Monday, July 30, 2012

Introducing...


Miss Elizabeth Bennet

The Vet told us today that Lizzie is about 10 weeks old, and has hook worms, round worms and fleas.  She got wormer, flea medicine and her first round of shots today, along with a very expensive blood test that confirms that she does NOT have kitty HIV. Whew!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Quiet

It is quiet in our house.  The girls are outside giving the animals "Quality Pet Time".  I feel like I have the chance, for the first time since we were at the beach, to sit down, take a deep breath, and chill.

We had a wonderful time with my brothers.  The minor set backs like the well running dry, and then having monsoon season for the rest of their visit didn't seem too hold any of us back.  We always have a good time together, which makes me wonder why we don't keep in touch very well in between times.  My sisters-in-law are trying to convince me to get on Face Book...ACK!

Despite all the fun times, it gets a bit busy with 6 kids, 8 adults and 2 dogs in the house.  It seemed eerily quiet on Sunday after everyone left.  I barely got through washing sheets and towels before we had to head up to the city again on Monday to visit the Dental School. 

I had assumed that L was going for a consultation regarding a missing permanent tooth and a crooked 6 year molar that wasn't coming in, and that this would be the first of many hour plus drives there this summer.  They decided that at this point, they simply needed to remove the primary tooth that was preventing the 6 year molar from coming in, and allow it to drift into the spot where the permanent tooth is missing.  That was done in 15 minutes under the influence of strawberry scented Nitrous Oxide and Novocaine.  No more visits needed there until all of her permanent incisors are in, and she still has 2 to lose!  Whew!

Back to work yesterday, after the better part of 2 weeks off...things haven't changed much there.  I was busy, busy with a solidly booked schedule for the entire time.  I came home from work just in time to prepare for the overnight stay of my Aunt and 2 of my cousin's children last night.

Their stay was brief, but enjoyable.  They left after breakfast this morning, and we hurried off to Library Day Camp, where the girls spent most of the day.  I spent most of that time helping my friend pack up her house.

I kept so busy, and enjoyed her company so much, that I was able to NOT focus on the fact that she will soon be leaving.  Now that I am home, in the quiet, and have taken a few deep breaths, it is sinking in that another of my friends will no longer be around.

Before I give myself the chance to sit around and mope about it, I should get up and put away groceries, fold clothes and remake the beds.  My cousin and her daughter are stopping by tomorrow night.  I'll have enough time for moping when the company stops coming.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

When it Rains, It Pours...Except When it Doesn't

We have had a really dry and hot summer for our area.  Since it started early, way back in April, things are pretty brown and crispy around here.

The garden is quite stunted, but still green.  That is because I have been watering it with water from the 1000 gallon cistern that is filled with rain from our roof.  I have emptied the cistern twice now - one good rain will fill it up.  We haven't had a "good rain" for quite a while now. 

Yesterday, I finally broke down and dragged hoses all the way from the house to the garden to water from the well.  I was feeling a bit guilty about it at the time, hoping that the well was doing ok.  Unfortunately, I sort of lost track of the time, and the garden got sprayed for 2 or 3 times longer than necessary.

This week, both of my brothers and their families are visiting.  This means that we have more than twice the normal number of people hanging out, taking showers, and washing dishes.  Last night, we got the 3 girls through the shower, and one of my sis-in-laws got a shower as well.  Afterwards, I turned on the faucet and nothing came out.

JP and I got flashlights and opened up the man hole of the cistern.  We could see the bottom!  Yikes.

Fortunately, the water hauling peeps were out to fill up both cisterns for a grand total of 3000 gallons of water and $145 by 8:20 AM.  The well had managed to dribble a bit more into the cistern over night, so it isn't COMPLETELY dry...just overpowered by 14 people and unconscientious garden waterers.

Today, we celebrated (belatedly) my Dad's 70th birthday by going to a Frontier Baseball game.  It ended up being a double header, since last night's game was apparently rained out.  (None of that rain made it HERE!)  We saw them win game one, then sweated and melted through 6 innings of game number two, which they also won.

We saw lightening the whole way home, and by the time we pulled into our driveway, there were a few drops of rain falling.  The sky remains dark and threatening.  Maybe now we'll get that "good rain" we've been needing.

In any case, the rest of us finally got our showers.  Let me tell you, it really felt great!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Nobody Puts Baby in a Corner

Since I caught the raccoon on our veranda, my Dad has been using the live trap to try to catch groundhogs.  We are overrun with groundhogs and rabbits this summer, but the kitty is doing his part to keep the rabbit population down.  I don't know that Dad is very successful catching groundhogs, but Friday night he caught a little kitten.

Since Bert the black cat disappeared a couple of months ago, we have been talking about getting another kitten to be buddies with Ernie, and help him with the rabbits.  We thought, "What the heck?  Maybe this is THE kitten!"

The poor little thing was shaking with fright, after being trapped for several hours.  I managed to get it out of the trap without any problems, but soon afterwards, it clamped on to my finger and didn't let go.  Now we are stuck "observing" it for the next 10 days so that I don't have to get the series of Rabies vaccinations. 

By Saturday evening, it seemed to have calmed down a bit, and I was able to hold it, while JP examined it for gender.  We THINK it's a female.  As time goes by, she gets friendlier, and has a delicious little purr when she is being scratched under her ears.  She is still very timid, but I can now coax her out of the kennel occasionally.  Usually she stays curled up in the back corner.


She is a very pretty little kitten.  In 8 more days, we can hopefully make the decision whether or not she is rabid, then determine if she is going to stick around and be the new Poplar Ridge Barn Cat.

I'll keep you posted.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Boob Tube

In  the bad storm just over 2 weeks ago, when many people lost power, we lost our TV signal.  We actually didn't even miss it for several days, and I would much rather lose my TV than my power in July when the temps are hovering in the mid-nineties.

Let me back up to say that 6 or 7 years ago, we got tired of the price gauging by the satellite TV companies that increased our rates every couple of months, but never improved the service.  Except for the 7 uncomfortable months when we lived in a tiny apartment in town (while our house was being built), we've never lived in a location where cable TV was even an option.  We got Netflix, and used an antenna for local channels.

The demise of analog TV signals meant that we had to buy a new DIGITAL antenna, which proved to be very positional.  If we had it turned in just the right direction, on a good day, we got about 10 channels...just enough, in my opinion.  At first we thought all the wind just blew the antenna way out of position in the last storm, but repositioning in brought in exactly...nada.

JP battled his vertigo and went up on the garage roof to take a closer look at the antenna, while I nervously paced down below.  (What was I going to do, CATCH him?)  He couldn't find anything that seemed out of the ordinary up there, so he broke down and ordered an OMNIDIRECTIONAL DIGITAL TV antenna, which arrived while we were at the beach.

With that one hooked up in the attic of the garage, JP came in to check on the success.  Three.  Three channels we get now.  Whoopee!

Hopefully we can get some technical input from my brothers when they are here next week, because when the Fall TV season starts, I will need to get CBS to watch my favorite show, "The Mentalist."  In the meantime, I seriously hope that the Olympics will be aired on NBC, PBS or the channel that has "I Love Lucy" and "M.A.S.H."

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Beach Week


This week at the beach was the first time that the girls or I had rented a beach house and played at the beach. 
L playing in the sand
It was the first time that L played in the ocean, although she preferred to play in the sand.

J on her boogie board.
 J had her first experiences on the boogie board. 

2 weeks ago, I was talking to JP's sister about how we really needed a vacation, and were thinking about trying to spend a few days at the beach.  She told us that they were offered a week at Cape May Point, NJ for half price, but it was still pretty expensive for just the 2 of them.  By some miracle, both JP and I were able to clear our schedules and make it happen.  We had a great time!

Cape May Lighthouse

Climbing 199 steps to the top of the lighthouse!

JP flying his stunt kite on the beach.







It all went very well, although none of us enjoyed the 8 hour drive to the beach or the one back home.  No one got sunburnt, but I did burn my arm on a skillet while making pancakes one morning.  The only catastrophes were J losing her goggles in the sea, and the 5 gallon water cooler tipping over to spill half of its contents all over the floor of our van...we're still trying to dry it all out.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Sand and Surf



Here we are, at the beach.  After a shower on Sunday night, the temperatures have dropped from the low 100's to the mid 80's just in time for our visit.  We are eating well, reading lots, playing much, and enjoying our break.  I don't think I have ever felt the desire so deeply before to get away and do NOTHING.

I realized, on our interminably long drive here, that we have done this before:  taken off on vacation with the plans to return just 3 days before my brothers and their families arrive for a week long visit.  I have many preparations awaiting me when we return home, but I did think ahead and get plenty done before hand, to make my transition from little responsibility to lots a bit easier.

I will post more pictures later of our adventures here.  At the moment, I don't want to think any further ahead than the 2 minute walk to the beach.

Happy Summer to all!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

The End of Eternal Call

As of 7 AM, JP is off call for the first time since April...hurrah! 

Saturday, July 7, 2012

The Circle of Life

There are times that living on a farm and in the country expose us to Nature at her harshest, we occasionally see things that are unpleasant. This morning was one such time.

When I took the dogs out this morning, I noticed that the electric netting around the pullets was down in the back. Having just been out there posting up netting that was shorting out on the ground and sparking at midnight, I got a bit concerned. My first thought was that something had gotten in after the chickens. I did a quick check in their house on my way around to check out the breach, and they all seemed to be there and doing alright.

When I turned the corner toward the problem, I caught a glimpse of reddish tan fur with white spots. "Oh no, oh no, oh no!" I cried as dashed toward the little fawn who was tangled in the electric fence. Her little body was already stiff and cold, so I was too late to rescue her. In fact, it took several of us to unwrap and untangle the slender little legs and tiny black hooves.

J, who is still learning about how brutal life on a farm or in the country can be, was incredibly disturbed by the sight.  We explained that this accident was not something that we could have ever predicted or even expected.  In fact, JP wondered whether it was being chased by a predator for it to get so ensnared in the fence. 

Tearfully, J asked if we could have a funeral for the fawn.  Neither JP or I wanted to dig a hole big and deep enough for a fawn in the 94* blazing sun, so we decided to take the body up to the meadow, and allow the vultures to have a meal or two.  In this way, the fawn would have a bigger purpose in life and death than merely tragically dying in our chicken fence.

So, we had another life lesson up here on the hill about the circle of life.  The girls were able to watch how a life and death could provide life for others, and allow the circle to continue.  Perhaps in a couple of weeks, we'll go up the hill to the meadow and look at the little bones to marvel how wonderfully made was the little fawn that happened into our lives.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Ham N Eggs

When we came home from Virginia this Spring, we brought a 15 lb. country ham with us.  A country ham, unlike its city ham cousin, is both salted AND smoked, then it is aged for several months.

We opened the burlap sack and paper it was wrapped in this weekend and exposed the meat in all of its moldy glory.  Like most aged meats, it developes mold on the outer surface, which is scrubbed off under running water in the first step of preparation.  We enjoyed it for dinner on Friday evening, along with other Southern comfort foods, such as buttermilk biscuits, green beans, and sweet tea. 

On Saturday morning, the leftovers made an appearance for brunch, sliced thin and pan seared, then served along side buttermilk pancakes and strawberries.

I thought about putting the hock in the crockpot with some split peas for dinner today, but we are just about hammed out at the moment, delicious and salty though it was.

After the huge brunch yesterday morning, JP and I felt ready to tackle the problem of overcrowding in the pullet house.  The Barred Rocks are now 12 weeks old, and making 100 lbs of feed disappear in about 10 days...POOF!  They are still quite small, even though they are said to be "broiler sized" within 10-12 weeks.  Perhaps they are like pond goldfish, and grow to fit their space.  If that is the case, I'll be spending a LOT of time and money at Agway in the coming weeks!

The problem is that we cannot put them in with the hens, since they are still eating chick feed.  We did think enough ahead to buy two 160 ft. lengths of electric chicken netting back in the Spring, so after some quick sketches on the back of an envelope, JP decided the best configuration was two back to back triangles, creating one large rectangle.

Now the pullets, having never known such freedom before in their lives, are happily scratching and running in the pasture, and the hens are enjoying more shade in the afternoons than in their previous locale.  All of us have spent a lot of time out by the chicken runs lately, just watching them do their chicken thing.



We also acquired a Silver Laced Wynadotte rooster this weekend. He travelled in from town in an LL Bean box, with a friend who was hoping to have a couple of laying hens.  His neighbors were hoping that too, so when the little fellow began crowing at 5:45 in the morning about a week ago, he asked if he could swap for a hen.  He is a handsome little guy.


Initially, we put him in with the hens.   They have an apparent testosterone ban in their quarters however, and seriously hen pecked the poor fellow.  JP moved him in with the pullets, where he has had words already with our suspected rooster (who still hasn't learned to crow.)  Otherwise he is fitting in much better with the younger crew, and I found him snuggled up amongst the black and white youngsters on the roost last night

Now we are speculating when these young ladies will start laying.  After some research, it appears that it still may be another couple of months before they start paying us back for all this feed.  After that happens, the plan is to "retire" the old hens, and about half of the pullets, along with any non-layers, (AKA roosters...if they are annoying).  In this manner, we hope to stock our freezer with meat, and keep our refrigerator full of eggs.  It remains to be seen how well our plans work out in the end.

At the moment, since I am stockpiling eggs against our upcoming family get together with my parents, both my brothers, and their families, our refrigerator has plenty of eggs.  And there is still some ham there too...ham and eggs.