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Sunday, March 27, 2011

Work'n Hard?? or Hardly Work'n??

Ever hear the old men saying this at the coffee shop? Daily life on the farm often feels like this... 2 steps forward, 3 steps back... its really no wonder we appear to be easy going in nature. If we didn't have a sense of humour, we'd all be in the loony bin.

I began my chicken farming career after graduating in 1998. My papa-in-law had bought a corporate broiler breeder operation in desperate need of some help. I tried my hand at an off-farm job... lasted a whoppin 2 months before offering my services to the family. Dave, Deanna and Jamie had just survived their first 10 months of absolute hell in this business. They had taken on 10 barns housing around 12-13,000 birds average age of these barns was around 20 years old. At the time, I think there were more mice, labour and problems than there were chickens.

Out of the 10 barns we operated, 8 of them had an immune deficiency called J-Virus or Leucosis. It was a disease that infected only this breed, and as fate would have it, our hatchery had ordered this particular breed over the majority of our farm. It was devistating. Most of our flocks had anywhere from 25% mortality to 45% mortality. We were in a big, dark hole. Bankers, hatchery personel and feed companies met with the family weekly, basically trying to protect their investment. A humbling, and exhausting experience for the family.

Slowly, our clan persevered and we started treading water again. Only to have a flock go down with salmonella a few months later. Safe to say we were beginning to wonder just who put this curse on us.

Just to warn you... this is a long story, and blogs are not to be... so this will be chapter one.

Words to live by... What doesn't kill us, makes us stronger...

Friday, March 11, 2011

Ross's Rules...

If you have nothing good to say, don't say anything at all.  Wow, the world would be instantly silent don't ya think??  I have a confession to make.  I am a caddy person.  I constantly ramble about myself and how I'm soo hard done by.  I figure I'm a constant steaming kettle, I need not wait for a boil... cause, well,  I'm impatient.  So, when I accidentally hear ramblings about me, I get upset.  How sooo hypocritical is that?  I can dish it out, but absolutely can't take it.

Why don't we follow this simple little rule?  A rule Mark told me his Grandpa Ross lived by...  Why is it so easy for us to chirp about others, but when its reversed, we get so offended?  This is typical, I think,  for everyone.  We all overstep sometimes and without even realizing it, hurt someone through words.  We have the right to free speech, but we abuse that right.  Sometimes, we need to filter...  I'm still waiting for that part to be delivered for this model...

The most embarrassing part of this bad habit I have, is when I actually become a target, I really get no sympathy.  Well deserved, I might add.  I try to talk to Mark, but him being the voice of reason, reminds me of what I have said about them...  Sucks.  Then, on top of being hurt, I feel like a real poop.  Guilty.  I admire Mark for his quiet nature.  Yes, he gets mad (once in a blue moon) and will chirp...  but very rarely. I guess thats why we fit...??

My new goal in life is to be a nicer person.  (stop laughing all who know me).  I want a filter.  I want to train my brain to think before my mouth opens.  This will be a challenge for me.  I am a complete spaz and don't usually shut up long enough to realize I said anything at all.

Confessions of a Gossip Girl...

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Becoming a Mamma Chick...

I was never real good with kids.  I think they were scared of my funny looking face.  Babysitting was OK, but I really only liked babysitting my cousins (they had to like me after all...).  So the thought of having my own someday was somewhat frightening.

I remember clearly the moment we knew it was time (to try starting that is!!).  Mark and I were sitting around the Christmas tree...  with our dog.  I remember thinking this is sad.  More gifts for the dog than ourselves.  That's when we looked at each other and mutually agreed, Yep, kids next Christmas.

So, I guess I don't need to go into detail on how babies are created...  but our little man Jackson Ross arrived November 22nd that year (just in time for Christmas).  I have to tell you, I did not enjoy being pregnant.  I tripped over my feet at the barn, I could barely tie up my boots... blahblahblah, yes I should be grateful.  I was.  After.  Jack was the absolute best moment of my life.  He was a perfect little man.  I did that!!!  (with some help from Mark of course!)  I was in euphoria.  Up until about 3 or 4 weeks into motherhood.  Then, I crashed.  I wanted my bed...  for an entire night.  Just to make life that much more exciting, we were also in the process of starting our new 25,000 bird breeder barn in which I was to manage.  So, 6 weeks into mama-hood I got to manage my first breeder flock.  Unknown alarms going off in the middle of the night in between bottle feedings was not my idea of a good time...

Life got better, Jack was growing and the barn wrinkles were getting worked out.  So, what to do?  Time for babe #2.  Jessica Lauryn was born 20 months later.  Needless to say, life was crazy.  Mark was in the fields, Jack was still not walking (22 months.. oh yah!!) and baby #2 was a hard one to get down for the night.  (and really not that bad, I just have NO patience!!)  I don't think mothers are given near enough credit for this job!!!

Don't get me wrong...  I am so blessed to have been able to carry, deliver and above all parent (or some form of) my kids.    They are happy, healthy and respectful kids.  They are my best friends and now that they are such a part of me, I can't believe they haven't been with me my whole life.  Jack is an old soul.  His wisdom astounds me for his age...  Memory of a friggin elephant, stubborn as a mule but is a kind and loving kid.  Jessica is me.  She is lost in her imagination most of the time... singing, playing or acting all the time.  She is funny, kind-hearted and very sensitive.  She is that kid who will run up and give you a hug (that's more like daddy and Gma Dee...).

To all the moms out there...  everything you do is reflected in your kids.  All your mannerisms, sayings, temper...  everything is seen through the kids.  Take a second, and watch them.  They really are quite awesome!  (most days...)

Thats it for now!!