Thursday, April 24, 2014

# 510 - An Acreage Tour, on Easter Day

Years ago, we drove out here with friends and family to spend Easter on this acreage and to have an awesome 3-acre Easter Egg hunt. We've had great times out here during the years we lived in the Greater Houston area and came here on weekends and during summer break.

Over the years, Easter has always been special.

Heather & Stefie, years ago on Easter Sunday.
Now, we live on our acreage. The beautiful memories are now increasing, exponentially.

This Easter, our first grand-baby, Coraline, came to spend the weekend with us. I can't even express how much fun I had as I played Easter-Bunny again.

We tried taking Easter pictures, but a seven-month old baby loves to eat ANYTHING. Since we live in the Big Thicket forest, I kept saying, "Coraline loves the taste of the Big Thicket!"

Don't worry, we didn't let the baby chew or swallow any terrible dirt!

But, that didn't stop her from continuing to try to eat the Big Thicket.

Who would've thought an entire crew would be needed to get pictures of a baby?

Coraline's daddy put on quite a show as he tried to get her to stop eating the Big Thicket and look upward for a few pictures. Actually, this caused me to find the son-in-law to be more picture-worthy, at the moment, than was the grand-goodie.

On Easter Sunday, our family went for a nature hike through our forest. It was a gorgeous day. Sgt. Dave, I mean...Pappy, enjoyed holding his grand-daughter's hand as we walked.

The previous night, we could hear a massive tree crash in the distance, on our property. During our walk, we found the tree along with a huge beehive with swarming bees at the nest near the ground. Pappy nearly ran into the swarm to collect the honey comb. Not good.

Our walk through the forest was incredible. Of course, for our daughter carrying a baby on her back, she really got a work-out. And Henry, being over 6'5" had a lot of ducking to do along our hike.

Then, we come to the creek that our daughter has crossed hundreds of times. I kind of wanted to turn back or stomp across the creek waters, but she is in incredible shape, has awesome balance and wanted to keep going. Heather and Coraline made quite an impressive team.

And, Heather begins to cross...

Both girls are looking seems like a long way down. Nana is feeling nervous.

Heather takes it nice and slow, working her way to her daddy as her husband is anxiously on the opposite side of the creek and saying, "Heather...don't forget to fall FORWARD, if you fall."


Of all those who crossed, I probably worried about Henry-the-Hulk the most. I wasn't so sure those trees would carry the load of his large stature. But, he took his time with his size 14 or 15 feet, and he made it safely across.

Just a little ways more to go and we end up at the backside of the acreage, at the spring-fed lake. Henry had never been here before, so all of this was brand new to him and to Coraline.

And Henry thinks we should build the house right in this area to get this view. If access were easier, we'd do it in a heartbeat.

I sure do love these three!

On the way back to the home-site.

Don't worry, we cross another part of the creek. First, we need to re-hydrate.

Again, Heather and Coraline are flanked by the two men who most love those girls, Heather's husband and Heather's daddy. And as Heather walks down into the creekbed, Coraline is reaching out to grab anything she can touch. Our children...always inquisitive.

And this gal, Heather, is my first baby.

I love having a beautiful spring-fed creek on our property. It's a dream come true for me...a wish-list item I am thankful to enjoy.

By the end of our nature hike, this is how things looked. Baby Coraline was worn out.

I am a blessed woman to have these beauties in my life. Love truly does create chain reactions of goodness, if only you honor God and put Him first, things have a way of being pretty darn awesome. Not perfect, but I know how to count my blessings. Don't ever focus on the things that go wrong here and there, just don't magnify the yucky things and instead focus upon and feed upon the good in life.

Here is another shot of my girls after Easter, much like Coraline,
exhausted and content.

Nana, Coraline and Pappy

Nana and Pappy have enjoyed this day beyond compare.

Nana loves sweet Coraline.

Christ has risen; His promises are true. I rejoice in this day.

Blog Buddies...savor life and do your best to always have an Easter-kind of moment each day, go for the best in life while also enjoying what you have at this moment in time. And if you want...go ahead and cross your challenging bridge! I KNOW you can do it!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

# 509 - Chicken Evolution, City to Country

Over three years ago, I got chickens for the first time. We lived in the suburbs outside of Houston, Texas and bought six chicks that would reside in our backyard.

I had NEVER been around chickens. Well, when I was a teenager, I had a boy who liked me buy an "Easter" chick for me that was dyed pink --- sweet at the time, but now it is a horrible thing to look back upon. I had NO IDEA how to care for a chicken, but it survived. Eventually, as it grew larger, I had to give it to someone who I thought would treat it like a pet, but those people ended up butchering that chicken and they ATE IT FOR DINNER.

This was a learning experience.

Anyway, as an adult and more fully aware of how to take care of other living creatures, I was delighted to bring my six chicks home to grow big and strong in my master bathroom garden tub.


No joke. For a couple of weeks, they lived in my bathroom lined with newspaper and hay. Eventually, they became strong enough to be able to hop out, so Sgt. Dave made a nice container for them to live in until they were able to move outdoors.

I scheduled "play-dates" outside with the chicks, sitting on the grass with them in the backyard as they ate from my hand and scratched the grass.

Soon, they were able to move outside. They made a new home in the chicken tractor/coop that Sgt. Dave built for them. And I look back upon this time in my marriage and cringe because we were at that 25 year itch...the only thing we had in common at that point...were chickens. Today, it makes me laugh.

Maybe I should've named this post, "Chickens saved my marriage!"


Anyway, in that first flock, we ended up with two roosters that were purchased by mistake. We had not wanted roosters, but we ended up with two cock-a-doodles that were soon too loud to keep in a backyard city district.

We gave them to a local farmer. By "gave" I mean...Sgt. Dave and I literally drove to this farmer's open chicken range, in the cover of darkness, and we told the roosters to go find a girlfriend!

I am coaxing the roosters to head over to the gals.

Talk about an experience, that was one of the most interesting experiences of my life.

Then, Karma seemed to visit me as my youngest daughter Stefie phoned me in a slight panic to let me know a friend of hers had just found two tiny chicks in her garage...Easter weekend.

Stefie helping to check for eggs.

Obviously, they were an Easter gift that the recipients "conveniently" let get away.

I took in those two chicks. One was attacked by Belle the Yorkie and lost her top beak, so I hand fed that chicken for two years and she was beautiful. Both of those chickens were an awesome addition to our flock.

Seeing that our farming skills were not so terrible...we'd not lost one chicken due to starvation...Sgt. Dave and I decided to do the opposite of the Beverly Hillbillies. With LESS money that we had been accustomed to, we sold the house in the city, loaded up and moved to the country with nothing more than an RV to move into for the next year.

We no longer have a small backyard in the suburbs.

Talk about a risk. We were truly ready for a change in our lives, and we got it.

We moved to the acreage we'd owned in Texas for about 15 years.

My in-laws are on a long visit, getting the deck built and
enjoying the nice night in the country.

I towed the trailer that had the chicken coop strapped to it with a special-designed cage that held the six chickens for the near two-hour trip to our land from our old house. We all survived, intact.

Everyone in the area of our acreage said our chickens wouldn't survive three weeks out here due to the heavy forest and prolific numbers of predators.

Well, they survived, for eight months. And then, some predator...I don't know what...killed my beloved chickens that were also fantastic laying hens.

I was the one to discover the carnage. And I am not a violent type of person, but I wanted to kill that predator on the spot.

The views after I came home and the moment the one remaining
chicken the predator didn't kill came running toward me.

In fact, I got the .22 and walked the acreage, looking for it. But, it was too late. My daytime free-ranging chickens were massacred. Except for one survivor. Sadly, about three weeks later, the predator came back and finished the job. I literally sat and cried.

The remains of my chickens on an obvious battlefield where the
struggle took place. It appears they did fight, but the predator
was too capable of taking their lives.

For over three years I had enjoyed those chickens. For over three years I had not had to buy eggs at the grocery store. For three years I had enjoyed my chicken's antics and had delighted in hand feeding "Beaker."

The next day, my husband took me to town for lunch, being a sweetheart to lift my spirits. Then, he took me to the local feed store and by the end of the day, I had twenty chicks of various varieties!

It's been a couple of months now and all twenty chicks are healthy and growing strong! Soon, I will have eggs coming out of my ears! I never thought I would end up to be a chicken farmer!

Then, this past week, both of my grown daughters have enjoyed visiting us and each wanted to go to the feed store to pick out their OWN chickens. So, I got seven more. Now, I have 27 chickens.


We've not yet let these chickens free-range, and I'm scared to do so, for multiple reasons. I know that predator still lurks about, watching and waiting. Finding my chickens dead is not something I want to go through again, so they remain in the open chicken tractor, happy to scratch the earth, to be in nature and to gobble up their daily feed allowance that is multiplying as they grow bigger. They snuggle inside the chicken coop at night, but will soon need more room.

The seven new chicks are enjoying their extra-protective cage with a heat lamp. Soon though they will join the larger chicks.

My daughters picked out Bantams, which are adorable chickens...they lay small eggs and are sweet birds. I look forward to watching them grow.

Since I will soon have more eggs in one day that would take us one month to eat, I am going to either join a local farmer's coop or start one. It's another step toward fully enjoying our beautiful life in the country.

But in the meantime, Lord have Mercy! I have TWENTY-SEVEN CHICKENS?