Sunday, April 15, 2012

Goodbye, Love.

We had to sell Dan's favorite cow, Love.

Cows like Love are hard to come by. She was like a bovine jungle gym. As soon as she'd lay down after being milked, the kids were in her 'house' — as they called her stall — petting her and climbing on top of her and laying on her. And Love never moved.

I took these pictures two nights before we sold her — and before I told Dan and Monika that Love would be leaving.

You can read the rest of the story in my last Dairy Star column, which will be posted on the Dairy Star website on Tuesday, April 17. I'll add the link here when it's available. Here's the link.

P.S. The story has a happy ending named Lucy. I'll post pictures of Lucy as soon as I snap a few.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Chickens and eggs

My dream of having a flock of free-range laying hens came true in 2008 – the summer after we bought our farm.

Glen's family wanted a bunch of broilers to put in the freezer. We had a chicken coop, so I agreed to raise the birds. And since I'd be going through the work of raising the broilers, I said I wanted to raise a dozen layers with them to start my flock.

Well, when Glen's dad ordered the chicks, he went a little overboard on the layers.

I ended up with 40 laying hens.

I felt like I had eggs coming out of my ears.

I loved — and still do — having our own supply of fresh eggs. But washing that many eggs always turned into a chore. And, even though we eat a lot of eggs, we can't eat that many eggs. Thankfully, our friends and neighbors like eggs, too.

Little by little, the size of our flock decreased. Then, we got our dog, Skippy, and the size of our flock decreased a lot.

Last year, I was picking up milk replacer and the store manager said they had 10 chicks that were in urgent need of a home due to an ordering error. They came home with me.

The kids were thrilled with the surprise. I was excited, too, about replenishing the flock and having brown eggs again. (For some reason, the only hens left after the summer of Skippy were six California Whites and one Americana that lays green eggs.)

The new red hens are all laying now. And they even found the nest boxes after we tore the old chicken coop down and moved the boxes and roost to the machine shed.

Going into their fifth summer, my old hens are still laying and the Americana decided to return to the nest boxes just in time for Easter! (We only collect the eggs from the nest boxes and the square baler. I don't have time for daily egg hunts.)

Now my only challenge is collecting the eggs before the kids find them and want to 'help'!

P.S. I hope you had an egg-stra special Easter!