Wednesday, January 21, 2015

To Each Her Own

The hens, in their own yard, separate from the goats, eat their lay crumble eagerly, greedily. I set out two feeding stations, but there is still pushing, and pecking, and inevitably feathers are ruffled. Little Debbie rarely even tries to get into the buffet line. By now, she knows, she does not stand a chance between those big fat hens... a fate she had not foreseen. Wherever I feed her, a hen rushes in to chase her off, so these days Little Debbie takes her chances with the goats.

And the goats? In their own yard, separate from the hens, the goats are eating their chow eagerly, greedily. It's no use feeding them separately. They're too goat headed to do anything but push and strategize over their breakfast, lunch, and dinners, no matter how, or where, it's served, and Little Debbie just stands by, waiting for her chance to take a share.

They take sides... Tasha on the left, and Ada on the right. Always. No exceptions. Sometimes they start in opposite positions, and then, without fail, they realize that something is terribly wrong and in spite of the feeding frenzy they switch sides! And it's Tasha on the left, and Ada on the right. Always. It's Ada that usually initiates the switch, insists on her side, and Tasha has resigned herself to the arrangement. One thing they both agree on: No chickens at our buffet, so when hens pop over for a bite, Ada and Tasha stop butting heads with each other and turn their eyes on the offending bird.

They see you, Little Debbie.

The goats even butt their heads in the direction of the hen, but cannot aim low enough, or fast enough, and I think the chickens get the message... back off!

Must be too crowded at the chicken's buffet, here comes Liberty! Then Mako. They know when the goats are full, there will still be tasty bits to clean up from their feeder, so Li' Debbie, Liberty, and Mako wait for the goats to clear out.

But the goats will not be rushed, harried, or hassled. Mind yourself, Liberty. They're watching you.


No way.

Goats love oats, and alfalfa, and their chow. They love carrots, dried leaves, pumpkin, and evergreens... especially crisp and brittle. They swoon over black licorice.

Chickens love grass, and grass seeds, and goat chow, and their own lay crumble. They love cracked corn, tomatoes, flies, wriggly things they dig up, and veg from the garden.

I love rice pudding. And I do not share. Neither with goats, nor chickens. Nope. No way.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Picture Day For Ballet Folklórico

Maria was even happier to be in ballet folklórico when her friend, Nathalie, joined, too.

Maria loves to dance, {You may have noticed!} but it's been a long time since she's had a class. Last spring, at her school, there was a demonstration for a new class, ballet folklórico, that would be taught in the fall, and Maria was utterly enchanted with the prospect. They meet once a week, and what with breaks and holidays, she's had only four lessons, but the teacher is good, and the students are enthused, so they've made good progress. This day was for pictures, and a first chance for many, like Maria, to try on the traditional dresses and suits. Maria wore the blouse and heavy skirt, with many ribbons for Jalisco. I am thankful to have made a friend, too... another mother who is experienced with the traditions, and expectations, like gelling that hair way back! There are more things to learn, for Maria, and for me, and so far it's fun. And beautiful. The dresses, the ribbons, the music and steps... it's pretty, romantic, and touching to see young girls standing confidently, learning about themselves. Twirling was irresistible. And for me, taking lots and lots of pictures was irresistible. Pictures for the abuelas and tias, and tios, too... I am excited to share these happy moments. And when I get the date for their first performance, I will be sure and tell those doting grandmothers to mark their calendars! Va ver baile!

Friday, January 16, 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 find and see.

Alex and Bambi, and the towering waffle dinner!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Foo, Foo, Foo, Chango, and iPhone 6

Yesterday I posted from my new phone, using the Blogger app. I wanted to see whether any improvements or changes came with the iPhone 6, whether Blogger would need to be updated... just troubleshooting. Everything worked the same. And the only thing that needs updating is my own knowledge... I need to teach myself how to get links into the text of a post. Maybe my resolution for 2015 is Experiment. Maybe not. But, today I am fiddling with the camera on the iPhone 6. So far: Wow! Amazing! Super impressed.

And even though Apple didn't ask me to sing their praises, I will say, "This new phone is pretty spiffy."

I am tech reluctant. Is that one word?

I am techreluctant: adjective \ˈtek\-\ri-ˈlək-tənt\
:a person averse to adapting new devices, esp anything dependent on electricity and/or WIFI
See also: troglodyte.

It's true. From this blog, to microwaves, from my cell phone to the remotes for the television, I am slow and reluctant when it comes to figuring it all out. In fact, I am slow to even posses those articles, and they are here only because of Geoff. He assures me they are safe, interesting, worthwhile, and sometimes even necessary. It never fails to come as a bit of shock to me, but Geoff insists these devices are good, and easily adopted into our modern lifestyle. I drag my bare feet, stand by him, and grimace while he dives in and gets everything humming, synchronized, uploaded, downloaded, and online. I find a chair, sip chamomile tea, and daydream about living in a yurt pay close attention. I am neither boasting about my ignorance, nor particularly ashamed... okay, yes, it is embarrassing, but the truth is instruction manuals, and tutorials on subjects that don't include loads of pictures, or glitter, wool, or chickens, are indescribably inaccessible to my attention span. I lack discipline, or affinity, or the proper neural receptacles, or simply interest... in fact, I believe it is a tragic, yet effective, combination of all four barriers that keep me techreluctant.

But I do like my new phone, and I am thankful for it. And, thanks to Maria, I am learning to navigate IOS. And I do like posting from a mobile device, because sometimes my deep thoughts, and other musings, cannot be contained. And, so, I keep trying. I have figured out our PS3, so I can play movies, and I write my own HTML for Chickenblog... a bit, anyway. I've even used those registers that let you check your own groceries out at the market, though I can't say I am impressed with that whole scene. {All of this to mention that I have a new camera! And it is gorgeous, and small, and new. It came from Mom and Dad, for my birthday, and I've set it all up... and it scares the courage right out of me, so adopting it into my modern lifestyle is going slowly, because I am embarrassingly techreluctant.}

Would you look at my dear, poor, Chango? I've never had any camera that could capture and focus on the details of his face... his nose, the fine whiskers, his dark features, until this iPhone 6. His expression? Yes, I do have many, very many pictures of Chango looking utterly dismayed, ill at ease, confused, dazed, out of sorts. The wide-eyed terror. The twitchy eye. It is his state of being. He is a feral cat who has succumbed to the comforts of domesticity, and even he cannot comprehend how this has all come to pass, or whether it is secure. We adore our Chango. His is a tender, though guarded, soul.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Pencils,Threads, Hoops, and Rats... And Testing The Blogger App

It began with my birthday cake, served by a mouse... {she's supposed to be a rat, but now I can see her ears are too round}. Now I have this fellow... a sort of Hobbit rat, out on the trail. I am on a rat theme.  Rat art. Rat sketches. Rats embroidered on flour sacks.  I wish I hadn't tried to paint the rat I drew on the canvas, because I loved him sketched. The painting is not enough like the fabulous vision I had in my head. I'm  much better at sewing than painting, apparently.  Now I'm finishing a similar rat in embroidery floss.  

Why?  The answer is:  I haven't the rattiest idea.  Maybe I'm simply working on career options, in case I ever grow up. 

*Just testing the Blogger app for my iPhone. I wish I could figure out how to include links in the text. There must be a way, but it's not accepting html, and there's no "press here" option. Nonetheless, it's amazing how much can be done from a device that fits in the palm of my hand.
January 13, 2015
2:58 pm*

Monday, January 12, 2015

Farm Good Things

Our chickens, are they clever, or sneaky and daring?

It turns out the hens are laying a few more eggs than I was finding. We went down to two eggs a day, and then a few days with no eggs at all, which was disappointing. Even more surprising though, is that Kamen is laying, again. She's our oldest chica, hatched in March of 2011. Her eggs are a bit thin shelled and elongated, like a teardrop. I don't think Kamen laid any eggs last year. She's got some gumption, yeah? But back to the missing eggs... it seemed to me that the younger hens could muster a little more effort. Our days are cooler, and shorter, but not that much shorter. Turns out, they took to laying in the goats' cottage! They've done this before, but I thought they'd given up on this reckless habit. The goats aren't exactly dainty-footed, or overly careful about where they drop down for a nap. I can't believe six eggs were safely, stealthily tucked away in the goat cottage... especially in this rainy weather, when the goats hardly step out of their cozy little shelter. How did we keep from having a mess of scrambled eggs in straw?? Since I cannot be 100% sure how long the eggs have been in the goat nest, I will put them to the egg freshness float test. Good eggs sink! It's a tried and true way to know for sure whether we have good eggs.

It's so much fun to bring the holidays outside, where goats and chickens can enjoy the season, too. In the fall they stay busy carving up Jack-o-lanterns from our pumpkins, and now that Christmas is over, they can all enjoy a crunchy evergreen snack. In a few weeks, Alex will have a nice, cleaned-up pine trunk, for, maybe a walking stick? Those wise critters, and our children, do their best to rethink, reuse, and recycle!

Good Things...

1. We enjoyed more rain over the weekend. Yesterday was an all day drizzle, nice for gardens, I think.

2. I finally, finally planted sweet peas, and they are really flourishing. {It seems it took eight years to recover from a tragic sweet pea loss.}

3. Does anyone need an artichoke plant? I wonder if they will flourish, too? Our plants from last year threw such pretty seeds into the breeze, and now we have volunteer artichokes popping up all over. There are more than we can sustain.

4. Inspired by what Deanne and James showed us at their lake cabin... I bought peanuts for the birds, and sure enough, we have scrub jays, flying in and out of the yard, like jets to a runway! They are fun to watch.

5. I resisted bringing home chicks, pigs, sheep, goats, and/or ducks on my last visit to the feed store. Gold star for me, I think.

Monday, again. They seem to come about once a week, ready or not. I hope this is a good one for you, whether you are farming, gardening, browsing seed catalogs, scrambling eggs, or just napping with your cat.

Friday, January 09, 2015

One Genuine Inauthentic Awesome Viking Tent

In my research for this {most anticipated post} I discovered an early account of Viking history, told here at Chickenblog, in 2007. Apparently our affinity for Viking culture goes back a bit further than our visit to the Viking Festival, last September. Anyway, today I am going to share the full scoop on our very own, still in development, genuine and inauthentic Van Viking tent. We fell in love with the small village of tents, crafts and trades that we discovered at a local Viking Festival, and by the time we were planning our Solstice party, and thinking about Christmas gifts, and activities, we became even more enamored of the idea of making a tent of our own, and enjoying some of the more festive, and loosely related cultural interests of ancient peoples who explored, built, crafted, ate, slept, and hung out, in and around Viking lands, which as it turns out is a very broad geographic and aesthetic swath of the planet. {Whoa, that was a long sentence. Almost lost my way, there.} So, yeah. We totally got stoked to design, build, and party in our own Viking Van Viking tent!

Our tent is inspired by Alex's extensive research into Viking tents and lodges, and by what we saw at the Festival. Then, Alex and I looked into available resources at the local hardware store, and ran our initial ideas by Geoff. Geoff loves aluminum... he can weld it, and it's strong, and since we were leaning toward something big. Big. We figured that a fifteen foot wood ridge beam would be very, very heavy, and possibly flex too much, so Geoff proposed an aluminum ridge.


Canvas: Two 12' x 15' canvas pieces from the paint department. {These are actually smaller than said "12 x 15", which is something we are trying to trouble shoot, now. Though smaller than advertised, they are still massively heavy and were quite a handful to sew together.} I sewed canvas strips to make ties, and hand sewed those around the tent canvas.

Wood: We employed four 2" x 8" pieces, 14' long, for the A-frame. Geoff and Alex designed dragon wings at the peaks, which will later be carved for detail. At the base sides of the tent floor there are two pieces of 2" x 4".

The pole is 1/8" wall, 6061 aluminum, and 15' long. Geoff made end caps, and added 6" x 1/2" galvanized steel bolts threaded into the caps. These are to attach the wood A-frame pieces.

Rope: 3/4" natural fiber. It's there to maintain tension in the frame to keep it from flexing.

We still need to make and add canvas doors, and this will include extending the length of the canvas, since it's at least six inches shorter than we anticipated. Also, to go with the dragon wings, Alex is carving dragon heads that will fit over the bolts at the peak of the tent... like a figurehead on a ship. And we are also developing a forge, making more wooden swords, and shields, we want to make those sturdy Viking chairs, and a long boat, maybe get some sheep and start spinning wool. Basic stuff like that.

When things didn't go as we had hoped for Solistice, we were disappointed, but not defeated. More slowly, with less pressure to meet a deadline, we rallied to get the tent standing in time for our Christmas celebration. And after exchanging gifts, and enjoying a happy morning around the Christmas tree, we shifted our activities outside... we made waffles outdoors, played games, and raised the Van Viking tent for more holiday fun!

The first night it was up, we had a Swedish-Viking-ish dinner... with meatballs, and veggie-not-meatballs, Irish soda bread, roasted cabbage, salad, steamed potatoes, and lingonberry sauce. Then we hunkered together in the dark, and watched The Hobbit. Outside is such a marvelous place to watch a Tolkien adventure unfold. It was so flippin' awesome, and cold, and dark, and cozy, and awesome. For my birthday, Alex, Max and Maria presented me with my very own shield/serving tray... Alex took Maria's chicken sketch, and used it for inspiration for this gorgeous fat hen. Max helped with chiseling, and Alex finished the dear with paint! We've had naps, games, breakfast, lunches, talks, visits, all in the Van Viking tent, and more ideas and plans keep popping into our heads.

The best thing about a tent, or a fort, a tree house, sandcastle, or an idea... ? Sharing it with friends. I would like to thank Sweet Life Farm, and My Home Among the Hills, and Come Away With Me, blogging friends, all, for kindly taking my hints, and nudging me to share.