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?


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


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


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.

Friday, July 8, 2011

I've Been Out-Foxed!

by a chicken, of all things!

You know I slipped eggs under the broody hen, right? The first two eggs came from our flock and I marked them with a date. Then I got 5 more from my friend and thought... well I will know all of those are her set. so no point in dating them. They were all laid on the 5th and begin incubating on the morning of the 6th.

Well that was Wednesday and today I went out there to see how Mama was doing, make sure she's eating and drinking.... she stood up at one point and darn if I didn't count 9 eggs under that mess of feathers! So now I don't know :
1. If there will be more eggs laid in that nest by one of our and
2. Which ones are later to hatch.

This might be the beginning of complications.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Do I Have This Right?

I have not followed this Casey Anthony trial at all but am a little perplexed. The verdict:


Anthony faced seven charges

First-degree murder NOT GUILTY

Aggravated child abuse NOT GUILTY

Aggravated manslaughter of a child NOT GUILTY

Four counts of providing false information to a law enforcement officer:

-That she worked at Universal Orlando in 2008 GUILTY
-That she left Caylee with a babysitter named Zenaida Fernandez Gonzalez GUILTY
-That she told Jeffrey Hopkins and Juliette Lewis that Caylee was missing GUILTY
-That she received a phone call from Caylee on July 15 2008 GUILTY

Mr Huekler added that he and the jury only saw evidence that Anthony was a good mother.

'The first number of witnesses were Casey's friend and every time that they said they saw Casey with Caylee, it was a loving relationship and no one provided evidence to the contrary,' Mr Huekler said.

Read more:

So she lied about her job. She lied about a baby sitter. She lied about declaring her child missing and she lied about a non-existent phone call from her daughter. All those lies went to law enforcement.

Now, she also lied to her parents for one month about her daughter's whereabouts. But you can't pin that against her.....I don't know why not... but there it apparently is.

And she's a "good mother."

She participated in a Hot Body contest at a bar 4 days after her daughter supposedly drowned. and she's a "good mother".

So they found she is a terrible liar, a good mother and had nothing to do with her daughter's death. Nothing at all. Not a single solitary shred of complicity.

She lied for an alibi but had nothing to do with a crime. Got it.

Chicken in a Basket or You Can't Thwart Mother Nature

Four weeks ago, one of the Buff Orpingtons went "broody" on us. She has been in a state of anxiety the whole time and this is spreading to the other hens out there. They have dropped off laying eggs to around 1 or 2 a day total and I take those away from her to discourage the "setting" instinct.

The others haven't joined her in the "brood" business but I worry it's only a matter of time.

I have been trying all suggested methods proffered to "break her up" which means get her to knock it off !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

For the record, I have:
Removed the fake egg which stimulates production in hens (supposedly)
Taken her off the nest box 4-5 a day
Spoken in soft modulated tones in an effort to talk her out of this state of mind
Scolded her mercilessly
Massaged her neck muscles
Dipped her feet and underbelly in a cool water to drop her temperature

That last one was my idea and it didn't work either. She just would stand there and cluck cluck and ruffle her feathers and looks so sad and frantic at the same time. So I started acting frantic. to John, "What do we do!!!?? What do I do!!!!" He looked back at me. He knows what I am thinking.

So, I asked the chicken what she wanted to do..... and whaddaya know?

She wants to keep her babies! So I scrounged two and laid them underneath her and she did just that!!!!!! She shoved them under her with her beak and settled down with this more passive countenance. (I swear!) (It's true, I swear!) If I had given her needles and yarn, she'd be out there knitting.

So I called a friend who has a rooster and asked if she had any eggs to spare and she did from yesterday's haul which she had not collected yet. I ran over just now and brought home 5 more eggs (very pretty birds she has too so I hope the babies, should we get any out of this, are going to be awesome. Her roo looks alot like Stu)

I slipped them under as well and she spread out and accepted them. 21 days.

Check back.

Monday, July 4, 2011

I See Surfaces

We returned last week from a wedding in the Texas Hill Country to find every flat surface in the kitchen and the entire refrigerator slathered or crammed with tomatoes, corn and peaches, patiently awaiting processing. I hardly knew where to begin, and decided if I wanted use of the fridge, I'd better haul out the corn first and get them in the freezer (not there's much room in it, either.)

If you read the Tally to the right, you've witnessed the steady stock rising. Each morning, after the plog 'round the blocks, I'd chain myself to a lead that stretched only as far as the raised beds and stove. There could be no escape if I wanted to make the most of what the garden has offered to the pantry shelves.

This strange spring of dry weather and for the most part cooler than average temperatures has given us now in mid-summer some crazy large and abundant in quantity tomatoes. They have been squeezed by the Squeezo and simmered in reduction, canned and labelled & sit smugly and snuggly all in rows. It's a wonderful sight.

The other day, while running errands, we grabbed a bite at a Mexican restaurant in Covington, El Iguana, and stumbled toward the notion of canning salsa as well. And why not? I found a terrific sounding recipe with raves in the comments sections and a plethora of answered questions confirming that I could, indeed, halve the recipe. This was the only concern I had at first reading. The ingredients list began with 30 tomatoes, which is no problem for us but the final result was 17 pints of salsa and I don't care how good it is, I don't know what I'd DO with 17 pints of salsa. I don't have 17 pints of sauce! (yet) and I 'm certainly not planning on setting up a table on the side of a highway to offload the surplus.

(Although, I bet I could!)

So, I dragged home another box of pint-sized Mason jars and promptly twisted my ankle.

With my daughter's help however, we were able to jar 8 pints of a truly spectacular salsa and two jars of sauce, bringing our total tally in a northerly direction and my horizontal surfaces now tomato-free. There are plenty more out there to go but I do in fact see the bright light at the end of the harvest tunnel ahead.

If you have read the "Lucia" stories or had the pleasure of watching a series from England called "Mapp and Lucia", you are acquainted with a mysterious dish called "Lobster a la Riseholme". It is the recipe that is (one of) the source of contention between two sparring divas in a 1920's English village. I have read and watched it many times and have always wanted to dine on this veritable feast but until yesterday, haven't stopped long enough to give it a try. You can google it and find many references to the dish and a Nigella Lawson, also of Great Britain, offers a recipe that I decided to follow to a T.

I even flambed the brandy under the supervision of Rachel and that was great fun!

Oh yeah. It's delicious.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Getting Healthy is Gonna Kill ME

A few weeks ago, my cousin tells me she's running, I don't remember..... was it 8 miles? It doesn't matter the number.... it's the activity that got to me. I used to rog. Not run and not jog. Plog. I'd plog along everyday but that was over 30 years ago and I can't believe I used to be that person.

I stay busy and move constantly but at my age, the beam is broadening. The broad doesn't beam; she lumbers and scowls. And she spends way too much time on her beam reading innertube nonsense. Especially so, first thing in the morning for a couple of hours.

So, I said to myself, "Self, you silly thing. You should go out before the sun rises and walk or trot or plog around the neighborhood instead of wasting precious time. You're not getting any younger, you know!"

So I started and find it enjoyable. I plug in the ipod and listen to nonsense now, instead of reading it and plog away the minutes. I would like to say the miles but they are probably more than one and less than three, depending on the route I choose.

Today I was very good and chose a long long distance to start the week. This time I walked MOST of it and was nearing the last half mile when the story ended and I pulled the ipod out to make a new selection.

Now, there's one thing about driving while distracted by a cellphone or texting but I was walking and not at a rapid clip. And I didn't see that along the left turn, the asphalt fell away sharply and so did I. I twisted my ankle and went straight down in a crumple.

The ankle hurt immediately and I wondered how I was going to get home but when I finally hauled myself upright, it was pain-free.

Until now, 4 hours later. It's seizing up fiercely and I have too much to can to just sit on the beam.