Friday, December 30, 2011

Doorbell

A Shout Out to Joni Quilts

If ever you read this, I want to say your blog posts are a fun read and I LOVE YOUR PROJECTS!!!!

Zomagosh! are you ever prolific! And your pups on the sidebar are adorable!

to the kittehs: mew mew mewwww meow



However I could find no way to email you or comment directly so I do it here, publicly.

Please don't hate me....... meeuwwwww

Thursday, December 29, 2011

What a Year it Was! What a Year Will it Be?

It's only hours away from being behind us and I will shut the door on 2011 by looking forward eagerly to 2012.

I hope it will be spectacular and not in a bad way!

I hope it will be one of completions. (Quilt-wise, to be more specific)(gotta completely finish more than 12 to get ahead of the closet)

I hope it will be fruitful. (Fruit-wise, that is)(and veg)

I hope it will be memorable. (as in I don't forget half of it by sleeping)

I hope it will be healthy. (as in I or no one I know gets injured or ill)

I hope it will be injury-free. (as in my feet make to the Finish Line in March.)( and beyond)

I hope a year from today I will look back and go YIPPEE!!!!!!!! WHAT A YEAR IT WAS!!!!!



HAPPY NEW YEAR

Monday, December 26, 2011

And Now, For Something Completely Different

This is going to be an awkward post. I state that here at the beginning as a warning.

It's been a weird year. A bountiful year and yet, one of loss. I don't intend to dwell on either but it's there, and altogether, it leaves me sensing that we live this life spinning wheels and stressing and unmindful of blessings.

To say that the age of 52, I have 'everything' is not to brag but to be humbled into submission. There is not a single thing in the world I am of need. I have a warm bed, a pantry with food, my health to sustain me, a huge family I adore and friends I don't deserve. I am surrounded by things that I have accumulated and hauled around the world as we moved locations to this one and I love and cherish every one of them. My problem is now this:

I can't remember where some of them came from.

There was a time when I could tell you the moment I received something, who it came from and what year it was. I could probably even tell you what song was no. 1 that week on the radio and what I had for breakfast that morning.

That person is gone. I can't remember! And I find this upsetting. Now, you might take the position, "If you can't remember, it probably doesn't mean anything to you. Throw it or give it away!"

But you would be wrong. Terribly, terribly wrong. My take is, 'Someone thought enough about me to give me this (I don't remember buying it myself so it had to come into the house somehow) and now I don't have the decency to remember who!' and it plagues me. It just eats at me!

So I keep all the mysteries around as reminders of that which I can't remember but it does clutter up both my living space and brain. Neither of these is a good thing and I started this year to undo some of this.

No, I didn't give or toss these things away. I put the breaks on receiving any more of them. I have told my friends and family that I will no longer receive or exchange gifts *unless 1.) it was consumable and, preferably, that we share it together or 2.) an experience. Surely, I can remember an experience!!!

I clearly didn't get the message out quickly enough to everyone (because there were a few things under the tree this year for me) but for the most part, this has been the most pleasant, stress-free Christmas since I was a child.

What made the difference? I was given time.

We are all allotted the same amount of time, right? to allocate to the things we think and believe are important. At this time of year especially, I usually spend a great deal of time shopping and making and baking and wrapping and mailing and worrying that what I gave is the right or appropriate or wanted thing because I think or thought that was important. And, it is important. I am not saying it is not! On the contrary, I approach gift-giving (and don't you just deplore that new term: gifting!?) very seriously and try to give the right thing. and to get it there ON TIME! This is very stressful!

This year, I did something completely different. I simplified Christmas down to size.

1. A few weeks ago, we anonymously adopted a family and helped them this Christmas.

2. I mailed my niece and nephew a small box because I think Christmas is special for kids. It certainly was for me. (We adults need very little that we don't already have and usually get what we want for ourselves during the year. Kids get what they need all year long but don't have the means to get what they want so easily. We adults bribe them by being good all year! So kids stay on my list)

3. Borgasmord was our annual blast and we got to see friends for an evening last week.

4. My girls were here together yesterday morning and we made Christmas dinner together as a family:

John smoked his turkey to perfection

We roasted rutabagas and carrots from the garden. What a blessing!!!!
and played a GardenScrabble board game (a gift) as we ate the goose* and argued over words. It's our job. It's what we do.

Somewhere in this magnificent world, two families were given chickens and lambs to enrich their lives as a gift in John's name from his mother. Isn't that AWESOME!!!!!???? And all the wrinkled wrappings fit in one small box to end up in a landfill while five cats snoozed in the background.



It really doesn't get much sweeter than this.

This year, I purposefully stepped off that streetcar, to be a human being instead of a human doing. Not completely. But mostly.

So from the deepest part of my heart, I want to thank most of you for (almost) nothing! It was the best gift you could've given me. And Meredith, if you are reading this, the game is FUN! Thank you! I filed it under "an experience".



*the goose. Well, I cooked it according to Jacques Pepin and while it was good, and not greasy at all, it was not as tender as John's smoked turkey. It's a fussy bird and now I know why it might have fallen out of favor with cooks over the years. That and it doesn't feed more than a small gathering for all that effort. I can see clearly that the turkey is a better option, regardless how it is cooked. Today, the goose remains go into a gumbo pot. We have guests coming to share experiences.


Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas

Yeah, I really do wish you all a Merry Christmas. A safe one as well. I hope you are curled up with people who love you and are still in the totally acceptance of this. Be still and breathe it in.

I hope the day brings you peace. I wrote "nothing but peace" and erased the first two words. That may be my wish but I realize many people need more than peace. That's okay!!

I hope you ring in the new year with optimism and health. That's a good wish.

I hope you close this year on a high note and walk in with purpose.

I hope to see you in 2012.

As for me, I will be asleep and looking forward, hopeful, hopefully peaceful, and dreaming of tomatoes.








And okra.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Incrementally Speaking, I'm Okay

When I started this plogging, running around the block was out of the question. I couldn't make it to the end of the block, much less around it. 30 minutes seemed quite an achievement. Then 5K was an accomplishment.

Then going at it 3 days a week and looking forward to it seemed ludicrous and yet I passed that test a month ago.

So the 6.5 mile a few weeks ago made a 'mile-stone' in my thinking. Up til that point, I sort of thought of this whole plan in a negative way. "If I can can make it to 3 miles, I'm not doing bad at all!"

"If I can just get to 5 miles, I won't be a slacker for not going out yesterday. Or the day before. Slacker."

"If my feet don't give out at the 4 mile mark, it'll be a miracle!"

And here we are with just over 2 months to go and I can't believe how differently I look at the whole adventure.

This is similar to what I experience in quilting. When I first started, the idea of making a full-sized quilt seemed ridiculous, but I did it. Slowly. Then I made another one. It's been 26 years. Now, when I see a pattern or project, I automatically look at in terms of blocks. I break it down into it's elements and it doesn't seem so daunting a prospect.

A friend showed me the Civil War Quilt at the beginning of this year. This is a Block of the Week that stared back in January and every Saturday morning a new block and instruction was posted. They are all 8" and I thought that was a good idea. I didn't know how long it would hold my interest but making one 8" block doesn't take a lot of time. An hour, tops. Who doesn't have that time?

So, being me, I started making two color schemes. This is the reproduction fabric BOW



Just nine blocks there. But now I have two stacks of 51 blocks each and the year is almost finished. If I had not taken that first step and then the next, one foot in front of the other, sure, the time would have passed but I wouldn't have much to show for it.

And now two months into the plog-cycle, I look a little different. I feel a lot better and I look forward to something I can hardly believe is true.

I'm going to put that sticker on the back of the car, if I cross the finish line.

And don't be surprised if I change the if to when!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

8 Miles, I Got It!

Today was the 8 mile plog and I did it with my daughter who is planning on joining us on this quest. It was much easier covering the required mileage with a partner to keep me company and make the miles pass more swiftly.

I worried, rightly, that my foot trouble would reappear and I was wasn't surprised when the tenderness started up in the 3rd mile. At 4+ miles, I thought perhaps it something to do with my running posture so I straightened up better. That helped but the damage was done......

At 5+ I asked if she would pull on my toes after I showered later and R asked why not try it right then and there so we stopped the clock and I plopped down on the asphalt. She was not gentle either as she grabbed the little piggies and squeezed. At least it sure didn't feel as though she was being gentle. It hurt like crazy but it worked!!!! Like a light switch, the pain was GONE.

And that lasted another couple of miles til it started up cramping again. So we repeated the procedure. With 1.5 miles left, we passed by the house to get a drink of water and felt good to do the last bit and took off.

I made it to 7.5 and the pain was back but I finished and stretched. It feels very good to do the 8 but the balls of my feet are very tender and achy. Only 3 miles on Tuesday, Thursday and I think 3.5 on Sunday (Christmas) but I will probably go for 4+ just because I can.

One thing I find easier each passing week is spending the time it takes to do this without feeling as though I have other things more important to do. I never thought I would write something like that.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Goose of Christmas Repast

If you read this drivel of mine, you know that we celebrate Thanksgiving regularly in Texas and co-host a Borgasmord locally each Christmas. The Borgasmord usually takes place within a day or two of Christmas itself and is SO food-centric that we forgo a typical Christmas meal and make do with left-overs from the Borg.

(Christmas Eve is almost always tamales and beans cuz, well....., that's how we roll..... )

Now this year is going to be an exception because the Borg is being held a week early to accommodate a vital attendee's holiday schedule and really, it would NOT be a party without her. As such, that means the left-overs (if any. Last year, they were thin to say the most)(not a complaint! This only means we either didn't make enough or the guests were really tapping into their inner-Swede) will probably not last another 7 days in the fridge. What to do, what to do?

John hit on the idea of a Christmas Goose. How delightful! I've never had goose in my long(ish) life and have images of a Victorian groaning table. The roast goose surrounded by casseroles and brussell sprouts, jellies and aspics and the like. Holly and Ivy. Lots of velvet attire.... a lute lilting in the background..

So off we went in search of a goose. You don't find these languishing in the butcher's case down here in the South. I don't know what you find up north or out west. I think they may be more popular elsewhere.

Here, in the deep and sacred south of I-10, a Turducken is fairly well-eaten. The turkey is always welcomed, especially if it's been fried in peanut oil. Even duck is common and the remains tossed in a gumbo with andouille sausage. But not the goose. Which is strange, considering we have around a million of the blasted birds loitering around ponds and golf courses, making a nuisance of themselves.

John's first stab, last week, was at Rouse's: a local chain of groceries and very fine purveyor of gourmet items and all things Louisiana. To the meat counter he went and asked the fellow behind it if they had goose coming for Christmas. (Start early. Never leave this quests to the last minute).
"Goose!?"
"Yeah, .... we were thinking of roasting one for Christmas......"
"No. We don't carry goose."
"Really!? It's a traditional Christmas dinner..."
"Not since Dickens"

I thought that was pretty funny.... but, now the challenge was upon us and we met it with gusto. I imagine Whole Foods carries goose but the nearest one is either Baton Rouge or New Orleans and I don't see myself going to that length.

(Actually, the nearest geese are about 2 miles away, milling around a pond but I also don't see myself poaching a Canadian and plucking feathers anymore than I see myself wring a rooster's neck)

So Monday, we set off to The Fresh Market, a very up-scale market in Mandeville. So up-scale, they use dim lights and dark ceilings. It's like shopping in a cave. Everyone whispers when they speak. The baskets and carts are all small. But the selection is incredible. So are the prices. We learned.

The man behind the meat counter told us they expected a shipment of geese next week but they didn't have any at that moment. I asked if we could put our name on one as a reserve. No problem at all. He brings out a pad, makes the appropriate notations, gets my name and phone numbers and tells us he'll call when they arrive. Then he rips off the duplicate copy and emphasizes that we MUST bring this paper when we retrieve the bird. No tickie, no taco! OKAY!

On the ride home, John reminds me that this is all out of a Sherlock Holmes story and when we get back to the house, he gets the tome out for me to reread. I know I read it once and really don't remember the gist of the sitch so I tell him I'll read it again. Haven't yet. Haven't stopped moving long enough to read.

Then suddenly, yesterday, not 2 days after we placed the hold on the goose, we get a phone call from the Fresh Market informing us that the geese flew in! I asked if he could leave it tagged in the freezer for us til I get off work Thursday. No problem again, but "Don't forget to bring the receipt we gave you when you placed the order."

They really do take this seriously! John overheard the phone conversation and said, "Let's go!"

"But I can pick it up tomorrow after work. Save the gas..."
"Let's go!"

So we went. Fresh Market is about 18 miles from where we live and this gave us time to Google cooking tips in preparation of the roasting of said goose. Jaques Pepin, my go-to guy (read; chef extraordinaire) goes into good detail about lifting the skin away from the flesh and steaming the bird the day prior to roasting. All this is toward a less greasy meal. (remember this... more to come)

We discussed the various potential side dishes and as the sprouts are not ready in the garden, they are off the menu. We settled on sweet potatoes, wild rice and a salad. Simple.

When we got to the shop, we were bouncing with excitement and took a small cart over to the meat counter, flourished the recipe (they were serious. No bird without the receipt. Mind you, we had NOT PAID for it at this point but we still need the passport. So there we were and a lady sidled up and asked, "Did you say 'goose'?"

Which launched another memorable conversation in a grocery store with a total stranger! She was from Germany, though she sounded from Chalmette, and lived on the other side fof the Pearl River. She told us how she made roast goose with seasoning she "brought back from Germany" and that's how we found out from where she hailed. I swear, when she said "New Orleans" it came out, "NuAwlens" so I was completely baffled until we learned a little more of her life history.

Anyway, she said they prepared their goose the same as Pepin except she stuffed hers with apples and that mysterious German spice (which she didn't know the name in English) and used that broth to baste to the skin during the final 20 minutes of roasting.

And now she was curious how much it cost, this goose of ours. I blanched when I saw the sticker, told her, and she replied, "Oh, I saw one here lsat year that was $110.00. But it was a French Goose....."like that explained something inexplicable.

At least it made this one look cheap.


About 15 minutes into the ride home, I said," At this price, we better NOT mess it up!"

John, " I was just thinking the same thing!"

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

New Sample for the Shop

I have a large stash of fruit and veg fabric that I have been steadily plowing my way through....

Here is the latest sample made with a pattern in the book, Strip Six by Cozy Quilt Designs.



Monday, December 12, 2011

I'm Only Braggin' Coz It's True

I slept til 5:30am.

Went to bed around 10 ish and woke up at 5:30

8 hours of straight sleep feels amazing. I feel 20 yrs old

Saturday, December 10, 2011

I've Been Committed

Ahahahahah it's not what you might think!

I have committed MYSELF to the half-marathon officially.

I have my receipt to hang on the wall to taunt me and my schedule of training to invigorate me. What is really weird and slightly amazing to me is my desire to do this overwhelming me.

I am worried that my feet will be my trouble and hopeful that the problem will simply go away. I look forward to each day I "get" to plog and am frustrated that occasionally the weather or life in general (LIG) gets in the way.

In the meantime, whoo-hoo indeed



Sunday, December 4, 2011

6.5 Done and Done!

That is the goal today and I will be starting in another hour or so. The temperature is warmer than it has been lately and I think more muggy as well so I wonder how that will play into my stamina.

I wore the Asics the other day wandering around and they feel very nice on the feet but the proof will be in the plog, right?

So I have my route all mapped out in the the local area. I sould do just over the 6.5 miles if I make it all the way.

Update: So That's done. All was going well til around 3.75 miles and the right foot began to throb. Once that started, I did the ususal shifting in the footfall trying to ease the pain but nothing really stopped it.

My body felt fine so that's a good thing.... I'll keep going and see what happens. Next Sunday is 3 miles and then 8 miles after that.

Yippee. Still, I get 2 weeks to heal the sole.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

I Am Not Obsessed. Really. I'm Not

Remember the issue with the painful feet at mile 2.5? Well, I plogged several more times at 30+ minutes or so with no problem and then Tuesday it happened again at mile 1.75. What to do, what to do?

It apparently has something to do with the tiny bones that glide just at the point where the ball of the foot ends and the toes begin. Tiny little bones but oh so crucial to walking. I read that it can happen that the get banged up but I have never never ever had this pain... exxxxxxcept this one time when I wore heeled boots and worked from 9 am to midnight on my feet..... retail and when I sat down in the car to get home, I could not stand on the ground. I was literally helped up the steps, in tears. I had no pain until I got off my feet and tried to stand. It was amazing in the intensity and I have forgotten this til now. That was some 37 years ago.

So, back to the present. I read that a small insert of gel might help cushion the area and we headed back to Academy where I was helped by a running elf. I was also told that Nike shoes, well this one perhaps most specifically, are not really designed for distance but rather for workouts and fashion. And on softer surfaces. The soles are cushy on the heel but made lightweight for speed, not support and distance. Well, that would have been useful information three weeks ago, before I plonked $70 down!.

Not to worry..... I bought small insert for the front of the foot and will do my short distances (under 3 miles) in them and bought a pair or Asics for distance. And another insert (whole shoe) for them because I bought a pair bigger than my foot to accommodate the thick socks and better toe wiggle room. The 10s were tight already.

I also learned something interesting.... in the Nike, there is a small symbol on the sole. It is the Nike Sensor symbol and I knew that because that is the device I was given for my birthday. Under the insert on the left shoe, there is a hole to slip the device into instead of in a key pouch that rides on the laces. Pretty slick! If I buy another sensor I won't have to move the pouch back and forth between shoes.....

I guess, while I am NOT obsesses, I am devoted to this mission. I shall complete a HM in March.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Post Thanksgiving Day Post

Hope whoever reads this had a good dinner with family and friends and lots of pie.

Ours was outstanding but (and) this is both expected and commonplace. We have a tradition that includes perfectly roasted turkey, a stuffing so good people ask "what's in there?!", sweet potato casserole with pecans (is that not the best nut in North America?) and a new entry this year, a squash casserole. All of this is lovingly prepared by our SIL and BIL whom I have described in the past as my role models in this farm life.

The only thing missing this year was the youth factor as neither of our kids were able to attend but looked at realistically, this did mean more for us! Hey, it's true, right?

Now, add to this two flocks of chickens and terrific weather, and what we have here is heaven. In one coop were some 12-15 Auracanas and in the other a mix of Barred Rock and banty Cochin hens. Outside the coops was an additional flock of banty Cochin roosters that have their freedom to wander around, sleep in the trees and start crowing at 3:56am. This doesn't bother me at all as my hearing isn't that great to begin with and I happen to like the sound but as we lay in bed giggling at it, John kept telling me there was an owl out there as well adding to the cacophony. That low sound didn't register period but I strained nonetheless to hear. Maddening. Only once did I actually hear it and then since I could not catch it a second time, I questioned the first.

Pleased to report that I am still on schedule with the plogging, turkey and all. Today is an easy day with 2.5 miles to go and next Sunday is the 6.5 mile.

Okay, a post is not complete without a beef, right? So here I go:

We stopped by IKEA in Houston to grab stuff for Borgasmord and left completely baffled by recent events. They have stopped selling cheese, caviar in tubes, brown beans, cookies and worst of all (maybe) museli! WHY?????????? and to add to the insult, everything now has the IKEA label. No more independent purveyors are there. No ABBAS anchovy, no Lars mustard, no Marabou chocolate..... why????

I guess I don't have to go by there anymore.....


Sunday, November 20, 2011

Hmmmm.... Breaking in Shoes....

It doesn't mean what I think it means. I have been plogging along in a pair of Sketcher rolling walkers all this time. They are heavy and make you feet roll as you go which is nice and I do like them but I didn't think they would see me through 13 miles. Also they get hot. Or rather, hotter as I go but that might have something more to do with the thick socks I wear.

So, I bought a new pair of running shoes. Nike LunarGlide + and went for a run this morning. My first run in these new shoes and it was my Sunday run which, sticking to the schedule meant 5 miles.

Ok, these shoes are so light-weight and airy after the Sketchers I was flying! It felt so great! But I realized after some 8 minutes that the Nike lozenge wasn't recording the "mileage" correctly. I had done this route enough times to know when the 1 mile mark shows up and I was way past it and reading .68 miles.

Now my vision isn't great at 6am and bouncing up and down doesn't improve matters but I was finally able to focus on the small numbers that measure my "speed" (or lack thereof) and it said I was going at a speed of 22 minutes per mile. Running. I can walk faster than this. So something was clearly not right with my little device.

I stopped to look at the pouch and saw that I had put it on up-side down. I flipped it right and kept going.

Still, I figured it wasn't tracking anything correctly and wondered how I was going to calculate the distance after this amount of time had passed.

It didn't matter.....I decided I would just go til I had completed the 5 and measure it out later. I knew how long I will have run by then... that is useful.

But around 3.5 miles, both balls of the feet started to hurt.... terribly. I kept going.... scrunching my toes and running on the knife edge of the feet and doing what ever I could do to minimize this discomfort, all the while worrying 1. did I just waste $70.00? 2. What if I have done permanent injury? 3. Will it always be this way? 4. Why didn't I "break in the shoes? 5. What was I thinking?????

I limped home but I did the miles and just now went to measure the actual distance.

5.45 miles whoo-hoo indeed. I can't believe I am doing this. A few months ago, the thought of plogging 5 miles was laughable. A few weeks ago, the thought was worrisome. Today, the thought is entirely doable and I (can't believe I am writing this) actually look forward to the 6.5 the Sunday after next!

It is purely coincidental & happenstance that next Sunday, after Thanksgiving Pie Day, I only have a 2.5 run to do. So hopefully, with this week and next being easy runs, the shoes (if they are the problem) will be broken in and I have a better time of it.


Saturday, November 19, 2011

What They Never Tell You

I just had this overwhelming wave of sadness.

I miss my parents intensely at times. This is one of them and it was the realization that I won't hear their voices again.

They both had wonderful voices. My mother was swedish and had a beautiful lyrical sound to her voice. She was unintentionally hilarious.

She said things like, "Let's stop and get a Yumbo Yack." You know.... Yack-in-the-Box?

"Oh look! They're having a Yanuary Sale at NeimanandMarcus!" She would slur the name of the retail store together, never pausing to read that there is no "and" in it.

My SIL has a favorite story/memory of Mother trying hopelessly to express her desire to get the leftover spaghetti sauce either into or out of "the YAR!' the YAR!!!!!" neman!!!

She had this infuriating habit of asking someone to hand her the___fill in the blank__________ by waving her finger in some general direction...but never actually sounding the word of the desired object in question. I was remarkable in the family for my ability to read her mind and know exactly what she wanted but my sister would stand there and finally say, "I need a noun. Can you give me a noun, .......a clue .... anything!" This would then launch an argument. Every time.

Mother had no end of admirers either, concerning this accent of hers. People would ask her where she was from and she would answer, in this Swedish accent, "East Texas".


There is something about the italian language that makes me swoon..... it flows and slows and then rushes forward like a running stream and I just love it! My father was Italian and made everything he said sound like music. Especially when he got hot under the collar. Then he'd let fly with the italian and all heck would let loose. It was a rich firm strong awesome voice and I'd just sit there and listen to the song of it all. It's a real shame he didn't sing.

It was also great fun to be an adult and in his presence because he loved a good joke and told them like a professional. Then we'd die laughing together. We watched back to back to back episodes of Fawlty Towers and would collapse in tears, looking at and keeling over at the sight of the other.

Lord I miss them both. People who talk about death tell you that, yeah, you miss the person terribly but they don't warn you about the specifics of what you'll miss. So when the realization finally hits, it's a sucker-punch.

Friday, November 18, 2011

We Went For A Drive Today

Just me, John and three roosters looking nervous in the back.

They settled down once we hit 42mph. It was a short drive to the Feed n Seed where we take unwanted chickens..... or so I learned.

We had a bit of a rodeo catching them. They eat out of my hand and I am able to touch them but they stopped liking to be picked up about 2 weeks ago. So, when I reached out to snag one, the eldest, he let out such a fuss, even Rooster Stu clucked in alarm. It took me faking them with the scratch and John swooping in. Still, what a racket!

John got the white one, Ghost, screaming and squawking until he held him upside down and his wings just drooped dejectedly. He drooled a little as well. In the cage with him.

The last one, the one I hatched, let me pick him up like he was okay with it, not exactly happy with the arrangement, and in he went and off we went.

When we got there, they brought out two cages and we easily moved them from one to the other. The men were surprised at how calm they were. And handsome. They really are good-looking.

At this point I was starting to get upset, myself with this arrangement, so we left quickly.

I hope they go someplace happy and homey. It's not their fault they are roosters but I can't have birds going for me or disrupting the happy coop for the others and that was definitely beginning to happen!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

It Was Bound To Happen, Right?

Out of the four chickies that hatched this summer, it is looking like three of them are indeed of the male persuasion.

Dagnabbit! This is the luck of the draw, I know, I know, but how does one dispose of unwanted chickens?

I love Rooster Stu, he is a great bird. He has never ever rushed me or intimidated me and now I have a chicken that went from a sweet little guy to a hormone-crazed fiend on steroids.

I came home the other evening to John steaming because when he tried to close them up for the night, two birds were still out in the run, in the dark(!) and one of them came at him with passion. He had to fight the chicken off with his feet as he left the gate open. When I went out, the four "babies" were nestled together in a laybox, all sweet and cuddly. But the next morning, darn if he didn't try to corral ME! I had to get a long stick to keep him at bay.

Now, this morning all was well in the world and I spent time feeding them kale by hand, all normal but I was keeping a weather eye on this chicken all the while. Everything was as it had been. I know too that this won't last.

So, we went around town trying offload the roos to anyone who would take them. No takers. A friend with chickens is my go-to gal and I asked her what she does with unwanted chickens. "I've been known to take them for rides." Don't you love a southern sense of humor?


"Leave the gun. Take the canolis."

Of course, this evening as I went to give them some scratch, this crazy bird mounted a Buff Orp and Stu whooped into him like a red-headed step-child! Which I find a tad amusing because I remember how comical his first attempts were back last year and he got chased around the run for his clumsy moves.

Well, all this is to say that tomorrow morning I will take the last photos of the chickens that are exiting my little corner of the world and take away these pearls of wisdom.

"Don't let a chicken go broody"
"Get straight runs"
John would add, "All In. All Out"


Will someone out there please remind of this when I write a post about eggs in the future?

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

You Didn't Miss Me...

... but I'm back......

It's been a busy few months and I think the rest of the year will go the same way. Hopefully 2012 will be calmer. at least til the election really gears up.

I've been working on, among other things, the garden, several quilts and watching a shower be refitted. It has taken quite a long time and is still not finished nor will be for another week but hey..... I have time. Lots of it I hope.

And I have been back to plogging. Now it's plogging with a Purpose. My cousin, who inspired the foray into plogging some months back (if you recall) told me about a Rock and Roll Marathon which will be held in New Orleans in March next year and that she was coming here to run in it. They also sponsor a Half Marathon and I think 5 & 10Ks as well.

sooooo... I said I'd go for the HM. My only goal is to finish it in under 4 hours. If you are seen to be going over that time, they pick you up in something called a Sag Wagon and I ain't gonna be seen in that. So a 4 hour 13.1 "run" is the goal.

She gave me the website for Galloway running and I am using his schedule for training to finish and I have been sticking to it! She recommended that I try what she does: ie she walks for a mile and then runs for a mile* and has this timing device that tells her when to stop and start each minute. I went by Academy to buy an Interval Timer but the only one they had was made by Everlast. I should have known. *Whoops! That should read MINUTE, not mile

I got the batteries into it and set the timer to 1 minute intervals. When the minute was up, the racket this thing made was amazing. The "vibrator" was as loud as the alarm on my phone and the bell sounded exactly like the one you'd hear at the end of a boxing match! Well, that was never going to work.

My daughter gave me another device that is made by Nike. You slip the gadget, a lozenge the size of a keyfob, into a pouch that attaches to you running shoe and the app on your cell phone calibrates and monitors the distance you go. It also tell you your running speed and averages your time. Pretty slick and very accurate! It plays music off the ipod as you go and tells you when you reach the halfway mark, what the time distance is and how much farther you have to the finish. It does NOT alert you to the One minute mark so I have to hold it in my hand as I run and time myself. That is a bit of a nuisance as I never get it right. I'll be going along and think "well that's been 55 seconds" but when I check, it's usually closer to the 32 second mark. and I think Omigosh..... I have 27 second to go ....... will I make it????? Plog plog plog... By the time I finished 5 ks or 3 mile or 45 minutes, I was tired! I'm 52 and out of shape, alright??? But I'm doing it ! I'm doing it! Plog. Plog . Plog. BTW>>>> My daughter is going to come here and do the HM with me!!!!!

So I have been fretting that with less than 3 months to go before the HM, I will not be physically ready to do this! A week ago, I was worried that I was going to have to go for 4 miles on Sunday and 5 miles the Sunday after THAT! (you train in increments) ...... and this is the Eat Drink weekend and I've been doing plenty of that, let me tell you!

But this is Monday morning, 5:15am and I did the 4 miles as the sun went down yesterday. Next week is 5 miles. And I have to say: I'm actually looking forward to it. Strange as that is to write, I really do. It was as though that 4 mile was a mental brick wall..... I was really concerned that I was going to falter.

Back in the days of college life, I ran every day. The farthest I ever ran continuously was 5.25 miles for a "cause" I don't remember now. People sponsored me 25 cent per mile and I had to run around a track as many times as I could for one hour. 5.25 miles and I remember not even being tired but I was 20 yrs old back then. and probably 25 lbs lighter as well! That is something that hasn't shifted an ounce since I started this, much to my sorrow. not one ounce.

And the hardest thing back then was putting the shoes on. Once I got that done, I figured I might as well go out the door! The easiest thing was convincing myself that one day off would not kill me but it always did. If I took one day off, it was easy to then take off anther and getting back ON the schedule was twice as hard. It's all psychological.

These days I don't beat myself up. (I let Life do that...trust me.. Life doesn't need your help) If the day does not permit me to do the required miles/minutes, I just do them the next day and I don't scold myself. But since I have a goal, (the HM) and the day will be here (soon), I really have no choice but to get out there and not embarrass myself.

Hey I figure it's like this: Get Up, Dress Up and Show up. Then the rest is up to me.


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Well. That's a Shame

I love(d) the Olive Garden. I would go whenever feasible. I gave gift cards for this chain. I was thrilled when a branch finally opened within 20 miles of us just a few months ago!

And today, I read that in it's questionable wisdom, displaying the AMERICAN FLAG was deemed as potentially "disruptive" to SOME of it's diners and therefore DENIED to a group of Alabama Kiwanas members as they were preparing for a meeting/dinner.

Okay. Don't believe me (and why should you.... it does sound far-fetched) go here:

So,the possibility of a couple of people in ALABAMA being upset and whining or leaving in a fit was more aggravating than accommodating a large group of Kiwanas and EVERYBODY ELSE IN AMERICA that learns about it.

Okay. So, spread the word. And I hope enough people enjoy dining out anywhere else other than the Olive Garden, where "When You Are Here, You're Family*"... *unless you're an American who flies freely the very symbol of her existence.... then you are SOL.

Or better yet...... let's ALL GO and WEAR the American Flag. Then what are they going to do? Ask us to leave?

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Ramsey Bait Shop

There's a spot on Hwy 25, a few miles north of Covington that features several small buildings, a large gravel parking lot and one defunct gas pump. It's been there, morphing from one entity to another over the years.

The last thing it was was a restaurant that featured All You Can Eat Catfish dinners every Friday night. We never though of it on a Friday evening but we did stop in one afternoon for a late-ish lunch. We ordered the fried catfish (because I truly do love catfish when it's done right) and iced tea. The meal came with a slice of cake for dessert which caught me off-guard.

The tea tasted like tea. The catfish was fabulous and the cake the perfect topper to a surprising meal.

The joint closed a few months back and we watched over the course of a month or so as the interior was hauled out to the exterior and an awning attached and the place cleaned up. When the neon beer signs lit up, I chalked the place up to an ice house. Well, at least it didn't close altogether in these tough times.

So as we passed by it today, we said, "Let's pop in and find out what this is....."

Well, shut my mouth! It just got better! The same catfish is available at night, and fried chicken all day, egg sausage biscuits for the morning commute and BOUDIN balls! Man alive! I died and went to heaven.

Yeah, it has beer and bread and quick-pick items to save you a long drive to the groch but wait! It gets better again!

Bait. They sell bait. Lures. Cane poles and floats and weights. You wanna fish? No problem.

Rasmeys' Bait Shop. They're waiting for you

Friday, September 30, 2011

The US Post Office Has Some Splainin' To Do

I sent 4 boxes through the US Post Office two weeks ago. I added a delivery confirmation sticker to each one so I could track the progress.

They were filled with old books my father had willed to me and I was in no rush to receive them so I sent them Media Mail at a discounted price. I did not insure them. Those were my two First Mistakes. After that, nothing matters.

Now, just because I was in no rush to receive them and didn't buy insurance doesn't automatically mean I didn't care if I ever saw them again. If that were the case, I wouldn't have bothered to box them up and drive to the Post Office and pay $80.00 to mail them across country.

But the condition the boxes were in when 3 of them arrived at my door makes me wonder why the Average American hasn't gone "postal" on the Post Office.

Is there anyone left in this country that actually gives a darn about their job? or have we finally just collectively accepted that :

1. nothing that matters to anyone else is 'my' problem.
2. if there's nothing in for me, why should I care?
3. everyone else has enough so I'll just take some of theirs to make things even-Steven.
4. you can't pay me enough to make this job worth any effort on my part.
5. I'm just in it for the benefits and retirement.

The first 2 boxes arrived in short order. They are mangled and torn and the contents of one have been removed. 2 books are missing from that box. The third box is still sitting in Jersey City and the fourth arrived yesterday. Here is what it looks like.

That photo doesn't do it justice. There is on top a red stamp that barely reads

IN HANDLING
P CCEPT OUR APOLOGIES
& R PAIRED A

MEMPHIS TN 36136-9998

Half the contents are missing. Those that arrived are destroyed. The covers and outer spine are ripped from the binding. These were old Washington Irving books. One book looks as though it were driven over by heavy equipment. However, as an added bonus, I have received in this box someone's law book and pages of a law exam. Again, half the contents I packed and paid for to be shipped to me are just gone. The last book I gave my father, The Leopard, is gone. I had ordered it from England. I took it back because I wanted to read it. There goes that.

I, at this point in time, hold little hope that the third box ever shows up at all. If it did, I'll keel over from heart failure.

So, in conclusion, here is the feeling I am left with.

I hope the USPS is shut down. I now refer to all the workers at the Post Office as a Collective.

You brought this on yourself. You make your CUSTOMER who pays your salary stand in endless lines to mail something while who knows what the other employees are doing in the back. You work at a snail's pace and don't make eye contact when you finally utter the word, "Next".

You speak to the CUSTOMER as though whatever they ask of you is boring, irrelevant or self-evident and the only thing you have interest in is your next work break. I hate to tell you this but just because YOU know that this sticker is used under this circumstance and THAT sticker is necessary for THIS package doesn't mean that the rest of US are idiots for NOT KNOWING. It's too bad USPS workers don't have mandatory forehead tattoos to alert the rest of us so WE can speak to them in our jobs the way they speak to us in theirs! If you don't like dealing with customers, get a job at a plant nursery. The rest of us are tired of your attitudes.

OH YEAH, and when we complain, we get a stone wall. Nothing changes.

I hope you remember poorly you performed and how little you cared when you go belly-up. I hope you wonder and worry like the rest of us do about our futures. YOU USED TO CARE. What happened?


FEDEX and UPS are out-working you and I hope a third party starts up to compete with THEM.


To end the vent, I'll say this philosophically; I didn't have these books 2 weeks ago and my life will continue without them just fine.

It's a real shame that I can't have them because some gorilla in a warehouse decides that my stuff is unimportant and/or more useful to someone else, as opposed to ...say.....someone like me, so taking it or breaking it is completely acceptable behavior.

Thanks. Thanks so very much.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A Return to Normal?

I have spent much of the past 3 days out in the fresh air, dealing with the hopes of a winter garden.

I am grateful that my inner nag had me clear out all the tomatoes (and their stakes and cages) before September even approached. This made what we accomplished over the weekend much less grueling.

Most of the raised beds were fairly empty so we pulled the scraggly peppers and the last of the tenacious weeds and roughed up 5 of the 11. I chose those beds for a couple of reason which I may go into at another date, and added compost, minerals and the like to them and worked it all in.

Then Sunday morning, in another return to what was once normal, I had breakfast with a gardening friend and afterwards we visited O'Keefes in Covington to see what they had. I have been concerned that I missed te optimum planting weeks but am going to give it a go anyway.

We now have planted broccoli, collards, sprouts, 38 leek seedlings and celery from plants. We await the raab til next week (our dealer is out of town)


You can see that a few peppers and 2 eggplant shrubs remain putting out good stuff and the shallots are in the edges of several beds. I just keep propagating them.

I did all that yesterday morning and since I was on a roll, I kept on rolling! I seeded the carrots, rutabagas, 3 types of kale from seeds I collected last spring, and 4 kinds of lettuce and of course the neon chard. The evening cool off but the days are warm so I think the soil will help the seeds germinate quickly. I cannot believe October is 4 days away.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Thanks Daddy

I have been receiving the 18 boxes of stuff from my father over the past few days. I packed them up while mentally processing what happened.

Looking around the house, I was really really wondering, "What Happened Here???" There is so much 'things'. I hate to use the word 'stuff' because that just diminishes what one person valued and loved and nurtured for so many years. Let's face it; the man had 51 years to accumulate and I had 5 days to pack what was now mine! (Don't even ask what I spent in packing peanuts, bubble-wrap and postage)

Two boxes of books beat me back home but the others trickled in. Still awaiting 2 more boxes of books but as they are coming media mail USPS (thank you Marty!) it might take awhile.

Which is strange because the two which did arrive got here in 3 days! One is still sitting in Seacacus, New Jersey. Stuck, as it were. French books. I don't speak French and don't know what to do with these books but I'll get there. My brother said, "How to eat an elephant? One bite at a time"

It is a small comfort to be standing here in one room and looking at a poster (framed) that has hung on one wall in my father's home since 1965. Same wall, same position for 46 years. Til yesterday.


Well, mine looks better because it has a good frame around it but you get the idea. It's a Ben Shahn painting/poster and for whatever reason, it has always spoken to me. I just wish I had asked Daddy about what it was for and how it came to be in his home. I have a sense he picked it up in Italy on one of his business trips with Alitalia but that is all conjecture.

So, along with this I have 4 Fritz Rudolph Hug paintings of animals. And one exquisite oil of a man in a Jag speaking to a young woman standing outside a British pub. This is a photo of the Limited Edition print:

So, then there are boxes of "mint" car replicas..... Danbury Mint, Franklin Mint. I will unpack them, one by one and decide which I will be keeping, which I will be selling and and which I will save for my daughters to sell when the "market" for these sorts of things improves.

I mean, how many 1929 Bugattis does one woman need?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

So. Where Have I been?

There's only a small handful of people who read this blog on any regular basis. They already know what has occurred in the past few weeks and suffice it to say, I won't be going into elaborations at this point in time.

Briefly put: my father fell, hit his head and ended up with a massive swelling on his brain. Surgery was performed but his condition did not improve.

God has made me face just about every fear I have. More on that at another time.

Unfortunately, I have a few more out there and am in no hurry to meet up with. Everytime I hit one head-on, it takes it's toll on me physically, emotionally, financially and ethically. Amazing how it works.

I do know this: the harder I try to hold on to things, the quicker they slip away. There is much to be said for living simply.

And avoiding the rapid pull of gravity when taking blood thinners and anti-coagulants. That's a BIG lesson learned.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Midsomer Murders

I have Netflix as streaming video beside the machine as I sew and have been filling up on the British mystery series, Midsomer Murders.



Now this may be old-hat to most of you but with me I am always invariably late to the prom. I started watching Seinfeld and Friends and Everybody Loves Raymond, big hits back in their day, when they had about one season left to run. Always years behind everyone else, that's me.

So this Midsomer murders was very novel a few weeks ago when I stumbled across it. Great fun. DCI Barnaby is married to a most understanding wife who fills her days as a volunteer, shows up at every costumed "town event" and gets wrapped up in a few of the murders. Their only daughter, Cully, is an actress perpetually in search of a role and also volunteers throughout the county and remarkably is well informed of the goings on in any deviant village because that week she happens to man the mobile library. Or is working as a temp secretary for a hot-shot, or lands a spot hauling horses around town. And every time Father and Daughter see each other, you'd think they hadn't just had breakfast together that morning ."Cully!" he cries and gives a big hug, kiss on the cheek.

What I liked about it in the beginning was the scenery. All the action takes place in a mythical county in England. The shops and buildings line quaint, slim, curving streets; no-one is ever in a particular hurry; homes are usually either very grand or if not, they are thatched roofed and Tudor-styled. This is what you have heard referred to as "chocolate box"quintessentially English homes (or at the very least the way I think of as English) . Nothing is out of place, no mess or garbage bins. Lovely flowers. Trimmed hedges. Get the picture? Even cars are new. And washed.

Oh!, and all the people who live here are white, over 40, and can't stop killing each other. There is usually someone(s) terribly rich and "above" it all (or better yet, titled), the middle-class and finally those who live on the fringes of 'society'. And don't believe for a moment that any of them wouldn't kill to get what they want.

Now, the county may be Midsomer but the towns in the county have lovely evocative names: Midsomer Mallow, Midsomer Newton, Fletcher's Cross and the popular Badger's Drift. Wouldn't you want to be murdered somewhere named Badger's Drift?

Here is where it gets interesting. The murders are done in the most amazing techniques. Far be it for anyone in Midsomer to simply slit a throat or push an old lady down a flight of stairs. Oh wait... they did do that as well.

No, here in Midsomer, a terrific method for murder would be to drug your victim first, then tether him down to the ground with croquet wickets (naturally) and lob wine bottles at him with a medieval catapult. Ingenious! I would never have imagined THAT!

Or, if that takes too much planning, how about ramming a pitchfork through a chair? Drown someone in a cauldron of tomato soup? I especially didn't picture this one aged Russian (female) spy who knew some fancy jujitsu moves. (Note to self: never, ever, sneak up on an old lady in Midsomer Worthy).

And this one: Smash a man with a forklift full of bottled chutney, then scald him in the 200 degree bath to clean him up.

Once the first murder has been discovered and Detective Chief Inspector Barnaby shows up to take statements, the murderer's associates start dropping like flies! I mean, if you lived anywhere in Midsomer and someone turns up murdered, you better leave town because no one is safe! Pretty soon, there aren't going be many people to kill at the rate they're going!

His 'second', Deputy Inspector fill-in-the-blank, is usually a few steps behind this weathered master of all that is inscrutable. Barnaby's on the case, you're days of freedom are numbered!

I sound snarky but I do enjoy these episodes. Mostly because I never know what's going to happen next and can't guess who the true villan will be in the end. That, and the fact that each episode is approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes.

Oh! Gotta go... another one just queued up!



Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Chicks in the Henhouse

The "babies" are MONTH OLD already! I can't believe it... and are getting cranky about being (ahem!) cooped up in such a small cage so I made the decision to begin accustoming them to the other chickens and vice versa. Step one:


For several days, perhaps longer, I will leave them in the cage in the coop overnight and allow them to play freely inside loose with the doors closed to all the others. Two hours in the early morning and two again in the late afternoon. These times happily coincide with the laying routine, for the most part. The hens rarely lay first thing in the morning.

After that time I will leave the cage inside but start letting the little ones roam around outdoors. They are almost full feathered, A small area around the necks are still bare but the feathers are replacing the down quickly now.


And I finished a sample for an up-coming class in October. This is a curved log cabin

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Do You Have Any Idea.....

... how hard it can be to photograph a chicken? ??????

I lost track of how many clicks it took to get THAT. They don't pose. They don't cooperate at all!

But doesn't Buttercup have lovely wing feathers coming in?

They are growing so rapidly, I stand in amazement. Still, Nutmeg is quite small compared to the others, and only 3 days younger than the oldest one, Val. That is short for Valentino. He is very handsome.

It's great fun to watch him and Buttercup go at it. They are by far the most active of the four and fly around the little cage acting like raptors. The cage is going to be too small to hold them all at the rate they are growing.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Pleased as Punch...

...to report that all 4 chickies are doing well.

No. 1 (still unnamed) is definitely a rooster! He bops around the cage, trying unsuccessfully to fly with his stumpy little wings and barging around the floor like he owns the joint.

No. 2 Buttercup, the little yellow chick with brown streaks, is growing rapidly. She is a real mover.... and very pretty. Doesn't like being handled. None of them do.

No. 3 Sable She is the most docile of them at the moment and does this funny thing: When she evacuates, she does the small squat and starts backing up a few steps and then out it comes. Like a dumptruck. hahhahahaha

No. 4 (formerly Wren) is now named Nutmeg or Meg for short. I am 87% certain it's a female and is the cutest of the bunch. Like a tiny version of Sable in coloring with a splash of white around her face.

She is still so much smaller than the rest and has this way of falling asleep on her feet. She moves around, interested in what the others are pecking at but doesn't have their stamina (yet) so she just slows to a stop and her head lowers til her forehead touched the sawdust, and stays like that until someone (usually No 1) bangs into and startles her awake again.

Can you tell I am in loooovve?

Kat gave John this salt block for Christmas and we finally used Saturday for dinner. You set it either on a grill outdoors on cook right there, or you can heat it in your oven under broil for 30 minutes and set it on some bricks on the table and cook there. That is what we did as it is too hot to cook outside now. Well, you could still do it but it isn't what I call a good time.
Here you see us placing thinly sliced tuna, salmon and shrimps on the block. Caution: at first the salt doesn't overpower the meat but apparently the longer the meat stays on the slab, the more the salt releases. So shrimp, which stays longer to cook, gets saltier as the dining continues. Rachel made a terrific mango salsa and salad to go with it and it was great fun to sit at the table and talk and sizzle. In air-conditioning.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Saturday... I Have Lost Count of the Days

No. 3 with Mama

Yesterday's trials began Thursday when John called to tell me another chick hatched out and a 4th one was struggling in its shell. When I got home, No 3 was still wet and the 4th was in what looked like a collapsing egg!

Since it was late and the 3rd sat protected under Mama, I left everything as it was. It would dry out and not be molested by the big birds and no 4 would be out, hopefully, in the morning. It looked weak and rather miserable and I steeled myself to the knowledge that this one might not make it at all.

But the morning came and no. 3 was binking around Mama, chirping at me and interested in everything. Mama was in no mood to be fooled around with but I got her shift enough to see no. 4 still there in an ever-encreasingly crushed egg. What to do. What to do. Wait n see. I removed no. 3 so Mama would presumably quit shifting so much.

By 2ish pm I decided to take matters into my own hand. The little thing was completely surrounded by an egg that had been crushed and a membrane that was drying out and smothering it.

I know I shouldn't interfere but it looked like it was trying but needed help! So I quickly removed it to a shoebox with sawdust in it for warmth and hurried back to the bathroom where the others are living in a large cage.




Would YOU be able to just turn away? Well, neither could I so I sat there for several hours and "helped" it get loosened from the drying membrane and one foot released and started kicking. And I waited.

I was so tired from not getting good sleep for several nights in a row. Waking at 3 am makes 3 pm seem like bedtime. So I left it and took a nap. When I returned an hour and a half later, it looked like progress was being made.

So now I put it in the palm of one hand and began wetting the membrane with warm water and easing it off the dried feathers.

This went on for an hour or so when I realized the membrane that was still attached at the navel (yeah, chickens have a navel!) (who knew?) so it was still soaking in al the remaining blood and nutrients from the yolk sack!!!!! Yea!!!! I put it down around 6 to think about dinner.

When I returned an hour later, it had completely separated itself naturally from the sack and was kicking gently against the sawdust and fluffing out its feathers. At this point in time, I felt better about its chances of survival.

By the time 10 pm got there, I was more than ready for bed and checked on her (I am going with her from here on out) and found her fluffing nicely and gave her water on her beak. I put the whole shoebox in the cage to keep her safe during the night but separated from the others. No. 1 keeps trying to "fly" but still can't get as high as the top of the shoe box so I figured they would not bash into her.

This morning (4 am) things look very rosy for the baby in the bunch.


She looks like a wren in color. I may name her that...


She is integrated now with the others and they have shown her how to drink and don't behave too roughly. She is standing wobbly on her pins and moving around slowly.

She may never be robust as she must be called a preemie but I think I have bonded very strongly with this one. Please don't be a rooster!!!!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Day 23

tired little hen.....


I think the little black one is a male. It stands very straight and runs around the cage, bashing into things. It looks like a mini Stu.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Trouble in Paradise

Remember how I wrote I didn't know how many eggs the hen was sitting on but I knew she had more under there than what I gave her?

21

I slipped her 7, the ladies added 3 or 4 that I knew of and I marked all of them. For a week I was diligent about checking daily and removing any unmarked egg but I slacked off like a complete idiot!

So I just went out there to check on things and I find no evidence of further pipping. I sat and listened for a spell to see what I could hear but either I can't pick up that register or there is no pipping or peeping goin' on down there.

I lifted the Mama up and moved her to the next box and marked the rest and got a final and accurate accounting.

And now.... this chicken who has been dutifully sitting on ALL THESE EGGS for 22 days has more to go if she stays broody. From here on out I will inspect twice a day and remove any new eggs her friends out there deposit in her bank.

So the bad news is I think the original 7 have done all the hatching they are gonna...... any of those will be disposed of on Saturday or possibly Friday and the rest will be a wait n see.

I don't know what else I can do. If she abandons the eggs naturally, I can handle that. But if she continues to sit there, let's see what happens.

Note to self: Don't do this in the future..... Mark the eggs and monitor daily. I don't care how clucky the hen gets.....


Trust but Verify. ~Ronald Reagan

Day 22, Another Chick

Hello World!


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Hatchling

Here is the first of what I hope will be more tiny chickens.

The hen went to sleep facing one direction and faced the opposite this morning. Additionally, ALL the eggs were under her for the first time in days... which made me curious... So I lifted one wing and found a broken shell and started making peeping noises. She scuffled around and this baby popped it's head up and peeped back. She promptly pecked at it as I removed her (I hope it is a her) from the nest.



IF this is not the cutest thing ever, I don't know what is


Sunday, July 24, 2011

I May Have To Rethink This.....

Nothing like waiting to the last moment to get ALL the pertinent information!

It seems I may have waited a tad too long to transfer the hen and eggs! My plan was to do this tonight, Day 19-20. The chicks, if indeed there are any at all, should begin to appear or pip tomorrow so I thought "let her stay comfy and with the others as long as possible."

But now I am reading that disturbing the nest, the eggs as it were, is quite detrimental to the success of hatching. Oh dear....but leaving her in the coop with the others runs the risk of cannibalism..... everything likes to eat chicken, even chickens!

SO the dilemma is at my feet..... move them now or wait til they begin to hatch...... even then is seems to be risky. One should not "help" hatch an egg.....and I am reading more and more that the eggs MUST maintain 99.5 degrees throughout the 21 days of incubation. I NEVER saw the hen off the nest but I know it happened because there are more eggs under her than I slipped her to begin with.

And yes, while laying the eggs, the chicken sitting on the other eggs kept them warm but still.....

Well, we shall see what we shall see..... come Wednesday this may have all been for naught and hopefully the chicken will have come to her senses.


Man Is Amazing

Man has devised tools to make life easier and then quite difficult.

Case in point: Our chicken coop has a Little Giant watering bowl that fills automatically as the level drops.... and it has worked swimmingly for two years. Until a month ago, when it began to drip and overfill.

At first I though it had something to do with being out of adjustment, so I tinkered with it for a week. But the problem became more emphatic, and as result, I looked for the accompanying information *(I save everything. The trouble I get into is trying to find where I squirrel things away. In this case, I put my hands straight on it)

The only thing that came with it was a diagram of parts and the admonishment that only the valve needs periodic replacement and for this you also need a a 4 in 1 tool. Slick.

Now, see.... I have no engineering gene and my motto in life is get as far as you can without opening the manual. So I called the company and order the valve (5) (one needs backup in life, yes?) and the 4 in 1 tool. In the meantime, I used a Rubbermaid trough.

So after a week passed, the chickens began acting more and more confused because 1.) a large baby blue rectangle was sitting where they expect a small red bowl, 2.) a hen has been sitting still for 7 weeks and 3.) there is a largeish wire cage sitting under the broodbox waiting for this evening to transfer the setting hen (no they don't know this.... keep in mind, these are chickens and although I talk to them and tell them what I am going to do, I don't think they understand English). When you add 1 and 2 and 3 together, you get a flock of worried birds.

But the package arrived yesterday without instruction. Nothing on the internet explained what I had to do...... so I just crouched down in the coop and figured it out.
How so? you ask.... see this little thing?:

It is less than 3/4" in length and screws into the shaft after you unscrew the setting nuts and slip the coil away. (remove the old one first, obviously). Works like a charm again. No dripping, no wet floors...... easy, when you know how.

And this is the 4 in 1 tool....... used to unscrew the old and screw in the new....

However, I wasted an hour Googling this and finding NOTHING on how to replace a valve on a Little Giant Bird Waterer. NOTHING.

Note to men: When you create something that seems simplistic, keep in mind it might be a product wimmenfolk without mechanical backgrounds need to use as well.... and these days, I suspect there are lots of young men who know nothing about mechanics, either!

Tomorrow is the day we might begin to see new chicks.... I am getting so broody, meself!


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Chicken Update

We are at Day 15 in the incubation of 13 eggs under the broody hen. She has stuck with it this long and I really hope she'll hang in for another 6 days.

At this point in time, we have bought a pet cage and set it up in the coop with straw, readying it to transfer the hen and eggs into (at night for least resistance) so when the chicks begin to hatch, the other birds won't disturb her or try to kill them.

Now, full disclosure: I don't know if this plan is going to work. I think once the eggs begin to hatch, it's pretty much over in 36 hours Whatever comes in that time span is all that will as the hen loses interest in sitting.

Or I can remove the chicks altogether as they dry and let her finish with the others.

So I am not certain what will happen or the direction I will take. I do know I don't have enough room in the coop to leave her in this cage along with the babies and I have nowhere else to house the entire brood with Mama. So I think I will remove the entire box to the garage til the hatching is over and then separate her from them and take the brooder inside the house so I can really keep a close eye on the babies and get them accustomed to me.

I raised the 3 Orpingtons this way a year ago but I had purchased them from the feed store at about 7 days old. So this fresh-start beginning is very new to me.

With 5 cats in the house and many more from the surrounding neighborhood lurking around, I really don't want to leave them unattended for an hour.

"Lots of things can happen to little girls...." ~david sedaris

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Come Up To The Lab...

You'd think by the end of this post that jogging was my latest obsession but you would be wrong... however:

I wanted to write about something I discovered this morning and yeah, "there's (apparently) an App for that!" There's an app for everything!

I wondered yesterday how far I had plogged and thought it would be great if I had a map of my location and the various routes I take..... I have lived here for 2 years now but still get lost in my own subdivision. I don't have horse-sense when it comes to cardinal direction and might see something for a land marker 20 times and still find it to be a Eureka moment.... "I didn't know there was a pond there!!"

So, I thought, I ought to map it out for future reference and see how far I have been going on the various routes.


and if you click the Start Recording button, you will get an accurate measure of your distance.

Pretty slick, I would also like to announce, ahem.... I have plogging farther than I realized. whoo hoo indeed.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Windmills

I have been sticking to this exercise 'plan of sorts' now for a month-ish. I don't go every day but more often than every other and I stress this as a successful venture.

Back in the day, when I plogged religiously, I told myself that if I didn't go every darn day, I would slip into the pattern of excuses. That was true then but not so much today. I started by taking a running course in college during the summer session. First thing in the morning. Every Monday thru Friday. We were on our own on the weekends.

This might have been a mistake but my dorm roommate was my running partner and when one or the other of us felt cranky we had a cattle prod in the bed next to us. Neither of us got away with slacking. We both aced the class. The hardest part about running is putting on the shoes and moving out the door.

What she didn't tell me, and I learned by accident much later, was the fact that I looked like a tomato after about 6 minutes on the road. Once the summer session ended I moved into a trailer with another girl, I pretty much had the routine down pat and headed out the door without a lot of whining.

This college was in the Texas hill country and had remarkable hill work to negotiate. I was making my way up one curvy road as a flock of students was headed down it and the look of shock and fear on their faces stopped me in my ascent. "What!?" I asked.

"Are you alright????", they rushed at me. "Yea...why? What's wrong?" They were backing away from me and I caught a reflection of my face in the wing mirror of a car. No wonder they were alarmed. I looked like I was both sun-burned and frost-bitten at the same time. White around the nostrils, eyes and lips and blotchy red everywhere else. I looked terrifying.

I stopped running in the day time. I eventually stopped altogether.

And I think about those days now. I wonder if I felt this heavy and sloppy back then when I started. I wasn't in great shape at the beginning. I got better quickly, I remember and I have the photos to prove it. But today, I just feel loose in tone and stiff in the joints. There is nothing natural about my muscle mass at the moment.

Two days ago, this happened. I was feeling particularly good as I headed home from a medium-length ralk and had jogged more of it than I walked. I was feeling smug as I 'cooled down' for the last block before the house. I was so close and yet......

Then I felt something latch onto my calf. It was a large dark fly and I swatted it away which made it all-the-more determined to have it's way with me. So I fought back. Which made both of us angry and it called in for re-enforcement. Now I had two deer-flies, dive-bombing and chasing me as I flailed my arms and waved my hands and fought down the rising panic I was feeling. I started to run and as I was already tired I didn't make it very far before I pulled up and found them right back on me legs! So I pulled off one of my shoes, thinking I could swing around with it and knock some sense in it or out of the ballpark, one!

I wondered two things at this point: Is this worth it? and If anyone watching is this, what could they be thinking?
The shoes I wear have those curved thick soles meant for walking, not running and certainly not for running in when you've only got one of them on your foot and the other in your hand flailing over your head as you fight off a bug the size of a raisin.

I'd get about 20 steps and stop. And start again. This happened four or five times before I just made a mad dash for the house.

After I drank a glass of water and calmed down, I went to let the chickens out and darn if one those flies wasn't right there at the door. Great.... They know where I live. I don't know what torqued them off in the first place!

But I can't use that excuse to avoid going out. So I put on the shoes and head out the door. But I take another route. At least for now.