Tuesday, May 29, 2012

I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream ... CAKE!

Yeah, I know what you’re thinking … not another ice cream cake! It has become my celebratory signature dessert. Kicking off the long weekend with a baby shower, it was an honor to bring dessert. I baked up a lemon cake with vanilla ice cream in between and made the frosting "Cutsie-Girlie." What fun!

The teacher I worked with last year is having her first child after a difficult road to pregnancy. However, our God is good and His timing is perfect. It is something I’ve learned to lean on and trust.  

What a fun night celebrating with my coworkers! Sweet little babies are the best blessings ;0)

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Patriotic Chick Chat

My sister asked how Daniel was dealing with the chicken trauma. I summarized it with a conversation we shared on a drive home from school.
Pullet One and Pullet Two
“Mom, how many pets do we have?”

“Well, we have two doggies….”  I paused because I wasn’t  sure where this was going.

He chimed in, “We only have two dogs because chickens are livestock. Not pets.”
She's a Grand Old Flag
THIS is how my eleven-year old is dealing with the five chickens killed by the Weiner Sisters, two that died of overheating and one we had to return due to illness. After all the loss, he concluded that chickens don’t really count as beloved animals that are cherished or kept for companionship. BINGO!  I totally agree!

On another note Plymouth, the rooster, was  removed from the Cape Cod Coop yesterday because he was continually "riding" our hens and started showing signs of cock-a-doodle-dooing. My neighbors wouldn't have appreciated that.

So, back to the feed store. 

The chicken exchange isn’t worth delving into because it’s become rote. Let’s just say we now have two pullets (young female chickens that haven't started laying eggs) and two more Mystery Chickens, like Roadrunner, that appear to be  wearing furry boots.
Daniel messing around before his airsoft battle. God Bless America! AMEN!
Enough of chick-chat. Let’s talk Memorial Day! Red, white and blue are this All-American Girl's favorite colors. I love, love, love the American flag, too.  Isn't she bold and beautiful? I had fun pulling out my collection and hanging "God Bless America" on my garage.  My house and yard are patriotically decked out; a sure-sign summer is near! Only seven days left working at school and then it's time to play,play,PLAY all summer! This three-day weekend is a perfect chance to "practice" for summer. After all, practice makes perfect :)
Happy Memorial Day Weekend! Be safe out there!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Chicken Massacre of May 2012

“Time heals all things, except crow’s feet.”

This quote refers to wrinkles around the eyes and that time only makes them worse. But, for everything else, time is the great healer. I agree.
For example, it has taken me over a week before I could sit and peck out what happened that day. Before I tell this story, let’s start with my disclaimer: I am human and make mistakes.
Now we can move on.
The Gate my husband built
Coming home from work last Monday, I visited the Cape Cod Coop to toss in some food scraps. I carefully locked the gate then struggled to hook the special latch into the gate handle. We put it there for extra protection after we realized that the Weiner Sisters were able to jump on the gate and jimmy it open. Crafty little Wiener dogs!  I tossed the garbage-food (which Suzette and Junior immediately feasted) on their large dirt plate. Then, I went about my business … picking up kids, running errands and then  home.  Daniel ran out to the coop to check for eggs. From outside he yelled for me.
“What?”  I answered.
“Just come out here, you won’t believe it!” I didn’t budge, but shouted back “What is it? Just tell me.”

“No, just you come here,” he insisted.
Hmmm. This must be serious.  I headed to the backyard.
Goldie with some leftovers
And there was Daniel standing amongst a bed of feathers (think ripped-open feather pillow fight) and pieces of our beloved Suzette and Junior strewn across the lawn. Both hens were goners and just like Mr. Potato Head, their body parts disconnected and placed somewhere else. However, unlike Mr. Potato Head, this was not fun. Daniel was devastated. I was shocked.

Lucas arrived to the scene of the crime. After a short debate, he put on gloves and placed the Suzette and Junior pieces into a bag. He has been dissecting all sorts of animals in Biology, so he was the best candidate for the disgusting  job.
We scratched our aching heads and wondered, what happened? At first, we were not sure, other than Suzette and Junior escaped and the Weiner Sisters gobbled up another fresh-chicken snack for two. Upon further investigation, we discovered that the gate wasn’t properly closed and that was the catalyst for the Chicken Massacre of May 2012.

All. My. Fault.
Daniel was so angry he announced I was no longer allowed in the coop without another person (like a chicken chaperon). Then he stomped off to grieve and left me feeling like a candidate for The Worst Mother of the Year Award.

Immediately, I cancelled my appointment (that I was already very late for) and drove the kids out to the Santa Paula Feed store to buy replacement hens. Truly, I didn’t know what else to do.
At the Feed store, we picked up three red hens and this big beautiful-black-and-white-striped hen. Once home and out of the box it was clear that one red hen was carsick. We named her Barfy. She did not look well.
Our "replacement" hens
By day two, we realized Barfy was not just car sick, but sick-sick. We started antibiotics (I am not kidding).

I called the feed store and was told that if she was not well in three days, we could exchange her (they are the Nordstroms of Feed Stores!). There was another thing we realized as the days moved on. The big-black-and-white hen, we called Plymouth, was mean. So dominating and so rough! She would jump on the other hens and tug the feathers on their neck.
Plymouth the Rooster, not hen!
Last Saturday when we went to return Barfy for a non-sick hen, guess what?  We found out that Plymouth is a rooster! A non-cock-a-doodle-dooing-very-horny rooster!  I shouldn't have been surprised after all the bad-chicken luck we've had.

We must be gluttons for punishment because at the feed store we also bought a tiny chicken we named Roadrunner that appears to be wearing furry boots. Very cute little creature!

Over a week has passed since THAT horrible day. Eggs are dropping, and who knows chicks may be hatching. The only thing I 'm sure of is that the crow’s feet around my eyes definitely grew the day of the Chicken Massacre of May 2012.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Balance Challenge - Magnify the Good

The secret of happiness and balance is to count your blessings while others are adding up their troubles.

Attending a funeral today, I was deep thinking. Do you ever wonder what people will say about you at your funeral? My friend’s mother passed and although I didn’t know her well, I learned that she painted, loved horseback riding, playing the piano, adored her two daughters and high tea. As people stood to speak, sharing stories about her creativity, friendship, and kindness, I couldn’t help but cry. Clearly, she was a special mother and friend who was loved deeply.
Sometimes when you look around your life, it’s easy to see parts that aren’t flowing and out-of-balance.  There is always a current glitch. That’s life. The reality is that staring at your problems too long will only build disappointment and frustration. Remember that it’s what you choose to “mentally amplify” that makes the difference in your outlook. Attitude is everything. Pick a good one.
One of my favorite people

My challenge is to find blessings in every day. Magnify good health, family, and God’s provision. It’s easy to take for granted that our bodies work, family is near (driving us nuts), and there’s food in the pantry.  Don’t!

Why? Eventually you attend a funeral and are faced with the reality that life is short. Don’t waste time wallowing in troubles or focusing on negatives. Be a person who’s remembered for recognizing blessings and magnifying the good.
Five things I am thankful for:

1.    Health is GOOD! Lucas’s annual cardiology appointment went great.

2.     Mother’s Day with my favorite people is a big blessing.  

3.     Chicken Survivors Suzette and Junior are alive and laying eggs. I made my first quiche!

4.       Eighteen working days until summer break!

5.     I'm alive … and as my Mother always says, “Any day above ground is a good day!”

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Little Hen House of Horrors

Things have been hectic and out-of-balance on our small urban farm. The good news is that our peach tree runneth over and baking fresh peach pies is a delicious challenge.

The chickens arrived two weeks ago. The day they moved in, spirits were up.  After much thought, I named my hen Suzette after my friend from Texas who was staying with us.
Lucas, My Techie, Human Suzette and Weiner Sister - Goldie
My Suzette chicken has proved to be a fighter. As I write this, she is the only survivor from that first batch of four laying hens!
Our First Fowl Fab Four
On Chicken Day Two, it was devastating to find that the Weiner Sisters nabbed the chicken named Trouble after she "flew the coop." Trouble earned her name because it was obvious from the get-go that's what she was … TROUBLE ... with a capital “T” and that rhymes with “P” and that stands for Poor-Dead- Chicken! You guessed it; The Weiner Sisters treated themselves to a chicken snack. 
"I'll have the extra-large fresh chicken snack for two"
Daniel was devastated, as was my husband who had to “finish off” the poor thing. That was the end of Trouble, and the beginning of a foul-fowl two weeks.

Once Trouble was officially kaput, my husband drove Daniel to the Feed Store for a replacement chicken that he named Junior.  The stress of that day lifted as we collected egg after egg. Days later, Lucas’s chicken, named Dinner, laid an egg and died right there next to the laying box. That was an unexpected surprise, but at least we did not have to see her struggle in the dog’s mouth.  Dinner was dead-gone and we were left scratching our heads like talons on fresh dirt. Was it the heat? The feed? Perhaps it was shock due to The Weiner Sisters licking their chops at their coop all day?
Up until then, we created a few good family memories gathering around in the afternoon watching the ladies peck and do the Chicken Dance.  Daniel cooked up our first dozen eggs from the Cape Cod Coop and they were tasty.  Still, we did not know why Dinner bit the dust. Why did she die while on her last egg? Why?
Before we could discover that answer, about a week later, I returned  home from work. Excitedly, I checked for eggs and found two fresh eggs and ANOTHER dead chicken. It’s The Little Hen House of Horrors, I tell you! At this point Daniel sadly said, “Can we just give those last two chickens away and forget that this whole thing ever happened?” Hmmm.

Sprits were down. We felt sad and frustrated. We spent hundreds of dollars and hours of labor setting up our darling Cape Cod Coop. Now ,all we had were three dead chickens and a dozen scrambled eggs to show for it. Farumph!
On a lighter note, my tomatoes are alive and healthy
This past weekend was spent moving the Cape Cod to a shadier part of the yard. My Techie is currently building a gate and we bought a huge chicken net to cover the area so Suzette and Junior (the survivors) won’t fly out and land in the dog's chops. I promise you, a new hen will not move into the Cape Cod Coop until we are positive that we've fixed The Little Hen House of Horrors.
Despite the sad chicken start, old girlfriends had fun that weekend :0)