Thursday, January 29, 2015

Chickens are Not Smart

I mentioned before that the hens love their new, spacious, warm and bright space so much that they don't like to go outside any more.  This wouldn't be a problem except that we had been keeping their food and water outside because they tend to poop where they eat.  Since they weren't going outside, they stopped eating and drinking enough and their egg production went down drastically.

If we desire eggs and plump chickens, the feed and water need to be inside with their lazy, feathered butts.  Now we are dealing with 14 hens pooping in there 24/7.  Gross.

I started encouraging them out of doors a couple of times a day by offering corn and/or kitchen scraps, and some of them would stay out for a while.

Last weekend, JP put a clear rubber flap over their door - the kind used over pet doors.  It is slit multiple times, and each flap is now only about 1/4 of an inch wide.  It has done wonders to keep it warmer inside the chicken house, but the hens don't realize that the door is still there!

Now I herd them outside in the mornings.  At first, I had to catch each hen and physically shove her through the door.  Now they head outside on their own when I herd them towards it.  The majority of them, however, can't figure out how to get back in.  All week, I've had to herd all 14 hens into a corner, catch them one by one, and stuff their heads into the door in order to get them back inside the house.

At least they are getting a bit of fresh air and exercise when I chase them madly around the pen.  I'm sure it's comical to watch.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Where's the Bear? #11

Only 51 days until Spring!

Now that we finally got some snow, it doesn't want to stop!  It seems that lately there are always a few flakes flying around...not enough to accumulate much, just enough that I have to shovel in front of the garage morning and evening.

It's also enough snow to make most people stay in, so I haven't had any patients to see so far this week.

Ho hum.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Finally...Snow! And a Party...

We finally got our first decent snow of the winter overnight on Friday.  It was/is gorgeous, with the trees frosted, and all the brown grass and mud covered in pristine white.

The only hitch in L's Birthday party on Saturday, was that one of the Moms slid off our driveway and did some minor damage to her car.  JP pulled her to safety with the tractor.  The girls seemed to have fun, playing games, touring the tree house, and making their own pizzas.  I was relieved, as there was quite a bit of drama ahead of time, with half of the girls L invited never responding one way or the other, and causing her some emotional distress. 

All of the birthdays on Poplar Ridge are now over for another year!

  It is snowing again today, on top of sloppy melted snow from the weekend, and rain overnight.  It looks gorgeous out the windows, but the roads are somewhat treacherous.  I headed North again this morning to see the Dermatologist, and am glad to be home safe and sound.

The girls will be glad to know that piano lessons have been cancelled for this afternoon, allowing them time to play in the snow.  They enjoyed catching snow flakes on their tongues after dark last night.


Thursday, January 22, 2015

It's the Bomb

It's been a strange week.  The weather has been unusually warm for January in Pennsylvania.  The girls and I went for a walk with the dogs a couple of nights ago.  We all enjoyed the fresh air and a little bit of sunshine!  We had already watched the sun rise on the way to school that day, and watched it set on our walk, which served to remind us that it is still January, and the days are still way too short!

Monday was our first make up day for the 2 snow days that we accrued right after Christmas break.  At about 11:30, I got an email that there had been a bomb threat at the Middle School.  It stated that all of the students and staff had been safely evacuated and were "under shelter", that the Police were currently on the premises with bomb sniffing dogs, and parents were "implored" to NOT come to the school.  I was not truly concerned that there was actually a bomb at the school, but it was a bit disconcerting to have no idea for the next 3 hours where my child was, or what her emotional state was.
J filled me in on details when she returned home that day.  They were told to leave their lunches in the cafeteria where they had just come to lunch and to quickly proceed to their next period classes without asking any questions.  They were then escorted from the school, and walked 10 or 11 blocks up to the local University, where they sat in the gymnasium for the next 2+ hours.  They had to sign out to use the restroom, and were allowed to get up and "walk around" for 5 minutes every half hour.  They were given chips and bottled water, and returned to school to resume their lunches close to 2:00.  No bomb was found.
The girls had a 2 hour delay from school this morning.  Unlike the one on this day last year, it was actually a scheduled one, as the teachers had an in-service.  I was supposed to work today, but my boss (also known as my sweet husband) gave me the day off to "go have fun" with my friend in honor of my birthday!  We headed North to a little consignment shop, and although I tried on several things, including a cute chicken sweater, I only came home with a book for the girls.  We had lunch, and then after taking the long way home, called it a day.
I did have to run in and get my Driver's License Photo taken.  That was pretty lame, but I almost forgot about getting it done...the form got buried on the pile of crap on my desk.
Tomorrow I have to spend a couple of hours at the Auto Repair shop again...this time for a recall on the van.
Saturday is supposed to be L's birthday party with her friends, but only 2 out of 4 have even RSVP-ed!  I hope she has a good time anyway.
Tonight my mother is cooking dinner, which is wonderful.  That fact is allowing me to sit at the computer at this time of the evening and post to my blog.  I did not manage to watch Downton Abby yet today though, it was on the short list of to-do items.  Too bad!

Where's the Bear? #10

Guess whose Birthday is today?

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Where's the Bear? #9

If I could just get L to sit quietly at the piano and practice with a smile on her face like this, instead of throwing a super colossal screaming fit, I'd be happy.  I'd take just the quiet and no smile even!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Weekend Activities

Well, the girls' first week back to school was pretty much of a bust:  1 full day, 2 - 2 hour delays, and 2 snow days.  We have one full day in so far this week, and it's lightly snowing outside.  For most of the winter, JP puts the phone on my side of the bed during the week nights, so that I am the one to answer that lovely 5 AM call from our Superintendent.

It was also extremely cold for several days last week - into the minus F numbers cold!  (Blast!)  The chickens are so much warmer in their new home, that many days they don't even bother going outside!  It was extremely quiet in there yesterday, so I peeked in to see what the hens were up to.  They had all scratched themselves little nests out of the bedding, and were quietly resting.  Even they know a good thing when they see it!

JP and I built a redneck cover for the coal bin.  He had intended to use a tarp, but it has consistently filled loose pockets with rain or melted snow, which ultimately re-freeze into huge blocks of ice and have already torn the tarp up.  We had some pieces of metal left over from the Chick-Bit house project, as well as "scrap" pieces of other colors which were used to protect the pieces we bought during delivery.  Consequently, we have ended up with a Roof of Many Colors!

During some down time in the roof construction, I formed a pile of snow into an almost recognizable Jabba the Hut Snow Guy.   It's not always all work, work, work up on the Hill!

I had to outline him so you can see his bulk, since
my photography skills are about as good as my
snow sculpting ones!
Today I put away the remainder of the winter decorations.  The girls were disappointed when we finally arrived home after school, piano lessons and dentist appointments.  It's true...typically I leave all my snowman collection out through January.  I simply felt very ready today, to return to normalcy.

Here's to another January week, y'all.  Boy oh boy, this is a LOOOOONG month!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Where's the Bear? #8


Perhaps I can hibernate through January!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Little Things

Today ended up being our first Snow Day of the winter.  When I got home from work, the girls, the dogs and I went outside to play.

Stella got cold.

Kali got hurt.

Notice their nifty boots - prevents ice balls in their feet!
I made a record breaking run on an inner tube - all the way down the hill and on to the driveway!

The girls both had a great time.

J has been making these little owl night lights out of toilet paper tubes and battery powered tea lights.  She taught L to make one tonight.

This is what they look like in the dark.  Aren't they cute?

I spent the day yesterday cleaning, organizing, and taking down the Christmas tree.  While cleaning the girls' bathroom, I found this bin of tub toys, which has had a place beside the bathtub for more than a decade.  Neither of the girls even take baths anymore, but I have not been able to get rid of it.  It almost feels like drawing a curtain closed on my girls' childhood.  Baths were such a huge part of being a's hard to let go.

But...I did go through them, discarded a few and cleaned the rest.  When they are all finished drying, then maybe I'll be ready to find a new home for them!

Sunday, January 4, 2015

New Year

A lot has happened since I last posted, and here it is - 2015.

We had a lovely, quiet Christmas Day.  We enjoyed our semi-annual beef tenderloin for dinner with my parents.

My brother and his family joined us after Christmas.  We had a very nice visit!

L turned 9 years old!  She requested a Tres Leches cake for her birthday.  She will have a party with her friends sometime this month.

We also visited the Natural History Museum at her request.

We invited the girls' friend over for a movie marathon, culminating in watching the ball drop in New York at midnight on New Year's Eve.

Today is the day where we finish up the being lazy bit, and transition into the back to school and activities bit.  We have had such a nice time being home, and without any deadlines.  JP was off work all but 1 day of the girls' vacation!  We did a lot of fun and relaxing things.  JP and I also cut and stacked a bunch of wood for the wood burner, hoping to keep ahead of the game this year.  I exercised about half of the days, which is something that I have NOT done in the past.

As I am slowly starting to take down the Christmas decorations (saving the tree for tomorrow when the girls are not around), I have been thinking about this whole, big year that stretches in front of me.  While I am not big on making New Year's Resolutions that I am sure to not keep, I have wondered what will be different this year.

Will this be the year that I finally finish reading "A Team of Rivals", or get on Facebook?  What will evolve from the 2 partial jobs that I am currently working?  Is it this year that we finally add more animals to Poplar Ridge farm, or actually harvest fruit from our puny orchard?

Above all, I hope this is the year when I can finally tame the yelling, and bring more peace to our family.  It's a huge job, but I think I'm up for the challenge!

Happy New Year to all of you!