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Strawberry eating right out of Kate’s hand.

Moving from the city to the country while Jack was in school at Iowa State, chickens were one of our first investments in homesteading. In all that time, we’ve had literally hundreds of chickens, as well as a few ducks, geese, and turkeys grace our farm. Though I do my best to take care of all of them equally, some of them stick out to me as memorable. One of the hens that tops the list is Strawberry.

Way back when Strawberry and I were both younger hens.
She’s an Easter Egger, and when she *used* to lay eggs (she’s so old now, we’re amazed if we get one a year from her), she produced beautiful blue eggs for us. As a hen, she’s not particularly striking–I’m not really sure why the girls named her Strawberry, other than it was when they were in the phase where everything was named based solely on its looks and she has a few ruddy feathers that could pass for strawberry colored. It’s Strawberry’s personality that makes her one of my favorites. She’s never been flighty or pushy or mean, but everyone knows she’s the matriarch of the flock. I have photos of her from way back in 2014–that makes her at least nine! As far as chickens go, she’s ancient and has the old lady sagging neck waddle to prove it. Most of our hens are either sold when they start getting too old, are turned into chicken broth, or die of natural causes if we don’t catch them before they start feeling rotten and put them out of their misery. WAY too many of them have also met their end in the mouth of any number of foxes that have also been a part of our homesteading journey.
Usually, the only sign that a fox has snuck up to our house to help itself to a chicken (or two or three or however many they can catch and run away with) is a large pile of feathers. There area always wispy feathers blowing around, but it’s the amount and concentration that’s key. So, when I went to lock up the hens one evening after they’d been free ranging while we were home, and saw a pile of familiar feathers, my heart sunk. Not Strawberry!
Missing feathers and a little shaken up, but still alive!
I know there has to be balance in nature. Those same annoying foxes also keep the skunks, rabbits, rats, raccoons, mice, and other critters in check. They serve a purpose, but are also always looking for an easy meal, especially since they have their kits in a den in our forest every year (sigh). But dang it! I was so frustrated with that fox that I considered taking Panama on a walk in the forest with a shovel and digging out their den until they decided once and for all to leave.
Is that a smile for the camera?
Imagine my delight then I went to feed and water the hens the next morning, where I discovered Strawberry IN the chicken coop. As best as I can guess, she somehow outsmarted that rascally fox, and went to hide in the nesting box where the fox was too leery to follow. Strawberry is a tough old bird who’s cleverness and experience saved her skin. Glad to have her for another day as part of our farm!

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Welcome to the farm!

True stories of raising children, remodeling, braving the elements and plotting out life, all while living on a humble acreage in central Indiana.

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