Monday, March 18, 2013

Double Golden Birthday

I'm pretty sure Mother Nature forgot it was my birthday. Or else this weekend's weather was one heck of a gag gift.

But if I ignore the mountains of new snow in our yard and the fact that Carhartts are still required for chores, then this was one of my best birthdays ever. Reflecting on the greatness of this particular milestone, I realized that I was celebrating my Double Golden Birthday, so maybe the way everything fell into place happened for a reason.

(Double Golden Birthday = I celebrated my Golden Birthday when I turned 16; so hitting 32 means I've doubled my golden. Yeah, I know it doesn't work so well for the people born early in the month, but I like the idea.)

My birthday celebration started with a night out. Except you can't really think of it as a night out because Glen and I were joined by three petite guests. All the same, I didn't have to make supper and we all had a good time. Plus, there haven't been too many outings with all of us since we became a family of five, so that alone made is special.

To continue the festivities, I baked myself a cake using a clever new recipe I found. The recipe needs a little tweaking, though, so I won't share it until I have it perfected.

The next best parts of my birthday were my gifts: our new dog, Ozzy, and 19 new laying hens. (Hear me out on the hens before you pass judgement about chickens being a birthday present.)

Australian Shepherd farm dog

Meet Ozzy

After our last dog, Daisy, died in January, I told Glen we weren't going to get another dog. All he said was, "You're right. We're not going to get another dog. (Pause.) Yet."

But, once again, I started missing having a dog. My high school speech coach always said that a town wasn't a real town if it didn't have a Dairy Queen. I feel the same way about farms and dogs. A farm isn't complete without a dog.

So when Glen said there was an ad for Border Collie puppies in the paper, I had to call and ask.

The people with the puppies had a whole bunch and I was all set to go look at them. But then a couple good friends both asked the same question: "Are you sure you have time for a puppy right now?"

No, I wasn't sure. But Glen and I had agreed that it was time for a new dog. So, I checked the internet for adoptable dogs in our area. I came across Ozzy's listing and knew, instantly, that he was the dog for us. After I talked to his family (who also provided the picture above), I almost felt like Ozzy was too good to be true.

We picked him up on Saturday and, so far, everything his previous family said about him is true.

Ozzy has been through both obedience and agility training. (He actually sits and stays when asked. I can't even get my kids to sit and stay when asked.) He has house and vehicle and kennel manners. (I won't say anything about my kids' house and vehicle and kennel manners.) And, at six years old, he's mellowed out, which will save us lots of training time and, hopefully, lots of boots and chickens.

Speaking of chickens...

Buff Orpington, Rhode Island Red laying hens

Restocking the flock

Before I continue: Yes, that is a pet carrier full of chickens. Yes, it is in the back of my van. Yes, it was a loud drive home. But not nearly as loud as the shed after those chickens were unloaded and introduced to our chickens. The cacaphony rivaled that of the Poultry Barn at the Minnesota State Fair.

Our last dog almost completely depopulated my flock of free range laying hens, so I had been making plans to get an order of chicks this spring to restock the flock. I was inquiring at the feed store about getting a partial order of chicks, since I didn't really need 25, when one of the store employees asked if I was looking for layers or broilers.

When I told him I wanted layers, he said one of the other employees was selling all of his Buff Orpington and Rhode Island Red layers. A couple phone calls later, I had 19 yearling layers to pick up on Sunday.

Talk about a stroke of good luck! Just like that, I have fresh eggs again without all the hassle of raising chicks.

*     *     *     *     *

The best laugh of the weekend came after one of Dan's comments.

While we were enjoying my birthday cake together, Dan asked about my birthday presents. I told him that Ozzy and the new chickens would be my gifts. Then Dan said, "I get it. The chickens will be toys for our new dog."

"No, honey," I said through my laughter, "They will not!"

I'm hoping to have both of these birthday presents – and all the memories – for a long time.

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