Baby Chicks!

April 2014 182

Today our new baby chicks arrived in the mail! We have had chickens for about six years now and at least one of the hens hatches a small new batch of babies every year. As is the case with naturally incubated eggs, many of them end up being roosters though. Our original chickens are slowing down egg production now after six years of work and several of our older hens have suddenly died during the past year. So, we decided it was time to introduce some new stock! We ordered 15 buff orpington pullets from Cackle Hatchery. Coincidentally, in the month that we waited for them to get incubated and shipped, one of our existing buff orpington hens got broody and is currently sitting on 18 eggs! I have no idea how successful she’ll be with that large of a nest, but she has hatched babies in the past and been a good mother. Last year, the baby chicks hatched on my birthday (May 3) and it felt like a birthday present. There are few things I like better than a new baby chick! 🙂

We decided a couple of months ago that our kids should join 4-H and so we’ve been getting started with a local club. We joined the crafts and cooking projects to start (the 4-H year begins in October, so we are way behind to be joining and starting projects) and conveniently they have a poultry project leader too—they said as long as we had the chickens before the end of April we could use them for a project this year. We barely made it, but here they are!

I love this picture of all the heads looking in the box!

April 2014 185One of my most “classic” blog posts describes the birth lessons I learned from a chicken during our first experience with a broody mama and a natural incubation:

Then, as we continued to stare in amazement, the mama hen clucked to her baby softly and fluffed her wings around it until it disappeared beneath her with the others. Isn’t this the birthright of every new baby of any species? To be snuggled immediately after birth into the warm embrace and near the breast of the female body that has given it life? The body that has cared for and nurtured it so lovingly so that its head may finally peek out into the world?

via Birth Lessons from a Chicken | Talk Birth.

And, then last year I learned some more lessons from another chicken mama and her baby:

[Last] summer, I had another profound birth-mothering experience with one of our chickens after she hatched her first baby. During the last several days of incubation, mothers hens “talk” to their babies a lot through the eggshells and the babies respond. It is part of how they get to know each other and imprint before hatching. Then, after baby hatches, the mother hen continues to talk and cluck to the baby in a reassuring manner—she calls to the babies when separated and she calls a special call when there is something good to eat and she clucks softly and reassuringly at bedtime as she snuggles them all beneath her. There is a specific type of “soothing” noise they make to stressed or lost babies and a specific sort of excited sound they make to let the babies know something good is happening. There are also distressed sound that means, “run to me now, there might be danger!”

We had three broody chickens at the time, each in their own little separate nest box in the broody coop. One of the hens had hatched a baby already and was in the neighboring box. The inexperienced mama hen hatched her baby and she would not talk to it….

via Talk to Your Baby | Talk Birth.

April 2014 198

Blog Integration (and Greenhouse!)

I go back and forth a bit on my relationship to blogging. Sometimes I feel like maintaining separate “spaces” in the form of different blogs and sometimes my attention feels too splintered and I feel like integrating everything together under one umbrella. I originally started out as a book blogger and kept my book blog going for several years as well as starting a blog specifically about birth art. I started this Talk Birth blog really as just a website for my local birth classes, but as it took off (while the classes themselves did not) I started to devote more energy to it. As time went on, I started a blog for Citizens for Midwifery during my time on their Board. I retired from the Board several years ago, but maintain the blog on a limited basis. As the role and presence of Facebook grew, I steadily moved more of the content I normally would have shared on the CfM blog to the CfM Facebook page instead and find this seems like the most effective use of my time. I was one of ICEA’s bloggers for a short time and wrote book reviews for CAPPA for two years. With all of these, I get an itch to centralize my writing in one location…here…rather than dividing my attention (hence the retirement of my book and birth art blogs several years ago also).

However, then sometimes things happen for which a separate space feels more appropriate–this was true when I had my first miscarriage-birth and felt very strongly that my writing about miscarriage needed a new, distinct home. Interestingly, now that three years have passed, I’m bringing more and more of my miscarriage writings over here, mostly in conjunction with The Amethyst Network, and I feel like it is important to include and acknowledge pregnancy loss in the spectrum of topics covered on a birth blog. After Alaina’s birth, I felt my miscarriage-specific blog was officially complete and I no longer update it. This summer I became ordained as a priestess and again the urge to differentiate blog spaces struck. I started a separate blog for my more spiritually oriented writings and my thoughts about feminism and religion. More recently still I became a contributor to a blog on Patheos. While these blogs intersect, my interest in Goddess spirituality having been born out of my own commitment to birthwork and women, separate spaces at the time feel most comfortable to me.

I’m not sure if anyone noticed and the actual words on the screen are hard to see in my blog header’s layout, but in an effort to communicate my own expanded focus, a while ago I did add “WomanSpace” to the title of Talk Birth.

I’ve minimally kept up a separate farm/land blog as well in various incarnations and this brings me to my motivation for the current post, as I’ve decided I’m going to go ahead and just include those farm life/land picture posts here in the future. This is my primary internet home/presence and I’d like to integrate the two spaces. I’ve resisted because I don’t want to turn off any regular, birth-oriented readers (same logic behind separating out to a new spirituality blog) by “boring” them with greenhouse pictures. Likewise, I have nonbirthy family members and friends who follow me here just for the few slices of “other life” that I include amidst the birth and breastfeeding content!

So, that brings me to…updated greenhouse pictures! 😉 The greenhouse has been almost exclusively a work party project. Mark has done a little bit of independent work on it, but it has primary been built by the members of our work party over the last year (we started it in March of 2012). During our work party this month, we got the building finished and got the grow beds (for aquaponics system) much closer to being finished!


Soffit and fascia up!


Washing river gravel for the grow beds.


New grow beds!


Cat investigating the ooky muddy water coming from the river gravel.


Grow beds looking the other direction.


The clear front wall.



This picture was taken before the greenhouse was actually finished, but it is still my favorite greenhouse picture!