Friday, July 30, 2010

The day Maddie learned to swim.

Yesterday, my short-legged Corgi learned two things:

1) the white stuff in waves is not something to be scared of, but, rather, to be jumped on.

2) she can swim!

Both of these were cause for much rejoicing.

And the pup was made into a bath towel doggie burrito for warm travels on the way home.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

I love where I live

Yesterday, I drove with and directed my sister-in-law and in-laws to this hideaway lake.

It's actually not that hidden away. You'd think, with this much beauty, that it'd be a hot spot.

It was deserted.
So quiet. You could hear the wind rustling the grasses. It makes you realize how much hum there is from various things in our daily lives.
Simply beautiful.
Though, my father-in-law did comment that I made them go see FIFTY MILLION TREES.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Woot! Maddie is FAMOUS!

It's about time our pups got on TV. Way to go Maddie!

Take the pup to the ballpark!

Last night was Maddie's fun night: Take your pup to the ballgame night! It was held at the Emerald's-- our local Triple A team.

Needless to say, 7:05pm could not come fast enough. Maddie was all set to go with her baseball hat. Note: she only had the hat. I did not dress her up more than this. The hat was held on by two pieces of elastic. I'm doing this to any future hats. She could shake her head and it would not come off!

Finally, there we were, at the ballpark!

Semi-blurry photo of us trying to capture a shot of how close we were to the field.

Much better shot. Maddie watched pop flies and zapped to attention whenever the crowd would boo or yell.

Happy dog, on my lap, watchin' the game!

There may have also been some ballpark treats involved. Yummmmm.
All in all, even though the Ems lost, it was a great night. And our little pup fell asleep in the back seat in the first two minutes of driving.

Friday, July 23, 2010

No really, we like you!

I think a lot of people wish their families lived far, far away.

We don't.

Ours live over 2300 miles away...

And almost 1000 miles away... (excepting my sister, who lives about 300 miles away)
It really stinks.

B's family is visiting this week and next week, all the way from Ohio. They keep telling us "oh, we don't want to be a bother" and "we don't want to take up too much of your time." But, that's followed by "but we love seeing you."

We only see them about once a year. This time? We hadn't seen them since the wedding. 13 months ago!

We would really love them to move. And my parents too. It is such a wonderful feeling having family around.

B and I have been juggling work and family a lot this past week. The dog fur accumulating on my floor speaks to this. It's highly embarrassing. But no one cares (they keep reassuring me). They're just happy for all of us to be together.

Who wouldn't want that love closer by?

Thursday, July 22, 2010


For me? This week?

Happiness is cooking in my kitchen. Rustic recipes using fresh tomatoes (that smell of summer), and potatoes, lettuces, basil, blueberries, and onions from the yard. Happiness of realizing that almost everything your family will eat was homemade.

Two nights ago? Fresh lasagna with homemade sauce made from tomatoes picked the day before. Garlic bread cooked that morning. And a basil/tomato/fresh mozzarella salad with fresh basil and tomatoes. Someday I'll learn how to make the mozzarella too. Strawberry shortcake dessert.

Last night? Feta burgers with a berry salad and roasted potatoes. Blueberry crumble dessert.

I was contemplating all of this while cooking, and then, Iz came on Pandora-- his "Over the Rainbow."

I nearly cried.

Our families need to visit more often. Or, preferably, move here.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


I have a friend who's making me feel uncomfortable.

I want to grab this person by the shoulders and say "Too much information! Focus on what's important! Seriously!" This would possibly followed by a back-of-the-head smack.


This would most definitely unleash a gigantic can of whoop-butt on me. We're talking cracker jacks/grape nuts craziness reaction.

So, I just shake my head privately and smile and nod publicly.

Let's hope this plan works and my secret disbelief is not revealed.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

In laws and grape vines

My inlaws are in town today. Well, they've been in-state, but today they work their way down to our little cottage. They're staying in a hotel with B's sister too-- where would they fit if they stayed with us?!

And I keep thinking... crud, I haven't planted the grapes.

Ok, it's not that important for me to get the grapes planted. But they represent the ten thousand little things that I'd like to do.

Will my inlaws care if my old cast iron pans are on the counter rather than hung up (same thing for our new spice set-up)? No. But, I wish they were!

So, this morning as I bumble through what needs to get done, I keep having to review... "does it REALLY need to get done, or is there something more pressing?"

Bathrooms, floors, and dishes= pressing. Grape planting= not so much. Poor grapes.

But, the dog has been washed. Yes, this was on a pressing list, as she smelled pretty stanky. With her fur, "bath" is not an appropriate term. "Full-on soaking until the fur soaks up water like a sponge" is more appropriate. It takes her fur about 20 dunkings to actually take up the water. Little duckling. And oh oh oh, the water that she carries around with her afterward. There were multiple shakings. And the ear drying solution I have to squirt into her ears... oh, the hatred! She hid behind the couch until I put the container away. Much scooting along the floor with her ears to the ground. Rub rub rub.

But it was all worth it when she got to the "I feel pretty!" stage. Much trotting around joyfully. See, Mads, baths aren't that bad!

The inlaws are darn nice people. Let's just hope they like indoor grape plants.

Monday, July 19, 2010

The downside to farm animals.

Last Monday, I posted promised photos of the newbie chicks.

This Monday, it's not as happy news.

Friday evening, I moved the seven chicks (fully feathered) out to my portable coop. We hadn't seen ANY animal activity around either of the coops, so I was pretty ok with this move. Plus, it got the chicks out of my neighbor's bin (two sturdy garden boxes stacked on top each other, braced, with wire on top). I moved the coop a bit closer to the house, just for my own comfort.

Saturday morning, there were only two chicks in the coop, very freaked out and scared-- one frizzle and one of the black silkies. No more partridges, no other black silkie or frizzle, and no red silkie.

I found feather bits of one and a body of another. But that's all.

I suspect it was either a very feral and hungry cat, or it was a raccoon. What I suspect went down is that the chicks, new to their pen, did not stay in the house portion of the coop. They went out and nestled against one of the walls. This made for easy grabbing through chicken wire, which is why I'm leaning moreso on the more dexterous raccoons being the culprits. There isn't enough space for a chick to voluntarily get under the pen, or for a raccoon to get under the pen, but there is enough space for an already limp chick to be squished under the pen and taken out. If they had just been in the house, they would have been ok. In fact, that's where I found the two survivors.


I'm sad. I was pretty out of it on Saturday morning. I'm glad that it was the new chicks rather than my grown up girls. And, at least it was soon after getting the new ones, so my investment and attachment wasn't as strong. It was probably quick too, so that's some comfort. And, with 4 of the 5 chicks gone, they were probably dinner. This makes me feel a little better; it wasn't some sick housecat playing cat and mouse for fun. At least this loss served a purpose... it doesn't make me feel better, but it's a little something.

So, the two remaining chicks got put back in the bin. I went to a sale at the recycling place I love (hey, 40% off...quite a sale), and I happened to find a big cage with a plastic bottom. PERFECT for two chicks. I'm going to set it up today and put them in it.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Ballpark and family

Yesterday, we went out to the ballgame. Yes, literally. Our city recently updated their stadium from the beloved-but-uncomfortable stadium to a new stadium. As B put it "I really shouldn't like this new stadium because the old one was pretty great... but I really like this new one. A lot."

And so began the evening. We liked it, a lot. B and our friends partook in Thirsty Thursdays (aka $1.50 beer), whereas I declined, having gone above and beyond, stupidly, in having a tad too much wine when we went out with friends on Monday. WHYYYY I overdid it on Monday, I don't know. However, I am reminded that if I have more than a glass of wine, I need to make sure to order the panini next time, NOT THE SALAD.

I swear to goodness, my head hurt for three days. And thus the reason for no partaking in Thirsty Thursdays.

In addition to our team winning, I learned that in a week and a half, there will be... wait for it... TAKE YOUR DOG TO THE BALLPARK DAY.

Yes, really.

I made B save his ice cream container (which is served in a plastic baseball cap) so I could clean it out and make it into a hat for Maddie. OF COURSE we're going to this. Oh my gosh. She will have so much fun. And I will have so much fun watching her have so much fun.

Ok ok, maybe I need a kid. But that's not happening. So, the dog gets taken to the ballpark.

In other news...

B's family flies in from Ohio on Saturday! They'll be here for two weeks. They're not staying with us (um, there's no place for them to stay), but they'll be in a hotel nearby. It will be really nice to have them here.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Pen expansion and chicky photos!

The chicken pen expansion is mostly finished. It gets an A+ for effort, but a C- for quality construction.


My darn battery screwdriver has pretty much bit the dust. I say "pretty much" because it still works... but ask it to do anything more than screw a 1/2" long screw into, say, styrofoam, and it peters out.

I should note that this makes BUILDING A FENCE very difficult. ESPECIALLY when you want to be able to eventually MOVE the fence (so this nixes nails).

I only needed two new panels. So, I made a really wobbly one, then braced it with two side boards, and then I finished the second panel by just stretching wire across. Heavy rocks hold the wire down on the bottom.

I'm not worried about the chicken getting out. The only way they could is if they manage to tightrope walk up the one bracing board AND manage to be coordinated enough to fly up onto the unstable fence top 2' above. Plus, they wouldn't go far if that does occur. I AM worried about outside pests.... The fence is strong enough, but it is not covered on top yet. And this is made more difficult by the fact that a gargantuan hazelnut tree is currently hanging into the pen. It looks LOVELY, but I can't throw bird netting on top.

So what to do? Risk it and keep it open on top, at least until fall when the leaves fall off and the weight of the tree limb is lifted? I think I might put protection around the top part of each fence... just so I can sleep better at night.

Anyway, enough of my rambling. Here are photos.

The pen doubled in size. The girls were besides themselves with joy. They still are.

But yet, when I enter their pen, they race up to me, all with these expectant faces.

Here's by barred rock mama. She used to be the biggest bird, but now one or two of the reds has her beat.

There was some straw in the one corner. I left it there. This has caused much joy.
FINALLY, a good closeup of one of my salmon faverolles. Quirky little nutbrains, they love scurrying around the coop. This makes photographs difficult!

Crazily, this was all really overgrown vegetation. The chickens have done crazy amounts of carnage in one afternoon.

Part of the flock, rummaging.

Oh, my poor silver laced wyandotte. He's SO a rooster. He acts like a hen, and he's almost 4 months old with no crowing. But, he's so a rooster. Either that, or he's a VERY rooster-colored hen. Funnily, he is the biggest coward of the group. Well, the salmons are pretty skittery, but he's just a wimp.

I love this picture because my dark brahma is just STARING at me. See? There on the left-hand side?

And the salmon, looking quirky as all get-out.

Remember the kooky freaky chick? This is her, all grown up... well, almost. But she's still as severe as heck. I'm fairly certain she's a black sex link chicken, though I still think she looks part raven.
One of my beauty queen buff orpingtons.

Big fat red.

Example of the salmon frolicking. This occurs frequently.

The best shot I got of a salmon. They are so much cuter when they scrunch their necks down, but oh well.

And those are the girls. There were 14 mad little hens for being cooped up yesterday, but now they are gleeful as can be. The seven other girls (the newbie chicks) are going to be moved into the old portable coop hopefully today. And then, I'll have all my chickadees in the same yard!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

What the heck am I doing?

It's warm outside.
And I'm installing a chicken fence.

Let's keep in mind that there are 14 angry hens heckling me on, looking at me through the screen of their coop window, and cackling, wildly.

They're pretty ticked off.

The one moment of silence so far? When the first fence panel got moved. It was like, in their little, less-than-a-size-of-a-pea brains, they were thinking "damn, what IS she doing?!"

And now, the heckling has continued.

And I'm inside for a quick break, as my beloved drill has pretty much just bitten the dust, and I'm trying to figure out how to finish this fence WITHOUT A DRILL.

Dagnabbit. Back to those bitter hens I go.

Construction projects and plants (including TOMATOES!)

Well, things are coming along in the garden.

Trellises are slooooowly being put up for the pole beans. I'm going in order of largest plants first!
And already, look how much they are climbing (see it twisting around the twine?).

What is amazing is how all the plants were in different directions before the trellis, and now, they are all pointing toward the trellis. Amazing.

The chicken coop pen extension has one panel done... I just need to get the energy to do the second panel. Hopefully tonight.... we'll see.

Those teeny rhubarb plants I got a while back have definitely settled in. They have just continued and continued to produce. I will need to make some rhubarb raspberry jam here soon!

The cucumbers also got a trellis. I changed the design for their trellis because cucumbers are not as good of climbers as pole beans. I had to kind of help it along, but so far, so good!

Close-up shot of a few of the cucumbers. Happily, my best cucumbers right now are my lemon cucumbers. I LOVE those, so this is a good thing.

The eggplants have developed blossoms...

All the peppers are blooming and also have baby peppers.

Pssh. And look what I found this morning. An almost tennis-ball-sized tomato. Seriously. How this occurred without me seeing it, I don't know! But it makes me happy. Actually, I do know... this plant was in the center row, and so it did not get the attention of my inspections as much as other plants. Sneaky little thing!
And, two plants further down, two more tomatoes. :)

The pumpkins (the type to use for pie, not for carving) have lots of blossoms.

The tomatillos have baby tomatillos on them and lots of blooms.
My ground cherries have baby ground cherries.

And, my squash are getting BIG!

So tonight, I'll work on the chicken coop extension. Hopefully that will get finished soon....

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Pics of the ridiculous chicks

Finally, here are pictures of the newbie chicks!

There's a semi-white frizzle:

Here's the red silkie:

Here's the darker frizzle:
Huddled all together with my weak little buff orpington:

Red silkie and partridge silkie:
Darker frizzle with red silkie (and tired buff behind them):

One of the two black silkies:
The whole group! Check out the headgear on the partridge in the back left!

That's right, this one's headgear! Though, the black silkie behind her is giving her a run for her money....
The whole group, clockwise from my poor, tired buff orpington (orange, in center): partridge silkie, black silkie, yellow/partridge silkie, two frizzles, black silkie, and red silkie.
The yellow/partridge silkie:

Another frizzle shot!

Partridge silkie:

So those are the newbies! I can't wait to watch them as they get bigger and fluffier!