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Thursday, April 9, 2009


Matter of fact, fifty girls for sure! Another twenty-five could be either girls or boys.

As usual, I was up past 1am last night. By 5:30 I was sleeping soundly, when suddenly a rude noise jolted me awake! The phone? Who would be calling at 5:30 in the morning? The United States Postal Service, that's who. They called to say Hubby's baby chicks had arrived and could he please come pick them up. NOW?

I tried desparately to return to lala land. But once Hubby's babies were all safe and sound in the garage, his excitement kept me from it. I know he was disappointed that I didn't make the journey to the garage until it was time to feed the dog. I know what chicks look like. Yeah, they're cute. They're also dirty, nasty birds that lay delicious eggs!

The hens we have now (plus one remaining rooster - the other rooster was tough) were given to us when they were about six months old. They didn't require all the special care and equipment. And so our journey begins...

This is Hubby's set-up. We had a roll of aluminum just the perfect size to form the pen. He drilled holes at the top edge and tied the sides together with bailing twine to keep it in a nice oval. We already had one heat lamp from when the goats were babies. He bought a second one and some more waterers and a couple of feeders.
He probably put more anxiety-filled preparation into this project than he did for his children's birth! All week he has been testing his heating ability - to get the enclosure up to ninety-five degrees. Thank goodness we're heating with wood now instead of propane.

The chicks came in three separate boxes. One box of twenty-five 'Easter-egg' hens (they lay bluish-green eggs), one box of custom mixed hens (five different breeds, five of each), and a bonus box of twenty-five free chicks. They may be any breed, either sex. The free ones ended up being black with white bottoms. Cute!
The first thing he had to do was take each chick and dip it's beak into the water to teach them where it is. We were going to band the legs to identify which was which, but their little legs are so tiny, we were afraid we would cripple them with the bands. Besides, their markings at this age are distinguished enough to tell them apart.
About six months from now we'll be up to our eyeballs in eggs! We hope to sell enough to pay for the feed. We'll keep what we need and donate the rest to the local food bank or our church. Stay 'tuned' for future updates on our life with chickens.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

progress in the garden

Now that I've got all the irises back in the ground, I'm focusing on the Japanese bloodgrass. It is a medium-height grass. The top half of its soft blades are deep red. When I planted it, I didn't know it was so invasive! I only bought three six-inch pots and divided them. I put a little beside each boulder in my main garden. It got to where you couldn't see the boulders!
I worked out a trade deal with a handyman to help me with some heavy work. He dug up all the grass (and irises) for me. Now it's in two big piles waiting to be replanted in different locations.
The two arrows in this first picture point to what is left of the piles he dug up. The X marks my almost diminished much pile. The yellow line is a rough outline of where my garden will curve around the front of the house. The lower right corner shows where the rocks will border on the gravel drive's parking area. I really need to post a video to show this well. The picture below is a close-up of the border by the gravel driveway. It is wide here, but will taper down as it leaves the driveway area. I'm using the big rocks to trap the bloodgrass. I'm not putting any back in the middle of the garden where it is harder to control without disturbing my other plants. I learned my lesson!
The arrow in this next picture is where the concrete drive meets the gravel. The yellow line illustrates the curve of the concrete up the slope. The pile of smooth rocks to the left of the arrow are just piled there. They won't be in the finished border. The ground-covers in the center top of this picture will be spread on down the slope to fill in around the plants I am adding. About where the tree is at the center top is where the concrete drive meets the sidewalk that leads around to the front porch. I stained it the color of our decks.

Couldn't resist putting in a few pics of Sadie... She's my yellow lab. We adopted her a year ago. She is lying next to the 'sitting' rock. Last week I finished (almost) this iris bed. I added stepping stones to define the pathway. Hopefully it will inspire people (grandkids) to not walk through the flowers! The yellow X marks the side of the ugly green transformer box. It will later be surrounded by the picket fence. I hope these bulbs thrive despite the freezes we've had the last two nights. I have way too many plants to cover everything! And we get a lot of wind here. It would be hard to keep them covered. Behind, and just to the left of the wheel-barrow is a willow bush. That is where all these bulbs used to be. The shrub grew much faster than I anticipated! It was a baby one and one-half years ago... Now it's eight feet tall!
This is the angle at which you would approach the house. The picket fence does a nice job of camouflaging the big green box. There is several more feet of this garden to the left with another smaller boulder. This is directly opposite the corner where the new rocks and grass are.
Just had to put one more of Sadie.
Here she is listening to me for a change!
Here you can see the parking area in the top right corner and the concrete drive at the bottom. I have the rocks sweeping around the corner. The arrows mark some of the grass surrounded by the rocks. Ignore the mess. I clean when I'm done.

Notice the big bare spot where the grass used to be. This pile is as big as a large bathroom and is only half of what he dug up! Remember, it all started with three six-inch pots!

I added some small patches where the arrows are. (Will put one where the X is tomorrow.) I'll be sure to keep my eye on it and not let it get out-of-hand here. This corner is topped with jelly-pebbles. Notice my little sack-race kids. A lovely gift from my mother-in-law. The tree is a weeping cherry. I have drain tile around the base until it gets older because I have six cats! It's in the perfect spot for a scratching post! The cats love sunning themselves on the boulders.

This is the same corner at a different angle. I already cut this grass back for spring.
Still waiting on new growth. I hoped it survived being on top of the ground for so long. The rock border separates the jelly-pebbles from the mulch and ground covers. Notice the color of the sidewalk.

This circle marks where they dug up this patch of grass. See why we couldn't see the boulders? The green plant is a rescue... My best friend dug it up to make room for some of the bulbs I took her. When I saw them laid on the ground, I brought them home and planted them. They don't look that healthy, do they...

This is what's left of one pile. I took two big loads down to a friend already!

More bare spots where the grass used to be. This picture was taken from my front porch. In the lower left corner you'll see more rocks. There is a rock garden across the front of the porch. It is filled with jelly-pebbles, larger rocks and more of the little kids playing.
After I get the porch repainted this summer, I'll post pics showing everything in full color. The concrete porch is a mustard yellow. The colors in this part of the garden are green, yellow, and deep burgundy-red. The house is pale yellow with white trim and green shutters.
When I do the video of the garden, I'll be sure to include the view I have while sitting in my rocking chair. Ah, one of my favorite spots!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

chicks, chicks, and more chicks!

I'm getting nervous. Don't know why. It's not my responsibility. Birds are dirty, nasty animals that happen to lay eggs and taste good. By the end of the week, Hubby will have 75 more chickens! SEVENTY-FIVE! (Sorry, didn't mean to yell.)

For the first couple of weeks, they will smell up my garage. And I, right smack in the midst of rainy season, will have to use the front door to take the dog out. Despite my dislike of the species, I will document their growth in pictures to share with you. Ah, life on the farm.

Monday, April 6, 2009

movie review

While browsing through my daughter's DVD collection, I noticed one that had peaked my interest with its previews. Although I don't include them in the list of my favorites, I do love a really good thriller. Unfortunately, in my opinion, good thrillers are few and far between. The DVD I pulled off the shelf was 'Secret Window' starring Johnny Depp. It's about an author that is accused of plagiarism by some psycho. Hmmm... an author threatened by a psycho? Remember 'Misery'? Loved that one.

This movie is based on 'Secret Window Secret Garden' by Stephen King. Now I have to edit my profile. I made a crack about life being too short for Stephen King. Love his work, but my first and last book by him was 'IT'. If you've read 'IT' you understand what I mean. I thought I'd never get to the end! I may have to give him a second shot.

Anyway, I got a chance to watch the DVD last night. Intense is the first word that comes to mind to describe the main character. Depp was the perfect choice for this role. The main setting for the movie was also perfect for a mystery/thriller... a writer's cabin in a remote area under the jurisdiction of less-than-adequate law enforcement. Depp's life is falling apart. He is in the process of divorcing his cheating wife. She's living in his dreamhouse and he's stuck in the woods with a crazy guy! Just when his life hits rock bottom, it gets worse.

It's popped into my mind several times today. It was awesome! Well, I thought it was. If you've seen it, let me know what you thought. If you haven't, go rent it and get back to me.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Palm Sunday

A few weeks ago my daughter asked me if I'd sing with her and my oldest granddaughter in their Easter Cantata. Other than standing alongside the congregation, I haven't sung in church in several years. She acted as though it was important to her, so like any mom would, I said yes. Not that I regret it, but I'm worn out!

Her church is a forty-five minute drive from my house. Apparently they had already had one practice before I got involved in it. I missed another one that was scheduled the same night I had tickets for LaComedia to see 'Camelot'. I made all the rest of the practices. That was tough, but I got to see a little more of the grandbabies (although three aren't babies anymore.)

Anyone that knows me well knows I am definitely not a morning person! Getting up at eight is for special occasions. I vow to try and make a habit of getting up earlier before the hot weather arrives. We'll see...

I usually get up between nine and ten in the morning. Yesterday's full rehearsal with the orchestra was scheduled for ten! Great if I lived around the corner. But, as I said, I do on occasion get up at eight. So I set my alarm and left the house by nine, arriving fifteen minutes early. This morning was much tougher!

Like my home church, Jen's church has two services. We were singing at both. Their first service starts at eight-thirty! What? Are you kidding me? I had to set my alarm for six! Did you know it is dark at six? Well, it is! Really dark. I had to turn on lights to walk around my bedroom! Sunday is supposed to be a day of rest. Now I know why some churches set aside Saturday as their Sabbath... Gotta get up too early on Sunday.

I got up. It wasn't fun, but I did it. After slamming down an Atkins' protein shake, I headed to town for a bottle of Frappuccino. (I know... makes no sense to me either.) Thank goodness the sun was up before the long drive or I don't think I would have made it. The Frappuccino should have been an espresso. Or better yet, battery acid! I stayed awake for the drive... always a good thing. I was halfway to Middletown before I even thought of turning on the practice CD. I really don't need it. I hear these songs in my head now.

I arrived at the church at about eight-fifteen, and was surprised to find quite a lot of cars already there. Seems most of the choir and orchestra arrived by eight and the choir had already warmed up. Oh well.

Hubby listened to the last minute instructions on how to work the video on my camera. My daughter and my granddaughter both had solo numbers. Nanas are supposed to carry cameras for all occasions, and this morning would not be an exception. When my granddaughter is a huge star and the paparazzi want to know her roots in music, I will have all the archives they need. (I have a video of her 'performing' for me when she was four.)

After leaving my jacket and camera in good hands, I found my way down to the room where the choir gathers before the service and breathed a sigh of relief that: 1 - I was awake, and 2 - it would soon be all over and my life could go back to being just busy.

I don't have stage fright in a group, so my only fear was that I had chosen the wrong footwear. My step-daughter has narrow feet and I don't. Wanting something comfy with open-toes since I would be standing for so long, I chose to wear a pair of leather sandals that she had given me a long time ago. I reasoned that the leather strap across my foot would stretch rather than stop the circulation of blood to my feet. Thank goodness I was right on that one!

The music in this cantata was wonderful. I loved every song... Maybe not in the beginning, but they grew on me. I even learned some Latin! Right on cue, as my daughter and her pastor approached the mikes for their duet, Hubby lifted the camera, balancing granddaughter-number-four on his knee all the while. Everything went as rehearsed, except for one tiny timing problem in a piece that went smooth as silk in all the rehearsals. Typical.

After their first service, (since it starts so incredibly early), they have a long break before the second service. Once outside the sanctuary, I spied the usually set up of coffee and cookies. Did I mention I have a tremendous sweet tooth? I can't pass up a cookie jar, never mind an entire table full! While munching on a delightfully crisp lime thing, I was reminded of the choir breakfast. A nice lady makes breakfast for the choir for every cantata. I headed to the multi-purpose room down the hall and took my place in line. It was finally time for me to be awake, but I seldom eat this early in the morning. There was every kind of breakfast casserole you ever heard of, fresh fruit, and juice. Despite my pleas of "just a little bit," these dear souls filled my styrofoam plate with love. And I ate it.

After breakfast there was a little time before we had to sing again. I thought it best to get some fresh air and walk a bit. As delicious as every thing had been, it sat very heavy in my stomach. After all, I was still full of protein shake and Frappuccino! Now I had to stand and sing for another hour plus! And now I had a second thing to fear...

I exited the church and headed through the parking lot to my car. I keep a tin of curiously strong mints in it. Mint is a naturally stomach medicine and I could have OD'd on them! At least my feet felt fine.

Once again, I made my way down to the 'waiting' room. I worried about the big breakfast. I checked the time. Taking in a deep breath, I promised myself I'd be fine. And I was...

Once we started up the circular stairway to the choir area, I forgot all about the breakfast. My heart was once again in tune with the reason we were there. As we lifted our voices in celebration of our Lord and Savior, I surveyed the congregation. Their expressions showed the impact of the music. I think God was pleased, too.

Let us not let this day pass without thinking of what Jesus was going through on that Palm Sunday. He knew His fate was very close at hand. He knew He would not leave this town the way He arrived. There would be no beast of burden to carry Him. There would be no palm branches lining His path. He was to carry the burden... The burden of the cross. The burden of our sins. The burden of the entire world. And He succeeded. Thank you, Jesus.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

today's burden, tomorrow's blessing

My daughter-in-law is heavy on my mind today. She is fighting infertility problems due to Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome. She blogs about the 'process', so I'm learning little bits of information to help me understand what she is going through. But it doesn't help at all. Yeah, I know something about the treatment for PCOS... But I know very little about what she's going through.

I get snippets from time to time. While reading one of her latest surveys I learned that when she walks by the room set aside to be the nursery, it causes her sadness. I can't imagine living in a home where there is a spot to avoid or face anguish. Isn't that like being stalked or even haunted? Home is supposed to be a place to go to escape the troubles of life - a place for comfort.

Realizing that people did care and want to know, but were afraid to constantly question her, she began updating us with her blog. I'm sure it helps her not to have to answer the same questions over and over to forty different people. And whatever comments we make, she can choose to read or not. She has shared that the hormones necessary to treat her condition do take her on an emotional roller coaster.

It's difficult knowing what to say or not say. I feel quite certain that it won't be long before she is pregnant. But that's just my gut feeling... It does nothing to comfort her. She and my step-son have just started attending our church. I have been praying for her to find comfort in Jesus. He is my comfort. But I also pray that He will bless them soon with a child... Real comfort will come when she rocks my newest grandchild to sleep.