Friday, May 31, 2013

A Berry Good Time with Girl 2

As I overheard to Strawberry Shortcake just the other day, I commented on how annoying I found all her berry puns, and here I go using one in the title. :)
Anyway, yesterday Girl 2 helped me gather berries.  It was a hot and humid afternoon, so her help was greatly appreciated as it sped things up. 

3 things I noted from our time together:

1.  She was focused.  She is definitely our most, umm, easily-distracted child.  She jumps from activity to activity like a butterfly from flower to flower and hasn't the patience for most things that require lengthy focus.  But, she worked steadily alongside me for fifteen very-focused minutes.  Perhaps it was that it was physical work or that she had the payoff of uninterrupted time by my side, but it was good to see that she can focus in on something when she wants to.
2.  About halfway down the patch, she said to me, "Hey, Mom, I was thinking, instead of putting all the bad berries in a pile for the chickens, maybe we can keep the ones with only a little bit of a bad spot and just cut off that part.  Less waste that way."  I think my heart skipped a beat!  It's wonderful to hear your kids apply on their own the philophies you build your house around and hope they're picking up on!
3.  As we neared the end of our work, she popped up from her crouched position and exclaimed, "Mom!  Look at this one!  It's like the perfect berry!"  as she held up a big, plump, perfectly red berry, and we both admired it glistening in her little hand under the sunlight.  "Can I eat it?  Just this one?"  And, then I watched as she ate that juicy, perfect berry with such a look of delight and appreciation it made me want to cry.

These are the moments.  Just fifteen minutes in the strawberry patch.  This life is so fast-paced, but our backyard slows me down a bit.  You can't harvest the strawberries quickly.  You crouch and cower and rustle through leaves and pick and evaluate.  Spending slow time in the backyard with the kids allows for moments like these -- spent picking little treasures out of the strawberry patch.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Life Cycle of the Backyard Strawberry

Our strawberries are super-productive right now.  Here are the ones I carried inside yesterday.  I took in just as many today.  They just don't stop!
So that you can get an idea of how big a strawberry patch will give you this many berries, here's a photo of our patch.  If you're familiar with our backyard, it runs along the West side of the shed that sits in the middle of our backyard.  It's probably about 12 feet long.  I ordered the plants about 4 years ago as a little pack of slips.  This patch has developed from what was originally 15-20 small, spindly sprouts.

As I harvest, I throw the "good" berries into my basket and the "bad" berries out onto the grass.  When I'm finished, I go back and gather up the bad berries in another container.  The berries on the left are the ones that go inside.  The ones on the right are the ones that have bruises or that pests have beaten us to.  Oh, the joys of organic gardening.  It's hard to complain, though, when you're eating 2 quarts of fresh strawberries a day.

Not to worry, though, those beaten up berries don't go to waste.  The chickens, it seems, aren't nearly as picky about their berries as we are.  And berries are some of their very favorite foods.  The chicken poo is "harvested" once a week and added to the compost pile, where it will turn into black gold -- an amazing fertilizer.  Eventually, it will be added back to the soil around the strawberry plants, fueling future berries.

Even if you don't have chickens, you can still grow strawberries from strawberries, like we do.  Just skip the chicken step and add the battered berries (and all your other fruit and veggie scraps) directly  to the compost pile. 

And, some of those lucky berries that make it inside get to go into my very most favorite food in all the world --  a backyard berry pie.  Our berries make a great strawberry pie because they're a bit more tart than, say, Bald Knob berries.  The sweet/tartness of the berries combined with the sugary pie filling is just DIVINE. 
This genuine smile came at the end of a very long day.  John and I were exhausted and had just gotten all the kids down to bed after traveling home from an away softball game.  I'd completely forgotten about the pie I'd made that afternoon . . . until I opened up the refrigerator.  John and I then pigged out on pie as our long, busy day faded into the background.  It was a nice moment.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Losing My Impatiens

Well, Milkshake may have been declared innocent in  The Mystery of the Murder in the Chicken Coop, but it's hard to see how she could be innocent this time.

I walked out onto the back patio to discover that the lovely Impatiens I'd planted in this pot had been strewn about, and you-know-who had made herself a little bed in the newly emptied pot.

See what I have to deal with around here? 

She's just nearly too cute to scold, though. 

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Straw that Broke the Camel's Back . . . Or However It Goes

I've heard the saying "The straw that broke the camel's back," but I'm pretty sure I've never made use of it myself, until now.  Around here, it seems we've found the straw.  Looks like it's t-ball . . . or, more specifically, the 3rd child finally getting involved in evening activities.  We did alright when the parents could each cover an activity, but how are we supposed to swing the whole kids-outnumber-the-adults thing when they all three have activities scheduled for the same time?

Girls 1 and 2 both racked up on Academic Awards Night  (such little Smarty Pants!)

Things have been downright CRAZY around here for the past couple of weeks.  Granted we are generally trying to juggle a lot of things.  But, we get into our routine, and, for the most part, we're able to get everything done and even enjoy a sit-down (albeit sometimes rushed) dinner together. 

Girl 2, all ready for her first softball game
If you've got school-aged kids, you know that the last couple of weeks of school are jam-packed with activities (field trips, academic awards ceremonies, parent nights, spelling bees).  Add to that the dance practices Girl 1 has 3 nights a week, the softball practice Girl 2 has 3 nights a week, and now the t-ball practice Little Boy has twice a week.  Our evenings are a constant shuffle!
I've packed a lot of brown bag dinners and whatever kid is not on the field eats while I'm shuttling someone else to dance, etc.  CRAZY, I tell you!

One of the approximately 50 photos Girl 1 took of Blanchard Springs Caverns on her 3rd grade field trip

Oh, and the goats still have to be milked, garden tended, chickens fed, etc. 


All of this to say, if you've found the blog a bit lacking lately, please don't quit reading!  I promise there's plenty going on here to report.  I'm just having a hard time finding the time to write about it!
Hopefully, we'll soon settle in to the-new-normal, and I'll find the time to breathe . . . and write. 

Adorable baby gorilla and her Momma that we saw on Girl 2's field trip to the zoo

In the meantime, we're having lots of fun with all our activities!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Slow Gardening

Everything that slows us down and forces patience, everything that sets us back into the slow circles of nature, is a help.  Gardening is an instrument of grace.
-- May Sarton

May this holiday weekend bring you time to slow down and dwell among nature.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Dear American Consumer

I've read quite a bit on this topic, but I love the way this one makes it a letter to us from the Food Industry.  It seems we're coming into the light despite the industry's attempts to keep us in the dark.
This one is worth your time:

Thursday, May 23, 2013

The School of Essential Ingredients

I just finished The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister.  She writes the magic of the kitchen so very well that you can nearly smell the aromas lifting off the page. 

The central character, restaurant owner and chef Lillian, speaks to her assembled students on the opening night of their cooking class, "Well, then, I think we'll start with the beginning," and then produces a pot of live crabs. 

One of the students asks in dismay, "Are we going to kill them?"

Lillian's response is spot on: 

"Yes, we are, Chloe.  It is the first, most essential lesson. . . . If you think about it . . . every time we prepare food we interrupt a life cycle.  We pull up a carrot or kill a crab -- or maybe just stop the mold that's growing on a wedge of cheese.  We make meals with those ingredients and in doing so we give life to something else.  It's a basic equation, and if we pretend it doesn't exist, we're likely to miss the other important lesson which is to give respect to both sides of the equation.  So we start here."

Processed foods and cellophane wrappers have done a wonderful job of distancing us from the life that once inhabited our food.  The backyard homestead and garden serves to constantly remind me of the life of our food.  Last night, I watched as John absentmindedly dumped down the sink the last few bites of strawberries as he cleaned up dinner.  I may have overreacted a bit as I reminded him that those berries he'd just dumped were handpicked from our garden that morning. (He apologized profusely.  :)   As much as I hate to see anything from our backyard go to waste, this is most true of the chicken who spent their days pecking away in our backyard only to die upside down on the fencepost.  We both kill and eat them with a certain reverence. 

We ought not waste our food, and it's not just because we're thinking of all the "starving children in Africa."  It's also because we have an appreciation for the once-living thing that died to provide us life and nourishment and enjoyment.  So, once we've said "Amen," let us raise the fork mindfully; and, at the meal's end, let us reverently despair at waste. 

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Growing Chicks

Our baby chicks are growing up! 

And getting some pretty handsome feathers.  The males seem to be a bit darker feathered than the females. Both male and female are definitely prettier than the Cornish Crosses we raised last year and should fatten up enough for slaughter faster than the Buff Orpingtons. 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Beer for the Berries

Well, the strawberries could no longer be kept a secret -- they've become much too prolific for that.  This is about 1/3 of what I brought in from the yard this morning.
Unfortunately, the slimy critters (snails and slugs) are in-the-know as well.  It was time to set my slug traps.  So, I called the only person in the world I know who wouldn't bat an eye at my calling to ask for a beer before 7:00am -- my father-in-law.  His only question for me was, "Is one enough, or do you need more?"  I love that man!  (Now that our county is "wet," I guess I could've just purchased some for myself.  But, I thought better of swinging through the gas station to pick up a cold 6-pack after I'd dropped the kids off at school.  It's a small town, you know.)

This year, I opted for smaller plastic tubs.  These are little whipped butter containers that are probably only 4 inches in diameter and about 3 inches deep.  I cut out a couple of notches around the top edge, dug them  little holes to set in (so that the cut-out notches are about ground-level), added about an inch of beer, and placed the lids on.

If they work as well as last year, I'll have several critters floating in there by morning.  Last year, I used sour-cream-sized containers, and they worked fine.  I think I'll prefer these smaller ones, though, because they hide better amidst the plants (you can barely even see the one pictured above) and it takes less beer to fill them an inch deep, leaving more leftover for you to either consume in celebration of your imminent victory over the snails or save to refill your traps when you need them again. :)

Friday, May 17, 2013

A Loopy Idea for the Garden

In lieu of tomato cages, which can get pricey when you've got lots of plants (not to mention bulky to store in the off-season), I've been using simple garden stakes to support my plants.  Last year, I used knee high pantyhose cut into strips to secure the plants to the stakes.  This worked great:  the stockings were stretchy enough to allow the plants some wiggle room and didn't damage or cut into the tender stalks.  I needed tons of them, though, and they got a bit pricey.  This year, I decided to make use of craft loops instead.  In case you're unfamiliar, craft loops are more than likely what was used to create that priceless potholder you've got in the drawer.  You know, the one your little one made for you years ago and presented to you with such pride in her eyes you know you'll never forget it?  I am definitely not suggesting that you dismantle your memories for use in the garden.  Rather, go pick you up a box of loops from the craft section of the store.  My box contains well over 200 loops and was priced at just under $5.  To use, I just cut the loop to create a string and tie loosely around my plant and stake.  It does the trick!  Just remember to remove the ties before moving your past-their-prime plants to the compost pile in the fall.  I know from experience that they do not break down in the compost pile.  ;)

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Goat Babies are Growing!

Two videos for you today:

One of the herd, showing how much they've grown.

And another, showing how Razz, the herd queen exerts her dominance and protects her owner from the annoying Oreo.  ;)

Love my goats!!!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Shhh! Strawberry Secrets

I remember vividly one of the times I got into "big trouble" as a child.  Mom had made some sliced strawberries in syrup and had them in the refrigerator.  They were delicious!  They were so delicious, that even though I knew we weren't supposed to have food in our bedrooms, I snuck them out of the fridge and into my room to help myself to a little snack.  I walked over near the window and gave the little container a shake to be sure they were good and mixed up before I dove in.  Apparently, the lid wasn't on well and I shook syrupy strawberries all over my white-floral-patterned curtains.  Mom was, shall we say, unhappy.

Apparently I learned nothing major from the incident, though.  Here I am, nearly, umm, lots of year later, and I'm still eating strawberries in secret. 

Last week's Bald Knob berries are now a thing of the past, and the kids know that our backyard berries are "just about ready."  What they don't know is that if you lift up the leaves and look deep inside, some berries are already ripe. 

Please don't fault me for keeping it a secret.  My kids are just as bad as the birds -- once they discover those ripe berries, I can't keep them away.  The berries rarely even make it in the house -- the kids just help themself to a snack whenever they're outside playing.  I don't really mind; I'm glad they're eating something so good for them.

Soon enough, there'll be berries a plenty, but for now, I'm kind of enjoying my little secret snack.  :)

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Mamaw's Strawberry Preserves

So, Friday I picked us up a flat of these berries.  All that's left are about 10 berries which will top our cereal in the morning.  I did use 4 cups to make a batch of these preserves, but other than that, we've gobbled the rest of them down in basically a weekend.
I was pretty excited to try this new-to-me recipe for strawberry preserves.  It comes to me through my Mamaw, who got it years ago from her friend Virginia Lou, who got it from her mother . . . It's a time-honored recipe. 

I love it for 3 big reasons:
1.  It's delicious!
2.  All the ingredients (and there are only 3)  are natural
3.  It is processed in two separate steps (which seems to make it a less daunting task.)

Bring 4 c. of crushed berries (I used a potato masher) and 1 tsp. Oleo* to a rolling boil.  Boil for 3 minutes.  Add 2 c. sugar, stir well, and hard for 3 minutes.  Add 2 more cups of sugar, stir well, and boil for another 3 minutes. 

*This is not the first time I've gotten a recipe from my Mamaw that calls for Oleo.  The first time, though, I had to look it up because I had no idea what it was.  Here's what I learned: if a recipe calls for Oleo, it is probably at least 50 years old.  Oleo usually refers to the Oleomargerine that was designed as a vegetable-based, more economical substitute for butter.  Interestingly, when this margarine was first marketed, it was white because those in the dairy industry didn't want people to confuse margarine for butter and had legislation passed against the coloring of margarine.  So, basically Oleo refers to margarine.  I actually used a pat of butter in my preserves this time.  Its job in this recipe is to minimize the foam you have to skim off after the rolling boil.

Remove from heat and skim.  Let stand overnight.  (I love this part of the recipe because it breaks the process down into two parts, the preserve cooking and the canning.  Usually, when I can something, I have to block off a huge chunk of time to produce the food then can it.  But, I was able to whip up the preserves in about 15 minutes Saturday, then can them Sunday morning while we were all getting ready for church.)

The next morning, process in a water bath canner for 10 minutes.  (You could also freeze it.)

We've already enjoyed it on toast, and Mamaw says its thinner consistency makes it a good topping for icecream, too.  Maybe once I make us some goat milk frozen yogurt, we'll give that a try!

Thanks, Mamaw, for yet another great recipe! 

Monday, May 13, 2013

Parmesan Roasted Edamame

As a runner who eats very little meat, I'm always looking for good foods that pack a punch of protein (try saying that 5 times fast: "pack a punch of protein. pack a punch of protein . . ."). 

Anyway, this Pinterest recipe fits the bill and works as an acceptable evening munchy. 

To make, preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Quickly thaw frozen edamame by running it under tap water.  Spread beans out on a rimmed baking sheet and drizzle with a little olive oil (1 Tbs. is plenty for a 12 oz. bag of edamame).  Stir to coat.  Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and (up to) 1/4 c. grated parmesan cheese.

Stirring once mid-way through, roast for 15-20 minutes or until crisp.

Pick out a good movie on Netflix, find a blanket and someone to share it with, and settle in with your guilt-free munchy.  :) 

Saturday, May 11, 2013

The Bald Knob Strawberry Conspiracy

Do you see that strategically positioned fan?  It's a conspiracy, folks.
So, you're rolling down the highway and see the roadside sign advertising local strawberries and decide to pick yourself up a quart or two.  Then, you walk in and are bowled over by the sweet scent of berries being blown into your face by this sneaky little fan.  Before you know it, you're walking out with a full flat of berries!

Yep, that's what happened to me last year.  This year, I knew better than to think I'd get out of there with anything less than a flat.  Once the kids had had a taste and declared, "Now THAT's what a strawberry is supposed to taste like!" they wanted to know why I didn't buy more!  In fact, this year, I called out the nice man at the roadside stand, telling him that I was onto him and his fan conspiracy.  He just gave me a sly wink.

Our own backyard berries will soon be ready for harvest, but they tend to come ripe by the handful each day.  I like to buy berries by the flat so that I have large quantities to work with for jellies and such.  This year, I'm trying a new-to-me recipe that is actually very old and was dictated to me by my Mamaw over the phone last night.  I'll let you know how it turns out!

And, for those of you penny pinchers out there: yes, the sign says $4.00 a quart.  Or, they sell for $30 a flat.  If you think that's too steep a price to pay for the most delicious, locally grown berries known to mankind, you obviously haven't tried one!  :)  Feel free to stop by here and try one from our flat before you head south to pick up your own.  But, you'd better get here quick because I've got jelly cooling on the stove, some sliced for tomorrow's salad, a frozen berry pie underway, and the kids are packing them away so fast they may develop tummyaches.  Like their Momma, they can't resist a good strawberry!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Slabtown Customs Tour

You know that feeling you get when you meet a movie star?  That's kind of how I felt Tuesday when I met Scott Stewart.  "I've watched every one of your YouTube videos," I gushed, "I'm such a fan of your work."  Yes, it was nearly that bad. 

In case you're not quite as in love with tiny homes or as in-tune with the tiny house community, let me clear this up for you.  Scott is the owner of and man responsible for Slabtown Customs, the tiny home construction company based in Mountain View. 

Girl 1's field trip Tuesday to Blanchard Springs had us driving within a block of where all the magic happens.  How could I not swing by? 
Scott builds custom tiny and small houses here at an old saw mill then delivers them directly to the customer.  (Most of his deliveries, by the way, are quite a ways away.  The tiny house movement hasn't really made its way here . . . yet.  He was surprised to hear that "a local girl" had such an interest in his work. :)

While he didn't have any completed houses on-site, he did give us a tour of this current project.  It's an 11x36 foot, coming in under the magical 400 square feet -- much bigger and it would have to meet lots of different zoning requirements. 

Here's a look inside.  Once finished, this house will have a living room, bedroom, kitchen (with full-sized refrigerator, sink, and bar stool area), bathroom (with full-sized shower), and a good-sized sleeping loft.

This photo isn't great, but it was taken from the bedroom (which is large enough for a king-sized bed), looking up toward the sleeping loft.  The pitched roofline really helps the small spaces not feel too cramped.

If you've got five minutes (or maybe an hour or so . . . you may get sucked in), look up Slabtown Customs on YouTube and watch as Scott provides walk-throughs of his finished products. 

I plan to make another trip up there (with John in tow) once Scott has another house finished.  I just love walking through them;  it provides me with my "tiny home fix."  Scott informed me that for a "local delivery" to our area, he could go as wide as 16 feet.  Hmmmm.  Maybe we could work with that and configure something that would be workable for a family of five.  ;)

Thursday, May 9, 2013

The Mystery of the Murder in the Chicken Coop

Girl 1 has been obsessed with Nancy Drew books lately.  So, naturally, when we discovered the dead chickens in the coop, her first question was "What would Nancy Drew do?"  She then proceeded to gather evidence.

The first thing we noticed was that Milkshake appeared to be injured.  She was hobbling around on 3 legs and had some blood on her nose.  In the time she's lived here, this kind of thing had never happened before.  The chicken murder and Milkshake injury seemed to be linked somehow.  But how?
The intruder had pulled back the chicken wire from the door frame and snuck in. 

A close examination of the wire revealed some hair/fur that had gotten snagged on the wire at the point of entry.

It measured about 3 inches long and appeared to be a blonde, reddish color.

This was the evidence we needed to declare Milkshake a victim rather than the perpetrator.  Her similarly colored fur is only about 1 inch long.  Whew!!!

Could the opossum we've had hanging around here be to blame?  That's not likely since we know this attack occurred during daylight:  sometime between when John fed the chickens in the morning and when the kids went outside after dinner. 

Our conclusion:  we had a fox in the henhouse. 

That's pretty good detective work, I'd say. 

Now, how do we protect our hens from a repeat invasion?

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Chicken Coop Break-In

Last week (on the day that our only car for our family of 5 was the farm truck), we lost 2 laying chickens.  We'd been gone most of the day, taking vehicles to be worked on.  After dinner, the kids ran out into the backyard to play a few minutes before we had to load up the wagon and head out for our evening activities.  They ran right back into the house, declaring, "I think some chickens are dead." 
I'm sparing you a photo of the chickens themselves as we found them in the chicken yard.  But, how the kids thought they just might be dead is beyond me.  Usually when an animal's intestines are outside its body, that's a good clue it's met its earthly end.  Whatever it was claimed the lives of two chickens and literally scared the eggs out of the rest of them (really, there were eggs just dropped all over the floor of the house instead of the laying boxes). 

John immediately set to work fixing the damage to the house that had been done by the intruder.  Apparently, the culprit had entered by pulling the chicken wire back from the door.

The two we lost look like this one.  They are such pretty birds!

The chickens were understandably skiddish following their traumatic day.

This is new to us.  We've not had wild intruders doing damage to our farm before.  Who's to blame?  And how can we better protect our gals in the future? 

Check back tomorrow to see how far we've gotten in solving the Mystery of the Murder in the Chicken Coop. 

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Scarecrow Sprinkler Install

As you may recall from a previous post, we've developed quite the cat problem around here.  To keep the kitties out of the garden, I ordered and today installed a ScareCrow sprinkler.    Here's a video of how it works.
I really wish I could've captured Scarf's first run-in with the sprinkler.  She's been up a tree ever since.  :)  Here's hoping this will help keep the gals out of my garden beds long enough for my seedlings to have a fighting chance.

Oh, and for the record, it took John far less than 30 minutes to save the day with my computer.  He's so nice to have around.  :)

Monday, May 6, 2013

Still. No. Computer.

I'm confident that once my hubby has 30 minutes alone with my computer, he'll have this whole thing sorted out. Unfortunately, he's not home and hasn't been since Wednesday. :(

So, I really do have things to share with you, but the stories rely on pics that are on that computer. Ahhh, technology.

In the meantime, here's a link to some tiny house pics. Who knew there was a tiny house construction company so near us?!?

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Some Days Things Just Happen

The past few days have been CRAZY.  Sometimes you make the best plans, but they all just fall through the cracks. 
Sometimes, you get the oil changed 2 days before your big trip (good planning, see?), but when the mechanic brings your van back to the house, he leaves the key in it in such a way that it runs the battery out.  Then, when you jump in to take Girl 1 to dance, it won't start, and won't shift into neutral so that you can roll it out of the garage and into a place where you can get another vehicle close to it for a jump.  Then, you call your amazing hubby who drives home from softball practice to give you the key to the farm truck.  He rolls down the window of his car to hand me the key and the window just falls down into the door.  Seriously.  Suddenly we have two cars not working properly and the great irony is that one needs to be in the garage overnight because the window won't roll up, but we can't get the one in the garage out.  (Just makes you laugh, doesn't it?)
Later, in trying to get the van into neutral, a very essential part of the shifter fell out of the dash and into the floorboard.  Oops. 
So, we found ourselves with two cars in the shop at once.  Our family of five was left with the "farm truck" and lots of evening activities to navigate.  As you can see from the picture above, our shuttle service to and from softball practice and 3rd Grade Parent Night was a little different than usual.  Thank goodness we don't live too far from the school and ball fields and are all able-bodied enough to do some walking!
The kids, of course, think this is all a very fun adventure.  They argued over who would get to ride in the wagon, and Little Boy has LOVED the better view his booster seat wedged between John and I in the truck has afforded him.  "Mom, STOP!" he reminds me when the traffic lights turn.  I'm about ready for him to be back in the backseat!
But, in all honesty, the car stuff was not even the most emotional or trying stuff the day brought us.  It was definitely one of those days when you have to look hard for the positive.  But, you know what?  It was there.  We were able to find things all day long to be thankful for.  And, at the end of the day, all you can really do about a day like today is laugh (and maybe have a glass of wine ;).  And, I'm so thankful to have such a great partner to laugh with.
So, as the day would have it, we are leaving town and my blogging computer is experiencing "internet connectivity issues."  I'd planned to set up several posts to appear each day while we are gone (believe me, there's been a lot going on around here -- including a mystery we're trying to solve), but apparently it will all have to wait until we get back into town and have time to solve my computer issues.
Looks like you'll have to wait until Monday (fingers crossed) to hear about the Mystery of the Chicken Coop Break-In.  :)

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

To Cull or Not to Cull?

That is the question.

The chicks have been enjoying their time outside.  This little guy, though, seems to be having a problem.
He spends most of his day like this, squatted on the ground.  When he's frightened, he will try to move around.

It's a pretty awkward walk, but he can get around.  You can see here how his legs are splayed as he attempts to walk away from me.

Another look at his odd walk.

For now, though, he does seem to be growing.  He must be able to get at the food and water okay or he wouldn't still be kickin'. 

The bird is definitely a prime candidate for culling.  But, we've never made a conscious decision to end the life of any of our little farm critters, so we're not quite ready to make that call.  We'll keep an eye on him over the next couple of days.  John did do the research on how to do it easily and quickly if it comes to that.  He mimicked the motion, showing me how it's done, and I just shuddered.  It's hard to imagine choosing to end the life of one of these cute little chickadees! 

Any serious farmer would've done it at the first sign of a problem.  But, since our feed-to-slaughter-weight ratio is not our only consideration, we're going to play the waiting game on this one for a few days.  I'll let you know how it works out for the little guy.