How I became a chicken mama!

Within a week of us buying our farm,  I was visiting our cabin up north and came to notice that a neighbor who had moved suddenly had left her chickens.  I saw them wondering on the road.  This was at the end of winter when it was snowing and cold.  I went over to inspect and saw there were 6 chickens running all over the place and pecking for food.

I called my friend Erica, and she said I had to take those chickens and gave me some ideas on what I needed to do immediately.  Erica was already a few years into her chicken mama status.

I ran to Tractor Supply Company, bought a heat lamp, a flock block for feeding and set about saving these chickens.  I put a sign out in case any other interested parties would want to take them that these chickens were spoken for and would be moved ASAP.  I called a neighbor friend up there to see if she would mind the girls over the next few days while I asked the man we were buying the farm from if I could come in a bit early and set up the house for them and possibly take them there BEFORE we owned the house.  He said YES!!! 

Obviously there had not been chickens here in a while but all the elements they needed were there. The hen house at the farm consisted of a room in a pole barn filled literally to the ceiling with clean straw bales, roosting poles, some old heat lamps, feeders and a flat metal thing that I learned was to keep water from freezing so they could always have water to drink.  There was a garbage can filled with pine flakes that I knew was bedding, a container of oyster shells which I had no idea what to do with, 4 laying boxes and a chicken run that was connected to the house.  The run was in OK shape but would definitely need repairs at some point.    Regardless, it was workable!

Over the next few days, Jen came twice a day to feed and water the girls and visit with the, They liked their new heat lamp she reported. 

So, how was I going to move these chickens? I figured I could move them in a dog cage but the one I had was small and I had given it to my dad. The universe sometimes listens to prayers and I literally found one left out for trash that was all folded up but seemed whole.  I loaded that into my JEEP, got some cardboard from a dumpster and we had an old tarp. Then I headed to the farm and removed about 15 bales of straw and put those under cover.   I contacted the electric supplier and got the service turned on in my name. I attached the heat lamps up high for them to roost under, filled waterers, plugged in the little stand that keeps water from freezing, filled the laying boxes with fresh bedding, filled the food bowls and then set off for the cabin.   We were all set!

I wasn’t sure how I was going to capture them all.  I had handled some of these girls in the past but this was a different story.  They were nervous but again the universe was listening and in the span of maybe 30 minutes, I loaded each hen into the cardboard bottom dog cage, threw their flock block of feed in there, shut the gate, covered them with the tarp so they couldn’t see what was going on and set out for the farm 2 ½ hours away.  I turned off the radio and listened…. They were silent. 

When I got to the farm I hauled out the dog cage and removed the tarp. They started clucking at me.  As I gazed at my girls I loved them so much and knew they needed names.  Female rock stars it would be. 

There was one giant white chicken that was a cross breed.  She was a roaster who also laid eggs and ordinarily, if you have a roaster, she is only meant to get to be a few months old and then eaten.  This girl had been around a while so I am sure she was tough inside and OUT.    I dragged the cage inside the chicken run and opened it.  They all ran out and immediately started doing what I now know is a dust bath.   They had been in mud and muck before and were so happy to have real dirt to clean themselves off in. They were talking and running about.  It was a real celebration!!!  They seemed to KNOW, they were going to be ok and had a new home!!!! 

The original 6 Rockstar hens

After their baths, they explored the whole place, checked out the food, water and made themselves at home.  I was just so in awe of the whole experience.  I was now a chicken mama!!!  I named each one.

Free ranging outside their run!

Our Big White was named Mama Cass.  She was definitely large and in charge of this little girl group. 

The twins were Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart, the black one was Grace Slick, a blonde one was Cheryl Crow and the last one was Pat Benatar.  I vowed to these girls that if they laid me eggs, I would never eat them and just let them live out their days here at OUR FARM.   The first eggs I found in their appropriate boxes I literally jumped up and down in celebration.  You would have thought I laid those eggs personally!!! 

Those first days of new motherhood were heady.  We closed on the farm, started to see the incredible amount of work that needed done inside and outside and in all truth I was a little (a LOT) overwhelmed but I was really excited for what we were embarking on together.  We would soon move the two beehives from the cabin to here and with cats, dogs, bees and chickens, we really had something. 

Where Have All The Bathtubs Gone?

I was born in the sign of water, and it’s there that I feel my best.  That is a song lyric from the hit song Cool Change, by the 1970’s group The Little River Band. 

Yes, I am a Pisces (water sign) and I do LOVE to take baths.  I like the water HOT.  I like to soak, to POACH myself and water logged toes do not bother me a bit.   Occasionally, I will light a candle and take a cocktail in there, but usually it is just me and reading material.

I love bathtubs and have literally bought a house because there was a giant bathtub and wood burning fireplace there, two essential things for me! 

Every place I visit, you can bet I have checked out the tub or at least set my bottom down in there and tried it out for size imagining what it might be like to have a bath.   If I am visiting you, I probably have brought or picked up some nice smelling salts to add to the bath  or rooted around for some in your bathroom.  Bathing is a relaxation ritual for me and getting clean is just a byproduct of the whole bath experience. 

I like to read in the tub.  Every magazine and book that I have read is wrinkled and bent up from being water logged and that is fine.  If I have loaned you a book or magazine, chances are it has received water at some point. 

I use Magnesium rich salts in EVERY bath that I take.  Magnesium is a mineral you can bet you are depleted of in your body.   I have to take 3 Magnesium supplements a day (400mg) each time or I get muscle spasms all over and endure brain fog and other odd things. So many systems in the body need magnesium to function properly.    I take lots of calcium and other supplements too. 

The magnesium baths are so good for your muscles.  I buy coarse salt 25 pounds at a time and sometimes make gifts of bath salts with oils that I infuse and drop other essential oils too which add a whole other sensory experience to THE BATH!!!!!   THE BATH is a sacred thing for me and I think everyone would benefit from a nice, long hot bath once in a while.  Leaning back in the tub, swallowed up by mineral rich, great smelling water is just HEAVEN!  I don’t even need music.  The drip drip droplets of water is enough sound. Four senses are super stimulated during THE BATH!!!!

Maybe someday I will get to float in The Dead Sea which is located in the Jordan Rift Valley, bordered by Israel to the East and Jordan to the West. Its hyper-salty waters and mineral-rich mud are known for many health benefits, and many tourists and locals alike visit the hotels and spas on its beaches for mud treatments and salt baths.  You can learn more about this magical water here. 

One of the joys of travelling for me has always been to check out the depth and size of the bathtub in my room but alarmingly, hardly any hotels have bathtubs anymore.  Heck, even houses are doing away with bathtubs in favor of showers with multi heads, benches to sit on and room for an entire village in there.  Where have all the bathtubs gone?  I guess they are being broken up and sent to landfills in great numbers and this makes me so sad.  I have actually had to PAY MORE for a room in a hotel that actually has a bathtub.  REALLY?  What a bummer.

Perhaps the bathtub is going the way of other “obsolete” items like typewriters and rotary telephones though I can tell you, recently I NEEDED a rotary telephone.  Neighbors had a tree fall on their garage and took their phone out.  These little sisters have ONLY their land line as means for communication.  They neither have cell phones nor internet and don’t drive so if they have no phone service, they are kind of STUCK.  I was trying to help them get their phone service restored and needed to test the phone line that had been “repaired”.  They had two electric charged cordless phones which you can NOT plug into the outside phone jack to test but as little ladies can do, they pulled an old 70s Princess phone from a closet and we were able to be certain the phone service had indeed NOT been fixed. 

Seeing that old Slimline Princess phone brought back A LOT of memories.  It made me want to be 15 again, and take that super long cord all the way into the bathtub and chat away!  Those were the days!!

Does anyone know of any retro hotels with both of things for me?  😊  Now THAT would be THE BATH to write home about! 

Ten pounds from perfect and other lies I tell myself

I am a woman.  I think as a woman for whatever reason, be it advertising or social media pressures or whatever, we set ridiculous standards for ourselves.  We all want to be perfect and this is simply not obtainable.  We are HUMANS.  Perhaps men feel the same pressures,  but I’m going to talk about my personal experience here and I’m betting women reading this, will agree with me.  We are all nuts!  We put too much pressure on ourselves to be young, thin, great spouses, parents, caregivers, employees, (fill in the blank)  and to look like a supermodel while doing all those things.  We rarely or never think we are good enough.  ☹

For women, we definitely focus on our weight and the whole body image thing.  For most of my adult life I weighed 119 pounds.  I got really sick my first year in college and at the peak of that illness weighed 99 pounds.  I felt like crap but was elated at that number on the scale.  WHAT AN IDIOT.  Of course once I got over the mono, I resumed my normal teenage eating which consisted of free cheeseburgers and fries (perk from my job) and soon regained the weight and went on my merry way.  I can say that I felt pretty good about myself at that nubile age and didn’t do much comparing of myself to others.  I was pretty healthy in mind and body in my teenage to post college years.  Looking back on that girl, I am grateful for the years I felt that I looked ok! I was SATISFIED and didn’t self-hate myself when I ordered dessert.

Then in my early and then again in my late 30s,  I experienced REAL debilitating anxiety and simply could not eat or function much at all and I got down to 110 from my “normal” 119.  I was too anxious to be excited about that number but remember afterwards when I felt like me again, I longed for that number.  AGAIN what an IDIOT.  Focusing on weight as a number and not good mental and physical health is a societal problem that will never stop I guess. 

In my late 30s, I was living in this “adult dormitory” luxury loft apartment complex in the Strip District of Pittsburgh.  That move started a really unhealthy part of my adult life.  Being in an environment of total over consumption of food, alcohol and witnessing some really interesting lifestyles, I was in a bad place personally.  First off, I gained weight which had NEVER happened,  I remember attending one of the many parties (nightly someone had one) and weighing myself in this lady’s bathroom on her scale and seeing 131.4.  I was devastated.  I HATED myself.  I left the party, went home and said I needed to STOP all this consumption.   So I DID.  Back to the gym for me, I cut down the wine consumption,  stopped eating bread and butter at every meal and put my mind into it.  I did lose the weight, people NOTICED and commented so up went my self-esteem and I felt a bit better about my body image. 

Even when I was a perfectly acceptable weight for a 5 foot 2 inch woman, I admit now that I wasn’t REALLY happy with myself.  I would say to myself, you are ok but you are 10 pounds from perfect.  Don’t you want to be perfect?  FIX IT.    

At 51, looking back at pictures of myself from my 20s, 30s, 40s, I think at ALL OF THOSE AGES AND WEIGHTS, I was amazing. I certainly was more youthful than I am today.   

I wish I could have really loved myself more when I was young and mostly line-free.  If I can espouse advice to the young girls of the world, I would say appreciate who and where you are every step of the way because sadly I have learned that today is probably the best looking and youthful as I will ever be….  A new line or crease appears magically all the time and the pounds are harder to keep control over.   We women need to start appreciating ourselves TODAY, tomorrow and the next day.  I work on this.  I really do.  Usually I fail but I am trying!!!

When I discovered the Ketogenic diet one year ago in May 2018, I thought well this is revolutionary.  Though, apparently, this diet has been around since the 1930s and designed for diabetics, it truly is a way to train your body to burn fat for fuel instead of living on sugar.  I will write a future blog about this diet but suffice it to say that with eating keto I was able to get under my old perfect weight and really feel most of the time that I look pretty good.  Again, I am mostly satisfied with my weight and the doctor is happy with the bloodwork.  With a year pretty much straight keto, my cholesterol is fine, triglycerides and everything, sugar is good so I will keto on and continue to exercise, take supplements, eat natural, real food and still occasionally treat myself to a forbidden item.  I am not lying to myself when I say, life is short, eat the piece of cake and ENJOY IT but no one needs cake every day or ice cream or a candy bar or whatever. 

So, let’s now take our focus to wrinkles   In my 30s, I had a doctor and I liked him and I thought he had my best interests in mind.  That was until he started practicing BOTOX and during a visit for some issue, told me “for $500 I could fix your whole face.”  That is a DIRECT quote.  I had never even thought about my face but then I started really looking.  I examined the forehead lines, the smile crinkles, the neck wrinkles, the lines around my lips.  Maybe he was right….  I WAS aging…..  maybe I should get some injections.  I consulted friends and realized several of my friends of the same age and some older had already been doing a little this or that for YEARS.  Really?  Hmmm…..  so I started lying to myself about how spending $500 on BOTOX could help me feel better, look younger and still turn heads. 

I tried it once.  I was indeed wrinkle free on my forehead for about 5 months but the wrinkles go somewhere so my eyes were droopy and I hated that way worse than the forehead wrinkles.  When it wore off and the wrinkles returned I decided I can just wear hats.  I am a hat girl and wear them well.

The lip wrinkles and smile lines, well, it is what it is.  I have earned those lines!  I will own them.

So, I am going to try and stop telling myself ridiculous lies about how changing this, adding that or losing 5 pounds is really going to change my life and make me happier.  Happiness starts on the inside!  I am TRYING to live that kind of authentic life.  I have my struggles for sure, but can say, when an 18 year old beautiful and REALLY skinny girl told me in January while on Key West waiting to rent a moped that she wished she had arms like mine I told her I AM A FARMER!  Hauling 50 pound bags of chicken feed really gets you strong!  And I smiled the rest of the vacation about that…..  I may have wrinkles but my arms are KILLER!