Mt Pleasant News

Wash Journal   Fairfield Ledger
Neighbors Growing Together | Jul 18, 2018

Empty Nest - Chicks and a new book

By By Curt Swarm | May 17, 2017

Two big pieces of news on the Empty Nest Farm. First item: we have baby chicks! Yep. When I was a kid growing up, we always had chickens, a calf and a pig, and I wanted to repeat that experience. There’s nothing quite like your own meat and eggs—although, at the time, I detested chores and shoveling manure. My, my, how things change.

We ordered the chicks through our local feed store--12 layers and 12 fryers—12 by 12. The layers are ISA Brown hens and the fryers are Cornish Cross Broiler roosters. Ginnie is terrified on two fronts: one, getting her hand pecked when gathering eggs, and, two, butchering the fryers. She’s a city girl. I explained that I will handle everything. Then I told her that next year we’re getting a bucket calf. She’s wondering if it was such a smart idea marrying me, like maybe life in the city wasn’t so bad after all.

For a chicken house, I cleaned out the shed beside the pole barn, picked up bedding and supplies, like a heat lamp, waterers and feeders, and we were set.

On the day the chicks arrived, Ginnie was at work. I took a picture of them in their shipping carton and texted it to Ginnie. She showed it to her coworkers like they were our babies. Which they were—one day old, and socute! However, the coworkers filled her with horror stories of raising chickens and butchering, and Ginnie soaked it all in.

The great debate started as to whether or not you need a rooster with laying hens. (You don’t.) Then, the best method for lopping off a head was discussed thoroughly. There’s the catch-twist-and-snap method, the ax-on-the-tree-stump procedure, or the hang’m-up-by-the-feet decapitation. I prefer to hang’m up by the feet.

I turned the chicks loose in their little corral I had built and they started eating and drinking immediately. When Ginnie came home from work, she drove straight to the chicken house and fell in love. The littlest chick is her favorite.

Buddy is real curious about the baby chicks, too.

We now look for excuses to walk out and see how the baby chicks are doing. It’s the best therapy ever. There’s nothing quite as calming as watching livestock eat and drink.

The Empty Nest isn’t so empty anymore.

The second piece of news is that I have written a book, called “Protected.” My first reading and book signing is scheduled for Thursday, May 18, at 7:00 p.m., at the Ft. Madison Area Art Association, 825 Ave G in Ft. Madison. Books will be available there, I will do some reading, then sign books for all who want. I’ll warn you, this is not a book of my Empty Nest articles. That would have been way too easy. In fact, this book is not in the style of my Empty Nest articles whatsoever. This is my life work. Writing this book is why, I feel, I was placed on this planet. It is the true story of how God has led and directed me all my life, how He has opened doors and cleared the path. The stories are sometimes funny and subtle, sometimes tragic, and sometimes brutal and crude. But it is my story.

My purpose for writing this book is to prove the existence of God. Period. I have seen God. Don’t ever believe that God, or Jesus Christ, doesn’t exist or does not present Himself to us today. His presence is all around us. We just have to have eyes to see. I am not trying to convert anyone to a particular religion. I am stating what has happened to me, personally, then leaving it up to you, the reader to decide. If I can bring one person, through my writing, to believe in a Higher Power, then my book is a success.

Hope to see you there.


Have a good story? Call or text Curt Swarm in Mt. Pleasant at 319-217-0526, email him at or find him on Facebook.

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