Saturday, October 25, 2014

Sweet Insomnia!

Ah, the madness of my sleep-deprived sub-conscious...

Last Night's Brain: Hey. Hey. Hey. Hey....
Me: Whaaaaat? I'm sleeping.
LNB: No no've forgotten something.
Me: What? What did I forget?
LNB: I can't remember. You figure it out. It was important.
Me: Aaaaaaaaaaa...
LNB: Oh wait, never mind. I just imagined it.
Me: Zzzzzzz...
LNB: OMG! You're out of coffee! You used the last of it! Now You'll never have coffee again! EVER.
Me: Aaaaaaaa.... wait - there's plenty of coffee.
LNB: Oh. Yeah. Okay.
(mid morning the next day)
Me: Wait - I don't even DRINK coffee...

Saturday, August 2, 2014

No, Brutus, You Are An OUTSIDE Animal...

Don't tell my husband! But today, just before he left to go into town, I got a surprise visitor. I was in the kitchen when I felt something cold and wet hit me on the back of the knee. Thinking I had knocked something food-related off the counter, I turned to look at the floor behind me.
NOT the actual intruder.

What I initially thought was a clump pf freshly mowed grass turned out to be a wee frog. As I stood there making horrified guttural noises the little beast hopped under the wood stove and out of sight.
At this point, hubby came into the house to announce his departure and give me a kiss goodbye. Not wanting to delay him (because he would NEVER have left such a situation unresolved had he known), I calmly wished him a safe trip and saw him out the door. I turned back to the kitchen, peeked under the stove, and the tiny intruder had disappeared!

Instead of panicking, I collected an array of pokey things and pushy things and trappy-catchy things and prepared myself for the hunt.

I got down on my hands and knees, fanny in the air and face near the ground, in order to see which way my unexpected guest might have gone. I saw him, beyond the wood stove and in the living room, next to the coffee table.

A grabbed a clear plastic food storage container and carefully dropped it over him, praying I didn't crush any little appendages. Once he was safely corralled I slipped a magazine under the container. I lifted the entire enclosure with a handy dust pan and slowly moved the entire operation out the front door.

I turned the little fella loose on the front porch. He blinked stupidly for a moment , then flopped sloppily onto the grass. I shouted after him, "Yeah, you're safe THIS time, Slimy, but I see you on this porch again, I'm grabbing a broom and it's FROG HOCKEY!"

Speaking of brooms, I now have to put away about six of them, wipe the floor, wash some Tupperware, and possibly change my shorts.

And Aaron stretched out his hand over the waters of Egypt; and the frogs came up, and covered the land of Egypt. Exodus 8:6

Friday, July 25, 2014

The Great Chicken Exodus

On the day after their 4-week mark, the chickens were moved to the outside world. Although my research suggested 6 weeks indoors, the average temperature outside and the crowded conditions inside prompted us to move up our eviction date. That, and we really wanted to put our newly completed chicken condo to use.

I moved the feeders and water jugs first, placing one of each into the coop and then the run. I also scattered a layer of pine shavings on the floor of the coop so the little chicken feet would have something soft to walk on. Hubby opened the hatch leading to the run, and we were ready.

The chickens, quite vociferous due to their buffet removal, were the next to go. Hubby and I carefully toted the first bin across the yard and out to the coop. The birds had suddenly become strangely quiet. First exposure to sunlight evidently quells the need to complain over lack of vittles. We placed the bin on the floor of the coop, shut the door, and waited.

The previous premises!
Nothing. Our silent tenants blinked at each other, most likely waiting for somebody to take charge of the situation. After a minute or so of this avian indecision, Hubby and I began lifting the confused birds out of the bin and turning them loose on the floor. Chaos! After weeks of standing room only in the 2x3 tote, the chickens now had 160 square feet of space, and what do they do? Smash themselves into a corner and wonder what the heck just happened.

Baffled birdies.

We repeated the procedure with the remaining tub of birds, with the same results. We watched the two groups of birds get reacquainted, and after a few moments, slipped quietly out the door.

I returned a while later, to make sure there were no casualties due to the trauma of the move. I found myself a seat next to the yard and watched and waited. At last, one of the chickens peeked out of the hatch and realized there was even more to this new world than the enormous new building.

Sneaking a peek.

Slowly, more chickens made their way to the opening, all too scared to venture outside. After what seemed like forever, a couple of them stepped onto the ramp, and when they weren't immediately struck dead, hopped down into the yard itself.

Hubby joined me after a while, as the birds explored their territory, darting frantically from one end of the yard to the other. We watched as they flapped and ran and cavorted now that they finally had the room to do so. Once we were sure they were all right, we left them to their own devices, confident that they would learn how to "chicken" without our interference.

If the Lord delights in us, then He will bring us into this land and give it to us, ‘a land which flows with milk and honey.’  Numbers 14:8

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Chicken Condo!

Well, while our chicks were growing, (and eating and pooping and bickering) hubby and I got to work on the chicken coop. We converted a cedar shed that came with the property. How very convenient.

First off, the floor got sealed with a couple coats of waterproof paint. Because chickens are notorious for spilling their beer when things get rowdy. Of course, every condo needs furniture, so hubby built and installed eight nesting boxes, for the eggs we are counting on these girls to produce. Next, he built two perches along the opposite wall for roosting. He drilled ventilation holes under the eaves, and built a chicken-sized hatch in the side for access to the run.

We fenced in the run with poles sunk three feet into the ground, thanks to a monstrous motorized post-hole digger we rented over the weekend. We leveled and braced the vertical posts. Hubby mounted brackets and ran two-by-fours horizontally around the enclosure. In order to bury the wire fencing I dug a 60-foot trench, a foot deep, around the perimeter swinging that heavy mattock like Thor with his mighty hammer. I was amazing.

After the framework was complete and the gate built and installed, we enclosed the whole thing with chicken wire with some extra metal fencing around the bottom for extra security. The rolls came in widths or about four feet, so the edges needed to be sewn together. Sewing over one's head with a length of wire takes longer than one might imagine. But once the "roof" seams were complete, the perimeter seams went pretty quickly.

All that was left at this point was to fill in my beautifully dug trenches and line the base with rocks. After roughly four weeks of labor, give or take a few days for rainy weather, the coop was ready for some birds. And we were ready for some cold drinks.

Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Baby Chicks!

Back in April, Jeff and I went in to the local feed store and bought 24 Barred Rock chicks. We chose this breed for their egg-laying prowess and their cold-hardiness. I began scooping up the little fluffballs, two at a time in each hand, in to the three boxes the sales associate provided for transport. I rode home with the precious cargo in my lap, as it was still too cold to let them ride in the truck bed. The little darlings spent the next half hour pecking at my jeans through the air holes.

Baby girls!
For the brooder, we set up a large Rubbermaid bin just outside the kitchen, where we new it wouldn't get too cold. I filled it with pine shavings (which smelled wonderful at first), then I set the food tray and water jug into the bin. Next came the baby birds. I lifted them, one at a time, out of their cardboard boxes, dipped their wee beaks into the water supply, and turned them loose in their new domicile.
We positioned a warming lamp over the brooder to keep things nice and toasty. A word to the wise - those things suck up a lot of electricity. You will notice.

Brooder full of babies.
The following morning we were relieved to find that all 24 chicks survived the night, and were adjusting well to their new environment. Success! With stars in our eyes, we began planning the outdoor chicken coop for our mature flock. We were old pros at this whole chicken thing.

Well, not exactly. After a week or two, the birds had nearly doubled in size. We had to set up a second brooder with another Rubbermaid bin. Not long after that, I discovered one of the chicks had jumped onto the top of the water jug and was surveying the living room. When I tried to catch it it flew onto the lip of the bin and made a break for it. With much scrambling and praying to Jesus I was able to thwart the attempt at escape. Some hastily trimmed window screening and lumber scraps provided a couple of makeshift lids, but we realized we were going to have to hustle on getting their new digs set up.

Two weeks old
Nobody warned me they would grow so fast! Time to get crackin' on that chicken condo...

I know all the birds of the hills, and all that moves in the field is mine. Psalms 50:11

Friday, June 6, 2014

I Am The Reason We Can't Have Nice Things...

Years ago, when Jeff purchased a set of two-way radios, I admit I was less than impressed. Tonight, they played a significant role in averting disaster.
I had stepped outside after dinner to enjoy the waning sunlight. I made myself comfortable in one of our newly assembled Adirondack chairs, a glass of wine in my hand and a magazine in my lap. The radio on my belt crackled to life, and my husband’s voice asked “Do I smell what I think I smell?”
It was only then that I remembered the cookies I had in the oven. I grabbed my wine and magazine and clawed my way out of my comfortable chair. I arrived in time to save my baked goods from total ruin, thanks to Jeff’s timely inquiry. The bottoms were less than ideal, but not nearly as scorched as the last batch I destroyed.

I was prepared to answer for their shortcoming. Had my husband complained, I would have claimed that these are NOT burned, they are merely a dark roast blend.  Just the way he likes.
I feel as penance, I must be forced to eat the entire dozen, thus sparing my husband the horror of my baking.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

From The Archives: HOA Shennanigans, and Why I'm Glad We Moved HERE...

Today, I humbly submit the following. A letter I wrote, but did not send, to our Homeowners Association in response to their complaint of our alleged handball activity back in 2008:

Dear Home Owners Association,

I have received your condescending letter addressing the discoloration of my garage door. You believe that I may have caused this damage. You are requesting that I discontinue any activity that may result in common area damage immediately.

Your specific request: My garage door needs to be cleaned - the ball marks need to be removed.
My husband is amused at your assessment. I however am amazed at your stupidity. If this letter is indicative of the Board's communal vapidity, then God help us all.

Had you looked closely, you would have noticed that in each instance of discoloration, the TEXTURE of the wood under the paint was inconsistent with the rest of the door, and not any type of residue on the surface. I will say that again in smaller words so you will be sure to comprehend: the dark spots you see on the door ARE KNOTS IN THE WOOD. Had you been paying any attention at all, you would have noticed identical patterns in all the garage doors on our building. This is not a result of damage inflicted by any homeowner, but of a natural irregularity showing through a horrible paint job. Clearly you were too distracted by your shiny clipboard to access what little common sense the good lord gave you. Honestly, do you really think that a 42 year-old and a 45 year-old are playing HANDBALL against the garage? Are you kidding me? If you are offended by the garage doors (all five of which my husband and neighbor hosed down recently, as a gesture of good will), then you need to have your worthless paint crew put down the crack pipe and DO IT RIGHT.

How dare you threaten me with fines and/or hearings when you clearly don't know your own backside from a hole in the ground.

You people are no more than a pathetic bunch of power-drunk control freaks and attention whores. You need to be stopped.

I am preserving a copy of your letter as testament to your brainlessness. I truly hope you have a day job that does not require any critical thought.

Now kindly kiss off, you arrogant twit.

One of several who hope you disappear, the sooner the better