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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.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

2013; a year of a whole lot of learning


Good evening everyone!

Its now near the end of 2013 & I thought I would still be at the Farm until March 2014 but as you know things didn't work out the way I thought.  I still miss that place pretty much everyday & think about what I would be doing there now if I had been able to stay.  would I actually have dry firewood to burn in the wood stove, would the trailer still have winds shooting through it like last winter & how much snow would I have melted for me & the kids by now since the pipes would have been frozen.

Here I don't have to worry or think about things like that as things are pretty easy but I still tend to spend a lot of time thinking about all the things I did there.

Now anyone that truly knows me, knew what I set out for myself there I would accomplish eventually.  It did take me time since I am over 50 & had a fairly wild life at one time that has caught up to me, body wise.  I can't say I really minded except when the lower back acted up & really slowed me down at times.

I got to go back on Yule to try & get Monk kitty home one last time & not much had changed.  Mr. Grumpy is still there as he was not able to get the place he needed for him & the cows.  My friends did come up sometime after I left & trashed a few rooms in the loft barn I had worked so hard to clean.  I guess they decided to clean something & just dumped it in the clean areas, so that upset me to see how little my hard work had meant to them.  I will never understand that since they knew what I had done to help & they just seemed to disregard it & in a way me.  I guess since they thought I would never be back, I wouldn't see what they had done.  So it was quite disheartening to see the trash & junk.

 Monk decided he still preferred the farm & tore out of my arms when I tried to get him to the car, but I was able to see he had muscle, not underweight or scabbed up.  but I still sat in the car crying because I wanted him to come home.

I got to visit with Em, who just happened to have Sherlock & Watson.  Seems Mr. Grumpy sold them since they weren't growing as fast as the others & her grandson Gabe bought them.  He hasn't gotten the fencing on his property yet, so she had them on her 3 acres, so I got to visit with my 2 little boys as well.  It made my heart feel so good to see both boys all fattened up & healthy.  they will eventually be slaughtered but for now they are healthy, content & well cared for so that makes me happy.

Its been odd being home, now don't get me wrong, I am happy to be back but its not the same.  I enjoyed all the challenges I had on the farm, the planning of taking care of messes or just clearing out a barn room.  The sounds of the cows in the pastures behind me & listening to the geese overhead.  I enjoyed the small trailer that had very little stuff in it & doing with what I had.  Here I have everything plus all the other stuff I never use or need.

The Farm helped me realize (again) how little I truly need to be content with my life.  it seems all these years of collecting stuff has become a pain in the backside for me as I just can't stand having things everywhere anymore.  Example- while doing the dishes I washed so enough silverware for 24 people.....like I need 2 sets of 12 knives, forks & spoons.  I never have anyone over for supper so it is crazy to have all that. but I have it.  I have enough of pretty much everything to start another family in sheets, pillowcases, blankets, silverware, pots, coffee cups, glasses & so on.  Its like a family of 10 could live in this house & be supplied.  Now tell me that's not too much??

Part of the reason I have all this is I tend to never throw anything away, I have stuff from when I was in college in the 1980's & before.  Its not that I am afraid of not having something, I just tend to keep it....whether I need it or not.

The simple-ness of the farm really helped me keep track of what I had to use there & nothing got packed except for clothes I didn't use.  I thought I might need them, but come to find out I wore lots of the clothes over & over because they were comfortable & worked for what I was doing there.

I learned that though I am now older, I am still mentally & physically strong enough to do tough jobs.  I have never been afraid of hard work, but it was good I could still depend on myself to do them.  That may sound silly, but until you get into a new situation that requires you to think differently, you really have no idea if you can do it.

With Thomas being in 2 Wars & gone often for military drills I knew I could depend on myself, but here at home I have only had a few things that were physically tough.  At the farm I had lots of tough situations I had to deal with & am proud I was able to never ask for help.  Its nice to know if you are by yourself with no car you can still figure out how to get things done.

I will forever be thankful for learning how to drive & use the bobcat & front loader.  I must admit, I so enjoyed starting up the front loader & being able to get it to do what I needed.  It was a blast to drive & play with, but I was always careful about what I did with it since it was dangerous & if I got hurt, there would be no one to help me.

I also got to have all the land I wanted to garden in near the trailer.  I can't tell you how wonderful it was to be able to plant what I wanted & where I wanted it & not worry it would be in the way of other things.  I loved the fact I could use the old tires for some of it & was able to build a 19x9 foot raised bed, something I had never done before.  I have had large gardens in the past but never had 7 gardens all filled with different things, some I had never tried to grow before.  Though all the rains made me re-seed 3 times & some never came up I am still pleased I was able to do it & get some of the things to grow.

The Farm sort of freed me in a odd sense.  I have always enjoyed large open spaces, no neighbors & just the freedom to be myself & the farm did that for me.  It was like the part of me hidden was able to come out & play again.  I had no worries about what the area people thought of me, no real rules to follow & just the joy of being there.  I never felt trapped as I have at times in my life, the need of pleasing someone else weren't there nor the expectations of being someone I am not, but pretend to be at times. 

I have known most of my life I was meant to do something, but having a normal life would never really be it, I need challenges, goals & freedoms that most never will understand.  I have always walked (danced) to a different drummer & the farm got to be that drummer for a short time, kinda like the Peace Corps was for me.

What may have been pure hell or hardship for someone else was somewhat pleasant for me, the different way of doing things didn't bother me nor did I ever really think about them.  I just did them as if I had been doing them all my life, if that makes sense.

I think the only thing I grew to hate was the killing of raccoons when they refused to leave my kids alone.  I still cringe & feel horrible over the baby raccoon I had to shoot 3 times & it was still alive the next morning.  That hurt me beyond words & its something I will never forget.  I am not proud of killing them & I hope I never have to do that again but I will, if my kids are being killed by them.  I also feel guilty for not taking more care in the chicken coop to make sure nothing could get to the kids & my mistakes is what allowed them to be killed.

That was the hardest lesson I had there, not being more careful when it came to the protection of the chickens.  I know now to be more aware of where the kids are & how to be a better chicken momma, but I am sure eventually even all my carefulness something will get to them.  but its a part of having animals that can't protect themselves.

I am also thrilled that because of me, 2 calves lived because of my care.  I had never tended to calves before so I fell back on my colt & lamb raising to help me & am thankful it worked & both are now healthy boys.

I am even happy I met Mr. Grumpy....yeah I know he really could be Grumpy but except for his treatment of his cows at times, he could be a fairly decent man.  Plus I learned to hold my temper with him so that was a good thing for me.  I tend to attack when someone is yelling at me & I am surprised I was able after the first screaming match to hold my tongue with him & not let him get the best of me.  I learned by being there that not all the things that were going on at the farm was because of him & that he was a bit like me, having no control over what my friends did, then they would blame him for the problems when they were at fault.  So I learned that his mistrust was really something he should have had when it came to things that happened on the farm.  He was yanked around more than I was, so I could understand his anger & frustration by the time I left.

I do miss the no TV, no computer, no phone ect like I had at the farm, since I have been home I have been bombarded by so much bad, sad & painful news on the TV & computer.  I liked being away from all of it, yes I knew things happened but I didn't have to deal with it.  Now I seem to get upset or mad everyday because of something on the News.  I am disturbed by all the things I see about the government, State governments & just USA events that show how much is being taken away from Americans.  Please do not get me started on GMO's or military!!  Those things burn me up something awful.

Right now with our unemployment ending in 2 days we are considered below the poverty line & as long as we can make the house payment I am Ok with that.  I just feel bad because Thomas came back from Afghanistan Dec 2011 & still hasn't gotten a job, though he has 26 yrs of military experience & a college degree, but no one wants him.
  I worry for him more than I do me, because I am sure it has damaged his self esteem knowing he can do a lot of different jobs but they don't want to hire him because they would have to pay him a bit more because of his experience(s).

We lost our last house to foreclosure when he came back from Iraq, so I do worry that might happen, not that I would mind living in a tent in a camp ground as long as I can have my chickens, cats & lizard, but I think it would crush Thomas if that was to happen again. 

I think though its been a odd year for me, the experience was a big help to my mental being, I was able to prove to myself I am still a strong woman in mind & body.  I was able to help a 471 acre farm be cleaner & healthier.  I proved no matter how bad it got I could still get up everyday & look forward to the next thing that had to be done.  I am lucky to have been able to do what I did & still come home.

I also was able to get off my Zoloft that I have been taking since 1997 & am now starting to speak up more instead of just letting things go unsaid.  I tend to laugh more even while there are days the change of life is kicking my butt.  I have a even greater love for my chickens & the joy of having them is what makes each day bright.

I can't say what my future will be like, but I know that if things get tough(er) I can handle whatever is thrown at me.  I do know if we end up somewhere in a trailer with no running water, no electricity, no TV or computer & just a woodstove, I will be able to make everything work & be happy.  Not bad lessons to learn in one year.

Until next time have a great chicken day!

Michele'








Thursday, December 19, 2013

Saying goodbye to another hen & other musings



Good afternoon everyone!

The last few weeks have been a bit on the emotional side with the putting done 2 of my hens.

We had a lot of rain then ice, then more rain in the beginning of December up here in Massachusetts, so it confused my kids so one day they are huddled in the coop, next day its hot & wet They, after a few nice days were back in the coop & not digging & eating up grit so they bound up.  I try to keep grit out but most of the time they never eat it so I learned to put it in with the feed to hopefully help.  this time between all of them molting, dealing with changes in the weather, my oldest Bowzer, who I have had since 2009 as a wee chick went down hill fast & I helped her by chloroforming her 2 days after she came to stay in the house. 

Then Indora, my youngest who was born two Septembers ago started showing signs of gizzard bound so in she came.  She was in the house for 3 weeks eating but not gaining weigh nor having normal types of poo.  She really went to town on the grass & for those 3 weeks was expelling the grass but by this last Monday she could no longer stand so I kept her with me.  She quit eating & drinking Monday so I thought she would die by that night but she hung on.  I slept in the recliner & had her bundled up on my chest near my neck.  Ever so often during the night she would wake up & rub against my neck before going back to sleep. 

I knew she was close as her skin was white & though she wasn't struggling she was breathing through her mouth the next afternoon. 
So I decided she didn't have to suffer, so got out the chloroform & slowly brought it towards her beak.  I learned if you do it slowly they don't react or panic since its just a mild odor at first & doesn't burn or shock them.  By the time it was to her beak she was asleep & went very calmly with no fear while I talked to her, telling her she was such a good & pretty girl.

I have been doing this long enough now to help my kids go over to the big chicken coop in the sky that I no longer wait until they are struggling to breathe.  At first, I so hated doing it, I would wait until the last minute to help them that they really were suffering & I was being selfish by waiting.  I didn't want them to go so I delayed the end & caused them to be so afraid in the end.  that was not what I wanted so I am glad I now understand that my helping earlier is not cruel or selfish but they get to go before the pain & panic kicks in.  There is nothing so sad as watching a chicken who seems to understand its dying & you do nothing. 

I have never liked cruelty for the sake of keeping an animal alive, just because I am not ready to let go, but I am guilty of that in the past.

I know that the move from the farm was hard on them & they all began molting by November, quit laying eggs & just tried to adjust to being back home after a year.  The odd weather added to all the stress they & their bodies were going through so I am not shocked that some got sick.  I just wish I could have saved them.

Each chicken I raise becomes a very special animal for me, whether they live only a few months or years.  I still feel the same type of pain when they go.  People who don't raise chickens don't understand the attachment I have because they don't see them as a pet like a dog or cat.  But for me, they are just as important & special as any dog or cat that I have had & them had to put down.

Actually I have spent more time with my chickens than most pets that I have had.  Most of the dogs & cats I have had all want to be left alone until they decide they want attention.  Well, my kids seem to want attention all the time, so I spend a lot of time talking to them or picking them up & carrying them around.

I have 3 cats in the house & 2 of them never want my attention unless its to fill the food bowl & the other yells at me cause she wants in the bathroom where its warm.  They don't want to be petted or loved by me like the kids do.

We finally got our 1st big snow this last weekend of about 8 inches so I got to go out & shovel the walkway to the shop.  I love this time of the year & enjoy going out & tending to the snow.  Now the kids refuse to come out of the shop & hang out in there & the coop while there is snow on the ground.

 I love how white & pure the yard looks with all the snow, I love the crisp air that smells so clean, I love how the trees stand there holding up all the snow on its branches.  I also like since I never have to go anywhere I can take my time clearing the snow from the walkways & listen to the birds in the trees in the woods behind our property.


With money so tight this holiday, we aren't doing any gifts to family & friends but for once I don't mind.  Thank goodness everyone understands so I don't feel guilt like I normally would.  Our unemployment ends at the end of the month but Thomas was able to get a part time job with UPS until the end of December to help out a bit.  Now you have followed my blog you know I don't mind having no money so I am not worried.  Also being on the farm for a year I also know if we go without electricity/utilities we will survive.  Plus having 2 cords of wood for our stove means we will have heat & a way to cook so that is good to know.  But no matter what we will always make it since this is not the 1st time in our life together things have gotten very tough money wise.

I am just thankful I am older & have no children at home, then I would worry about providing for them.  I know this time of year lots of families go through harder times than what I go through.  I heard that over 300,000 were laid off just this last week & wonder how they will make it when jobs are so far & few.  Thomas has been looking for work since he got back from Afghanistan in 2011 & this UPS part time job is the 1st he's had & he has a college education plus military experience.  I can't image ones who are just normal everyday people who are battling daily just to find any job to support their families.  I just hope all that are out there struggling find what they need to have a better life for themselves & their families.

 

Monday, December 9, 2013

The Old Batz Farm: Why does menopause feel like a a teenage temper ta...

The Old Batz Farm: Why does menopause feel like a a teenage temper ta...: Good Morning everyone! It's going on 3:00 in the morning & I am not wanting to sleep (again), sigh!!!!! If you have read this b...

Why does menopause feel like a a teenage temper tantrum?

Good Morning everyone!

It's going on 3:00 in the morning & I am not wanting to sleep (again), sigh!!!!!

If you have read this blog, occasionally I make comments about my going through the change aka Menopause & how I feel about it.

Well this last week has been like the Wicked Witch has climbed up my backside (if you get my drift0 & I am dealing with very big anger issues over tiny events.  I also cry at the drop of a hat, even watching a silly cartoon or reading a facebook article.  I even made the comment after one of these crying bits to my husband that I felt like I was pregnant again...NO I am not, got clipped & tied back in 1990.

I go to bed mad & wake up mad, go through the day crying like the world is ending when everything is going alright.  I can't talk without feeling the need to roll my eyes or use sarcastic remarks when someone...aka husband.....speaks to me.

The only ones not on my hit list are the 'kids' (chickens) but even the cats make me feel like pulling my hair out when they get all bitchy & pissy with each other. 

So far this last week, I had to put down my oldest hen Bowzer, who may have been egg bound & had a lung infection on top of it.  I brought her in for 2 days & gave her steam treatments to ease the breathing but she was failing & I knew I would have to help her go.  So at 2:30 a.m. while she was on my chest struggling I chloroformed her so she could go quickly.  She has been with me the longest, since 2009 & it just tore me up having her in pain & having to help her pass on to be with the other friends who left before her.

I also have Indora inside for over a week now, who is skin & bones, who may have a mild case of gizzard bound from the looks of her poo.  She eats & drinks enough but is not putting on any weight, so I am worried about her as well.  So I know part of my anger is not being able to help as much as I want with my kids who are having problems.

But for the most part I feel like a teenager who is on a roller coaster, somewhat out of control & not being able to get back to normal. 

Everything I have read says this is normal when the change is almost at its end, plus I get to also deal with short term memory lose while this is going on as well.  Well whoopee for me!

Sorry a bit of a temper tantrum there........

See even here, I can't control what comes out of my head onto the page.  Its like someone else has taken over my body & I am just along for the ride.  You know when your growing up & you go through that mental crap along with growing bones & pimples?  Well let me tell you after that, then going through pregnancy you think "Oh it will never get THAT bad again". 

Well I am here to tell you, I WAS wrong, WRONG, wrong!  As a teenager, I could go running to my room & slam the door, pregnant I could eat a gallon of ice cream & a bag of cookies.  Well since I have already done that, I feel like I am at a lose of what to do.  Its like my old lady head says "Well honey, you COULD go do the dishes.  I am sure that will make you feel better"  I mean, where does that come from????

Like I am So mad I want to break someones head & my brain says go do dishes???!!!!

When was house work ever therapy? or a way to calm down?  I tend to do housework when I am angry cause it puts my brain in a different place but right now, I do not want nor feel the need to be cleaning house when someone somewhere needs a good slap upside the head.  I can't even listen to the News without blowing a gasket verbally & normally I can keep it inside & not voice my opinion.....Well that ain't happening now, its like my mouth is disregarding my brain & just saying what ever in the hell it wants, when it wants.

Oh & don't even think to ask me if I am OK, you'll just get a sarcastic bitchy comment in a low nasty tone.  Like I am the daughter of Satan or something.

Oh yea & another thing when in the hell did I get so gassy??  I feel all bloated & crampy when nothing down there seems to be going on.  Its honesty like having PMS but a 1000 times worse without all the severe pain that tends to go with it.  Midal won't do a thing for what's going on with me.... maybe a few shots of Vodka....the whole bottle?  Then a ice bag for the killer hangover I will have.  At the moment not sure if that's a bad thing.

At least I am a happy drunk, so maybe the vodka would numb some of this, but I have a feeling I would end up being a dragon since my brain is already functioning without me.

As you can see I AM trying to keep a sense of humor over all this, but damn its not easy & I am just hoping this ends soon before I get hauled off to jail.  I know some doctors recommend hormone replacement, but I will be damned if I go that route.  Too many things can go wrong & I've decided to do this as natural as I can.  Plus the chances of female cancers rises while taking hormone replacement, so I will just deal with what life gives me, BUT I am not a happy camper at the moment.

I thought the last 9 years, 3 months & so many days I'd already been through the hard stuff, like night sweats are a thrill a minute, or hot flashes when you are all bundled up in a coat & can't get the clothes off fast enough..........ok I admit stripping in the grocery store is not what others want to see but hey, what can I say???  Ok that's a joke, but I sure came close a few times.  But we will not get into the times I was at home outside & did that.

Things are fairly quiet, cats calm & not fighting, chickens & husband asleep, so no one to mess with me for the moment.  TV is off & its pretty silent & our ghost Grandmama seems to understand not to come down at the moment.  But I know all it will take is one cat howling or hissing to send me off again.  So far no dishes, plants or furniture have been harmed, but I can't guarantee that won't change if this doesn't end soon & I MEAN like NOW if possible.

Thank you very much for listening to me rant plus showing me patience & understanding while I am this way.  Y'all know eventually I will be back to my normal crazy self & once again write about my kids or the farm.  So please be patient with me & my blog until then.

Have a great chicken day,

Michele'


this is not me, but it could be!  I even have the high top red tennis shoes...lol



 

Friday, November 29, 2013

The Old Batz Farm: Bits & Pieces Part 7, winter pictures of the farm ...

The Old Batz Farm: Bits & Pieces Part 7, winter pictures of the farm ...:   Hello everyone!   I hope y'all had a wonderful Thanksgiving that live in the U.S.A.  We had a fairly large meal as my husband ...

Bits & Pieces Part 7, winter pictures of the farm & thoughts

 
Hello everyone!
 
I hope y'all had a wonderful Thanksgiving that live in the U.S.A.  We had a fairly large meal as my husband wanted me to cook after a year of not having me here to cook for him.  this year we have gotten rain here in Athol, Massachusetts & the little amount of snow we had last week has gone.  so the last few days I have been thinking of snow & how wonderful the pastures looked at the farm with it been snow covered so thought I would share the few I took last winter.
 
Disregard the stamp time/dates on the pictures, I had a cheap camera & could never figure out how to fix the time/date on it.  these were taken between Dec 2012 & March 2013.
 
Winter Moon &  sky
 
I loved being able to see the moon from the trailer so got a few shots of the wonderful sky & moon just before the sun went down.
 
 
 
Long part of the Milking barn
 
Love the big round bales of hay that turned white with the snow on top of them
 

 

The area where the cows came through each day to go get milked, such a beautiful mountain area


This was my favorite tree on the farm as it reminded me of Ghana West Africa, something about its shape reminded me of the trees in Koforidua, the village I was at in Ghana.

If I looked to the right from my trailer steps this is the view I had of the old barn up on the hill.
 

Einstein decided to go out & check the snow in Nov 2012, Needless to say he didn't stay out long as the winds were blowing & it was freezing.
 
I wonder how long it will be before I stop thinking of the farm each day.  I keep thinking of what I would be doing there, instead of being here typing on the computer & listening to the TV my husband is watching.  I am sure since its dark now I would be sitting at the kitchen table either writing letters to the MJ hens or reading.  Plus trying to keep the wood stove going but not to the point of driving us all out of the trailer.  The farm has at least 6 inches of snow now, so I am sure its cold there so I am sure I wouldn't have water & doing the melting of snow for me & the kids part of the time.  I know last year it took until December for the pipes to freeze completely up where all the water had to be snow collection & Wood stove melted then filtered into bottles, jugs & 5 gallon buckets. 
 
I may have only been there a year but I honestly miss the simple-ness of it.  Yes, I had to do some jobs to get things like water but I liked doing it.  I never thought having no running water or a toilet that flushes as something bad.  Being a resourceful woman I knew that I could deal with any problem that came along.  There were times I wanted to cry, but never did I think of throwing in the towel & quitting. 
 
Here things are just too easy that I feel no challenge like I did at the farm.  plus I know with winter coming its not like I can go out & mess in the yard & do something I think is really important.  I have a great home with a lot of the modern materials & so on, its a good house built in 1920 with 9 inch thick cement block walls, a chimney we have my 1936 wood burning cook stove in & a warm non freezing bathroom...lol.......So I am thankful for all of this but I do miss the challenge I had at the farm.
 
I have been what some would call dirt poor & then moved up to middle class over the years.  Right now with Thomas back in school, our income is back on the poverty line yet I am not one bit upset over that.  Over the years I have always been thrifty (cheap) so I know no matter how tough it gets we (I) will be fine.  I think soon I will have to take a few of the skills I learned at the farm & use them here to get us through the tough times. 
 
I do know now that I do better without all the things my husband has to have; TV, telephone, computer.  I say this as I sit here & type on the computer...a bit weird but if I wasn't writing here I would be probably writing in a journal that would eventually end up on this Blog. 
 
I had a very sad moment yesterday after we had eaten the Thanksgiving supper & felt so sad that there are American families who didn't have the holiday supper & here we had left-overs.  I wished that I knew of someone here I could have invited for the supper with us.  I was happy to do this for my husband but felt a bit of guilt knowing there were others in our town who didn't get to feed their family like I fed my husband.
 
Those thoughts made me think of my Mother & how she must have felt about the holidays when we were little kids & the Salvation Army came to our door giving us food for the holidays.  I am sure she felt guilt that she couldn't do this for us & had to take charity, but I also remember how excited my little sister & I were to see them at the door, but I am sure her heart was breaking.  I never thought about us not having enough food when they showed up, but I always thought we must be really special to have those people come & give us gifts & food.  It was like having human angels who just showed up twice a year. 
 
I have homeless friends here, but thank goodness this year they are at shelters, so I didn't have to worry about them, but my heart says I should have made the effort to help someone this Thanksgiving instead of being so self centered trying to cook for just my husband.  Yes these are things I think about often & feel helpless at times.
 
I honestly believe I was born to be a helper to others, most of my life I have tried to help those who has less or just need help & when I am not doing that, I tend to get sad & emotional. So for the last few weeks I have been quite emotional, plus the change of life seems to be hitting big time so am hoping after 9 years & 3 months my' Old Crone' life is about to become a reality.  Now that would be a gift I would gladly accept, if it meant the hot flashes, night sweats & short temper faded away.  Just not happy with the amount of gray hair that I now have that showed up while I was at the farm & with no clear mirror to look in, had no idea I was that gray!
 
Ok so this started as pictures of the winter & ended up all over the place.  sorry about that, but you just never know what you will read here.
 
until next time have a great chicken day!
 
Michele'


The Old Batz Farm: My Animal Medical kit

The Old Batz Farm: My Animal Medical kit: Like any good Momma, I had to have a medical kit set up for the animals. I already had some basics for the cats & the dogs but with the...

Monday, November 25, 2013

Bits & Pieces part 7, pictures of my kids at the farm

Good afternoon everyone!

Even though I had a really horrible camera I was surprised to see I had taken over 1300 pictures while at the farm & yes most were of the kids.  There is something fun about just taking pictures of them as they do their thing. 

Since I have them downloaded, I thought I would just do a blog of pictures so you can see some of the kids hanging out on the farm.  Yeah they weren't really into the 'helping' momma clean up the farm, but they did do a great job of clearing the grass from around the trailer & eating all the bugs that wondered into the area.

Anyone who tries to take pictures of chickens knows its not always easy, because some never want to stand still long enough or they become camera shy, so they tend to run or turn at the wrong moment.  I am always thrilled when I can get a decent picture of some of them.

Now many never made it home, either from being killed by a raccoon or illness so all I have now is the pictures to remember them by.  The ones with a * means they made it home.

                                                                         Ginger *

                                                                           Piper *

Moonlite
 

                                                                      Miss Lemon *

                                                                         Zelda

                                                                          Gertie

Geraldine *

Little Peeps

Little Peeps & Lauria *

                                                                        Cagney

CeeCee

CeeCee

Indora *

                                              Zelda, CeeCee, Baby Girl & Indora *

                                                                Zelda & Indora *

Little Peeps

Little Peeps helping Momma write letters

Mooonlite enjoying the snow
 
I am sorry that not all of these are great pictures but I like to look at them & see some that have gone on to the big coop in the sky.  Each had a different personality that made them special to me.  for me they are not just chickens I raise for eggs but pets that I grow to love so when they pass on its quite painful for me.  The raccoon attacks were very hard on me & some of the kids were over 5 years old, so I had bonded with them more than some of the younger ones, but all that died were a sad time for me to deal with while at the farm alone.
 
I love the pictures of Little Peeps who used to get up on the kitchen table & sit while I wrote letters or in my journal.  Sometimes he would get on my shoulder so he could read what I was writing & talk to me.  maybe he was reminding me of things I needed to write down or maybe add a bit of information I had forgotten. 
 
Now CeeCee & his son Moonlite did not get killed, they were given to a woman my age who had 20 hens & really needed some gentle calm roosters.  I hated giving them up but I was afraid if I brought them home the town would come take them away because of their crowing wars. I would rather have them with hens than what the town would do with them which was probably kill them so it was a hard decision but I am happy to say the 2 of them have 10 hens a piece & are quite happy with the new home.
 
I am thankful I was able to bring 9 hens home with me, because to be honest, I can't live without my kids & be happy.  No matter how rough my day is I can just take a moment to be with them & things brighten up for me.  They need so little but give back so much for me.  They have a calming affect for me when I am stressed, unhappy or sad.  I also love that I have a few who come to me & want to be picked up so they can talk to me or just rest in my arms.  They give me a sense of purpose in life that was lacking before I started raising chickens.  I loved having cats & dogs but chickens seem to be the animal I really needed to have in my life to make everything right.
 
So anyway I wanted to share this with you since you have been following me & the kids & thought maybe some of the pictures would give you a smile.
 
Until next time have a wonderful chicken day!
 
Michele'
 

Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Old Batz Farm: Bits & Pieces Part 6 , some of my creative moments...

The Old Batz Farm: Bits & Pieces Part 6 , some of my creative moments...:   Good Evening everyone!  Yes even with all the work I was doing or should have been doing there were times I needed to just create some...

Bits & Pieces Part 6 , some of my creative moments AKA bordom sets in

 
Good Evening everyone!  Yes even with all the work I was doing or should have been doing there were times I needed to just create something.  My mind & hands needed a release that did not involve heavy mental or physical work.  Plus as an artist, its hard for me to go very long without doing something that is just fun for me.
 
So when I built the new shed/coop, I had to add a bit of myself & personally to it, therefore a chicken I normally draw on the envelopes of letters I mail out, came to be on the front of the new building.  I had pieces of the red barn siding, that had been cut out to add a bigger doorway for the cows & was just put aside to decay.  I liked the fact it was weathered, so it would work well on the shed/coop & only need a few details added.  I used the flat electrical fence netting to create the wing & comb to give it a bit of dimension & a rusty nail for the eye, which you of course can't see.  I used my reciprocating saw to cut it all out since I really didn't want to try to do it with a hand saw......ok to be honest I didn't want to take the time to cut it out that way & wanted it done & up so I could enjoy it.
 
 
 
new shed/coop I built
 
 
Fancy little hen in barn wood siding
 
I also got so much mail from the Maryjane hens I wanted a way to see all the cards they sent to me, so I found in a barn, a rotting screen door that had the top half still in good shape so I cut the bottom half off & replaced the screen with some old good window screen.  I added 2 very thick nails to the top & curved them over so they would hold some rope as a way to hang it on the wall.  Once up you can see that I pinned or stapled the cards & decorations on to it.
 
This way I was able to see this every day I was at the farm & think of all the great hens who wrote to  me.
 
 
 
By the time I left the whole thing was covered with wonderful cards & pictures.This came home with me, so I can hang it in my art shop & put things up on it.
 
Another thing I did since I really didn't want to add lots of nail holes to the trailer, was take a piece of 2 feet wide by 8 feet tall piece of thin laminate wood & covered it with foam core so I could tack cards on to it.  I did nail it to the wall but only a few small nails so it would stay up.  This too, was completely covered with cards, notes & pictures by the time I left.
 
 
Sorry the picture is bad, but I had a really cheap camera & it didn't always take good pictures, but I think you get the idea of what I did.
 
Ok one of the really fun things I did was with the huge mess of electrical fencing webbing I found on the farm.  I had just been looking at a book dealing with origami & thought since the webbing was like stiff wide ribbon it might be able to be bent & twisted like origami.  So one very nasty cold day I grabbed some, brought it in & started playing with it. 
The more I messed with it the more excited I got about what it was doing for me.  Each had to be done in sections then hand sewn with thread to hold it together but this 'snowflake wreath' is the 1st of 5 that I was able to do during the winter.
 

 
I took the tiny little candles that come in a little metal dish out & cut the metal to look like a little flower & added sequins to it & around the snowflake to give it a bit of color.  since this was the first one I didn't do a lot of bending since I was just figuring it out, but as I get use to it I was able to create more curves & designs as you can see from the pictures below.
 
 
 

 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 

 
 
I was able to bring enough of the webbing home to hopefully do at least 5 more of these this winter when I start getting cabin fever.
 
Since I had access to so much milk, I wanted to make butter on a larger scale than just in a quart jar when I could get 3-5 gallons at a time, so I wanted a butter churn but had no way to go buy one, so I got to thinkin' about just making my own.  I had all these wonderful 5 gallon buckets with twist on lids so why not put a hole in one of the lids so a wooden pole could fit through it.  Now since all the wooden part of the churns I had seen had a wooden disc I was able to find some 10 inch across lumber that just needed to be cut into a circle, sanded & attached to the pole.
 
l
Screw on lid with hole cut through it
 
 
 
the wooden disc has a hole drilled through it so the pole can go through it & be nailed securely.

Small holes drilled through for a pressure release for the cream

disc & pole put through the lid before getting screwed onto 5 gallon bucket
 
Now I could add 3-5 gallons of cream to the bucket, screw on the lid with the wooden churn part, add a small towel around where the hole was on the lid so I didn't have cream shooting all over the room & then push it up & down.  Ever so often I would unscrew the lid to see how the cream was doing.  Now to be very honest.....I had built up my arms to do lots of different motions, but the constant movement of up & down really got to me so I was able to only get the cream to a heavy whipped stage, then I would have to take the cream out & put it into quart jars to shake until it finally turned to butter.  Usually took only about 5 more minutes to do in the jar.  Now I am hoping to eventually be able to build up my arm muscles to do the whole process without having to remove it into small jars to be shaken.  But at least I know it works, so its waiting for me to get some more raw milk & collect the cream so I can get those muscles going.
 
 
 
 
My one & only holiday ornament I made for the trailer.  I made a small wreath out of grapevines then cut some of the evergreen from a tree over near the main house, added a ribbon & called it done!.
 
Poor thing got beat to death by the strong winds all winter but was still sorta there by the spring but missing quite a lot of needles & I have no idea where the ribbon ended up.  Maybe a cow found it blowing in the pasture & wore it to impress one of the bulls.
 
No great works of art while I was there, but I did enjoy having a bit of time to create a few things & wanted you to see what could be done with some unusual stuff.
 
until next time have a great chicken day (or night),
 
michele'
 

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Bits & Pieces part 5....Demo Time!

 
Good Morning everyone!
 
For all the nasty work I did the one thing I loved was when I got to tear things apart.  There is something about getting in the ole front loader & being able to run it into a building & see it come crashing down.
 
 
 
 
At one time there had been another trailer with a lean-to porch attached.  When the trailer was removed it stayed.  Unfortunately when my trailer got put there, they could not line it up to the porch so it sat about 6 feet from the trailer & became a garage dump.
 
old lean-to porch
 
 
 .

In October of last year (2012) I put plastic up over part of the exposed area closest to my trailer, so I could store stuff in there over the winter since I did not have time to tear it down.  Because it was in such sad shape, I put plastic up on the ceiling, walls & floor & hoped for the best.  As you can see the roof was caving in, so that area I left alone & crossed my fingers the whole mess wouldn't collapse under all the snow.

Since I had brought nearly 20 five gallon buckets of winter feed for the kids I needed to have a place to store it near me so that plus all the garden/yard stuff went in there.

I am happy to say it held over the winter, but did leak quite a lot once the snows melted & the rains came but everything made it.
 
 
 
 
Macy had to have her one last sit on the porch window before it came down.
 
 
Once the snows melted & it no longer looked like gator swamps in the yard, I was able to use the front loader & knock it down.  I was sort of disappointed on how easy it came down. I used the front bucket as a giant hammer & all it took was 2 hits to have the whole thing crash into pieces...5 minutes to bring it down & 3 hours to load all the broken wood & haul it over to the wood dump site I had set up near the hay barn on the main farm side
 
Now came the part where I had to clean out all the junk that had been under the rotted floor boards....so much junk & trash plus lots of beer cans & bottles.
 
Mother Nature decided that we should have non-stop rain from May through all of June, so this put me behind on getting what I wanted done to the area.  But finally the rains stopped & I was able to get to work.
 
Since the area was now a good 30 feet by 9 feet, I wanted to be able to use it somehow but was afraid because of all the stuff like chemicals I had found.  So I had to come up with an idea of how to use the ground & area safely.  Since the old barn enclosed stall I had used as a coop proved not to be secure from the raccoons, I decided to build a 6 foot by 8 foot shed that had a window so the kids (chickens) could use it as their new coop.  Plus they would only be  6 feet away from me so I could hear them & get to them quickly if needed.
 
 
 
 
 
I was able to level the ground & use cement blocks to frame out the area I wanted the shed/coop to be.  I was lucky to have a lot of the old 2 inch think boards so I made sure the floor was thick enough to keep any animal from getting in, then used some old rubber roofing on top of that.  Its much easier to clean the coop floors if they have tarps or rubber roofing on them.  Plus it was one less thing that had to go to the dump.  I used 2/3 inch sheet plywood for the roof then used a roll of metal trailer skirting over that for extra protection since the winds seem to blow through here often & are very strong.  The coop door was an old door that I cut down & added extra bracing to just give it added strength.  Finally after all this was done & a fenced in run set into the ground, I had to add a personal touch.  So after a hard day I grabbed my saw & cut out a chicken to grace the front of the coop out of old barn wood that had been painted red & used electrical fence webbing for the wing.
Now the kids had a safe home to sleep in, a nice run & were close to their Momma.
 
The fenced in run was in the areas not under the old lean-to so I didn't have to worry about the kids getting into any grass that might be tainted.  I still had over 20 feet of ground that needed something done to I,t but I couldn't just dig a garden into it not knowing what might be in the soil.....solution?
build a raised bed but cover the damaged soil with heavy black plastic first.  The raised bed was about 20 inches high & 19feet by 9 feet,  I cut 2inch by 4 inch boards into stakes to drive into the ground to help hold the boards. 
 
 It took 4 loads of composted manure, hay & straw to fill the bed with the front loader.  After getting it raked in & leveled & trying to get the kids out who were eating all the red worms I felt it needed its own watering system using the rain water I had collected in barrels.
 
I had come across a bunch of old soaker hoses that had been cut so felt I could come up with something that could use them.  I also had lots of used PVC pipes that had been used at one time or another, but were just setting up near the trailer.  This gave me the idea of doing a soaker hose setup connected to the PVC pipe that I could pour water into & have it travel to all the holes & then to the plants.  I marked on the PVC pipe where I wanted the soaker hoses to go, then drilled out the holes.  I cut the hoses about 6 feet long & put one end into the PVC pipe & used fish tank sealant to secure them.  The other end of the hose I folded over & used zip ties to keep them folded so the water wouldn't just shot out at the end.
 
 
 

I felt if I laid it on the ground it would waste too much space & be uncomfortable for me to fill so I cut out 2 pieces of lumber to make a stand at each end of the garden for it to set on so it was above the ground.  this way I could fill it either with the hose from the trailer or the rain barrels & watch for leaks at the PVC/soaker hose connection.

I still had a bit of space between the garden & the shed/coop I had built that I wanted covered, so I used a scrap piece of rubber roofing & broke up all the old roofing slate I had found in the barn next to me as a path between the two.  I saved the good slate but the stuff already broken would have never been used so I liked the idea of reusing it as a path. 

As you can see from the picture the raised garden did quite well, I had 5 different herbs, carrots, radishes, spinach & purselane in there.  I had to eventually put in 3 foot tall chicken wire because Moonlite, my rooster liked to go in there & just dig up the parsley & step on the baby carrots.






After the Fencing went up in the raised bed, I let my cripple hen Piper go in there & have snacks of the spinach, plus she just loved being in there hiding under the big herbs.

The one nice thing about doing all of this was the experimenting with the watering of the garden in a new way.  I will be doing this set up here at home with some of my gardens since I have 2 large rain barrels here that I can use.  I do not have any soaker hoses but a few damaged hoses that I can use a icepick to create more holes in & use them.  the one thing I will really miss is all the composed manure ,hay & straw that I had at the farm but will not have here.  the raised bed I did had no soil in it & all the plants went crazy in it so would love to be able to do something like that again.

I do have some composing straw, hay & chicken manure here that is ready so it will definitely go into the bed I do the herbs, spinach & carrots in this next spring.

Its also the first time I ever build a building from the ground up on my own without help.  I am sure some house builder would be displeased that its not truly square but I was quite pleased I was able to do what I did by myself & it be fairly level.

My main goal was to remove a dangerous building, use the area in a safe manner & have a secure home for the kids even if Mother Nature tried to slow me down.

Until next time, have a wonderful chicken day!

Michele'