Tuesday, July 29, 2014

A chicken story

I can't even explain to people how much joy I have received from having Mama Hen hatch out thirteen chicks, watching her care for them, and watching them grow.  As far as I can recall, I have not had a settin' hen hatch eggs since about 1968.  I've had chicks, but I ordered them from hatcheries or bought them at Orscheln's.  This whole process of watching Mama take care of her babies has been fascinating.  

I had no idea how long a mother hen cares for her babies before she goes back to doing what she did before, which is producing eggs.  I would never have imagined the change would happen so fast.  

Saturday morning I watched that little hen chase a tomcat three times her size away from her babies.  On Monday, it was as though an internal switch turned on, and she no longer cared about her kids.  I noticed her comb was getting red again, which signaled to me that she would soon be laying eggs.  Monday night she went to roost in the hen house, leaving her babies to put themselves up in the only home they had ever known... with no mommy.  

So evidently, a mother hen is only obligated to care for her babies for about a month.  

I plan to try and sell, or if necessary, give away, all the old laying hens, because a new generation will be laying eggs by October.  I was going to retain one hen, Chickie... the one I raised in the house for the first part of her life.  That plan has changed.  I am only keeping Mama Hen, figuring there is a good chance she will go broody next year and raise more babies for me, since she did such a fantastic job this time.  Besides, she has turned into a pet during this past couple of months.  When she sees me outside, she follows me wherever I go.  Her friendliness and great mothering skills have earned her the right to live another winter.  
By the way, she laid her first egg in almost two months today.

We were originally going to kill the older hens and freeze them to use as the meat in chicken and noodles.  There is a reason why we are now going to get rid of them in whatever way necessary.  That's another story, and I will do a separate entry to explain why we changed our minds.  

Monday, July 28, 2014

Mementoes

Cliff has a lot of old pocket knives that I keep in a made-in-Germany stein that our son bought when he was stationed there.  Every single knife has a story.  Tonight we were watching something about knives on Modern Marvels:  Buck knives was mentioned, and the memories began.  I told Cliff that if he passes on to the great beyond before I do, I will be keeping the Buck knife that Boyde Dudley gave him one time when he was drunk.  Don't ask.  And then I told him that I'm pretty sure the kids and grand-kids would all like one of those knives as a keepsake. 

"They don't care about that stuff," he said.  

"Oh yes they do," I replied.  "They may not care about my grandma's stuff, but they will care about your stuff.  If the kids don't want them, a couple of grand-kids will."  



Then he lovingly picked up each knife one at a time and told the story about it.  The three on the bottom right are K-bar knives, every one completely worn out.  The third from the right on the top row is one he used to castrate pigs with, although he wasn't particularly fond of that knife.  The black one in the middle of the top row is the one I want.    

Every knife has a story.  I intend to put each one in a baggie with a note telling the story about that particular pocket knife.  I'm pretty sure somebody related to us will want one of them.