March Madness – Raising Baby Chicks

Maybe it’s the pain in my heart from losing my long lost friend, Mister Bascums. That pain became immensely intense when my son, Brandon, returned from his deployment to Romania. It just didn’t feel right not having Mr. B around. I’m not sure why having my son home made the void seem so much bigger. It was almost unbearable at times. So I went searching to fill that void…

Spring was in the air. The sun was warm. The breeze slightly cool. I only had to work at the YMCA until 11:00 am. I was filled with new energy. I wanted to plant flowers, build my chicken coop before the arrival of baby chicks, and start a garden that is destined to die at my hands. As I worked with members at the YMCA, the only thing I could thing about was getting home to experience the fresh warmth of the sun rays, the feel of soil between my fingers tips, and the smell of grass and flowers. Eventually, the latter would send me into months of not being able to breathe, head congestion, and non-stop sneezing. In fact, my husband has banned me from ever mowing the grass because of this. That does not make me love the smell of spring any less.

I contacted Karen. You know, my co-conspirator in these challenges. She’s been MIA – a silent partner at this point. We won’t hold that against her, as she has found herself an new Beau, Steve. She has been a little preoccupied with his presence lately. That is perfectly okay because she seems so happy! Anyways, I was fortunate to get a hold her. She agreed, her and Steve, would meet me at the Tractor Supply Company where I buy some of my garden supplies. We discovered the baby chicks.  They were Golden Hens. The Red Hens, I really wanted, could not be guaranteed not to have a rooster in the mix. I just had to have these Golden Hens! They were amazingly beautiful! The only problem I had was a warm place to keep them because I do not have a garage. But at least, now, I could mark another challenge off this Ultimate Bucket List, Raise Chickens and Enjoy Fresh Eggs (#40).

Karen and Steve helped me figure out a way to keep them at my house. Steve even helped Wes build the chicken coop. In order for the chicks to stay in the house, we constructed a Rubbermaid box, added a heat lamp, and some straw. We used old lids for food and water. I can’t help myself! Every time, I pass by them, I have to pick them up and play with them. Love on them. Talk to them.

Neptune, my three year old English Mastiff, was infatuated by them. He would just stand there and stare at them like they were creatures from another planet. The last set of chickens we had, he would chase them, pin them down, and lick on them. He never once hurt them. He just loved playing with them. Unfortunately, the hawks had a different use for them. I don’t know who was more devastated over that, him or I. I even tried to accuse the propane man of taking them because I could not fathom the idea of a hawk taking off with them.

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One week went past, my husband informed me that we lost one of the four. I was so hurt by that. I started to get really sad about it. Then, I realized that even my grandmother could not save them all. It is like she was speaking to me. Letting me know that it would be okay. You see, she used to have all kinds of chickens, doves, horses, goats. I think that is where my love for nature comes from. She had garden pots all over her lawn, growing such things as jalapeño peppers, green peppers, tomatoes. You name it, she could grow it. She even raised baby chicks from the egg. Yes, she hatched them under a light. When one of the chicks didn’t make it, she would call me and I would run over and bury it. I would even make a cross made of sticks at its grave site.

My Granny did not pass on her green thumb or the ability to raise animals to me. In fact, I don’t think I acquired any talent from the family tree. I have the biggest brown thumb any one could imagine. As stated before, my voice would make doves cry. My artistic ability is the imagination in my head that never makes it to paper. BUT, it doesn’t stop me from trying! I still hold on to the idea that Granny is directing me from heaven on how to plant flowers and vegetables, what to feed them to make them grow, and giving me enough of her love for animals to raise my own. I think of her when I hear the birds singing in the morning. I imagine it is she that is singing to me.

When I am really stumped for answers and Granny is taking too long to give them to me, I just pick up the phone and call my mom. She has all the answers! She too can grow anything and is a master at concocting the most unusual things.

“A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”
Albert Einstein

The Biggest Challenge ~ Had to Let Him Go

Faced with the most difficult decision. How can you make such a decision? How do you know when it is truly time? Why did I have to make this decision? Should I have waited ~ tried other alternatives? Let him decide to go on his own?

He has been with us nine years. He turns ten in June. We first met in August 2008. He was behind a glass window. I just knew I had to rescue him, take him home, and give him the love and care he deserved. I HAD TO HAVE HIM! I begged my husband for days. I researched everything about him to make sure he would be the perfect fit for our family. Finally, my husband relented.

Sure we had other dogs in the past. The first was a basset hound, Anna May Belle. Her and I did not see eye to eye. I hated her and she hated me more. My husband left Puerto Rico to go to school in California. I had a one year old son and I could not handle both of them. One had to go…

There was Sheriff. The most beautiful yellow lab; filled with energy and love for the world and my two sons. Unfortunately, Sheriff had to go to another home. We loved him so much that we felt he needed a home where there was constant attention. It broke my son’s, David, heart to watch us load him in a truck and be carried away by a father and his young boys. My husband and I where both active duty military and gone all the time. There was no time for love and attention for a pet.

We tried again by adopting a dog (#128) from the SPCA. Never again will I endure such demise. He created issues from the beginning. He hated cats! He would get out of the house despite all our efforts to keep him contained. He ran the neighborhood and scared everyone. He was a rottie mixed with lab. Or so we think. We kept him for a few years before he became really aggressive. I was afraid that soon he would attack one of the neighbor’s children so I returned him to the SPCA.

I swore there would never be another animal brought into my home that I would have to care for. I was not an animal lover of any kind and did not care to have them around. It was just one more responsibility that I did not need.

That was until Mister Bascums came to be. You see, I was walking the mall with my sons. David asked to go into the pet store. He saw my hesitancy and proceeds to explain to me that his father took them into the pet store but they never bought a dog. They just went in to see them. I had just come home from a deployment. How could I say no? After all, his father took them there. We walked in and there standing behind a glass window was the most beautiful Rhodesian Ridgeback. Our eyes met. I had to have him. Not my children but ME!

Finally, the day came when I was given permission to go get him. I was so excited. He filled our home and hearts with so much love! One day, when I was at school, my boys was left to tend to him. They left the back door open and he escaped. We found him the next day. He had been hit by a car, gasping for air, barely able to walk. He knew my voice and immediately jumped into the car. We rushed him to the vet, and then the emergency room, eventually to Virginia Tech Veterinary School. We really thought he wasn’t going to make it through all that. He surprised us and gave us 8 more years of his love.

In that timeframe, we added three more fur babies to our family. Neptune and Athena are our English Mastiffs and Uma is an English Lab.

This past Saturday, March 10, 2018; he succumbed to an infection in his leg. He had been fighting it for two weeks. He was in so much pain and misery. As the technician was telling us our different options of surgery and the long, hard recovery; I just couldn’t think about him suffering any longer.

My head still questions if we should have tried all those other options. Maybe, I should have tried harder to help him get better. My heart aches when I think about him. Tears stream down my face when I don’t even realize it. It hurts even more to see Neptune search for him. It’s like Neptune knows he is gone. I see the same pain on his face that I feel in my heart.

How can you make such a decision? How do you know when it is truly time? Why did I have to make this decision? Should I have waited ~ tried other alternatives? Let him decide to go on his own?