Spring Cleaning, 2011

Yep, it’s that time of year again. As in years past, we try to find a day when it’s not too wet to muck out the coop.

Amazing how much poo can accumulate in the course of a year.

This past year we actually layered the litter in the coop between wood shavings and straw. Between getting the coop mucked out too late (I was so sick when we ought to have done it – John was too busy going between the hospital, getting kids places, and handling work, etc.), the excessive rains of last year, and the wacky pH of the soil – we felt strongly we had to mix things up a bit. We just can’t handle another dismal garden year on the equivalent of Garden 2010!

It was interesting to note how much more it seemed that the litter had already started to compost down some!

We also decided to switch which garden plot the contents would be added to. This year, it’s to the new garden plot. (Well – it’s not so new any more, but that’s what we call it!)

Always exciting – yeah, not! – to find a surprise egg. Only two this year, thankfully!

The girls always love it when the nest boxes get spiffed up. They have to come right away and give them a spin to see how they feel.

Empty! At last!

The broody mama part of the coop all ready for new chicks.

Nice!

Funny how the girls are thrilled to have the contents of the coop to dig through out in the garden plot.

It’s always nice to get this chore done, and look forward to chicks, Spring, and the garden to come!

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It’s January, right?!

A little over a week ago as I was driving out of the parking lot that one of my favorite Local Yarn Stores (The Knitting Bee) I stopped at the stop light and looked to my left and there, in the little median was a shrub – with little flower buds a blooming.

January!

A little trip out into my own yard revealed this craziness:

Yes, my hydrangea is putting out leaves.

Lots of leaves.

My garlic bed is pushing up shoots like crazy.

Daffodils are convinced it’s their time to do their thing.

The tulip tree is putting forth buds galore.

…as is the Lilac tree.

The willow is acting like it’s getting ready to send forth leaves in short order.

And I have violets in bloom.

Here’s the forecast for the week:

It was 51 degrees yesterday on Mt. Hood.

It was in the 60’s yesterday at the Coast.

I don’t want to jinx it or anything – but I really want to hope that it’s going to really and truly be the end of Winter here. Please, Spring – come to stay!

I know that’s very whiny of me to say. (Blame it on the head cold.)

Especially when my daughter sent me this picture from Boston yesterday:

Sorry honey, I’m so past Winter.

Come on, Spring! I’m rooting for you!

Stinking Hawk!

Can you see it there in the mist?

This hawk has taken to hanging out quite near to the girls.

It seems fairly young.

Rather lithe.

It’s definitely bold.

It will swoop right down into the chicken run – with me standing just feet away!

I wish I could get a picture of it in action like that! But I’d have to actually look out the window before walking out the door – hands full of egg basket, table scraps for the girls, etc. – and be prepared with camera ready at the go.

Makes me thankful for the crows that hang out – they take great delight in harassing this hawk! Go crows!

This morning, as I walked out and nearly came face to face with the hawk – all of the girls huddling under cover – I was surprised that once the hawk winged it up to the tree just beyond the willow that the girls seemed happy as can be to just resume normal activity.

Because I was there? I don’t offer all that much protection – although I can yell – well, except for right now – I’m losing my voice to this stupid cold. I gave the girls a stern talking to about using caution with the stinking hawk hanging out so close by.

See how concerned they were:

Huh? You talking to us?

Yeah – so – obviously – they seemed to feel the danger had passed.

Oh – hey – remember Lacey?

She was one of the chicks Jezebel hatched in February. You can see her a little older here, too.

She’s done some growing up

She’s the Silver Laced Wyandotte in the middle. Pretty, huh?

Dommy (the Dominque – original, huh?) – one of the chicks that Buffy hatched in May may well be going broody… She’s kind of half-hearted about it – part of the time on the nest, part of the time off… That’s her behind the Leghorns. After we muck out the coop this weekend, I’ll set up the Broody Mama portion of the coop and see if she really wants to set eggs or not… If so, we’ll be getting some fertile eggs to bring in for her to hatch.

I don’t think I’ve introduced Blanche yet, either.

This is she:

She’s a buff colored Easter Egger – re-homed to us this winter. Blanche, she’s such a different girl. Kind of a social “special needs” kinda hen. She just doesn’t play well with others and self-isolates quite a lot. She has gotten bolder of late with the warmer weather – venturing out amongst the other girls now and then. But definitely not the team player the other girls are. She lays a lovely nice-sized blue-ish green egg every few days – but always in the wackiest locations! She makes me laugh.

I took some pictures yesterday that I’ll try and post later today or tomorrow. Hard to believe kind of stuff – particularly for those of our loved ones and friends who are on the East Coast awaiting the latest snow storm to arrive…

Back to rest for me, with a fresh mug of hot tea and honey for my very sore throat. Always with an eye out the window for the stinking hawk!

Wowza!

When you first get chicks you think about how precious they are, and how fun it will be to take care of them, and how thrilling it will be to collect eggs from them.

All of that is absolutely spot on and valid.

But I’m not going to lie to you.

STINK!

It’s cold out there!

Like 30 degrees, with a wind chill of 20-something, and freezing rain just started when I was heading home after picking William up from play auditions at school. (I know – I’m a weather wimp compared to most of the rest of you people who live in much more frigid climes!)

Brrr!

But – doesn’t matter.

The girls gotta get tucked in and put to bed.

The rounds have to be made.

Gotta count heads, make sure there’s food, water, and that everyone is a-okay.

Thankfully, this is the time of year that the girls realize that sleeping up in the willow is a tad bit foolhardy.

But I still gotta go out and make sure everyone made it inside okay.

It’s always nice to get out there – step out of the icy wind into the protection of the coop and hear clucks of welcome.

Not gonna be sad when winter gives way to Spring, though! 🙂

Refuge

Hear my cry, O God;
Give heed to my prayer.
From the end of the earth I call to You when my heart is faint;
Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
For You have been a refuge for me,
A tower of strength against the enemy.
Let me dwell in Your tent forever;
Let me take refuge in the shelter of Your wings.

Ps 61:1-4

I’m not one much for resolutions.

Pretty much, I tend to fail at them somewhat spectacularly.

Nothing like substantial failure to really boost your self esteem, you know?

I’ve found the most effective changes have been just to choose to do something – and then :gasp: – do it.

I know – wild, right?

For years I tried to give up Coke. Tried and tried and tried – failed and failed and failed. One day – May 29, 2007 to be exact – I did. Without much fanfare or fancy footwork – just being prepared – having a plan, and saying out loud that I was gonna do it – well – it worked. I haven’t had a single Coke since – or any other soda. Not saying I don’t want one now and then – but not going there.

Literal MONTHS ago I starting to have this nagging persistent longing to do something that I began doing as a teenager – and a new creation. A very wise, very loving, truly incredible woman (Roberta Wollen) dared me to commit to memorizing scripture. You know – the Bible. You know what? I actually did it. Lots and lots of it.

Without fail – not one second of the time, effort, or resources required to do so has ever been anything but an investment that has returned about a bazillion fold blessing in my life.

One summer, when I was on staff at Sambica, a friend decided to use the Topical Memory System and invited me to join in. A-M-A-Z-I-N-G. Super – phenomenally – amazing.

Then, when I was in Bible School, one of our professors required us to memorize whole chapters – each week! – for his class. My first thought was IMPOSSIBLE! I was carrying 18 credit hours, working nearly full-time, was volunteering at church, and taking care of my Dad who was terminally ill. Funny thing how that impossible requirement was not only possible – but clearly remembered – all of these years later. Can you recite Psalm 103 from memory. I can – and only thanks to that professor!

So… I’d been thinking thoughts like, “I really ought to start memorizing again.” and “It would be so good for me to memorize more!” and “If I had an ounce of discipline in my body, you’d think I could devote it to at least memorizing some scripture!”

In short – feeling pretty much like it was unattainable – and maybe – well – okay, I’ll say it out loud – like all of the physical crap I’d been through since my stupid ibuprofen fiasco may well have affected my ability to memorize. And so much easier to just assume that – than to actually break down and do it.

Lazy, lazy girl.

So – one day at the library I came across a book – and much contrary to the method I normally employ (research online, decide if I will commit the time to read it, if I’ll like it, know something about the author) to choose books to read – just grabbed it off the shelf.

God’s kinda sneaky sometimes.

Sometimes he takes away your carefully constructed methodology to give you a chance to look up long enough to meet His loving eyes and remind you of His love…

and Faithfulness.

And why He calls you me to do stuff to start with.

I should maybe interject here I didn’t get into this book to start with. But I trudged through a couple more chapters and then – whammo – yeah – got sucked in. Enough so that I promptly got online and ordered the two follow up books in the series through the library!

Long story short – the theme of this book was God’s way of reminding me that His Word is nothing short of living breath in a life that so has no strength to draw breath on it’s own – and so desperately needs His.

So – I’m gonna do it.

I’m gonna start memorizing again.

And I’m gonna start with the verses up there at the top in Psalm 61. I was reminded of them in an old recording (How the West was One double album) and it really spoke to my soul. So I’m starting there.

I wish I had a more organized plan – but I’ll be honest – I don’t.

I’m typing up the verses, printing them out on a 3 x 5 index card, putting them on the window sill above the kitchen sink, and until I’ve got them down word for word, there the card will stay.

That I can – and will do.

So – not a New Year’s resolution – as a return to a healthy practice of my youth – that I should never have stopped with!

Join me, if you’d like.