Now, where did I leave that?

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Cute Times Three

This is TC (aka Toni the Tiger, aka T-cubed)

This is Marbles

And this is WC (White Chin)

Disclaimer: Other than Marbles & Bear, these are not the names we'd give kittens of our own; we needed to differentiate them for record-keeping. We like originality in our animal names, so at one time or another we've had a Yeti, an Elf, a Nahmie, a Zamboni, a Cootie, a Sassafras, a Mystic, a get the picture.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Cooped Up

I couldn't take today off to work on the coop, so Linda worked on it alone. After emptying 'two bathtubs' worth of rain' from the tarp with a bucket & rope, she installed two of the windows (the only two that are actually real windows w/ panes and glass). We'll put trim around them for aesthetics, and to cover the gaps.

Two of the roof rafters are built. We have to build two more, get them up, then cover with plywood, tarpaper and shingles. Then we lay down vinyl flooring, paint the coop, and get a pen set up. Chickens can move in then, and we'll have a week or two to get the rest of the fencing up so they can free range (I know, 'fenced free-range' sounds like an oxymoron, but we'll be fencing more than 1/3 of an acre for 6 hens, and it will include both open grassy area and shrubby underbrush. So we're quite comfortable calling them free range). I'm soooo hoping we can get the roof rafters and plywood up this weekend....

Monday, April 23, 2012

Monday Montage

How about a bunch of photos rather than my usually wordy update?
Went to Clermont for this:

Got to sit by the river

and watch border collies herding ducks.

Of course, I had to buy more roving to practice spinning (when my hands let me).

And for your moment of 'awwwwww', I give you TC:

Wishing you a peaceful, easy Monday!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Quickie Update

I owe you pictures, but for now:
  Kittens are doing well, except for a little problem with...shall we say 'eliminating'. Even with lots of help, it's still a challenge, but this too shall pass (couldn't resist; I crack myself up sometimes). Vet is pretty sure Bear, Marbles and Stripe are boys, and T-cubed and WC are girls. WC's eyes are half-open, and everyone else is in varying stages of peeking at the world. Linda is a saint, a trooper, and very, very tired.
 Coop is moving along, but we're at that part where, at the end of five hours of work, we stand there with aching muscles and say "Really???!!! That's all we got done today?". We're working on the roof rafters; we wanted a peaked roof and it's tough-going. But we're way ahead of where we were this time last year, so that's good. We decided against chicks. I'm sorry...all those fuzzy chick & kitten photos would have been adorable, but time is not our friend, and five fragile babies in one season is enough. We'll be taking back three of the nine we gave to our neighbors; alas, their daughter has grown fond of Mama, so Mama won't be coming back, but Millie will! Then we'll round up three more laying hens born this year. In an ideal world, we'd find an Australorp or two, and an Ameracauna, but we'll see. There may be a livestock auctionin our future.

  Coop-building  has exacerbated tendonitis in both hands so I can barely knit or spin; heck, yesterday I opened a jar and had shooting pains up my wrist and arm for an hour. I was all the way up to the heel flap on Linda's second sock, got confused and made such a mess of it I couldn't begin to figure out how to undo it. So I pulled it all out & am starting again. Deep and heavy sigh.

  The whole eating thing: it's been interesting! Had a Coke recently for the first time since starting, and it was rather nasty...way too sweet (a thing I've rarely--if ever--said about anything in my life) with distinct chemical overtones. I prefer my half fruit juice/half club soda beverage now. So my palate is most definitely being retrained. I've been told to go wheat & gluten -free for several months, with my late-May birthday as a half-way assessment point. Gluten-free is a struggle. Brown rice pasta is fabulous (who knew?) but can't be eaten cold (geez, talk about al dente!), so I'm despairing the loss of warm-weather pasta salad. Quinoa has become my friend. I miss real bread. But this week did a lunchtime happy dance in my office over a fresh, simple salad of arugula, pea shoots & cress (all from the Farmers' Market), peppers, zukes, tomatoes, chicken & olives, with a homemade balsamic vinagrette. This is a big deal for someone who used to happily eat bad cheeseburgers for lunch. The disappointing thing is that all these changes haven't resolved the hives,which was the whole point.

  The garden is growing, but slowly. We haven't started tomatoes yet, but will be harvesting a mesclun salad soon!

  Lilacs and honeysuckle are blooming, too early. The grapes are flowering before we had the chance to prune. Slow down, please? There are deep cracks from drought, and I worry about the well. There's rain forecasted for Sunday...we need it.

  And I'm ready and longing for those Summer Fridays off (we're closed on Fridays in June & July)...I can taste those three day weekends already. And it appears my beloved is no longer working Saturdays, so we're readjusting to actually being together on the weekends; each one so far (there's been two) is such a gift!!

And that's all, folks!!!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Dear Blogspot

May I suggest that, before you 'upgrade to a new interface', you figure out the existing bugs. For example, I follow numerous blogs and greatly enjoy them...and yet this morning my Dashboard claims I am not following any. Hogwash & malarkey!!!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Thursday, April 12, 2012

She's At It Again

My beloved has GOT to stop working at the animal shelter.....

The crew is a week old, and there are 5 all together.

They're too cute...but I already did my stint of 2 am feedings 24 & 30 years ago, so one of us will be sleeping downstairs tonight, and it's not gonna be me....

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Thought For the Day

In and out. Up and down. Over and over. She wove the strands of her life together. Patching hole after hole. Eventually she saw it was much more than the threads that gave her strength, it was in the very act of weaving itself, that she became strong.

(Author unknown; my sister gave me a plaque with this saying last year...)

Wednesday, April 4, 2012


We put up three of the four coop walls today:
This view is facing the back (North) wall.

The bottom opening on the left wall (West) is for nestbox access from outside the coop; the opening above it is a window. The opening on the right is also a window. Both windows will have hinged drop-down 'covers' that will latch above when open. We still need to install a vent in the top of the right wall, and the hens' pophole in the bottom of that same wall.

The remaining wall is more challenging; it will have our door into the coop, as well as a decorative window. Linda found a fabulous door, old and still sporting not only a porcelain knob but a porcelain skeleton keyhole. Problem is, I love the door she found, and it's an interior one. I fear it won't withstand the elements, and will work so much better as the door to the second bathroom (if we ever get that done), home to a clawfoot tub. So Saturday we're going door hunting, and hopefully will get that fourth wall done Sunday. But this was a great day's work...I think we'll definitely finish long before June, which is when we finished the previous coop last year!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Odds & Ends

  Can you believe it's April already? Forsythia has bloomed and the blossoms are already fading. Our lilacs are gearing up and should be flowering about 3-4 weeks early, if the frost-tipped nights don't keep jumping out from dark alleys. It's time to start tomato seedlings under cover. We had moved the cats out to the sunporch, but had to bring them back inside last week, and this entire week's forecast indicates they'll need to sleep inside at night. I'm hoping we can get them moved back out to the sunporch before we bring the chicks into the house.

  Yes, I said chicks. From the frying pan into the fire, that's us! Barring an inability to get exactly what we want (6 Golden Comets & 3 Americaunas), we'll be brooding chicks. We made a list of chicks vs. hens, and it was pretty balanced and inconclusive, with our desire to have some blue eggs winning out. I'm excited and scared, enthralled by how cute they'll be and how much easier to handle as adults if we handle them when they're so young. I'm profoundly worried that Lola will find a way to get to them when we aren't home, or that a stray draft will kill them all. I'll keep you posted!

  Coop building has aggravated my tendonitis to the extent I've been unable to knit or spin, but I've got my plan together! The class I'm taking is an all year sheep-to-sweater course. Decided to dabble in reality and acknowledged that a handspun sweater is too big an undertaking this year given my slow learning curve. Well, by golly, at yesterday's class, Claudia gave us a handout for handspun socks.  Seems an obvious choice, requires far less usable yarn than a sweater or even a shawl, and in fact Linda had been remarking that she would like me to make her handspun socks. Cool beans! 2012 appears to be the Year of the Sock.

  The 'diet'...don't like that word since this is a life change, but whatever. It's been a mixed bag, but this past week brought a couple of revelations to feel really good about. After 4 weeks of no sugar, no processed foods, and LOTS of vegetables, I've lost 7 lbs. The chronic hives are still in the picture but are much less extreme. Neither of these are terribly impressive, but both demonstrate progress. I've learned to eat whole dried dates (no added sugar) for the late afternoon sweet attacks, snack on unsweetened whole grain muesli for carb cravings, and sip 100% juice combined with club soda or eat fresh watermelon for after-dinner desserts. But this weekend, I took a walk on the wild side with surprising results. Hagen Daz released their special edition Salted Caramel Truffle. I didn't go looking for it; the store moved it to the opposite end of the aisle and there it was, calling my name when I was searching for frozen fruit. After much debate, I bought a pint. Sometimes life requires ice cream, ya know? So Linda & I shared it. I savored every bite, really making it last. It was sweet, creamy, salty, and perfect. And when it was gone, I was okay with that! I didn't start counting down the days (or hours) until I could buy more; I was delighted with the treat, and moved on. May not sound like much to you, but in the past, the very next day there would have been a couple of pints in the freezer, and I'd have settled down with a pint and a spoon (who needs a bowl?). So this was a HUGE victory. The other battle won started as a surrender. Before starting this food plan, I'd developed a fondness for tortilla chips drenched in the nacho cheese sauce that comes in a jar. Yeah, I know...but it had become a common snack. Well, this weekend, despite the extreme processing (and sugar in the ingredients), I succumbed. And ya know what? It wasn't very good. This may be a 'well, duh' moment for you all, but for me it had been a tasty and all-too frequent treat. Now, it's a slimy, gooey, thick, distinctly un-cheeselike snack. Same chips, same 'cheese product'....and absolutely unsatisfying. It was kind of like hooking up with an remember the good stuff, but when you re-connect, you find yourself wondering what the hell was I thinking? And, I'm never going back there again.

  Decisions, plans, victories...not a bad week. How about you?