Wednesday, March 22, 2006

One little, Two little, Three little chickens. . .
All Rights Reserved

Here Chick Chick Chick

I have recently been asked to post a couple of stories I wrote a few years ago when I lived on the farm. Thankfully my DH kept the link to my website so I could go find the stories and as requested. Here they are.
"HERE, Chick, chick, chick
As I did not want to lose a year of chicken raising, I convinced the family that it would not be a bad idea to raise a few chickens in our gym till we moved to the farm. They would be outside at 4 weeks, and how badly could 210 chickens smell up a school, especially when locked in the farthest corner of the 36x36 gym? I prepared for the birds by building a 2-foot high, 8x16 foot brooder with aluminum foil lamps and plenty of chopped grass for feed and bedding. Countless hours were spent researching the best organic feeds until finally a good variety of grains and proteins had been mixed to develop the perfect feed for my birds.
Early one morning in May we picked up our first batch of chicks. 100 meat birds and 50 dual-purpose heritage breed layers. They were cute, chirping happily, and adapted quickly from their 1 square foot box to the large brooder and atmosphere of love.
They received their first breakfast of boiled eggs, hand picked and chopped chickweed, spinach, grass and other herbs, plus a smattering of cloves and kelp over the grain mash. I watched them happily chase each other and then while they slept, measured the distance from their sleeping bodies to the lights to be sure they weren’t too close or too far away. I’d spent 3 days prior to their arrival trying to adjust the temperature of the brooder, and had many a grey hair sprout over the discrepancies between the three thermometers I had bought that insisted it was 80, 94 and 101F all in the space of 4 square inches. After throwing two out and hoping the third was accurate, I laid underneath the lamp for hours to get used to the feel of 95F temperature with the hopes that I would be able to tell, with the sweep of a hand, how warm it was. As my hand was obviously not heat sensitive, I ended up going with the recommended “wait till the chicks come and see if they are huddling under the light, piling in corners or just around it”. I agonized over whether the genetically modified ping pong sized head on a basketball size body chickens would still have the instinct to know that they would fry if they were too close or freeze if they were too far away from the light.
The chicks had 2x the amount of room needed and looked so energetic and happy. They sat on my lap when I was in with them, ate feed out of my hand, came when I called or tapped the side of the box and only caused heart failure a few times by sleeping so soundly they all looked fried.
Could chicks die from SIDS? Why isn’t there more information on the sleeping habits of chicks? I can’t be the first to wonder these things. While researching these concerns on the internet, I would take frequent breaks to check the chicks who had learned to hold their breath while I watched, just so I could not determine if their little chests were rising and falling. With a little help from professionals, I was encouraged to talk while entering the room, so they would wake up and start chirping before I could see their not moving stretched bodies and assume they were dead.
After 3 hours of happy frolicking they started crowding under the lights. The booklets said not to lower the lights more than 18 inches, but I was getting dangerously close to the 6 inch height and had concerns about spontaneous combustion, and the packed green grass bedding that was steaming from the heat and moisture. The only consolation was that the gym was all concrete and bricks and could not burn down.
Even at the 6 inch height, the chicks were not happy. The thermometer I had kept was most obviously lying to me, and I knew I would have to cover my 8x16 foot brooder with something to keep the heat in. Trellises came off the garden wall and were laid across 2x4s for a makeshift roof that could support sleeping bags and towels. Ahhhh, the chicks were finally moving away. . . to crowd in the corners and smother each other in their attempts to get as far away from the heat source as possible. The lights were suspended on ropes slung through roof supports 18 feet up in the air, and as my arms are not 4 feet long to reach across the brooder, the only way to raise or lower them was to crawl underneath the trellis, scoot on my back to the light, wriggle a hand through a hole in the trellis, and tie the rope higher while supporting the light with my gloved hand. Thankfully the chicks had not been in there for more than a few hours or my scooting may have been more slippery and lubricated than it was. While I did not get any sleep that night for checking on the breathing and sleeping habits of the chicks, with a bit of fiddling, a lot of scooting on my back, and a little encouragement, I did get them to sleep the proper distance from the light.
By the end of the first week, I had run out of weeds and needed to mow the lawn again for fresh clippings. How much fun it was to watch them come running to scratch around the fresh piles of grass and spread it for me – I didn’t even mind the extra mowing when it was for them.
My daily hunts for new greenery and weeds soon led me to a stash of chickweed at the back of a storage shed. I proudly cut them a sizeable amount, which they lit into with zest. Mother came in to watch and asked where all the chickweed had come from. With the enthusiasm of a archeologist sharing a dig site, I explained my source and her face went pale, “You’re kidding?”
“Why?” I asked.
“I sprayed the weeds there yesterday morning.”
I went as white as her, and she crouched to observe the chicks while I jumped in the brooder and assumed the many poses of a contortionist, scooping up handfuls of the weed while pulling greenery out of as many beaks as I could reach. Beaks that were not appreciative of me stealing their treats, whose owners were scurrying to the nether regions of the brooder as quickly as their legs could carry them, while I – flat on my back - wiggled after them as quickly as my shoulders could scoot under the 2 foot high roof. Thankfully there were no deaths and before I took a much-needed shower, my family got a few more lectures on the many reasons we should not be using chemical sprays.
Within a short while, I was adding bedding daily, but the gym started to smell like a never emptied but well used outhouse in a provincial campground. I couldn’t seem to keep the bedding dry, and the little chicks were no longer cute and fuzzy but stinky and half naked with their real feathers coming in. You could smell when I had gone down to check the birds breathing, as the “eu de cluck cluck” perfume wafted back down the hall into the rest of the house. When exposed to constant comments from family members on the smell of chicken litter, I reminded them of the one thing we could be thankful of - I had laid a tarp under the bedding before putting the chicks in, so none of the smelly mess would permeate the tile in the gym. For some reason this did not excite them.
The next shipment of chicks was coming out of province and included 50 dual-purpose layers and 10 silkies. I picked them up at the bus depo and found they had been in transport for 18 hours and were a bit stressed. As I was now an expert with 2 weeks of chick experience under my proverbial belt, I gave them their feed and told them to keep a stiff upper beak and they’d be fine in a couple days. Within 3 days several chicks were dead. A week later the death toll was 18, and there was nothing I, chicken farmer extroirdinaire, could do to stop it. I was given a dozen different reasons for the deaths – I had given them too much water at first, not enough water, not enough vitamins, too many vitamins. Thankfully they had included many extras, but it still did not cover the cost of the chicks, and I was not about to use the voucher they had given me for replacement chicks from them. I might be a tad slow, but I’m not a sucker for punishment - or so I thought.
It was getting crowded in the gym, so I sent the layer chicks outside to the 4x6 toolshed with a small run around it. They were having the time of their life, but I can not claim the same. My time was spent trying to contain the little escape artists as they wriggled through holes and flew over fences books had said would be high enough to contain them. The meat birds needed to go outside also, as they were almost 4 weeks old and quickly outgrowing the brooder - to put it simply, with 160 birds in the 8x16 brooder, there wasn't the recommended 2 square feet per bird. We had had some fairly nice weather, so I put the meat birds outside in their 8x8 pasture pen, and they seemed to adapt to the outside climate fairly well. Well, they did all right until that night when the temperature dropped, and we had a freezing rainstorm. At midnight I went out in pajamas to surround the pen with layers of plastic, lay in the slimy manure on my back to put another heat lamp under the 2 foot high pen, and tried to get the chicks to think positive thoughts while they huddled in the pools of freezing water. I did have a fleeting thought of bringing them in the house, but it was very fleeting. I did my best and went back to bed – after a shower of course – to wake up to the same weather. One chick was dead, but the rest seemed to be keeping warm.
At 5 weeks they were running around free range following their surrogate mother (me) wherever she went. In a strange way I was enjoying the attention and had developed an attachment to these mindless, sun-burnt beasts.
I knew that a family of foxes resided at the end of the town limits, which was only half a mile away, so I was keeping an eye on them and counting my birds nightly – not an easy feat when they are all white, look alike, and mill around in a disorganized fashion as soon as you begin to count. One night at around 1AM, the Lord woke me up and told me to look out the window. I saw a saliva dripping shadow circling MY chickens. I let out a hollar, called the dog and took off down the hall wishing I had a gun and knew how to use it. My initial shout had woken the family and continuing yells for “get a gun!” brought them running. I let out the Great Dane who circled the house, caught the scent of the fox and took off after it. The dog and fox hit the layer chick’s wire pen, tangled in the wire, and the fox gave a spine tingling scream before climbing the fence and taking off down our village main street. I could see the fox had no idea of returning, so I called the dog, who to my surprise actually came back. I set up my cot outside and proceeded to spend the rest of the night out there, peeking my head out of the sleeping bag every 5 minutes to make sure there were no predators lurking about. By morning I knew that I was not going to be able to sleep inside ever again, so I set up camp with my 4 man tent that fits one human adequately. From that day till we moved to the farm, I lived outside in the cold, bug infested prairie, freezing at night and trying to sleep in the suffocating heat of the morning while the sun had the audacity to come up at 4AM and say, “GOOOOOOD MORNING!” The dog had decided the night of the attack that it was too scary to sleep outside and remained in my room on her bed, only coming out to make the rounds before she went to bed, and then to raise her head at me when I got up at 5AM to crawl into my bed in the house, hoping the daylight would keep the fox away. It worked, and I didn’t lose a single bird, though I am sure I lost several years of my life.
When the chicks were 6 weeks old, we loaded the 210 birds plus beds, sofas and brick a brack into a 29-foot bison trailer to relocate everything to the farm. We did the move at 8PM to avoid the heat of the day, and I spent another 2 hours trying to convince a horse that won’t go into a trailer at the best of times, to step into a dark trailer that was teaming with squawking birds. It didn’t work, so the horse stayed while we went to the farm and unloaded the birds into their house at midnight.
The next morning I realized I quickly had to do something about the living quarters of the chickens – there were no windows in the small tool shed and the temperature soared to over 100 degrees in the early summer sun. I spent one frenzied day putting up t-posts and stretching chicken wire around them to give the chicks their well deserved greenery and exercise area. A day after the pen was together and everything moved to the farm, I collapsed due to stress induced illness - oh the joys of the simple, peaceful, healthy, farm life.
Around November the laying breeds started laying - what a surprise! Inside the existing barn, I had built those 60 birds a 11x24 coop with lovely designer nest boxes. I gave them 6 rows of roosts, thick straw for bedding, feeders for oyster shells, organic grains, compost, and dirt, and then insulated the one exposed wall with straw bales that reached within 6 inches of the ceiling.
Oddly enough, after improvements to the coop, the chickens production dropped drastically. I knew our winters could be hard on the birds, especially as I had no supplemental lighting or heat, but it was getting ridiculous. Some days I would get 58 eggs, and some I would get 15. Field glasses in hand, I began following birds around and found a small nest with 23 eggs in the hay pile by the barn. Then I started noticing other birds wandering and found hoardes of 30 and 40 eggs deep in the recesses of the large hay and straw piles which were too far away for chickens to reach – or so I had read. Eggs in hay mangers, in corners of stalls, loafing barns, buckets, holes in walls, under nesting boxes and in every hole they could find in my straw wall. I watched one fly to a tiny ledge in the straw wall, scratch herself a hole between two bales, turn around and lay an egg. Another mentally challenged bird flew up, clawed her way in between two bales and laid an egg while the rear half of her body was sticking out in space. I watched that egg and many others drop 4 feet onto the floor while the bird was convinced she was hidden and laying an egg in the straw instead of mid-air. The straw that broke the camel's back (or my back) was when I saw a hen sitting up on top of my straw bale wall. I could not fathom how she climbed up there and was sitting in a tiny 6 inch space between the straw bale and the ceiling! I got a stick and shooed her down, only to find 3 other hens were up there also. I climbed up the wall and grabbed a couple eggs from the nest while giving the hens the “if looks could kill you’d be dead” glare. The next day they were up there again, so I chased them down again and sat to observe how they were getting up there. They would pace back and forth and finally get up the nerve to fly the first 4 feet. When their feet hit the straw they start scratching and pulling themselves up with their beaks and claws while flapping and squawking – in essence, scaling the wall. I decided to eliminate the stress and just tear down the bale wall. I grabbed the top bale by the string and pulled at the wall to start the whole thing tumbling. As I looked up, a heavy rain of 50+ eggs showered down on top of my head and into my arms. The chickens were laughing their heartiest, and I was not at my best covered in raw egg yolk, for the freshest eggs seemed to have been laid up there and had not frozen solid yet. Of course being slimed with fresh eggs is preferrable to being knocked unconscious by frozen ones, but I only realize that now.
I dragged the straw out, and told the chickens they could freeze for all I cared. The family got a good laugh, and I was able to appreciate the humor the next day while I put another bale wall up to stop some of the wind and protect my poor shivering birds. I covered it with chicken wire and stapled it everywhere to keep the birds out. For a few weeks production was up, then it started dropping, and I could see a couple birds were flying to the rafters and then hopping over the wire to lay eggs on top of the bales.
My first mistake was when I climbed up the chicken roost to get at the birds to chase them down. While I had been standing on the roost support, nothing happened, but when I stepped onto the end of a roost (which was not nailed down), the opposite end popped out of it’s slot, and I fell backwards onto the rest of the roosts. Being 2x2’s, they were more than willing to snap and allow me to fall straight to the cement floor unhindered. I had just been adding fresh bedding to the coop but had not made it to the area under the roosts, so there was little to soften my landing. I admit to less than kind thoughts towards the birds while I stared up at the ceiling and lay in fresh chicken manure. After regaining my sense, I got up, chased the chickens with a piece of broken roost – which made me feel better – and tore down the wall I had spent hours making.
Production did not go back up as the conniving birds had learned to lay elsewhere. So, I studiously moved all my hay piles from the barn where they were convenient to feed, to behind the pasture which would make daily hauling a necessity. I decided to lock the birds up for a week so they would be forced to lay in the nest boxes. That lasted 2 days before their sad pacing up and down the fence plus mournful eyes made me realize how cruel I was being.
On the recommendation of many chicken owners, I covered thel nest boxes to darken them and make them more inviting, but it resulted in the reverse and the hens refused to step near the black hole where who-knows-what was hiding. I put golf balls in the nests to encourage laying in the boxes and discourage eating their own eggs (in case that’s where the eggs were going), and they started setting and tried to hatch golf balls. So, I took the golf balls out and set them in an empty eavestrough which was resting on top of the nest boxes. The chickens showed off their new talent of balancing on a 3-inch eavestrough while laying eggs amongst the golf balls. The golf balls went out the door, and the chickens went on strike till I gave them back a few golf balls to humour them.
They still insist on laying eggs in other places, but I’ve learned to find the hiding spots and leave them locked up for a few extra hours in the morning, so they at least limit their laying to the barn. Or at least, they have finally fooled me into thinking they are laying their eggs in the barn.
Well, I'm exhausted from reading my adventures (I can't believe what a short memory I have as reading it was like reading a new story to me), so
Signing off
Heather, Ben, Emily, Franklet, Tia, Mocha, and Becky

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

O Be Thankful for the Wooden Peg That You're Given

Wooden Pegs and Suitcases

Yesterday Emily was having a rather bad day. Well, bad for Emily, which means she wasn’t as smiley and content but was instead “ah, ah, ah, ah”ing in an annoying loud voice and wanting to be carried around. We lost her little spoon with shoelace holder which she liked to play with when she was in her jolly jumper, and now she gets bored when she is bouncing around. I had just started dishes when she started whining/crying. I looked around for something new to occupy her and saw one of the old fashioned peg clothespins I use to hang clothes in the spare room. They were given to me from a lady on my Freecycle list (explained below), and while I thought they were nice and economical for hanging laundry, the lady tried to get me to take them by saying they were maybe antique and worth some money. I handed the “antique” peg to Emily, and she chewed on it for a second before ahhing again. So, I started to tell her stories about the peg and tried to distract her so I could finish dishes before putting her to bed. She laughed at the stories, but when I stopped talking, she’d get all sad again. So I told her that a peg was a very good toy for her and that she could do a million things with it if she put her mind to it. I rambled on for a while, and when she started fussing I sang, “Oh be happy for the wooden peg that you’re given. . .” to the tune of “Oh be careful little hands what you do.” Ben had been listening to my spiel, and burst out laughing at this point. He got up and laughing the whole way, came to the sink where I was occupied with dishes to give me a hug and nod while I told him I was trying to encourage Emily to be content with the things I had given her.
I belong to a Freecycle internet group which recycles things owners don’t want anymore by advertising them for free. On this list you can post wanted items, and I’ve found a variety of wonderful things we didn’t have to pay a penny for – a bbq, stroller, bicycle cart, chairs, etc. While at Wal-Mart one day, I saw the luggage section and was reminded that this summer we will be living out of suitcases for 2 months while traveling through various states for Ben’s preceptorships. Since last January, I have made it a point to restrain from buying anything I think I need, but to pray about it and the Lord always provides in other ways. So, I prayed for a set of luggage that had wheels for portability, and then put in a Wanted advertisement to Freecycle. Right away a lady replied and said she had a set of three suitcases in good shape to give away. Excited as always, I used her directions to navigate to her house to pick them up. On the way, Ben asked, “Do you like light brown luggage?” and I said, “I like free luggage.” (I sound more and more like my Dad every day!)
As we drove down South G 12th street, Ben said, “There it is.” I looked down the driveway where the lady said she would leave them, and my heart sank. Yes, they were in good condition, but they were a good 40 years old. The same suitcases every grandma and grandpa bring when they visit – huge, synthetic leather, heavy, large metal zippers, kind of warped from storage and large enough for me to pack the contents of the trailer in. Ben didn’t say anything (he kindly never does) and I said, “Oh. . . I was expecting something different.” I put them in the van, sat down in the passenger seat, and as he drove away, burst out laughing. He finally felt it was safe to join in when I said, “If there is a smaller one inside the large one that is the perfect size to store a million pill bottles, I’ll think we’ve inherited my Grandma’s luggage.”
The closer we got to home, the more annoyed I got at the luggage. For some odd reason, I had imagined they would be brand new, black and just like the set I liked in the store. Instead they were 40 years old and looked like they belonged to someone wearing a Paisley shirt and pair of bell bottom jeans.
When we got home I left them in the van for an hour while I cleaned up. I thought of what I had prayed for and was reminded of my answers to prayer in the past. I had prayed for a vehicle for us when our minivan started to die and while I had given a specific vehicle I’d like (don’t laugh); the Lord gave us what suited us best - a nice astrovan. I prayed for some luggage and the Lord knew what we needed and provided it in the form of this. Not quite what I’d prayed for, but most certainly an answer to prayer. I carried the suitcases into the house and opened them to get a closer look – hoping for a glaring defect in their utility. Nope, all zippers worked and they were even fairly clean.
After a while, as I normally do when I have something I didn’t quite want, I began to play the Glad game (Pollyanna. .)
“It is the kind of luggage people who travel on airplanes would really like – sturdy, can’t be smashed because of the strong plastic inserts, nobody would want to steal it, it has dandy little zipper locks, pockets for bottles and straps to hold your clothes in.” (sturdy enough to hide in for a bomb shelter, it’s so ugly nobody would steal it, the zipper lock is locked and I’ll have to saw it off. . .)
“The largest one is big enough for us to put the whole family’s clothes in, so we won’t have the bother of carrying 3 bags when we travel.” (yup, if I need another diaper I’ll have to rifle through one huge bag of stuff instead of just looking through Emily’s suitcase)
“If we ever do extensive traveling we’ll appreciate luggage like this because it will stand up to wear and tear the way new cheap luggage doesn’t.” (Couldn’t argue with this one :) )
“I like brown suitcases – I have a brown bag that I actually bought once because I liked it.” (I no longer use that brown bag, but I did at one point)
“This was probably very expensive in its day.”
Ben must have heard me grumbling internally because he said “Great, maybe you can sell it on EBay as antique.”
I laughed and said, “Yeah, like Emily’s wooden peg.”
I got really quiet and realized what I had just said. I can’t remember exactly what I got up to do. But I sat back down and said, “I am the world’s worst hypocrite. Last night I was talking to Emily about being content with what we are given, and look at the example I’m being to her.”
Maybe they won’t work for what we need, the zipper will fail, or we get given something else, but until then, I’ll use them as a replacement for the duffle bag the mice found and used as a toilet (phew, did those smell!) Then again :), possibly the Lord gave them to us in order for us to be able to pass them along to a needy recipient. So, just a warning to all readers – if you admire them you may end up with them!
Signing off
Happy Heather, studious but frustrated Ben (have you ever tried to understand and compare DHI 202 data from dairy herds??), noisy Emily, bored Tia, hungry Frank, and sound asleep Mochaccino.
P.S. Emily seems to have listened well as she carried her little wooden peg while we went on a walk. I did not carry a suitcase on our walk but listened well also.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

6 fingered hired hand

"Polar Bears can break through 3-4 feet of ice in order to get out of the water" Ben coughed and I tried not to spit the mouthful of water I had in my mouth into his face. Yes, it maybe true (I didn't bother to check the truth of the statement), but it was the tone of voice and the person saying it that made it funny.
Ben and I had splurged and were enjoying pepper chicken at the local King Buffet. We had been put at a table in the back, a place we had never sat before, and where most large families were put. (large being 3 or more children :)
A ranching family was sitting in front of us and my back was to them, so I couldn't see what they looked like. They were very obviously in town for the day and enjoying the lunch out. 4 children from about 12 to 18 (possibly not all their own) and one of those Fathers who is the world's authority on everything.
"And I want to ride bulls, too." said one boy who looked to be about 14.
"And what are you going to do with 4H when you have a broken arm and leg?" asked the Dad very sarcastically.
Three children said something at once, and I peeked back to see the boy deep in thought and heard him say, "Couldn't we take out life insurance?"
He repeated it 3 more times while the others competed for air space, and while I'm one of those proponents of "no question is a dumb question", I couldn't help but thinking, "Down boy, before they make you look as dumb as you sound. . ."
"Dad, couldn't we take out LIFE INSURANCE," the boy was almost shouting.
"Then you'd have to die." laughed a girl of about 17.
"That wouldn't help you with a broken body." said the Dad in a very serious tone.
The son just nodded wisely and sagely and sat back - presumably to ponder how he could do 4H and still ride bulls without life insurance. I could have suggested disability insurance, but I doubt they give it to 14 year olds and I can only imagine the cost of disability insurance for a bull rider!
They children asked if they still had to stay in town to shop (obviously some had come to town for the day just to eat out), and in the middle of it all their Dad said, "You know, my Dad had a hired hand who couldn't count." It was downright sweet the way those kids stopped talking and stared at their Dad with complete trust. Made me realize the importance of not abusing such trust and making sure one is living the proper example. "He hadn't gone to school and didn't have a lick of education. Dumber than a stick." (I almost interjected here to let him know that school does not equal education/smarts: after all, Ben had only gone to "school" till the 3rd grade and here he is only a year from graduating from vet school. But then realized they would know we were listening to every word - kind of hard not to when their voices were that loud and they were only a foot away.
"He had to use his fingers to count. When we were counting calves, he would stick up his hand and count, 'One, Two, Three Four, Five . . Six! This man had 6 fingers.'."
Complete silence as they licked up every bit of this. I almost corrected him and said 5 fingers and a thumb.
"So when we counted calves, we'd be at 90 and the poor sap would be at 110."
A quick calculation told me that Dad was not right - it would be 108 if he counted to 6. Such a shame to see this Dad with all that education not knowing how to count - just like the unschooled hired hand.
"He always wore mittens and never gloves."
By this time I was giggling away and Ben was giving me looks because he couldn't hear it. I tried to whisper to him why I was laughing. He couldn't hear so finally I said it louder, "he had a six fingered hired hand - so when they counted to 90 he was at 110." Ben spluttered and it was obvious he was laughing so I stopped looking at him.
I got up to wash the sticky Chinese off my fingers and when I came back, the Dad was having a one sided conversation with Ben. It seems that Emily was finding staring at them while trying to hang upside down, much more interesting than the cottage cheese Ben was offering her.
"Sure cute now, but wait till the boys come around."
Ben and I just smiled and I wondered what I should say about that whole subject.
"I don't have that problem because all the boys know I have a shotgun behind the front door. . ." He was still talking and smiling, so we continued to smile.
"And any boy she brings home" he pointed to his blond daughter, "has to do pass muster with us. " (well, that's what it sounded like he said. Must be a US phrase -pass muster meaning do chores) "Having to do farm chores each evening sure culls out the bad ones." He tucked his fingers in his shirt pockets and rocked back on his heels.
"Kind of intimidating when they see her throwing 100lb bales around."
Ahhh, this sounded familiar. I've known my share of Dads like this. They can out ride, out shoot, out lift, out train, out cow, out drive anything - and every one of their kids can too. It makes for Dad's that are mighty proud of their children's accomplishments (a good thing) and let the whole world know that their children do everything better than yours (not so good). Their kids adore them because Dad thinks they are the best and he includes them in everything, and Dad is the only source of information they have on everything and therefore knows it all without having researched anything. You don't have a conversation with them, they talk to you. They can ALWAYS help in a bind but if they can't do it, it can't be done. If they can't do it well, then it isn't worth even trying - i.e. if they aren't good at something it is too dumb to do anyway. They are the ones that buy the horses with attitude and bad habits for their children and sell the real quiet ones because they are too tame. When I go trail riding with them, I always end up riding the 8 year olds horse back or ponying the horse and riding double on my horse because their horse with "spirit" is not wanting to listen (i.e. half rearing to go home, tossing his/her head, not turning, running through cues etc). The kids never admit weaknesses about anything, because then they would seem like sissies. Those 100lb bales their 11 year old daughters lift always ended up being 40lbs when I lifted them too. They'd explain it by something like, "Well, we baled some lighter ones for the kids to be able to lift. . " because there was no way you could be half as strong as their 11 year old. :)
They left possibly to go lift some more of those 100lb bales and contemplate life insurance. We had a smile and entertaining if not learning experience.
Signing off
Heather, Ben, Emily, Tia, Franklet and Mochaccino