Tuesday, August 17, 2010

This blog is moving locations

Starting today, I will only be blogging on TheMamaHen.blogspot..com. I feel like the name fits me better, as my life lately has had few laughs and is majorly centered around my kids.... hope to see you there!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Thinking of others

I hate to admit it, but I have been severely worn out this month. I'm sure everyone feels that way sometimes. Just finishing school up was a major chore. Emily got sick and I wonder if maybe she wasn't stressed as well. Life has been pretty good, just busy.
Today, we finally kept a social obligation I had set up a month ago. I regularly visit a Vietnamese family near the airport and they asked about a month ago if they could return the visit and come to our house. So I said that we would set it up for the first weekend we had free.
Well, ended up being almost a month after a trip to Florida to celebrate my Mom's birthday and help her prepare for knee replacement surgery.

So, I went to pick up the family at around 11 AM and what fun we ended up having. They had a video of a church service that the father had performed some music in- and did traditional Montegnard (their ethnic group) dances celebrating harvest. It was amazing to see both the dancing and the amount of people in our area that support this community of immigrants.

Once we were done with the video, we all went outside and I showed them the chickens and the figs, peaches and blackberries that are all ripening. We nibbled on ripe fruit and they told me the word for fig in J'rai (their language). Then I collected eggs while they got ready to swim.
I was so glad I decided to put my swimsuit on and join the fun! The little boys, Thai and Henry, wanted nothing to do with the water and were screaming about being in the pool when I came out. We had them in floatie suits that were a bit big for them and I think the newness of the water and the discomfort of the suits was just too much. Their parents were having so much fun, they didn't seem to mind the crying and kept encouraging the boys to enjoy themselves, dunking and splashing them. I was able to convince the little one, Henry, to come to me and I cuddled him on my hip and bounced up and down playing horsie until he calmed down and was giggling. Before too long, I had them both on my hips and was galloping side to side in the pool, hanging on tightly so they were sure they were safe. It sure brought back memories of playing with Allen and Emily when they were that age. Emily even took several turns with them so that my arms wouldn't get worn out. We were in the pool for an hour or more and by the end, I was able to sit with the boys while they stood on the steps and splashed merrily. It was such a fun time!

Driving them back, all but one adult and one child fell sound asleep. I suspect we all had enormous fun and burned a lot of energy. I haven't lost a whole carful of people to sleep in a long, long time. (Probably since going to the NJ Shore when the kids were really small.)

And now, as I look back on the day, I am thankful that I got to get out of my rut of chores and self-indulgence and actually be refreshed! Hoping your weekend refreshes you as well!!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Toby the predator

Brian had been home for about half an hour when he heard the distress cry from our Llasa Apso, Toby. Apparently the bait in the varmit trap looked good and Toby went in after it. No harm came to him and I'm sure he is not the one stalking chickens, but at least we know the trap works.

Friday, June 11, 2010


There is a predator attacking our chickens. It has killed three bird over the last two nights. One of which was the broody hen. I put her eggs in the incubator right away and so far, two of them have hatched. She was so close to completing her task! It really makes me sad. The baby chicks are as cute as can be. So far we have 12 in the brooding house and at least 15 more in the incubator. So maybe we'll have a lot more joy by the end of the week.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

So many changes.

It has been a week of changes. The incubator burst into life on Saturday morning as I headed out to market. 8 lovely baby chicks! Woke up to an indignant peeping this morning- another addition to the flock! Still 7 eggs that we are waiting on. The broody hen in the chicken house is still sitting and waiting.
The biggest surprise was a mamma guinea hen coming out of the woods with 15 baby guineas following her. She has a group of 4 other guineas helping to protect and monitor the babies and the noise level around here has increased tremendously as they all try to distract us from their proteges. It makes my day perfect to see them running around. We've never had a successful wild hatch with the guineas before, so we've never seen the babies' behavior when they are raised by a parent. SO much quicker and coordinated than in a brooder.
The sad event was our beloved bearded dragon dying. She was completely alert and entertaining the night before, then was cold and still in the morning.

I am getting the impression that God blesses us with new life to help put salve on our wounds as we grieve those who die.

Praying each day that the broody hen gets her chicks soon--she's been working so hard and I feel she deserves her reward.

Monday, May 31, 2010


It hits hens and humans alike. The urge to find a dark, quiet corner and just brood over their progeny for a couple of weeks. I am feeling the most intense need to brood over my two children in our home and not have any distractions. My hens are attempting to do the same. Two became so broody( for you non-chicken familiar- this means all fluffed up to twice their size over a group of eggs which they will defend with their lives, to the point of drawing blood) that I got them their own pet carriers to complete the task in. Unfortunately both became damp and unsuitable and the eggs rotted and the broodies abandoned their quest. Two others took up the challenge in opposite corners of the hen house. One was killed by a night marauder, and her eggs are now in an incubator to finish her work. The other hen bravely faces each day, only rarely leaving the nest for food or water. She should have about a week until the eggs hatch. Then the JOY as she leads them around the chicken yard teaching them how to be chickens. How to eat, drink, scratch. A grown chicken raised by a mother hen is always the smartest bird in the flock.

I have to say that my feelings over my defenseless Vietnamese friends matched closely to the ferocity of a broody hen. Like I would physically die if anything happened to them. I am praying that when Yabsira and Enat arrive I will attach with that strong a bond to them as well.

Pray for all of us, birds and humans alike!

So Angry I Can't Sleep Nights

I am trying to learn the lesson that vengeance belongs to the Lord. But I am so ANGRY. A friend and I (the one with the burned toddler) went to his followup appointment at the hospital and were detained for 5 hours because they mistook his Mongolian spots for bruising. If we wished to leave, we were told DSS would be called. They did not listen to me, no matter how I told them that the marks had been there for weeks. They only asked my friend how long they were there after 4 hours and only believed her after calling her primary physician.
I wrote the most perfect letter of complaint. Described the whole situation in detail. Looked up the appropriate administrators to send it to. And then felt caution hit.
What is my true motive? Vengeance, surely. I want the nurse who first described the marks on Henry's backs as bruises to get a serious lecture. An apology, perhaps.
Mostly, though, I don't EVER want to have to return to that facility again. So the caution creeps in my soul that perhaps complaining to the correct people might cause a hornet's nest and that would require another visit to the hospital. Which I swear to you I just cannot contemplate. I was in TERROR for 4 hours that they were going to take my friend's little boy away from her and nothing I did helped.

So I think I will stash the perfect letters in a drawer and speak with her regular doctor and see if he is ok managing Henry on his own with my assistance. I SURE don't want to have to go back to the Chapel Hill "jail" they call a clinic.

By the way, Henry is healing nicely and even let me kiss all over his cute little face today while I did his bandage change and let me feed him grapes once we were done. Him mom said"Henry loves you!" and I felt my soul soar. Honestly, if mom and Henry are happy, I would be insane to mess that up.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

I'm NO Angel (And this week has been proof to me!)

This has been a long and difficult week. I have been struggling with my own selfish and sinful nature and keeping many awful comments to myself. But since I know what I have been thinking, I just am amazed that God even remotely puts up with me. On Friday night, a dear friend's toddler pulled a bottle of boiling water down onto himself. She called me Saturday and at least 6 times on Sunday. I didn't pick up the phone on Saturday, thought she was just lonely and I was wrapped up in my life and baseball games. Good grief do I regret that. We had a huge pool party for Emily's class on Sunday afternoon, so my entire Sunday was occupied getting the house ready and entertaining guests. When I finally picked up the phone on Sunday, Em sounded sad. And tired. She has 3 little ones, one only 8 weeks old, so I assumed that life was just hard for the moment. I asked if she was ok. She has limited English, so she told me "Henry sick. Henry live- how you say? We take Henry doctor night." I'm like HuH? Henry LIVEWhat on earth do you mean? So I assured her I would come by on Monday morning and see how they were doing. I thought maybe they all had a bad cold. When I arrived on Monday, she showed me with her hands how and where Henry was hurt and told me "hot water". I was like, "Was he burned?!" Another word she didn't know. Then she took me to the kitchen and showed me what had happened. I was like, "Where is he NOW?!" And she pulled out a paper with the name and address of the burn unit in Chapel Hill on it.
To make a long story short, Henry had been burned on one cheek, his neck and his entire chest and top part of his abdomen. His dad had ridden the helicopter with him to the burn unit and had been staying with him for two and a half days by the time I figured out what had happened. I loaded Em, the 4 year old and the infant up and we took off for Chapel Hill. Henry had just gotten out of surgery from his skin grafts when we arrived. His dad looked as awful as I have ever seen him. No sleep. Little food- certainly not the type of food he was used to eating( Rice and fresh vegetables, very few carbs or meats). By the end of the day, I had them safely tucked into the Ronald McDonald house for a good meal and a good night's sleep. Far too late in my opinion. Should have happened Saturday. But I was too wrapped up in my life.
And my attitude needed serious work. I felt like the loser in a game of musical chairs. The family has no car, no one in their circle of friends who can navigate the medical world, or even the English language. I HATED returning to the intensive care world. but I understand it. Someone was needed to learn how to change the bandages. I am good at bandages. Even on squirming, kicking toddlers. The nurses were so grateful to have someone who spoke English and understood the environment. So on Friday I finally got them back to their home. And have been traveling up to their home every day to change his bandages.
And my internal dialogue continues to trouble me. Why this poor little boy has never had the word NO enforced? He has pulled stuff off tables for a very long time. Groceries, dinner plates, toys. Usually is spoken to sternly, but is never removed from the room or spanked. Each time I think of that bottle coming down on his head, I think a spanking would be so much more merciful.
Each time I have to dodge his kicking feet while changing his bandages, I think that a structure of authority would make this so much easier. Someone to let him know that he is not going to be hurt, that he just needs to let the bandages be changed so he can get better. He calms immediately once he gets his way. He is NOT in pain, jut really angry.
And I feel like Atilla the Hun for forcing him through 10 minutes of screaming each morning. I want him to know he will be ok.
Not being able to tell him that in his language really stinks.
So. Difficult times. And believe me. I'm NO angel, no matter what people say.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Sunny and the bunny

I have spent the week dealing with the needs of Sunny Boy, my geriatric rooster, and Winston, my escapee angora bunny. Brian started off one morning with an alarmed "HEY, Isn't that Winston out there?!" Sure enough, the bunny was galivanting around the backyard and under the deck behind the house. We managed to lure him with some fresh greens and get him safely back inside, but I knew I wouldn't be able to postpone building his rabbit run much longer. Actually got the supplies today and should complete it tomorrow.
My patriarch rooster has been another concern. Once I got the baby chick area completed, I caught him and put him with them so I could reconstruct his retirement area. He submitted to the treatment, but was not to be found that evening when I tucked the babies in for the night. I finally located him in his old retirement area, buried under a pile of the 6 month old hens who have grown up in his company. Apparently, all of them are devoted to each other and fencing is no deterrent when it comes time to settle in for the night. Sunny had to fly over 2 sets of fencing tto get back to his girls! I separated them, but the next night was the same story, so I let them stay together and accelerated building a secure coop for them to all stay in together. One little hen couldn't figure out how to get over the fence and was FRANTICALLY trying to get in. I opened the gate and shooed her in. She promptly hlopped up on top of the crate where the huddle was and burrowed her way under Sunny's left wing. She is full grown and so big she almost flipped him over sideways, but he just adjusted his wing and settled down over the top of her. Now THAT. Is why I like a good rooster. What a tender hearted boy.

Got his coop built and all are settling in nicely.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Feeling like Julie Andrews

Springtime is my favorite time of year: just makes me want to burst into song with its delights. The weather is finally warm enough to get outside and do all the fall chores I put off until winter weather made them impossible. The ground is bursting into life, surprising me with reminders of flowers I had forgotten were planted there. This spring the flowers have gone insane. Things that have NEVER bloomed are covered with blossoms. All the rain in the winter must have done wonders for their root systems. Allergy sufferers everywhere in the city are miserable. I'm SO thankful my family has been spared.
I also love watching baby chickens hatch. Three of my hens have "gone broody"- meaning that they stay in a nesting box and try to defend the eggs they have laid with their life. If they manage to stay on the eggs for 3 weeks, then they are rewarded with babies and they will only return to laying eggs once the chicks are functioning well on their own. I have been taking the eggs from two of them, but one that I know was an attentive mama from last year, I have allowed to keep about 6 eggs. Should hatch in the next week or so. I plan on building her a nice private broody house to raise them in sometime this week.
Then it will be on to building a rabbit run so that the bunny can get outside too!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

No, no news yet!

Yes, I am aware that it has been a long time since we started this process. I've actually been reminding God of this fact a lot recently. "Have you forgotten us?" "Have you forgotten there are children involved here?!" I finally felt the answer in my heart yesterday...."did I say this would be easy?" Um, well no. "Did you sign up for this knowing it could take a while, and still be worth it?" Um, yes. Gulp. The agony and pain of the wait disolved as the veil dropped and revealed root cause: my selfishness. I want what I want when I want it. I don't like having to wait. Buti DO trust God's timing and know that we are in the homestretch while God builds myknowledge base on the needs of adoptive kids. So hang in there, dear friends. I anticipate good news soon.

Parenting tips from my pets

My mom tried so hard. She begged, she reminded, she instructed and demonstrated. Guess who finally taught me to make my bed? My border collie. If I neglect to make my bed, I return to find it filled with dirt. She LOVES to sleep in my bed and she doesn't wipe her feet when she comes in. If the bedspread is not pulled tight and secured,she will paW it into a lovely nest to curl up in, depositing most of the dirt from her paws in the process. What an AWFUL feeling to climb into a sandbox of a bed at night. So moms of the world, take heart, you now have a secret instructional tool at your disposal- just sprinkle dirt in unmade beds you encounter and blame it on the dog! Your kids will be making their bed in no time flat!
And guess who taught me to pick up my clothes off the floor? My cats. (Yes,you guessed how...they pee on them, hide poop in them,etc.) I DON'T reccomend peeing on your kids' clothes, but recycling poops from the litter box might be effective. Just be sure to let your spouse in on the plan or you could come home one day to find that your pets have been taken to the pound.
Best wishes!
More later on what my chickens have taught me....

Friday, March 26, 2010

Spring is Here!

The trees are flowering, a riot of pink and white blossoms with yellow forsythias and daffodils adding their accents from the ground. But what REALLY shouts spring to me is the incubator full of baby chicks I just brought home from the elementary school. A customer of mine is a kindergarten teacher and I loaned her an incubator and plenty of eggs to fill it with. They had a successful hatch on Monday and I just picked up the brooder with all the baby chicks in it. They had a pure white chick! The first one I've ever seen.... usually a pure white chicken is bright yellow as a chick. About 10 dark black chicks, probably Marans. Several grey ones, likely Aracaunas and several golden ones, also likely to be Aracaunas. With no set breeding pens, they are all technically mixed breeds, but I like to guess at their parentage based on how the purebreds look when I get them.

Emily and I stared fascinated for about half an hour as they ran riot in their little brooder, chasing each other and fighting over bits of leaf or straw. Watching chicks play tug of war is fun! My last batch of chicks was in November and it was FREEZING then, so not so nice to just hang out and watch them play. Suddenly, one chick's head just drooped and it fell asleep standing up. Then another. They are SO like human babies. Play hard, then crash hard. Emily suggested we should go and let them sleep, so we came inside. They are likely now in a tight huddle, all sleeping together with an occasional restless one on the outside of the heap keeping watch.

It is awesome to have chicks in the workshop again.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

I am running an infirmary

Seems like every time I turn around, I am finding an animal in need of care. Our oldest rooster started the trend about 6 months ago. The other roosters started picking on him and left him wobbly, with one wing that won't flap the same way as the other. So I kept him with the baby chicks while they brooded in the workshop and now have built a little pen for him to live in by himself. His "retirement villa". Then I discovered that one of the hens has developed a cataract in one eye that has essentially left her blind. I moved her into the pen with Sonny. Then our rabbit fell ill, and his fur started falling out in huge clumps. He got moved into his hutch and brought into the living room to keep warm. I bought a Snuggie for him (it was designed for a dog). He looks ridiculous, but his ears are now warm and it relieves me to think he won't be using calories to stay warm. I am closely monitoring his food and water and giving him lots of fresh kale as a treat. He is slowly putting on weight and I think he might just make it. My job for today is to catch the rooster who is hopping around on one leg, dragging his other one behind him. I want to put him in with Sonny so he won't get eaten by a predator. I know that he can't get off the ground at night and have no idea where he's been sleeping lately. I also know in my heart that I should probably just put him down, but he is such a beautiful rooster that I just can't seem to do it. I think that all of this combined has been truly reminding me that nature and my critters are truly out of my control and in God's hands. I can feed and water, but it is God who decides who lives and dies. It is hard to feel out of control. It would be so much nicer to know that if I put the effort into curing an animal, then it would be cured. Just doesn't happen that way. Helps me accept the process of waiting on our adoption process. Nothing I do will make a difference. Praying helps advance my relationship with God and prepare me for the end result. So I'll keep praying for everything. Oh, that's right. That's what we're supposed to be doing after all. Better go feed the rabbit. And send a quick prayer of thanksgiving up for my many blessings.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

There Ought to be a law.

There ought to be a law that says mothers should never have to leave the house at 7:30AM and run errands solid until 5 PM. It's just too much to bear. None of it individually amounts to very much, but cumulatively, it's enough to stop a steam engine.

I just had one of those days. Got home ready to collapse. Sat down to supermarket rotisserie chicken and paused to give thanks. My weary body thankful for someone else's labor. Grateful Brian won't have to share the meal (he's working late- he HATES rotisserie chicken and the likely expiration date of the meat that went into it.) And grateful for a roof over my head and a warm house to enjoy it in.

Especially in this day post-earthquake in Haiti. Cannot imagine being in their shoes. In a country where the poor routinely eat a mixture of mud, oil and sugar to fill their empty bellies. So many suffering, in my thoughts and prayers tonight.

So this little bird seems a Thanksgiving Feast and I am grateful. Despite errands and fatigue. I think I'll curl up in my armchair and knit.