Thursday, May 28, 2015

Funny Birds

Let's see. What have we here? Chicks, about six weeks old. This is not the age, nor stage, at which greeting cards use chicks for Easter cards. They are not in the phase where you'd say they look adorable, not as a first impression, anyway. No, this age is goofy, odd, awkward, ungainly, in-between. They are freaky feathered fowl. The last of their down flies off them like fluff from a dandelion. Their true feathers are coming in, and sticking out. They still peep like wee chicks, but they flap, flutter and fly with all the grace and coordination of Elaine Benes getting a dance started... they are funny!
Pippy and Pepper, Silver Laced Wyandottes. I might add, this is a doubtful stage and age, when one cannot be too sure of things... Are they chickens? Are they hens? Did we rescue genetically mutated starlings?

Sweet fancy Moses!

Pippy has more white feathers on her head. Write that down, for the quiz.

Just kidding. We still can't tell our Thompson from our Thomson.

And we still haven't settled on a name for this Ameracauna. I shouldn't name her Hazel, like I was considering, because that's our rat's name: Hazel Nutt. I think it's risky to name a hen when she's going through this phase... it inspires less than flattering suggestions! {Why am I thinking Phyllis Diller??}

The darker Ameracauna hasn't a name either. She may not be an Ameracauna. She may be a burrowing owlet, or an orphaned hawk. An escapee from the dinosaur cloning lab. We just don't know.

Fiona is the Buff Orpington. She's the tamest, the youngest, and the most likely to be an actual chicken.

And here's Pepper, photobombing. Funny birds.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

5 Things When I Am Sick

1. Do Not Blog: Do not post on social media. Do not say, "No one has ever felt this way before. I am the most sick. Was ever a woman made to suffer more?"

2. Do not describe symptoms... not in order of miserableness, nor in alphabetical order, not repeatedly to anyone within earshot, not in text messages.

3. Drink tea. Wash hands. Wear socks. My mother will be calling, and I want to sound convincing when she asks, "Are you drinking plenty of fluids? Are you washing your hands? I hope you are remembering to wear socks."

4. Find a comfortable position to "rest" in, then enjoy total recall of every errand, chore, appointment, commitment, duty, and obligation I've neglected, ever. Let it fester.

5. Imagine that, before I was sick, I was totally going to do all of those things I cannot do now.

6. Release a single tear of pity for noble martyrdom.

7. Resist the urge to make numbered lists... who can keep track of anything with only one eye open, and a raging sore throat??

8. Smell something. What is that??

9. Taste nothing. Food mocks my pain with bland flavors, but of course my appetite cannot be suppressed!

10. Think about my brain. Think about The Oatmeal. Think about making some oatmeal.

11. Read the entire Internet, then telepathically implore my friends to update their FB status, preferably with cat memes.

12. Smile, because at least I have an uncanny capacity for amusing myself.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Because Goats!

{There's nothing I can add to make this any more great. Because, Goats!}

{this moment}

A single photo, capturing a moment from the week.
A special moment. A moment I want to remember.

:: Inspired by Soule Mama ::

If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments, for all to see.
Maria and I wait for the school traffic to ease before we head home.
Sometimes we visit with friends at the swings.
Sometimes she collects flowers outside the farm fence.
Always, I am thankful to be the one who can be with her, bring her home.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

One Potato, Two Potato, Egg!

The last of the raised beds is cleared and tilled, and ready for new stuff... like basil, peppers, carrots. Hidden in the weeds, beneath the untilled soil, we found three potatoes. Have you ever grown potatoes? The first time I did was a total accident. I tossed a bunch of gone-to-sprout spuds into our compost, and later (probably months!) I turned the compost and found loads and loads of potatoes! Firm, fresh, organic, gorgeous, dirty potatoes! Harvesting potatoes is fun. Or am I just easily amused? I spent a summer in Mexico sorting, cleaning, bagging and weighing potatoes on my Abuelos' ranch, and that summer we ate potatoes about every way you can imagine. As much time as we spent immersed in that spud summer, I hadn't actually seen them come out of the ground. I would love to have that for a memory... it must have been acres and acres of land to fill the rooms at Ojo de Agua with mountains of papas! It doesn't take acres of land to get some papas growing on your own rancho. Even a barrel will yield a nice crop!

I like digging up potatoes, and I love finding eggs! 'No kidding,' you might be thinking... I know, I do post about eggs, finding eggs, comparing eggs, pretty often, but every single day, every single time I find an egg, I wish I had my camera with me, and I consider posting about the discovery on social media... it's more efficient than actually calling all of my friends! Anyone here at the Bird House can confirm it; I will hold my hand out and share my find, express deep admiration for the hen, point out the colors, the flecks, the shape, the size. If it's especially fresh, I hand it over and say, "Feel it. It's so warm," and my voice glows with emotion. Would you believe Kamen laid an egg this week? I thought she'd laid her last in January, when she was the only hen laying in the dark of winter. Now she is more than four years old, and we don't much expect any eggs from her. It was an adorable, pale and pointed egg, small, too. I found it, like the blue one above, in the goats' hay feeder. Tasha and Ada don't get quite as excited as I do about finding a pretty egg, or dirty potatoes. They love pine needles, head scratches, and sprinting across the lawn.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Lemon Thyme and Geranium

Lemon thyme and geranium blossoms on our carrot cake.

This cake fulfills one of my resolutions for the new year: Bake a pretty cake. In recent years I've lost my cake decorating mojo, and I've documented many of the occasions when a cake has been remarkably ugly, yet delicious. Ugly Delicious is the name of my imaginary bakery, by the way. I owe my success to a new aesthetic, a bohemian nod, a minimalist's touch. My recipe was enough for three small rounds, but I knew better than to risk a towering cake catastrophe! Henceforth, I will turn to my garden for the pretty touches, and otherwise keep it simple.

{My other New Year resolution: Make a rice pudding that I deem my favorite rice pudding. Yes, it's true, I have really challenged myself to some grueling, life-altering resolutions. I am sure I will be a better person for it.}

ChickenBlogger Carrot Cake

3 1/2 cups grated carrots... we love the colorful ones... purple, yellow, orange!
2 cups sugar
1.25 cups of oil
4 eggs

Stir these ingredients together.

2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup of pecans
1 cup of oatmeal (I like the old fashioned kind)

Sift the dry ingredients together and then mix in the nuts, and oatmeal. I love oatmeal. Start adding the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir 'em up. I did this by hand, since I did not want to over-mix the batter.

Choose a favorite cake pan, and I lightly oiled mine, and bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit. A cook time would be helpful, I know, but I don't have one. Expect it to take more than half an hour... it will smell good and an inserted knife will come out clean... you'll know when it's done.

I am not capable of following directions... I just made it up.

8 oz of cream cheese + a healthy scoop of some leftover whipped cream cheese we had leftover from breakfast.
A largish, perhaps 2, teaspoons of vanilla.
Powdered sugar... more than you want to admit, less than a box... I did not make it very sweet.
Whip it. Whip it good.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Thankful Blogger

Thankful for the friendships made, the experiences, and opportunities that have come through Chickenblog.

Thankful for the seeds sown, and all that's bloomed.

Thankful for the dreams that have come true, that I've pined for, whined for, celebrated, and reflected on.

Thankful for the new dreams, new inspirations, and all I can share with the people I love.

Thankful to see the people I love, to play with them, to encourage them, and be a part of what they do.

Oh, gosh, how I love to share my chicken love! Julie!!

Thankful to share my deep thoughts and other musings, and my chicken aesthetic... my flighty, whimsical, bird-brained passions.
Of course, any of it might be possible without Chickenblog, but I am glad CB is here to remind me of all that I am thankful for.

Good Monday Morning, friends. This is it, the official start week of Chickenblog, back in 2002. I am noting it, not because the original keyboard I wrote on is going to the Smithsonian, or I ever won a Bloggie. There's still a chance Terri Gross will reach out to me, ask me the big questions about my deep thoughts and musings, but really I am only marking this time, because I like numbers, patterns, celebrations, marked occasions, and making much ado about anything!

Calamity Kim sent us Chicken Lovers a card. I don't know if she was necessarily thinking of the Chickenblogaversary, per se, but as usual she was being very thoughtful, generous. She was one of the first A-list bloggers to give this blog a loving shout-out, and she has showered us with gifts from her endlessly creative artistic collection. This time she sent us seeds, and a lovely note. It's perfect... something to sow from the woman who sews! Something to spread around and watch grow, share with the bees and butterflies and friends.

Kim's card gave me something else, too... more to reflect on concerning blogging. She's active on FB, has a Tumbler site, but her blog is a much quieter space now, like so many of the bloggers I've known. Some have formally retired, and maybe I need to accept that and remove those links. But I am in a state of denial... a small part of me believes that leaving their names in the sidebar may summon them to pop their heads up, and let us know how their gardens fare, where they've traveled, to say they're feeling fine, doing well. There are a handful of bloggers who have simply cut-back. They post infrequently, and it's nice to see news from them, to have them drop by here, too. I can see that the hey-day of blogging, when it was novel, when we were figuring it all out, those days have past.

Of course, there are new bloggers jumping in, but the tone and function seems to have changed a lot. Gone are the homemade layouts and personable, familiar approaches... new blogs feel so slick and packaged. Did you know you can purchase traffic to a blog? A lot of blogs are really just window dressing for a business, a corporation, a news outlet. Big giveaways and loads of ads, promotions, and sponsorships make many blogs feel no different than glossy magazines. It would be hard to maintain, but who remembers swaps? Quilters, knitter, crafters... these bloggers would arrange for surprise exchanges between strangers, and all kinds of goodies would travel from one new friend to another. So many connections were made, talents shared. Even small gestures like linking back to other bloggers, acknowledging sources, inspiration, something good, so that it really was a web we were building, it felt connected to something of our own hands and hearts. I've always been aware that this medium is new, WeB-logging, and I feel like a pioneer, an old timer. And I feel really fortunate to have been around, blogging, when it was new, when we were pushing boundaries, exploring styles, networking, and making sense of these online logs, diaries, journals, scrapbooks. I'm glad I could participate before things got too glossy, too corporate. I am even more glad that there are other old timers still telling their stories, sharing garden views, travel adventures, recipes, and posting links. Be sure, I am neither complaining, nor criticizing... {a shocking network of blog shaming and bullying follows some bloggers. Sadly, most of the mean-girl nonsense is directed at women, by women... quite a pathetic, sometimes scary, development, where the anonymous and cruel attacks do nothing for good, for raising our thoughts, and actions.} I'm not bellyaching about the good old days; it's just interesting to see where we've been, and wonder what the next thirteen years may bring.

My favorite parts of blogging are staying connected with friends and family, and having a record of our days, mine and Geoff's, and our children's. This is an open letter to family and friends, a scrapbook for our children, especially when we are far apart. I also like blogging for the new friends I make, for the ideas I can share, and things I can promote because they matter to me, like high school robotics, STEAM education, the Make community, and chickens, of course. Shining a spotlight on the talents, interests, and endeavors of others is very meaningful to me; I always hope it will make a difference, give support. And You, the reader... readers make Chickenblog good, and worthwhile to me, because I enjoy learning, sharing, laughing, being understood, feeling connected. {And, I really should add: I like having a place to enjoy the pictures I take, because they make me happy, and I am too lazy to get any printed and into albums. Derp.}

Kim, thank you for those seeds, for your kind words. Weren't we lucky to make the friends we did, and to still find connections, exchanges kindnesses? I kissed those chicks for you... they're in their hysterically awkward phase! Like me... hahahahha.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Saturday Night Photo Booth Marathon

Big night on the town with Grandma Boo in town, Julie too. We went out for falafel and nachos, then out came those mobile phones, and all silliness broke loose! You know how it goes, first it's selfie time, then someone raises an eyebrow... and wait, can you raise one eyebrow?? Maria could not, but she was determined to master the skill. Did she nail it? For sure she came really close, and she sure had fun trying! Scary, skeptical, disapproving, giggly, and fun, with extra grilled onions and salsa, please!

Friday, May 15, 2015

{this moment}

A single photo, capturing a moment from the week.
A special moment. A moment I want to remember.

:: Inspired by Soule Mama ::

If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments, for all to see.
Maria and Emma... good friends, good school, good fun.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

May Days

Most visitors want to do this... feed Friend, our charming and daring scrub jay. He comes around quite regularly, now. Grant took time out from working on a project to feed Friend, several times, and I think he was as delighted and smitten as the rest of us have been. We are getting some neat pictures of the bird, but now I wish I'd photographed our friends' faces the first time the jay sat in their palm and took a peanut. I'd have an album of joy, of child-like wonder, and happy bemusement. I used to watch for the bird, and now, when someone new to feeding Friend holds out their open hand, I watch for that moment when the feeling comes across their face, a benediction, a grace, and their whole countenance shows their pleasure at making this connection with a wild creature. It's an uplifting, good thing to witness.

Hmmm... wouldn't Mister Foo just love to _make a connection with a wild creature?_

He sits, and gazes out on wild bunnies, wild finches, fly-catching Phoebes, big fat hens, lizards, spring chicks, and he yearns to get closer. What is it called when a cat, so entranced and overcome with their natural calling, begins to vocalize a twittering meow, lips almost vibrating with anticipation?

Isn't this fantastic?
Answer: Yes, it is.

We got this for a song! For a ditty! It was cheep-cheep! I cannot help myself, sometimes there is as much fun in a good deal, as in the thing itself, and so that makes this hay feeder doubly great. Geoff hung it up for me on Mother's Day, and now we are enjoying convenience and even more savings in hay. The goats were eating from a milk crate on the ground, and they would pull the hay out, and lose about 30% of it to the ground. Goats are not keen on eating off the ground, and are naturally inclined to pull things down, like from shrubs and trees. This feeder keeps them from wasting all that hay! I can give them more, at once, and none of it is wasted! Of course no system is totally perfect. You sometimes have to expect the unexpected... or if you have chickens, expect something goofy!

Something goofy, like hens that think a hay feeder makes a lovely nest.

Ada? Tasha? Eggs for breakfast?
They weren't interested!

You really are some goofy chooks!

Around this place, I never know what I'll find, from eggs in the goat hay, to the scrub jay's stash of peanuts in a belt sander, to a pencil rainbow. Matter out of order, or at least artfully displayed, seems to be the status quo at the Bird House.

And. If things are disheveled, cattywampus, and random, here, I am as much to blame {more to blame?} as anyone. When the street was getting new transformers, and cross beams for the power lines, and the old ones were coming down, I was the one who asked the crew, May we have those, please? Suddenly, going five hours without electricity was totally worthwhile, and fun. For the record: Scoring all of these pieces of wood, with insulators and secondary rollers, was literally a dream come true... during one of our Mother's Day nursery visits, we were analyzing a favorite aviary, with reclaimed lumber, including power line cross beams, and Geoff said, "It'd be cool to build one of these, but where could we get lumber pieces, like those? And we sighed in unison, for want of gnarly, old, "high voltage" signed, reclaimed lumber pieces for making funky things in the backyard. Two days later, and voila! {We know they are a chemical s#it-storm, and will, of course, handle them with care.} And don't they look lovely next to the rubbish bins, and assorted construction bits and bobs?

Also happening... Mike is back, and some last bits of our projects are getting done, like making our fireplace hearth stone after removing the broken marble tiles, trimming the flooring, and finishing touches on the balcony... the balcony that leaked, and was the motivation for all of these improvements in the first place.

No more shiny white, slick, but cracked, marble tiles. Without a plan, or hired designer, we find we have stumbled upon our theme and "Style:" It's called Contemporary Hobbit Interior. We are so very pleased.

Rocks. I love rocks.

Yes, this post is all over the place. Probably five times a year I read some new bulletin-points article about 'the real way real successful bloggers get 'er done,' and then I just break all the rules, and do it like I do it, and now you know my secret for being unreal, and unsuccessful at blogging. I think I should write my own 5 Blogging The Best Way Tips For Mastery of Your Destiny article.

Simply Cozy Living inspired this confection, a lemon cake. It's shining with a tangy and sweet lemon glaze, and Maria decorated it with the mint,lemon geranium blossoms, and the last surviving raspberry. Raspberries are quickly inhaled around these parts. It was a perfect treat for a weekend with friends popping in, hanging about.

May 2. The Ameracauna, on the left, needs a name. The wee Buff Orpington is definitely Fiona.

Chicks! However "success" is defined, I have been blogging for 13 years, and a lot of wonderful things have happened in this time, some because of Chickenblog. This is the month of our Chickenbloggaversary! Hard to believe it's been around so many years. But it started with me being utterly engrossed and thrilled to have my first chicks, and here we are with five brand new pips! Pretty nice, I think.

We are adding two Ameracauna, Fiona the Buff, and two Silver Lace Wyandottes... the dark ones. Maria wants to call the Wyandottes Pepper, and Pippy. I love naming chickens.

She may lay green eggs, or blue. I may name her Lola, or Hazel.

Mako came in for a closer look at her new roost mates. It will be a long time before they're actually hanging out together, but she was pretty chill about the chicks.

Gratuitous Chicken Selfie, from the Chieknebloger ChickenBlogger.