it finally came…with a cheep cheep here, and a cheep cheep there…here a cheep, there a cheep, everywhere a cheep cheep.

Now, the eggs are hatching, bringing forth new life to feed us for another year.  The kids get so excited, and watch for their daddy to head up the stairs.  They know that when he comes down, he’ll be carrying all the fluffy little things that are ready to make the move from the incubator to the brooder in the garage.  It’s a wonderful, joyous occasion.

Wonderful and joyous…

…Until it’s time to put Baby down to sleep.

You see, chicks are really loud when they hatch.  Their doing it in my bedroom in the loft, remember?  Baby’s crib is in our room.  So, it’s me, my husband, Baby, and a bunch of hatching eggs.  We’re one big happy family!

Here I sit on my bed, nursing Baby (who isn’t really very good at  the whole sleeping thing to start with).  She drowsily starts to slip off to dream land.  I gently get up to lay her in her crib.  As soon as her little body touches the mattress, “CHEEP CHEEP CHEEP CHEEP CHEEP!”  It’s rather jarring, I must admit.  Baby is now wide awake, and is not pleased that her mother had the audacity to put her down just as the dreaded sleep monster was about to overtake her.  The chickens, sensing my ire, immediately desist.

“Dad-gum chickens!”  I mutter under my breath.  

I pick up my dear, sweet, non-sleeping child.  I comfort her, and she calms down.  She’s not hungry anymore, but maybe she’ll settle for a lullaby and some rocking.  So I sing a few verses of Jesus Loves Me and Baby is getting sleepy again.  It’s time for the dreaded transfer maneuver.  I gently lay her down, and she immediately rolls to her side…a sure sign that sleep is coming!

“CHEEP CHEEP CHEEP CHEEP CHEEP!”

I want to pull my hair out!  No mother should ever have to try to put a baby to bed with a loft full of chicks!  Why me?

I’ll tell you why.  It’s because I surrendered during the Battle of Chickens way back in 2010.  Now, despite the fact that “I wouldn’t have to do anything with the chickens,” I now have chickens in my bedroom…my bedroom!  My baby can’t sleep because of the chickens.  If you had told me 10 years ago that I’d have chicks in my bedroom, I’d have had you committed.

In a week, they’ll all be hatched, dried, and out in the brooder in the garage.  There will once again be peace between the chickens and I.  Only the white noise of air conditioner and noise machine will remain in my bedroom.  It will be back to just the three of us…me, my husband, and the baby.

Well, until the second batch starts to hatch in a few weeks anyway…


*We hatch eggs in the fall instead of the spring because our winters aren’t cold enough to freeze little chickens, but our summers are hot enough to cook them!


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My kids have toys.  Tons of toys.  Toys, toys everywhere.  They have so many toys, they don’t all fit in their rooms at the same time.  Plus, in case those aren’t enough, they get more toys every Christmas and every birthday.  That’s 10 new toys coming into the house every year…not even counting the grandparent contribution!  So, what do they do with all of those toys?

Well…sadly, not much.  Don’t get me wrong, they do enjoy the toys, and they play with them from time to time.  However, most of the time, I note them playing with all sorts of other things…not toys.  It does beg the question, “Why do we bother?”

Here’s my list of some of my kids’ favorite not toy toys.  See if you can relate:

1. Sticks

What is so cool about sticks?  I guess it’s because they can do anything you want them to!  The biggest ones are often made into clubhouse teepees.  I’ve also seen fishing poles, horses, guns…pretty much everything can be mimicked with a stick!  Plus, once you’re done with them, you can throw them in the pond and make the dog chase them…and who doesn’t like making the dog take a swim?

 

2. Rocks

We have a plethora of rocks around here.  Not only can the kids dig them up from the dirt, our driveway is also made from rocks.  If we go on a walk, our road is made of rock.  So, we have no shortage of rocks.  We go out walking empty-handed, and by the time we come home, I’m carrying a huge load of rocks in the stroller, my pockets, and even in my hands.  Wait, why am I carrying all the rocks???

Once back at the house, they are investigated thoroughly.  Then, the ones that contain the proper level of sparkliness will go on to become eggs in a pretend bird’s nest, or dinosaur nest, or turtle nest…you get the picture.  The ones that don’t make the cut either go back in the driveway (if they know Mommy or Daddy are watching) or they are flung into the pond one by one so that, you guessed it, the dog will chase them.

3. String

Oh, all the uses of string!  Tie some string to a stick, and now you have your very own fishing pole.  If you can find a piece that’s long enough, tie it together at the ends, and now you have a glamorous necklace to use for your next ball (it’s starting in 5 minutes in front of the refrigerator).  Bear once tied several knots on one end of a piece of string to make something that vaguely resembled a dragon.  Everyone else immediately had to have a dragon pet of their own.  We had string dragons floating around the house for days!

4. Cardboard box-small

Ah, the cardboard box…it’s infamous!  Any time we receive a package in the mail, the children immediately claim the box and the bubble wrap (see #6).  Why do children like a cardboard box so much?  We adults will never understand.  I guess all our make-believe magic grew up and moved away…or maybe got packed away in one of those boxes!  Cars, trucks, boats, aquariums…those little boxes can be magical! 

You never know what they’re going to put in the box, either.  Last night, I came out of my room, after having fed Baby.  When I emerged from my room, I was confronted with a highly suspicious sight.  Three out of four of my mobile children had found a box that my dad had sent something to us in.  They were standing around the box, and Bear was hurriedly closing the top of the box.  

“What do you have in that box?” I demanded in my most authoritative Mommy voice.

<Giggles>

Bear flashed me one of her patented sheepish grins and piped up, “Monkey!”

Maniacal laughter from inside the box ensued.  Then all the children started laughing.  Monkey popped out of the box.

Their dad and I started laughing too.  “Alright,” I admitted, “with you four around, perhaps I should have asked who!”

I have no idea what kind of game they were playing, but it sure was funny…especially after it aroused my suspicion!

5. Cardboard box-large

Need I say more?  What parent hasn’t bought their kids the best toy of the century only to have it thrown by the wayside in favor of a refrigerator box?  Shocking, but true.  Jails, castles, houses…the possibilities are endless!

6. Bubble Wrap

Lizard starts jumping up and down any time she sees the delivery truck bouncing up the driveway.  She’s already calling out, “I get the bubble wrap! I get the bubble wrap!” before I even get out the door to claim the package.  I have to meet our drivers at their trucks…they’re scared of Patch (as are all the meter readers, and the guy who works for the county grading the roads).  LIzard’s still bouncing when I come back in, and I can barely make it in the door, because they now all want a piece of bubble wrap.

Oh, the disappointment that ensues when a package comes with brown paper stuffing instead of bubble wrap!  There is wailing and gnashing of teeth!

I have to avoid the shipping materials aisle at WalMart just as meticulously as I do the toy aisle.  At least if I want to keep the “Momma, can I have?”s away.  You should have seen Lizard’s face the first time she noticed the shelf full of giant rolls of bubble wrap!  No birthday or Christmas morning has yet been able to compare to the joy and desire mirrored in those little eyes that day at WalMart!

7. Strangely melted metal

They call this little gem “Rudy”.  When they first found it in the yard, one of the children decided that it looked like the big, bad dinosaur creature from Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs that Buck called Rudy.  I’m not actually sure what it really is, but we’re pretty sure it originated from the burn barrel.  Don’t worry…we checked it for sharp edges.

 

8. Shovels

Yes, my kids play with shovels. Not the toy shovels you find in the sandbox seasonal aisle or the role-play toy aisle, they ‘play’ with real, full-sized shovels.  Every once in a while, someone gets a hankerin’ to dig a hole.  It makes no sense to me, but, hey…they have a blast.  Their Daddy will give them shovels and real jobs that need to be done.  They get a shovel, Daddy gets a fence post hole, and, after they’re done Mommy gets a quiet afternoon nap time since they’ve exhausted themselves digging a hole!

9. Pile of bricks

A few years ago, while we were visiting my parents’ house up in the DFW area, we were over at my grandparents’ house, visiting with them one afternoon.  My granddad had a pile of bricks stacked up next to the shed behind their house.  It was a fairly decent-sized pile of bricks.  Bear found them while playing outside and immediately set to work building a pint-sized castle.  She asked to go back over to their house every afternoon.  My granddad was so amused with her building, that at Christmas (the same Christmas that the giant Lincoln logs appeared), he sent at least half of his pile of bricks down with my parents so that Bear could have bricks at her house too.  Since then, they’ve been castles, walls, chairs, stages, corrals for wild stick horses…you name it!

10. Old coffee cans

Oh, the fun you can have with an old discarded coffee can!  My husband buys his coffee from Sams, you know, the big, giant 2 pound canister.  When he’s used all the coffee inside, the cans (or rather, plastic canisters) meander out to the barn where they are then given a second life as a feed scoop, or egg transport device.  If, however, the children gain control of them first, however, many interesting things can happen to these unsuspecting containers.  They make fantastic sandbox toys or mud pie makers. 

They like to collect rainwater in these cans and turn them into “soup”…the main ingredients of which appears to be water, dirt, leaves, grass, and sticks (to give it just the right amount of texture).

Sometimes, though, their stick horses become stick cows, and the rainwater in the coffee cans is actually milk.  With the milk they collect, they can make cakes or ice cream…both of which look strikingly similar to aforementioned “soup”.  Woe to the onlooker who guesses incorrectly!

I could write an entire post about all the uses for old coffee cans…maybe I will!

 


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An Epic Battle

As we were sitting on the porch one evening recently, Lizard pointed out an epic battle happening right in front of us in the grass next to the pond.  A large garden spider and a red wasp were fighting to the death.  Lizard and I watched, glued to the action.  The spider was certainly bigger, but which way would the fight go?

Bear happened to walk by as Lizard and I were mesmerized by the action.

“What are you looking at?” she inquired.

I pointed to the wasp and spider, and Lizard piped in, “They’re fighting!”

“Woah, cool!”  Bear was sucked in.

“Quick!” I said to Bear, “Run in and get my camera.  It’s on the bookcase.”

A Victor Emerges

During the 6 seconds it took Bear to bring my camera outside, the battle was decided.  We watched the victor begin to drag the spoils of war off, presumably to consume in the near future.  

About that time, Andrew walked up to ask for some help.  He noticed that we were all focused on something in the grass.  Of course, he too wanted to know what we were doing.  We told him all about the battle that we had just witnessed.  We were still enthralled by the helpless victim being carried off the battlefield by his ruthless foe!  Watch what happens next:

A New Victor Emerges

Yes, that’s my husband’s big boot.  He was mad at the wasp for killing “his” spider.  “I like those spiders!  That wasp killed my spider!”

Now, if you know me very well, you also know that I have an irrational fear of wasps.  Those things are out to get me.  They leave everyone else alone, but they incessantly buzz toward my head…stingers at the ready!  So, I was rather amused to see the wasp meet his untimely demise…even if it did end our show a bit prematurely.  The kids were a little upset at first, but were quickly consoled by watching the video approximately 584 times in quick succession.  So, how could I possibly keep this little gem to ourselves?  Enjoy!


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Socks

Where do they come from?

Socks.  I despise socks!  Socks comprise a major part of the laundry around here, and I can’t really figure out why.  They’re relatively small, and my husband is really the only one who wears them regularly.  You can usually find me wearing a pair of flip flops…rain or shine, hot or cold, it doesn’t really matter to me.  Our children don’t like socks.  The oldest decided several years ago that they made her feet sweat, and said so within earshot of her younger siblings, who, in their quest to be like their big sister, have followed in her bare (but not sweaty!) footsteps.  If you find any of my children walking around with socks inside their shoes, rest assured, there has recently been a knock-down, drag-out fight over the occasion.  I’ve found, in motherhood, that it’s important to pick your battles.  There are circumstances that I will force the children to wear socks…but most of the time it just isn’t worth it.

So, how is it, then, that socks have come to represent such a large portion of the laundry?  Honestly, I have no idea where they all come from.  If you know, please tell me the secret!  Really…it’s driving me crazy (yes, dear husband, I know…it’s too short a trip to waste the gas).

Continue reading “Socks”