Friday, May 23, 2008

Farm Report...from my mom

On the way to Critter Farm has a guest writer today!

Two weeks ago, my mom, Jutta, and step dad, Bill, spent an entire week lovingly babysitting our Critter Farm, while Jim and I had the nerve to go on were on vacation in Mexico.

Here's what she has to say about their time here on the farm:

On May 4th, my husband Bill and I began caring intimately for 15 precious souls and uncountable chipmunks, multiple insatiable hummingbirds, and two humongous, grey squirrels. The 15 important souls were Roxy the Super Pup, who adores Bill, our dog, Schnauzi, who LOVES me, Walter the bright-eyed bunny, and 12 chickens who are Farmgirl's babies.

The first day we were there, we re-acquainted ourselves with the chickens. They were a little surprised to see us instead of their beloved chicken mom, but the girls went in and out of their coop and into the run nicely except for Sparrow who did not want to go back inside the coop. Bill bribed her with some chick candy, and she finally joined the others on the roost. Po-Roo (now known as Roopert) the rooster attempted to crow, and we praised him lavishly. We encouraged him to keep practicing so that he'd be perfect for Jim...

Our primary task, while at the farm, was to greet the chicken girls in the morning in their new chicken chalet, check their food and water, commune with them, give them chickie candy (scratch) and repeat this at noon.

In the afternoon we were to open the coop and let the girls out into the temporary chicken run - really two dog pens put together with netting over the top to protect them from swooping invaders from above - and then sit there to keep them company. I got some of my most important reading done during this time: "Caring for Your Donkey", which Farmgirl had left on her nightstand for me to read:

The girls, however, tried their best to get my attention by flinging themselves into the dust pretending to be dead. (Very startling to see this the first time!) Or by craning their necks in order to nibble the greenery on the other side of their enclosure and then digging a hole in the dust to pile on top of each other, sometimes five or six at one time. Then followed a fake show of aggression by almost everyone. Threatening wing flapping and swift hammering pecks punctuated with cackles was quite the show.

At night, both dogs slept with us, of course, only Schnauzi fell out of the rather tall bed and it winded her. Subsequent nights she stayed away from the edge and nestled between Bill and me. Roxy took up an entire 1/3 of the bed and snuggled tightly with Bill. Sleeping arrangements remained the same the rest of the nights except that Roxy grew and grew until I had hardly any room on my side.

Farmgirl's younger son, Aidan, was with us one night, and I fixed a great Schnitzel dinner for us. As an athlete he has an admirable appetite, to be followed by great fatigue. But not before he soaked in a tub filled with hundreds of ice cubes to ease his muscle soreness did he give in to sleep.

Bill worked tirelessly in the veggie garden:

and I cooked a lot in the fabulous kitchen. (I thought that's what a farm woman was supposed to do)...
making Earth Bread:

and chocolate chip cookies:

During one morning visit with the chickens, Sparrow decided to jump on Bill's back and could not be persuaded to get down:

To get her down, I finally had to grab her from behind and pry her off. Every time Bill entered the coop she would repeat this show of affection.

Letting the chickens in or out of the coop takes two people to count if all 12 are there. It's really funny, but at one time I counted 13 and Bill counted 11. They were very well guarded at all times though, and we even knew what they do during the night. How? Danni has a baby monitor rigged up in their coop, of course! Doesn't every chicken chalet have an intercom?

The sound is then transmitted into the people's sleeping area in the event that one of the chicken girls should develop a cough.....

Seriously though, this place is magical, and I regretted that the week had to come to an end. We hope to have many occasions to enjoy this beauty and serenity again. Thanks, Danni and Jim, for entrusting us with your treasures.


  1. Awh...what a great post. That Bill deserves a massage, he's bent over working hard in every photo! You're a lucky daughter.

  2. Great post! The chick radio cracked me up! I did the same thing a few years ago when I was worried about predators attacking my chickens. I hardly slept.

    Jutta and Bill worked hard taking care of your farm. They are good loving people. Farm people.

    I also enjoyed seeing your beautiful kitchen and fancy mixer.

  3. How fortunate and blessed to have such loving parents. We're enjoying our kids, too, who moved from So. California to the mountains to be near us. My daughter is the one who turned me on to your site, and I love checking in on you daily!

  4. I can see where your wonderfulness comes from. You have a great mom. Thanks for writing this Jutta. I enjoyed your story.

  5. and her Mom said,
    Thank you for sharing your experiences on the farm. It was great reading. Danni is a very lucky person!

  6. Great job guys!!! It's wonderful to be able to do such a big favor and have it turn out to be a mini-vacation-adventure-experience!!!
    Hope you get to snuggle up to those donkeys tomorrow as well!!!

  7. I loved the guest post. It sounds like a wonderful time. That kitchen is gorgeous!

  8. Hi NW Nature Nut - I am very fortunate. And Bill does deserve a massage - I don't think he likes them, though, if you can believe that! :-)

    Hi farmer jen - Hey, now I don't feel so silly about my chicken baby monitor. Good to know that you had one, too! :-)
    And just so you know, that fancy mixer is my mom's...she brought it with her! :-) I've totally got mixer-envy, let me tell you!!

    Hi californiagrammy - Thanks for your kind words!! It makes me smile to hear you like checking in regularly :-). It's wonderful to be close to family, isn't it. Not everyone is as lucky as you and I are!

    Hi seasonseatings (Robin)...awww, my momma is going to really like reading your words!!!! :-)

    Hi emma's mom - I am very fortunate!! :-)

    Hi eve - you betcha!! My mom has called a number of times to make sure it's ok for them to come over tomorrow to be here when the donks arrive! She has, after all, read "the book" on their care. I think that means they'll still be available for farm sitting next time we have to leave, what do you think? :-)

    Hi Christy - yes, I'm very spoiled with my kitchen. Not only is it a great place to cook with tons of counter space, it's also THE place to hang out and chat whenever people are over! :-)

  9. Your folks sound just divine. Your Ma must have passed on her sense of humor to you. She sounds simply amazing. And your He really worked it out int he garden, huh? That must have been a huge blessing.

    Okay, and wait? Did I see that you have a six burner cooktop? Now I really am jealous. And granite counter wonder you chose that spot. Great property, nice house, fab kitchen, to die for out buildings....what else could you possibly need?

  10. What a fun post! Enjoyed reading your Mom's take on their farm sitting experience, and great pictures. I too an envious of your lovely kitchen. I especially liked the touch of the little donkey checking out the chocolate chip cookies. :-)

  11. Yea for Danni's mom and hubby!! Great writing. We're going out of town for a week in August, are you free to look after my chickens, dogs, cat, rat and gardens?? :)

  12. Super post! It sounds like everyone had a great time, especially the chicks and Roxi.

    We had a baby monitor for our chicks, too, it worked great. And then one day we heard crying --the baby visiting the neighbors's. I wonder what they thought when they heard the chicks?

  13. A lovely post, it's nice that you have family to watch the "children" while you got a much deserved vacation.

  14. Great post from your Mom. Hope you had a nice vacation!


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