Grass Fed

It’s corn season and the girls are thrilled when I come out laden with corn husks, silks and cobs. Of course they wish I was a lackadaisical eater and left more on the cobs. They love corn silks almost more than the cobs, which surprised me.

The two chicklets are getting bolder with Ethel. I’m no longer concerned that they might miss out on a meal. Rose is still a might flighty, which sets Ruby off. That only happens when I go out there to drop off goodies or work around their yard. I’ve never seen such a nervous Rhode Island Red – I’d expect it of a Leghorn.

We’ve been having so much rain that mowing the grass is an issue. You either have to mow it more frequently than you’d like in order to catch a decent mowing day – or hour – or wait til you need a bush hog.

I have a lawn guy come mow the front yard. We set up an every other week schedule, which hasn’t worked very well this week. I’ve been telling my neighbors I’m letting the grass reseed itself even though it’s a holiday and everyone else has taken extra care with their yards. It seems to rain every time he’s due to mow. Sometimes he sneaks in and does it a day or so early, but I’m betting he has a long list of folks who want their grass cut for the holiday and couldn’t sneak in here this time. Of course, he could surprise me and show up tomorrow, on the holiday, to mow.

The girls felt cheated when I dumped the grass clippings in their yard the other day. I had mowed five days before and after looking at the weather forecast decided I best go ahead and mow again. Usually I dump the bag at least ten times – it only needed to be dumped three times the other day. Sure made the job a lot quicker, not having to start and stop all the time.

I’m sure the girls love this wondrous and plentiful growing season as much as I do.


Well, I did it; I turned the girls loose with Ethel today. It felt a little too soon, the chicklets are in the voice changing era of their lives. Peep, peep, peep, squawk. The squawk always startles them. Since I have to travel a lot, just seems the only fair thing for both my chicken tenders and the girls. Being stuck in the cage can’t be fun or healthy, and it’s a lot of work for my friends.

I made sure to have LOTS of greens for them, along with a couple of strawberries, spread out across the whole chicken yard. That way they wouldn’t be on top of one another trying to eat and fight at the same time. It worked pretty well.

Ethel only pulled a couple of feathers out of Rose and occasionally scared the bee-geezers out of the youngin’s. I stayed outside for about five hours, keeping an eye on the situation, working on the blueberry coverings to keep the squirrels and large birds from eating my blueberries. I managed to finish that job – now it’s time to get the netting over the raspberries.

Rose is the explorer of the two new girls. She checked out the inside of the chicken coop and thought the egg in there was fascinating. Her head turned from side to side until she got up the courage to sniff it. I wonder if she her instincts tell her she’ll be doing that soon? I watched this with my breath held as Ethel walked over and stopped stock still, watching Rose. I was sure Ethel was going to corner Rose in the house and beat the crap out of her. My fears were thankfully, unfounded.

The young ones tend to rush to the corner of the chicken yard and try to find their way out through the wire when Ethel decides she needs to show them whose boss again. I keep telling them “just run!” Being in the corner makes them sitting ducks and Ethel takes full advantage to land a peck or two.

I’m mixing the baby food with the big girl food hoping everyone will get the nutrition they need. The little girls should eat the baby food for another couple of months. No way to keep their food divided and guarantee they will eat their own food without separating them again.

So, they are now a blended family. I’ll let you know how it goes.


I have arranged lodging for Ruby and Rose in the big girl pen. They spent their first night out there last night. At first, both Lucy and Ethel thought the presence of babies was a lot of fun. There was a lot of strutting and talking going on.

Lucy: “I remember when I talked baby talk.”

Ruby: “OMG, you’re so big and scary. I’m going to hide in this box.”

Ethel: “We have this big area, while you’re limited to that small cage.”

Rose: “Would you look at the size of their poop!”

This went on until the sun went down and everybody went to bed. This morning, things looked a lot different. The youngins’ were still quick to hide, Ethel was still strutting her stuff, but Lucy is on boycott. She has decided to strike. No eating, no egg laying, just sitting on her duff in a huff.

I decided to leave Ruby and Rose in with the big girls today, to see how things progressed, instead of moving them out to their run in the grass. Lucy never did give up her pouting. We’ll see what transpires tomorrow.

Shady, or is it Shoddy Work?

With winter being so mild, it’s quite likely this will be a hot summer. Last year, when I had to transplant my blueberry bushes, due to a neighbor spraying them with roundup a week before harvest, I chose to plant them around my chicken yard. My thinking- the girls will appreciate the shade and the blueberries will appreciate the manure the chickens tend to throw out of their yard, along with their bedding.

I protected the blueberries last year from birds and squirrels with a fence topped over with deer netting. That worked fine for last year; however, the netting became holey and ratty, and needs replacing. I decided to make the whole blueberry protection program more permanent.

I originally used ¾ diameter black plastic pipe bent in an arc to support the deer netting and that worked well enough for the light-weight, plastic mesh deer netting. This year, I sewed together long strips of small- hole chicken-wire to use instead of the deer netting. (I have to tell you, I was out there in the hot sun for a day and a half, wearing hip huggers and apparently a too short top. I burned my butt crack something fierce.)

The black pipe isn’t actually strong enough to support the weight of the chicken wire, so I’ve had to do some fancy footwork and wiring to make it stay up in the air. It doesn’t look like a professional did the job, that’s for sure. I tied the chicken wire along the length of the pipe, and then wired the pipe across the arc to itself to keep it arched. It looks hilarious- the arc has slumped over to one side creating a very odd looking shape. I’m hoping when I get the edges of the chicken wire tied in it will look better, but I’m not counting on it. As long as the birds and squirrels stay out and I don’t strangle myself on all the wires, I’ll be happy.

Smelly New Car


I had my old 2005 Toyota Corolla in to have two new tires put on because one tire had a hole in the sidewall and there was no fixing it. My dad always told me, “If you have to replace one tire, replace the one opposite it too.” When the tires were installed, I thought the car sounded mighty noisy, which I attributed to the tread on the new tires.

I made a trip to Mobile, Ala. the next week. When I got to Atlanta, the sky opened up and doused the roads with rain. Every time I had to go up a hill, I’d hear a high scream from outside the car. It took a couple of times for me to realize it was my old tires spinning on the road making the noise. When I would slow down, the tires regained their traction and the scream stopped. I made up my mind I needed to replace the two tires on the front too.

As soon as I returned home, I made an appointment and had the two tires on the front replaced with new ones, thinking that would solve all my problems. It appeared to compound the noise issue. I was still thinking it was the tread on the new tires, so I took the car in to let the folks who installed the tires hear the noise and see what we could do about it.

I was told the bearings in the front wheels needed to be replaced, so I left the car at the tire place for its surgery. When I went to pick it up, the noise was less, but still there. “You need the bearings in the left rear tire done as well,” they said. Another day without my chariot was impossible so they loaned me a car to drive.

I picked up the car the next day and was much relieved that the noise was gone. I packed up Zippy (That was my car’s name.) and trundled off to the mountains of Virginia to create a Sweat Lodge and have Ceremony. On the way home, a noise and slight shimmy began to grow as I drove along. Most of the highways home had speed limits of 70 mph and I slowed to 55 mph just in case the wheel decided to go flying off.

I made it home safely and called the tire place the next day. I was told to bring the car right in. Their diagnosis- the bearing in the right front was defective and needed replacing, yet again, and at no charge to me.

I picked up the car that afternoon and drove it home. It didn’t have the noise anymore, however, when I applied the brakes there was now a whumping and screeching. I called them right back and took the car in again the next day for assessment.

“You have rust on your rotor so the pads are scraping when you apply the brakes. It’s not a driving hazard, but you will need to have the rotor replaced for an additional $242.00.

Like hell, I thought. I decided Zippy had been a great car, but was finally at the point in her life where she was going to start costing me money and being without a vehicle on a regular basis- it was time to trade up. And I wasn’t altogether positive I wasn’t being jerked around by the tire place. Maybe the wheel bearings went when they put on the new tires. Maybe the bearing was defective on the right front, or maybe they didn’t install it correctly. I am positive there was no rust on the rotor.

I started looking for a new car. First I called a friend who has a Chevrolet car dealership in a town north of me. He was willing to give me top dollar as a trade-in for my car and a deal on a Chevy Cruz. He drove the car down to my house for me to test drive. He told me when the Cruz needed servicing, he would bring me a car and take the Cruz in for its maintenance visits, which was a great offer. He told me to drive a Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla before I made a decision. He told me I could call him if I needed any advice.

The Honda place loves their cars a lot and had no deals at all- even at the end of the year and the end of the month. Before they knew what I had been offered for my car, they were only willing to give me $1,000.00. They decided they could give me more for my trade-in since the Chevy place had offered more. The Honda Civic is an awesome car, and the salesman was a nice but the price was too high.

So off to Toyota I went right before closing time. They were willing to dicker and had incentives. The car drives beautifully and they had one that didn’t have too many gizmos to drive me crazy. They have free oil changes and tire rotations for the life of the car- can’t beat that.  I called my Chevy dealer friend and discussed Toyota’s offer. He told me it was a sweet deal and I should go for it. So I did.

The only complaint I have- Toyota scotch-guards the outside and inside of all their new cars with a new product that stinks and until I left it parked with the windows down gave me a raging sinus headache. They really should ask if the buyer wants that done. They have special insurance you can buy that guarantees they will re-stink it every year. You can bet I didn’t go for that. After a month it finally has the normal new car smell I’m used to.

Two days later I drove my new car to South Carolina and it handled like a dream. I haven’t named her yet- we’re still in the getting to know you stage. While I’m not thrilled to have a car payment again, I am happy to have a reliable car for all the road trips I do.


Hot Cha-Cha

Bossy Biddy met me at the door to their yard the other day, beak open, tongue hanging out, panting, “Who turned up the heat? It feels like an oven around here.”

Bossy Biddy is having a really hard time dealing with the 101 plus degree days we’ve been having. Add the heat index to that and it’s been a whopping 107 degrees. I don’t know how anyone else feels about the heat index in the summer or the wind chill factor in the winter, but I’m already feeling the temperatures and don’t need to be made to feel hotter in the summer or colder in the winter.

Back to Bossy Biddy – She’s experiencing diarrhea, losing feathers like crazy, her comb is laying down on the top of her head and she pants with a wide open beak. It’s pathetic. She hasn’t laid an egg in eight months. Being an old chicken sucks.

There’s part of me that wants to scoop her up and bring her into the house and part of me that wants to open the chicken yard door and let her out into the backyard to fend for herself.  The true farmer would put her out of her misery and into the stew pot. I am not a true farmer.

I’ve been dumping some of their water, making puddles in the chicken yard so she has a cool, damp place to lie and throwing water on her every time I go out to check on them. They have shady places to be all day long. Lucy and Ethel are taking the heat in stride – still laying eggs and their panting is minimal. They don’t pay Bossy any mind – as if she doesn’t exist. I think this might be a sign.

Dodged a Bullet

I have to report that the rats seem to be gone, either that or they are in hiding. I’ve been gone for a while and my chicken tender said she found a dead something in their yard. Fortunately, she removed the offending dead critter and threw it in the trash can, which reminds me, I need to take the can to the street tonight so the dead thing can leave the premises on the garbage truck. The good news is, the rats seem to be gone and I didn’t kill any of my chickens in the process. Whew. I feel like I dodged a bullet this time. I’ll hope I never have to use rat poison again.

No Shit, Who Knew?

I swear, the rats are still getting the best of me. They’ve cleaned up two trays of poison food and the chicken house is still covered in rat poo and green blueberries – and they’ve dug a brand new tunnel into the blueberry patch. Rats must be like cockroaches and develop an immunity to poison.

I went to the farmer’s market and my favorite vendor warned me to clean up all the rat droppings because if the chickens eat it they will die. Seriously! So there I am every day, whisk broom and dustpan in hand, sweeping the crap from the roof into the dustpan, making sure every turd is accounted for. There’s nothing I can do about the poop they do in other places.

I moved the chicken’s feeder out into the middle of their yard so no rat butts will hang over the roof to drop poop into the feeder. I’m vigilant about checking on my girls to make sure they are feeling OK. I don’t know what can be done for them if they ever do show signs of poisoning. I’m going to feel like a real heel if they die.

So no more poison use for me. My mind is whirring with ideas. Sticky traps, sitting out at night with a BB gun…  I hate being outsmarted like this. If anyone has any ideas that aren’t poison, I’m open to suggestions.


The rats have defeated me. I have tried everything I know to eradicate them and yet they continue to plague me. This morning was my breaking point.

I love blueberries. The rat’s tunnel leads directly into the blueberry patch. Nothing has deterred them from using the tunnel. If I used a brick to fill the hole, they dug around it. Stuffing wire mesh in the hole and covering the ground over and around the tunnel with wire mesh weighed down with cinder blocks, did nothing. I even buried an unfortunate rat who was caught in the snap trap in the tunnel. They didn’t care. Then I found green blueberries all over the top of the chicken house. That was the last straw.

As much as I hate it, I have stooped to rat poison. I know, worst idea to date. I’m hoping that since the rats don’t venture outside the chicken and blueberry area they will not be eaten by any other animals. I apologize to the rats for making them suffer a drawn out death and to any animal that might unsuspectingly eat them if they decide to leave the enclosure. I’ll be keeping a watch out for them and bury them quickly.

Varmint Catcher

I was out walking yesterday and a truck advertising the capture of critters was parked in front of a friend’s house. The guy was out sprinkling god know what all over his lawn. I was afraid to ask what. I did ask him what would be a good rat bait. His answer: peanut butter and potato chips.

I have peanut butter, which we all know rats can lick off a trap leaving it clean and not spring the trap. And rats are willing to leave the peanut wedged on the bait hook alone, knowing that would be too much of a tug and instant death.

So tonight I re-applied peanut butter and since I don’t have potato chips, I used crackers. I’m sure rats can tell the difference. I was reluctant to go buy a whole bag of potato chips when one chip would do the trick. I’m hoping when I go play Bunco next Friday that potato chips will be on the menu and I can grab a couple to use later.

At some point these rats are going to become complacent and make a mistake, right?

And by the way, squirrels can be baited with Oreo’s, in case you’re interested.