Puppers.

Gideon doesn’t realize what’s coming. Obviously. He goes about his days as always. Demanding to be petted, woofing for breakfast, soaking up naps on the couch by the window, intimidating squirrels, doing figure eights on the lawn, licking his lips, playing tug-of-war. His life is sweet. And I love watching him. It’s endless entertainment watching a short dog with TRex-esch arms flailing all over the yard, or hopping up onto couches.
Soon…I’ll notice those details less and less. While it’s my goal to teach our kids to appreciate Gideon for the cute little creature he is, to appreciate his nuances and treat him very well, it’s only natural that more and more of my admiration will fall on little human subjects.
In the meantime, Gideon will still be the focus of my little photo-sessions, and deservedly so. He’s just adorable.
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Growing Things.

We went camping a few weekends ago. Of course we took Gidmaster-Fresh. I love it when Gideon comes camping because with his bed on one side and Matt’s on the other, I stay toasty and dew-free in the middle of our tent. When I woke up in the morning, I looked down to check on Gideon. This is what I saw: IMG_3888 He’s my favorite thing on the planet. It was so cute to see him tucked in under his blanket, sleepy and content. But back to the point of this post, look what I discovered today!IMG_4159Our first cherry tomato of the season. We’ve had a heat wave here recently, which I assume encouraged the sudden blushing of tomatoes. The corn, squash and beans are growing visibly taller by day. And the potatoes are loving life right now. Here is a glimpse of what we’ve got growing in the little raised bed section of our yard.IMG_4164We’re already done with broccoli and garlic, while kale, cilantro and some lettuce on their second plantings. New this year are the brussel sprouts and celery. We’ve had good luck with everything but the broccoli. This is the second year we’ve attempted it and somehow it never fully flourishes. Maybe there’s a trick I don’t know about? I was super happy with my choice to grab elephant garlic over the small cloves this year. It seemed to produce a better head of garlic more quickly.

One very cool and literally very big new thing we’ve got planted is asparagus…but more on that another time.

What are you growing? What’s flourishing? What’s ending up in the compost?

Lyra-Girl

It’s been a sad couple days for my Hubby and I. Our hen Lyra died  two nights ago. A raccoon got into the coop and snagged her. We’re both so sad and feel incredibly guilty. For the past two years, we often wait until well after dark to close our coop up. We’ve never had a problem. Well this one time we weren’t so lucky. We got home late and following our normal routine we started to close everything up. As Matt approached the coop he noticed a raccoon scurry across the yard. He soon discovered poor Lyra-girl. We must have been just a few moments too late. She was in-tact except for an injured neck. We pray she went quickly. We buried her in the back yard and held Miss Marple for a long time. She narrowly missed being a raccoon snack as well. Now Miss Marple is out there all alone. Luckily for her, she’s got six buddies who will join her in a few weeks. Until then I take a chair out into the run and sit with her to keep her company.

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It’s odd. Matt and I actually grieve the loss of Lyra, not just a hen. The fact that I had about 80 pictures of her to choose from should tell you something. We’ve been talking about her individual quirks, her beautiful  feathers, her puffy cheeks and beard, her green eggs and memories of her crazy chicken-hawkness.

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I’ve come to realize that it will always be hard to loose a hen. The grief might become less and less shocking, but in reality hens die all the time. They get sick, they get eaten, they get in fights with cats/dogs/eachother, they don’t have very long life spans. Chickens die in chicken ways, which is usually not graceful. But when we think of our pets, we hope they die in natural and graceful ways. When they don’t, when they die suddenly and painfully, it’s all so tragic. So I’m working on how to reconcile these two elements of my pet-parenthood. How do I keep loving my chickens as dear pets, but grieve for them appropriately when they die not-so-pretty chicken deaths? Cause we’ve got 7 more to go folks and I’m really not looking forward to sobbing that much.

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If you feel like it, pop on over and read these old posts about Lyra (“A Brood Awakening” and “She’s Back.”)…they are some of my favorites.

P.S. To those with chickens…if you have a run to enclose your ladies make sure you lock them in there if you’ll be away past nightfall. If you don’t have a run, make sure you get them closed in their coop when it gets dark. You honestly never know when something might happen and it’s best to err on the side of caution.

A Celebrity in Our Midst.

Three things for today:

1. I’m back from my short hiatus. Sometimes I just get tired. And crafting/cooking/living are hard things to do…let alone take pictures and then write about those things. But I’m rested now.

2. Gideon is a celebrity. He’s always been a celebrity to us…but now it’s official. He’s Dog-of-the-Day, on The Daily Corgi! Eeekkk! We tried to tell him, but he just stared at us. He must be in shock. Go check out the article on him, and leave a comment to show your support!!

3. Tomorrow is the last day to enter the birds nest necklace giveaway!! Visit the Homespun Haley Facebook page, and share the giveaway link, to be entered to win! There are 22 entered so far, get your name in there while you still can!!

Heartsick.

Yesterday sucked.

In the afternoon, because of a combination of factors; hypoglycemia, overheating, dehydration, & stress, I fainted in my car after I got up into it. In the past I’ve had seizures when I faint, so when I woke and realized what had happened, I called my hubby right away. My head and body ached, I was overcome with fatigue. I fell asleep on the steering wheel. I was asleep in my car, windows up, in the sun for maybe 20 minutes until my husband showed up. I was severally dehydrated and tired but, thanks to Matt, was able to cool off and we got home okay.

We came home to find that Amelia (my big yellow hen) was still “acting weird”. The past four days she’d been behaving oddly. She had a really pale egg, was hiding, acting broody, always standing, explosive poo-ing, falling asleep all the time. When I picked her up tons of water came out of her mouth. We knew she wasn’t doing well.

We brought her inside to cool off and I tried to rest. I couldn’t sleep, I was too worried.

So, around 8pm, we took her to an avian vet with a free first time visit just to get an idea of what was happening. Honestly I was really looking forward to the free education. I had a laundry list of chicken questions. But we got bad news. Her crop had distended and was swollen with liquid. Something was stuck somewhere and for a chicken…that is bad news. There were really no remedies that made sense for Amelia’s condition and honestly for her status as backyard chicken. I asked the vet if it seemed like she was in pain.

While I asked the question Amelia was just standing there sleeping, letting water drool out of her mouth. It was pretty clear. So knowing she was feeling so crappy, (the vet said, “She’s really, really sick, Haley.”) and might get to feeling even worse, we decided to fork over a few bucks and have her put down.

This was probably a lot more intense emotionally than finding her dead in the backyard. But I know it would have been miserable for her. We buried her late last night and cried together for a long time. Trust me. I know. It’s a chicken. But you know what, I raised her and loved her and will miss her a lot. I stroked her comb and head as she passed away, held her for a long time and just cried.

Our flock keeps getting smaller and smaller. I’m getting waves of guilt; did I feed her something wrong? Should I have noticed earlier? What if we brought her home and she bounced back? Should I even have chickens if I get this attached to them? Then thoughts, attempts at reassurance arise; “Haley, chickens suddenly die all the time”, “How long did you think she’d live?”, “You can get another one!”, “Don’t personalize her too much. She didn’t have human emotions.”, “God knows you’d love to see her again.”

Nothing but tears every time I woke up in the night.

This morning I thought it would make me feel better to go sit in the backyard with the other two. It didn’t. It doesn’t seem right. I know this post will seem so dramatic to me in the future. But really, this is how I feel. I’m mourning the loss of a loved pet.

Your thoughts and prayers would be appreciated as I go into a busy week. I co-direct a senior high youth camp on the Oregon coast and heading there physically and emotionally drained is never a good way to start the week.

I’d love to hear from you all. Thoughts, stories, chicken wisdom…I think dialogue would help me.

Here’s a picture of Miss Marple, Amelia and Lyra, all sleeping on their faces when they were only a few days old.

Duck Tales

I’ve been feeling under the weather the past couple days. Today, I slept in longer than I thought humanly possible. I had been up off and on to let the dog out, check Facebook, etc. Then I would wander back to my room and crash for another couple of hours.

I knew I had to get some fresh air. After about an hour of tinkering around I finally leashed up Gideon and headed out for a quick walk. I was grumpy. It was one of those days that the sun irritates the crap out you. All busyness of living life just seemed wrong and made me tired.

It was when I was passing by a pond, about a block from our house, that something caught my eye. I noticed a car stopped right in the middle of the lane. It honked, then drove off. You see this all the time around here when the geese, which are plenty, cross the road. But there were no geese in the street. That’s when I noticed a furry little something running onto the sidewalk and up into the grass. I looked hard…it was a duckling. I studied my surroundings…no ducks.

“He” was headed towards a little waterfall/pond but then quickly realized the current was too strong and turned around, headed straight for the geese. I assumed that his constant high-pitched squeaking and flailing wings meant that he had no idea where his family was. The geese didn’t like him. They started to surround and snap at him.

I instantaneously ran across the road with my dog, freaking the geese out a bit. I hooked Gideon to a tree and ran after the duckling which the snapping geese were beginning to “herd” toward the fast flowing, rocky stream (which has a cliff-like edge and is just upstream from the waterfall). Needless to say I outran the thing and plucked him from his destiny of certain ducky doom.

This little duck…so stinking cute. You can see how small he is in comparison to my hand. After a few moments of trying to break free, he settled down. He even fell asleep. So I dropped Gideon back off at home and headed for the pond. Bound and determined to find this little one’s family.

As we were walking I would intentionally try to give him fresh air, when I realized he kept purposely nuzzling his beak into my fingers. Pretty soon he was completely passed out.All sorts of thoughts were running through my mind. Did he just get lost? Was he rejected for some reason? What if I can’t find his family? How do you raise ducks? Who sells the cheapest kiddy-pools? How do I break it to my husband that we’re going to have a duck? “Before you go into the bathroom…just know…it was going to die if I didn’t help it.”

I wandered over to the pond and for a long while couldn’t spot any other ducklings. There were plenty of large ducks but I was afraid they might hurt him for some reason. So I waited and waited. Finally I spotted some movement all the way across the pond on a rock. I realized I was looking at a little duckling, same size as “mine”. I watched it for a few moments. It wasn’t accompanied by a mother duck but the others were leaving it alone. I decided it was time to go for it. I had no idea how they would find each other but figured it’s better to let them try. So after shaking him awake, I placed him on the ground and off he went. With that same high-pitched squeak, he made a “b” line right for the area where the other duckling was.

Long story short, they finally found one another and up swims a big duck. They jump on her back and off she swam. I watched them for a while, just to make sure all was well. They followed her up on shore, back into the water, etc., until finally swimming off to a nice shady tree and out of sight. 

Sigh. After this whole ordeal was over. I realized I was smiling…loving the sun on my face and excited to tell the story of how I reunited a duckling with his family. Or maybe the story of how I was this close to adopting him.