Chicken Coops and Change


These last few weeks have seemed to be speeding by. I am pretty sure it isn’t because we are getting older and moving slower.  (It might be, but I am not going to admit to that!) I think it is just the time of year; when time is growing short, to get outside things done.

We seem to be busy from morning light to the sun going down. We have been spending time by my brother-in-law cutting downed ash trees to be used to help heat our home this winter.

We have also been spending time harvesting soybeans, cleaning up the remaining things in the garden, working on our closet (when it rains…and yay…it is finished!), and just generally getting things ready for the winter season.

Yesterday, time was spent prepping the chicken coop for the winter season. The nesting boxes were cleaned out. We scooped up the old bedding from the floor and used my trusty wheelbarrow to transport it to the garden for fertilizer for the next summer crop. Actually my husband is the fertilizer transporter….he has wonderful technique in spreading it in a nice layer over the garden.

During the hot summer months my husband changes out a glass window for a screen window so the girls get a little breeze during those balmy days. Now that those days are gone, he switched the window back to the glass one. I couldn’t believe how much difference it made when I went to lock them in at night.

The coop cleaning is something that is done twice a year….spring and fall. I have come to expect this to happen sometime between  soybean harvest and corn harvest. I try to be prepared for that day when my husband comes in and announces that today is the day for coop cleaning.


It is wonderful to go into the chicken coop those first days after it has been cleaned. Everything smells to pine or cedar shavings. The bedding on the floor is clean and dry and the nesting boxes look so inviting.

I don’t know if the girls really appreciate it or not….but I know that I do! I know they kick up a fuss while we are cleaning their home.  They come in and inspect…… often, voicing their opinions with loud clucking and fussing.

Watching them kick up a fuss I started to wonder if we kick up the same fuss when things get cleaned out in our lives? Do we wander about protesting loudly about the changes that are happening? Do we fuss and squawk about it, when in reality, our lives will be so much better when it is finished?

Are we reluctant to release the old way of life for a better one? Or do we firmly dig in our heels and make change more difficult than it needs to be? I know that I, for one, find change is sometimes hard. I like the familiar even if it is not the best for me. Like my girls…..I don’t like the unknown that change can hold.

One of my favorite songs about how hard change can be; is sung by Sara Groves……”Painting Pictures of Egypt.” When I hear that song I realize I am not so different from the Israelites in the wilderness.

Hopefully we learn to not fear the “cleaning” that our lives sometimes need. Hopefully we learn to accept those changes with grace and a curiosity about what life holds next. May we see the blessing in the changes. May we look forward to the future and be grateful for the past.


“Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.” 
― Corrie ten Boom


 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
Romans 8:28





Pre-Winter Preparations

Ready for Winter.JPG

In the midst of an irksome election season, there is joy to be found in the regular seasonal tasks that need to be done on a farm….. at least on our farm.  The past days have been perfect for catching up and getting the pre-winter things done.

My husband and I have planted raspberry bushes (thanks to a friend who was getting rid of her bushes). We have cut and stacked more fire wood to use for the woodstove this winter. The   garage door installation has been finished! (Yay for us!!). And today was spent in putting away gravity flow wagons and harvest equipment and cleaning my chicken coop.

Putting away the equipment sounds like a small matter of just parking the wagons in the shed and good to go…….not so.  My husband has a very particular way he parks his equipment in the machine shed.  The space is limited so it is like putting a gigantic puzzle together, using a tractor to put the pieces in place.

Wagons are parked with only inches to spare between them. The planter is placed “just so”….that way the baler can fit in the space between the planter tongue and the gravity flows. I love jigsaw puzzles, but this is like a puzzle on steroids!

When we finally had the equipment parked to the proper specifications, it was time to move on to one of my seasonal tasks…….chicken coop cleaning!  It is an incredibly dusty job; but I love how the finished product looks and smells. The eggs look so nice nestled in the clean pine shavings that get put in the nesting boxes.


To clean the coop one of the first things that we need to do is remove the chicken roost. My husband made an amazing roost for the girls a few years ago.  It is the perfect size and easy for us to remove for cleaning.

Once the roost is out, my job is to scoop the old bedding and chicken manure onto my wheelbarrow.  This is where the dusty part comes in. The old bedding is dry and the dust fluffs up everywhere as you scoop it up. My husband then spreads it on the garden as fertilizer.  This is a definite win-win for the girls and the garden.

The fun part is putting in the bags of new bedding.  Once it is all spread over the floor; the pine shavings look so fluffy and clean and smell even better.  It doesn’t even smell like chickens!

The girls are never very impressed when we do this cleaning job. I am never sure if they think we are throwing out something valuable or if they just do not like change. I can understand their fear of change.

Change can be hard. Sometimes it is easier to stay exactly where and how we are….even if it is like my girl’s dirty chicken coop. Even when life is less than perfect, there is a comfort in the old familiar places. They are places we know and are our “normal”.

If you are like me, you tend to drag your feet when God has something different planned for you. You know, that to make that change; it might involve a lot of heavy lifting, dust and scooping out of the old “stuff”. You also know that His is a much better plan than you can imagine and that in the long run you will be grateful for what He has done.

I am reminded of this fact when I clean the coop.  When I see how great it looks and smells when we are done; I am reminded that when God makes changes in my life….it is good and I am blessed.  I wonder why this is a lesson I seem to have to relearn over and over again….and then learn again…..


Don’t worry about anything; instead,
pray about everything.
Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.

Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand.
Philippians 4:6-8 (NLT)



The County Fair


The Chicken Grandma Goes to the Fair.


There is a county in our area that has the most amazing county fair. The famous Clay County Fair (or as we used to call it the Spencer Fair – is located in the town of Spencer) is one of the  biggest county fairs I know of.

My husband and I decided we would attend yesterday as it was not raining. It was cold but we decided wearing a coat was better than using an umbrella to stay dry. It was also better than some years when it is so hot you just sit and bake in the sun. At least when it is cold and windy you can add more clothes…..when it is hot there is only so much you can take off before you either scare people or get arrested.

Every day at this county fair they have a special gate admission for various groups.  The day we went was a discount for senior citizens. Fortunately (or unfortunately?) we do not yet qualify for this discount.  The only concern we had was would there be enough benches for us to rest on when we wanted to sit down? Senior day tends to see the benches with lots of white haired (or no haired) people utilizing them.

We found seating was not such a problem this year as a lot of the seniors rented scooters or rode around on golf carts. After walking around the entire day those scooters and carts looked really, really good!

We spent the day wandering the grounds looking at farm machinery, antiques, tractors, and classic cars. Those are my husbands favorite categories. I love to go in the buildings that have the displays of hand-made quilts, cards, scrapbook pages, canned goods, etc.

It was also fun to taste the samples of the products the vendors were trying to sell. There was a booth that had the most amazing fried bacon Wisconsin cheese. I wanted to buy some till I saw the price. I am a little to tight to pay that much for a small square of cheese.

I love to watch the salesmen trying to sell the gadgets and gizmos.  I do have to restrain myself from purchasing these gadgets and gizmos because how many of them do I really need? At least that is what I keep telling myself; as the man is slicing and dicing vegetables and telling me every reason that I should possess that gadget…..and he has some really good reasons.

A day at the fair is not complete without purchasing a 1/2 pound pork tenderloin sandwich basket for our meal. My husband and I usually share a basket because that is a lot of food and we need to save room for important food like nutty bars and/or Tom Thumb donuts.

The Poultry Building is also a big draw for me…….I guess I would not be the Chicken Grandma if I did not like chickens?  My husband just laughed and wondered if I really needed to see them when I could look at chickens any time I want to. I just told him these were different chickens and went on to have a little conversation with someone else’s girls. They were all very attentive when I spoke with them.

One of our favorite buildings is the second oldest one on the fairgrounds…..the Agriculture building. They are going to be taking it down as it is no longer up to code. This made us sad as we like the old buildings and this one always had the farm produce, home-made wines,  4-H exhibits and the mammoth pumpkins.


Maybe it made us sad because we really don’t like to see change. There is a comfort in the familiar. There is a comfort in things remaining constant. It is not always possible to keep things as they were; but knowing that fact does not make change any easier to do.

I have a feeling that the older I get, the less I will like change. I totally agree with the old adage, “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.”  Unfortunately the Agriculture building is “broke”. I will get over it (even though I am not sure I want to) eventually.

There is nothing permanent except change.

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