Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Farewell 2013

I haven't posted much the last few months. In many ways it's been a frustrating year; trying to get a handle on health issues and not being overwhelmed by daily stuff has taken much of my energy. It's a bit of a relief that the year is over and I can hope for an easier one to come.

One good thing to happen today: the solar guy showed up with an electrician. Now, perhaps, there will finally be some progress made on getting the new system installed. It's been in limbo for forever!

Neither of us felt like going out tonight with the cold bearing down again. -7F (-21C) temp and a wind chill of -25F (-31C). Two more bitterly cold days then up into the 20s for Friday. Yay!

I hope everyone is safe tonight and that tomorrow brings in a bright, fine year.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Mycroft

Mycroft has learned much from his dad and has been performing many roosterly duties well. He has a fine crow and finds the ladies very attractive. He does have a tendency to announce the discovery of food where there isn't any, but should learn.

Sorry about the chicken clumping in the pictures, but nobody likes walking on snow. Frodo (dad) is on the left. I love how Mycroft's beard covers his wattle.


Some sunshine to accent his mixture of colors.



Sadly, our warm spell is over and the chickens won't be outside at all for the next few days as the temperatures plummet again.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

The cold!

There is something about doing chores in -30F wind chills that tells me I must really love those chickens. :)

This has felt like the worst winter for cold that I remember. Of course, with my memory that isn't saying much. A fresh dusting of snow and a touch warmer makes it easier on all of us. My son's friends came over for a day of turkey on Tuesday which was great fun for all. Especially the cats as they took full advantage of the extra loving. I finally baked one of the apple crisps I made and froze early this fall. Delicious! Because of the time and energy sink that prepping all those apples turned out to be, I've now ordered an apple peeler/corer/slicer. If I had had one of these then I would have made much more than I did.

The chickens are doing great. We're getting between 8 to 12 eggs daily and they all look very healthy. Mycroft has grown into a handsome rooster with unusual coloring. I'll try to take a picture if he goes outside one sunny day.

Something interesting happened recently. While I was getting my hair done, my stylist was explaining why she is getting a divorce. So much of her husband's behavior reminded me of my last relationship that it nearly felt like I was having flashbacks, including the questions 'is it me?' and 'am I going mad?'. Ironically, I had been considering sending him a happy holidays wish. No chance of falling down that particular rabbit hole now. Oddly, I feel a sense of closure now knowing someone else has dealt with the same issues (and it is NOT our fault that the treatment we experienced effectively killed the love we felt for these men).

Changing the subject, recently I called my doctor's office and requested a three month supply of my prescriptions for emergencies. It was refused and the reasons given made it obvious that the why wasn't understood at all, so I wrote a letter explaining. Two days later they called back and said I could have the prescriptions. Yay for the clarity of the written word!

I hope everyone has had a safe, warm and happy holiday and stays that way for the rest of the winter.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Hurrah! The molt is over!

After weeks of 1 egg every other day, we just had four days of 3 eggs each and today...5 eggs! I never was able to catch the opossum that killed two hens though once it tripped the live trap. I've been diligent in locking the coop down after dark and all are doing well.

On a personal note: during this week famous for excesses of food and drink I've been living on diet 7-up, crackers and chicken noodle soup. It's been a rough time and though I'm still a bit weak and feeble, the stomach is finally settling. I noticed that comprehension was badly affected; either due to the fever or messed up blood sugars. Curiously, even my sense of smell was dampened. Anyway, if you hear of anybody out with illness - stay far away!

A dishwasher would be nice...but not enough to give up the cabinet space for. Maybe I'll wash them tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Busy with all sorts

Yesterday we received 5" of heavy, wet snow. So, of course, that's the day picked to deliver three cords of firewood. Everything was unloaded and stacked in the appropriate place, they could have charged for helping us stack, but I think the fact that we were working just as hard with them caused them to waive the fee.

In the evening we tromped through the snow and up the hill to the elderly neighbors house. They had called asking for help with their email. Although I could figure out that the internet wasn't working, I wasn't able to fix the problem, even with the help-line. At least I was able to arrange for a service visit. Today they called again with an update: the internet provider had turned it off! No explanations on why or how come the help-line couldn't tell. Very strange.

Good news: when I opened up the chicken coop this morning there weren't any tracks around it or in the pen so nothing has been trying to get in. Grace emerged to see what I brought them, but nobody was too thrilled about the snow.

This is the first month my son's new insurance took effect since he got his job. Today I went in to pick up one of his insulin prescriptions and discovered that where my insurance would have covered all but $85, this company was going to cost us $300! And this wasn't even the most expensive insulin! Fortunately, he has double coverage this month so I was able to switch it back to the original one and quickly arranged with my work not to take him off my policy.

We did make another investment today. Something I've wanted for quite awhile is a fire-resistant gun safe. A local business has just started carrying them and we got ours today. Not only do I like being able to lock up the guns, but storing the ammunition where fire wouldn't be as dire a problem makes me feel better. Getting it from the back of the pickup into the house and then standing it up was an adventure with just the two of us, but we did it.

I also learned that my wind turbine has finally been ordered. Things are really starting to mesh now.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Sad post

I lost a hen to a predator. I'm not sure what it was but it got her inside the chicken coop.
Losing one makes the others even more precious.
Grace
Cumulous
Nimbus
Old Ninja
Old Duchess
Frodo
Zen
Penny
Sherlock
Astrid
Ninja Twin 1
Ninja Twin 2
Young Duchess
3 Princesses
Mycroft
8 chicks/hens

And that's my flock. Five geriatric hens with strong personalities, Frodo - head rooster, ten hens that were hatched in 2012 and seem to all be moulting at the same time, Mycroft - rooster-in-training, and the eight young ones who are still discovering their names. It does seem odd to have so many birds yet only get one or two eggs a day.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Wetness abounds

Very much a fall day with drizzle and mist.

Which made it the perfect day to cook up a pot of super soup on the wood stove. Yum!


It may not look the most appetizing, but it is delicious.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Urgh

I'm wiped out completely. My body is almost twitching in exhaustion. Why? Because today was the last expected nice day for weather and it fell on a weekend! Mostly I've been hauling, cutting and restacking firewood. I seem to be obsessed this year. I use an electric chainsaw to cut too long pieces in half because I'm scared of the motor chainsaw, but ouch! is that ever hard on my back.

I finally planted my big grapevine in the polytunnel and closed it back up again. I really wish I had been able to get my hands on some straw bales to put around the tunnel for the winter, but no luck. I also gleaned corn out of a field at my parent's farm. I would have liked to get more but ran out of time. A couple windows got covered in plastic; I could do more tonight if only I had more energy!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Turning the corner

We had our first snowfall last night. How odd yet lovely to see everything plastered in white icing. It did all melt during the day, but we're forecast to get more tonight.

It was tough decision making time for me in the chicken yard. Because of where we live, for much of the winter the chickens prefer to stay inside. Something about walking in snow offends them.The problem is that with the thirteen chicks grown up, it's too crowded for everyone to move around comfortably. Add in that five are identifiably young, aggressive roosters that have begun fighting and something had to change. Mycroft gets to stay on as Junior Rooster under Frodo, but the others are being culled. It's one of the hardest things I do, but since I'm not a vegetarian, it is logical to face openly the source of the meat I eat. I'll probably cry though.

I found a very interesting article/post about the lifestyle choices we tend to make:

http://www.raptitude.com/2010/07/your-lifestyle-has-already-been-designed/
I can definitely see a lot of myself in there. Making the choice to cut back on hours worked is something that I often dream of, but how many actually make that change voluntarily? Thought provoking.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Splish splash

So very strange, it rained ALL DAY today. Hard drenching rain and wind lashed sideways rain and steady soaking rain. I have no idea how much we got here because it was already dark when I got home...and it's still coming down now. It's been so long since we received serious precipitation that I felt like I was driving through an alien landscape this morning.

We narrowly escaped a freeze over the weekend, but three nights this week are forecast to dip to freezing, so I doubt we'll avoid it for much longer. I had no choice but to hang the wet laundry in the basement tonight. I'm not really ready for autumn!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Hello again

I've taken quite a break from the blog. Sometimes life seems to be spinning in limbo; always waiting for something...waiting for rain to stop the hot, dry spell, waiting for people to get back to me on jobs, waiting for a chance to come up for air at work. Then, suddenly, everything starts to happen at once.


This was built on Friday. It's been so long in the planning that I didn't really believe it was up until I got home and stood inside. :) This is the firewood shelter that will allow me to park inside the garage all winter. It's 6' x 16' because that was the size of roof trusses the contractor had taking up space (free for me!) and I'm going to hang a canvas tarp across the opening once it's full. The wonderful rain is what made it possible. When they can't work on roofing little jobs like this get done. Even better - it came in at less than half what I budgeted so I've got some wiggle room on other projects.

Funny story: the builder asked if I really use the clothesline because nobody does anymore. When I explained I use it all the time he called me a flower child.

The rain also brought a cold snap that was my excuse to fire up the wood stove. The cats were in heaven for a day. It's warming back up for this week at least and we escaped freezing so the garden continues.

One thing I'm doing differently this year is to keep a good supply of wood in the porch so we don't have to haul it in when it's bitterly cold, dark and windy (something I hated last winter).

Speaking of freezing - the Black Hills in the western part of the state got hammered by a snowstorm this weekend. Some areas receiving well over 40" and strong winds to blow it all around.

If things go as planned (ha!) I'll have more to report on this week.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Freaky but cool

It was a buggy sort of day today.

The sedum is blooming and the bees are out in droves. Yay!



Her ladyship, the garden spider has made an appearance again this year and is dining on fresh grasshopper.


This was a new one to me, a bug with camouflage!  Apparently, this is what a cicada looks like. Fascinating to get a close-up after all these years of listening to them.



Sunday, August 25, 2013

Special delivery?

Nope, just Loki taking advantage of a cardboard box.


We're firmly in the grasp of a blistering heat wave. It makes for a very long 12 hour shift for my son and not much fun for the rest of us either. The forecast offers no relief for the next week. Saturday I mowed the lawn first; then, foolishly thinking I could take it, split wood. That finished me off for the day.  Today I had no choice but to water the garden, then chose to work inside and canned 12 quarts of dill pickles. These will go down to the basement to mature.


Unfortunately, my window air conditioner has trouble keeping up with the heat and my turning the kitchen into a pickle sauna didn't help! I'm definitely tired tonight.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Old and creaky

But still kicking!

It was my birthday today and besides a definite craving for cake :) it was much like every other day. I worked, gathered eggs, watered the garden, caught grasshoppers for the chickens, moved some wood...

I still want cake.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

updating

Ugh. Well, it's been interesting.

First: the tooth. I have avoidance issues with dentists. Which is why, even though I got dental insurance last year after I paid off everything, I hadn't actually gone to a dentist. I average about one visit every decade. This time I learned that an old 'silver' filling had degraded and fractured the tooth causing the break. I've now got a temporary crown and my bank account is $700 lighter (after insurance!).

After that fun I came down with the worst summer cold I've ever had which kept me in all week. I'm down to a irritating cough now. My son must have the immune system of a rock because he doesn't seem to catch anything.

Garden
The marigolds are beautiful. I try to always have them mixed in with the veggies because they make me happy. :) The cabbages look good but the heads feel loose, not tight and solid. I'm not sure what causes that.

I planted a row of cosmos  seeds and ended up with one plant. It would have looked amazing if they all had grown, but even one is nice.


The cucumbers loved the rains we've gotten recently. Oddly, although my parents' farm is only four miles away, on both of the last rains they received 1.5" less than us.


This is my first time growing eating pumpkins. They look impressive so far.


The zucchini/tomato jungle is going strong. The grasshoppers don't seem to bother them.


I moved Astrid and Ninja into the isolation ward last night. Neither seem as happy as Sherlock to be away from the flock even though they were being bullied.

This morning I split wood for an hour and a half. It's heating up now and I'm feeling under strength so will probably slow down for the rest of the day.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

An isolation ward

I finally finished setting up my isolation ward for the hen-pecked hens. I expanded the chicken pen, bought a little coop, and fenced off a generous section. Sherlock, Astrid, and Ninja hens will be staying here while they regrow feathers.










Sherlock is the only resident so far because she is the only one who would let me catch her. Already she snuggled into the straw and chased grasshoppers in the long grass. Lonely? Oh no! This is the good life.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Mixed day

It was fabulous to get a surprising 1.75" of rain this afternoon.

Not so great to break a tooth tonight. :(

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Embarrassing

I didn't realize just how much my view has been skewed by movies until now. Reading about the embassies closed for safety I was startled to see Madagascar on the list. Over 21 million humans live there! Yet, in my mind, it's still a lush island full of cute furry animals. Yes, I blame Disney and DreamWorks.

:)

Friday, August 2, 2013

Boom!

We didn't know what it was at first but felt it like something massive had fallen in the house. My parents heard it on the farm four miles away and ran outside to see if the cause was visible. Apparently, on a farm just outside of town, something exploded in a fire pit. Fortunately, no one was badly hurt.

I spruced up the bathroom decor a bit with seashells and air plants.







This morning I tackled the polytunnel weeds before it got too warm in there, but I've been dragging ever since so I must have overdone it. At least I got some other things done this week. Six quarts of dill pickles made and 10 bags of grated zucchini froze. I deliberately planted loads of those so I could stock up on them. Bring on the glut!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

RIP Georgie

I bought five hens from a local breeder on Oct 19, 2009. They lived at the farm in the old barn at first. Later, when I had my chicken coop built, the two left were moved to my place. Because one had a raspy voice like a heavy smoker, I called them Georgie and Gracie.

Original five

Tonight I found Georgie dead in the chicken pen. Although just over four years old, neither lay anymore but I'm too attached to all of them to cull any.


Here she was last summer with the flock.
I know I can't keep all of this years chicks; some are clearly roosters already. It's just the hardest part for me.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

All abuzz

My son was going to trim the front bushes but instead found ground bees having a mating dance. I tried to get a photo of them swirling around, but they are too small and fast for my camera. I did catch them taking short breaks before rejoining the dancers.




What strikes me as odd is most of the google hits on ground bees are ways to get rid of them. Why would I want to get rid of any bee? I'm thrilled to have them around.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Rough weekend

It's hard when I have a to-do list but my health doesn't cooperate. Worse that I have no clue what causes these days of debilitating exhaustion.

Happier stuff: the gardens!
    The zucchini/pumpkin patch is going strong. The pumpkins closest to the black walnut tree are noticeably smaller, but still growing. There is a row in the middle that seems stunted which is where the runoff from snow melting on the street goes...makes me wonder what's in it.

Actual zucchinis! I deliberately planted loads so I can restock my freezer.

The cucumbers are determined to foil my attempts to get them to climb instead of spreading across the ground.

I wish I could turn the chickens loose the feast on the hundreds (thousands?) of baby grasshoppers around the house and garage.

I found 10 enormous (at least an inch long) tan beetles attacking my new grape vine. I knocked 9 of them into a bucket and dumped it into the rain barrel. One flew away too fast. Cabbage butterfly caterpillars were devouring my potted kale plants. I took the ravaged leaves down to the hens who made quick work of munching them (and the bugs).

Observation

When I have no product in my hair and get caught in the wind, I bear an uncanny resemblance to Boris Johnson.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Contest!

Please visit here to enter a contest to win a lavender wand. Personally, I'm crossing my fingers to win for two selfish reasons: first - because I am incapable of keeping lavender alive and second - because these are so pretty!

Speaking of pretties; I ordered this off etsy when I got close to having lost 50 pounds and I'm happy to say that I got to wear it this week.


 I wanted something that served no function other than to look at and enjoy to celebrate. So much of my life is bounded by practicality and usefulness; even the flowers outside encourage pollinators for the gardens. Buying something like this is a treat.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Scientology - the LOL factor

Quoting from the BBC News:
"Scientology was founded in Los Angeles in the 1950s by a science fiction author, L Ron Hubbard.
He said human beings contained the souls of Thetans - immortal creatures responsible for making the Universe.
However, the world has been invaded by dark forces - the Engrams - and individuals can be cleansed and enlightened only through intense therapy called Dianetics.
It is a costly process and the Scientologists expect their adherents to donate considerable sums."

I have read some of Hubbard's sci-fi and it is not very good. I would classify it as C- rating and not re-readable. If he were starting out today, I suspect he would be one of those pathetic, self-published authors on Amazon who post bogus 5 star reviews and try to charge $14.99 for an ebook.

Would I BUY into a 'religion' he invented? Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!!!!!!!!

I have zero respect for the people who are gullible enough to join and despise those who are taking their money.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Harvest!

Lilliputian, perhaps, but delicious.



The tomatoes from my garden, the lettuce from my mother's and the egg from my hens. The only thing I bought was the organic dressing because that's beyond my abilities.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Rain! Yay?

Last night we got almost 2 inches of rain. We really needed it...I just can't help wishing it had been a bit gentler and spread over a few more hours. Evidence indicates there was a strong south wind involved also...




A lone volunteer bean hanging with the potatoes.

And the mighty hunter prepared to leap upon her prey. In this case the prey was Trigger who gets rather tired of her youthful energy. :)

Everything else is going well. My son starts his new job Friday. We've been doing more wood splitting and grass pulling this evening. The next two days are supposed to be running about 10 degrees cooler than lately, which is wonderful.

I hope everyone is enjoying their summer!

Mulberry!

Thanks to the internet I was able to identify a volunteer tree in my yard. Thanks must also go to whichever bird planted it for me. :)






Naturally the birds have taken most of the fruit, but I'm happy to have a mulberry tree. Aren't the leaves strange? I wonder why they take different shapes on the same tree.