I have heard people comment, "chickens are so dumb". I just don't happen to agree with that statement. At first I thought there may be some truth in that observation, but recently I have decided that those silly chickens are pretty smart after all. I let my chickens out to run around the farm so they can rummage through piles of leaves and dredg up goodies. They go straight for my flower beds and the leaves go flying; before long they have everything cleaned out quite nicely with the leaves scattered all over the place. If one checken finds something good to eat the other chickens come a runnin' to grab whatever is left.
If a fly, a moth or a grasshopper happens to invade the chicken space it sends a flurry of activity as those chickens take off in fast persuit of whatever passed within their eye sight. When it came time for the chickens to go back to their chicken house the fun would begin. I would try to herd the chickens back to their house but they seemed to go in opposite directions. They were quite sneaky in their efforts to avoid going back inside. I spent time trying to outsmart them and usually managed to get them rounded up after 30 minutes of running all over the place. Either the chickens are pretty smart or.... well I chose to agree with my first thought that the chickens are pretty smart.
Who has time to chase chickens around? I needed to outsmart them so I could get them back in the house when I wanted to leave. I figured if I would bring out some goodies for the old gals, they would flock to me just like they did to a wayward grasshopper. Eventually, I became a wise grasshopper, bringing pieces of bread or vegetable scraps out with me. Now, when I go outside to do anything, all the chickens come running up to me and stare at me with great anticipation. They follow me where ever I go if I talk to them. If it is time to get back in the hen house I go outside with goodies in hand and call the chickens and they follow me right into the pen. Periodically, one will sit and visit a little bit after clearning out a cool spot in one of my flower beds.
It isn't very often that it is warm enough to ride horses comfortably during the month of December in Kansas. This week has been uncommonly warm at 60 degrees so we decided to take advantage of the warm weather and get the horses out.
Steve and I enjoy riding but at 59 and 60, getting on the horses is somewhat of a challenge. First of all trying to get your foot up that high to get it in the stirrup is a big deal and then making that one leg push up in order to get the rest of the body up there and on to the saddle. I have used a bench to stand on and I get my horse positioned just right, I get on the bench and the horse moves about two steps away so that I can't quite reach to slide onto the saddle. I think if I would have had a video of the experience it would be a big hit on youtube... We rode the horses yesterday and today was much better getting on and off, just one day and the body has adjusted to new challenges.
We decided to ride in our neighbor's pasture today instead of out on the road and into town. We rode down a big gully and then up to another field. I have a little easier time of getting of and on my horse again so at the gate I get off my horse, open the gate and lead Silver through and then Steve and Jethro come through. I just left the reigns over Silver's neck and walked back to close the gate. Silver must have been so excited to be out in a big pasture that he left without me! I kept calling to him, "Silver, I am not on your back, you forgot me, come baaack." He didn't seem the least bit interested in coming back to see what all the fuss was about. He kept going at a fast walk to see what he could see. Finally about the middle of the 40 acre pasture, he must have decided that something was not quite right. He just stood there waiting for me to walk all the way over there to get back on. Steve and Jethro had walked over there and were waiting as well. The rest of our ride was uneventful but on the way back, I kept hold of the reigns while opening the pasture gate. I didn't want to walk half way across the pasture AGAIN to get him.
I have learned that a rooster has a purpose and that is to protect the chickens and to fertilize the eggs. BUT, there is another purpose for a rooster and that is to scare the heebie jeebies out of you when you come into the chicken pen. Pecker was the name of our rooster (my husband named him). I don't let Steve name many of the animals. One day while in the chicken pen on the way to gather eggs, Pecker looked at me with his head cocked to the side. He wasn't looking straight at me, roosters don't do that, they walk around looking at you out of the side of their eyes thinking you won't notice. I think that is where the term, "cock eyed" comes from. I knew that at any moment he would fly at me and try to flog me with those spurs on his feet.
I always wear rubber boots that are at least one size too big so I can get them on and off easily when going in and out of the house to work with the animals or in the garden. Anyway, I had my regular rubber boots on and just as Pecker lurched toward me, I kicked at him to protect myself and my boot went flying across the chicken pen. There I was hopping on one foot with a crazed rooster making unwanted advances in my direction. I didn't want to put my other foot down because of all the chicken poop. I had forgotten my rooster stick. I was in deep chicken doo doo that day.
You see, Pecker was a beautiful rooster, but look at those spurs on the back of his chicken feet. He would try to stab you with those things and ride like a cowboy. As the years progressed, Pecker became more and more dangerous. One day while I was tending to some baby goats in the goat pen, Pecker was out and about and I didn't notice he was close by (that is when he was the bravest), he flew at me and stabbed me with those spurs. My leg instantly swelled and became very sore. I was sick for awhile and had to take several weeks of antibiotics after that incident.
About a month before Pecker the rooster went to chicken heaven, I was outside with my trusty rooster wacker stick when Pecker came running at me; whenever he did that it made my heart beat fast and sent loads of adrenalin rushing through my body. That day I swung at him and hit him in the head; he went down and appeared to be dead. He just laid there not moving at all. I had a fleeting moment of regret feeling badly that I had killed the rooster. I knew I had to go get my gloves and haul his carcass off. I walked to get my gloves and came back, bending over I reached to pick him up when all of a sudden his eyes opened, somewhat dazed, he got up. I screamed and ran in the other direction. That crazy rooster had survived another day. I had merely knocked him unconscious. From that day forward, I decided that the chickens didn't need to have a rooster around to lay eggs! I think the chickens were relieved when he was gone as well.
I never imagined that making cinnamon rolls could be so darned difficult, or should I say so complicated? I love cinnamon rolls but the hockey pucks I have created lately can only find their way into the TRASH CAN. My first attempt at making these lovely things from scratch ended up with DEAD yeaast. Yes, you heard it correctly, I killed the yeast inadvertantly by using water that was too hot. I wondered why the bread didn't raise at all, it just sat there for hours doing nothing but drying out. After the first attempt, I learned that the water had to be just so so and also to put a little sugar in the water for the yeast to eat. I did much better the second time with my cinnamon rolls, but still not the best.
I am the type of person that likes to do a good job when I do something and feel haunted by the desire to "get it right"... actually I drive myself nuts until I do get it right. I learned another fact about yeast last night and that was that the yeast could catch a draft and not rise after it rose successfully the first time. So after rolling out the dough, putting all of the goodies on it and rolling it back up and cutting the pices there was a draft and my little rolls caught a cold and didn't rise the second time. PLus I learned to use the same cloth to cover them with each time and do not wash it until you absolutely have to.
By saving the cloth and not washing I would have successfully caught the wild yeast floating around and could reuse it for the next batch of cinnamon rolls or yeast bread. My hope is that today, I can get it right, no killing the yeast, no letting the yeast catch a draft and stifle the growth. I guess we will see how it goes. This morning I will be going to my grandson's to babysit for the morning. I will be keeping up with a 11 month old and a 2 year old. There won't be any sitting around for me. I will post a picture of any success I have with cinnamon rolls later.
I am a 59 year old that retired from public education this June, 2011. It has taken a little while to learn to relax, but each day I am finding that I don't HAVE to get everything finished, there is always tomorrow... ;-) My husband, Steve, and I have raised four children to adulthood. We have three daughters and our youngest is a son. We have eight grandsons and one grandaughter who keep us on our toes. We have been married for 41 years, 4 months, and several days....(not that I am counting or anything)
Ten years ago we decided to move to the country. Neither of us had ever lived on a farm. Our home is located in a little valley nestled up against the Doyle Creek about a mile away from Florence, Kansas. We have 24 acres of mostly waste land along the creek. We have about 40 head of goats, two old geldings, a donkey named "Pink", and some chickens. It has been a learning experience for sure! I need to market some of the goats we have raised, but I do NOT want to sell any of my goats for meat. I know if I had to kill my own meat to survive, I would be a vegetarian. Normal farmers do not name all of their animals and remember the grandparents and great-grandparents of the animals in the pasture. I guess I am not a 'normal' farmer.
Since retirement in June, I have been gardening, working with the animals, trying to learn to cook better and to bake things, started my own massage business and we have a house in town that we have made into a bed and breakfast. We call the house in town the Old Goat's Inn or TOGI's.
We recently decided it was time to start downsizing the goat herd. It seems that if you don't have a web page, you might as well be living in a cave somewhere. Today I created our Janzen Goat Farm Web Page. I have thousands of pictures on my computer, but finding the right one in those many files is a trick in itself. Every day I tell myself I am going to organize my pictures so I can find what I want when I need it without having to search for ever on the computer to find that special picture. I did put a small folder of goat pictures on my desk top so that I could find it when I needed it. Today that helped hasten the completion of the web page.
Selling my goats is always traumatic for me as I feel like I am breaking up a family. I always pray that the animals will be taken care of and will be happy in their new homes. I hope with this new web page, we can begin to downsize the herd.