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It’s all about animals

Published: Thursday, Oct. 12, 2017 10:29 a.m. CST

I got a text from Ginnie while she was at work. “What’s going on today?”

I text back, “Buddy to the vet, lady bringing her two hens, pet blessing on Sunday.”

“It’s all about animals,” she replied. “LOL!”

And so it is. Life on the Empty Nest Farm is all about animals. Buddy was due for his annual checkup and shots. By the way, Buddy goes to the doctor more than I do. Oh, well. When it comes to cutes, he has the corner market.

A lady I met at our Old Threshers garage sale noted our hens running around free range. She asked if I wanted two more. She didn’t want to keep hers through the winter. I told her I would give it a try.

Not only did she bring the two hens, but she also brought the coop she had for them. It was sort of like an apartment complex for chickens, with built-in nest boxes, roosts, and a ramp for accessing the second story. I was kind of worried about whether my hens and her hens would get along. So, I had the lady help me move her coop into our larger hen house. My idea was to house her two hens in the coop they were accustomed to while letting my hens acclimate to hers and vice versa.

I kept her two hens in the coop overnight. My hens were quite interested in the coop and unsuccessfully tried to get inside. Her two hens huddled in the corner of their coop, bewildered by the new surroundings and the 11 additional birds-of-a-feather. Could they flock together?

My intentions were to keep the two new hens in their coop for a couple of days, while letting my hens in and out to graze. However, after the first night, I felt guilty about keeping the two new hens cooped up. I let them out to mingle with my 11 hens and to go outside at will.

At first, the two new hens were quite shy about leaving their familiar surroundings. But they slowly poked out and went immediately to eating and drinking from the larger feeder and waterer. My hens rushed inside the strange coop to see what it was all about.

The two new hens investigated the laying boxes and eventually wandered outside. There were a few dust-ups between my hens and the newbies, but nothing serious.

One of the new hens is dark red and shy. The other is a red-and-white mix with a buff tail. So we call them Red and Buffy. Buffy is the boss, and they stick together tightly, wandering around our 2.5 acres, eating bugs and staying off the road.

I was a little concerned about whether Red and Buffy would return to the hen house at night, but they did — not to roost with my hens, but to return to the inside of their coop. Interesting. They are also not using my laying boxes, but continue to lay eggs in the coop’s built-in laying boxes. I think some of my hens are going into the new coop and laying eggs at the new facility. Also interesting. Swarm’s adopt-a-hen. Lucky 13.

We are getting about a dozen nice brown eggs a day. Many of them double-yolkers. In the supermarket, they would be called “cage-free brown eggs” and are more expensive than the standard whites. We call our eggs, “country gold.”

Our pastor had a pet blessing at the church and we took Buddy. He was a little jealous over all the attention we’re giving the hens but is feeling special now after the blessing.

Ginnie was right, life on the farm is all about animals, which is a nice relief from the strife in the world. Next year, we might take Red and Buffy to get blessed.

Contact Curt Swarm in Mt. Pleasant at 319-217-0526 or curtswarm@yahoo.com

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