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Monday, April 30, 2012


Charlie found something in his yard very intriguing Friday evening. He was nosing around in the flower bed with more excitement than usual and it caught my attention. I watched him for a little bit and didn't approach until I saw him trying to put something in his mouth. Then I intervened.

I saw these little gray bodies wiggling around. I picked up 2 of them before thinking about if their mother would have an issue with that. 2 of these little things fit in one hand. They reminded me of tiny hippopotamus with their wide hips, sleek gray bodies and round ears. They are too big to be mouse or mole babies and not enough tail. They're bunnies!

This is what they look like, but this isn't my photo.

One of the games we play with Charlie centers around rabbits. It goes a lot like this:

"Charlie, Get the bunny!"
"Charlie, Where's the bunny?"
Bwuff bwuff pant.
"Get that bunny, Charlie"
Squeeling, Barking, Running from door to door.
"Are you gonna get it? Are you gonna get that bunny?"
Bark bark bark step step step
Open the door and "Charlie, you get me that bunny!!!"

Then Charlie tears out of the door and up to the backyard full speed ahead. Usually the chase ends when said bunny enters the woods and we call him back, praising him for protecting our yard.

So now we have a rabbit den in Charlie's yard. He has been keeping watch over it - as close as he can get anyway. I have it fenced off so he won't get into it, but so mama can hopefully get back in and feed her babies. Yesterday he was laying in front of the fence just looking, waiting and occasionaly barking, as if trying to get them to come out and play. At least, that is what I am going with. Playing.

Friday, April 27, 2012

The Unexpected

When I first thought about getting chickens I thought about how it would change my routine, my budget, my egg consumption...

I expected I would make trips to the coop on a (mostly) daily basis.
I expected I would spend more money on them than I do on eggs. At least to get started. The ROI is probably in my favor at this point.
I expected to eat eggs everyday.

What I didn't expect was how tales of factory chickens would bother me.

There are some children that don't know where their food comes from before it gets to the grocery store. If I had to guess, I'd say they probably don't spend a lot of time thinking about it either. Why would they? As far as they know there is food available there now, there always has been, and there always will be.

Even though I know there is a lot less magic and a lot more work involved to food, I never really thought about the living conditions of the animals that turn into dinner.

Ideally (I think) you would want to treat your livestock the best you can to get the best out of them. I once read an article about pigs going to a sort of "day spa" the day before slaughter. The meat from a stressed out pig isn't as desirable as the meat from a content one.

Recently I have stumbled upon some discussions about chickens. I hear how their feathers are plucked so more chickens can fit into a smaller space. Also, without feathers, they don't get overheated being in such close proximity - how thoughtful. Their beaks are ground they won't injure a neighboring bird.
Another idea is to take a chicken and sever the frontal cortex to stand the bird upright making it brain dead, but more space saving. The bird will be tube fed and tube pottied to keep things clean. Oh and since it is in the efficient vertical position there is no need for it to have feet. Actually it would be more necessary for it not to have feet.

I'm not the type of person to picket outside of a factory, but I am the kind of person that gets easily attached to critters. Now that I've gotten to know my ladies and see their personalities, I am more sensitive to these types of things. I don't think I will stop eating chicken or eggs, but I will be more appreciative and let Kathy and Eleanore know that they should be too.

***Eleanore Update***
Eleanore's comb is almost completely upright again. No more Free Willy hairstyle for her!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Kids in the yard

A few weeks ago a coworker's father's goats had babies. One goat had triplets, one goat birthed twins, and the other popped just one out.

I would love (I think) to have a couple of goats. Although, I don't know how my neighbors would feel about it. Nevermind what the city thinks!  Aaron insists if we are to get goats they are to be of the fainting kind.

Instead of 4-legged kids in our yard, we have had a few visits recently from the 2-legged kind.

Ally Wally (Allyson) didn't get in on any sprinkler action with Zac and Haley but she likes to visit the chickens. In fact, I missed her just last night because I was at the grocery store. Stupid grocery store.

Ok -Pity party over. These kids are pretty cute too. And you don't have to watch your step for droppings!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Some more-a Flora


Sage maybe?
Roses and Virginia Creeper



A pile of limbs and overgrowth - the intention: a BEFORE shot.
You would think I really like Iris given how many populate our property but really, I think they look awkward. I will be pretty excited when the peonies open and the dahlias bloom.

Anyway... Sunday is Earth Day so make a point and punch a litterbug! Then politely remind them that everyday should be earth day and you'll be watching them.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

My Little Runaway

Run Run Run Run Runaway Do do doo do do doo doo do do doo do...

I wasn't walking in the rain, but the day I gave Eleanore a bath, Kathy got out. It was my fault. I was aware that I left the door open, I just didn't think anything of it. Kathy and I passed in the coop, I to her yard, she to mine. Oops.

She wasn't really thrilled when I took Eleanore away in the crate to begin with so at this point she was still probably wondering just where her buddy went.

Later in the afternoon I returned Eleanore to the coop. Kathy was still wandering around in close proximity. As dusk approached I figured she would want to go ahead and tuck herself in for the night so I headed back up the hill. She allowed me to get close to her, but not catchable close. Aaron had armed himself with the fishing net and stood guard a few yards behind. Eleanore was already comfortable in her nest so I decided to see what happened if I just left the door open again. Fortunately Eleanore stayed put while Kathy kind of weaved her way closer. I held still with a hand on the door just in case E was feeling frisky. I took a step back and Kathy approached with caution, assessed the situation, and hopped in.

I had no idea how excited that would make me until it happened. I was elated. Giddy with laughter and literally jumping with joy.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Update on Eleanore

Eleanore seems to be doing better. She has a little more sping in her step. More color in her comb. More volume to her voice. Despite all the alliteration, its all true. She doesn't appear as lethargic as she once did. Her comb is starting to darken up again and she is bock-bock-boppin' right along with Kathy.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Makeshift Greenhouse

I bought some seeds for my vegetable garden the other day. Cucumbers, Spinach, Squash and Zucchini. I don't think those need to be capitalized, but I like it, makes 'em look stately. It isn't even a sentence.  However, in my mind, those four words actually make a complete thought. Scary, huh?

Anyway, back to it. I bought some seeds.

Then I planted 4 of each (except for the spinach) in a recycled egg carton with recycled soil. (According to my cousin Russ, a soil science major, dirt is what you track in your house, soil is what you plant in.)

Next, I lightly watered my homemade seed starters and put them in a greenhouse. Ok, so it isn't really a greenhouse, its a zipper lock storage bag. But guess what?

 It's working!

Then I remembered I had snap peas to plant. The directions for snap peas say to start in a paper towel. At least, I think that is what they said last year so I went with it.

Then of course I put them folded up into their damp paper towel in another greenhouse.

Is anyone concerned about the spinach? How do you say that anyway? I feel like I am too hard with the "ch" - like I am condemning it. SpinATCH!. Or is it more of a garage sound. You know, like spinajjj? I think I will keep condemning it.    

Oh right, an explanation for why I didn't plant it yet: the package said wait until fall. Feel better?

How about now?

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Oh, Hail

About a year ago a real nasty storm swept through Knoxville as well as many other cities and states in the southeast. This real nasty storm brought rain, high winds, hail, etc.

Some friends of mine were out of town and I offered to check on their digs while they were gone. One evening I stopped by around 6 to collect the mail and visit the cats for a bit. A cell had already moved through so I assessed the property and sent a text giving the all clear.

A few hours later after another cell, a stonger cell, had moved through but things didn't seem too bad at our house despite the limbs and quarter sized hail.  I figured a neighborhood 6 miles away couldn't have seen weather all that different...

Upon my return I found out just how much difference 6 miles makes. A tree had crashed down on top of the pergola that crashed down on the gutters, that collectively crashed into the kitchen doors, and finally crashed into the patio that cracked under all that crashing.

As it has almost been a year I figured I should probably call somebody to come take a look at our roof and check to see if we really had any damage or not. Some of the neighbors made claims but I still didn't think much of it... until the roofers came and they showed me... and then again yesterday when the insurance rep left chalk circles all over my shingles and gutters.  We have damage.

Fortunately we also have insurance. Hooray insurance!

Hen Bathing

1. Acquire a transportation vessel.
2. Remove the dog from the path of entry.
 3. Chase/Trap the dirty chicken. Corners are a big help!

4. Place in the crate.

5. Carry to the house and into the bathroom.

6. First try a damp, lukewarm washcloth on the crusty feathers.

7. Console the sickly hen before the introduction to big water.

8. Run some lukewarm water in the sink and set her down.
(It looks like the crate is trapping her, but its just the angle.
She was actually pretty calm during the whole process.)

9. Inspect your work.

10. Strike a pose and hope that helped even a little.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Mystery Diagnosis

(Have you ever watched that show? I love it. Of course, there aren't many programs on Discovery Health that I don't like.)

For the last couple of weeks I have been noticing the Eleanore hasn't quite been herself. Her tail feathers haven't grown back in from her molting. I kept waiting for them and looking for progress only to find a mess.

I debated about sharing this, but alas, it is what this particular blog is all about so...

Eleanore had "droppings" stuck to what short tail feathers she did have. She is not moving as light footed as she used to and her comb is flopped over to one side and faded. She looks a little bloated, but it is just the way she is holding herself.

I made some Google queries along the lines of "hen with fallen comb" and "bloated chicken". The results weren't pretty. Egg bound. Yikes! Yikes for her and yikes for me. One of the solutions for that diagnosis involved a slick finger to her vent.

I handled her quite a bit yesterday and did not feel any eggs trapped. I am pretty relieved and though Eleanore may not realize it, but she should be too!

After bathing my hen to clean up her dingleberries*, I went back to the internet to "research" a more accurate diagnosis. At this point I am convinced she is having an issue with her crop. (As I understand it the crop is like a holding cell that slowly releases food into the stomach.)  The treatments for crop ailments range from a little less disgusting to a lot less disgusting. Most of the treatments involve massage. Lucky bird.

*Get excited! Photos soon!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Excuses I Uses

I have been in a rut lately. I can't seem to get excited about exercise. That is really abnormal right? It seems like the only exercise I have been putting myself through is the 20 minutes of getting my pants-to-give-a little- yoga-stretching.

In two and a half weeks I will toe the starting line of a 13.1 mile trail race in the Blue Ridge Mountains. It will be amazing if I cover 13.1 miles cumulatively in that time. I haven't been putting a lot of pressure on myself because I am not running it for a good time. I have no intention of racing it, but I would like to enjoy myself.

Here is what I say to stand in my own way and the truth that should be acknowledged:

I am sooooo busy/ I don't have the time.
I call b.s.! Your schedule is really light.

Well, ok I could go to the gym before work... but what if I want to fix my hair?
Do you ever want to fix your hair?

All right, all right, after work... but then I won't see Aaron.
Total b.s. He works out in the morning and you won't be gone that long. Besides, if he is working out after work you wouldn't see him until after that anyway.

It might rain/ storm.
Use your gym membership.

But I hate the treadmill.
There are other options.

... I'm sure there are more. I'll see if any surface while I make my way to the pool tonight.

Madness of March

I didn't count the tallies for March. I was too disapointed. Amazingly enough, April is off to a great start.  As of yesterday afternoon I had collected 5 eggs. 4 of these I found in the "other" nesting box. All of this time, with the exception of perhaps last month when it never occured to me to check there, Kathy and Eleanore had only been using the box closest to my access door.

I don't know what prompted the change, and I don't know when they made it. I don't know if one hen is using one and the other hen the other... I just don't know. I don't know how many eggs I could have collected that I didn't know were there or how long they had been there or just exactly where they went because they aren't there now. No se'.

I do know that I bought a carton of eggs for the first time in a long time on my last trip the grocery store. And then I found 4 eggs.

Do you think hens celebrate April Fools? Good one, Ladies. Ya got me. Now get back to work!