Goodbye Johnny Cash, Hello Lynard Skynard | A Personal Post about Chickens and Chores

Winter's not exactly my favorite season, but I've grown to really enjoy it since becoming a work-from-home mom. Cozy mornings filled with hot tea, making  oatmeal blueberry yogurt pancakes, and fun totschool activities that keep both boys busy for a few minutes at a time while I have my quiet time in the Word, wash dishes, & catch up on emails or blog. Today I set them up with a carwash activity, and it kept them busy for a full 30 minutes.

If you have toddler or preschool boys, this is a sure way to keep them settled for a few minutes while you get things done... I simply filled a couple of loaf pans with warm, soapy water, gave them a pile of toy cars, and a couple brushes. They washed and buffed and dried each and every car, and barely made a peep. It was amazing to say the least.

When they tired of that, we dumped the water and scooped a big pile of snow into each of their pans. Another 15 minutes later, the kitchen was cleaned up, and their daddy was pulling in the driveway. 

Beautiful morning.

We're spoiled on these really blustery days -- Kyle gets out around 12:30 because he goes in so early to plow. We love having him home, and today we decided to wait until he arrived to start our outdoor chores. The sun came out and the wind died down just as we were stepping outside. 

I thought it'd be fun to document some of our chicken chores and what we did this afternoon, so here's a little peek into chore time. 

River is a huge egg fan. And not in the eating sense, but in the "Give me ALL the eggs so I can throw them on the ground" sort of sense. We're still working on that....

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A heated bucket purchased at TSC keeps the water from freezing. We usually refill it every few days since we only have 6 chickens at the moment (we've had as many as 30 in the past).

Seeing fresh eggs in the coop never gets old. In the winter we get far less eggs, partly because the days are shorter and chickens need light to keep laying. But it's also important for chickens to go through a moulting period, where their bodies recuperate from constant laying. I like to think of it as a nice little break for them.  Eggs that are purchased in stores typically come from hens who are under lamps 24/7 in small, dirty cages. I love that our hens are happy & healthy.

Meet Lynard Skynard. As the title of this post says, we said goodbye to our sweet Johnny Cash rooster last week. He was a gentle giant. Bigger than most small dogs, actually. I would look out the upstairs bathroom window every summer morning and think there was a dog running around our back field, but it was just Johnny and all his hens following behind. He was quite the protector and undoubtedly saved several of our hens' lives in the short year or so that he was with us. So when we went to get eggs last week and found his head had been taken & eaten, likely by a hawk or owl, I cried a few tears. No shame here. I know, I know. These are farm animals. I usually have no problem with a lost chicken. It's a part of our farm life, and it's almost impossible to keep predators out all the time. But sometimes you just get so used to something, it's hard to accept that things change.

So the next day, Kyle found Lynard on Craigslist for $3. I looked at the photos and picked him out, and he & Remy went to pick him up. And he's sweet as can be. We pet him and hold him, and I get in nice & close to take cute little rooster headshots :) We affectionately call him Lynny now, and the hens have taken to him quite well. 

Kyle was smart and decided to take a few eggs that were laid in the days surrounding Johnny's death, and he's currently incubating them in an upstairs bedroom. So, we should have some Johnny Jr.'s in no time at all. (Isn't it amazing that an egg develops a baby chick in 21 DAYS? That's so fast! Imagine if us humans only had 21 day gestations... whoa.)

Such a good guy. Watching over his hens. 

Thirsty girls, loving the fresh water. This red hen is the friendliest of the bunch, and lets us pet or hold her any time. The white birds are leghorns, and they're flighty. Kyle and I have determined (without reading up on them whatsoever) that they're the best birds if you want large eggs and less bird loss. Because they're so flighty and small, we've never lost one, and they lay the largest eggs. Win win. I love figuring things out on our own sometimes, without the help of Google. Helps me understand what it must've been like for my ancestors. 

We like to balance work with fun, so after chores we played in the back yard, throwing snowballs, watching the kids sled down the temporary snow banks, and enjoying the sunshine with our good old dog Hank. 

This is the life.