We are a small farm in Mooresburg TN, dedicated to fostering for local rescue organizations, and taking in special needs animals.
As 2020 nears its end and I reflect on the hardships our country has endured this year, we have been truly blessed to live in the great state of Tennessee, in the foothills of the Clinch Mountains, small-town USA where we have freshwater streams and crisp clean air, farmers who grow their food and homesteaders who know how to live off the land. In 2018 we started with almost nine acres of land and in the past two years, we have transformed it into a small farm/animal sanctuary. The fact that I have the patience of a child caused us to do everything backward, like rescuing two kill pen donkeys before we had a barn built or fencing up, and getting a flock of chickens before we had a coop and run for them, causing us to keep them in the house months more than anticipated. What can I say? I know how to start a fire under someone’s behind to get things done.
We have been blessed this year. Had I stayed in New York and kept my small business, I’d be out of business by now and unemployed. I’d be struggling to pay my extremely high taxes and bills. I’d be stuck in my house, bored to death, forced to wear a mask every time I walk out the door. Here on the farm, I rarely leave the property. We stockpile groceries and make our own food as much as possible, so shopping isn’t a big deal. We have plenty of land to walk on, no need to go to the gym for exercise, and no need for masks when you live alone in the mountains. We moved here to get away from people and to surround ourselves with animals. If that sounds horrible, you’d be surprised how many people tell us that is their dream! The world is changing, people are changing, and sadly, not for the better. Until people become more like animals, we prefer to just hang out with our furry friends for now. Which brings me to my newest BFFs…MOTHER’S LITTLE HELPERS.
I had the most fun on the farm this year because I chose to raise baby chickens for the first time. Although the pandemic played a small part in my decision to start becoming more of a self-reliant homesteader, I took into consideration the number of mouths to feed here on the farm. Plus, I am an avid baker, and nothing beats the taste of farm-fresh eggs. My small flock of 8 are fed the healthiest varieties of foods, they live in a beautiful coop/run that we will be expanding next spring, they are loved dearly as family members, and they are living the best chicken lives possible here at Country Honk.
I chose to raise the day-old babies in my house because we still had chilly temps in April when we brought the first two babes home. Because I was terrified of a heat lamp catching fire (and the cat getting overly curious) I kept the brooder next to my bed to keep a close eye on them. For several weeks that red heat lamp lit up my bedroom like a brothel! As the babies grew bigger and louder, I began moving the brooder a bit further and further away from my bed…into the ensuite bathroom, then living room, and finally the dinette, where they remained until they were completely feathered out. The chicken dust drove me bonkers, but keeping them indoors was the safest option, and it allowed the dogs, cat, and me plenty of bonding time with our new feathered friends. Not to mention, our chicken coop took longer than planned to get built and delivered, so we didn’t have any other choice in the matter.
Once the coop was delivered, I had to choose a name for my chick’s new residence. FB followers helped and got real creative, coming up with all kinds of Rolling Stones themed ideas like: Can’t You Hear Me Knock-Inn, Little Red Rooster Inn, Voodoo Lounge, Chick-a-del, Let It Loose Coop, and Mick’s Chicks. It was so hard to choose, but since we are Country Honk Farm, the final decision went to HONK! HENHOUSE.
I raised eight one day old chicks, praying for one to turn out to be a rooster, to no avail. I wanted a rooster for several reasons: First and foremost to name Mick Jagger; secondly, to protect the hens and henhouse, as we do get occasional visits from snakes and other not so chicken friendly critters; thirdly, what’s a farm without a rooster cock-a-doodle-doing? Rooster Con #1: I have never met a nice rooster. I’m sure they exist, I just personally have never met a pleasant one. I can say I’ve been attacked by several in my lifetime, but in my mind, if I raise him myself, he will be the sweetest rooster ever. Rooster Con #2: Bringing a rooster into my perfect flock of perfect hens that get along perfectly at this point may spell DISASTER. My head keeps saying, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” but my heart says, “Mick Jagger!” Let’s meet the Country Honk Flock:
LADY JANE & LADY ANNE
My Olive Egger chickens are named after a beautiful Rolling Stones song, LADY JANE, where Mick Jagger sings to his sweet Lady Jane and his dear Lady Anne. I call my girls Janie and Annie for short. Jane is the gray chicken (Mama Hen at Honk Henhouse) and Annie is the black chicken with puffy cheeks. They were born on April 1, 2020, making them the oldest of the flock.
Jane lays a dark olive-green egg that is so unique and beautiful. Annie is supposed to lay olive-green eggs too, but for some reason, her eggs come out a chocolate brown color, also beautiful. Both Jane and Anne and friendly chickens. They always come to greet me at the coop door, and like to be pet and held.
SWEET VIRGINIA & SWEET LUCY
Sweet Virginia and Sweet Lucy are my Blue Cochin chickens each named after Rolling Stones songs. I call them Lucy and Virginia for short. They were born on May 1, 2020. Their eggs are like tiny, shiny, light brown pearls.
These girls crack me up because they look like they are wearing Ugg boots and they waddle around the hen house with the funniest side to side strut. They are by far the friendliest chickens I could have hoped for. Since they were day-old chicks, the Cochins always wanted to be in my pocket, inside my shirt or wrapped in a blankie on my lap. They follow me everywhere and always want affection. Sweet Lucy pulls at my shoelaces and tugs on my clothing if I am not paying her enough attention, and chubby Sweet Virginia always wants a treat. When we took in a disabled duckling, Sweet Virginia stayed with him, never leaving his side. When duckie had a hard time staying afloat in the pool, I found Sweet Lucy helping him keep his head above water. Now that the cold weather has hit, our 1-legged duckie cannot get into the coop without my help, so Sweet Lucy stays outside and snuggles him to keep him warm until I come out to put him to bed. Their names suit them well, as they are the sweethearts of Honk Henhouse.
LITTLE QUEENIE & LITTLE T&A (Ta-Ta)
Little Queenie is named after a Chuck Berry song that the Rolling Stones covered [Chuck Berry influenced a multitude of rock-n-rollers, the Stones so much so that they covered many of his hits]. We call her Queenie for short.
Little T&A is named after a naughty Stones song that Keith Richards sings the vocals on. We call her Ta-Ta for short.
They are my Buff Brahma chickens and they were born May 1, 2020. These two lay adorable looking light brown eggs.
Things were touch and go the 1st night with Ta-Ta, as she developed what is known as “pasty butt.” Luckily, I joined a FB Raising Chickens group and had learned about this condition before getting the chicks or I never would have known what it was or what to look for. Pasty butt is when the chick’s poop gets stuck all around the butt and hardens and then the chick cannot pass poop. It is dangerous and sometimes fatal. My group taught me what to do and after two days everything was back to normal with Ta-Ta. Ironic that it happened to the chicken I named Little T&A.
The Buff Brahmas are sweet chickens. Little T&A climbs on my back every single time I squat down. I wouldn’t mind so much if her little claws didn’t feel like razors shredding my skin open. I have noticed now that the weather has turned cold and I am not wearing tank tops anymore, she doesn’t seem to want to climb on me and my layers of clothing. She prefers bare skin. She is also one of the first to jump on your lap for snuggles if you sit down on a bucket in the run. Both love the water and can’t seem to stay out of duckie’s pool, both pal around with duck-man, and both are the last to go to sleep at night, they like to stay out and party.
CLAUDINE & O’ CAROL
Claudine is named after a Rolling Stones song, and O’ Carol is named after a Chuck Berry song that the Stones covered. These girls are my Italian Leghorn chickens. They were born on May 1, 2020. Leghorns are supposedly the best egg layers of all chickens, laying year-round. Claudine lays super white eggs, and O’Carol lays an off-white egg. These two are my drama queens, and my crazy, goofball chickens.
I hadn’t planned on getting Leghorns. When I went to pick up the Brahmas and Cochins, there was an abundance of Leghorns and the employee working at the Co-op offered them to me. I was being a chicken snob and said no. I wanted my specialty chickens with colored eggs and fancy feet. It was JD who told the girl to throw in two Leghorns, and I can honestly say, I was secretly a little annoyed at first. I didn’t want boring white chickens and boring white eggs. Man, was I WRONG! From the minute we got home, those two babies were bonkers. They were 10x faster than the other chicks and didn’t want to be touched. I kept thinking, “Ugh, what did I do?” I wanted sweet babies that loved me and wanted to be held and played with. These two weren’t havening it. Then, one day, when they were about four weeks old, something happened. They went from being these crazy little buggers to being the funniest chickens. They made me laugh every single day. They would escape the brooder, climb on the barriers I had on top to keep them from flying out and do these goofy dances under the heat lamps like they were under a spotlight on a stage. Afterward, they would lie down under the lamp like they were in a tanning bed. It was bizarre and hysterical, and I have it all on video, which I had to put to burlesque music! I’d be in the shower and a Leghorn would just come walking in the bathroom, or I’d look out of the glass shower door and one would be sitting on the dog. One day Claudine flew out of the brooder and landed on top of my head in the kitchen. That was the day I decided Leghorn’s rock.
Since moving them outside to the coop and they started laying eggs, it’s the most embarrassing scene you can witness. It starts about 2-3 hours before one of them lays an egg, this cackling that’s so loud you can hear it down my 800-ft driveway to the road. One would think we are torturing chickens up here. They scamper in and out of the coop, screaming, for hours. They get the other chickens all worked up and gathered around them like a support network. When Claudine is in the coop cackling, all the chickens are in the coop around her, like a gossip circle. What can I say, my chickens are cliquey. Once the egg gets laid, all is quiet on the farm again. I have video footage of this spectacle posted on our FB page. It’s quite something to be seen. I feel so guilty about my preconceived notions of Leghorns because these two chickens have stolen my heart. Dare I say, they are my favorites?
*For more pics, see our GALLERY page!