Happy Homemaker, Ph.D.

A novice homemaker's attempts to use her engineering Ph.D. to serve her family

The Chicken Chronicles – An Update

Since I finished the Chicken Chronicles series this spring, we’ve had some more stories and adventures with our chickens…

Where’s Pepper?

You may recall from an earlier post that our silkie chickens were given to us by our neighbors.  Salt and Pepper had grown and started laying last fall.  Salt, the white silkie, endured molting in the spring, and she rarely joined the others in the yard, seeming to prefer her small cubby inside the chicken house.  I would not have been surprised if we went in one day to find her lifeless.  But, she has recovered and is back to normal, enjoying yard time with the others.

In her absence, Pepper had come to be more independent, and I enjoyed watching her in the yard as the only chicken alone.  She seemed confident, and she was developing a personality that I really liked.  With her feathered legs and fuzzy top not, she may have been becoming my favorite.

Pepper – I’ll miss her.

As Mother’s Day approached, our neighbor’s son came to visit his mom, and they asked to see the chickens.  He hadn’t seen them since the year before when they were just chicks.  They went out back and found Pepper (a.k.a. Kevin/Kevina) dead in the chicken run.  She had been fine the day before, and there was no sign of what may have caused her death.

Now we had nine chickens.

Saying Goodbye to Wilhelmina

Not long after that, my husband and other neighbor thought that Wilhelmina might be suffering from being egg bound.  Since it had been several weeks (maybe months – I’ve had other things on my mind this spring.) since she had laid an egg, and she did seem uncomfortable, they decided to put her down.  I feel her loss even more than Pepper’s.  I think it may be because she was the first chicken we really named.  She was the first one to show me that chickens had fun personalities.

Wilhelmina left a legacy.

She helped me become excited about having chickens – beyond those few weeks with the cute, fuzzy chicks and beside the benefits of having fresh eggs.  Now with only eight chickens remaining, and Wilhelmina and Pepper not among them, the yard seems quite empty.

New Daredevils

This spring, we got five new chicks.  They have grown to be nearly full-sized birds now.  But, this is the next generation.  They don’t know the stories of Thelma and Louise, and as adolescents, they must be looking for ways to rebel.  The black chicken decided to jump over into the neighbor’s yard one day, but chose a day when the big dogs were not outside.  (I was somewhat excited about this because this behavior could at least give us some ideas for names, and the chicken was safe, so there was no harm.)

I thought Black Bandit might be our only dare-devil chicken, but later, the newest white chicken jumped into our other neighbors’ yard.  Their two Chihuahuas seemed unalarmed and harmless, though she did panic when my husband worked to corral her and return her to our yard.  I think she’ll always have trust issues now.

A few days ago, we closed the door to the chicken house for the night, thinking everyone was in.  My husband and I were enjoying the summer evening with our daughters outside.  Suddenly, we heard a combination of chicken squawking, dogs running, and our neighbor screaming, “Drop it!  Drop it!”  Chad ran to try to help, and the buff-colored chicken was returned to the yard with many fewer feathers and a slight limp but otherwise apparently fine.

Ironically, the only two chickens from this year’s addition that haven’t attempted an escape have been the Rhode Island Reds.  Perhaps Thelma and Louise did somehow leave a warning, at least to their own breed.

The chickens are on lock-down, confined to their luxury chicken house, until further notice.

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My Newest Accessory (Baby Wearing)

“Wearing” my baby has made it possible for the three of us to navigate stores, go on walks, and enjoy other activities with a single stroller or cart.

I’ve never been much for accessorizing.  I feel a sense of respect and awe for the women I see that seem so put together with matching jewelry, handbags, shoes, etc.  I don’t have the eye to put beautiful outfits together or the patience to shop  toward that end.

But, I have a new accessory that goes with anything.  Her name is Melody.

After about three weeks of being at home after our youngest’s birth, I started to feel a little trapped.  Without a double stroller that I was too frugal to buy, I wasn’t quite sure how to take an outing with my two little ones.  I had one idea, though, that was worth trying.  I dug out my Moby Wrap.

And, we set out to the grocery store, Baby Melody wrapped onto my chest, and Clara riding in the cart as usual.  Now I was able to talk to both of my sweet girls while I shopped!  The next day, we walked to the nearby park, Clara in the stroller and Melody on my chest.

We’ve had a few more outings that I’ve “worn” Melody as we walked, but I also found that baby wearing is nice on the days we just stay at home, too.  Some days, she’s not been too happy except when I’m holding her, and the comfort of the wrap keeps her happy while also keeping my hands free to do other tasks (such as typing).  Yesterday, I let her face out while I kicked a soccer ball back and forth with my two-year old.   We’re having a grand time all together!

So, if you see me in the store, I don’t think you’ll notice my old t-shirt or that I forgot to wear earrings (again).  You may not remember that my toenails are not painted or that unruly silver hairs are sticking up in different directions.  One sweet smile from either of my sweet girls, and I think you’ll agree I’m well-dressed.

P.S.  I tried “wearing” Clara when she was an infant, but she never seemed very happy in the wrap.  Between the learning curve with using the wrap, her colic, and my lack of confidence as a new mom, we didn’t use it much.  I am adding this just to let you know not every baby will like this arrangement, and that’s okay.  You’ll come up with a different way to make everything work!  

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Jesus Loves Me

There is something amazing and so heartwarming as each night my toddler asks us to sing “Jesus Loves Me” to her before bed.   Lately, while my two-month-old daughter slumbers easily through the night, my two-year-old girl has been waking.  She doesn’t ask for water or a book or for me to hold her (most of the time).  She asks for me to sing to her.  “Jesus Loves Me,” she requests.  “More Jesus Loves Me,” she petitions if one verse and the chorus is not enough.

There is something even more heartwarming when she sings it.  During the Easter service at our church, I felt that every time the pastor said “Jesus,” she began her song again.  Sometimes she leans her head back a bit as she sings with her eyes tightly closed, making us think a little of Ray Charles.  Often, the “for the Bible tells me so” is accelerated and punctuated at the end with an accented, staccato “SO.”

When Clara first started singing this song, I shuddered to think of how I could have missed it had I been working.  I would have still been able to sing to her at night – if my mind wasn’t preoccupied with the stack of papers to grade or the next day’s teaching lesson.  (I was an instructor at a university until I resigned last December.)  I may have gotten to hear her sing if she shared her song in the evening or on the weekends.  IF

I praise the Lord that I have the chance to be home with my precious little girls right now, to teach them, to watch them, to learn about them, to train them, to encourage them, to serve them, to laugh with them, to read to them.

And, while Clara also sings “Happy An No” (If You’re Happy and You Know It), The Alphabet Song (kind of), “Twinkle Star,” and others, one of the greatest benefits of my new job at home is knowing that three little words bring her comfort and are a truth that seems to be staying in her curious, ever-learning mind.  Jesus loves me.

He loves you, too.

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