Monday, May 30, 2011

Moving Day!

Doug finished the pen for the chickens and it is hotter than blue blazes- so today we moved them out.
Here is Ella checking out her new digs.
 Doug helping them to get settled.
 Doug and I carried each one.  One by one we moved them from the cage in the mud room to the pen outdoors.  They seem so happy.  They were funny.  One would jump or test wings and they would all be jumping and flapping.
 And guess who had a front row seat?

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Memorial Day Weekend

Saturday:  worked at Papertrix from noon to 7 p.m.  It was soooooooooooo good to be with Wayne and Cindy back at the shop.  I just kept asking how much things cost.  "How much is this?  How much is that?"  I made a cute card with a purse stamp that is supposed to hold a chocolate bar.  I couldn't find a chocolate bar.  I told Cindy we could put a packet of horsey sauce in the purse.  I had not worked at the shop since December.  I was so happy to be back and see our clientele and be with Wayne and Cindy.  And you know what?  I'll be back, tomorrow. 
Today:  hiked with the Indianapolis Hiking Club at Gnaw Bone Camp.  We lost our long-time leader, Bill Larrison, in January and we had a Bill Larrison Memorial Hike today.  I wanted to do that.  Doug went with me and we did a seven mile hike at Gnaw Bone camp.
 During the hike we saw an Eastern Box Turtle
 And another Eastern Box Turtle
Afterward we went to the Corn Crib for lunch with friends and then stopped in B-town for ice-cream at Brusters.  Then we came home and crashed for two hours.  Then Doug went in to work for two hours (someone has to test the water) (even during a holiday weekend) and I cleaned the living room and the guest room. 
Then we chillaxed. 

Saturday, May 28, 2011

The chicken guru has a PhD

We had our second Purdue University Extension class last night on Keeping Your Back Yard Flock Healthy.  In a previous post I referred to the instructor as "the chicken guru."  On the way home last night Doug and I were talking about the lecturer and  I said to Doug "you know she is educated by the way she talks."  She used a lot of the scientific proper terms.  We came home and I was doing dishes and I turned my head to the left and looked at the side of the refrigerator where the flyer was hanging and I read that the chicken guru has a PhD.  Oh my. 
I felt overwhelmed by the first chicken class.  A great amount of information was presented.  A lot of worst-case scenarios and a lot of diseases and illnesses that our chickens may never have. 
Plus, this past week- for the first time- one of my chickens bit me on the thumb.  The one that bit me is one of them that is looking a bit rooster-ish.  I wanted to say to the chicken "haven't you ever heard don't bite the hand that feeds you?"  Plus, they are turning into rude teenagers, pushing and shoving at feeding time to the point that it frightens me.  To the point that I think they might hurt one another.  I think the situation will be better once we move them outdoors but we've had so much rain and a lot of storms this past week that we haven't been able to finish the pen.  (We were able to work on it this evening.)  So I've been having some second thoughts this past week about being a chicken mama. 
One subject the chicken guru talked about this week was what kind of food you feed your chickens.  She said it should smell good- like something you would want to eat, yourself.  If it doesn't smell good, don't feed it to your chickens.  She said you can even taste it if it is quality food and it isn't going to hurt you.  She told us that if your chickens aren't getting enough protein that they might not lay well or the eggs might not have good shells or a yolk.  She said not to let your chicken fill up on junk food like cracked corn or white bread- that it is like giving them candy.  A lot of empty calories.  She said seeds and grain are good.  Black oil sunflower seeds make the feathers shine.
The chicken guru shows chickens so after class she gave a chicken a bath that sothat we might learn how.  You need to use tepid water, not hot or cold.  You put your soap first, then rinse in the second bucket.  The third rinse you can put a bit of vinegar in to cut the soap.  She used dog shampoo for fleas and ticks. 
You lookin' at me?
 She brought her modern game bird to class again.
showing us how to check a vent
 Putting the chicken into the soapy water.
how to wash a chicken

scrubbing his feet with a toothbrush

Final rinse

 Then to dry the chicken, she rolled it in a towel. 
rolling the chicken in a towel

chicken burrito
While the chicken was in the towel she trimmed the tip of his beak which was a bit crossed over.  (With fingernail clippers.)  She also trimmed his claws.  She oiled his legs to treat for scaley leg mites.  She said not to ever put a wet chicken out into the sun because you will cook it.  Sometimes it can take a chicken a day or two to dry so keep that in mind if you are showing your chicken. 
When we got home Doug asked me if I thought I would ever wash one of my chickens.  I said "well, I'm not going to say no because one thing I've learned is that every time I say I'm not going to do something- I end up doing it.  But I think it is unlikely."
My new worries include wondering if my chickens already have mites and if the pen and room they will be in will be big enough- because in class she covered what will happen if they don't have enough space.  I'm sure once they are moved outdoors everything will be fine.  If not, I'll just call or email the woman with the PhD!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Hunkered down

Last night we had about four or five tornado warnings.  Our town got hit by high winds on Monday night and then again last night.  There are trees down everywhere.  Nothing like Joplin, mind you.  I've been troubled thinking of the people in Joplin.  One story I heard was what people were looking for the most were items that you normally misplace like keys, glasses, cell phone, purse.  About ten-thirty last night, the sirens went off.  We live south and west of town, out in the country.  I do not know where the nearest tornado siren is located, but it was going off loud and clear.  Very scary.  I got up and started tidying up the house.  And I thought this is dumb. If we get blown away, it won't matter if the house is tidy or not.  But this is what I do when I'm nervous. 
Doug went out to the car port to take a look and called me to join him.  The rain was torrential and the wind was blowing hard.  And it was pitch black dark.  It is even scarier when you can't see anything.  Ever so often the lightening would light up everything around bright as day.
We have a crawl space but it is wet and icky and has spiders and dirt.  So I hunkered down in my little half-bath.  I was sitting on the floor on a blanket in my pajamas.  I had two battery powered lanterns, my purse, my glasses, my cell phone and charger.  I sat in there and read a book.  Doug was across the hall in the bedroom with our Corgi, Chelsea, and the cats.  I guess he thought they would make a run for it if need be.
I sat in the bathroom reading and thought should I get dressed?  But I was tired and stayed in my pajamas.  
Sometime around 11:15 to 11:30 p.m. I thought it was o.k. to go to bed.  But even then I had trouble sleeping because the wind was blowing so hard.  
This morning it looked like a war zone.  Roads blocked by trees.  And everyone keeps saying this is nothing compared to Joplin.  
A fellow university employee who lives thirty-five minutes or so from my house sent this out this morning.

 Thirty-five minutes away is too close for comfort. 

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Power in the cup

 This morning when I was driving to work, I looked over at the car next to me and saw this man- right hand on the steering wheel, left hand holding a cup of Starbucks, elevated near his left shoulder.  Have you seen someone hold a Starbucks coffee in this manner?  It occurred to me that there is power in the cup.  First of all you have sugar and caffeine.  Secondly, it is prestige.  It is like when someone carries an expensive camera, hand cradling it like a baby, near their chest.  I know I carry my camera like this for several reasons- first of all if you just hang it around your neck, it bumps and swings and that is annoying.  Secondly, in a crowd, someone may bump into me.  Third, again, I think people carry cameras like this because of prestige- look at me, I have an expensive camera.  I am a photographer.  I think part of the reason that people carry their Starbucks cup elevated for the same reason- so as not to bump or spill and to say Look at me, I'm drinking Starbucks.
It isn't cheap, but I love Starbucks.  There I said it.  An admission to the world.  I am not a wealthy person.  For me, Starbucks is a treat.  It is a comfort place.  It is a happy place.  If there is one day of the week I am more likely to get a Starbucks, it is Friday.  Happy Friday!  And if it is payday Friday?  Oh yeah.  I'm there.
I have a friend that loves Starbucks, too.  She was forever talking about being in Starbucks.  I said "how do you afford to go so often?"  She started telling me about Starbucks card program- how you register a card and your purchases start to build towards free stuff.  There is a nifty meter on your page that shows your progress.  After a certain point you become a Gold Card Member.  Status. 
Holiday cup makes me happy
 and helps me get into the holiday spirit.
Recently, Starbucks has added small snacks to their menu.  They call them Starbucks Petites.  I love it.  A little treat is perfect.  I had a mini cupcake and even shared it with Doug.  Sometimes a bite or two is just enough.  I love the salted caramel sweet squares.  And fewer calories.  My favorite drink is a caramel frap and have recently discovered the lighter version- fewer calories and more coffee punch.  On a hot summer day, especially if I am driving a long distance, a caramel frap delivers the perfect punch of sugar and caffeine.  On a cold day or a morning when I need a kick, my favorite drink is a venti mocha.  If you are doing weight watchers, you can see how many points each item is on the menu by checking the nutrition guide.  They also have birthday cake pops- "cake on the go."  What a great idea.  Fun for kids and less mess for everyone. 
Starbucks has been around since 1971.  Through the years they have changed the logo on the cup.  This past March they unveiled a new logo, retaining the siren, but dropping the name.  The logo says it.  They don't need the name.  It is like my referring to it as Starbucks.  You don't need to say coffee.  It is like someone asking for a kleenex and you know they mean tissue.  Or when someone orders a coke and you know they mean soda or pop.
The siren is seductive.  She beacons and calls.  Originally the thought was that she would be as seductive as coffee is, itself.  More on the siren logo here.  She has been controversial and pared down more and more through the years, first covering her bare breasts and then covering her navel.  A siren is thought to lead to a bad result by legend.  Some argue that the symbol is not a siren, but a melusine, which is a female spirit of fresh water.  I feel she is a siren and yes, she seduces me.  I keep an app on my droid so that when I travel I can find Starbucks.  And Starbucks in Barnes and Noble?  My idea of heaven.  It is a treat that I can give to myself.  I'm not a Starbucks whore, but rather one who flirts with the siren.  I visit at least once every two weeks and at most, once a week.   And do I have a card?  Yes.  I like free stuff.  I want my purchases amount to something.  I recently changed jobs and there is a Starbucks across the street from my new building.  People take breaks and go to Starbucks.  People have meetings in Starbucks.  More interesting Starbucks information found here.
Do I hoist my cup?  Yes.  I don't want to spill and I have to wonder if a little bit of me is saying look at me I'm drinking Starbucks.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Peace, Love and Aloe

I've been at war with my hair for...
oh, forever. 
I've written about my hair, before.  I suspect that I have African American in my blood.  Without mousse, my hair is a Brillo pad.  It is just fuzz.  I kind of had a long 'fro in the seventies.  In the seventies, if I wasn't sporting a 'fro, I was sleeping in huge "orange juice can" rollers.  That is what they were called.  Mine were pink plastic and I slept in them from the mid-seventies until the eighties when a "dryer-brush" came into play.  (Insert periods of "hot rollers, here, as well, My son had a 'fro in his high school senior picture.  He has beautiful curls.  A little fuzz.  My daughter doesn't hardly have curls, just fuzz.  (She has her hair professionally straightened and it is beautiful.)   I have a lot of fuzz (frizz?), but with coaxing, curls. 
I joke about "life before mousse."  There were a lot of things I didn't know about, growing up, and mousse was one.  I didn't know how to care for my hair.  I used a hairbrush.  Which only makes it fuzz more.  Finally, at some point, I went to someone who properly instructed me on the care of fuzzy, curly hair.  Throw out the hairbrush and use a pick.  (Check.)  Use mousse.  (Check.)  The proper name these days is "sculpting foam."  I was in love with the medium Paul Mitchell mousse, (loved the coconut smell) but can't find it any longer.  There is a good generic brand that I've bought at Sally's Beauty Supply called "Generic Sculpting Foam" (compare to Paul Mitchell Sculpting Foam with conditioner.) (Has coconut aroma.)  Another mousse that is good for my hair is John Frieda Frizz-Ease Take Charge Curl-Boosting Mousse. 
To attempt good looking curls, I dry with my blow dryer on low while using a defuser.  I crunch, crunch, crunch and lean forward and crunch.  (My hair, not my abs.)
Then I lube up my hands with the Vaseline Aloe and crunch, crunch, crunch.  The entire process takes time.  But if I'm not crunching, I'm using a 2" curling iron to straighten my hair- or a flat iron.  Either process takes time.

This aloe is amazing for what ails you, be it dry skin or dry hair. 

When we were at the festival Friday night, I told Doug "take a picture of my hair from above."  (I am 5'2" and he is 6'1", so the photos are from above.)  But you can see, my hair has a good crunch to it. 

my hair, aloe-fied.
 Love, love, love this product!
Vaseline Aloe
If you have curly, a.k.a. frizzy hair, please share your secrets here.  Doug's sister-in-law, (whose family  is from Guyana) puts conditioner on and  doesn't wash it out.  I haven't tried that.  I'm afraid it would be too heavy for my hair.  My hair is thin, now.  Was thick when I was younger (they used to "thin" my hair with thinning shears) but now it is that thin, "over forty" hair.   Thus my need for "light" products.
With the help of aloe, the war is over and we have peace. 

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Still here

One of my new blogger friends, Holly, asked if I had been raptured.  Nope.  I have to wonder how people get sucked in to some crazy ideas.  How sad for them.  What I learned when I was growing up and I'm not certain of the scriptures, but I always believed that we were not supposed to know when and that we were instructed to "tarry" until that time...which means "carry on."  I have to say it was a little fun thinking "what if." But to think that you know the day it is supposed to happen and the time?  Sounds too crazy to me. 

I hiked with my hiking group yesterday morning.  We did six miles on a trail that is very near to where I live. Then one of my gal friends from the group stayed over with us last night.  We had another friend over and had a fire out back and roasted dogs.

This morning Doug and I made a run to the farm store for more chick starter.  Five weeks later- twelve chicks have eaten nearly fifty pounds of food.  They act as if they are starving. 
Then Doug had to buy more lumber for the pen and I got some plants. 

For the deck out back:
super bells.  I love super bells.

hanging basket.  impatiens and vinca vine
 I have a large flower bed near the entrance of the property and each year I clear away the leaves from the previous fall.  I feel as if I am pulling back the blankets after a long winter's nap and saying "wake up."  I usually put in perennials for long-term and annuals for planters and pots.  I also like to buy a few new plants each year just to see how they do.  
can't remember the name of these, but they are perennials
and do well for me

never planted this before.  "brass buttons" 
 supposed to be able to walk on it

can't remember name of this.  have never had it. 
 don't know if it is an annual or perennial but I loved it
I always plant the planter next to the carport.  This year I chose lavender and yellow.  I planted pansies, violas, impatiens and coleus.
planter near carport

It rained off and on today.  When I first heard thunder this morning,  I thought it was an explosion.  The rain would pour and then the sun would come back out.  This happened about four times today.  Doug was working on the chicken pen out back and I was out front working on my flower beds.  At one point I took out my cell phone and called him "yes, this is the front yard- calling the back yard- I need your help."  Late in the afternoon it started pouring, yet another time.  I was standing under the carport and thought "man, a beer would taste good about now."  So I went in and got a couple of beers, then pulled chairs to the sliding door to the deck and Doug and I sat and drank our cool beers and watched it rain.  
Then he threw a Frisbee with Chelsea.  
tuckered out
Chelsea didn't get raptured, either.  And for the record- my idea of Heaven would be one that includes animals.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Chicken enemy number one

Doug and I attended the Back Yard Flock talk last night put on by the Purdue University Extension Office.  It sounds as if the woman that spoke is a resource for 4-H and all families living in this area that have chickens.  She gave us her name, phone number and email.  She shares medicine and advice with people.  Sounds as if she is on call 24/7.  She has had chickens for about twenty years and I expect in that time you would experience just about everything.  She said she has had chickens in the city and now in the country and has multiple pens.  
The room was packed to the point of running out of chairs.  This is a two-session class and I can see the need for either more classes or longer sessions.  She spoke for two hours but what people wanted to do was ask questions and talk.  Any time she would pause, hands would raise and then she had to work to get back on task.  She covered a lot of information in the two hours and a lot of what she said was negative.  Like worst case scenario negative.  Last night's session was on diseases known to chickens living in this area of the state, lice, mites, worms, maggots, scaley leg mites, and injuries.  She taught us how to inspect a chicken and what a healthy chicken should look like, feel like and smell like.  Basically, are your chicken's eyes bright, healthy and clear?  Do the feathers look shiny?  Are the legs smooth?  What does its poop look like?  Yes, you read that correctly- she even talked about poop, which is indicative of the health of any living being's health.  Did you know that chickens could get ear infections?  Did you know that chicken's have ears?  Did you know a chicken can get a cold/respiratory infection?  Not only can they get a respiratory infection, it can be complete with snot and coughing and sneezing.  Oh yes, this was how pleasant the subject was.  She also told us how to remove a leg spur with pliers.  Not something I want to do in this lifetime.
I turned and looked at Doug as if to say "WHAT in the hell are we doing?" 
I am so thankful for the positive example of my friend Mary Jo and her chickens.  I have to say if I didn't have chickens before last night's meeting, I might have been scared out of jumping into this adventure.  I mean I would have been too chicken.
Mary Jo is a healthy, fit, laid back hippie kind of gal with an easy smile and a no-stress attitude.  She doesn't get too freaked out about anything.  Or if she does, she doesn't show it.  I always feel better about life in general after spending time with her.  Her attitude is positive and happy and that includes life with chickens.  I know she has lost a few chickens, but nothing too violent or disgusting.  I know one of her chickens went to the big chicken pen in the sky because it got itself into a corner of the pen on a hot summer day and was too stupid to get itself out of the sun.  Basically, it baked to death.  A couple of others have died mysteriously.  She thought perhaps a "stuck egg"  might have been the reason.  If she has had any icky, disgusting, violent experiences with her chickens, she didn't share them with me.  (Thank you, Mary Jo.)
The speaker also talked to us about predators including dogs, hawks, owls, opossums, foxes, coyotes and raccoons.  When she said the word raccoon, her eyes narrowed.  She said that people talk a lot about how cute raccoons are.  She told us that they have a "fake sweetness."
She told us that "the fake sweetness covers a black heart." 

 She also told us how the raccoons hand is very similar to a human hand.
She told us that raccoons can figure out how to unlatch simple hook and eye closures.  Doug and I have already discussed the possibility of having several locks in different places to keep the raccoons out.  I thought maybe something like a hook style like on a dog leash.  (If you are a chicken person reading this blog and know of a fail-safe way to keep raccoons out, please share with me.)  I think the name of this game sounds like "am I smarter than a raccoon?"
We did learn that we are feeding the right kind of food.  Sounds like (from reading my book and the Internet) that I have done some things correctly.  Some of it is luck, too.  Sometimes you just get a "bad" chicken.  Others are naturally stronger and more healthy. 
I came home and went to the mud room.  Opened the door and counted all of the chickens aloud... "one, two, three..."  all twelve accounted for, alive and breathing.  SHEW!
(Is this turning into a chicken blog?  Nope.  This is just what is occupying my days right now.)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Chicken neighbor

Maybe I didn't say that correctly- we don't have a chicken for a neighbor, we have a neighbor that has chickens- a chicken person!  We saw her sign for eggs and decided we would stop to buy and then talk chickens with her.  Her chickens are free-range.  We pulled in and got out of the car and they all made a mad dash for us.  Our neighbor, (we learned her name is Teresa), came to the door and we told her that we wanted to buy some eggs and would she tell us about her operation? With a big smile on her face she replied "let me get my shoes!"  She was so friendly and nice and told us about her years of experience.  We told her that we were just getting started.  There was a big cage sitting in the back of a truck.  She asked what our chicks were living in and I told her a lawn mower box.  Then she asked if we would like to have the cage- said she didn't need it and they were going to junk it.  We were in my Honda Civic so Doug arranged to go back the next day with his truck to fetch it back to our house.  We are so happy to have it.  It is a huge improvement over the lawn mower box that I had put screens on to keep them from getting out.  (Teresa said this was orginally a cage for ferrets.)
multiple floors- enough room for all
 And look at the eggs we bought from Teresa- a multitude of colors.  She has Americaunas, (I think I do, too) which the call the "Easter Egg Chicken" because it lays beautiful colors of eggs.  This picture doesn't do them justice, they are a beautiful green blue.
 The chicks will be five weeks old this weekend.  Doug is working to secure the room of our small barn where the chickens will be housed and he is building the outer caged area. We will let them roam part of the time but have decided that most of the time they will be in a secure environment.  There are just too many predetors here.  The barn where they will live backs up to the woods.  Much of what Teresa told us was how many chickens she has lost through the years.
measure twice, cut once
 Most of the wood trim needed to be replaced and Doug covered the two windows with chicken wire.  We think he will make some sort of shutter covering.
I was so glad to meet Teresa.  To know that just a couple of roads over there is a resource if we get into trouble.  Plus, my egg-lady friend, Mary Jo and Tony the guy who plows our garden for us.  And tomorrow night we go to the Purdue University extension class on backyard fowl.  Surely we will make other chicken friends there!  (I mean friends who have chickens.)

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Not quite Eva

Oliver and Lisa

Oliver and Lisa and friend
There is a quite a difference in the dressed-up-professional me and the off hours me.  When I'm at home on the farm, I'm no Lisa Douglas.  (For those of you who are too young to know who I'm talking about...of Green Acres.) 
But I can be a bit of a prissy girl.  It is a rare day that I can roll out of bed on the weekend and get dressed and throw on a ball cap and head out.  Even if I am just heading out to my yard or to hike or to walk Chelsea.  I first have to shower and do something with my hair and put concealer under my eyes.  O.k., usually I put on lipstick, too.  Even if it isn't going to last.  Or I will use my eyelash crimper but forgo applying mascara.   My camping and hiking buddies have often teased me about carrying Estee Lauder in my backpack.  And I've always maintained that one doesn't have to be unattractive in the woods. 
Yesterday, I'm sitting in our Monday morning staff meeting.  I am dressed head to toe in JJill.  I had on heather brown slacks, a cream silk long-sleeve blouse with ruffles and a coral jacket.  Beneath my slacks I wore stockings and I had fabric brown shoes with flowers on the toes.  Of course I wore earrings, a diamond ring, a bracelet and a lapel pin on my jacket.
And during the meeting I am sitting there about go mad because of the chigger bites, mosquito bites and a couple of places where ticks have gotten to me already.  I am allergic to wasps and bees and it now seems that anything that injects me with venom leaves a huge angry red itching welt.  Cortisone cream does provide a bit of relief.
I just sat there thinking that what was going on under my clothes was a lot different than how I looked on the outside. 

Sunday, May 15, 2011

A good weekend

I love a quiet, restful weekend, don't you?  Yesterday I first picked up a grande mocha from Starbucks and then headed to our local Farmer's Market.

 I bought some plants- for the planter out front, a few Violas in yellow and purple and a couple of Coleus.  For the kitchen, an aloe plant and for the living room, a jade.  Both the aloe and the jade are tipped in red.  Then I went to Bloomington Bagel for an orange juice and a bagel with sun dried tomato schmear. 
 And, I wore these:  my NAOTs in pink garden flower.  Are they adorable or what? 
After that I visited my favorite thrift shop where I scored several finds.  When I interviewed for my new job, I wore $5.00 navy Dockers,  $1.00 Eddie Bauer cream oxford and a $1.00 fuchsia pink wool blazer from this shop.  I added a pink floral scarf, stockings and black heels to complete the ensemble.  I was very happy to tell the woman who runs the shop that I was hired after that interview.  Talk about scoring!

Then I came home and did some yard work and tidied up the back patio and furniture.  Doug worked on the chicken coop with the assistance of our special needs neighbor who was happy to pocket the $25.00 that he earned. 

This morning I ran away to the $5. movie and saw the 11:20 a.m. showing of "Something Borrowed."  Total chick flick and I totally enjoyed it.  Do you ever feel like running away and escaping?  I think it is a wonderful feeling sometimes.

This afternoon it was rainy and cool.  I felt like baking a cake.  I made a pineapple upside-down cake using a yellow box mix.  
 Then I made a pot of coffee and Doug and I sat down to read the Sunday paper.
 A quiet, uneventful (delicious) weekend.  Now, tell me all about your weekend!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Chicken Mama

A few days ago my friend sent this story to me from Mother Nature Network.  Every word is true.  Having chickens changes your life.
12 reasons I've been a little more busy as of late
Initially, I was kind of stressed and freaked out by them.  They were around two days old when we brought them home.  I felt this intense responsibility for these twelve tiny living creatures.  It was up to me whether they lived or died.  Keeping them the right temperature was a dance.  What I read said that they would let me know if it was too hot or too cold.  If it was too hot, they would lay and pant.  If it was too cold they would huddle.  When the temperature is just right- they chirp and hop around and all is right in the world.  I remember, at one point, after finding them huddled together, I lowered the heat lamp and in turn raised the temperature too much.  All twelve of them lay on their stomachs, heads stretched out, panting.  I carefully raised the heat lamp a bit, working to get it just right.  Did you know that chickens will pant, like a dog?  Until this little adventure, I didn't.  Think about it- do chickens sweat?
Last Saturday we took advantage of the summer-like conditions and took them to the back yard for a chicken field trip.  We fashioned a pen and I sat out in the yard with them while Doug cleaned up their living area in our mud room.
Ella, on the left and Babalou on the right
 They seemed to enjoy picking through the grass and selecting bits and pieces of succulent treasures.
Ella- my favorite.
As of today the chicks are one month old.  These photos were taken last Saturday at three weeks.  They eat non-stop and it seems that each time I check in on them they are bigger.  My favorite little chick is Ella.  When I go in to feed and water, all of the chicks scatter.  Not Ella.  She is always standing front and center, tall and straight as if to say "pick me up!"  Doug and I were talking about patterning.  Remember the man who raised the geese and literally flew with them?  Doug says I have become Ella's mama. 
Doug told me not to get too attached- not to name them.  I have only named a few.  I wanted to have chickens for the eggs and I'm not too sure about eating my own hand-raised chickens.  I did name my California White "Jenny O."  That is what I think of when I look at her. 
I didn't literally lose sleep when I brought my chickens home, but there have been many nights that I've gotten up to check on them.  Just a little bit ago, I went in to check on them and the temperature was down to seventy so I turned the heat lamp on.  It has been warm enough (and they have gotten big enough) that we have been turning the lamp off during the day.  Any project I take on I jump in with both feet and this chicken venture is no different.  I've signed up to attend a couple of talks put on by the local Purdue University Extension office.  Hopefully I will meet other new chicken mamas and daddys.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mother's Day 2011

 The Little Things.  The click of your wife's makeup bottles and brushes in the bathroom in the morning, the subsurface sounds of them, a kind of music.  The accompaniments; the older boy's bedroom door opening and shutting in haste, a faucet running, a gust of wind in the eucalyptus, the last rain on the window.  The little things of what we remember, of what we know, of family life. Of life. 
From The Web of Life by Richard Louv

I heard this passage read at a funeral and instantly was transported to a time in my life when getting ready for work every day meant standing at the sink, putting on my makeup, with both of my children- in the bathroom, with me.  My son who couldn't yet pronouce the letter l would pipe up "are you going to put on your yipstick, Mommy?"  I was transported instantly to the most wonderful point in my life- when both of them simply couldn't get enough of me.  They followed me everywhere.  I would say "Can't I even go to the bathroom by myself?"  They would laugh and say "no."  It made me insane, but I also loved it.  The adoration, the constant vying for my attention.  If they were not in the same room with me, I could  hear their chatter.  The wise voice of my daughter ever giving advice to her younger brother.  Her bossing him at every turn.  He didn't care.  He thought she hung the moon.  He followed her everywhere.  He learned to pull himself up by literally pulling on her hair.  She would scream "MOM!"  When I grew weary of being referee, I would tell them "work it out."
If they were in another part of the house, I would listen to the sing-song of their voices.  I would hear them jumping, occaisionally a big bump or crash would bring a "WHAT WAS THAT?"  from me.  Then one or the other would run to me to tattle on the other. 
They loved being in my bed.  They loved sleeping together.  When I first was single, I rented a house that had three bedrooms.  They each had a room at the house.  But there was something about the move and the divorce that caused my two year old to no longer want to sleep alone.  He would say "Warey, come seep me," pulling on her gown.  She was ever the little mother and cared for him. 
When I think about Mother's Day, I think about my children.  I think about the sing-song of the house, of one or both craning their necks to get closer to me, to look me in the face, to be certain I was hearing what it was they were saying.  Of little hands literally cupping my face and causing me to turn from whatever it was that occupied me to give my full attention to them.  I think of how they constantly had to touch me and hold onto me or my clothing or how my son would hang on the strap of my purse.  I saw one of those quote signs once that said "Motherhood is like being pecked to death by a duck."  I miss those love pecks. 
I told a frantic mother recently, "I know you are in the midst of insanity, and you can't imagine, but when they are gone, it becomes very boring."  She looked at me with a look of disbelief on her face and nodded- "uh-huh."  But it does.  I live for phone calls or texts or pics sent on my phone of my new grandaughter.  I live to be with them- as they are now far-flung and live states away.  Being a mother is living for your children- no matter what age they are.
Me, my sister, my mother.  Yesterday.  We all wore the same apple green.

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