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Category Archives: Chickens

Scenes of Summer

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20180708_194819Recently I looked back at past posts and pics from July in years past. I felt a little sad to see that July used to be filled with bountiful blooms and harvests from the garden. I do have lovely flowers still, but we haven’t gotten our garden mojo back since removing the raised beds. I planted two tomato plants, a small thing of chives, and a small thing of basil. And that’s it.  We have not been successful in keeping the new chickens away from this area so I guess it’s good that we didn’t pinch back to promote a bushy tomato plant and they have inadvertently grown insanely tall. The chickens won’t be able to eat the tomatoes that are 5 feet off the ground!20180708_175651
Speaking of the chickens, the young ones are doing great. They are so domesticated-they hang out by the back door, are unafraid of the dog, and come running for treats when they see you.

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The two white hens (Beezus and Ramona) are so docile and completely content to be held.20180708_195812

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Carlotta Crowed and More

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Our baby chicks are now 2 1/2 months old. They don’t all have names, but we’ve called the two white ones Ramona and Beezus, and the biggest one was called Carlotta. But then it became abundantly clear that she is in fact a large handsome rooster, which she announced with the usual herald of crowing one morning.2018-06-06 17.45.04  This means we have way too many roosters once again (4) and there’s bound to be trouble.
These twelve are just lovely and are definitely their own flock. They have finally mingled a bit on the perch at night with the others, but they still mostly stick together. 2018-06-06 17.46.39.jpg Carl is of an age where just this week he began trying to mate with the hens (with very mixed success), but when he tried it with tiny Quicksilver (one of the two 6 year old hens) not only did she not allow it she also turned around and viciously chased him around the coop until he had to fly away.
This little flock loves to come out and free range (they just hop and fly over the fence) and I’m quite worried that a fox will eat one. They also still love to eat from our hands and are quite friendly to us. (I’m doing One Second a Day video thing and there are going to be so many 1 second clips of them eating from our hands.)2018-06-06 17.47.36
Tabby’s class does “Teacher for a day” the last week of school, which means the students get to plan a full lesson on a subject that interests them (slime, kickball, rc cars, dogs, and math were some of the topics students did.) Tabby chose to do chickens and bring in Carl and Ramona.IMG_5901 I was excited for her as I did the same thing in 7th grade. I remember my chicken pooped on my skirt and someone (the teacher?) asked me if chickens have hollow bones like other birds and I didn’t know the answer. Anyway, she made a great slides presentation, made a kahoot quiz, showed them how to draw a chicken, and had Ramona.IMG_5894IMG_5897IMG_5895 Just Ramona because Carl was too big to fit and two really would have been hard to handle. As it was Ramona didn’t comfortably fit in the cat carrier so we rigged up a milk crate with a lid and an a bungee cord. I’m told her presentation was terrific!! And when she was done she brought Ramona down to the library where I took her out for my class to see. And then when my class left it was photo-op time! I had to stage something for my school IG after all, didn’t I? And let her out into the bathroom to stretch her legs and wings, which she liked. She flew right up to the counter and then was entranced by her reflection. 20180622_103831And then I took her to the p.e. office to take some pics of her “using” the equipment just so I could tweet it for the p.e. dept. If it wasn’t the last day of school I would have had her visit all the specials areas because how fun would that have been?

 

Peony Parade

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2018-05-25 16.00.27It’s that time of year again! The pride and joy of my garden in bloom, the very best days of the year for my blossoms and blooms. Every year I am delighted and surprised by just how beautiful it is to see lavish blooms of purple and pink everywhere. 2018-05-25 16.31.03It’s not just the peonies (even though they are the stars of the show)-it’s also the spiderwort and iris, rhododendron, and roses. So much glorious color! 2018-05-28 17.18.382018-05-28 17.21.45Alas, while enjoying them we had 2 inches of rain overnight on Saturday. I bet you can guess what sight greeted me on Sunday morning. That’s right-droopy peonies all on the ground. Waaaaaaaaaaaah!! I hustled about using fencing and staking everything up and things look pretty good now, although many petals did end up on the ground.

I didn’t even post about our spring birthdays this year-rest assured we had them and they were lovely. The baby chicks have become lovely young hens. They are very keen on us and still love to be hand fed. They also like to sneak out of the coop, which makes me afraid that a fox will come by and eat them.2018-05-24 16.34.07

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Spring Peeps

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2018-03-14 17.42.49Peep! Peep! We’re rebuilding our flock! After being down to 8 chickens, 3 of whom are roosters, and 2 of whom are 5 year old hens, we decided that this spring we would get chicks, preferably sexed ones. Last week we got a dozen female hens from our local farm and garden co-op. It’s still so cold in the garage that we’ve got them under their lamp, in the big metal trough, inside the house. They are adorable and I immediately made them pose for festive Easter scenes.

The next day I brought in Gordon to participate in some chick and bunny Easter photos, but he was really not into it. He was more excited and curious about being on the dining table.

I’m excited about the varieties we got, including a couple of Easter eggers, so we’ll have blue-green eggs eventually. And there’s also a California Grey, which is apparently a cross breed that will be like a Plymouth Barred Rock. And some gorgeous Golden Laced Wyandottes. Don’t die little chickies!

Speaking of Gordon, he has spring fever. Since the loss of Tree Bird last year me mostly plays with his ball when he’s feeling frisky. Yesterday I saw that he had turned his intentions toward one of the roosters. He was super persistent-poor rooster!

Despite a lackluster start to the winter and a weird 60 degree day several weeks ago, we seem to be hit by hard winter now, just as it’s leaving. We had a rainy nor’easter, followed by a snowy nor’easter one week later. Our house fared pretty well-just one giant tree limb down at the edge of the yard and assorted smaller branches.  Many in our area were not so lucky-lots of trees down. And, since it’s taken me a few days to finish this post, here we are on March 21 with yet another snow day and another nor’easter.

Presently it’s just gently snowing and I’m sure everyone is thinking “we could have just had an early dismissal today but instead we’re going to end up losing spring break days!” Apparently it is going to become treacherous within a few hours, though. I’m determined to do a lot of sewing today. We have yet to figure out our garden plans for this year, but at least I do know we have plenty of lovely crocuses coming up, which we can see intermittently when the snow is not on them!

The other big spring event was my mom’s birthday. That’s usually chronicled here with a lovely spring dinner, but in this case it was a big number–#75! So we had a big deal celebration. My brother Ben came out from Denver, and my brother Tim came down from Vermont with his family. It was so great to be all together and see them. On Mom’s actual birthday, a Sunday, we had a fancy brunch out at the Grain House, which is where Paul and I had our wedding. It was a really wonderful day. Happy birthday, Mom!2018-03-04 13.05.38

 

 

Happy Summer!

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It’s been a bit over two months since my last post, but I’m inspired to catch up-mostly because my dear friend and loyal reader said she missed it and today is her birthday, so here you go Perri! As a present to you I will be self centered and write all about my life 🙂 I think I will work backwards with the last few days. (*edit: it’s two days since I started this, so no longer her birthday, but there you go.)
Yesterday late afternoon I was thinking about the two fresh apricots I had bought and some leftover toasted almonds on my counter. I thought, “hmm…I bet that Thin Pear Tart I sometimes make in the winter would be a quick and tasty dessert with fresh apricots, and I even have the 2oz cream cheese necessary for the dough.” I easily whipped up the dough (this really is a quick and easy thing) and then saw that the apricots had rotted. No matter-the NJ blueberries are showing up at store and I had a few tasty pints in the fridge. I scattered blueberries across the top, baked, and voila!
Now, what else? Since that last post we’ve had Paul’s birthday

Father’s Day (I don’t have any cute pics of Paul and his human children, so here’s a very sweet picture of Paul and the kitty who adores him.)

The Last Day of School.  This is such a crazy event for me still and the whole last month of school felt so exciting and like we were barreling towards summer. I will really miss some of the students and it made me feel so good when many of them told me that they would miss me (our 5th graders are moving up to middle school.) I may have been even more excited than the kids for school to end. This was my first full year of teaching and hooray! I made it!! I like my job a lot, but was definitely ready for some resting and recharging, looking forward to plenty of time in the hammock and plenty of reading. [School got out June 23, today is July 4th, and I’ve read 7 books so far.]

Since summer has begun we haven’t done much of anything: reading, relaxing, kids playing with friends. I did sign up for tennis lessons through the rec dept. and am doing that with friends. We’ve only had 2 lessons so far, but I think we’re doing great! I even got together this morning just to play with someone. I know I’ll be even better when I can actually run to the ball. Presently I’m plagued by a painful knee situation. After being troubled by it for weeks I did go to the dr. and unfortunately the treatment is one of those slow and steady “do this exercise every day” things. It’s been a week and today it hurt all day long. Which is a total drag and makes me cranky.
I hosted a luau themed bunco, which was an excuse to make pina coladas and pull out a bunch of “tropical” recipes.

The main thing I’ve been itching to do since school let out is get into some sewing projects. I really do miss having the time to quilt or embroider (yes, I could do it in the evening, but I’m usually just needing to lie down in front of the tv), which is my creative outlet.I am hoping to make 2 quilts this summer. One is a giant pinwheel, which I got the pattern out of a book a long time ago. My pinwheel will be green and white, and I bought all the fabrics a couple months ago. I cut out the squares of green, but neglected to buy the background fabric, which I’ll be doing later this week.(*done! and I bought a hot pink for the binding, which will be a perfect accent.) The second is something I started a long time ago and then somewhat recently made a plan for. Like the pinwheel quilt it is all triangles (not my best shape-let’s see how many points line up!) and I bought the fabrics a few months ago. I sorted out the triangles today and made 5 blocks. I have a lot of pieces and have decided to NOT lay out the whole thing at once, but rather create a lot of blocks and then decide how they will be put together. My general guideline is that the center is a pair of peachy/coral and a pair of mushroom/taupe and the outer triangles are in the green/blue collection. But the pairs don’t necessarily have to match. I’m not even sure if it will all be put together just block after block after block, or if I’ll separate the blocks into concentric squares. I love all the fabrics I chose for it.

Finally, here’s a darling dishtowel I started, oh, years? ago. This was a set of retro style embroidery transfers, and I put this on a vintage style dishtowel. I think I got both at Walmart on the cheap. When I didn’t have a bigger project at our stitchathons I just worked idly on this. I basically forgot about it and came across it a couple of days ago noting that I only had the text left. What was I waiting for? Not only is it cute, but it would also be an adorable background for freshly baked bread that I’m taking a picture of for IG!

In the coop our numbers have continued to dwindle. A small sad flock remains. However! A hen finally went broody and last week chicks hatched. But it was a difficult week, there were deaths, and there is just one little chick. Let’s cross our fingers it grows up to be a hen, not a rooster. *update: the chick died yesterday. I found it lying on its side, dead. What gives? did a big chicken step on it? Not only that, but this morning it looked like something scratched up the dirt outside the coop gate. And the mother is missing. We are down to 4 hens and 3 roosters.

Willow just had her second anniversary of coming to us. Boy has she grown! We are so lucky to have her-she really is a marvelous dog.

In other dog news, my mom got a new dog! His name is Harry and he is adorable.
And today (2 days ago) is Blackie, our only remaining guinea pig, ‘s birthday. She is 5. I guess she’s at the far end of a guinea pig’s life span, but she still seems pretty spry. She even accommodated me for this birthday photo op.

We are not doing any vegetable gardening this year, save for lettuce and cilantro in a pot. Our peach tree is loaded with peaches and we hope at least a few will be edible. For the first time EVER the sad apple tree has apples on it- 3!

The flowers are in mad bloom and there are so many lovely colors everywhere. The coneflower has spread even more, making the front garden look almost cottage gardeny-just what I’ve always wanted. I’ve noticed that coneflower is also very popular with many different insects and butterflies and moths, so that’s good.

And, of course, peony season was tremendous and beautiful.

And as I type this we are getting ready to celebrate Clark’s birthday–#12! He is now officially taller than me by 1 1/2″.  Ok, that was also a couple days ago. The day was celebrated with many special meals and some fun at the arcade.

 

I think I’ve gotten some photo organization under control and hopefully will do more posts this summer that aren’t so long and rambling, but perhaps focused on one thing at a time. With that in mind-time to start sewing! (Of course it poured rain all morning and I cozied up with a book. Now the sun is out and it’s gorgeous and I probably SHOULD be doing outdoors things.)

Breaks, Birthdays, Etc.

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It’s been two month since my last post, but I’m only focusing on a 2 week period here-spring break! My birthday! But I will give a quick follow up, to that last post about Sweetie. She’s been back for 2 months, put some weight on (but us not overweight like before) and all is usual. Except…Liesl went through a period of hissing and scratching at her. Also, where Sweetie was a food hog before, causing Liesl to leave whenever she went near the food dishes, Liesl stands her ground now while Sweetie sits and watches.  All that nasty behavior seemed to have tapered off and I was delighted to see them both on my bed the other day (though nowhere near each other.) But when Sweetie came closer to her and I was petting them both, Liesl hit her on the head and then left. So I guess she’s got some unresolved issues still.
Running atop the jetty
We had a terrific and relaxing spring break a couple weeks ago. Boy, I could not wait for it. We didn’t plan a big trip or anything like that, but it was as least as long as our Christmas break, and more relaxing because there was not much to do. I feel refueled and ready to make it through the rest of the school year. Paul took the week off as well. On one lovely day we went to Bethlehem and enjoyed no festivals or events-just a relaxing brunch, hanging out in the bookstore, getting an ice cream on the Lehigh campus, and a stroll along Steel Stacks.Steel Stacks

On another gorgeous day we headed to the beach.Low tideThere were lots of people there! It was a very warm 80 degrees that day-except at the beach it was pretty chilly and everyone had to wrap up. Little Mermaid
On the jettyOther days the kids played with friends, we puttered in the yards, ran leisurely errands together, and so on.  The end of the week was a much anticipated concert-The Decemberists at the Fillmore. I have been looking forward to this concert since it was announced and was really excited. I love the band and we saw them 2 years ago at the Academy of Music. A great show, but that venue, while gorgeous and acoustically terrific, is hard to let loose in. The show was packed and there were, apparently, giants standing in our way, but it was still great. I was super excited that they played two songs I did not expect to hear (one of them I never thought they’d play but really wished it would be a concert song and I couldn’t believe it when it started.) It was awesome. A less awesome thing happened driving home on 95. A car came up behind us and on the left and sideswiped us. At 65 mph and then drove off. It was pretty scary and the entire side of the car is dented, scratched, and covered with their dumbass tire marks. And the mirror was torn off. I’m very grateful we weren’t hurt and the car still runs, but I’m pissed off that some asshole did that and we are the ones paying for repairs and left with a shitty looking car. (ten  scowly face emojis here.)
The vacation ended with a lovely Easter at my aunt Margaret’s. The kids took the canoe and rowboat out on their pond and I went for a row, too. It was so nice. RowingFor dessert I made a coconut cake that was really good. A very light and silky batter baked in a 9×13 pan, then soaked in a syrup overnight, then topped with whipped cream. Then it’s sprinkled with coconut on top and I decided to make mine in big flower shapes.Coconut CakeAnother thing we seemingly spent the entire vacation doing was reorganizing the basement and cleaning up our room by switching winter and spring clothes. One tiny and immensely satisfying part of that was sorting and storing in a new way all my cookie cutters. So I used a giant copper flower cutter to provide my coconut outline (which I was able to quickly and easily retrieve!)
For our own breakfast I baked a coffeecake that was a braided apricot nut bread. It came out great!The Easter Braid
And then it was back to school, but the very next day was…my birthday! One of my most favorite days of the year! I had a great day starting with some marvelous cards and to-be-opened right then gifts. Paul got me the cutest, well, we can’t figure out what they are officially called. I had requested them. Those old-fashioned things you pin on a cardigan with a little chain in between? Cardigan clips? Sweater pins? Whatever, he got some adorable ones and I loved wearing one that very day. In the evening we had a great dinner. I had specifically requested (demanded) that this year my kids get on board with making me a homemade cake. I didn’t care if it was sloppy or came out poorly, I wanted something lovingly made just for me by them. This seemed to cause of lot of fretfulness and to my surprise they each made a cake. And each was wonderful.Happy Birthday to meMy mom joined us and it was  wonderful birthday.

Now, two other things. The first is very terrible–two nights ago we had the dreaded tragedy of a fox in the chicken coop. A bad combination of opening the gate and letting everyone out for the afternoon and then not locking them up. Usually if we forget to lock them up it’s actually not a big deal because the gate is always securely closed. But this time the gate was open. Out of our 17 birds, it took 8. Worst of all-only 2 were roosters. And the ones it took were our favorites-the two little emus, Baddie, and Tree Bird. Baddie and Tree Bird were the matched Mille Fleur pair we received as day old chicks 5 years ago (five years! They had nice long lives.) Baddie was a real jerk, for sure, but we had a soft spot for him. In his older age and diminished position in the pecking order, he rarely was feisty any more (though he had attacked me just a few days ago.) But Tree Bird. Oh, we adored her. She is the hen who was Gordon’s special friend. Here they were the week before: A mixed up coop He’s going to be very sad that she’s gone. She was super sweet and we’ll miss her. Tree BIrd's last photoshootSo now we are down to 9: 6 hens, 3 roosters. We could get chicks, but I think instead we should just see if anyone goes broody and let them.

In better news all the flowering bulbs and trees are looking great, the lilacs smell wonderful, the maple tree leaves have just come in, looking all yellow green, and it’s a pretty beautiful time of year.Double Ruffle

Snow Day!

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Snow Day!This week we had our first, and likely last, snow day of the year. It was so strange because Wednesday was incredibly unseasonably warm (62 degrees in February?!) but we knew snow would be starting overnight and the temperature plummeting 30 degrees. We were all thrilled to have the snow day announced even before it started snowing so we could turn off our alarms and sleep in. This is probably the first snow day I didn’t feel the need to go outside and actively enjoy the snow. Instead it was all about being cozy and doing all cozy snow day things crammed into one day. And that, of course, involved many special snow day meals. It all began with blondies made the night before. For Christmas Paul got this enormous bar of milk chocolate from Trader Joe’s. Truly enormous. Pounds worth. I shaved off some of it and folded it into the batter and oh my, it was perfect.
Snow Day Menu
Snow Day breakfast begins with an option of ice cream, a fun tradition from our friends. I didn’t want any, but both Clark and Tabby had some. Atop their delicious homemade waffles.
Snow Day Menu
Afternoon saw a favorite winter special lunch/snack that I haven’t done yet this year (even though this item requires planning in the summer and canning of the salsa.)–Nachos. A great big tray of them.
Snow Day Menu
And for dinner we had homemade pizza, including one big one made with homemade meatballs which had been in the freezer tantalizing labeled “homemade meatballs in pizza sauce-put on pizza.” Basically, opening up the freezer and seeing that bag so often made me want to make that.

It was a double feature day-Groundhog Day and Iron Man, both of which were well received by the kids. They were really delighted with Groundhog Day, which pleased me very much because I love that movie and hadn’t seen it in a long time.

I also read a book, which was wonderful, and it felt great to just spend the morning on the couch in my pajamas reading it right through to the end.

All in all, it was a wonderful snow day!

In other news: our new furnace installation is almost done and PSEG has connected us to the gas line (two days of digging because apparently everything is solid shale.) We have not had heat (from a furnace) at all this winter, making do with our extremely hard working fireplace/blower. For the most part it has kept us plenty warm, but I can’t wait to be able to just turn on the heat.

In saddest news (this is called burying the lead because I didn’t want to do a whole post about it), our darling cat Sweetie is gone. I can’t say died because we don’t know what happened to her. She was just missing. We’re assuming she stepped outside (our front door doesn’t have a good latch and there’d been a lot of going in and out with firewood) and the door closed behind her and she was frightened and darted off. Two people in the neighborhood said she saw her, but we haven’t. We’ve done everything you do to get a lost indoor cat back, but to no avail. (I still can’t believe we couldn’t trap her in the havahart with enticing wet cat food–we did end up trapping the neighbor’s barn cat both in there and in our garage.) I know everyone thought Sweetie was our unfriendly cat, but she was extremely affectionate and loving with Paul and me. Her purr was so noisy and enthusiastic, she loved being brushed and petted, and although the love was not completely returned, she adored Liesl.2016-12-21-22-18-38 I hope with all my heart that I’m proven wrong and get to write some amazing story of her return weeks after vanishing, but I don’t really think that’s going to happen.

In other animal news our flock has a dangerously and annoyingly large number of roosters in it. SEVEN. Seven! It was six, but get this-some jerk snuck a rooster into our coop when we weren’t home! That was not cool to make it be our problem. He is extremely handsome and seems happy to be with us (he’s the big white one),The Chicken Apartment but the days are getting longer, spring is coming, and the young roosters are getting randy, which means fighting.
The Flock
This past week I celebrated my first anniversary at work. It’s been quite a year of changes, adjustment, good days, and bad days. It was a pretty fast year, I have to say, and I’m still so happy to be there.
Sugar cookies