Phew! What a day!

It started very early… much earlier than a Saturday should ever have to. It required lots of running kids from here to here. There was a trip through the farmer’s market. Then the completing of the chicken run. Then the transition of the little chicks side of the coop. And tilling the garden one more time. As well as getting the tomatoes and peppers in the ground. Then we still had to make dinner. And me, still sporting a healthy case of jet lag! Boy am I bushed!
The weather this morning was truly lovely. Perfect for a trip to the Beaverton Farmer’s Market (http://www.beavertonfarmersmarket.org/) – where we were fortunate enough to find the “tomato guy” we prefer to buy heirloom tomato plants from. We were so relieved to learn that we’d made it just in time – this was his last week to be at the market – and his supply was dwindling before our eyes. We decided on I don’t know how many varieties – but 33 plants in all. Some cherry tomatoes, some plum, some roma, some mid-sized, and a few of the huge type. We’re trying some varieties we’ve not tried in the past – it should be interesting to see how things come out. One thing we’re making a point of doing this year is marking the trellis with the plant identification, rather than the ground. After we got everything composted last year we couldn’t find the identification any more!
One of the things that is painfully obvious about our little girls is that they just are not as socialized as the big girls are. There are several reasons for that. One, the brooder they were in was a 36″ square box – it was nearly impossible for the kids and I to reach in there and actually get a chick to hold! Also, with the big girls – they came home during Spring Break; with the little girls school and myriad activities were in full swing. And also significantly, I was gone for 16 days during their early life – leaving them home alone a lot of the time. We’re working hard on trying to get them more accustomed to being handled and hanging out with humans to some extent.


We realized yesterday, too, that the big girls will begin laying some time around mid-July, if they’re typical. The little girls not until closer to September. That means they’ll be eating different types of food once the big girls start laying. (We’ve learned that they get layer food – a richer in calcium form of feed – once they reach the laying miletone. If you give layer feed too early, they can become egg-bound.) So we decided that we’d just turn the storage portion of the coop into a little chick half of the coop until they’re all old enough (i.e., all laying) to be joined as a complete flock. Above is a peek at the new configuration – having the box out of there and the few storage items elsewhere gives them quite a bit more room. We think they like it!

These are dark pictures – there were threatening clouds hanging overhead and it was getting later – but we had to get pictures of the newly planted tomatoes. I can hardly wait the 52 days until the first ones start to be ready to eat!

We’ve had people ask us many times, “You planted HOW MANY tomato plants?” Yes, thirty-three – I know, it seems like a lot. But for me, I often feel like it’s maybe not enough. You see, I have a lot of food allergies and intolerances. One of the things I’ve learned over the years is that if I eat a tomato that is purchased commercially or is served at a restaurant – I will end up having a blistered mouth. If I pick a ripe tomato from my garden – I can eat them until the cows come home – no reaction whatsoever. So – we plant a LOT of tomatoes and eat lots as well as make tomato sauce, etc. and can up a storm come time to harvest.

Won’t be long until the whole garden is planted. Hooray!

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Pepper, the chicken dog…

I think pretty much most people are aware of the fact that Australian Shepherds are herding dogs. I remember thinking about the time Pepper was three or four months old – as I watched her herd the kids around the yard – that she’d be a happy girl if she could herd some sheep or goats or cows in our yard! Yesterday, it occured to me that Pepper is – in fact – thrilled to be a chicken herder.

After all of the tales of woe I’ve read from folks who’ve had tragic ends when chickens and dogs intersect, I’ve been very cautious about Pepper’s access to the girls.

But Pepper is a very maternal girl. When Jake and Caleb (our cats) came to stay as orphaned 7 week old kittens, she was positive she was their Mom and would lay down, grab one of them between her paws, and then commence with a thorough washing. Funny thing is – now – our nearly 15 pound cats still let her do it! LOL! John mentioned to me that one day he found her doing the same thing to one of the big girls. My worry, of course, being she would think, “YUM!”

Well todayI decided that I’d cautiously observe Pepper’s interactions with now about 12 week old Henrietta, Hallie, and Millie.

As I sat at close proximity I was amazed to observe her quietly follow the girls around the yard. If they were to wander further than she felt comfortable with – she’d gently round them up and head them back closer to me. At one juncture Joe (the young racoon that seems to have adopted our family – horrors) peeked out of the bushes the girls were not terribly distant from – and Pepper tore off after him, barking like crazy. Her hackles didn’t settle down for quite some time afterwards and her watch was extra vigilent.


I have thus concluded: we have ourselves a chicken dog. And a darned good one, too. After a very successful several hours with the big girls, I had her babysit the little chicks (now nearly 5 weeks old) while I was transferring them from the baby pen back to the coop. I originally was going to take them straight from the baby pen to the coop, when one of the chicks that I was carrying managed to escape and start running around willy nilly. I then decided to put the other chick I was carrying into the finished side of the chicken yard, and Pepper then very obligingly plopped herself down on the unfinished side to keep an eye on the youngsters.

She was pretty torn (as you can see from the photo above) by the fact that one chick was out running around by itself, but her duty clearly lay in the growing flock of chicks to her side! She whined a lot! It actually took me quite a while to get that one escapee corralled and back to the coop – much to Pepper’s relief!

The big girls are always looking for duty to bathe in. I’ve put out DE, which they do to a certain extent, use to bathe in. But I could just about heir their sighs of joy when they discovered the dusty driveway! First they dusted, then they basked. They were nearly deliriously happy!

I found it really interesting that they felt no sense of danger from Jake and Caleb today. Both cats are pretty successful hunters – something that I really like about them. We have only seen DEAD rodents since they’ve come to live with us – just the way I like things! And though it pains me to admit it, they catch an occasional bird, too – I could just weep when they do – I love the birds so! So I’ve been quite concerned about interactions between the chicks and the cats.

Jake and Caleb were up on their elevated feeder munching away when the three big girls came their way. They watched the girls, but didn’t seem too interested, to be honest. Eventually Caleb jumped down and quietly went and sat to observe the girls more closely. Pepper sat and watched carefully – and I was prepared to intervene. Henrietta actually got nearly nose to beak with Caleb, and it was then that I realized, “The girls are taller than the cats now!” Henrietta – nearly simultaneous to that thought – reached out to peck at Caleb, who in turn made a bit of an injured pride squack, and hightailed it out of there! Wild! While I won’t relax my vigilence with them, I’m a little bit pleased that the girls – thus far – can hold their own with the cats.

I have to say, though, that today was tonic to my soul. Spring has definitely sprung – now if only it will warm up enough to actually stay! The lovely iris are beginning to bloom, and my peas are as well.

Sigh.

I love this time of year!

One Year Ago Today…

It’s amazing how time flies!

A year ago today I made a life-altering decision. Well, I had made the decision prior to May 29, 2007 – but this date a year ago was THE day that I took the big plunge.

I decided to eliminate high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) from my diet.

Might not seem like such a monumental decision – except that I have always readily admitted to the fact that I’ve been a lifelong Coke (as in the soft drink!) addict. Seriously – Coke is the great Southern cure for colic – and I must have been a colicky baby, cause that’s when I started getting Coke – in a baby bottle.

One friend quipped to me at one juncture in my adult life that she wouldn’t be at all surprised to find that if I went to have labs drawn they’d get Coke – not blood!

And yeah, you guessed it – high up there on the list of ingredients on the label of Coke is HFCS.

Stink.

So, why all of the fuss about HFCS? There are lots of reasons why – it actually may be harder to prove a case FOR consuming it! However, in my own personal case, here are my motivators:

  • Before my DS I was diagnosed with osteoporosis.
  • Since my DS I’ve improved to have my diagnosis changed to osteopenia. (Yay!)
  • I take a boatload of calcium, Vitamin D, and magnesium to keep things going in the right direction.
  • HFCS *and* carbonation are both known to block calcium absorption.

Double stink.

Last August 23rd, at the ripe old age of 43, I had to have my right hip replaced. Years of having an extra couple of hundred pounds on my frame, my family’s health history (my Dad had degenerative joint disease – so do I; my Mom had osteopenia; my Grandmother had osteoporosis), the fact that I was in a wheelchair for a couple of years, the fact that I didn’t consume many dairy products growing up since I’m lactose intolerant and allergic to some other components of diary products, and that I didn’t ever supplement calcium until AFTER my DS – *ALL* big factors that led me to make the decision.

All it really took was some serious reading – a willingness to get a little technical and wade through some fairly boring papers on the subject for the horror of it all to hit home and decide that I had to decide which was more important: my addiction to Coke, or my skeleton?

Yep – the skeleton won out!

So, on May 29, 2007 – without any fanfare at all, other than a quick notation on my calendar – I had my last Coke.

Simultaneously, I decided to aggressively avoid HFCS in any/all forms, as well as carbonation. I figured, heck, if I’m gonna take it seriously, I may as well do it well.

I have some lifelong friends who are still in shock that I made it past the first week. Well, I was, too, for a while. You know, after the initial breaking the first so iced cold it actually hurt going down Coke of the morning (my mouth is watering at the memory of it – even still!) habit, it was easier than I thought it would be. I went through a brief panic around the first of the year when I mentioned that I was celebrating 6 months of being Coke-free to my daughter – who laughingly asked, “So you gonna have a celebratory Coke?!” She was joking – I was seriously trying to decide if I was gonna or not! But after some wise counsel and lots of consideration, I decided to make a goal of being able to say, “I’ve gone a whole year without Coke!” as my New Years’ Resolution.

I gotta be honest. Two days ago when I was on the flight from Madrid to Atlanta on the trip home from Spain every time that beverage cart stopped in close proximity and started pouring drinks – it seemed that every one of the folks seated nearby was asking for an iced cold Coke! Aaagggghhhh! It still smells good! The memory of the taste of it can make my mouth water! Yes, I still want one! But I’ve decided – tentatively at least – that I’m better off without it.

So I mark a milestone today. There were days when it seemed impossible. Today, it just makes me smile that I could do it.

Photos from Spain

One of my favorite things to do while I’m in Spain is visit the open air markets. Most towns have one twice each week. Every town I’ve visited in Spain (and I’ve been to quite a few) has what they call a “Central Market” – it’s kind of like an indoors farmer’s market. The majority of shoppers rely on the Central Market for their day to day shopping needs. Yes, there are supermarkets and yes folks do shop there. But when you talk to the Spanish people, they prefer the freshness and quality available at the open air markets. I have to say that I agree wholeheartedly!

This picture is from the open air market at Castalla – a wonderful little town with – appropriately – a castle at the top of the hill.

I gotta admit – I’ve never in my life come across a crate of living, moving snails at the market! This was a bit of a surprise! I really wanted to take the picture of the little old man who had gathered these to sell, but he was not willing to have his photo taken. He was proud to have me take a photo of his snails, however!

This is the open air market at Altea – a beautiful little town on the Mediterranean – in fact, this market is just two blocks from the beach!

The flowers were locally grown for the most part – and the fragrance as you entered the row of stalls past these flowers was heavenly!

Bella!

These tomatoes look at first glance as if they’re underripe. In fact, they aren’t. They are used to make what my friends and I dubbed, “tomato mush” – a wonderful relish with finely diced tomatoes, minced garlic, and olive oil. I suspect there’s a splash of vinegar of some sort in there, too. It’s *fabulous* on freshly baked bread!

Oh to bring some of these back for my own garden!

As you can see – lots of variety, and seemingly everything coming into season at the same time!

I can hadly wait for my green onions to be ready for harvesting!

I live in strawberry country, here in beautiful Washinton County, Oregon – and I’m partial that ours are phenomenally good. I was shocked – even with the Euro so strong against the US Dollar, the strawberries were cheap compared to ours!

I love getting to meet the farmer who grows the produce at the stands!

Lovely!

In Spain, they pickle pretty much everything they can get their hands on. This is actually a pretty small offering compared to some of the stands that you can find in the Central Markets of some towns. I love the teeny tiny little pickles – they’re hot! And I love the pickled baby corn.

I’m so glad to be home, but so looking forward to my garden kicking into high gear!

It’s been a year now…

It’s amazing how time flies!

A year ago I made a life-altering decision. Well, I had made the decision prior to May 29, 2007 – but this date a year ago was THE day that I took the big plunge.

I decided to eliminate high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) from my diet.

Might not seem like such a monumental decision – except that I have always readily admitted to the fact that I’ve been a lifelong Coke (as in the soft drink!) addict. Seriously – Coke is the great Southern cure for colic – and I must have been a colicky baby, cause that’s when I started getting Coke – in a baby bottle.

One friend quipped to me at one juncture in my adult life that she wouldn’t be at all surprised to find that if I went to have labs drawn they’d get Coke – not blood!

And yeah, you guessed it – high up there on the list of ingredients on the label of Coke is HFCS.

Stink.

So, why all of the fuss about HFCS? There are lots of reasons why – it actually may be harder to prove a case FOR consuming it! However, in my own personal case, here are my motivators:

Before my DS I was diagnosed with osteoporosis.
Since my DS I’ve improved to have my diagnosis changed to osteopenia. (Yay!)
I take a boatload of calcium, Vitamin D, and magnesium to keep things going in the right direction.
HFCS *and* carbonation are both known to block calcium absorption.

Double stink.

Last August 23rd, at the ripe old age of 43, I had to have my right hip replaced. Years of having an extra couple of hundred pounds on my frame, my family’s health history (my Dad had degenerative joint disease – so do I; my Mom had osteopenia; my Grandmother had osteoporosis), the fact that I was in a wheelchair for a couple of years, the fact that I didn’t consume many dairy products growing up since I’m lactose intolerant and allergic to some other components of diary products, and that I didn’t ever supplement calcium until AFTER my DS – *ALL* big factors that led me to make the decision.

All it really took was some serious reading – a willingness to get a little technical and wade through some fairly boring papers on the subject for the horror of it all to hit home and decide that I had to decide which was more important: my addiction to Coke, or my skeleton?

Yep – the skeleton won out!

So, on May 29, 2007 – without any fanfare at all, other than a quick notation on my calendar – I had my last Coke.

Simultaneously, I decided to aggressively avoid HFCS in any/all forms, as well as carbonation. I figured, heck, if I’m gonna take it seriously, I may as well do it well.

I have some lifelong friends who are still in shock that I made it past the first week. Well, I was, too, for a while. You know, after the initial breaking the first so iced cold it actually hurt going down Coke of the morning (my mouth is watering at the memory of it – even still!) habit, it was easier than I thought it would be. I went through a brief panic around the first of the year when I mentioned that I was celebrating 6 months of being Coke-free to my daughter – who laughingly asked, “So you gonna have a celebratory Coke?!” She was joking – I was seriously trying to decide if I was gonna or not! But after some wise counsel and lots of consideration, I decided to make a goal of being able to say, “I’ve gone a whole year without Coke!” as my New Years’ Resolution.

I gotta be honest. Two days ago when I was on the flight from Madrid to Atlanta on the trip home from Spain every time that beverage cart stopped in close proximity and started pouring drinks – it seemed that every one of the folks seated nearby was asking for an iced cold Coke! Aaagggghhhh! It still smells good! The memory of the taste of it can make my mouth water! Yes, I still want one! But I’ve decided – tentatively at least – that I’m better off without it.

So I mark a milestone today. There were days when it seemed impossible. Today, it just makes me smile that I could do it.

🙂

Hugs,

dina

Open BPD/DS July 2, 2002
Dr. Aniceto Baltasar in Alcoy, Spain
Read my story at: http://www.duodenalswitch.com/Patients/Dina/dina.html
See my photos in the Photo Gallery at http://www.bodybybaltasar.com/
See my ObesityHelp profile at: http://www.obesityhelp.com/member/dinamcb/

Hours until take-off!

The garden at the Royal Palace (above).

The side view of the Royal Palace (below). The Palace has 2800 rooms. If you’re ever in Madrid – DO THE TOUR! It’s impossible to do it justice with mere words. Breathtaking can only be used so many times as a descriptor!

It’s after midnight here in Madrid… in the past two days I’ve walked miles through old Madrid and environs, taken a bus tour of Madrid, been to the Prado, been to an *amazing* flamenco show, been to the Royal Palace (no tour of which would ever be complete without a turn through the royal armory – wow!). But you know what? None of it compares to: HOME.


The Prado (above) – the largest art mueseum in the world. They have more in storage than some of the larger museums in the world have in their entire collections! There is something truly, beyond description – to stand within arms’ length of a painting that was painted in the year 1420 and be able to clearly discern the artist’s brush strokes on the canvas.

But I can’t wait until I’m home! I miss my husband! I miss my children! I miss my animals! I miss my garden!

What a blessed woman I am to have such a wonderful family and home to return to. God is so faithful and kind.

Posting fom Spain…

I’ve got a few minutes of relative quiet (if you’ve ever been in a Madrid hotel room, you know what that means! LOL!) and thought I’d post some reflections about the book that I’ve been reading during this two weeks in Spain. I’m in Spain usually 2 or 3 times each year for a couple of week each trip. This is my eleventh trip since 2002. I don’t typically have time to read while I’m gone – I work while I’m gone. But this time, while on a layover in the Atlanta airport I saw the cover of “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle” by Barbara Kingsolver with Steven L. Hopp and Camille Kingsolver. I bought it on whim – in the back of my mind I had an impression that I’d heard favorable things about it and hoped I might have a few minutes to sneak reading to at least get a start.

Well, here I sit two weeks later and I’m nearly done with the 370 page book. I hope to finish reading it before I leave Madrid Tuesday morning for home. (There, undoubtedly, will be a few more very late nights sneaking in more reading than is prudent when one is walking as many miles a day as I am at present!)

I am a woman of deep faith and convictions. I don’t necessarily agree with Kingsolver’s faith world view – but there are a heck of a lot of other world views that she articulates so much similarly to my own convictions that it’s sometimes a little spooky!

I know one read will not be sufficient. I hope my husband will want to read it when I get home. I secretly (well, maybe not so much now, huh?! LOL) hope my 15-year old daughter will as well. Would the boys (ages 14 and 11) sit through reading it together aloud? Nah! Pipe dream!

I’m inspired to try some things that I’ve known in my heart that I could do, but was – well, I guess – afraid to try. My husband will likely groan aloud when he learns that I *really* wanna try making cheese. I’ve been talking about it for years. Well, darn it, I wanna try it finally!

I love the ideal of trying to eat food that is local, sustainable, and season appropriate for so many reasons. We do this to a certan extent – can we do more? We’ll see…

Anyway, it’s about time to head out and do a tour of the Prado – I’ve wanted to do this very thing for years now, and today’s the day, or so it would seem. The thundershower of earlier today has passed, the sun is peeking through, and Madrid calls…

dina

Construction and Little Peep Update

Finally I have the chicken yard framed! With transporting teenagers hither and yon, septic tank issues, etc. it has taken much longer than I planned. I thought I would have it finished by now.

This is “Mr. Darcy” He is our Dominique rooster. We also have a California White that appears to be a rooster as well, but we haven’t named him yet. He might not be a permanent resident.

This is “Shelley” She’s sporting the latest in bent comb fashion.

This is “Ducky”. She’s the “extra” chicken we were given. The man at the farm supply thought she might be a Maran, instead of a Dominique. We think this may be the case as her markings are different as she matures and she has “black-ish” feet. For more info on Marans – check out the following website: http://www.mypetchicken.com/Maran-B71.aspx


Just the chicks hanging out.


Scary Space Alien Chicken that dropped by. Actually it is a clay creation of our 11-year old son.

The New Peeps First Outdoor Adventure

The new little chicks had their first adventure out of the brooder into the great outdoors today! At first, they weren’t quite sure what to do with all the “wide open” spaces. But soon enough they were scratching and pecking all over the place.

The big girls enjoyed dust bath in the garden.

Then Jessica decided to “perch” them on the cucumber trellis…

Oh the hard life these chicks have!