Friday, November 16, 2012

Mairzy Doats

A friend of mine just posted this song on Facebook:

Mairzy Doats

When I was little, my grandmother used to sing this to me whenever I spent time at her house.  It was part of the daily ritual, a break in cleaning, a small dance around the livingroom, a bit of silliness in the day.

She also used to sing this:

Yes. We Have No Bananas

and this: Bicycle Built for Two

Good memories.  I'll expound on them later.

5 eggs today.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Trying to Catch Up

It's been a busy week, and I have not managed to keep up with the idea of blogging every day. I have much to write about, but tonight I'm so tired, I will have to try to get to it tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Day Two - Chicken Coop Adventures

Today was a work day for me - the schedule is getting thin, not so much to do, next week will be the end of the season. And then craft fair season is on.  And working in a mall studio. Why did I think working in a mall would be a good idea during the holiday season? Clearly I've lost my mind, but that is the topic for another day.

So while I was at work today, husband decided that he did not like the braces as they were, so he took them down, took them apart and redesigned them. I came home in time to help put them back together after a quick lunch.

Once again, we had supervisors. At least, until the air compressor was started up. Then they ran off into the yard to pick and scratch and do normal chicken things.

I forgot to mention that during construction yesterday, our dogs were all out in the yard as well. All Black Lab mixes, Cuddles is the youngest at four years old, and pretty much thinks it's his job to guard the chickens. That is, when they are near him. Cuddles has a propensity, when off the chain, to take a run in the mountains. And since we have newish neighbors who have even newer horses, we don't need him over there getting us and himself in trouble.

So Cuddles guards the chickens from the front yard; the chickens loves to play and lay in the side yard.  He is also the mighty protector who keeps us safe from the small grey squirrel who is enamoured of eating pinecones and does so on the deck rail regularly. This squirrel loves the pinecones so much, she's even stuffed the engine compartment on the not working so good van with them. The squirrel, the dog, the chickens and the bluejays all have a standing battle - but that is a story for another day.

The middle dog, Squeak,who is 10 years old, is partly herd dog. She believes that it is her job to also protect the property, and well as on occasion run around and herd all the chickens together. They are NOT fond of this. "Mine!" has become the word used most often when she gets too enthusiastic about the chickens - no need to let her figure out how to kill one!

The oldest dog is Pip. Pip is a rescue dog who'd been abused. However, her life with us has been good for her, and she now believes she is queen of everything.  She is about 12 years old, is a diabetic, has lipomas, some arthritis, and is mostly blind. And she LOVES the chickens. When they were still little, she caught one in her mouth as it attempted to escape the pen. Now, she has a very soft mouth, and did it no harm, but we did get her to drop it right away. And after that, the battle was on. The pen is a wooden frame with chicken wire around it, and she loves to stick her nose int he wire and sniff at them. Well, one of the hens took exception to this, and would come peck her nose. (This is NOT the first time a smaller family animal has bit Miss Pip.) So she would dart at the cage, like she was going to eat them, or at least chew them up a little.

This aggression toward the chickens was a great concern for a while, but one day, husband decided she should have a chance to sniff them.  So he held onto Pip, and I held onto a chicken. Pip was shaking in excitement, and managed to lick the chicken several times. Amazingly, the chicken took no offense. Since then, she has not been aggressive about them, but we were still concerned, so she had to stay in while the other dogs went out when the chickens were loose in the yard. And one day, she stood at the door and cried like she hasn't cried in years.  Pity was taken, and she was taken out in the yard.

And so far, she's been very good about it. There were a few times yesterday, when she decided to rush a chicken, and was reined in quickly with just words - good dog! But most of the time, she decided she had to supervise us as well. Being blindish, that meant be right in the way 85% of the time - the rest of the time, she was trying to lick a chicken again.

So between being supervised, watching to make sure the chickens did not roam too far, keeping track of the two dogs that were off leash, and listening to the third bark loudly to protect us from the evil squirrel, it was a circus. Amazing we got done as much as we did.

And back to today. Last time dad came up, he brought more wood. Some will end up in the woodstove, some will go on the storage pile til spring build time, but some of it was rather long lengths of unfinished tongue and groove wood flooring of some sort.

When we moved back from Iowa, somehow an old, rather large window also got packed along from the garage. It's survived, intact, at the back of the garage, and through some sort of magic around all the other stuff, daughter got it out for this larger coop project.

So between the flooring and this window, we have most of the angled roof finished. If we had just four more boards of that length, we'd have been able to roof the whole thing with it!  Of course, come spring when this goes outside, a different roof will need to be made - this one would leak horribly. But it works for in the garage where the main goal is to keep most of their body heat in, and the window will work to make sure the chickens get sunlight from the garage windows.  With some other pieces of chipboard that dad brought in the same load, the roof will be finished, and the sides and back of the rise will be covered.

I also, earlier in the summer, managed to scavenge a household door, with a screen insert and storm window insert, all in good condition.  For the back side of the roof, we're going to play with this second window and see if we can put that in place to get them extra light, as well as give us a peek window to see what they girls are up to without letting them loose all over the garage.

So far, with the exception of nails and screws, the building of this has cost us nothing except a bit of physical effort to get the materials. At the beginning of summer, we got a large number of fence panels for free - the panels look like an old style fort.  During one of my work trips across the state to photograph at several schools, husband and daughter put up the panels in the side yard, everything but the gate is ready to go for the chicken's yard. We even made use of the old steel pipes that were in the yard from the well pump replacement a couple of winters ago - they were used to brace the posts of the fence. So with the exception of two square posts for the gate area, some strapping, the nails, the screws, and rental of a post pounder, we've come out around $100 for a coop and yard for the chickens.  We even have some lovely heavy duty, extra thick tongue and groove flooring waiting to make the floor of the coop in the spring.

Reusing viable materials makes a world of savings, and makes a wonderful coop for the chickens!

We would have likely finished the new coop today, except we started to get crowded out. As the sun set, the chickens came into the garage and got into the new coop, and some into the old pen; putting them in for the night today was a piece of cake.  But they showed no tolerance for our continued presence, so we called it a night, cleaned up the tools and came in. Everything else will be finished tomorrow.

The girls as back to their old tricks; eight eggs again today, the last laid by Baby, who insisted on sitting in the nesting box while we were putting the start of the roof on.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The Chicken Coop Begins

A few weeks ago, when the weather was very cold, and my sister called to tell me how think the skins on her tomatoes were this year, we made the decision not not build the outside coop for the winter, but instead make a larger pen for them in the garage, where we can at least have a chance of keeping them warm and alive if the weather gets really really bad.

My dad, who is excellent and finding just what you need, found these large pallets - about four feet by nine feet- topped with chipboard. Since the place was near the office for my work (I'm a school photographer) I stopped and helped him break them down and load them in his truck. We ended up with eight of these pallets, and assorted other boards.

My husband is the real genius in all this.  He was able to take seven of the eight pallets and use them as the base of the new coop/pen.  Three on the bottom, four for the sides.  Some of the other wood was a few angled pieces - the pallets were from a door and window company - and these have become the bones of the roof.  The chickens are still in their older, smaller pen for another day, but two of them did decide that they were the supervisors.  One stood on the top of one of the walls while they were being nailed into place, wandering around the edges but never fully leaving the garage.  The second wandered around the inside, clearly on inspection duty.

We called a halt for the day as it started to get too cold for my hands, and then spent the next half hour chasing a couple of the hens around the yard in an attempt to get them back inside for the night. NOT my idea of fun.

Today's egg yield was four; however, my genius self put them in a too small bowl and set them on top of some stuff in the garage instead of taking them in. They were eventually knocked over, sacrificing two to the floor gods.  So full yield today? Two.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Lacking Motivation

I lack all motivation today. Got very little done.  Some days, that's just how it is.

Back to normal - 5 eggs today.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Craft Fair Time

I must be a fool.

I like craft fairs; I like going to them, I like selling at them - except for the annoying bitches who insist they can make one just like that, or better, or want you to give over the pattern for free so they can make it at home.  Uh, no.

So, I have several things made, but I need to make more - I'm signed up for two craft fairs, and am signing up for yet another one. So, a list of things I must finish, and more I must make.

To Finish -

- Pots and pans embroidered dishtowels - I think there are three more to do.
- The worm in the apple toys - need to finish worms
- dolly bed purses - two to finish for a total of 6.
- sew up the vintage ornaments that are cut and ready to go
- wooden doll playsets
- wooden dolls

To Make -

- More towels
- fabric gift bags
- playset potholders
- playset goods
- playset pots and pans
-crocheted huts
-crocheted trees
-play rayguns
-jump ropes
-angel ornaments
-vintage ornament wreathes
-chicken treats
-dog treats

I have until the first - I can do this!

Today's egg count - eight chickens, eight eggs - good thing I sent some home with dad last night!

Friday, November 2, 2012

On Halloween

For the second time in all my life, I missed Halloween this year.  The Halloween after mom died, dad and I were just not up to it.  This year, I managed to have a minor car accident the morning of Halloween, and decided that it would just be best if I stayed in and did nothing.

You see, living up here in the mountains in  a rural area, we get no trick or treaters.

Actually, I was not in a Halloween spirit at all this year.  No household decorations except one paper ghost latern I forgot to light on Halloween anyway.  Only special thing I did was use the odd cookie mold/baking pan to make Halloween cornbreads for the three of us.

When I was little, Halloween was a big deal.  My mom used to get these small paper Halloween treat bags, similar to these:

These were filled with treats - standards were rolls of Smarties, Dum-Dum suckers or those suckers with the string handles instead of stick - these still remain my favorites - those horrid peanut butter taffys in the orange or black waxed paper, and some kind of small chocolate bar.  I don't know when they started making those smaller sized Hersey bars and the like, but I know they existed in 1970.  This is what was handed out to every kid who came to our house, and it was the first thing put into our pillowcases as we started out with the admonition that we could eat the candies from that bag, and nothing else as we were out trick or treating.

As an adult, I had the luck to find a huge supply of these bags at a Walmart one day after Halloween sale, each pack of 40 on clearance for only 10 cents a package. I bought a huge number of them; I still have some today. As my kids grew, we carried on the tradition of the treat bag, switching it up by adding tiny toys and Halloween pencils in addition to the traditional candies.  My dad STILL gives out chocolate, cause we know that chocolate is the BEST Halloween candy.  In fact, he came up to visit yesterday, and dropped off a bag of mini chocolates he had left over. (Normally, his neighborhood would have had many children - it was a mild weather year - but because of a horrible event involving a child nearby just a few weeks back, many children did not make the rounds this year.)

My first costumes that I remember were the gypsy and the clown.  The gypsy came out of my mom's closet; a conglomeration of things that made first me, and then later on, my sister a gypsy. Mom had this brightly colored vertical stripes shirt that with a scarf was belted at our waists and the sleeves rolled up several times.  A scarf on the head, and these necklaces of metal "coins" - one fastened to the scarf on our heads, to hang down across our foreheads, and the longer one around our waists.  We liked it, because we jingled!  I remember swirling about, so that everything would jingle.

The clown is a costume that mom made - white with large polka dots, a step into costume that tied at the back, and had a Elizabethan style ruff that tied at the neck and decorated with rick rack.  A pointed hat on an elastic band with the obligatory puff ball at the tip. And then, the makeup.  In the later 60s, early 70s in upstate New York, we didn't just go out one one night, we went out on TWO!  Once on Halloween, and once on Beggar's night, which was November 1st.  So on one night, I was made up as a happy clown, and the other, as a sad clown, with a bright blue glittery tear on my cheek.  I can remember the first time I wore that clown suit- my mom must either have been pregnant or home with my infant sister - can't honestly remember which - and dad took me out.  What I mainly remember was one night, going in the car, and going to my aunt's house, and some of dad's cousins, and being fussed over as the cutest thing ever.

What I remember most about the clown costume was the need for a thick layer of cold cream all over my face to get the base white, the eyeliner and especially the lipstick off my face. It was icky.And then needing a second coat of it to get my face mostly clean!

During my whole childhood, there was only one storebought costume, and that was handed down from a friend of the family.A Fairy costume.  Mom embellished it with glitter, made my wand with reflective tape, and allowed me to wear the coveted tiara.

AS I got older, I would go out with the kids across the street - they had nine kids in their family, the youngest my age.  The older teenaged girls were my babysitters on occasion - but more about them another day. They would take us EVERYWHERE.  Out for hours and hours.  Pillowcases crammed full of candy. My favorite candy giver was the next door neighbor, who would give out full sized candy bars, most often boxes of Sno Caps.  To this day, I still LOVE Sno Caps - luckily, I can find them at Dollar Tree. Awesome candies.  Of course, we had creepy neighbors even then, especially the guy who gave bruised apples with pennies stuck in them.  Mom just threw them away. And while this was still pre "xray your candy" era, mom would dump out our bags, go through the candy, and into the bowl it would go.  The bowl is long gone, but I remember it, a large ceramic mixing bowl, blue on the outside and white on the inside, with a small flower design in one spot on the inside of the bowl.  That bowl most often was used for popcorn when not living on top of the fridge filled with candy.  It lived on top of the fridge because it was much harder for us to get to it, BTW. You'd have to drag a chair across the kitchen, and then climb on top of the counter and stand on tiptoes to reach the bowl.

After the treats were gloated over, and as my sister got older, traded for favorites, we were given a small glass of Coke and a pot pie tin of Cheetos and sat down to watch a Halloween special - most often, The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. Yes, a Halloween special actually ON Halloween!  Not for weeks and weeks in advance of the holiday, on the actual day!

My children grew up with homemade costumes as well - a large variety, including the infamous pumpkin costume that got worn many times, including by my sister at one of her kids school Halloween events. Besides that pumpkin were a lady bug, a bunny, a frog, a pirate, a dragon, a medival prince and princess, zombies, vampires, butterfly, batman, and others - I think the kids likely remember better than I do.

Our house was popular - we had thr scary "Pillars of Death" made from cement pillar forms, paint and expand-o-foam and some thin foam masks, a graveyard, ghosts, skeletons, on occasion body parts with labels (nothing like half a cauliflower doing duty as a brain) and the mannequin who did all kinds of Halloween duty over the years. But those are details for another story about Halloween.

But always, always - the paper treat bags, just like when I was little.

Today's egg count - 6.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

What to Expect

Probably you should expect a daily egg count to start all my posts. Why? Because now that winter is coming, and the girls spend more time indoors than they used to and will likely spend whole day indoors sometimes, and now that the days are getting shorter, their egg production could go down.  So this way, I can track what they do daily.

Today, the egg count is 7. which is pretty damn good, since we only have 8 chickens.

Expect randomness, and don't expect the title of the post to always reflect everything I've written.  Cause I'm random like that.

So, on that note, I may or may not write about Halloween next - a few days late.  Or maybe it will be about something totally different.

Off we go!

Figuring it Out and an Introduction

A different Kind of Life. It's what we lead.

we're not the stereotypical, sit com family of the 50s through the 80s - dad working, mom at home, or both parents working, this many cars, life all perfect, a career path followed from graduation to retirement.  Hell, the last person I know to do that was my grandfathers. In fact, we are more like the Americans of the 1800s - did you know that they were a pretty transient group? If they weren't,  the whole Western U.S. would never have gotten settled.  Blame the fur trader genes, Blame the freedom from religious persecution genes. Blame the genetics of anyone who wanted to live outside the box. They passed it on to people like me.

So what is this blog about? It's sure as hell not about politics or anything like that - I keep that shit to another blog, in which I rant and rave and am generally overly opinionated. This blog is not for that.  Nor does it have anything to do with history, or quotes or anything else I've ever blogged about.

This blog is about having a different kind of life than society expects us to have. I'm not the only one. We're not the only family like this - there's thousands out there. But this is about mine, ours. A place to put down my memories of always having a different kind of life than my friends had. And that is NOT a bad thing.

A friend of husband's once told him we'd done soooo many thing, we were so adventurous. We are? We like being at home, we like our house, we like solitude. We've done some things, but nothing compared to a lot of people.  Spouse has been out of the country  - all the way to Germany and France. I've been out of the country too - Canada, cause we lived so close, and Mexico - once.  I have met people who have traveled all over the world, and even they think we've done a lot. Huh. I guess it's perception. Or state of mind. I call it just trying to live.

Some people won't like what I have to say here. That's O.K. - no one is making you read this,  This is MY story, MY life and it is NOT open to your opinion about how I live wrong according to you.  It reminds me of the time I asked for health advice about my dog on an online forum, and was told I didn't deserve to own a dog, and that I was going to burn in hell.  Huh? What does that have to do with a dog fearing a kennel? That was my question, after all. Maybe I write in code that I don't know or understand, but the truly "inspired" can understand?

Anyway, this is about my life - past and present. It is memories, it is things I am trying to keep us afloat, it is a different kind of life.



Oh, and one disclaimer - this is MY life, MY story - don't try to steal it.  I've had enough of others stealing my work online - and yes, I do write for pay online. I don't do it enough to call it a profession myself, but since I get paid to write sometimes, I guess I;m a professional writer. And as such, I really do value my copyright and WILL pursue you if you try to steal my life for your own gain.  Want to share something? Link back to my page, OK? It's as simple as that - and a LOT easier than copy/pasting. If I post a recipe or something, feel free to use it. But if I tell a story about my grandma, that's MY story, dig? It wasn't your grandma, honest. I know everyone I shared my grandmas with. If it wasn't your grandma, it isn't your story.  Don't make me get all legal on your ass.  Thanks.