Gracie’s Story

From day one Gracie was special. She was the only lab we ever had that never chewed up the furniture and other things she wasn’t supposed to. Sara Lee, Onyx and Phoenix would have chewed down the house if given the chance. My furniture still has the evidence from them.

Gracie came to us after a loss. We had a registered lab named Sadie Rose. Farmer Cheese got her from a dear friend. One day while still a young pup she went missing. No trace…just gone. We were heartbroken of course and just knew someone had dognapped her. This was before social media was in every aspect of our lives so attempts to find her were fruitless.

Several months afterwards in 2008 our daughter came across a family selling puppies at Tractor Supply in Valdosta Ga. They were full labs, unregistered. We’ve never really cared about whether dogs were registered. It makes no difference in the abilities and temperament of the dog.

She asked if we were ready for a new pup to love. It had been a long time and we said a tentative yes. I wasn’t 100% sure. She brought us home a gorgeous 12 week old Gracie. We all fell in love immediately. We named her Gracie because Easter was nearing and she brought us hope.

Unknown to all of us our daughters dear friend bought a pup for her family from the same people. Not sure if it was the same day or just near the same time. Our families have been friends forever and we were excited to learn we had sisters! What are the odds of that happening? Of course through out the years we have kept up with how these sisters were doing. Their Lucy and our Gracie have had ear troubles among other issues from the beginning. Gracie’s had several surgeries. But despite all that she was mild mannered and sweet and has been a blessing to us. Sadly Lucy passed away in December but she was a blessing to her family too.

Gracie has been to school with me after surgeries and visited other times. She was always so sweet and everyone who met her loved her. She was the most gentle dog I’ve ever known. The kids at school adored her.

Gracie is the only dog we’ve ever had that would go out and do her businesses far away from the yard and out of eyesight. We’ve always said she was a lady. It’s been tough on her to have go on a piddle pad in the house. Due to her arthritis and tumor in her foot she just has not been able to walk much at all. Every step is hard but she adapted well and still loved to ride in the RTV as much as possible. Riding and eating scrabbled eggs were her favorite things.

In December 2020 we had a tumor in her foot and a growth from her head removed. Even with her legs as feeble as they were we and her doctors thought this would help her and give her a better quality and longer life. Unfortunately the tumor was large and he was unable to get it all. We knew the cancer would come back eventually but we had no idea it would be this soon. The tumor was very aggressive. Because of her age, 13, and the severe arthritis she has there was nothing that could be done about her tumor. It was rapidly growing into other areas of her foot. With each bandage change it looked worse. She began to tear at the bandage to try to take it off. We were left with no choice. For her wellbeing we had to let her go. This feeling is to familiar and is quite possibly the hardest thing in the world to do.

Thursday February 4th was a beautiful sunny day so Gracie spent a lot of time in the sunshine. She went on many, many Kubota RTV rides. She of course had scrambled eggs for breakfast and treats often throughout the day.

Friday was more dreary. It was drizzly and cloudy. We fixed Gracie scrambled eggs for breakfast. Later in the early afternoon she had some more as a snack. When it was time to put her in the car to go I made sure to bring bread and cheese. With all the medicine she had to take she had become extremely fond of a piece of cheese wrapped up in a bit of hot dog bun. At the vet she enjoyed this special treat as we loved on her and told her how much we loved her. Gracie took her last breath about 3:50 that day.

Writing about her is like a form of therapy which I definitely need. Farmer Cheese needs to do physical work as his therapy. We all grieve in our own ways. Thank you for loving our sweet girl along with us and for all your thoughts and prayers during this process and the days, months to come.

Gracie girl, you will always be in my heart.

Enjoying the sunny day.
A younger and more active Gracie.
Kubota RTV riding.
Scrambled eggs for breakfast.

Even the cats adored her.
Such good buddies.
Riding before the surgery.

Farm lessons

Another lesson learned on the farm today. I’m wearing my clogs instead of boots. They are easier to take on and off at the door as needed. I did put 2 shower caps at the door for boot covers, works great btw, but I just felt like slipping into the clogs today. Anyway I went down to get the duck eggs and you know how they are. It’s a game of let’s hide the eggs in the hardest place to get to and see if the people can find them. 🤦‍♀️ In one of their usual spots on a slope I managed to lose a shoe. Yep…slid right in the pond. 😳 Luckily it didn’t go too far in it. So now what? I hobbled to the house, I don’t do good in no shoes..or one shoe, put on my boots and got the snake catcher. It’s a longer grabby that holds better than my egg picker uppers. I then had to slide on my rear end into the hole and stretch to catch the shoe. Shoe is now caught, rinsed off and drying in the sun. And yes, I’m still wearing my boots. 🙄

I think I need a do over.

Answering your egg questions

Some of the questions people always ask us are: Do hens need a rooster to lay eggs? How can you tell if an egg is fertile? Do fertilized eggs taste different? Is there a baby chicken in there? How do they lay jumbo eggs and different colored eggs? Do brown eggs taste different from white eggs? What makes the eggs different colors?

Wow, that’s a lot of questions. Let’s see if we can answer some of them today.

Does a hen need a rooster to lay an egg? No, she does not. If you would like to raise chickens for eggs you absolutely do not need a rooster. They are good protection for the flock however, and necessary only if you want to hatch baby chicks.

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How can you tell if an egg is fertile?

From the outside you can’t. If you don’t have a rooster then you will never have fertilized eggs. One of our groups of hens, about 25 or so, has one rooster. We find a few fertilized and a few not when we collect their eggs. When you crack open the egg a fertilized egg will have a bullseye as you can see in the picture below.

(photo credit: Les Farms)

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If the egg is fertilized does that mean there is a baby chick in there?

No, it does not. It means the egg could develop into a chick under the right conditions. If the egg is incubated at 95 degrees or the broody hen sits on it an embryo will begin to develop. Once incubation has begun you can candle the egg and check for development. This process takes a while, 18-24 hours. You are not going to have development if you gather your eggs daily and don’t let your broodies (want to be mommies) sit on them. If you are unsure how long an egg has been out, such as if you find a few in an odd place instead of the nesting box you can candle the egg and see if anything is going on in there. I like to err on the side of safety and gather often. My dogs get to eat eggs that still look okay if I have doubts about eating them.

Do eggs of different colors taste different? Does a fertilized eggs taste different from a non fertilized egg?

No. There is no difference in taste at all. Chickens lay eggs of various colors according to breed. Color can vary slightly among the same breed. As far as its nutritional value, there is no difference there either. If you want to get the most nutritious egg get the freshest eggs available. The older the eggs are the more protein content is lost. Farm fresh is always best.

Beautiful colors!

Beautiful colors!

What makes the eggs different colors?

Egg color is determined by the genetics of the hens. The breed of the hen will determine the color of the eggs she produces. If you look at the chicken’s ear lobes those with white ear lobes usually produce white eggs.

All eggs start out white in color. Other shades have pigments deposited on them as the eggs travel through the hen’s oviduct. Blue layers havea pigment called oocyanin deposited on the egg as it moves through the oviduct. Blue eggs are blue all the way through to the inside of the shell due to this pigment penetrating the shell! Brown eggs layers eggs are tinted with protoporphyrin on the eggs late in the process of forming the shell. This pigment does not penetrate the inside so the inside of these eggs is white. Olive eggers lay a brown pigment on top of a blue egg which makes a gorgeous green egg. Eggs are fascinating!

How do you get them to lay jumbo eggs?

I don’t. Just like different breeds lay different colors they also lay different sizes. Our Ameracaunas and Easter Eggers lay a medium blue egg. Our production reds and Rhode Island Reds lay a large and sometimes XL or jumbo brown egg. Most of our other breeds lay a large egg as do our “mutts”. I find sometimes they are my best layers. We also have bantams that lay a pee wee sized cream colored egg! It just depends on the breed. Our chickens are not given any artificial light to make them lay more or bigger eggs. We let nature do its thing. Factory farms, where the hens are kept in tiny cages and roosters are unwanted and killed at birth, force the hens to go through a molt and withhold food to increase egg size after the molt. They use artificial light year round to produce more eggs. The hens bodies never get to rest. This is another blog for another day and not how we operate.

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Hopefully I’ve answered some questions. Feel free to leave any other questions you might have in the comments and I will find an answer for you!

New Year’s Eve~Traditions to ring in the New year

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So what are you doing New Year’s Eve? Going out to a party somewhere or staying home like us? We will most likely be spending our night tending to chickens, goats, ducks, dogs and cats as usual. We have several does about to pop so we expect babies soon.

I do love holidays and traditions though and New Years is full of fun activities and traditions.
Some of the traditions that we take for granted actually came from ancient times. So while you are celebrating this year you might want to take a look at where your traditions come from or add a new one or two. (Source: The Farmers Almanac)

Get loud and Noisy!
In ancient Thailand they fired guns to frighten off demons.
In China, people use firecrackers to ward off the forces of darkness.
In the American colonies gun shots were heard throughout the night.
Shooting shotguns is still done in many Southern rural areas today. We did this as kids at my Grandma’s. Please be mindful of your neighbors if you do this though.
In Italy church bells ring, people of Switzerland beat drums; sirens and party horns blast loudly to ring in the new year in North America.

Eat,and be merry!
In the United States, down South we eat black-eyed peas and pork for good luck.
Mustard, turnip or collard greens are also eaten for wealth, although it hasn’t helped me yet!
Another treat for good fortune is anything in the shape of a ring or circle, such as a doughnut. This symbolizes the year coming to coming full circle.
The Dutch serve fritters called olie bollen.
The Irish eat bannocks, or pastries.
In Spain 12 grapes are eaten at midnight.
In India and Pakistan eating rice is believed to bring a person prosperity.
Honey dipped apples are a Rosh Hashanah tradition among Jewish people.
In homes in Switzerland,spoonfuls of whipped cream are dropped on the floor and stay there symbolizing the richness of the coming year! This is not happening at my house, the dogs eat everything that hits the floor!

Pop the champagne cork!
A lot of countries celebrate midnight by popping the cork on the champagne, but a few do things just a little differently.
In England Wassail, which is Gaelic for “good health” is served.
The Scottish serve “hot pot” which is a spiced version of Wassail.
It’s the custom to drink a glass or two at home before you share with your neighbors!
I like that idea!
In Holland toasts are given with hot, spiced wine. Right now in South Georgia it’s hot again so maybe iced tea or cold wine… Hm, another idea is brewing!

Give Gifts.
More presents? I think I could live with that!
In Rome, it’s gifts of gilded nuts or coins.
The Persians exchanged eggs, the symbol of fertility. Hm, maybe those of us who still have hens laying in the cold weather can share farm fresh eggs!
In early Egypt flasks made of earthenware were exchanged.
In Scotland to bring a person good luck, coal, shortbread and silverware are given. Personally I think a gift of poultry, puppies or goats would be nice. We got our LGD’s for our Christmas presents in 2018. This year we got our little Nigerian Dwarf buckling right after Christmas!

Reflect on your life and the New year ahead.
A new year on the rise is a prime opportunity to take a look at life.
Making a New Year’s resolution is a way to reflect on the past year and plan on the future. This practice may have begun as early as 2600 B.C.
During the observance of Rosh Hashanah Jews have a time for personal introspection and prayer, as well as visiting graves of loved ones. This sounds like a good practice for us all.
Since 1770 Christian churches have held a Watch-night service a custom that began in Philadelphia at Old St. Georges Methodist Church.

Other beliefs and customs.

Some beliefs and customs are just sayings or proverbs passed down from family to family, region to region, country to country.
Here is a couple of my favorites!
~On New Year’s Eve, kiss the person you hope to keep kissing. – This one Farmer Cheese and I practice every year at midnight, if we can stay awake that long!
~If the old year goes out like a lion, the new year will come in like a lamb. Hm…If it goes out hot does it come in cold? 2020 has been crazy all year long and is going out just the same. Does this mean there is hope for 2021?
~Begin the new year square with every man. (i.e., pay your debts!)
~And finally my personal favorite: What ever you do New Year’s Day, you will be doing all year-long! With that said, you better make it a good day. No laundry or house cleaning. 😉 Doing laundry is said to wash a loved one away so definitely don’t do that!

This year a lot of people are beginning a new tradition of staying home in their jammies. This isn’t new to us, we stay home every year.

Whatever you do this New Year’s Eve we wish you a great and safe evening and a wonderful 2021!

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Moving the chicks outside and keeping them warm and safe.

Taking little chicks outside to live with the rest of the flock can be done successfully. It really is not difficult at all. We have a grow out pen we use to put them in until they are old enough to mix with the others. Our open is just a 8×10 dog kennel that has the lower part of the sides covered so they can’t escape and a roof for protection. We have netting covering the top of this particular pen and a tarp roof. Some of our other pens have chicken wire across the bottom. We like to use whatever is handy. They really just need a place to be safe, warm and dry. And of course have food and water.

Our grow out pen. It has an old dog house inside and some curious visitors outside!

The 2 chicks I have just brought home from our school hatch are 4 weeks old. In some places that may be too young to be outside. Make sure they are completely feathered and temperatures are warm before you take them out to live. Most people wait 6 weeks. We are in the South and daytime temps are upper 70’s to mid 80’s still so we take ours out earlier than others may recommend.

Meet Mrs. Duncan (front) and Marilyn Monroe! Don’t you love their names? Kids are awesome at naming critters. I’m afraid Mrs. Duncan might be a boy. 😂
They found the food and water!

We do use a heat lamp outside for them at night and for days it may be cool and windy. Be careful when using heat because it can be very hazardous. We use the prima heat lamp from premier 1. We have found it to be very safe. The bulb is covered with a hard plastic so the bulb can’t be broken and the base screws into the bulb. We make sure it is secured so there is no chance of it falling.

After a few weeks in the pen which is inside the big chickens fencing we will let them out supervised with the others. They have been able to see and hear each other for a while and that helps them get to know each other. Once they seem to get along ok we can let them out without our watchful eyes. The biggest problem with integration to the big flock is food. The little ones need chick starter/grower until 18 weeks. So we will have to make sure they get back in their own pen to eat without the others.

So there you have it. This is how we bring our littles outside. Follow us on social media ( FB, IG, Twitter, Wimkin) for more tips and to watch them grow!

The chicks are doing great and hunting for bugs already!