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I am a 50+ yr old stay at home wife of a scientist/Military man.  I raise chickens for eggs, rescue dogs & cats & spoil them all.  I am a silver/metal smith & stained glass artist.  I, at one time was an secondary art teacher & Social Studies teacher.  I am sorta a eclectic earth mother who recycles everything I can get my hands on.  Enjoy working with power tools & even built my own 10ft by 6ft chicken coop.  am pretty much interested in learning everything I can thur books, magazines & friends. I enjoy veggie gardening & doing gardens just for the chickens. I also sew & love making pioneer style comfortable clothes for myself & adding vintage lace when I can find it. I am pretty easygoing, but need my coffee first before I am ready to face the world & day.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Hello everyone!
As a child, I used to hear the term from old men referring to their wives as 'old bats' & to me, I someday wanted to be an 'Old bat' too. So here I am & maybe not as old as their wives, but I decided it was time to put it to use. I knew it was not really a mean thing they called their wives, but some sort of funny term of endearment & much nicer than the term 'Brood'. Now you might find it weird that I would choose to be called that, but so far no one has called me that to my face & I did change the spelling for my tiny 1/3 acre farm as I like to call it. Just a silly childhood memory that finally came to life.
Let me tell you a little bit about who I am. I am a wife to a military man,who spent 16 yrs in the regular Army & now has 7 years in the Army Reserves. His normal everyday job is as a chemist.
We met in college, I was 29 & he was 19....yeah, yeah i know, I can already hear it...lol. We were odd friends, the chemist/military guy & the punk/artist gal, but somehow we clicked. We married after 3 1/2 years, I was teaching in Arkansas & he still had one year of college to go in Missouri.
He rejoined the army & off we went, first to Fort Benning Georgia & up here to Massachusetts. I had grown up on a Agricultural Environmental Station in Oregon where we had sheep, pigs, huge cows, horses, rabbits & peacocks along with growing potatoes for the state. I thought someday, just maybe I could relive just a bit of that again. Now, don't get me wrong, I am not a true farmer by any means now, just have a small orchard started, 2 vegetable gardens & my chickens, but for a 51 yr old slower woman it is more than enough for me. Plus the husband is not into the whole farmer life style so I live this & he lives his so called everyday normal life....but with chickens in the dining room! I grew up canning, tending to animals, gardening on a large scale & being just the typical farm girl....OK you got me, I was never typical in any sense of the word. I think the 'artist' in me always walked a different path than everyone else around me but it worked for me, even though my Dad hated the green fingernail polish & odd clothes.
Along with the chickens, I have rescued a kitten ( now age 5) while visiting Kentucky & named her Frankie K (Franklin KY), she is my true southern girl, happy, easygoing & will eat just about anything. Einstein kitty was rescued by my neighbor girls in our old town & brought to me to save. Even after 5 1/2 yrs, he is still a nervous wreck, had to be on a special urinary diet for urine crystals & has decided he prefers the basement. Big Momma is a 12 yr old given to me this last year by a neighbor who couldn't tend to her anymore. She is 18 1/2 lbs & diabetic...well yeah! When she came to me she was close to 23 lbs & had to stop & lay down to rest about every 5 feet. Now she can actually run up & down the stairs before getting winded. She prefers Daddy's futon in his game room or the bathroom when not begging for more food. She will chase Einstein when he comes out & since she can't catch him, I let her do it for a bit for the exercise before I stop it & go pet Einstein to calm his poor nerves down. He actually likes that part of the whole deal. Now Hayley, is my 14 yr old blind Chow Chow given to me by a neighbor in Georgia when she was just a pup. I told them when they thought of getting her not too because Chow Chow aren't really happy with little toddlers. Well of coarse they didn't listen & we happily took her. She has been blind since age 7 & is now getting quite old for her breed. She has arthritis but refuses to come into the house even when its below freezing, I think her joints go numb & she prefers that to the warm house....Who knows what goes on in her little head. I am going to Orientation for the MSPCA this month to start fostering animals. I have decided since I am a stay at home wife, I want the ones no one else can handle or have time with, such as sick or injured, born & has no mother & needs to be hand fed, old & cranky & so on. I think you get my drift on that. I can not wait to introduce them to Chatty (pet rooster), he controls the household & none of the animals or husband step out of line, I am exempted from this because Chatty thinks of me as his top hen...don't know if I should be flattered or not, but I don't get attacked. so I guess that is a good thing! he has trained all of my animals that chickens rule & they better be on their best behavior when a chicken is around. Frankie even goes out into the coop & run & lays down & watches them & they are so used to her being there they just seem to think she is an odd hen. Now on my off time, yeah like raising all these animals & taking care of a husband there is off time...lol. I am pretty normal, I read, watch TV, dye my hair fire engine red & cook country foods. I still create art with my silver/metal Smithing, though that has been put on hold for the time being because of the consent ER for the chickens in the house. As you may have read in my last blog we dealt with a raccoon or maybe a Fishercat that got 1 hen & my 6 yr old bunny. And now Chatty who is quite a large boy decided to mate with one of the smaller girls & she either pulled a muscle in her leg or sprain it cause she is limping. So she is in the ER playpen in the dining room recovering & Chatty is not going to be allowed near her!Poor little girl, was minding her own business, just checking out the warm oatmeal I gave them when he snuck up behind her before she could run. Maybe I am weird, but I find the whole mating of chickens to be quite funny when one of the hens isn't getting hurt by it. Chatty & Cashmire both do what I call the happy dance where they tilt their heads towards the hen & kinda hip hop dance around them. I suppose this is to give the hen time to lower themselves so they can bear the weight of that huge male who has eyes only for them at that moment. Two seconds later it is done & he's off looking for another hen to romance or to eat & she is still trying to shake herself off & stand. Most of the time Chatty is so fast he misses where he needs to go & the hens tail is down on the ground, but he seems to not mind this & I think the hen is relieved when he is off her poor tiny back! Now you see why I write about chickens? I started out telling you about my life & the chickens always seem to come up. I have never been good at keeping a journal but I love to write so that is why I decided this blogging thing was for me, its my journal & I can share some of the sillier parts of my life with you. Oh & just a note, in the last blog I said I used a wound spray that contained Zinc, my mistake, it is aluminum wound spray. That's what I get for not going & get the can while I am writing about it. So sorry, but I will tell you I will make mistakes, some I will catch, others I won't, so please don't get angry & think I am a total idiot. It also depends on how much coffee I have had, not enough & I will make mistakes. I mean I live with 12 chickens in the house that makes me crazy, but not an idiot....anyway I don't think it does? Ok its time for more coffee so I will go until next time. Have a great chicken day.

thought it was a raccoon, surprise its a Fishercat!

Like most people, I have a routine each morning. Get up, stagger down to the kitchen, let out Chatty, take a couple of swigs of my coffee & head out to let the hens out into the run. Now mind you, I am not fully awake so when they were piled on top of each other to get out I think "oh, they sure are happy to see me". Cashmire (rooster) comes up behind me & pecked my leg, so I turn around & his poor face is covered in fresh blood. I pick him up, which normally he fights me on & take him into the house, grab my chicken medical kit (yes I have one!) & ask my husband to hold him while I see where the blood is coming from. I see that a section of his comb looks like it has been cut or bite & is hanging there pouring fresh blood. Thomas (husband) bless his heart is ready to go to work but wraps Cashmire in a towel & holds him while I try to stop the bleeding. Notice the word 'Try', man I have never seen so much blood come out of a chicken before & it is raining down on his face & mine & Thomas' hands. I got out the iodine since it was the quickest thing I could grab & a paper napkin. Once the iodine was on the napkin, I applied it with some pressure to the wound. Cashmire lies there calmly & probably thankful he is no longer getting a blood bath in his eyes, nose & mouth. The napkin stuck to the area, so I just trimmed it since the bleeding had stopped & put him in Chatty's cage. Now I have had a few more swigs or coffee & a cigarette & am still thinking one of the girls got him. Not so when I go out into the shop & find my 6 yr old rabbit is gone. OH no, not another raccoon! Lost another bunny last year to a 45 lb raccoon who decided he loved my shop attic. Had to go get Thomas & a flashlight & make him go up into the shop attic to see if he can spot where the raccoon might be or had been. Well we have 2 attics & a sub floor up there so he couldn't find him/her before he went to work. We also found my poor Crackerjack(rabbit) dead in the stained glass area of my shop. From Cashmires wounds, I think he fought the raccoon to protect the girls so the raccoon went after my rather large rabbit. I can not image the terror those chickens went through listening to my bunny screaming. If you have ever heard them scream is is really sad. Thank goodness my 3 story house has a above ground basement, where I spent the next 2 hours hammering heavy tarps to the ceiling beams for walls, got my old plastic dog crate that comes apart, & pine shavings. I was able to give them a safe comfortable place with a heat lamp & light where they can be safe until we deal with Mr/Mrs Raccoon. Since it is snowy & icy here, it took awhile for me to chase down the girls in the run, but once in their new home they all settled down quite quickly & happily I might add. Ok, my back is sore, I still haven't had a full cup of coffee but I am awake now. Checked on Cashmire & he had scratched the bandage/napkin off & the inside of Chatty's cage looked like two roosters had battled. Ok now the husband is gone, its around suppertime & I can't fix him by myself, so I head to my chicken neighbor 2 doors down. Its pretty cold so I wrap Cashmire in 2 towels & grab the medical kit & off we go. They are home, thank goodness! She just so happens to have this wonderful animal wound spray that seals also....used for larger animals but we had gotten it for her quail, they tend to ram their little heads into the top of their cages. While Kelley held him, I covered his face & sprayed him with this stuff, insteadly stopped the bleeding & gave him a pretty silver comb! Yes I know we really shouldn't use anything that contains zinc on a chicken but it was either that or he bleed to death. she let me take the spray home with me since we knew Cashmire would scratch at the wound & reopen it before it heals. Well I am glad to say I got him home, cleaned out the cage, gave him fresh water & feed & he ate, drank & is now resting. I am not real thrilled with all the chickens in the house but I would rather help them than leave them to what I know would eventally kill them. Plus the basement has cement floors & will be easier on my back to clean out than the coops they have in the shop. But I will tell you this, come spring the coops will be stronger & tougher to get into...my version of a Chicken coop Fort Knox. I have a shop attic full of 15 ft hand sawed boards that are 1 1/2-2 inches thick. Mr/Mrs Raccoon will have to go somewhere else to get their tasty free meals once that is built. Oh by the way, since Cashmire is in Chatty's cage, I put Chatty in with Scarlette & they are quite happy together, no complaints from those two! So I finally got to drink my coffee & thought it was a good time to sit down & write this out before I go to bed. Have a feeling I will be moving slow tomorrow. Until next time, have a happy chicken day. Foot note on this, It was a nasty fishercat that got a hold of the bunny & we later found one of my Black Sexlink girls dead also. a Fishercat is related to the mink family but can get very big & will eat anything that it can get its hands on & kill.
Well, I finally got the mites under control when my rooster, Cashmire blocked the coop entrance & wouldn't let one of my hens in. She was very quiet, slow & not quite right, so I brought her into the dining room ER playpen. She ate & drank her water, but just seemed a tad bit off. For us chicken people, we know when one of our hens isn't doing right. Two days passed when I had to start forcing food & water down her with a syringe & knew she may not make it. Well she didn't I am sad to say. Since I have done autopies on some of my other hens, I decided I needed to find out what went wrong with her. I waited until the next morning after refrigerating her to do the actually autopsy. I grabbed both of my animal/chicken medical books & started. Most of us eat chicken & never think about what they look like unless covered in BBQ sauce. But I find it interesting of how the inside of a bird looks. Everything is neatly organized & so much of it in a small place. Anyway, as I was saying, everything looked good & healthy, no dead spots, worms, tears ect. Then I found her heart, instead of the beautiful ruby red color & firm, it was pinkish & 2-3 times the size it should be & mushy like warm jello. Sorry if I just made you hate jello, but that's what it reminded me of. The poor girl didn't have a chance with that heart she had been born with. It made me wonder if the hens my neighbor & I had bought as day old chicks were all of the same mother or coop. See she had 3 die suddenly & this was my second one from this batch. They were also either Red Sexlinks or Rhode Island reds that we lost. None of the black Sexlinks seem to have this genetic flaw that we have noticed. Sadly it is not something you can prepare for when you buy day old chicks or even hatch your own. Though I personally do not like cutting up my chickens to see what is wrong with them, I am glad I have the ability (stomach) to do so. I have learned many things by doing this....gizzard bound caused by long grass, sinus infection that went to the brain & this adnormal heart. One of my dear friends called me the Poultry CSI, in jest. She is right though because everything I learn helps me & may help others. Now are a happier note, 3 of the new girls are laying soft brown colored eggs. All the other girls have yet to start laying, which may be a good thing. 12 hens X 7 days is a lot of eggs for 2 people to eat! Thank goodness my neighbors love eggs, I will be keeping them well stocked. Well until next time, may you have a wonderful chicken day!
Three days ago, my other Rooster Cashmire, would not let one of my red sex-link hens into the coop. Poor little girl was out in the run cold & scared, with Cashmire blocking the way into the coop. She let me pick her up, which let me know immediately she was not her normal self. Into the ER playpen she went, after I checked her over. Besides white pasty poo, she seemed fine, but to be on the safe side I let her stay in the house with me so I could watch her. Nutmeg was not eating much or drinking water, so I finally found cream of wheat, oatmeal & strawberry Kefir that she showed much interest in.Two days of this, plus the syringes of baby vits & water, I had something crawl up my arm while I held her. WE had mites! Since it was very late, I was not about to go out in the rain to clean out the coop right then & there. But being a concerned Momma, I did make a kitty liter & wood ash tub for her. Well, did she use it like I had hoped to dust herself? No, she fell asleep in it. Ok, so the next day, after a trip to the vet for my cat, Frankie's rabies shot, it was time to strip & clean the coop. Now we had just had 24 hours of rain, but now it was nice enough with the sun out to not have to wear a coat. Oh by the way, I live in Massachusetts, bet you were wondering where this was all occurring . 20 feed bags full of old straw, poo & scattered feed came out & into the now visible gardens. I am a earth mother of sorts & hate chemicals if I can keep away from them. I have used herbs for years & knew that marigolds have many benefits besides looking nice & keeping bugs out of your veggie garden. I just so happen to have a bag of dried marigold heads, so I cooked them up on the stove to make a very strong tea. Not the prettiest smell by any mean,s but I hoped it would be a good wash for all the wood in the coop. My coop/s is a series of outdoor playhouses fixed together to create one large area plus its attached to a 3'x4' wood coop box all inside my shop. Needless to say, my shop is covered in tons of dust now until the spring when I redo the coop. Ok, now where was I...oh yes mites. I washed down all the walls, branch purch, & door leading out into the run with the marigold wash. Then because I have read they used to use old motor oil on the wood to deter mites, I grabbed a bunch of old marigold salve I had made a while back & coated the wood in the coop with this. In my mind, its safer & if the hens peck at it, it will not harm them. Its lard based so it will seal the wood some just like the motor oil did back when they used that. I also created a large wood ash & wood shavings dust bath for them, that I put out in the run while I was cleaning the coop. The girls were in it before I could walk away & Cashmire, being a gentleman, waited for them to bathe first before he got in. More on that boy in later blogs. So now I can just hear the old timers & experts saying 'Why in the world would she use marigolds?" Well, my reply is this- One of the chemical washes used to clean coops with has one of its main ingredients as Marigolds. This plant is a mild antisephic, antibacteral & many bugs hate it. So not only by washing the coop in it to 'scare' off the bug,s if the chickens do peck at the wood it can not hurt them. Plus by having their feet resting on the purch oiled in it, they are somewhat obsorbing small amounts, which is good for them & it heals any bottom of the feet wounds. Did you know a famous chicken company that advertises on TV, feeds their chickens marigold blooms? Marigolds have benefits for your chicken,s so if you have never thought about it, plant some & give them the heads fresh or dried. Ok, back to the mites, Nutmeg has improved since I put in the dust bath, the girls & cashmire are happy with their new clean home & I am wondering....if the mites left Nutmeg & my dining room has wood walls, do I need to wash my whole house in marigold tea because now they are at home in our house, instead of on the chicken?

Welcome to my world

Good morning chicken people
Welcome to the Old Batz Farm! As a teen, my Dad decided I was smart enough to learn about all the medical info on our farm & house animals. Good thing, because it has come in handy now that I finally gave up the 'city' life to return to a smaller blue collar town. Now most of you will be saying a 1/3 acre of property is not a true farm, but for this woman it is enough! All I wanted was a few hens & a nice veggie garden. simple huh? Not if you have a dear neighbor girl who raising chicks from eggs & you (being me) can't resist the small fluffy chick that runs towards you the day after it is born. Chatterbox aka Chatty came home with me that day & started my 'hen' raising a year earlier than I expected or was prepared for. No coop, no run, no chick feed & only a cardboard box with a light to put her in. Well I made due & she, a Buff Orpington grew into a beautiful bird. At 4 months old I heard this awful sound come from her, thinking 'Oh No' she choking! Yes, you got it right, my girl was trying to crow. Well I had already fallen in love with him & was not Craigs listing him, he was staying! Chatty is now over one year old, has the run of my downstairs & sleeps at night in a big metal dog crate. He rules over the 3 cats, 1 dog & my husband, but is momma's little boy. I trained him at about 2 months old to wear a rabbit harness & lease so that I could take him out with me into the garden & yard. Oh how my neighbors laughed over this one. They came out just to see him in his pretty harness, not too close mind you. He is VERY protective of his momma. He no longer needs that harness as he will follow me where ever i go & comes running if I call his name. Chatty has been my re-training of living & dealing with chickens, good training I must say though. Since him, I have had 5 more roosters & at least 20 or more hens come my way. Not all healthy like him, some I have lost, some went to new homes & some are still in my house in the ER nursery. I hope you will follow me as I write about the fun, sad & crazy things that happen with me & my 'kids' each week. Until next time, have a wonderful chicken day.