Thursday, April 30, 2009

The end...and a beginning

When I was little, I used to think about how, when I'd be older, things wouldn't hurt my feelings so much. While I always seemed to learn some important life lessons from hurtful things happening, I was anxious to learn them all and be finished with them. I just assumed that being older naturally meant that relationships and interactions with people would become easier and ...well, kinder. You might be chuckling right now because sometimes this is the farthest thing from the truth. Relationships can be hard - even when we're old(er). Communication can be difficult - even as adults. And apparently, we continue to have life lessons we need to learn.

I've had a rough go of it the last few weeks. I found myself in a situation that I never dreamed of being in and was judged in a way that I will never fully understand. The result is that I have ended a very unhealthy relationship with an organization that I once believed in with all my heart. While I wish that the situation could have had a different outcome, I can honestly say that I tried my best, worked my hardest and gave myself completely to the experiences of the last year. The fact that others chose to undermine, misrepresent, and speak with malice and threats is something I have no control over.

I know that what I've written may seem intentionally vague and unclear, but this post is an ending for me. It is a tangible and positive way for me to part from the bad that is now finished and allow myself to be open and welcoming to the good that is yet to come.

I'm a firm believer that when one door closes, many, many others open. If you have a good heart and good intentions, I believe that good things await.

Two of my "good things" are almost ready. On Saturday, I will introduce you to them.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Chicken saddles

In February, I wrote of the issues I've been having with my rooster's nails. Roopert the rooster loves his girl chickens just a little too much. Their feathers were starting to come off their backs and I was seriously concerned that he was going to break the skin.

A very kind commenter, Amy, over at Crazy for the Country, recommended that I check out the handiwork of a person advertising her chicken saddles on the Backyard Chicken Forum. I did, liked what I saw and, a short time later, these pretty little things arrived in the mail:

I got to pick out the fabric:

Anxious to try one out, I went outside and grabbed the chicken closest to me with feather loss. In this case, it was Spongebob:

I put it on her. She freaked. She ran about the chicken run like mad:

All the other chickens tried to stay out of her way:

And, silly me, I hadn't realized that you need to cross the little elastic straps across their chests before securing, otherwise the saddle pretty much just slides right off:

So, after clarifying this with my new saddle seamstress, I went back to the coop and tried again. This time I put four of them on - one on each of the hens with the greatest feather loss. My thought here was that if other hens have them on, too, then one won't freak out any worse than another.

Now, in my defense, let me just say - before I show you the video - that I never, EVER anticipated that the chickens would react the way they did. I had never heard from anyone, or read on any site, about chickens being fearful of fabric garments.

Here. Watch. I normally have pretty quiet chickens.
In this video, you will see:
1) Wynonna (Silver-Laced Wyandotte) on the far right-hand side of the perch trying to figure out what in the WORLD is on her back.
2) You will see her jump down and move through the chicken run like I've put the video on fast forward. I have not.
3) You will hear Roopert the rooster screeching like a girl, and
4) At approximately the 00:32 second mark you will, for a split second, see Princess (the Black Star) doing a very good impression of Michael Jackson's backward moonwalk:

Dang! All of this over a few pieces of cotton.

The wiser (saddle-less) girls got the heck out of the way and jumped to higher ground to observe the ruckus:

Wynonna sought comfort at the back of my head, which seemed to calm her a bit:

After things quieted a bit, she tested the rooster waters by jumping up next to Roopert to gauge his reaction. He no longer felt the need to screech:

Now as awful as this all seems, you will be relieved to know that everybody finally got a grip and calmed the hell down.
Wynonna excused herself and took a rest in the coop:

Bippity perched to admire the view:

Others gathered around the fresh hay to chat quietly about all that had happened:

Roopert and Princess started to make eyes at each other:

My lap beckoned to Boppity and Cowgirl:

Once everyone clearly saw that the cozy pieces of fabric on their backs were not going to eat them or their friends, all was peaceful again in the Critter Farm Chicken Coop:

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

It's pollen-ing outside

My part of Oregon has been getting an incredible dose of spring sunshine for the last few days:

This delightful occurrence has made things grow like crazy in my garden....
The daffodils are so bright I have to squint to look at them:

The vinca, though small, makes me smile:

The strawberries are thinking about giving me some fruit:

I'm not sure what these are, but aren't they pretty?:

Even the old, unused goat run is blooming this year:

I wonder if goats like to eat these:

Everywhere I look, my garden is suddenly alive and anxious to be seen:

The garlic is thriving:

A small bed of beets and lettuce (protected from hungry deer currently inside a small dog fence until I can get my regular garden fence up) is well established:

The peas are poking up:

Carrots are finally sprouting (I can see them, can you?):

The radishes have been going nuts and had to be thinned:

But with all this incredible sun, these big guys have been acting up:

Do you see that odd haze in the air...a lack of clarity in the photo?:

I've seen trees drop pollen before but *never* like this. Walking outside, even though it is brilliant sunshine, it appears to be sprinkling. Which it is...though not with rain.

For people with allergies (me, my son, my husband and, well, pretty much everyone I know), this has been almost like a horror movie. Here's my car:

Seeing these small particles everywhere, floating down on my head and landing on all the surfaces around me, I suddenly realized I was breathing all this into my lungs. I practically talked myself into a massive allergy attack right there on the spot. But I tried to remain calm and, instead, appreciate the nature event unfolding before me.

I've never seen an accumulation of pollen like this before. It's almost like sand in its consistency:

With the slight wind, it has now blown onto all our window screens:

The pollen is so fine, it has filtered its way into our cars and the house, finely coating all surfaces with a yellow, powdery dust. A powdery dust that is perfect for writing messages in:

Can you believe I'm looking forward to our next rain?

I got yet another tiny egg . For anyone wondering, this one, too, weighs a mere .4 oz.:

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Tiny eggs and blog coincidences

My beloved hens have been laying eggs for over ten months now. I've blogged about first eggs and really big eggs and exceptionally odd and ridiculously small eggs and everything in between, but by now, I thought, we (and by "we" I mean the hens) had pretty much worked out all the kinks.

I was wrong. I reached into one of the nest boxes yesterday and pulled out a very small egg. How small was it? Well, let me show you:

Yesterday's egg is the first tiny egg I've received since last summer! So how weird is it, then, that when I go off to read my favorite blogs this morning, I find that Cee Cee over at My Little Bit of Heaven not only found a similarly small egg in her nest box but blogged about it today, too? Pretty weird, I think. Her hens are four years old, mine are only a year old. She lives in Texas, I live in Oregon. Her name begins with a "C", mine with a "D". She has a son named "James", I'm married to a "James". Is there something unusual going on here? Probably not.

For those of you more comfortable with the "ruler method" of measurement:

You may be wondering why the egg already appears cracked. Well, it is because I'm having sort of a bad day today. First, I got some really bad news about donkeys. Then, I dropped this pretty little egg as I was photographing it and it cracked. Then, I accidentally deleted all the earlier pictures I had taken, leaving me to take a few pictures of a cracked egg just to show you that I'm not, well, cracked and making this all up.

I had been planning on saving this latest mini egg, along with my first egg and my smallest-ever egg, but now that it's cracked...I might as well see what's inside it.

Cee Cee cracked hers open to find it was a yolkless egg, but mine was not:

There's definitely a yolk here, but it's blurry and undefined...that black spot is odd looking, too:

Those paranoid among us might worry that egg-laying aliens have invaded my nest box, but I remain unconvinced. Really, I think my girls just like to keep me on my toes and give me a surprise every now and again. I really appreciate this.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Feeling happy about spring

Hello. It's me, Roxy the farm dog. You haven't heard from me (or my farmgirl) in a while. Over the past few weeks, my farm people have been very busy...travelling to Texas, digging new garden beds, planting, transplanting, pruning, raking and trying to finally finish the clean up of the great mess that winter left behind.

Despite all the work and busy-ness going on around me, I wanted to share with you how happy I'm feeling about spring finally being here:

As you can see, I am feeling *very* happy right now.

I do want to point out, though, that as happy as I am, I also try to do my part to help out. It takes many hands (and paws) to keep a farm running smoothly.

For example, I routinely walk the perimeter of the lawn to make sure all is in order:

I assist in raspberry cane transplanting. Here I am confirming the suitable location that has been chosen:

I point out any debris piles that have been overlooked for pick up:

I let my chickens out each day. See them all waiting for me?:

Once they're out, they tend to run all willy-nilly and it's crucial I stick around to keep them safe:

My mom caught a shot of me through the raspberries and grapes, minding the chickens. In this case, I was keeping an eye on Roopert. Sometimes he sneaks up on me and it kind of freaks me out:

It isn't until all my chickens are safe back in their run that I can finally lie down and rest for a minute:

Funny how sleepy that sunshine can make you:

So, you won't fault me if, after a long day, I like to go inside on my couch and take a nice pup nap, right? Can you see me wrapped inside my favorite blankets?:

Here's to spring!
My farmgirl will be back soon to share what's been going on around here (from her perspective).