Thursday, March 31

Baby Bald Eagles

I just had to share this. In a world where people spend more time messing around with useless junk, lets just enjoy this.









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Wednesday, March 30

Confessions of a Vacuum Packing Addict



We buy about half of our food in bulk, to save money and time. Things like chicken, carrots, cereals, spaghetti sauce - things we go through a lot of and that we like. When I find a good deal, I stock up. And we hit the "buy-in-bulk" store about once a month to load up on veggies (in the off season) household necessities and chicken. But no matter how lovingly you stack your carrots in the fridge or how carefully you wrap your meat, spoiling and freezer burn happen.

And that wastes money.

So I vacuum pack stuff. This serves two purposes: first, it keeps things fresh, longer. And second, Roy is on this ridiculously low calorie diet and he insists on taking his lunch to work every day. He must have a certain amount of veggies, meat, etc., and this vacuum packing lets me make the packages as large or as small as I want them. So our freezer is now full of 1 1/2 cup serving size pouches of carrots, peas, broccoli, and corn. This makes it easier for me to pack him lunch when I am dead tired at night and just want to go to bed. It is also a fast and easy way to prepare a quick, healthy meal: I just take out a few pouches, open them up, pour the contents into a glass, microwave-safe bowl and in a few minutes we have vegetable side dishes.

I do have to admit this this is all not just for saving time and money. I love using the vacuum seal machine. It is just fun - I can accomplish something in a matter of minutes. I like that feeling. I packed carrots and peas today during a rare burst of energy. Could the morning sickness be showing signs of weakening? I sure hope so. For someone who is used to being eye-deep in house and yard projects, this time of having only enough energy to do a load of laundry is quite depressing.

I will chalk up today as a productive day and feel good about it. Roy has enough perfectly portioned pouches to last a couple of weeks and I don't have to worry about the 5 lbs of carrots growing roots in the veggie draw of my fridge.

Wednesday, March 23

Winter Weather Advisory - Wait, Isn't it Spring?

I knew the nice weather days we had last week were too good to be true.

My snowdrops and crocuses are now covered with about 5 inches of cold and blowing snow and they look seriously depressed. I opened the coop door for the ladies this morning and they took one look around and jostled each other to get back into the warm straw.

I don't blame them.

Aside from the annoyance of nature's double cross, I am also bothered that we have to crank up the oil furnace to heat the house this week. The pellet stove is down due to an overfeeding of pellets, causing a general overload. It needs a good cleaning and some work on the outdoor vent pipe but who wants to be standing around the yard cleaning a dirty pipe in a blizzard. Apparently not Roy. So we are keeping the house just warm enough with the oil even though I feel bad for wasting the money.

I am moving the cleaning of the pellet stove to the top of my "Roy please do this" list.

So as I rest here with my laptop, I look out the window to see a blizzard and decide to set the planting dates on my calendar. Every season I try to determine when I should start my indoor seedlings to given them enough time to be hardy enough for transplant when the weather cooperates. But not too early since I don't want to nurse 3 foot tomato plants in my basement the second week of April.

I use the Farmers Almanac website, the sowing directions on the seed packets and my notes from previous years to help pick just the right day. And according to my system, I should have started the broccoli, peppers and tomatoes last week. Great.

I blame it on morning sickness that lasts all day, a total lack of energy, and the fact that if you spend all day in your jammies, the days just seem to blend together. I'll shoot for tomorrow - just picture me in the basement by the table and grow lights placing tiny tomato seeds in the seed starter mix while wearing my flannel pj's and slippers.

All this thinking about seeds and planting has managed to dull my annoyance a little at the game spring plays every year. And once I get those grow lights on and the basement smelling like dirt, I think my mood will be much improved.

Monday, March 21

Chicken Pen Repairs

Yesterday since the weather was bordering on spring-like, my parents came over and we made the repairs to the chicken coop and pen.

The first snow of this past winter had drastically damaged the pen area and a few temporary repairs were made to get us through the chilly months. But now that the weather is starting to turn, the ladies refuse to be cooped up any longer. They have started fighting amongst themselves and feathers have been flying - literally. It was time that they had their full pen back.

Mom took over little man duties and Roy and Dad went to work removing the temporary mesh roof from the pen and removing all the dividers, ropes, cable ties, 2x4's, and other "grab what you can to brace the pen" materials. I was relegated to supervising since I have the energy level of paperweight right now. Add that to the nausea from the morning sickness and I was good for about 45 minutes of "helping" and I was back on the couch. On a side note, this is pretty much my day: sleep, rest, try to eat, run to the bathroom, rest from exerting energy running to the bathroom, roll matchbox cars with little man, sleep, try to eat.......

Back to the chicken repairs - after all the material was removed, they used a come-along left over from our chain link fence days at the old house and straightened up the corner posts. Then we used long metal stakes and some short 2x4's to pound into the ground to brace the corner posts in place. This worked well and it helped to put some tension back in the fencing which had been severely sagging.

With the corner posts fixed and made stable, we were then able to run the rope in a big cross to hold up the netting that would go across the top. We pounded a tall 2x4 into the ground in the center of the pen, about a foot higher than the corner posts. I was afraid this would make it look like the circus had come to town and was camping in my yard but it turned out fine and there is less sagging of the netting this way.

We used the stronger netting that we purchased for the repairs. This netting should last longer since it is much more durable and we know that they snow goes through it instead of collecting on top and putting too much weight on the corner posts.

Finally, we spread two large bales of straw on the ground which they had become completely bare of any grass, to give the girls something to occupy their time. Two bales covered the whole pen nicely and we will add more during the spring and summer as we need to. It also makes the pen area look much better and it helps keep down the mud.




The girls, who had been clucking at us the whole time from the windows, where let out into their new pen and they loved it. Room to roam and half-fly around, and tons to scratch around in. Their mood was much improved.

Next was to clean out all the straw and poop from the coop that had been building up all winter. Not a pretty job and I was lucky that my Dad and Roy handled it this year. We removed all the nest boxes, feeders and fonts, and we cleaned it all out. New straw was put down and the nest boxes were moved to now face the back of the coop where it was darker and the girls had more privacy in which to lay their eggs. I had placed the boxes in the bright light from the windows that they had been laying in the straw in the corner and under the nest boxes. This morning revealed that they were all back to laying in the boxes.

Having this project done is a huge weight off our shoulders, and it was a distraction from the sadness of this past week. I kept expecting to turn around and see her out in the yard with us, checking out the situation and sniffing for things to eat. I washed and put away her food bowls yesterday. And my snowdrops are blooming.

Friday, March 18

Snowy..... 8/1999 - 3/17/2011


After a series of lingering illnesses and an extremely fast onset of another, we had to make a very hard decision this week. Our girl, Snowy, who was almost 12 years old, went to be with her sister this past Wednesday.
She is greatly missed by everyone here and there will never be another dog quite like her.

Saturday, March 12

Drunk Pedestrians and Loose Chickens

This title pretty much sums up my day today. I know it sounds like a Monday morning headline from a college newspaper but it was not as exciting as it sounds.

This was my day: Still suffering the effects of all-day morning sickness, I decided to suck it up and take the little man to the St. Patrick's Day parade downtown. I rarely go downtown for many reasons, most of them being that it is just that - the city. Or what the little man likes to call "the 'ucky city." But I really wanted him to go see the parade since he is now old enough to enjoy it. The weather was chilly but still ok for parade watching and the rain held off until the very end. So, there is one plus.

We got great parking and we met up with family on our usual St. Patrick's parade watching corner. Lots of young drunk people and lots of families with little kids and lots of teens trying to look "cool" while hanging out with their families. But it was a lot of fun and I did my best not to throw up. I was afraid I would be arrested for public intoxication rather than being an 8 week pregnant lady who looked like she just rolled out of bed.

The parade was great - lots of bagpipes and irish dancers and fire trucks. The little guy loved it all and Roy, my brother in law and a family friends also had a great time with Keystone Ice. Yuck. But another plus.



The highlight of my day was when the 1180 WHAM vehicle went by and I saw Bob Lonsberry and his family waving to parade watchers. He is my favorite radio talk host and I have never seen him in person before. "He really IS real!!!!!" See picture below for proof:




The parade ended and that is where the fun stopped. Literally. It started raining pretty hard and even though we had great parking it took forever to get anywhere from all the traffic. Police officers had taken over intersections and were directing traffic to help ease the congestion.

I was stopped at an intersection waiting to turn right and the officer motioned for the other direction of traffic to stop and for me to go. I noticed two guys standing on the corner next to my car and the officer told them to wait before crossing so all the traffic could get out.

One of guys was so drunk that we was oblivious to the officers instructions and decided to cross anyway. He walked right into the side of my moving car and fell over. Of course, we stopped and the next 45 minutes was spent giving police reports and standing in the rain. The little guy was great for the whole thing and had no clue what was going on. The officer was yelling at this drunk idiot the whole time.

We finally were able to go and after dropping Roy and our friend off at a restaurant for some food, I took the little guy home. I have never wanted to get home and go to bed more in my life.

As I was carrying a very tired toddler into the house I saw a chicken staring at me. They were loose in the yard.

So after the little guy was in bed, and had to catch 18 chickens who absolutely did not want to go back in their coop. It was raining and muddy and I was running out of bread scraps.

Another 45 minutes later and chickens were secure, the little guy was sleeping and I was crashed on the couch determined not to move for the rest of the evening.

Lessons for the day:
1. Make sure chickens are secure before leaving the house.
2. Thoroughly evaluate the pro's and con's of going to the city for ANYTHING.
3. Always watch out for drunk people and/or buy bumpers for car.
4. Do not leave the house without at least foundation on even if you feel like absolute crap - someone will always be taking pictures for something.
5. Some days you should really just stay home.

Saturday, March 5

Helping. Kind Of.

Since I have been fighting the burdens of morning sickness for weeks now, Roy has been taking care of the chickens and the cat litter for me. The cat litter he insisted on doing himself but I have guilted him into taking care of the chickens as well. "Hey, you did this to me so you need to pitch in with the feeding and watering of the ladies in what has become a very smell coop. Layers of straw and composting poop making a warm coop and great fertilizer, but the smell is quite overpowering since I have developed the smelling capabilities of a bloodhound.

Last night I asked him to check the water and fill the feeders. He went to the basement to fill the two spare fonts and it seemed to be taking a longer time than usual. I then heard a huge commotion from the basement which sounded like someone throwing the recycling bins around.
Standing at the top of the stairs, I watched as Roy came up the stairs with one full font in hand. he was obviously mad.

I did not want to ask what happened because I was literally afraid to. I thought he had slipped on the floor and fallen or something bad.

Turns out he had a fight with the font and it had "exploded" with water going everywhere. And it also turns out that this was not true. He could not get the bottom on the font after multiple tries and the font ended up being thrown against the wall, breaking it.

Granted, the bottoms can be a little tricky to get on just right and it can be annoying, but I think we have some anger management issues here.

This long winter is taking its toll. We just got 6 inches of new snow yesterday after a previous day of rain and 50 degrees. Lets get this season wrapped up and done with before I run out of fonts.