Saturday, October 23, 2010

Good Egg

When I chose those six new chicks to come home with us, to join Betty in the Bird House chica coop, I believed that I was selecting hens, girl chicas, little layers. This was less of a scientific calculation than wishful thinking. Geoff wishes I did possess more scientific chicken-pickin' skills, because by our most recent count, we have one, two three, four roosters, and two hens with a likely third hen. A four/three rooster to hen ratio is not good. Not good for eggs. Not good for tranquility. Not good for sleeping in. Not good for the safety of small children.

Rooster and hen ratios aside, we have small news. Small and good.

Almost certainly it is one of the two white Silkies laying these cafe au lait eggs. Today we found the second one, still warm, sitting in the nest box.

Aren't they adorable? Can you see how tiny they are? Betty's eggs are by no means jumbo size. Betty's eggs are probably about medium size, but next to the Silkie eggs, Betty's egg looks ginormous.

We cannot tell the Silkies apart any more. We do not know which one started laying... come to think of it, maybe they each laid an egg. Hmmm. As they look exactly alike, and we know eggs are coming from at least one of them, I think it is safe to assume that we do have three hens. w00t

All that remains is for me to get wise, and find homes for at least three of those cocky, eggless fowl. I know, I should have taken care of this by now. Maybe I need someone to light a match under me!

Now, time to make a little breakfast. <----------puntastic humor

Friday, October 22, 2010

Some Things On My Mind

Actually, I have a lot on my mind.

I am enjoying the comments coming in from from yesterday's post. I know, I make these navel gazing posts periodically. What can I say? Honesty, reflection... these things come up, and I cannot suppress the desire to air it all out, to try to make sense of questions that linger around my head. So, thank you. Thank you for your kindness and support, thank you for sharing your experiences, answers, and questions. Thank you for laughing out loud with me.

My Mom reads Chcikenblog. *argghh* She reads Chickenblog too. This is remarkable because she lives deep in the Oregon woods, and depends on a dial up modem for Internet access. She and I joke about the speed and efficiency of dial-up all the time. To read Chci Chickenblog, she turns on her computer, and while it whirrs and churns, she can make coffee, read the paper. Then she enters the URL for CB, and while that is loading she can shower, floss, and dress. When my brothers and I send her grandbaby, and/or 24 hour-mountain-bike-race pictures she starts the download, and then passes the time waiting to see the images by taking her daily walk.

Like I said, it is remarkable that she has the patience to read Chickenblog, to wait for the images to materialize, for the text to appear. And this is why I understand why she does not leave comments... not officially, not through the usual channels. It's too darn slow and complicated. Delia sends greeting cards, and emails me. She sends care packages. She calls me. She travels to be with us quite often, and when she cannot, she finds some means of staying in touch, lending support, and commenting. I love her for this... for holding my hand, no matter how far apart we are.

She also knows about the things I am not sharing in the blog, and she can detect when I am especially in need of a hand to hold, a shoulder to lean on.

Delia called this morning. Thank you Mommy. I needed that.

She talked to me about insurmountable tasks... the kind that leave us numb and immobilized, because of how overwhelming they are. She reminded me that no matter how much there is to do, that on any given day there is a limit to how much can actually be accomplished, and in fact there may be some things we cannot do at all. Then she offered a strategy she has tried, one that has been blessedly successful.

On her advice, I am going to make a two part list. In the first column I am going to write down the things that can reasonably be accomplished today. It should be a mix of duties and chores, with some pleasures thrown in... some things to sustain hope and happiness. In the second column I'll write down those things I cannot manage. Either I do not have the skill, the time, or the spirit to tackle these things so they go to to column two. Column one is for me, and everyday I will take care of business and make progress. Column two is for God. It is the surrender and ask for help list. It is the perhaps another time list.

Oh, the time!
I am off...
Column 1: My eye appointment, pick up Alex, remove Ferris' bandage, call appliance guy.

Column 2: Cure OCD, move the shark cage out of the flood plain, patch the leaky roof, clean my office.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Not Whining... Much

This is my one thousand six hundred and fifty-fifth post on Chickenblog.

I have been posting since May, 2002.

In 2007 I posted two hundred and ninety-nine times. 299.

So, far this year I have posted one hundred and ninety-two times, and even if I post every day from now until the end of the year, I will not beat the number of posts in 2007.

This endlessly fascinating to me. I appreciate that it is also possibly dull, but that's okay.

I meet people that say "I read your blog all the time." All evidence is to the contrary, and some days I wonder if I can't choose to be as dull as I please in the blog, because I can. be. as dull. as I please. if I want to. <---------------said in a not whining much tone.

I used to think: I blog because it is an efficient and fun way to converse and stay engaged with family and friends, especially those living far away.

Then I thought: I blog because it will amount to, or lead to something akin to a career, or a career kind of opportunity.

In my best moments: This is a personal journey of discovery and memory, a keepsake of my family life, our days on our big, blue planet. And I smile contentedly, and sip something organic and pure.

Not best moment: I frikin' quit. (Insert assorted variations of self-loathing and bitter whining.)

I have thought: Maybe if I get a puppy, wax my eyebrows, shop at Anthropologie, hire a life coach... maybe something affirming, lucrative, or interactive will happen in the blog, and my time spent writing will be justified, and respected.

Sometimes: I say too much. Which ironically is not too different from not saying enough.

More often than not: I don't say enough, or much. I leave out a lot.

I make hen shaped pancakes. They are free form kitchen art, poured from a ladle. I call them Hencakes. Hencakes are even older than this blog. They are more popular too. I harbor a small fear that someday I will see "Hencakes" in a glossy magazine, and people will rave and say they are adorable, and no one will care, or hear me whining: I made those! Me! I did it first! I don't necessarily need Hencakes to be my legacy, but something would be nice. Okay, so maybe it is more than a "small" fear.

Funny thing (for me anyway): I included a Hencake photo in another "blog reflection" type post. Fascinating.

Every year I buy more pumpkins than we carve or cook. Every Easter a pumpkin collapses under its own weight, and spreads across whatever nook it was abandoned in, and has to be scooped and hauled away. All too often this stinky-slimey, onerous job has gone to Geoff, which is a huge injustice, because he does not like pumpkins, especially in pie.

Mmmmmmm. Pie.

I fell asleep after two AM. I was out of bed at a quarter after seven. I probably not should machinery heavy operate today. Just saying.

Ferris is recovering from his cryptodich snip-snip surgery. He has a very large incision. The word "probing" was emphasized in the post operative consultation. Poor-poor kitty. Seriously.

We had weather this week. It rained considerably, confirming my concern that the chicas' new home is more like a "shark cage" than a refuge in a storm. It flooded. Really, really, badly. No one took pictures, but maybe you can imagine me up to my ankles in muddy water, first trying to clear the drain, then simply trying to rescue the reluctant foul fowl. I had to clear out Betty's old table coop, find a dry cover for it, then herd the chicas in to the slightly improved accommodations. I wish someone had taken pictures. I like to imagine I looked like a real farmer, soaked, muddy, and glowing in my adrenaline rush.

I don't have any more pictures to add to this post. I maturely decided not to include the adorable ones of my daughter and her cousins playing together, because it felt like a form of abuse... taking advantage of their adorableness to grab the attention of readers.

If you read today's post and leave a comment a child born before the new year will share your name. If you read today's post, leave a comment, and share a link in your blog, I will make a Hencake in your honor. If you read today's post, leave a comment, share a link in your blog, and include Chcikenblog Chickenblog in your blogroll, I will carve, or eat, every single pumpkin we buy, and spare Geoff a rotten pumpkin Easter.

Lately I blog because it is so much more affordable than therapy.

Thank you.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Dynamics on the Bird House Farm

Here is Chango, senior kitty. More feral than domestic. Prone to skittish-psycho behaviors. A survivor with a soft heart, but heavy paws. He has been our Chango kitty since the year 2000.

Next to him is the newbie, Ferris. He gives hugs and kisses. He stays a safe distance from Chango, but he torments Benjamin Franklin mercilessly. He has enough kitten energy to last him all day and he uses it.

Zoltar. The cocky-little-dude. He is small and he is feisty. He is getting in fights, and picking on small children. His days are numbered, but he's got a high number, because I love him, and he loves me.

Chango and Benjamin Franklin Thunder-Cat leave the chickens alone. They leave all the chickens alone. They do not pester, torment, ruffle, disturb, or annoy the chickens. I don't know if this learned, or good instincts. I don't know if Chango and Benjamin Franklin Thunder-Cat simply have good manners and a healthy respect for their fellow Bird House pets, but it does work out nicely, the peaceful accord they have drawn with the chickens.

But this one. This one has no sense about chickens. Those feathered playthings pecking in the yard are the sirens that call his soul to the hunt, to predatory and murderess purpose. He watches them from the door, from the window. He tracks the chickens as they graze across the lawn. His lips part and quiver in tasty anticipation, of what he believes is his entitlement: Chicken Dinner.

And when he can get out... oh dear. When he is out, he is stalking those birds, with evil intent, and a steadfast tread. He used to sprint and leap right for them, but he soon learned that his galloping paws betrayed him, and the chickens scattered and clucked and expertly evaded him. Now he is a stalker. No less purposeful, no less intent, just slower, quieter, more candid.

He makes a display of casual indifference. With Zoltar still fixed in his sight, he feigns a drop, he stretches, he shows his disinterest, his detachment from chicken chasing.

You are a sly one Mr Ferris. But you have much to learn. Much.

Chickens do not look kindly on pesky kittens. Chickens have a mean kick in them, and roosters have instincts too... to watch for predators, to protect their flock.

Oh kitty. You are a sly one Mr Ferris. But you have much to learn. Much. And Zoltar, or Temple, or even Betty, will be knocking you on the head if you don't give this up.

Small. Fast. Cocky Zoltar. I hate to give him up. He rides around the yard on my shoulder, and he is the easiest to pick up and hold. But he is cocky, and he and Temple have been fighting... I could charge admission. He needs a new home, where he can roam and defend his hens and crow.

He is not destined for a stew pot. He's much too handsome, and besides he wouldn't amount to more than two or three chicken nuggets. Sorry Zoltar. Just keeping it real.

As for this cocky little dude. He is with his physician right now.
Yup. It's time for the snip-snip.

I think the chickens will be safe this week.
Sorry Ferris. Just keeping it real.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Last Call!

Our time in Germany may have been brief, but we did find Maria a pretty dress when we walked around Triberg.

I still remember the sales clerk explaining how easy it would be to adjust the fit as she grows, so that her dress could last through a few seasons. And, since she has grown a lot since last autumn, I did have to add some elastic to the waist, and adjust the straps. It was an easy fix and in a few minutes we were ready to attend the last biergarten party of the year: Octoberfest! The first biergarten party we attended was last June. Where have the days months gone?

We carried over a basket of fresh baked pumpkin muffins, and oatmeal cookies. Once we arrived, we helped round-up the chickens in Michal and Helen's yard. Michael F. gave Maria a scooper full of scratch to give to the good chickens once they were safely herded back in to their coop. It's fun arriving early, helping with the set up, and watching all the guests arrive.

Since Michal and Helen, and Michael F. and Patricia are such generous hosts, and marvelous cooks, there were plenty of delicious dishes to line up for, and because it was a potluck the variety was wonderful too.

I realize that as the weather changes parties out of doors lose some appeal, but I sure am going to miss these biergarten gatherings. Our friends have a gift for bringing together a lot of interesting and friendly guests, so the parties are great. Hopefully movie nights will hold us over until we all meet again in the garden.

Games too?!
Oh yes... fun ones like horseshoes, and gravel-in-the-cup, and hammer and nail, which is played with a hammer and a nail, and a scrap of wood. Maria gave it her all. Geoff did too. The least number of hits to get the nail down was four. Geoff got the nail in with four hits, so did another friend. And some took more hits, way more hits!, which only added to the amusement and entertainment. I think Michael has some experience in timing this game... he brought it out after guests had plenty of time to sample the good beers on hand.

It has been noted that even half-way through October we can be out in shirtsleeves, that there is still plenty of green grass, the trees are leafy. It was fortunate timing for the last garden party of the year, though it's been drizzling most of the week, it stopped for the party, and resumed in earnest by the end of the day. More rain is in our forecast, but that's not saying much. The grass will stay green, and we will still find days warm enough to leave sweaters in the closet. So, if you are ever considering So Cal in October, be assured: It is a lovely time of year, mostly.