Rescued Hens

My new (rescued) hens, Chocolate, Caramel, and Eliot (named by previous owners). They were kind of doomed to be harried to death/eaten by dogs, so we took them in.

Meet our new hens, Chocolate, Caramel, and Eliot (named by previous owners). They were kind of doomed to be harried to death/eaten by dogs, so we took them in. We were supposed to take in four hens but the Ameraucana died from dog injury before we got there to pick them up.

They are 2-year-old Rhode Island Reds and have already laid five eggs for me since Sunday noon. They’re in quarantine for 30 days.

Good grief! We now have 17 hens! That, my friends, is a lot of chickens.

We lost our only Rhode Island Red, Fireball, who was one of our first five adopted birds, about a month ago. She was at least 6 years old when she died.

The Miracle of Eggs

Two days' worth

I get it now. Although I’ve always loved Easter and the springtime, I think I really get it now. I’ve studied Christianity and the goddesses of world religions and I’ve done my share of pagan festivals. The rites of spring have always been glorious and inspiring.

But I really get it now. The miracle of eggs.

I keep hens, and I currently have 15 beauties in my backyard. They range in age from 5+ to 1 year old. All are mature enough to lay and their eggs are delicious.

Sweet hens Feeding time

In the wintertime, the hens stop laying, or slow down to an unbearable trickle. They slow down so much that it’s frustrating to be feeding them all winter long and getting so little—especially when the chicken run gets cold and sloppy with mud and manure and I have to tromp out there daily to make sure they get fed and watered, and to collect my rare, occasional egg. In the wintertime, I buy eggs at the supermarket and I buy feed for my chickens.

As February arrives, the hens start laying a little more. Some days I get two or three eggs. Some days it’s back to one.

It’s March now. It’s the Spring Equinox and the girls have fully ramped up. In the last 24 hours I’ve collected 15 rainbow-hued eggs. Just in time for Ostara. Just in time for Easter egg rituals and children’s hunts. Just in time for the eggs to take their exalted place in our cultural observances for one day.

Rainbow Eggs

So let’s look at that a moment. All winter long, if we were subsistence farmers, we would be eating mostly last year’s food—stored or preserved food. When it comes to protein, that means either a winter slaughter or dehydrated, salted, or frozen protein. What if we, like previous generations, didn’t have freezer technology? That leaves us with the risky expenditure of energy on hunting for fresh meat, dehydrated or salted protein, or the sacrifice of a valuable animal.

Signs: Eggs

But with the coming of the springtime, the eggs return. The flow of fresh, nutritious protein begins again. Bellies get full. Muscles get stronger. People can return to the hard work of living because they’ve got the fuel to do so, and it comes in safety-sealed, perfectly portion-controled little packages— boxes without hinges, key, or lid, yet golden treasure inside is hid.

And so the egg is naturally the symbol of renewal, of hope, of plenty. Chicks hatch from some, and that’s delightful because they are cute and fluffy (and because when they fall asleep they instantly flop over and doze, awkwardly and ridiculously, however and wherever they fall). But really, baby chicks mean more eggs will come.

Lucas in the school orchard #waldorf #spring

Eggs aren’t the only symbol of springtime renewal, of course. And we honor them all: workable earth, seeds for planting, tender sprouts, fresh edible greens growing where there had been snow. Flowers mean bees and bees mean fruits. Pregnant livestock give birth. Milk and honey flow.

All of these are longed-for signs that life will continue, that mothers and fathers can feed their babes.

Happy Ostara!

Autumn Equinox

September is golden. #september #gold #garden #homestead. #leaves #light #autumn #color

Alms in Autumn
Spindle-wood, spindle-wood, will you lend me, pray,
A little flaming lantern to guide me on my way?
The fairies all have vanished from the meadow and the glen,
And I would fain go seeking till I find them once again.
Lend me now a lantern that I may bear a light
To find the hidden pathway in the darkness of the night.
Ash-tree, ash-tree, throw me, if you please,
Throw me down a slender branch of russet-gold keys.
I fear the gates of Fairyland may all be shut so fast
That nothing but your magic keys will ever take me past.
I’ll tie them to my girdle, and as I go along
My heart will find a comfort in the tinkle of their song.
Holly-bush, holly-bush, help me in my task,
A pocketful of berries is all the alms I ask:
A pocketful of berries to thread in golden strands
(I would not go a-visiting with nothing in my hands).
So fine will be the rosy chains, so gay, so glossy bright,
They’ll set the realms of Fairyland all dancing with delight.

—Rose Fyleman

Good morning, September!

Today is the first day of autumn and I’m feeling happy and energized. The temperatures here in Northern California are still warm, but not dreadfully hot. The garden is looking weary, but still hasn’t given up—flowers bloom, seeds are forming and scattering, plants are looking thirsty. I spent a little time in my “bower” this morning. I have an old futon out in my backyard underneath a cleverly bowed tree covered in wisteria vines. The foliage combined makes a shady spot to sit and read, and I love it. I drank my coffee, and listened to the tiny sounds of just a few first leaves falling and the hens’ clucks and the rattle of their food container. I’m starting today slowly, even though there are a million things to do and a million more I want to do. But I am content. Slow, gentle starts are just right sometimes.

Riotous #garden #homestead. #path #arch #wild

My garden, as I mentioned, is tired. I’m a little discouraged by it this year. We’ve had watering troubles that I’ve failed to solve. Along one of our drip lines is a long row of dead plants. I got some lovely tomatoes this year (cherries are my favorites), but little else. I’ve decided I’m not going another year without a raised bed. Our soil is just too clayey, and when the summer comes and the water is scarce, it becomes like concrete. Only the most determined vegetables produce. I had hopes for pumpkins and peppers and squash, yet I never mustered the energy to get them going. I tell myself that it’s OK because I can’t do everything. Right? And I do enough. Right?

#Morningglories #garden #sun #sunbeams #light #seethrough #suburbanlife #homestead. #purple

Still, I’ve enjoyed the hummingbirds who visit my salvia and cannas, and the many other birds who visit my birth bath for drinks and bathing. It delights me to see a bird actually bathing in it.

Firefly, the special-needs chicken

Our hens are all healthy. Most of them are laying and the four young hens we raised from chicks this year are laying now. They’ve grown into very pretty young ladies. My special-needs chicken, Firefly, (in the photo) is finally completely rehabilitated. She spends her days on the ground now, like all the other hens. For more than a year she stayed on top of the chicken coop day and night because she was so bitterly harassed by the others. I don’t know how she finally integrated into the flock, but I’m glad she has. She is still the smallest hen we have, even smaller than our youngest hens from this season. She lays eggs though, so I feel she’s finally living a normal chicken life.

So I’m wishing all of you a happy, blessed autumn. We’re heading up to Apple Hill today for a small adventure and some apples. Seems like a great way to spend the first day of autumn.

Bits of Fantastic

Rainbow Watercolor

There is a deliciously long list of fantastic things in my life lately. And because I have a moment or two, I’m savoring them. What’s not to feel grateful for?

~ Hosting friends for a kid-friendly St. Patrick’s Day party, complete with my first from-scratch lamb stew. Yum!

~ Cleaning our home for this party. A party is the best reason to clean.

~ Reveling in a surprisingly work-free weekend, when I expected to have to buckle down.

~ Watching my boys play with total concentration with their “cousins,” who are so very dear to us all. They are so comfortable with each other.

~ Observing how these children are all growing, growing, growing in myriad beautiful ways.

~ Brunching with friends most of Sunday, complete with a skip out to a nail salon with my girlfriends for a pedicure and pink/purple iridescent polish. First one in … years. So luxurious and fun.

~ Inquiring into the health of parents, backs, workouts and …

~ Listening, witnessing, offering friendship and support.

~ Having enough home-raised eggs to give some away.

~ Choosing the prudent path of getting home before it was too late to ready ourselves for a busy, exciting week. It’s a little sad when the fun ends, but letting go feels good, too.

~ Studying spelling words (Norse god names) with my son, who it going to nail them, I think.

~ Preparing for Lucas’s special week of one-on-one time with the Waldorf school’s farmer. Five extra-early mornings to greet and care for the animals of the school farm—a rare opportunity for any child.

~ Realizing that it’s OK that all the rain boots are still wet on the insides from Friday’s splashing and galloping in rain puddles. It was worth it.

~ Painting for an hour or so in my home until the daylight fled and I could no longer see the colors well enough to continue.

~ Eating a simple, delicious, fulfilling dinner with my tired, happy family.

~ Getting everyone in bed early to rest up for Monday and the early alarm.

~ Signing up for my first plein air painting workshop next month—at an iris farm, no less. SQUEE!

~ Thinking—hard—about getting more exercise. Yes, I’m slowly warming up to the idea. Mustn’t rush these things.

~ Noticing buds on my lilac, tons of new growth on my clematis vine, morning glory seedlings popping up, and growth on my new-this-year irises.

~ Balancing our many social opportunities with our need for downtime, hopefully in the right proportions, for the next few weeks.

~ Feeling excited and grateful that Lucas got the part he wanted in the fourth-grade play. It’s so wonderful to see him reach for something and catch it!

~ Rejoicing to see my little guy’s imagination blossom with Leprechauns and sweet mischief. “Shhh! Mama, do you hear the Leprechaun laughing? I think he’s over there, under the couch.”

~ Loving my husband more and more every day.







Glorious Saturday

Pink Open-Center Star and Red Flower

Oh, Saturday. How I love you! I swoon with love for you!

Any day that starts with an extra hour of delicious morning sleep is tops. Why does morning sleep feel better than any other sleep?

My day started with coffee and some new window stars. Both of these are first attempts at new patterns.  The red flower was tough because I had to trim my small 6 1/4 inch square kite paper into teeny-tiny rectangles with a particular height-to-width proportion. Like, with MATH.

Pink Open-Center Star and Red Flower

It would have been easier with bigger paper, as the instructions call for. But I’m happy with the result. See the little red star in the middle?

Grouped Window Stars

The pink one with the open center is kind of a showstopper, I think.

Stunned Goldfinch(?)

This little darling accidentally flew into our window today. She stunned herself pretty badly, and allowed Ian to pick her up and place her into this tree. At first her eyes were closed and her eyelids were kind of twitchy. Later on, she was like this, eyes open but not ready to fly away. Then, she was gone. I hope she’s OK now. She might be a goldfinch, but I’m not sure.

New Chicks

We have four two-day-old chicks in our home again. Here they are at one day old. We got two Black Sex-Link chicks (who are certain to be female because the male chicks look different at hatching) and two Silver Laced Wyandotts. At first I was sure I’d play it safe and get four Black Sex-Link chicks to guarantee we were getting females, but then the Silver Laced Wyandotts wooed me with their gorgeous adult plumage and I succumbed to temptation. Let’s all hope together that they’ll turn out to be hens, OK?

Lucas and New Peep (Silver Laced Wyandott)

The chicks are much more sturdy on their pins now. Lucas is enjoying them a lot. We are debating about their names. Ian wants to name them after sci-fi space princesses. Lucas is in favor of Norse goddess names, although he also likes the idea of calling them Bear, Raven, Duck, and Chipmunk because, well,  that’s funny. Asher seems to want to keep with the theme of nature oriented names like our other hens. He has thoughtfully suggested Moon, Star, Rain, and Tornado.

Japanese Maple Buds

My garden is coming alive again in small ways.


This new forsythia was allegedly a flowering quince when I bought it and planted it late last spring. I’m not sad because it’s gorgeous.

First Chess Lesson

Asher received his first lessons in chess today. My heart skipped a beat when I saw this. Is he really old enough to start learning chess?


Lucas practiced piano and cleaned his room today. We also went to the library and got him his own library card.

And although I don’t yet have a photo, I spent some time today painting my kitchen door turquoise. I’ve been wanting to paint this door for twelve years now. Ridiculous, but true. And why turquoise? Well, why ever not?

We had yummy French onion soup and steak and asparagus for dinner. We read leprechaun stories at bedtime.

Life is good. I love Saturdays.

RIP Midnight Chicken

Midnight and the Girls Ranging

Lucas and Midnight/Scary

Midnight Enjoys the Leftover Kale

Yesterday we said good-bye to a favorite hen. Midnight passed away in the afternoon. She was a great hen with a lovely disposition and gentleness, and she laid gorgeous, huge brown eggs steadily for us for a year and a half. She was two or more years old when we rescued her. She seemed to have a steadying influence on the other hens. She was large and fluffy and her black feathers were soft and iridescent in the sunlight. She was Ian’s favorite of all of the girls.

Last fall, we noticed her belly was distended and so we researched online to find out what might be up with her. We found evidence to suggest that she was perhaps egg-bound, and although we did the things that were recommended to remedy it—ridiculous things like giving her a bath in warm water—nothing changed for the better. Yet, she didn’t die like the Internet said she surely would do within a few days. In fact, she lived another three months, ate heartily, grew her bottom feathers back in,  and …. then lost them again. Our theory is that she overwintered OK because she wasn’t laying, but now that spring has ramped up the hens’ egg-laying, she was egg-bound and it did her in.

Or we could be totally wrong about all of that. We’re just guessing.

Anyway, although I thought there might be great grief when I told my children about losing Midnight, they surprised me by taking it in stride. Lucas wanted to see her dead body, and then seemed to accept that she was gone. Asher was mildly interested but not upset. I’m grateful for Emily Mouse (our deceased pet), who paved the way for our experience of losing an animal. I also think that the addition of Solstice Dog to our family has given my children an understanding of what is a “proper” pet, and so the chicken seemed less important.

And while it’s quite silly to be very sad about losing our Midnight when we are a family who eats chicken three times a week, she was, nonetheless kind of a pet.

Rest in peace, Midnight. You were a great chicken.

Pretty Eggs


The girls are finally starting to lay again. Yesterday was a great day, resulting in five gorgeous Easter-ready eggs. We’ve had several weeks of only one or two eggs a day. Some winter days brought no eggs at all. This is frustrating for me, as I have 13 hens that I feed every day. But when they do their magic, it’s really magical. Another sign that spring is coming.

Garden in October

October Cosmos

Our garden in October is a study in paradox. We have flowers, fruits, and seeds all at once.

Still Budding Cosmos

We have a great mass of blooming cosmos that show no signs of slowing. There are plenty of buds ready to open into blooms.

Wacky Flower?

We have this alien flower, which I didn’t plant.

October Tomato Harvest

I’m still harvesting tomatoes, though I confess the little orange Sungolds often don’t make it all the way into the house. They taste like candy.

Crispy Japanese Maple

Although it was a mild summer for us, this Japanese maple still shows signs of sunburn. At the same time, it has new leaves.

October Marigolds

This areas is underneath some rose bushes. I grew these marigolds and nasturtiums from seeds, so that’s pretty awesome.

October Zinnias Tired Out Zinnias

My zinnias are blooming like mad and also fading. The faded blossoms made a wonderful addition to our autumn equinox wreath last month. I don’t have much “fall color” to show, as most of our trees haven’t yet begun to change. A few sycamore leaves are falling. A single branch on our liquidambar (sweet gum) tree is covered in gold stars. The rest of the leaves area all still green.

Calendula Going to Seed

The valiant calendula is going to seed. I need to get out there with a bag and gather some up for next year. There are billions of morning glory seeds available for collection, too.


All of the young hens are now laying. We have been getting between 6 and 9 eggs a day. We fear that Midnight (not pictured) is egg-bound. We have tried the remedies suggested by various Internet sources to no avail. We fear she may be on her way out, as a chicken cannot live in this condition for long, which is sad because she is Ian’s favorite hen.


We are still gathering basil and pinching off flowers. I need to harvest all of it for pesto before a frost comes, but it doesn’t seem like that will be anytime soon. Today’s high temperature is 84 degrees and tomorrow’s is expected to be 81.

Our One Pumpkin

Finally, here is our solitary pumpkin. We had such great luck growing orange and white pumpkins last year—nine in all. This year we have only one. I’ve explained to this vine repeatedly this summer and fall that one pumpkin just will not do. We have two children, after all! Alas, it didn’t listen to me.

Summer Favorites


This is a small collection of precious summer moments that I want to remember. It was a summer full of color, creativity, and togetherness. We got our fill of outdoor adventures and indoor play, too. We tested, challenged ourselves, and grew in so many ways.

Homemade Mint Soap



Small Eggs from Young Hens ('Cept Middle)

Bendaroos: Animals with Lightsabers

Basil Bouquet

My Choleric Firebird

"Niobe" Clematis Vine

My Boys Camping

E and Asher


Camping Dinner

My Family on Their Way

From the bottom of my heart, I hope your summertime was full of bliss and daydreams, excitement and rest.

Today one of our summer adventures is featured on the Beneath the Rowan Tree blog, which is super fun! Pop over there to see!

Beneath the Rowan Tree

Strawberry Jam

Jam Helpers

The boys and I made another batch of jam last week, which was Week 11 of summer vacation. You see, we mamas must be creative to survive summertime. We must also do our best to create and squeeze sweet moments out of these long, warm days at home.

Preparing the Berries

I wish I could say we plucked all of these strawberries from our garden, but we don’t grow enough berries to make that possible. I also wish I could say they were organic berries, but alas, they weren’t. They were the next best thing: on sale!

Juicy Lucas Chopping Berries

What is absolutely wonderful, however, is that my kiddos and I worked together on this project. Lucas and Asher were great about chopping all the strawberries. (Getting to use real knives is a thrill for them.) Their cooperation and good natures made this such a fun activity. I just love how capable and helpful they are these days! They got to decide on the sweetener for our low-sugar jam—they picked honey!


The chickens benefited, too.

Strawberry Honey Love Jam

We call this Mama and Sons’ Strawberry Honey Love Jam. Good name, no?

  • About Sara

    Thanks for visiting! I’m Sara, editor and writer, wife to Ian, and mother of two precious boys. I am living each day to the fullest and with as much grace, creativity, and patience as I can muster. This is where I write about living, loving, and engaging fully in family life and the world around me. I let my hair down here. I learn new skills here. I strive to be a better human being here. And I tell the truth.

    Our children attend Waldorf school and we are enriching our home and family life with plenty of Waldorf-inspired festivals, crafts, and stories.

    © 2003–2018 Please do not use my photographs or text without my permission.

    “Love doesn’t just sit there like a stone; it has to be made, like bread, remade all the time, made new.” —Ursula K. LeGuinn

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