Catching up…

What a couple of weeks it’s been!

First – my desktop computer – it croaked. No warning whatsoever. One minute it was working beautifully – the next, dead as a doornail. Thankfully I have a rocking warranty on it, and so I called the Dell folks, spent copious amounts of time on the phone with tech support, they had me try pretty much everything short of standing on my head and juggling oranges – and deduced they needed to send out replacement parts and a tech. They overnighted parts, the tech arrived with the parts – I held my breath in anticipation – would it work?!

NO.

So… the tech calls tech support, reports the outcomes, they decide to send MORE parts. But, of course, it’s the weekend before a major holiday, and so a WHOLE WEEK goes by before said tech calls again and reports he’s got the parts and wants to come by. I said, “By all means!” I mean HELLO! I’m addicted to my computer. May as well cut off my left foot without it! So he comes by, he replaces said parts – I held my breath in anticipation – would it work?

NO!

EGAD! So then they say – “Um… well… We’re basically gonna have to replace your computer!” Which, in theory, sounds great – right? New computer, 2 years into the rocking warranty. (Thank you Jesus that the hard drive is in good order!) Right?! But get this: 2 to 3 weeks to receive said replacement computer.

UGH!

So, I’m pretty much just limping along on the laptop. THANK YOU LORD JESUS for the laptop! Oh, and the wireless network! BUT – all of my files – everything – are on the hard drive of that desktop, and well, yeah – it’s been a little bit traumatic.

So forgive me for my absence – not having the desktop has sent me for more than one loop! (Okay – yeah, I get it! I’m an addict – a computer addict! I know! I just don’t see anything to do other than embrace it!)

THEN…

The laundry room sink – original to the house (aka VERY old) – you know, the old cement kind? Cracked. Big time. And then a bit of a flood ensued. And the landlord had to be called, and stuff had to be replaced. Praise the Lord for good landlords!

THEN….

The washing machine broke. Had to get that fixed. Praise the Lord that happened on a pay day – and while it hurt to pay the $163 to fix it – it got fixed. Cause, honestly, I’m about as addicted to my washing machine as I am my computer! Thank you Jesus!

THEN…

Brace yourself…


(John visiting me in the hospital this summer.)

Remember how I was pretty much sick all summer long? (Well, honestly, it was since April 24th, to be specific.) And how I was in and out of the hospital May to September? And how the last time I was discharged from the hospital they had me go NPO (nothing by mouth) and sent me home with IV antibiotic infusions five times a day and TPN (IV nutrition) for 16 hours each day?

Yeah, I remember, too.

Well, on the 18th of November (the day the computer crashed) I went for a follow-up Upper GI. Guess what we learned!!

ALL.

HEALED.

UP.

THANK YOU JESUS!!!

So, 9 weeks to the day from the time I went NPO (September 19th, 2009) I took my first sips.

It was soup broth – nothing earth shaking – unless, of course, you’ve just spent 9 weeks ingesting NOTHING! I spent that Friday through Tuesday doing liquids, and then on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, the wonderful Dr. Zelko (my amazing surgeon here in town who takes such great care of me) called and gave me the go ahead to eat whatever the heck I wanted to! I like Dr. Zelko so much! J

Great timing, huh?

Needless to say, Thanksgiving was full of lots of reasons to give thanks!


(Great-Grandma’s Toffee Cookies – for Thanksgiving, of course! Famiily tradition lives on!)

We had a great get together with family early in the day, and had the great privilege of getting to have a second Thanksgiving celebration in the evening with our very dear friends.

I got off easy – I brought the dinner rolls! I will concede they were pretty darn yummy.

Oh! And my African violet – which I’ve never had success keeping alive in the past – did this:

THEN…

In the midst of all of this – life has continued to go on.

Like…

Jonathan (the goofy kid on the right)… drum roll, please…

MADE THE JV2 BASKETBALL TEAM!

Woo Hoo!

We are SO proud of him!

His first game was Tuesday night – they creamed the opposition – 68 to 30-something. Go team!

And like…

Our girl Jessica – who unbelievably enough is a Senior this year (How?! Where did the time go?!) has…

  1. Been accepted to one college.
  2. Gotten her applications, essays, scores, etc. submitted to all of the rest of the colleges she wanted to apply to.
  3. Concluded she will likely go nuts waiting to hear the outcomes of said applications!

I, on the other hand, will try not to freak out about the fact that my BABY is in our home for the last Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years’, etc. as a kid… She will soon be out on her own. Sniff… I miss her already.

And…

William continues to be William – or ahem – BiL, as his friends know and love him – and give us all great cause to smile – and laugh out loud – just being who he is – a really, really cool kid.

In the Hip Chick Chronicles part of life, the 2009 Chicks are growing up!

Our flock has settled right at 30 girls. We were averaging about 10 or 12 eggs a day until we kept them shut in the chicken yard for about a week and taught them WHERE they are supposed to lay their eggs. We had a 20 egg day the other day – amazing!

Crayon has recovered from her molt and is no longer naked! Good thing, too – it’s been downright cold, and is supposed to be bordering on frigid in the coming week!

Scarlet – at the grand old age of 8 months old – has decided she wants to be a Mommy. She’s been broody for nearly a week now. If it were summer I’d buy fertilized eggs and let her set them. But the dead of winter? I think not.

Scarlet, by the way, was once deemed our special needs chick. If I had my desktop here I could upload a photo that showed you how she got her name. As just a wee thing she somehow got the top part of her beak caught somewhere – and it pretty much ripped off – and when we found her – she was all bloody. One of the kids – a boy, I’d venture! – said we should name her Scarlet. Somehow it stuck. At first we worried quite a lot about her – she was underweight compared to the other girls her age. But she’s compensated JUST FINE, thank you very much. She’s actually quite sweet and I believe would be great Mommy material. I keep wondering if we should have her bottom beak trimmed, though – it seems so weird that her beak is so uneven!

She’s a Cuckoo Maran, by the way, who lays the most gorgeous deep chocolate brown eggs – when she’s not broody! The copper coloring along her head and neck is so pretty. There is such a thing as a Copper Cuckoo Maran – I’ve wondered if that’s what she is!

AND, maybe most potentially world-rocking of all…

It has become quite obvious that we need additional income.

We’ve scrimped.

We’ve eliminated perks.

We’ve given stuff up.

And it’s just not enough.

So I’m looking for a job.

I actually got called for an interview. We’ll see what – if anything – comes of it. It was for a wonderful place, with very nice people, doing a job that I believe I would be very good at. I could be quite content with said job!

So lots to thank the Lord for.

As always.

Gosh, it’s good to be His!

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Poor Crayon!

A few days ago I noticed a bunch of feathers in a couple of different spots around the yard. More than a few feathers. Got me curious.

A couple of days ago I thought, “Gosh, Crayon looks a little weird.” Not sick weird, but just – well – different.

A couple of the older girls have gone through molting in the past weeks – it seemed as if they’d lose tail feathers, or bunches of other feathers – but nothing drastic.

Here’s a good definition about molting from Wikipedia:

Molting simulates the natural process where chickens grow a new set of feathers in the fall, a process generally accompanied by a sharp reduction or cessation of egg production. Natural molting is stimulated by shortening day lengths combined with stress (of any kind). Before confinement housing with artificial lights were the norm, the fall molt caused a fall scarcity of eggs and high market prices.

We didn’t know a whole bunch about molting when we got into this whole chicken addiction stuff. Gosh, the stuff you learn!

But day before yesterday, I walked out and realized, “CRAYON’S NECK IS NAKED!” William exclaimed, “She looks like a Turken!” He hates turkens, they scare him! Can you see that naked neck up there? Poor Crayon!

Last evening when I looked out the kitchen window, there was poor Crayon, huddled up – nearly naked! – in the corner of the chicken yard. It was getting cool out – and she has almost no feathers left! Poor thing!

Doesn’t she look sad and pathetic?

You can kind of see that she has new feather’s working their way in. But what’s she going to do when it gets colder and rainier nest week? So sad!

Jessica and I decided the best way to see what she looks like is with a little bit of video. So here you go:

One’s gotta wonder if she’ll end up completely naked before it’s all over!  Isn’t that sad – just one little old tail feather left!  LOL!

I love this time of year…


I was laying down on the couch-y piece of lawn furniture in the yard this afternoon and looked up and saw this pretty cloud formation. It was about 85° F, there was a bit of a breeze, and it was lovely.

Here’s Crayon checking out the new digs. She – along with the rest of the girls – are trying to figure out the new set up. John built new roosts – so that everyone is at the same height when they sleep. It’s really throwing them for a loop – you should hear them squawk when it’s bed time.

See? It’s cool, huh?

Of course, at the end down there – right before the fan, you take a left into the old part of the coop, where the nest boxes are. There will be additional nest boxes soon – John’s working on them. They’ll be to the right – between the door frame closest to us in the picture and the beginning of that roost.

Are those not the cutest little feet? Isn’t it the cutest little butt? And look! Wing feathers! The chicks are going to be 2 weeks old on Monday. There seriously is nothing more precious than watching these three little adoptees follow their Mama Shelly all through the yard each and every day. She clucks when she finds something yummy for them to eat. She’s teaching them that I am the queen of the world because I bring fun snacks. I love it that they are excited to see me! We are SO doing the letting the broody hen set on fertilized eggs again thing!

There have been lots of visiting kids here the past couple of weeks. My neice and nephew have been visiting off and on over the summer thus far – although they’re returning home on Tuesday. I’m going to miss them so! And my best friend – who lives in Mexico with her husband and children – spends the summers here with her parents, who live right down the street from us and go to the same church that we do. So Pepper has been on recipient of oodles of love overload all week long. I think she’s had more kids throwing balls for her to chase the past two weeks than she has in the entirety of her life. She’s really been sleeping well at night!

 

Here’s one of the Blue Andalusians. I think they’re just beautiful. They are great foragers – and so GREAT for a backyard flock that gets to free range. They’re quiet, polite, and are reputed to be excellent layers – of white eggs! Go figure!

Here’s one of the Delawares in the garden – eating weeds. I love it when they eat weeds – and remember to leave my cucumbers alone! Isn’t she pretty? She’s got black tips on her tail feathers, too. Interestingly enough, the Delawares lay brown eggs!

John and I were lamenting tonight about the sad state of affairs the garden is in this year. Well, I did have a major orthopedic surgery – so I’m almost no help. I can weed some – but as you can see here – not nearly enough! Here a couple of the Speckled Sussex are helping me with weeding. Those are lima and bush beans behind them.

But when it comes right down to it – we’re doing the best we can – and were just so thankful that we have a garden to grow things in!

Look – lots of cucumber flowers – woo hoo!

When this cucumber grows up – it’s going to be in my next batch of Creamy Cucumber Salad!

Here’s Caleb – without a nose. When I was out weeding in the garden tonight he HAD to get close – and as I was trying to take his picture he turned away! Stinker!

OH! And look what we have! I actually ate one tonight – and it was perfectly ripe, sweet, luscious, and perfect. It was the ONLY ONE that was ripe, though. That’s okay – I need the week that it will take them to ripen up to get some projects done before I jump in and start canning jams and jellies.

This is our first year to do corn in AGES. We just really hadn’t had success previously. But with the expanded garden plot we decided to try again. It’s actually about as tall as John – and has put tassels on. I love that! That means there will be corn!

The green beans are coming along nicely. Thus far – no deer have obliterated them. I’ve got a couple of tomato plants that have bites out of them – but so far, they’re leaving the green beans alone.

And if this isn’t cause for rejoicing, then I just don’t know what is!

 

I love these tomatoes – even with the couple of little chicken peck marks in them. They’re a green stripey tomato. I think they’re going to be similar to the ones I eat in Spain – I sure hope so. If so – then it’ll be tomato mush for me!

This really has been the weirdest tomato year we’ve had in a long time. Some of the plants are thriving. Some have set fruit literally at the GROUND – what’s with that? Others are just looking like late bloomers – big time. Virtually every plant has some fruit on it – but man, not the bounty we had last year. Of course, it’s still early…

One of the blogs I’ve read in the past – The Shibaguyz – have constructed potato condos. John decided to give the design a go this year. You build this frame, put the soil in the bottom, add your seed potatoes, and then when the potatoes have come up about a foot or so, you add the next row of boards all around, adding more soil. Again, you wait until more growth, and repeat the process. They say you can harvest 100 pounds of potatoes from one Condo. When it’s time to harvest, you unscrew the bottom row of boards, pull the soil out, and there will be your potatoes! Cool, huh?

Here’s a good peek at the expanded garden plot. See all of the blank space? Yep – it’s the stuff we just haven’t gotten around to planting this year. It’s so bizarre. But, oh well!

Here are my sunflowers (three different varieties, if memory serves), nasturtiums, and poppies that are coming up in the little bed along the street. Please ignore all of the weeds that are coming up along side of them. One day I’ll make it there – just not today, or likely this week.

William was so proud of himself – he caught one of the Delawares!

The hammock my sister sent from Mexico back with Jonathan last year has gotten a real workout the past couple of weeks. The kids swing each other about halfway up the pear tree that it’s tied to. I just don’t watch. They have a great time, though!

So – that’s pretty much what’s going on in the yard!

We’re loving summer – and the beautiful evenings that we can sit out and enjoy the cool breezes and the company of friends and family.

We are blessed.

Not a good sign…

Today I was in and out of the house for various reasons. The girls (big and little alike) rushed to meet me each time – they always expect snacks. How can I deny such enthusiasm?

At about 1pm I went out to get eggs. Everything was hunkey dorey.

John got home at 4pm. He came in from the back and asked, “Was there a chicken showdown today?”

You see, there’s been LOTS of posturing going on the past few days. I’ve wondered if it’s pecking order being worked out, or if it’s roos starting to feel the effect of puberty.

We went outside and he showed me this sight – LOTS of white feathers. No blood – but LOTS of white feathers. There were a few more over further into the front yard. And just a smattering by the back porch – but these ones from a Blue Andalusian.

So who is missing white feathers? Or is someone missing? We did a quick survey and can’t seem to find our big girl white chickens – the California Whites. Oh dear. (Shelley, of course, is still broody and is safely tucked away in the dog kennel sitting on her dozen eggs happily.)

We did a quick head count and found the White Ameraucana – I’m wondering if this one is a girl or a boy! See… (sorry, fuzzy! He/She wasn’t so sure he/she was happy to have a close up picture taken!)

Look at those tail feathers… They’re definitely longer than the average hen’s… Only we’ve only ever had one Ameraucana – Crayon – and she’s definitely an egg layer!

Anyway – found the White Ameraucana. He/She? was fine – missing no feathers.

Found all four of the remaining Delawares. All present and accounted for – no missing feathers, either.

So… that leaves the California Whites. What could have happened? We do have a new neighbor two houses down – with big dogs – that have been seen roaming freely this week. Our neighbor across the street was quite cross with them and their owner yesterday over some destruction they did in her perfectly manicured yard.

When putting the girls to bed tonight and doing a head count, we realized that, indeed, one of California Whites (the no-name one), AND one of the Blue Andalusian baby girls are missing.

STINK!

When did this happen? I was in the house – at the kitchen sink (looking out over the coop and side yard), at the desk (looking out from a different angle over the coop and the side yard), in the laundry room (same view, slightly different angle), my room (looking into the branches of one of the Camellia’s they hang out on during the day often). How did I not hear anything?!

This is not a good outcome thus far! Two of the big girls gone, two of the little girls gone.

Wondering if I should be worried – a lot. Some worry will come perfectly naturally, of course! That’s just paranoid Mom’s way!

It makes me glad we’ve got Shelley setting on those dozen eggs, though! I wonder what the outcomes/odds on successful hatch will be. We’re ten days in on her setting – here’s hoping she takes her job seriously!

I’ll update if we find out anything else. I sure hope it wasn’t those new neighbor’s dogs!

My chickens are hilarious!

They think no one is looking… that no one knows they’re stealing cat food. Oh, but we know! So do the cats! Caleb (who could be a stunt double for Garfield ANY day) is particularly unamused. But – the truth of the matter is this: the cats are afraid of the chickens – so the chickens eat the cats food! Here’s sweet Henrietta. Poor baby! This morning I went out to let the girls out of the coop and give them a little treat. Everyone raced out of the coop and I opened the big door, and there’s Henrietta – perched up on the roost – pretty high up, to be honest. I talked to her for a minute, then got out of her way – it looked like she was getting ready to hop or fly down. And off I went… I had a doctor’s appointment this morning – a long one!

When I got home at noon I went out to let the girls out of the chicken yard so that they could free range. They went giddily running into the yard and I did a quick head count… “Where’s my Henrietta?” I asked Millie. She squawked at me and then ran off to find bugs. So, I thought – “I should check the coop.”

What should I find? Poor Henrietta! Stuck up on the roost – right where I’d left her – HOURS earlier! So I lifted her down and put her out into the yard.

She pretty much spent the entire day very quietly. Yesterday, honestly, she was far more active – and loud. Today she pretty much hung out close to the coop. Her closed eye does open just a teensy bit now – hooray! And her bald spots are sporting little bits of new feather growth.

Did I remember to announce to the world that Crayon is laying now? Here she is with Rooth. Crayon’s eggs are a slightly pink tinged very pale tan color. And they’re pretty darn big! Like 2.25 ounces. Wow! Some day, I suppose, we’ll name the Welsumers. I think that would have to be precipitated by our being able to tell them apart… So – since we’re not there – here’s one of the five Welsumers! LOL!

Ducky is a riot – she actually poses for pictures. She’s so cute!

Here’s another of the Welsumers… Isn’t her coloring lovely?

And here is super goofy Angel. Angel is the California White with blue eyes. At least I think they’re blue. She also has the distinction of being one VERY curious chicken! When I put the camera down to her eye level she comes charging closer – trying to figure out just what exactly that thing is!

Hence, I get some truly hilarious pictures of her!

Today is one of those days when being out in the yard with the girls was just the right thing to do. Especially after hearing that I need another surgery – one that will require me to put NO weight on my left foot for at least a month. Sigh. Thanks to the girls, though, I was able to end the day with more than one laugh!

I can’t believe it’s January!

December flew past in a bit of a white blur… At one point in time we actually had two feet of snow on the ground… Looking back and remembering how slow some of those days went by – with no ability to get out and about – there really was no true sense of cabin fever. We enjoyed having the chance to do some things slowly – to be honest. But here – at January 5th (how did THAT happen?!) – with the kids back in school today for the first time in weeks and weeks – it feels like it was just a blur.

I decided quite definitively this morning that I would not allow the girls to free range today – there’s a big rain storm moving in – they’re saying we may get up to an inch of rain this afternoon and evening. But as I went out to let them into the run I was greeted by their sunny little faces on the back porch!

“How did you get out?” I asked them. They squacked in return.

I eventually figured out the nest box door had not closed completely the day prior – apparently – and the girls had found a way of escape!

So they’re free ranging today. They love it so – it’s hard to deny them the freedom! (Well, except for when it requires me chasing them back home from the neighbor’s yard down the street!)

Isn’t BB getting pretty? She’s our Cuckoo Maran – I think I’d like to add a couple of more of her breed to the flock… We’re getting ready to put together an order of chicks. Lots of thinking to do on that!

Ducky – honestly – is the sweetest little chicken. She’s sweet natured and lays the coolest eggs. And she’s very pretty!

I just love Ducky’s stripes!

This might be Angel… there are a couple of the California Whites that I have a hard time telling apart. But this one – and Shelly – both have the super floppy comb and are kind of comical looking.

Pepper was a little jealous that I was taking pictures of the chickens, so she had to haver her picture taken as well. She’s getting so whiney lately! Lord! It’s about to drive us nuts!

Here’s Millie – official leader of the pack – telling me all of her woes and concerns about the goings on in the flock. She is SO vocal! Maybe that’s where Pepper is learning the whiney thing!

And here’s our newest arrival – Crayon! She’s adjusted so nicely to life in the coop with the girls. I feel pretty sure she’s younger than the others… I know so little about this breed. I’ve done some reading – but I come away feeling like I still don’t quite get it. I have noticed in the past few days that her little comb is redder than it’s been thus far. Maybe she’s just coming into lay. We’ll see!

There is just something so right about looking over the garden plot and seeing the girls hanging out and scratching. I honestly couldn’t imagine our lives without the chickens in them now. It’s kind of fun how the neighbors (well, most of them anyway) are just as thrilled with them as well.

I should also report on Shelly – our broody girl. She continues to spend the majority of her time on the nest. We did end up moving her back into the coop with the rest of the girls. It was the right thing to do. She’s such a grump! She will peck at anyone who attempts to take a peek under her to see if she’s hijacked anyone else’s eggs to sit on. We did our best to try and find fertilized eggs for her to sit on – but honestly, we’re just not ready for that yet. Plus the weather is so cold… maybe if she goes broody again in the Spring – we’ll see. In the meantime, we humor her.