Thursday, May 28, 2015

Beyond My Control

Everything has been so crazy around here lately with all of the last-minute school activities, that I feel like my phone is constantly alarming to remind me of the next thing I have to be at!  Although tomorrow is the last day of school, and they will only actually be there for 2 hours (basically just to get their report cards and get their schedules/teachers for next year,) the craziness won't stop there.  I have 2 doctor's appointments next week, along with the promise to keep a friend of the girls for 3 out of 5 days!

SIGH.

We had a lovely cook out with a bunch of our friends on Monday.  It was wonderful to have that break before diving into this week, in which I've had to schedule 2 "emergency" doctor appointments (1.  J, who has been getting a strange rash every time she is in the pool.  Verdict:  dunno, but don't worry about it from the Allergist.  2.  Stella, who has been limping every now and then for the past week.  Verdict:  dunno, but give her these expensive dog pills & call in 2 weeks.)

In the meantime, my hand has been bothering me more.  The discomfort has changed again, and now it is EXACTLY like what I had before surgery.  GRRRR!  I see the surgeon back next week.  Next week is June, and I STILL don't have my garden all the way planted!

I did, however, pick these lovely (and delicious) strawberries out there yesterday!


There have been some other odd occurrences around here lately as well.  Another tiny bird built a nest in my ficus outside of the garage.  It ended badly for the little bird family last year, so I did not have high hopes for this one either.  A couple of nights ago, I found Lizzie crouched beneath the ficus, licking her lips.  I removed her from the scene, but obviously she returned.  Only 1 baby remained the next day.  Mama bird never returned, so yesterday afternoon, I buried the tiny baby bird in my flower garden.

We have had daily (sometimes multiple times a day) sightings of a smallish, light brown dog around Poplar Ridge for the past week or so.  We chased it away the first day, but it continues to return.  It is eating the cat's food, and consequently freaking out the kitties.  I have been calling to it, and trying to catch it for the past 2 days, without success.  I feel terrible, because it is obviously hungry and has no where to go, but I also don't want it to scare my mousers or spread any diseases to my pets!  I called the Sherriff's office this morning for guidance, but had to leave a message.  Hopefully someone has some ideas for me!

So, we are riding the waves of crazy these days.  I'm feeling a bit seasick, and ready for the ride to end!  Enjoy your last few days of school!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Where's the Bear? #27

Looks like I caught the bear right at the end of his workout today.

He looks a bit self-satisfied, and, well...pooped!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

It is impossible to "Dog Whisper" Chickens

I had J home with me today.  Her school had a trip to an amusement park all day, which she was waffling about already, since she is not a roller coaster fan.  She came home yesterday crying with a painful, swollen knee.  I am concerned about her JIA recurring after nearly 4 years in remission, but that is for another post.  Last night, JP said point blank, "You should not go to an amusement park tomorrow and walk around for miles on that knee."

With anti-inflammatories in her system, she is feeling much better today.  I enlisted her help to sit on the veranda and paint the picnic table/benches.  They look great now!

 
While I had the green paint out, I decided to paint the door inside the barn that goes into the Chick-bit house.  The peeps and rabbit didn't seem to mind that I was working there, but several of the hens appeared completely put out.  They clucked and complained long and hard.

At first, I tried talking soothingly to them, like you might with a fussy baby.

Didn't work.

Then I "dog whispered" them.  You know that short, sharp "Ch!" that Cesar Millan uses to get the attention of the dogs he is training?  It works sometimes with my dogs, and I even use it on the girls on occasion.

Didn't work on the hens.

I yelled at them to "Shut yer corn holes!"

All that did was upset the peeps and bunny.

I chased them outside.

That worked for awhile, but they came back in twice as agitated.

I finally decided that the only viable option was for me to just paint as fast as humanly possible, and get the heck outa there!

So, it's not a great job, but the door is painted on the outside.  I need to clean and sand the inside of the door and varnish it at some point.

 
This has been just one more observation to prove that chickens don't have much in the brain department!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Perching

I noticed that for the past 2 or 3 days, that the peeps have been perching on the edge of their feeder (consequently pooping in their food...ew!)  Today I decided that maybe they want to start roosting, and I put down the roost.  Several of them hopped up immediately!



They are really starting to get awkward and gangly looking!

Where's the Bear? #26

The Bear found a lazy place to "hang" out!

Monday, May 18, 2015

Open For Business

Last week we got the pool up and running...almost 3 full months ahead of when it happened last year.  We took a short dip on Saturday, but the water is still too cold to stay in for long!  We are looking forward to spending many hours in the pool this summer.

These peeps are morphing into the awkward pullet stage,
 where random feathers start growing any and everywhere!




We also opened up the other half of the Chick-bit house for the peeps this weekend.  They were outgrowing the watering trough we started them in.  They seem to be enjoying their new space, running and flying all around!


They can even see what's going on outside now!


 
I have spent a lot of time at the Elementary school lately, helping the PTA with Arts Day (all arts & crafts, all day long) and a final Scholastic Book Fair. 

I wish I would have had more time to spend in the garden!  I got the strawberries weeded and mulched.  There should be some ready to eat very soon!  I got the sweet potatoes, onions, and some of the cabbage family planted.  I am hoping to go out and get the tomatoes and peppers in the ground yet this afternoon!

We had a nice, steady rain for a short time on Saturday morning.  JP and I sat out on the veranda to watch it come down, and listen to the rain on the roof.

My peonies have started blooming!
Last night was L's piano recital, at which she performed very nicely.  I will try to put up a clip at some point.

We are headed into the last full week of school...whew!  These last few days are jam packed with lots of activities, and very little school work.  We are good and ready for summer to be here!  J asked if we were going to have "another boring summer where we sit around and do nothing the whole time?"  I reminded her that we spent 2 weeks in the Pacific Northwest last summer, and invited her to write me a list of things she would like to do.  I have yet to receive any list. 

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Where's The Bear? #25

The bear seemed to go missing for a week or so.  I found him today, absorbed in a good book!

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Happy Mother's Day!

My family has worked to make the entire weekend a special Mother's Day event, that has allowed me to feel special and loved!  On Friday, we went to my favorite bakery, situated by the river, and flanked by lovely Sycamores, where we dined on delicious sandwiches and salads.  Yesterday JP made quite a feast of grilled shrimp, fresh asparagus soup, freshly baked bread, and finished it off with a homemade chocolate mousse.  Today, we drove through the country to a nearby nursery, where I chose plants for my outdoor pots, and some for the garden.

This afternoon, the girls and I invited my mom over for a Mother's Day Tea, complete with crust less cucumber sandwiches, homemade shortbread, and tea.  Afterwards, my mom and I strolled around the property, checking in on the peeps, the flower beds, and the garden, where we cut asparagus for my parents' dinner.

In between eating, there was plenty of gardening to do.  We also uncovered the pool, and I have reviewed the guidelines on "Spring Opening of Your Pool", which I can do once we get it filled again.

There are new flowers in my beds:

This is the bank behind the pool - the ground
covers are doing exactly what I'd hoped!

Primroses & Solomon's Seal


I got these irises from my Grandma's flower beds.

Columbine


More irises!

And I even noticed tiny, pea sized, fuzzy peaches on the peach tree in the orchard!!

 
The peeps are growing by leaps and bounds.  They have tiny wing feathers and a few are getting itty bitty tail feathers as well.  I think that L injured one of them, who on Friday was unable to put her left leg on the ground.  Now she is mostly hopping around, and occasionally limping, but I think she will actually survive (which I was uncertain about on Friday evening!)

Our final hurrah to this Mother's Day Weekend, was homemade Bahn Mi, on JP's freshly baked baguettes.  We like this recipe, which uses a rotisserie chicken.  Not only is it simple and absolutely delicious, it is cost effective, as we can pick up a rotisserie chicken for $4.98 at Wal-Mart!


Rotisserie Chicken & Cracklings Bahn Mi

1.  Debone the entire chicken, and tear meat into small-ish pieces, mix with any juices and set aside.
2.  Cut the pieces of chicken skin into strips the length & width of your index finger, and cook in a skillet over med. heat, stirring occasionally, for about 6 min.  (Think "bacon."  This will become brown, crispy, and absolutely fantastic - I can't wait until Thanksgiving when I can have an entire turkey's worth of this stuff!)
3.  Season the reserved chicken meat with salt and LOTS of pepper, and reheat in skillet with rendered fat from skin.
4.  Mix up some Spicy Hoisin Sauce, using 6 T Thai sweet chile sauce, 1/4 c hoisin sauce, 2 T rice vinegar, and 2 T soy sauce.
5.  Create sandwiches using crusty French bread, the chicken & cracklings, along with lots of thinly sliced veggies, and drizzle with sauce.  We like cucumbers, radishes, onions and sweet peppers.  JP also adds jalapenos.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Peeps

I am working on my second mug of coffee this morning.  I have been awake since 4:30, anticipating the call from the Post Office that my peeps had arrived (they told me that their first truck arrives at 5 AM), and fretting that they wouldn't be alive by the time I got them.  I finally got the call at 6:30.  When I arrived at the Post Office, there was no one in sight, but I could hear the peeps cheeping from the front window!

They arrived in this tiny box, 13" x 9", all squished in the corner like 25 fluffy, yellow sardines.

 
The instructions said to dip each chick's beak in the water initially so that they could find the water.  Soon the little things were all drinking.

 
Before long, they were scampering around, eating and drinking.  All good signs for 2 day old chicks who have just made a long journey from Missouri via the US Postal Service!

 
They started eating the wood shavings, so I covered them with newspaper as per the instructions.


Now they are huddled up under the heat lamp, snoozing, just like any new babies!

 

Monday, May 4, 2015

Feeling Pretty Good

My surgeon was correct in guessing that I would be "feeling pretty good" by the weekend.  On Saturday JP got a trailer load of wood mulch, and I spent several hours prepping my large flower bed and then mulching it.  JP did much of the heaving lifting, so I didn't work out my hand as hard as I COULD have.  It looks great in there now!

The kitties think it is great too.  The mulch is nice and soft for them to lie in, and they like to be in the shade of the weeping cherries and the taller plants.  They also like the soft mulch to dig and poop in, so since I've already seen evidence that they have been digging in there, I decided to make this bed kitty-proofed.  I put up chicken wire over my fencing, so that they cannot slip between the railings.  They could still jump in, I suppose, but I doubt they will go to that much trouble.  Instead they will use one of my other, unprotected flower beds.

Saturday night, L attended her first sleep-over Birthday party.  Apparently there were about 10 children in the room she was "sleeping" in, so she came home super tired and cranky.  She was also filthy!  The party was a bonfire, and they played games with paint and shaving cream.  The bath water turned green when she laid down in it!  After her bath, she went to bed for a nice, long nap.

After she woke up, we all drove down to the creek, on the other side of the road to walk around.  We usually do this every Spring, before it gets all overgrown and impossible to walk in!  We always come back with arm loads of trash that has either come down the stream, or been dumped from the road.  There is still pick up loads of trash over there, but we feel better disposing of what we can every year. 

Dad said that he saw a muskrat come out of a hole in the creek bank recently.  We didn't see any of them, but we did see this prehistoric looking snapping turtle!

 
After our walk in the sun, we came home, cleaned up, and grilled fajitas.  We ate them on the deck with homemade salsa and guacamole, and JP and I washed ours down with this yummy Banana Bread Beer!

Everyone liked the fajitas!
 
It was a good weekend, and my hand is still feeling pretty good.  Maybe I am finally starting to recover from surgery!