Tuesday, April 29, 2008


Late Sunday morning, the call came. "Your chicks are at the post office. If you'd like, you can come pick them up. Or, we'll send them out your way in tomorrow's mail shipment."

Who knew that postal workers worked on Sundays? (Boy, do they need a labor union.) And who knew that chicks came in the mail? Ok, I did. But did you?

Baby chicks come in the mail on Sundays.

Let's try not to focus on how ridiculous that sounds.

Instead, let's focus on how absolutely adorable and irresistible these chicks are....which is exactly what my kids did for about 5 straight hours.

Here they are, still in the box. They come in these neat little compartmentalized boxes, 25 chicks per compartment. In fact, you have to mail-order a minimum of 25 chicks, otherwise they won't have enough body heat to keep themselves warm. A cold chickie is a doomed chickie.

Yes, you are seeing two boxes there. 150 chicks in all. That's a lot of little peepers.

We take them out of the box one by one, and dip their beaks in their water. It's a welcome drink for most, except for those squirmy ones that get water up their teensy little nostrils, poor guys.

At the hatchery, the chicks are born, vaccinated (ouch), and immediately boxed up. No food. No water. So these birdies are thirsty. And hungry. And scared out of their pea-sized minds. Good thing I've got some willing kids to make them feel right at home.

Madelina's like a little mother hen.

Ana's snuggled in nicely with this one.

And Armando is Mr. Popular. Look how many he has crowded around him.

It takes awhile to get the heat lamps situated just right. If the lamps are hung too high up, the chicks get cold and start to mob together like this:
I'd better lower that light a bit.

Ahh, that's better. Now that they're warm, they start to zip around from here to there. It's hilarious, especially because they aren't very coordinated yet and tend to bump into things.

Gosh, these peeps are irresistible. Baby chicks have to be the most adorable creatures on the face of the earth. So cute, in fact, that I've gotta run and check on them, just in case. For the fourth time today.

What? I can't help it.

Saturday, April 26, 2008


Today is another one of those blustery Northern Illinois spring days. High 40's and windier than all get out. Yesterday, we had thunderstorms and wind. The day before, nice warm temperatures accompanied by a stiff wind. Wind, wind, wind.

I hate windy days. Wind makes me angry. When I was in college, I lived a good 15 minute bike-ride away from campus. I relied upon my bike to take me everywhere. Madison, with it's four surrounding lakes, tends to be a windy place. So when I would bike to class, loaded down by a backpack filled with textbooks and notepads, I'd often find myself sparring against a strong headwind. I'd put my head down, and pedal as hard as I could. Just when I'd think my legs and my lungs could take no more, I'd look over at the students walking to class on the sidewalk. It was hard to tell who was moving at a faster pace. My quick Irish temper would ignite and a few choice words would escape my lips. "@#&%@ wind!", I'd mutter.

Today's wind is making me feel isolated and lonely, and I imagine how it must have been for women years ago on the frontier. They say many pioneer women went mad on account of the unceasing winds that whipped across the prairie. For today, at least, I can relate. And just like in the old movies, the latch on our porch door is broken, and so the door violently swings open and hits the porch railing..."Bam!" A second or two later it then slams shut..."Bam!" I half expect a tumbleweed to roll on by.

When I go out and call to the kids, my voice goes unheard. The wind carries it away. My trusty barrette that I rely upon daily to keep my hair out of my face is no match for the unrelenting gusts of air. The ground grain that I carefully poured into the feedbunk for the cattle was whipped into a whirling dustdevil that proceeded to attack me viciously. And I dare not lay down the bedding that I bought for the baby chicks that are to arrive tomorrow.

And so I am imprisoned. Idle. Locked in. All on accounts of this maddening wind.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Looking for beef, anyone?

SOLD!! Thanks to everyone that responded. Unfortunately we are sold out for the year.

If you're in the market for some tasty, fresh, good old-fashioned corn-fed beef....and....if you've got a freezer that's spinnin' your electric meter like nobody's business because it has nothing in it but stale air.....and....if your favorite summer past time is firin' up the grill and throwin' on a few juicy burgers for the kids and a few tender steaks for you and your main squeeze, then have I got a deal for you!

We have orders to fill 3/4 beef, and need someone to take the other 1/4. That's it! Just a 1/4 beef. A mere 200 pounds or so. You'll hardly even notice it.

Well, okay...you might notice it a little bit.

But when you notice it, you'll also notice the undeniable grumble in your belly and that your saliva glands are suddenly acting like Old Faithful.

If you're interested, flit me off an email to comepifa@aol.com and I'll fill you in on the necessary details such as where we take our beef for processing, how long it takes, and of course how we determine the cost. I'll give you a hint on that one: we use market pricing, which always makes me feel like a rich, powerful oil executive:

"We charge you a buttload (is that a bad word?) for oil because we can...ahem, I mean because of high demand."

Except that I'm your friendly local farmer who would never, ever charge you a buttload for anything. (There's that word again...sorry!) And I should probably give up on the dream of being rich and powerful, too. It's usually not in the cards for silly ole farmers like me. Ah, well...there goes that analogy.

So, um...what was I talking about?

Oh, right! Beef!

Beef that is humanely-raised; beef that has had 100% access to pasture, good quality hay, plenty of fresh air, and clean water; beef that has never been fed any type of genetically modified foodstuff; beef that spend their days snackin', wanderin', sleepin' and chewin' their cud.

Beef that is really, truly good eatin', as they say in these parts.

So what do you say? Any takers out there?

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Oohs and Aahs

Vacation...oooh. Sunny Florida...aaah.

It was so nice to take a break from life in Irish Grove. Florida was wonderful, and we were actually able satify the whole family on the trip, if you can believe it! We had lots of swimming opportunities and a visit to Busch Gardens for the kids, boating, golfing and relaxing for Marcel, an outing in a nature preserve for me, and a trip to a beautiful beach that made all of us pretty dern happy. Plus, we got to spend a lot of time with my mom, and shared our Busch Gardens time with my sister and her family, and my brother Matt. What more could you ask for?

Did I mention that for 6 out of 8 days, the weather was in the low 80's, sunny with a nice gentle breeze? Ahh, such a treat for some pretty winter-weary Irish Grovers. So, come along as I reminisce.

Here we are, relaxing...




and piggin' out.

Plus, we got to see lots and lots of exotic animals (exotic for Irish Grove at least).

We saw a dophin....

a manatee (you'll have to take my word for it)...

the homely, yet important and very rare wood stork (notice the water just in front of him?)...

a very large alligator (that luckily didn't end up eating the wood stork above!)....

and a strange, elusive tropical creature that I just can't quite make out.

This is very mysterious. It looks a lot like a ring-tailed lemur, but aren't they only found in Madagascar? Yet it moves so sleekly through the understory. What could it be?
Wait....it seems to be swinging around this way....
I'm still not sure, and yet suddenly it looks a little familiar.

Aw, shoot. Did we come all the way to Florida just to see a raccoon?
Oh well. Raccoon and all, we had a wonderful time and are ready for farmin' to begin. Rested and rejuvinated, all I can say is: Bring it on, Irish Grove! Let the fun begin.