Saturday, February 16, 2013

In The Movie Barn

Open up the barn doors!
Kick out the hay!
Hang an old bed sheet,
and start the play!

Friday night there was a premiere screening in the Movie Barn.

Seating is limited, and there were some minor technical hiccups, but in the end the audience gave the experience four thumbs up!

This is one of those high class movie experiences, you've probably heard about... pizza and smoothies, homemade confections, and comfy-as-home in a barn movie watching. Very impressive, indeed.

Friday, February 15, 2013

{this moment}

A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment.
A moment I want to pause, savor and 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.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Chicken Love

Happy Valentine's Day!

Good afternoon, Lucky Penny. Would you like to visit the garden?

Yes. Yes, she would like to visit the garden, and dash under the barn, and scratch in the straw. The chicas don't enjoy the same free-ranging liberties, not since our Bird House has become the target of a long list of predators. In the afternoons, when we are in the yard tinkering and making, we like to let the chicas out for a stretch and a stroll. If we are really generous and patient, we let the goats join us, too!

I love the moment when the coop door is unlatched, and opened, and the chicas prepare for their exit. Penny is always first. She pops up, and in a flash she flies out... unless I crouch real close, with my Big Black camera clicking and whirring in her face. She hesitates, and I get my chance to capture a favorite moment.

Come on Lucky Penny! It's all clear. She will launch herself, and immediately duck beneath the barn, which is a quick and easy entry into the goats' yard. The goats' yard is where she knows there are interesting places to scratch and peck.

Waiting their turns... we see the tufted head of Shebot, then her sister, Kamen, and the Lady herself, Betty Orpington. Penny has had enough of my Big Black camera. Time to explore!

Well, Kamen, Betty, how's it shakin'?

Kamen had all the time she needed to asses the situation, and she makes her calculated escape.

Now Betty! She's spry, for a dowager hen. She's the one that will lead the rest to the kitchen door, where she hopes she can get in to help sweep lunch from under the dining table.

Hello, lovely Shebot. She is a fast mini-bot, except when it's her turn to fly the coop. She makes a slow and cautious survey, and dares not leap from the roost. She stands in the entry, considering her options. She would take the elevator if it were an option.

Scanning, and debating. She knows coops ought to come with a comfortable ramp entry. This two foot drop is an unseemly descent, she sighs. I only have to imply that I will help her out to motivate her.

Well, Ada? Have they all cleared out?

They've flown the coop!

I do love watching my chicas, and goats.
In the name of love, I hope you are enjoying all manner of sweetness, too!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

This Is iPhone Album IV

Well. This is long overdue. It's been quite some time since I unload a batch of iPhone magic on Chickenblog. The images may be poorly lit, grainy, and at times even pointless, but the moments are dear, and they bring back memories that are sharp and clear. I love my darling and convenient pocket-camera, and these flashbacks.

Nothing scary about this... Calamity Kim sent Maria a handmade greeting for Halloween. Maria really lit about this surprise mailbox-gift. We were just about to welcome our Halloween guests, when Kim's spooky-cute card arrived.

Our poor Tasha. Don't worry, she is 100 percent today. All better. Jumping-running-frolicking. She is as spry and perky as ever. But last November we found her in the garden, on the wrong side of her pen, and it was obvious that this escape had cost her. She severely strained her hind leg. Besides being worried about her, we were touched by her snuggle me-I need love posture. Goats are such dears.

Max and cats. I am as happy thinking of him with his kitties, as he is caring for them. Well, this was a bit of a goof and a spoof, but he is definitely a cat whisperer. I was happy to have my iPhone handy when on the way into school, Max had his hands full.

This moment recalls so many sentimental, thankful, and lovely memories. Some poignant ones, too. Let's see... it was the Friday after Maria's eighth birthday, my mom was in town and helping me recover from a bumpy month, and we were having a wild night on the town, eating out with our guys, and John, and James, too. I'm glad my mom picked up my iPhone and took this shot. It captures the thankful, abiding love I feel for Geoff, and my family... and sentiments I tried to describe here... In the midst of challenges, setbacks, not mine alone, I find that the littlest kindnesses, the lights that glow, the hand that reaches out to hold my own, the strength of spirit in some that share, again, and again... I do not know how, but even the smallest signs of beauty are somehow sustaining everything. It may feel tenuous, it is sometimes painful, but here we are, moving forward.

December 9, 2012

Two things: One, Anna Banana's birthday. Some dates just stand out, and mean more because of who they remind me of. Two, we were invited to do art at Anthropologie, with our friend, Yanina.

Those days before the holidays can be so overwhelming, especially if you dare to leave the house. People get a bit manic, yeah? But this visit to the mall, bustling and hustling with shoppers, was so worthwhile. Yanina had two long tables set up with prints and paints, and encouragement for all the eager artists. I sat back in a comfy Anthro sofa, took in the sights and inspiration, while Maria enjoyed the pleasure of painting. There were even snacks for the children, and with holiday music playing and all the pretty sights and scents in the shop, I was enjoying a surprisingly relaxing bit of holiday wonder.

Yanina and Maria

I am so thankful to be living in a community of friends and beauty, where we find fun things to do and see, where we can partake in opportunities small and great.

December 14, 2012

Now this! This is a milestone. Alex, taking his driving test. I would really embarrass myself if I wrote about at the last minute teaching him the wrong hand turn signals, so let's not mention it. He passed! (In spite of me.) He's been driving, safely, ever since.

December 16, 2012

Geoff and I went out. On a date. To a concert. On a school night. Let's face it, he and I are getting wild, and crazy. We even had dinner before, and stood in the rain to get good seats!

December 19, 2012

Thank you iPhone. Now we have a visual record of how hard the wind was blowing the night before! In fact, now I recall that we were worried those Santa Ana Winds would interfere with our plans for The End of the World. We'd invited everyone to our house for a Happy Mayan Winter Solstice potluck, and bonfire. Fortunately, the winds calmed, and the end of the world was really just the beginning of another trip around the sun with friends and family.

Ada Lovelace Goat and Tasha Tudor Goat celebrating Winter Solstice with evergreens.

Some moments from our family picnic, at Leo Carillo Ranch, with Ruth, Holly, and Izzy. Yes, January in Southern California really can be this lovely! Since it was a weekday, Geoff, Rich and Nick missed out, but I had the nice surprise of enjoying an extra birthday celebration. Ruth even made her amazing lemon bars.
And cousins Maria and Izzy made bows. No arrows, just active imaginations.

Those nachos had a lot of jalapenyos (I cannot find the tilde on this computadora.) This is why we need handy little phones, dear iPhone cameras, so that when Pepper Man shows up on your plate, you can preserve the moment, then later recall that you spent an amazing weekend with your sweetheart... uh... yes, well, those details I think I will keep to myself.

January 12, 2013

Happiness is driving a dependable vehicle that can haul feed and hay bales. Seriously. I love going east, to the feed store, and visiting our favorites haunts from our Rancho days, then loading my ride with whatever we need, to feed the farm and family. The picture may be of bales in the trunk, but I see the joy I felt.

Did I mention that iPhones can capture pointless moments, as well as precious ones?! January 15, 2013, waiting in a school parking lot, and trying to convince myself to please, finally make an appointment for a haircut! I love that delusion, some of us enjoy, that whatever we do in our vehicles is private, and completely invisible to everyone else stuck in the same parking lot. So, go ahead! Floss, scratch your ears, rock out with your air guitar. It's cool, you are totally invisible.

One week later. I've finally done the deed. Here, again, the iPhone is indispensable. My haircut has never looked better than it did five minutes after the stylist finished cutting, geling, drying, styling, and doing her magic. I have this photograph as proof.
And when I am not using my iPhone to take glamour shots, I love to have it when I see something that should be unforgettable, but which I am likely to forget. I need this book.
Ground Hog Day!
The kids persuasively proposed a day in the snowy woods for our Ground Hog Day celebration. It turned out to be a really great idea, except I feel a little sheepish about not going a bit further afield, to the actual snow. I wimped out on the three hour mountain drive, and settled for something a bit more local.
But. As you can see, the snow was a bit skimpy. Alright, all of you with "real" winters can stop laughing! We managed to semi-convince Maria that this was totally legit-good snow fun. Sort of. And I used my iPhone to send a photo-email to family. You know, a little show and tell brag: "Check us out! Snow! Woot-woot!"

Well, just to show me... as I sent out this pitiful winter scene, my brother Bill, and Alison, were posting pictures with their kids, playing in snow. In Aspen. With skis, and snowboards. And snow!

I know the Ground Hog predicts an early spring, but I am hoping for a chance to redeem myself, and get these guys to something they can ride a sled down, something cold, white, powdery, and piled in heaps deep enough to play in. I can just picture it... some snowy winter joy!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Send A Sweet

If you are wondering how to share something sweet on Valentine's Day, Maria has a suggestion: How about handing over a personal favor, like a lollipop? She has a step-by-step tutorial on making this clever homemade Valentine. It's simple, funny, and unique, and there's still time to make one for your Valentine.

Step one: Find something, like lollipops, or pencils. We love Trader Joe's for offering dye-free, organic, fruit flavored lollipops. They are yummy and thoughtful.

Step two: Take a picture. Stand with your fist, or both hands, as though you are holding something, something you want to share with a friend. Imagine you have an umbrella in your fist. Be sure you hold your arm a bit to the side of your body, so that your treat will not cover your happy face. We take a bunch pictures, adjusting the angles, and this way we can choose our favorite.

Step three: Decide how many prints you will need, and get ready to print your Valentine picture cards. Choose photo paper, or card stock, because you want the paper to be strong. Maria's picture is formatted 2 inches by 3 inches, and we printed ten per page.

Step four: Separate your pictures. Maria is eight years old, and she's had practice, so she's comfortable using our paper cutter. She can measure and cut, being careful of the sharp blade. Scissors would work too, but she's happy we have this handy tool for cutting thirty, or more, Valentine cards. She trims the edges, and leaves the blank space at the top, or bottom of each picture, so she has room to write "Love, Maria"

Step five: Step five might be best for an adult to take care of. I use a very sharp crafting, or utility, knife. Above her fist I cut a small X, and below her fist I cut a second small X. These are just big enough for the stick of the lollipop to slip through.

Step six: Maria carefully slides a lollipop through the front and above her fist, then she guides it back below her fist. Now her Valentine picture has a treat to hand over to a friend!

Time to add a message, then she's ready to deliver her sweet Valentine greeting! This is the fourth year for Maria to make these. They look funny, and different, every year!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Bird House & Barn

... a Farm Report

This log has been in our yard since our first year at the Bird House. One tree in the front yard was growing too close to the house, and because the roots were raising the foundation, we had to take it out. It gave us room to plant our orchard of fruit trees, fire wood for three years, and this marvelous log.

Maaa-arvelous! Says Ada Lovelace Goat.

It's been a piece to contemplate. A piece to admire, to stand on, jump off, roll around, sit on, and observe. Goats love it. Chickens love it. People love it.

The bark fell off, and the chickens raided it for beetles and crawly snacks. And most recently, Alex decided to make something of it. Alex and Max have been taking turns, casually going at it with a hatchet, with chisels and mallet. And, they've been getting a lot of "help."

First, the chickens came around and caught the last of the crawly snacks that were shaken and bounced out of the log. They were eager to investigate and mill around, too, which definitely slowed the pace down. It also made for some awkward moments. Picture hens running to a wood block, as a hatchet is swinging. Most hens would know to run the other direction!

Maria has been a helper, too. Fortunately, she takes direction well, and knows how to use tools. She knows that the plan is to make this log into a bench, with a shallow back support, and a cup holder on one end.

But by far the most enthused helpers have been the goats. They run in, with gusto, and no sense of boundaries, safety, or common sense whatsoever. Not much has changed, since they were wee goats, and more than eager to be in the middle of projects... especially when tools are involved! Actually, one key difference: Now they are much bigger!

Bigger, and pushier, and more insistent.

Nothing makes Tasha and Ada happier than being in the family mix. And whatever we are doing, they are eager to emulate, as best they can. Obviously Tasha could see that this is a job that requires persistent force.

Both goats nibble on the wood chips. Goats will eat bark, but the wood chips are like chewing gum. They pick up piece after piece, chew, smack, chew some more than pfttt! They never tire of this. And there a lot of wood chips!

But, like I said they are eager to do what we do, and so they don't give up trying to figure out what our purpose is. They look for any way to participate. No matter how awkward the task, they willingly make a go of it.

Chisel? Allow me.
When we closed the toolbox, Tasha tried taking the tools from Alex, then Maria. After Alex scraped up several curls of wood, I suggested he see if Tasha would remove them.

She understood, and gingerly pulled up each curl of chiseled wood. Tug-tug-chew-chew-spit, and repeat!

Stubborn as a goat is a quality that can be useful, in the right circumstances. Thank you Tasha.

Next she hoofed the wood, as though she were giving it a nice polish! Thank you Tasha. I cannot be the only who thinks this is rather adorable.

What we would really like is a log long enough to carve out a canoe... a really cool canoe. I think it would be marvelous, even if we couldn't use it. I imagine sitting in it, watching Moonrise Kingdom.

This is our land!
Yes, it is!

These are our goats! Yes, they are!

Ada is not as handy with a chisel as Tasha, but she would like to help with the mallet.

Hello, Betty! The chickens are well. They are probably about as adjusted to living in a garden bed converted to a rabbit hutch, then adapted for chickens as they will ever be. Their best days are when we are home, outdoors and they can free range the Bird House yard.

In May, Betty will be five years old.
And yes, there will be a party.

We heard you, says Tasha. Goats love a party, too.

Good afternoon, Shebot. Her father was a Polish Duke, and her mother was a white Silky Princess.

She is pretty, and fast, and smart, just like the mini-bots she was named for.

And here is our miracle bird. Two full years recovered from the nearly fatal bobcat attack. I still cannot believe what we went through to save her. Never underestimate what a chicken can survive! Of course, it would still be nice if they would stay clear of swinging hatchets.