Adventures in Chicken Feed.

I obsess about chicken feed.  I know you find that hard to believe (<—sarcasm).  I’m always looking for some kind of wonder-feed that will make my chickens big, shiny, happy and able to bench press a Dodge Ram.  It’s sort of ironic, because my daughter, who’s ten, basically survives on pizza and chicken nuggets and the occasional cereal bar.  She’s one of those kids who decided at some point in her infancy that food with any kind of nutritional value must be avoided at all costs.  At some point I just gave up getting her to try new things because the drama was just too much.  The chickens on the other hand will inhale anything I give them which balances out the feeling that I’m the “WORST PARENT IN THE WORLD” because Emma won’t eat anything green…or anything else for that matter.

square eggs and iI’ve been buying feed for the chickens at a local farm supply store.  I even found non-GMO, organic feed at said farm supply store.  I even went so far as to buy a bag.  However, it did not deter me from my course in finding the BEST CHICKEN FOOD ON THE PLANET.   I have no idea how to judge whether or not it’s the best chicken food on the planet, but I’ll figure that out…or I’ll just buy the kind that looks prettiest.  Which is basically how I make choices about a lot of things.

Yesterday, after Tom’s little stint to the doctor’s office, we came home and hung out for a while.  I have this weird problem with anxiety.  Everything can be perfectly fine and I get so anxious that I’m unable to do anything productive and I sort of spin my wheels and agonize about things that really don’t matter a whole lot.  Tom has come to the point where he can see when I’m getting a little bit too wound up about dumb stuff and he knows that if he gets me out of the house, I’ll calm down because I’m distracted by shiny things.  I also have a tendency to spend money online when I’m anxious, so when he saw me shopping for chickens online he suggested that we go for a ride somewhere and then in the next sentence he said “We could go find that feed store you’ve been talking about.”

Feed store?  I had my flip-flops on and was waiting in the truck before he could find his sun glasses.

I’ve been to a few feed stores recently in the search for the perfect chicken chow.  Last Saturday we went to a local feed store that I’ve never been to before and found that it was a MECCA for animal stuff.  Especially horse stuff.  I used to show horses and had a big beautiful Arabian gelding.  Tom went to the men’s room while I was in this feed store and when he returned I’d already picked out Ariat riding boots, several pieces of tack and was talking to the clerk about fancy over reach boots.  Tom pointed out that I didn’t have a horse and wasn’t getting one.  Thank you Tommy Buzzkill.  So I asked the lady behind the counter (who was totally frazzled because the computer was down and she was having to figure tax on purchases with a calculator) where all the chicken stuff was.  She looked confused and said “We have chicken FOOD…what else do they need?”

Obviously, she knows nothing about chickens.

So we set out for this other feed store yesterday.  I had no idea where it was, but I had an address.  I thought it shouldn’t be too hard to find and I knew that this chain of feed stores had locations all over the south, just not in Indiana…which means we had to drive to Kentucky which really is just over the river from where we live.  I assumed that the feed store would be in the town of Henderson because the address is Henderson.  Let’s just say…I was wrong.  After a half hour of driving in the wilds of Kentucky (it really wasn’t that wild, but it was the middle of nowhere) we finally drove up to the store which was essentially a huge pole building with ten thousand anhydrous ammonia tanks parked outside.  I said something witty like “Look!  They make meth here!” as we pulled into a parking space and then I rocketed out of the truck because I get really excited at new stores.

As we went into the store, a bell rang signaling that a customer (us) had arrived.  There didn’t appear to be anyone around that worked there.  I was instantly disappointed because I really thought it would be a cool feed store.  In the store portion of the building, which was just a fraction of the whole building…and I mean a TINY fraction, there was a big gun safe, a generator and a lot of fly spray on display.  Welcome to Kentucky.  That pretty much sums up the state right there (sorry Kentucky people).  About that time, a short, round, greasy looking guy in a seed corn hat that looked like it had been dipped in grease shuffled out of the back room followed by a woman in a monogrammed company smock and another guy that looked like he lived under a tractor.  I asked if they had organic, non GMO chicken feed.  The round greasy seed corn hat guy chuckled.  The lady told me that she could order it, but it was THIRTY-SEVEN DOLLARS a bag and then she waited for me to be aghast at the price.  I just replied “yep…it can be pricey”.  Greasy Seed Corn Hat said “Jest puttem outside and they’ll find what they need…you don’t need no fancy food.”  I laughed and shot him a death glare at the same time and replied “They’re home eating a yellow watermelon right now.”  Greasy Seed Corn Hat said something he thought was funny that I don’t remember and Living Under a Tractor guy roared with laughter.  I rolled my eyes and thanked them and we were out the door and back in the truck and on our way home. The whole thing took less than 5 minutes.

So the adventure was a total bust.  I continue to seek out the world’s finest chicken chow, which I could totally order online, but shipping is outrageous for a 40 pound bag of chicken feed.  The stuff I have is perfectly fine, non-GMO, organic feed and they love it BUT!  I will not rest until I find them the PRETTIEST non-GMO, organic chicken feed.

You know I’m kidding, right?  As long as they eat it, are healthy, happy and can bench press that Dodge Ram, I don’t care how it looks.

And now…for your listening pleasure….I give you….Cluckzilla (insert applause here)

 

I shared this post on the Backyard Farming Connection Hop #85!

 

 

Pasta Party!

Tom made spaghetti recently with wonderful homemade meatballs.  It was simply divine.  Boiling spaghetti is always mysterious though.  No matter how much we measure out to cook, we always think we’re not making enough and then end up boiling the whole darn box of noodles and end up with enough spaghetti noodles to feed a small third world country.  Suffice it to say, we did the same thing this time and had a big strainer full of cooked spaghetti noodles and had polished off the sauce and meatballs.  Tom packed up the noodles with some water to keep them moist and stuck them in the fridge for the chickens.

small blog logoAnd to think, at one point he said he didn’t even want chickens.

So, one night when I came home from work, I changed my clothes and grabbed the container of pasta and headed out to my favorite place, Vinnie’s Chickentown (that’s what he likes to call it).  It was time for a pasta party.

The usual mayhem ensued when they spotted me carrying a bowl.  They may be simple chickens, but they quickly picked up that people don’t carry bowls around the backyard unless it has something to do with them.  I stood by the run for a moment and let them do their excited dance that they do when there is ANY possibility of a special treat.  Vinnie was beside himself.  For a rooster who should be very regal and intimidating, he can make an absolute idiot out of himself when he does the “GIMME GIMME GIMME” dance.  Cluck (who has now gained the nickname of “Cluckenstein” or “Cluckzilla” because he’s gotten so LARGE), watched suspiciously from the other side of the run.  He’s always convinced something bad is going to happen.  He was trying to look like he wasn’t watching me, but I knew he was.  He tries to pull off the regal rooster thing too, but doesn’t do so well with the intimidating part because he always looks like he’s about to panic and pass out.

I finally fished out a piece of pasta and held it down where Opal, Oprah, and Jessie were standing so that one of them could grab it.  Like a bolt of lightning, Vinnie’s head shot through the fence, grabbed the noodle and he turned and ran as fast as his school bus yellow feet could carry him…with eight pullets in hot pursuit and Cluck panicked and ran into the fence.  Vinnie sucked down the noodle and strutted away, obviously very pleased with himself.

hens pastaThe girls had returned to the side of the fence and this time I held out a few noodles for them to grab.  Vinnie was still feeling cocky (see what I did there?) from conquering the first noodle and was down by the dusting bath (we call it The Dust Bowl).  As I held the noodles out, Opal stretched her neck and opened her beak to grab one and ZING!  Vinnie’s head shot into the space and grabbed the noodle and he ran like his tail feathers were on fire.  The girls didn’t follow this time but waited at the fence like they were thinking “QUICK!  While he sucks that one down, give us a few!”

I pulled out a handful of noodles and dropped it into the run.  The girls clucked excitedly and then ZOOM….Vinnie ran through, grabbed a beakfull (<—that word is NOT in the spellchecker) of noodles and took off for The Dust Bowl again.  He set the noodles down and looked back and noticed that the others were still feasting on noodles that I’d added to the pile.

He was absolutely panicked.  He left his noodles and ran back to the pile as the girls were finishing off the last noodle.  He stuck his head through the fence and made a panicked low clucking noise.  In the meantime, one of the girls had toodled on down to The Dust Bowl and was happily snarfing down his noodles.

I threw another pile into the run which was attacked with a ferocity that was slightly disturbing.  I had obviously incited some sort of Chicken Noodle Riot.  In the periphery of my vision, I caught sight of something reddish-brown.  Cluck had sidled over to the group and was eyeballing the noodles with interest.  He’s been a bit better about joining the group for snacks.  He took a step closer and since the pile of noodles was dwindling (read as..Vinnie was scooping them up like he’d never eaten before), I decided to throw Cluckzilla his very own pile of noodles.

hens vinnie pasta

Cluck made some sort of ungodly chicken noise and hightailed it for the coop.  Vinnie seized the opportunity of a fresh pile of noodles and shot over to Cluck’s noodle pile.  I dropped another pile where the girls were feasting.   Vinnie ran back to that pile with a noodle still dangling from his beak.  Oprah grabbed for it and he ran to a corner to slurp it down where he wouldn’t be bothered by the others and then ran back to Cluck’s pile and then to the girls’ pile, grabbing a fresh beakfull of noodles from both places.   Cluck had come back to the run and so I threw another pile that would be closer to him.  Of course he freaked out again and ran.  He’s so brave.  It was a handful of noodles.  You’d have thought I was throwing bombs at him.

Vinnie was completely out of his mind at this point.  He had a beakfull of noodles, he was trying to pick up more noodles, noodles were falling out of his beak and he was grabbing them so fast that he was putting too much pressure on the fragile noodles and simply biting them in half and ending up with practically nothing.  Just to make it interesting, I threw out a few more small piles (none of the piles were very big).

Vinnie frantically ran from pile to pile and while the girls stayed put at different piles happily eating pasta.  I had thrown one pile fairly far into the run and I watched as Cluck timidly made his way to the pile.  He put down his head and looked closely at the noodles and took a nibble…then a bigger nibble.  He decided they were safe and tasty and was soon earnestly slurping up noodles.  Vinnie ran up, having just noticed that Cluck had a pile to himself,f and in a brave rooster move Cluck raised his hackles and charged Vinnie…who turned and ran for his life like the subordinate albeit pasta-loving rooster that he is.

Look how brave Cluckzilla is!

Look how brave Cluckzilla is!

Soon the noodles were gone and the group reconvened at The Dust Bowl to preen while they digested crops full of noodly goodness.  Vinnie inspected every square inch of the pasta party area and vacuumed up every little bit he could find and then came over and looked at me and made one of his odd little noises.  I held the empty bowl down at his level and he poked his head through the fence and looked at it with one eye and then the other eye.  He made a few more noises, which I’m sure were probably chicken swear words, and then he turned and wandered down to the group to join the preening party…of course stopping every little bit to inspect the ground for bits of noodle.

I find myself smiling constantly when I’m around the flock.  Their weird personalities, Vinnie’s obsession with snacks, even the challenge of getting Cluck to relax just makes me happy, content and peaceful.  If you’d have told me last year that left over spaghetti and ten chickens would be the highlight of my day, I’d have laughed out loud.

I just love those little Noodlefaces to pieces.

Strawberry popsicle

The other day, I was “fixing” strawberries (that’s what my aunts used to say) and I collected all of the over ripe berries and berry tops in a plastic container as I worked.  When I was finished, I nearly threw the whole thing away and then it dawned on me that I had a whole herd of perpetually hungry chickens outside.  The only problem was that they’d already eaten half a watermelon that day.  I didn’t want to cause any chicken intestinal issues, so I thought about saving them and then an even better idea struck…I’d just add some water to the plastic container and make a big strawberry popsicle for them!

I can’t think of anything better on a hot day, than a popsicle.  Even if you’re a chicken.

Recently, I’d read a comment that someone made online that chickens don’t need that type of thing.  Basically, the person was putting down the whole idea of doing nice things for your chickens because they’re chickens.   I remember feeling a little sad because I wanted to do the right things for them and this person seemed to indicate that frozen treats were a silly idea.  How sad.  How really, really sad.

popsicle 1

So, because I like to be contrary, I froze that strawberry treat to save for a hot day…which turned out to be today.  I’d had a rough day and I couldn’t wait to go out to visit the birds.  When I arrived home, I changed clothes and grabbed my silly strawberry frozen treat and skittered right out to the coop where I was met by the chickens with their usual greeting of running and clucking.  I actually feel physical comfort when I look at them.  I can’t even tell you what they do for me mentally…it’s good though…I swear.

I threw the frozen strawberry block into the run and scared them all half to death.  If there hadn’t been fence at the end of the run, Cluck would still be running. He’s not a very brave rooster.  Anyway, they all came around to check out the block and pretty soon they were pecking and licking (do chickens have tongues?), well, they were enjoying it…and that was the whole point of doing it.

Although chickens may not need coop decorations or fancy nest boxes or specially prepared food that’s healthy for them, it certainly does no harm.  If they are MY chickens and I’m willing to put up with the ramifications of what I’ve decided to do…like washing nest box curtains, cleaning decor, or making special treats as a part of their regular diet…then I don’t think it’s a bad thing.  Everyone gets to choose how they keep their chickens.

I choose to keep mine happy….because it makes me happy.

Cluck Norris.

When I got our first group of chicks, I had no idea what ‘straight run’ meant.  I just told the beleaguered kid at the farm supply store that I wanted three dark ones and three of those “chipmunky” ones.  He just caught what he could, stuffed them in a box and handed them to me and I happily skipped away with the peeping box.  For some odd reason I thought they sold just females.

As the chicks grew, it became really obvious that one was FOR SURE a boy.  He was bigger than the rest, had a larger, redder comb and feet the size of dinner plates.  Before I actually accepted that he was a boy, I lived in a happy land of denial and thought he was a girl and tried to reassure him that no one would care that he had huge legs and feet and maybe he could just wear a lot of maxi dresses.  My denial quickly wore off when I noticed the brightly colored chestnut feathers that he was growing that absolutely screamed “ROOOOOSTERRRR!!!”

His name is Cluck Norris and he’s the biggest guy in the flock.  Vinnie is the other rooster and he’s not quite as big as Cluck.  Cluck looks the part of the main rooster in charge, so we gave him the job.  We didn’t ask for his resume or anything.  Vinnie submitted his resume several times and we have a whole pile of them.  Cluck just stood around and looked imposing, so we picked him to be the guy in charge.

cluck2I’m not really sure Cluck is “in charge” kind of material though.  He’s a very good guard rooster.  Always watching the sky and sending out DANGER CLUCKS when he sees something suspicious.  He’s kind of loner during the day and spends much of the time away from the other flock members, preening or just watching from a distance while Vinnie makes a mess of things with the hens at the other end of the run.  At snack time, Cluck hangs back and looks a little awkward as he stands just outside of the circle of snack gobblers and he might try to grab a small piece of the snack, but usually he just watches.  We’re still trying to convince the flock that they MUST love us and we handle them daily and we include Cluck in that little exercise as well.  He nearly has a heart attack every time.

I think Cluck used to be a lot more macho.  When we had the Buff Orpington Rooster Brothers, they would routinely gang up on Cluck and his response was to run away.  That’s when I think he suffered the major loss of his machismo.  Now that the BORBs are gone, I expected him to just step right up to being a rooster to be reckoned with and apparently he suffered more damage to his confidence than I thought because now even Opal, the smallest hen in the bunch can give him one peck and he takes off to the other end of the run because he’s a big fraidy cat.  Not cool, Cluck.  NOT COOL.

Cluck pretends like he doesn’t like anything the others like.  I think it’s part of his attempt to be terrifying…or more likely, he’s just afraid of whatever they’re doing or that he’ll get pecked on the head for joining in.  When I asked him why he doesn’t join the flock in dust bathing or snack eating, he just looked horrified and walked away.  He’s a chicken of few words.

cluck1It might all be a show because this weekend I caught him dust bathing with the ladies.  It was a particularly hot weekend and I went out to change the water so that they had something to drink other than the lukewarm poop soup that they’d concocted up that morning in the waterer.  As I came up to the run, a bright flash of chestnut feathers caught my eye in “The Dust Bowl” (the dust bath).  He was flopping around and really getting into his dust bath and didn’t even notice me walk up to the run.  I don’t know how he couldn’t have noticed because Vinnie was standing right in front of me doing his “GIMME GIMME GIMME” dance for treats.  I walked around to the other side of The Dust Bowl and Cluck caught sight of me.  He looked horrified and embarrassed and just laid there like maybe if he didn’t move, I wouldn’t notice him dust bathing like a regular chicken.  He finally couldn’t help himself and flopped around a bit more, got up and shook out the dust and walked away like it had all been an accident and he really had just FALLEN into the dust bath and certainly was too cool to have been actually taking one.

I also found a treat that he will run the others over to get to.  Watermelon.  I had been to the farm market for more strawberries and they had melons in from Florida.  It was hot and I wanted something cool for them to snack on, so I picked up a perfectly round, small, seedless watermelon.  At home, we quartered it and kept half in the fridge and I took the rest to the run for the chickens.

Cluck watched from a distance as I tossed the melon quarters into the coop.  Of course, they’d never seen a watermelon before so there was the usual suspicion about what it was and some of the chickens tried standing two feet away while stretching out their necks to see if it would eat them or if they could possibly eat it before it ate them.  Finally, Vinnie tasted it and decided it was awesome and was soon up to his eyes in one of the melon halves.  Cluck could hardly stand it.  He circled around, cocked his head to look at the strange melon with one eye, but generally stayed away from the group.  I went into the coop and swept the work area.  When I came back out, I glanced over at the run and Cluck was face down in a melon, happily slurping up the watery pink contents.  As soon as he saw me, he froze with a sort of sheepish look on his face.  The melon was irresistible though, and he soon forgot about me and went back to creating the World’s Stickiest Rooster Beak by pecking at the melon.  Apparently, watermelons trump pretending like you’re cool.

cluck3Cluck hasn’t crowed yet.  He was hatched at the beginning of March and by my calculations is between 13 and 14 weeks old.  He does cluck, but usually walks around softly peeping.  He and I have discussed this at length and while he feels peeping makes him look sweet to the ladies, I also told him that they’re going to laugh him out of the Rooster Union.  Recently, at bedtime, he stood on the roost bar and assumed what appeared to be “the crowing stance”, threw back his head, opened his beak wide….and nothing.  Not a whistle, not a croak.   He tried a second time and failed miserable and went back to peeping and being pushed around by the other birds on the roost.

Maybe his hormones haven’t kicked in.  Maybe he’s just a gentle rooster.  Maybe I won’t have to wear a full suit of armor to go into the coop when I start collecting eggs because he’s too much of a chicken (see what I did there?) to try to kill me with his spurs.  Maybe he is thoroughly emotionally destroyed because he’s been challenged and has lost so many times.  I really don’t care, because I’m noticing him start to join in with the others when they are just doing normal chicken things, which is a relief because I was starting to think he needed some counseling.

Maybe he just needs to stop hanging around with Vinnie.  Hanging out with that dork would ruin anyone’s reputation.

 

 

**I shared this post on the Homestead Barn Hop #161

Wrong.

Last night at about 7:30, I decided that it was Chicken Bedtime.  I mixed up a little bedtime encouragement snack (bribe) and headed out to the coop to get everyone to come inside.  I was feeling pretty smug and thought that there was NO way that they could resist my bribe.

When I got to the coop, the chickens met me at the fence outside as usual.  I didn’t even stop.  I just held up my bowl of snacks and yelled “COME ON GUYS!!”  in my best screechy, high-pitched chicken voice.  Of course, Vinnie was the first inside.  I put the snacks on a big flat rock in the coop that we call “Table Rock” and stood there and waited…throwing a high-pitched “C’MON GUYS!!!  Time for BED!!” now and then.  The chickens outside could hear Vinnie pecking at snacks and it wasn’t long before several other beaked faces came to peek into the coop.  Seeing the snack, they all tried to shove themselves through the run door at once and after some frantic clucking, I had eight of the ten vacuuming up snacks.

As usual, Cluck and one of the Wyandottes were hold outs and stood just outside the door of the run watching, but not making any moves to come in.  By this time,  Tom had come out to help.  I sat in the chicken area and wheedled, sang, yelled, “C’MON CLUCK!” and tried to entice the last two into the coop by talking up the deliciousness of the snacks and how they were MISSING IT.

The Wyandotte (either Mary, Nina, or Ruth…they all look the same at this point) hopped through the coop door followed by a reluctant, suspicious Cluck.  YES!!!!

And then Vinnie and Oprah went outside before we could get the door closed.

So, I started all over with my “Chicken Bedtime” routine while Tom watched with a mixture of amusement and weariness.

small blog logoIt was clear I was getting nowhere and that snacks weren’t working at all, when the chickens one by one all left the coop.  And there I sat…again…no chickens in the coop, but plenty of chickens whooping it up outside in the run. UGH.

Tom said “It’s not dark enough.”

“Oh, it’s PLENTY dark enough…they just are trying to drive me insane.  Give them a couple of minutes”

But none of them returned to the coop.  We sat and waited.  Nothing.  Meanwhile, they were dashing back and forth in the run apparently having a heck of a good time.

Tom finally talked me into giving up and coming back later.  Before I left, I stopped by the run and gave them a stern talking to about listening to their mother.  They cocked their heads and simply went back to their big group preening meeting that I had apparently not been sent a memo about.  I threw out the old “Sasquatches love chicken” line and they all ignored me.

FINE.  I stomped back to the house mumbling about chicken recipes.

I paced around inside for a while.  Tom suggested waiting until it was actually DARK.  Not just dusk…but DARK dark…you know what I mean.

It was getting dark…the light was still visible to the west, but the outside lights had come on and I couldn’t STAND it anymore, so I went back to the coop, armed with a bag of scratch because I know that chickens can be talked into almost anything when there’s food in the equation.  I tiptoed up to the coop because the big door was still open.  The seed helicopters from the maple trees crunched under my purple Crocs and I was SURE they’d hear me and come barreling out into the run at top speed because that’s what they ALWAYS do.

coopAs I approached the run, I could see the soft light from the coop illuminating the side-walk and part of the run.  I’m as blind as a bat in the dark, so I squinched my eyes up (I’m sure it was a very attractive look for me) and noticed that there was not a chicken to be seen in the run…none in the dust bath, none on the outdoor branches.  By this time I could see inside the coop and I carefully ninja’d  my way up to the door so that I didn’t start any kind of mayhem.  I was sure that Tom was wrong and that they were hiding just out of view in the run.  They like to all cluster around the door and hang out and preen their feathers…which is where I left them.

I peeked through the door of the coop….Tom was right (I just hate that part)…they had all come in and gone to bed.  Cluck, Gloria, Roseanna and Opal were all snoozing on a roost (my ninja skills had worked…no one had woken up) and the rest were sleeping together on the floor looking like large puddle of different colored feathers.  Vinnie was lying partly on his side with his eyes closed and his head resting on Oprah’s back.  I quickly snuck inside and shut the run door…and they all woke up.  Busted.

None of them moved from their spot.  Cluck regarded me sleepily from the roosting bar.  He leaned over to Gloria, who was roosting next to him, and rubbed his face in her neck feathers.  She shifted around a little and nudged him back and they both closed their eyes.  Vinnie had sat up when I closed the run door, but he too had gone back to resting and was again laying next to Oprah with his head resting on her.  One of the Wyandottes settled down close to Vinnie so that her tail was toward his face.  She, of course, choose that opportune moment to POOP and it landed RIGHT on Vinnie’s beak.

Vinnie’s eyes snapped open…he sat up and grumbled at her in chicken talk and shook his head.  I swear…it could only happen to him.  He wiped his beak on the shavings…clucked and grumbled and then laid back down against Oprah.  The Wyandotte had apparently taken heed of his grumbly advice and moved so that her tail was no longer in his face and she settled down to sleep.

I sat in the chair and watched for a while.  Tom and everyone else, for that matter, had been exactly right.  They weren’t ready for bed when I’d been out previously.  Apparently, they still had things on that day’s agenda and treats were not going to change that.  When it had gotten dark enough, they’d gone to bed just like they were supposed to.  Cluck opened one eye now and then while I sat there to make sure that I wasn’t going to try anything funny.  The females next to him were sleeping and as they slept they seemed to melt over the roosting bar.  Their heads drooped low until finally they each tucked their face into their feathers as had the group on the floor had also done.  It was so peaceful…just the frogs singing in the trees outside. I hated to leave, but I finally quietly got up and locked the door and headed back toward the house where I could see Lola, the Italian Greyhound, in the window, standing on the back of the sofa, waiting for me to return so that she could sit on my lap for her nighttime petting session.

The moral to the story is:  You can lead a chicken to the coop, but you can’t make them roost….especially if it’s not dark enough.  I suppose I’ll give  credit to  Tom for being right.

But just this one time.

 

***This post was shared on The Homestead Barn Hop!