December 31, 2011

Dream World

I'm pretty darn sure I felt the baby move for the first time last night.  I'm not sure if I was just falling asleep, or woken up from sleep, but I distinctly remember it. However, this morning, I couldn't be sure whether or not it was a dream. I've been anxiously awaiting those first little thumps and bumps in there, and I'm a little bummed now that I'm not sure if I've actually felt them or imagined them. For now I'm going to continue to assume it wasn't a dream, and I'm looking forward to more conclusive, preferably daytime, proof in the near future.

Speaking of dreams, though, I did have what was definitely a dream last night, and it was so vivid and semi-amusing, I just thought I'd share.

So, Joe, Lisa and I were all at a very fancy wedding reception, which just happened to be held in a swanky banquet hall located inside a very average American shopping mall. The wedding was for an old college acquaintance of mine, not a very close friend, and I wasn't even really sure who's wedding it was. I'd apparently responded to the invitation without paying much attention and was waiting for the moment when they announce the wedding party to clarify who's wedding reception we were at (apparently we'd skipped the whole ceremony). Meanwhile, we were looking over menus to pick what we wanted to eat, and the three of us were sharing a table with a half-dozen or so other people, all strangers to me. It wasn't like any wedding I'd ever been to as we were paying for our food, and boy was the menu expensive! I was starting to regret coming to this wedding! The menu listed a "gourmet entree" for $30.00, but at the bottom they had a "6 gourmet entrees for $60.00" option. I pointed this out to the rest of the people at the table as it seemed the obvious way to go for 6 of us to pool our order and get an entree for only $10.00! However, no one else was interested and considered it too big of a hassle. Even Joe and Lisa weren't interested and were happy to pay $30.00 for a basic salad, the only vegetarian option on the menu.

I was pretty disgusted with the whole group for their complete lack of logic, so I left the reception entirely. I ended the dream wandering the mall looking for a food court where I could get some french fries.

Okay, I guess the dream isn't that funny, it was actually pretty frustrating. But I woke up so amused with my inner psyche for creating such a vividly realistic and mathematical world. I've always believed that dreams mean something, though I've rarely had a clue what. This one was especially real and precise, and I really want to make some sense of it. Alas, all interpretations elude me at the moment, although I do fancy some french fries right about now.

December 23, 2011

Finally, at the ripe old age of seven months, Elvis the Salmon Favorelle rooster has decided to test out his pipes! His new crow isn't much to crow about at this point (haha, pun intended), it's very screechy in fact, but I'm sure he'll have a voice that'll live up to his namesake in no time. Speaking of which, I'm thinking I picked a good name for him, don't ya think? Doesn't he just look like he could have a career in Vegas? Besides his fancy looks and his new-founding crowing abilities, he's not very rooster-ish overall. He's at the bottom of the pecking order and is terrified of even the youngest of the guineas. If there was ever to be an assault on the hens, I'm pretty sure he'd grab the nearest one and use her as a living shield rather than risk himself to protect her. After our last rooster, Reynaldo, went all Rambo on us and attacked our niece, I'm pretty relieved to have a timid rooster though. I'll serve as protector of the flock, his job is just to look and sing pretty.

Actually, my whole flock of chickens has me pretty happy these days. We've gotten two eggs a day for the past two days in a row!! There's been a couple of smaller eggs lately that make me wonder if the young hens are starting to lay. They're seven months old now, and should be old enough to be laying, but I wasn't really expecting anything out of them until spring. Of course, maybe they're as confused about the seasons as I am. Yesterday's 'first day of winter' felt pretty darn spring-y to me! Maybe the older hens are just feeling rejuvenated after the long break they've taken. Maybe it's their version of a Christmas present. Who knows, but if they keep this up, they'll be upgraded from "pet" status to "pets with benefits" status again in no time! (No offense to Wilson and Foxy, of course.)

December 18, 2011

We wish you a....

Merry Christmas
Happy Hanukah
Joyful Kwanzaa
Wondrous Winter Solstice
Blissful Boxing Day (for our Canadian neighbors)
maybe just a Peaceful Weekend

and of course, a HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

December 14, 2011

It's that time of year....

Yes, while this does want to make me start singing Christmas songs (not that it's hard to get me going on some Christmas carols!), I'm really meaning that time of year when the woods are littered with the chopped up remains of deer left behind by hunters. Not quite as delightful an image as chestnuts roasting by an open fire.Well, Wilson may disagree with me. I don't know where he finds them, but every other day he comes trotting through the yard proudly caring a whole leg or some other body part. Even if he doesn't bring parts back, he will disappear for an hour or so and come back looking like a walrus, feasting on something too big to bring home and enjoy in the comfort of his own yard.

This may all seem well and good, but I don't think this carnivorous orgy he goes on this time of year sets very well with him, digestively. Like most of us, he probably has eyes that are bigger than his stomach, and doesn't know when to say when. He then spends the rest of his day lying around looking lethargic and well, just plain icky... exactly like I do when I've overeaten or indulged in something I know my mouth likes better than my gut does. I've also noticed a definite connection between his hunting season feasts and an increase in seizures during that time. Plus, now that Joe and I have switched sides of the bed, my nose is now directly above Wilson's fireside sleeping spot. Let's just say it's like sleeping next to one of those air fresheners that sends off blasts of aroma every few minutes...except one that's gone horribly, horribly wrong.  The other day I had to hurry Wilson out the door because he had this look on his face that I could only interpret as "I'm about to barf a steaming pile of semi-digested, rotten deer carcass on this rug." It's a good thing for Wilson that this has been a fairly balmy winter, because he's going to be spending most of his time outside until he gets all this feasting out of his system!

December 09, 2011

Tri/Se-mester Success!

Three classes down, one to go!! Joe has only one final exam left to take, next Wednesday, and then he gets a 4-5 week break until the next semester. He'll be gone for about two of those weeks sitting a 10-day meditation course somewhere in Georgia, but it will be great to have him around more the other weeks. He'll be taking another four classes in spring, and it is looking like he will have that all packed into three long days a week, and two weekends during the semester.

I have officially made it through my first trimester and am now 14 weeks pregnant. I'm wearing maternity pants for the first time today, and my bladder no longer has room to go a full night without emptying. My energy is returning a little bit, and I no longer feel quite as sluggish.

In honor of these major accomplishments, I'm proposing a "Mester Success" celebration next week. Not sure what that will entail, maybe dinner and a movie??

December 06, 2011

We're down to nine guineas. We haven't suffered any massacres yet, but something about the cooler weather does seem to bring the predators creeping out again. It seems that after each death lately, the guineas all decide to roost in the chicken house for a few nights, but this pattern hasn't stuck for the long term. After a few nights of safety, they regain their confidence and head for the trees again. I feel a little guilty because I heard one of them getting snatched the other night, and I didn't bother to get out of bed and do anything about it. In my defense, I have leapt out of bed countless times, heart pounding, running around in the dark and the cold with a dim flashlight responding to guinea alarm calls, only to find nothing apparently wrong. The two times I have actually encountered a predator (an owl and a raccoon), my presence seemed hardly to faze them. I may have temporarily put a hitch in their plans, but I could tell they were just waiting for me to tire and go back to bed so they could resume their business. In the end, I've decided that I have done my duty by providing a pen and a house for protection, but it is the guineas who must decide to take advantage of it, or take their chances.

Speaking of predators, we had a weird encounter with some local wildlife the other night. After eating dinner, Joe and I were sitting in bed watching a movie when we heard some strange noises from the front porch. I've mostly been desensitized to outdoor noises as lately they invariably turn out to be our neighbors' dog come for his nightly visit, but this noise was less gallumphing and more subtle. I turned on the porch light and  shone the flashlight around the yard, but all I saw was Wilson in the garden, looking off towards the chicken pen. I called him inside, which he happily came, but after getting his seizure drugs and subsequent treats, he wanted to go outside again. Moments later, we heard more noises, as if someone was trying to reorganize the junk under our house. Joe investigated this time and came a minute later to tell me "There's a dead opossum under the house, and Wilson is trying to get to it."

By the time I'd put my robe on and we'd stepped back on the porch again, Wilson had gotten the opossum and pulled him out into the yard. Wilson was standing back away from the opossum, looking confused. The opossum did appear to be dead, but after watching him for a second we could see him breathing. Wilson had apparently only been interested in a dead opossum and wanted no part of a live one, so he left the scene. The opossum was sporting a wound in its side, presumably incurred by being drug around by a hound dog's mouth, although I'm no judge as to whether or not it was a fatal wound.

After debating for a minute or two what the best course of action would be, Joe managed to scoot the beast into a bucket. The opossum put up no fight, maintaining his illusion of deadness to the end (although maybe he was near to dying for all I know), although Joe said he did turn his head to look at him as he was being scooted into the bucket. Luckily, it was a bucket with a lid, so we put him in the car and drove him a mile or so away to a large area of woods by some roadside dumpsters. When Joe released him from the bucket, he did get up and slowly walk/wobble off into the woods. When we got back home, I went straight to he chicken pen to close everyone up. All was quiet the rest of the night, and I slept like a baby.

December 01, 2011

Only one more month to go in 2011! I should probably go ahead and start practicing writing 2012; that always trips me up when a new year comes along. Up until now, it's been a fairly balmy fall. We've had a couple of cold days, and even some flurries, but they'll be followed by a week of sunshine and temperatures in the 70's. Thanksgiving week was especially warm. I usually like to decorate my Christmas/winter window just after Thanksgiving, but the warm weather had me thinking I should be working in the garden instead. I waited 'til we had a gray, rainy day, which made it seem more wintery, and forged ahead with the window dressing. That gray rain turned out to be quite a nor'easter! (I've labeled it a nor'easter because the eastern window on our house was covered with raindrops, blown with great force almost completely horizontally, while the western windows were completely clear - quite the opposite of our normal pattern of storms/fronts.) When the rainclouds cleared away, they left behind them much colder temperatures. Looks like I decked my halls at the perfect time!

Okay, now for a total change of subject. Several weeks ago, Joe and I had serious pressure cooker incident. Joe put some black beans on to cook, and then we both went outside and completely forgot all about them. I think they were supposed to cook for 15-20 minutes, but it was over an hour before Joe suddenly remembered them. By that point, our entire compound smelled like burnt beans (we'd been hanging out in the yurt, and the smell hadn't quite penetrated that far yet), and Joe ran back to the house, only to find it full of black smoke. The good news is, our house was not burnt down. The bad news is, we did not have beans for dinner, and a VERY strong burnt bean odor had permeated every square inch of our house. Thankfully, Joe tackled the pressure cooker clean up, a task that is ongoing as every time we have used it since, it still gives off a burnt bean smell and dark black juices come oozing out of hidden crevices. Whenever weather permitted, we opened windows and doors to air out the house, but weeks later, it still smelled like we were a household of smokers. Then, yesterday, I accidentally stumbled upon an antidote! It did indeed involve stumbling, of sorts, as I clumsily knocked over a bottle of tea tree oil, which broke and spilled all over the floor. With tea tree oil, a little goes a long way! Even after mopping it up, the house still exudes a delightfully mild essence of tea tree oil - MUCH nicer than stale burnt bean smoke.

November 24, 2011

Things to be Grateful for

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! This has always been my favorite holiday. The only gifts exchanged are good food and the company of friends and family. What a wonderful idea to have an entire day devoted to gratitude, something we could do with more of every day (although not with the same level of feasting!). Joe and I are in Va Beach, spending the week with his dad's side of the family. On Sunday, we will be back home and gathering together with most of my family. And somewhere in all of that, Joe will find the time to complete three major papers/projects to turn in as soon as school is back in session on Monday! He's handling it all quite well, which I am thankful for. :)

I know my blog posts have been few and far between of late, but I have a good excuse. I'm three months pregnant! This has affected my blogging activity in several ways. First off, I wasn't ready to make a cyber announcement until now, and like the old adage goes - if you can't tell your most exciting news, don't tell anything at all. (Okay, I may have twisted that one just a little bit.) Secondly, pregnancy, especially the earlier weeks, has transformed me into a motionless blob with the metabolism of a shrew. Many days, the most strenuous, productive thing I do all day is making the bed, and that just doesn't seem like an accomplishment worth blogging about. To catch you up, though, here at the highlights of the past 12 weeks.

-Started out the pregnancy with a bang, or more like a whisper, when I fainted at the health clinic after they drained me of much of my blood in order to run "comprehensive bloodwork". (The nurse swears it was only a 1/4 cup or so, but I'm dubious.)
-I won't get into the full back story here, but I currently find myself on a gluten-free diet and feel compelled to stick with it till the baby is here, just to be on the safe side. This, combined with my recently developed complete lack of interest in food while simultaneously being ravenously hungry ALL THE TIME have made it difficult to feed myself. Joe can attest to the fact that I've had several complete emotional breakdowns over food. He has been a caring and patient supporter through all my emotional roller coasters, but I did have to pull out one of my pregnancy books with "Tips for Dad" and show him in black and white that you are NOT supposed to laugh at your pregnant wife. He seemed to find it funny that I was weeping over the fact that I was tired of everything tasting like rice.
-Right at 9 weeks, the whole family got to go on a short emotional roller coaster with me when I experienced a miscarriage scare. Thankfully it was just a scare, and all is well. Turns out that in addition to growing a healthy little swimmer in there, I'm also growing/hosting a giant cyst on my right ovary, so large it is shoving everything else in there over to the left. I now have medical proof for my long held theory that I am "crooked to the left".
-I'm taking advantage of all my down time to tackle reading the entire Harry Potter series straight through. I'm halfway through book four at the moment.
-I've only barfed once (there was a close call in a Kroger bathroom, but we won't count that) so far, at Joe's sister's house. It was our first time staying with her, and we'd like to be invited back some day, so we didn't let her in on this piece of information.

November 02, 2011

I recently watched a documentary movie called Gasland, a look at the environmental risks and corporate greed behind "fracking" for natural gas. If you don't already have enough things to worry about, I highly recommend it. To be fair, in searching for the movie's website, I came across this disclaimer website by the natural gas industry. Even if they are right and drilling for natural gas is nothing short of God's perfect gift to humanity, the whole question has made me even happier about our recent purchase of a solar oven from the Solar Oven Society. (Actually, the oven was a joint birthday gift from Joe's Granny!)

The solar oven hardly replaces my propane camp stove, but why not use the glorious power of the sun when it's available? I'm still new to the whole solar cooking game and have had a mix of success and failure. The failures usually occur when I expect a sunny day, put food in the oven, head off to work and the clouds roll in to stay. On the successful sunny days, I've cooked rice, quinoa, butternut squash, potatoes, onions, peppers, tomato soup, greens, even gravy. Here's a photo of a recent success - stuffed bell peppers and pineapple upside down cake.

The solar oven functions somewhat like a solar powered crock pot. I've seen mine reach temperatures of 250 degrees Fahrenheit in full sun, but with intermittent clouds, it usually hangs out more in the 180-200 degree range. This means you can fill it full of food and then head to work and dinner is cooked when you get home (if the sun cooperates). You also don't add water when cooking vegetables. They steam in their own juices. The hardest part for me is trying to think ahead to what I want for dinner before I'm even done with breakfast. I'm curious to see how winter will affect it's performance. Lisa has been using a solar oven as her only cooking source for almost a year now (she eats sandwiches on cloudy days).  During the winter, she added on the additional reflector shield and put the whole setup inside her greenhouse and kept on cookin'.

With all this talk of food, my stomach is reminding me to check the clock. Looks like it's lunch time!

October 23, 2011

Buffalo Mountain, Floyd Co.

Don't know what this bush/tree is, but the berries are beautiful!

Futile attempt to capture the depth and scale of beauty from the top of the mountain.

Futile attempt number 2

My hiking buddy, Kerri. This photo was taken by someone who had never used a camera before.

October 19, 2011

It's that wonderful, beautiful, slowing down time of year. Most of the garden beds are empty and nestled in their blanket of mulch (I'm too lazy for cover cropping). I've spent whole days at home without feeling any "needs to get done" pressure. So nice. Unfortunately, the chickens are also going into their slowing down mode. Egg production is about one egg every two or three days. I can't imagine extruding something as large or larger than my head from my body almost every day, so I can appreciate their need to take a break for a while, but I'm really missing my grits and egg breakfasts! I was bemoaning this fact to Joe the other day and he said "You know, you might just have to break down and buy some eggs. It's not the end of the world." To which I responded: "I know, I know. But, it's gonna have to be some $4-5 local, free range, pastured eggs. I just can't go back to factory farm eggs, not after having my own chickens for so long. No more slavery eggs." At this point Joe stopped me, laughing, and said "You've got it all backwards. You only have to justify yourself if you're choosing the less ethical option. Not the other way around." Hmm, he's right. I guess I'm just used to a society that has to run cost/benefit analysis on everything and justify the economics of a situation before the ethical considerations really come in to play. Joe is oblivious to such cultural conditioning I guess, and the economics of a decision are usually the last thing on his list of deciding factors. Seems to have worked for us so far! So, enjoy your seasonal break, my fine feathered friends. I'm off to Eats!

October 12, 2011

The World's Nicest Outhouse: A Tour

Pretty quiet on the home front these days. I haven't had much time on the computer lately as Joe's schoolwork is keeping it pretty busy. Not much going on in the garden either. I did manage to get my garlic planted the other day, and we're enjoying the fall crops (or at least the remnants the slugs are nice enough to leave us) and greens that have rebounded after the summer's heat. So, I'll take advantage of this lull to give you all a virtual tour of the World's Nicest Outhouse. This is certainly old news to some of you, but I was surprised to find that I actually had not ever posted official photos of the outhouse on this blog. So, here you go.
Little cabin in the woods.

Joe's handmade wooden latch and handle, the one that Granny couldn't figure out.

Original artwork by a local artisan.

The throne, and bucket of sawdust for "flushing". The hardwood floor and wall paneling were salvaged from a trash pile.

Beautiful views and a diverse library, how Granny entertained herself until her rescue. (See previous post if confused). Timber framed with old barn wood. There's even a hidden storage loft, full of beekeeping supplies and empty canning jars.

October 05, 2011

Joe's grandmother on his mom's side, Granny, has been visiting from Florida for just over a week now. Granny is quite a character. She is 3/4 (at least this is what her official "Indian" card would say if she were to apply for one, which she refuses to on principle) Cherokee and Creek and loves to collect dropped guinea feathers from my flock to use in making fans for pow wows. She is just shy of 80 years old and sleeps outside every night in her home state of FL. During good weather, she usually sleeps outside when she comes to VA to visit as well.

Given her sleeping preferences, she immediately fell in love with the StarPod. Joe and I have both been sleeping indoors for several weeks now as the weather has gotten much cooler in the evenings. Joe held out longer than I did, but he finally decided to come indoors, under these circumstances - I've sadly let go of "my" side of the bed so he can sleep by the window, and he has put a board (an old coffee table top) under the foam pad on his (really mine) side of the bed to mimic the firm sleeping conditions he became accustomed to in the StarPod. But I digress...anyway, Granny immediately decided to try out the StarPod as her guest room. The very first night we had a thunderstorm. At first it was just the distant roll of thunder and flashes of lightning on the western horizon. Then it became a little breezy and began to drizzle. Still nothing to worry about and probably nothing Granny hasn't seen before. By 10:30 the wind was whipping and it had begun a torrential downpour! I could not sleep worrying about Granny, so I climbed out of bed, grabbed Joe's raincoat and a dim LED flashlight and ran through the storm up to the hilltop. I shined the light through the screened walls of the StarPod but couldn't see much. The only response I got to my queries of "Granny! Are you alright? Are you getting wet?" was a low groan. Granny was sound asleep and snoring like a bear! Looks like I was the only one bothered by the storm.

Several mornings later, I once again left the house by flashlight to head to the outhouse. I found Granny out in the yard, watching the still very brilliant stars. She was eager to visit the outhouse herself, so I led her to it. I gave her the quick flashlight tour and then closed and latched the door for her and headed back to the house to check on my pot of grits and eggs cooking on the stove. Over the next ten minutes or so, I poked my head out the door several times and called for Granny, but got no response. I hoped she knew that she should come join us for breakfast. A few minutes later, Joe (who'd been meditating in the yurt) and Granny came up on the porch, laughing. Poor Granny had not been able to figure out the latch on the door and had pushed in vain to open it. She called for help a couple of times but then calmly decided to sit down and peruse the library of books we have in the outhouse, figuring someone would need the outhouse soon and let her out. Joe heard her from the yurt and went to rescue her. Good thing Granny is such a jolly soul.

Granny still loves me, even though I locked her in the outhouse.

September 29, 2011

The second clutch of guineas has hatched! There were initially eight, but that number dropped to six within the first week. It would be even lower if it weren't for Lisa and me. Just a day or two after the hatch, Lisa found a lone baby frantically wandering her yard and peeping its lungs out trying to call for mom. Lisa scooped it up and came to find the rest of the flock, all of whom were down at our place around the chicken pen! While I was out on the porch the other day, I heard some incessant peeping coming from the pasture between our place and Lisa's. Once again, all of the guineas were over at the chicken pen. I had no idea how I'd ever find a baby guinea the size of a golf ball amongst several acres of waist high grass, but I followed my ears and sure enough, I found a lone little peeper and carried him back to his mom and siblings. It seems the adult guineas are losing their enthusiasm for parenting!

The first batch of guineas is almost a month old now, and they're looking and acting more and more like little adults. They are fully feathered and often test their wings on short flights. Their mom, Silver, has decided it's time for her to return to the trees for roosting at night. I'm not sure how or where the little guys spend their nights all alone. We're down to seven from an initial twelve, but I'm feeling pretty hopeful about at least one or two of this batch making it to adulthood.

The family that primps together, stays together

Big babies, little babies!

September 27, 2011

All summer long it seemed like we were living in a desert. Now that it is fall, the weather conditions more closely resemble that of a rainforest. Whereas I've never been to a rainforest myself, I imagine them to be filled with beautiful parrots and funny monkeys. Our newly emerging rainforest, however, has neither parrots nor monkeys, but it is hosting a plague of slugs! More specifically, my garden bed of fall greens is hosting a plague of slugs. Yesterday morning, still in my pajamas, I handpicked at least a hundred slugs off of the broccoli, kale and cabbage plants, and I was just barely scratching the surface. I found another 30 or so drowned in the beer traps I set out the night before. The whole endeavor almost killed my appetite for breakfast.

All of the gray rainy weather has limited my outdoor activities, so I've finally gotten around to an indoor project that I've had in mind for a long time. For about a year, I've been saving my empty poly-weave chicken feed bags and have now begun the process of "up-cycling" them into tote bags!

My sewing machine handled the job like a champ, and I am quite pleased with the results. My chickens only go through about one bag a month, or less in good foraging season, so I will run out of raw materials shortly. Joe's uncle has about 50 chickens, so I'm hoping he'll save his feed bags for me. I've had several people encourage me to try selling them at the farmer's market. Who knows….

Chickens in a haybale bed

Louise is still slightly bedraggled but is doing great. You can see her wing feather are even starting to grow back.

September 15, 2011

Over a week after her near death experience, Louise seems to be doing fine. (Before this incident, I couldn't tell Thelma and Louise apart, but I've now decided that this must be Louise, as that sounds the most like Lazarus.) I was home all day on Monday and decided to use that occasion to supervise her first day back out with the rest of the flock. It took her over an hour after I opened the coop door to decide she was ready to come out. When she finally did leave the coop, she seemed very cautious and spent most of the morning hanging out in the edge of the woods by herself. The rest of the birds completely ignored her as they went about their important chicken business.

Late morning, I was working on a project over at the outdoor kitchen, and all of the birds were hanging around to see if there would be anything interesting in it for them. Louise timidly came over to see what was going on. Most of the birds continued to ignore her, but Chickadena went running over to her. My worries that I would have to protect her from bullying were completely unfounded. Chickadena spent the next hour or so just standing beside Louise, moving only when she moved. The rest of the day I rarely saw Louise without Chickadena right by her side. Maybe I am just a complete sap, but it totally warmed my cockles. Chickadena continues to amaze me with how he defies all chicken stereotypes, male or female.

I was delighted when Louise chose to roost by herself in the little coop Monday night because I was able to effortlessly close her up in solitary again. I had to work Tuesday and Wednesday and I was worried about how she'd fare cooped up with the rest of the flock with no one around to keep the peace. I let everyone out again today, Thursday, and the positive trend seems to be continuing. Louise is more active in chicken like behaviors, although she still keeps to herself with only Chickadena for company. The other old hens are not seeking her out to bully her but they are getting very territorial and treating her like a newcomer when it comes to food supplies. Louise is not taking it laying down though. I've had to step in and break up several overly intense staring matches. I spent a couple of hours today digging potatoes and I seemed to be harvesting three to four times as many giant, juicy grubs as I was potatoes. They were everywhere in the soil! I think they are Japanese beetle grubs?? Anyway, I did my best to make sure I got every last one I could find and then treated the chickens to a disgusting, squirming feast. It definitely set off a feeding frenzy. Louise was eager to partake as well, and I was glad to see that her appetite has returned.

It has been a deliciously cool, gray, fall-like day. I'm seeing the first maples starting to turn. Makes me want some hot tea and warm apple pie. Mmmmmm...

September 12, 2011

I've always worried what would happen if our neighbor's dog, Hank, came back to visit while we weren't home to intervene or entertain. Sadly, we got the answer to our question last Tuesday. Lisa, Joe, Wilson and I came home from a long, rainy day of work/school to find a yard full of feathers and one of our Buff Orpington hens (Thelma or Louise) lying in the mud in the driveway. I was actually horrified to find that the hen was still alive. Joe wrapped her in a towel and put her in the dog crate to live out what we assumed would be her last few minutes. I did a head count of the other chickens and found that one of our young Barred Rock hens was missing. It could have been two separate unrelated instances, but it is awful coincidental. There were large dog prints in the mud of our driveway, and Hank did not have an alibi for at least one hour of the day, so I felt pretty confident assigning him the blame. I kick myself for not going out in the rain the night before to close the pen, and the chickens beat me out of bed in the morning, otherwise they'd have been safe(r) and sound(er) in their pen while we were gone. Joe, Lisa and I debated whether or not to help hasten the end of the injured hen. I had not seen the wounds myself, but Joe described them as "bad, really bad". The hen seemed pretty calm and I did not want our fumbling attempts at euthanasia to make her final moments worse than they would be otherwise. No sooner had we decided to leave it alone and let nature run its course when the hen was up on her feet, clucking and looking for a way out of her prison. We transferred her from the dog crate to the vacant goat house chicken coop with some food and water. Time would tell if she was going to continue to mend or take a turn for the worse again. During the transfer, I did catch sight of her wounds. Not to gross anyone out, but in addition to having lost much of her feathers she had a hole in her neck the size of a quarter and the skin on her back between her wings was peeled back to bare muscle (at least this is the best I could tell from the glimpse I got). I really did not see how she would survive. That was a full five days ago. After she dried off, her remaining feathers fluffed back out and make her look just slightly bedraggled rather than half naked. Her neck feathers now cover the wounded areas of her back and neck, so I don't really know what's going on with them. All I know is she is still alive, and seems to be doing fine. Mostly she seems bored by her confinement. Now I am facing another tough decision of when to let her rejoin the flock. Although I've been amazed at her seeming recovery and happy to have her alive, I'm still cautious as I know that we are not out of the woods yet. When an animal has a will to live, though, they often seem to defy all odds. She definitely seems to have that will. Whereas I'm nervous about letting her rejoin the flock so soon, I worry that keeping her isolated too long may drain some of that will to live. I've been going to check on her several times a day since the incident, and she seems to enjoy the company. She especially likes being sung to, she cocks her head and mumbles (what exactly do you call that purring thing chickens do?). My favorite song for these situations is one I learned from the movie "Babe" where the farmer sings to Babe when he is sick, and of course Babe gets better!
"If I had words to make a day for you,
I'd sing you a morning golden and new.
I would make this day last for all time,
then fill your nights deep in moonshine."
I'm going to be home all day tomorrow, so I'm thinking I'll take that opportunity to supervise her reassimilation into the flock. Wish us luck!

September 06, 2011

Links to the Past

I had a surreal experience the other day. You may recall my posts from earlier this year (see archived posts from April 2011 if curious) when Joe and I had done some local cross country adventuring while investigating routes to visit our friends at the Light Morning Community on foot. I posted quite a few photos of an old homestead we passed through, tucked away in a little hollow far from any road. Here's a couple of those photos to jog your memory.
I've always loved exploring old homesites and abandoned houses. I find it fascinating to imagine who might have lived there and what their lives were like. This homestead in particular seemed quite elaborate with many little outbuildings scattered all over the hillside. Fast forward almost five months and I am reading through a National Geographic Park Profiles book entitled "Blue Ridge Range: The Gentle Mountains", by Ron Fisher. The book is loaded with beautiful pictures, and one of them was of the very same homestead I've just mentioned. There was no mistaking it. Plus, they had the names and photos of the inhabitants - Lonnie and Nettie Graham, brother and sister. According to the photo caption they "lived off their land for more than 76 years without electricity or running water."
The book was published in 1992, and based on their apparent ages in these photographs, they're certainly not still around almost 20 years later. Oh, how I would love to have met them! Actually, I do kinda feel like I've met them. I've peered into the windows of their old home, nosed around in their outbuildings. I now know that it was probably Lonnie and Nettie that gathered, split and stacked all of the stovewood piled in the shed. It really makes me want to revisit this spot, now that I have names and faces to put into my imagined world. Unfortunately, it was on the neighboring property that Joe was escorted off while hiking to Light Morning, and the man who did the escorting warned that his neighbor, aka Boundary Bob, was even more adamant about not allowing strangers on his land. I've been lucky enough to know some similar people in my life. Our neighbors Hattie and Libby, two elderly sisters who did eventually get electricity and had one lightbulb in the living room of their 3 (or was it 2) room house. Due to their lack of teeth, I never understood a word they said when I'd encounter them out for a walk, but they were always smiling, so I would just smile and nod, hoping that was the appropriate response. Another neighbor, Raymond Pruitt, who lived by himself until his death sometime in his 90's. When we first met him, he promised us a cabbage if we could guess his age. Even my own beautiful great grandparents, who had all the modern conveniences, but lived with a grace and simplicity rarely seen today. I feel blessed to have known these and other people like them, but now that I'm old enough to truly appreciate their value, are there any Lonnies and Netties left?

September 05, 2011

Rainy days and Mondays...Yay!!

It's a rainy day!! An honest to goodness rainy day! Because of this rain, and several recent thunderstorms, our rain barrels are all full again, and I'm taking a nice break from the work and worry of garden watering. The broccoli, kale and cabbage I put in the ground last week is looking great. We've already harvested a mess of kale. In fact, here's a photo of that delightful meal. Except for a few seasonings and some olive oil, everything on this plate came from right here. Lately, at least one meal a day is like this, requiring only a trip to the garden to stock up on ingredients. So why, then, isn't our grocery bill reflecting these benefits?

Silver's nest-sitting was a success, and we've had a dozen baby guineas running around for about a week now. The other female is following suit and sitting on a nest of her own. Meanwhile, her mate has decided to share fathering duties for the current brood with Ranger. They're quite the modern family. So far, Silver has been a relatively calm mother, quite at ease with me being around her brood as long as I don't make sudden moves. There was one morning, however, when she took a cheap shot at me when I was going to let the chickens out, still in my pajamas and bleary eyed from sleep.

The young chickens have not been as lucky where her good graces are concerned. I can't imagine what threat she thinks they pose, but for some reason she ruthlessly attacks them! I had to step in yesterday to save two of the teenagers because Silver and her two baby daddies had them cornered in the pen and were vigorously plucking feathers out of them while they screamed and attempted to squeeze themselves through the tiny gaps in the chicken wire. Of course, even after I'd gotten the three guineas blocked off in one corner of the pen, it took almost five minutes for the two traumatized chickens to figure out they could now exit the pen in safety, bless their little pea-brained hearts.

August 29, 2011

Dear Hurricane Irene,

Thanks for NOTHING! Not a DROP of rain! Okay, so there were a couple of drops, but if I can count the number of individual drops, it doesn't count (no pun intended). So, I've just spend another hour or so carrying buckets of water to the remaining productive plants in my garden. I was going to plant lettuce, but I just can't bring myself to voluntarily bring another being that requires constant watering into this world. I did plant broccoli, kale and cabbage transplants the other day, and they are more than enough extra work at the moment.

Whereas my fall garden crops may be few and far between this year, we're making good use of the summer crops. We've been digging up the potatoes as we need them, which so far is working great. Of course, we'll have to get them out of the ground before it freezes, but it is nice to not have to figure out where to store them just yet. Joe and I cooked up this beautiful, straight from the garden, root vegetable medley to take to a back-to-school potluck hosted by one of Joe's new professors. Joe almost didn't want to take it because he didn't think they'd appreciate it. He was right, they didn't. In fact, they hardly touched it. But, it was a win-win situation because we got credit for bringing a dish and we got to bring it home and enjoy it for dinner last night and lunch today!
Photo courtesy of Joe, who's into the artsy, angled camera look. This photo was taken before the veggies went in the oven. When they came out, they were all bright red from the beets.
Speaking of professors, today is Joe's first day of classes at Radford!! He started his graduate assistantship job last week, but now the real adventure begins. It looks like between classes and work, he's going to have a packed schedule all day Monday through Thursday. He's hoping to have most of his Fridays free, but we'll see how it goes. He's pretty excited, and I'm very excited for him.  Now that Joe's back to school, he's gone through a complete wardrobe transformation. From somewhere deep under the bed came a tote of clothes that I didn't even know he had.  Five years of marriage, and I've never seen these outfits before. The Joe I know isn't completely gone, though, because he is talking about making a pair of nice duck pants, suitable for school. ;)

August 27, 2011

Sourdough Saga

On several occasions, I have done some petsitting/farm tending for our friends and neighbors, Greg and Robyn. So far, except for one dead horse and one dead chicken, my track record has been pretty good. This most recent time, in addition to the cats, the livestock and a couple houseplants, my list of charges included a sourdough starter. Now, Joe and I have had several sourdough starters over the years, and they've all done quite well for a time, but they've also all taken a turn for the worse and ended up quite foul and dead. I was a little bit nervous that we'd somehow jinx this sourdough, but what could really go wrong in a week, eh?

We transported the starter to our house for the week so we'd be sure to remember to feed and stir it daily. Things were a little iffy right from the start. On the first day they were gone, I was leaving our friends' house with the bowl full of starter when I tripped on the step from their kitchen down into the mudroom. It was one of those weird, slow motion falls, and after a couple of twists and turns, I miraculously ended up on my feet, up against a wall, tangled in a pile of shoes. I was still holding the bowl of starter and canister of flour and had managed to not drop or spill either one. Whew!

From there, things mostly went smoothly. Mid-week I noticed some small patches of mold growing on the upper edges of the starter bowl. I scraped them off, and Joe, our main sourdough expert, assured me it was fine.

Greg, Robyn and family were returning from their beach vacation this afternoon, so I had only to return the starter to their house and do the morning chores. I also needed to look up some directions to a baby shower I'm attending momentarily, so I grabbed the computer to make use of their internet connection while I was over there. So, with the computer bag over one shoulder, and the starter bowl and flour canister in my arms, I headed out the door. This time I tripped at the top of my own porch steps, and had another harrowing slow motion fall, from a much higher point than before. I screamed the whole way down with this one, but once again, with a couple of mid-air twists and hops, I miraculously managed to land on my feet. I even held on to the bowl of starter, although I definitely spilled some this time! The computer bag, the flour canister and myself were all covered in sticky sourdough starter. Although I was unharmed, I was definitely shaken. Joe had heard my screams and left his yoga session in the yurt to see what was wrong. When he found me sitting in the yard covered in globs of sticky white stuff, his first thought was that the guineas had flown over and dropped some serious poop on me.
Our computer bag does kinda look like a huge bird pooped on it. Smells pretty bad, too. :(
We managed to get most of the mess cleaned up, and there was even a substantial amount of the starter left in the now incredibly sticky bowl. I had planned to switch the starter to a fresh new bowl and wash out the old one, so it was just as well. Back in my friends' kitchen, I was just about to pour the starter into the new bowl when I noticed something moving around. Looking closer I could see that there were several dozen little fruit fly grubs happily swimming around in the starter. Yuck!! That was definitely the final straw. The whole batch was immediately dumped in the field and the bowl hosed and scrubbed clean.

When I called to explain why there'd be no sourdough starter waiting for them when they got home, Greg had to hang up quickly because their daughter had just tripped and fallen down some stairs. Hmmm…sounds like we were having similar mornings. Sorry Greg! As Joe said, there was definitely some bad joo-joo (sp?) around this sourdough, so maybe it is best to just start over.

August 25, 2011

When Chickens Attack

This is the gruesome scene I found in my boss' garden the other day. The chickens had a secret tunnel under the fence and had gone to town on one of the tomato plants! They weren't nice enough to just eat one tomato completely. No, they had to eat 1/3 of EVERY tomato. Oh well, guess they'll be laying red eggs for the next few days. :)

Speaking of tomatoes, today is the day that I finally am home and have time to can my own tomatoes. I've been stashing some in my cousin-in-laws freezer as they ripen, so I've got a 2-gallon bucket full of sliced tomatoes plus a big bowl full in the house and whatever comes off the plants. Joe's mom is bringing down her ripe tomatoes to add to the mix, so it should be a worthwhile canning venture. Time to go fire up the outdoor cookstove!

P.S. Chickens are sometimes the attacker, and sometimes the attacked. Sadly, Bebop has gone missing. Joe says that at least since Bebop and Rocksteady are both gone, and weren't with us long at all, that we can reuse their names. As fun as those "Top Hat" chickens were, I'm thinking their goofy head feathers put them at a serious disadvantag and make them more vulnerable to predators. The remaining young chicks, who are almost full chicken sized at this point, have made the move to the big house without a hitch. On the guinea front, Silver has been sitting on a nest for several weeks now. I wish I could say I'm excited, but experience has taught me this will be a brief moment of super cuteness followed by a relentless slaughter and if we're lucky we won't come out at the end with fewer guineas than we have now. I guess we'll find out soon enough.

August 17, 2011

Chicken Transition

Last night the little chicks (not going to be able to call them that much longer) got moved to the big house! Thanks to Ranger (or rather NO thanks), we had to do it the hard way. The easy way would have been to tempt all of the chickens, large and small, into the pen in the evening with some chicken scratch. Then, while everyone is happily pecking away, close the door and lock 'em in. I had this exact scenario going last night, but in addition to all the chickens, I managed to snag Ranger (the guinea) as well. There have been a few mild, seniority scuffles between the older and younger chickens, but nothing serious. Ranger, however, has been a menace to the younger chickens! He's always been at the bottom of the totem pole himself, chased away from the chicken scratch by the other guineas, and I've always shown mercy on him by giving him a separate pile of scratch out of sight of the rest of the birds. Rather than return the favor to those who are now farther down the totem pole than himself, Ranger has become the tyrant of the chicken scratch and seems to relish chasing all the young chickens as far away as possible. So, having him locked up in the chicken pen with the little chickens was nothing but mayhem! Since I couldn't figure out a way, on my own, to extricate just Ranger from the pen, I had to turn them all loose.

Back to plan B - The Hard Way. We waited until dusk, when all the birds were roosting in their preferred locations (luckily, Ranger's preferred location at the moment is the top of a locust tree). We then snagged the little chickens one by one off their perch in the old goat house and switched them to a perch in the chicken coop. There wasn't anything hard about this as far as Joe and I were concerned, but it was very traumatic for the chicks. Each one fought and screamed, convinced they were living out their final moments. But, a minute or two after the transfer was complete, everyone had settled down again and was quiet.

This morning when I turned the chickens out of the house, everything seemed fine. I observed the dynamics for a few minutes and all I noticed was a little bit of grouchiness from one of the hens about sharing the waterer with the little guys. I put an extra bowl of water and extra feeder in the pen/coop to hopefully diffuse any tensions. My goal is to leave everyone in the pen until at least Sunday so the little guys can learn where their new food, water and roosts are. Then, maybe on Sunday, we'll have a little Bible reading from Matthew 18:23-34, about the Unmerciful Servant, with mandatory attendance from Ranger.

August 13, 2011

"Why can't we come out and play?" these chickens are asking. The answer is "Because Joe, Wilson and I all have to be gone today and I don't want to come home this evening to find that more of you have vanished without a trace!" Sadly, on Wednesday Rocksteady and Ms. Peeps both vanished while Joe, Wilson and I were spending a day in town. The list of potential culprits is long, and we'll never know what happened. In addition to our recent bear visitor and the ever present threat of raccoons, there's been a Cooper's hawk hanging around the past few days. Plus, our neighbor's three dogs, bored of being completely ignored at home, have been roaming as far back as our place looking for some action. Given the lack of complete carnage, I'd put my money on the hawk. So for now, better to be a bored chicken than a dead chicken.

Between the summer's drought and the plethora of voracious bugs, I've at times been a very discouraged gardener this year. It doesn't help that I have two gardens I'm responsible for. The garden I get paid to tend has some definite advantages in that it usually gets first dibs on my gardening energy, has amazing soil and a ready supply of water. However, no amount of advantages could stop the onslaught of Mexican bean beetles, squash bugs and cucumber beetles in either garden. (Note: Those bronze-y lady bug looking things living alongside the spiny, squishy yellow bugs that are turning your green bean plants into crispy skeletons are NOT lady bugs that have gotten a little jaundiced from eating so many squishy yellow larvae. They are indeed the adult version of the squishy yellow bugs and are the reason you're in this mess to begin with. There seems to be some confusion about this amongst the general public.) However, I should focus on the positives, and there have been some serious successes in both gardens. In my boss' garden, one of the shining stars has been the black-eyed peas. They never seem to have anything bother them, and they're producing prolifically. In my own garden, I have some lush, healthy bell pepper plants with some huge red and orange peppers on them. The hard part is waiting for them to turn colors so I can pick them! I also harvested three 5-gallon buckets of decent sized onions from my garden the other day.   
Beautiful pepper patch!

And BEAUTIFUL peppers! :)
The squash bugs have left my butternut bed a little sparse looking,
but there's a decent amount of butternuts in there!

August 10, 2011

Art Imitates Life

On Sunday morning, I got up about 7 a.m., went to the outhouse and let out the chickens before heading back to spend a few more precious moments relaxing in bed. About 7:20 a.m., the guineas started screaming and squawking. Despite their reputation as reliable intruder alarms, I find that our guineas are more often crying wolf or just enjoying the sound of their own raucous vocal cords. Occasionally, their chatter will be announcing a surprise visit from our neighbor's dog, Hank. Something about this particular squawk fest seemed more urgent than usual, and when I look out my bedside window, the chickens in the yard were all standing at attention or scurrying for cover. I asked Joe, who was making breakfast, to check it out. He poked his head outside briefly, announced "I don't see Hank anywhere" and went back to what he'd been doing. But, a moment later he stepped back out onto the porch and, much to my surprise, said "Amanda, if you want to see a bear, come out here."

Well, that sure got me out of bed! Sure enough, there was a bear over by the chicken pen. He was just attempting to climb into the old goat house/new chick house when I realized we should probably quit gawking and start staking our territory! I was very close to the chicken pen, but still within the safety of the garden fence, when I told the bear to 'get on out of here!'. It was likely a young-ish black bear, but easily 200 pounds. He looked at me, startled, and ran a short distance into the edge of the woods. By this time, Joe and I were both through the other side of the garden and standing by the chicken coop where he'd just been. The bear had stopped, half hidden behind a tree, pretending to be interested in something at the base of said tree. Several times he peered around the tree to check if we were still there, interfering with his chicken feed breakfast plans. After a few minutes, he moseyed on down the hill, into the woods and out of sight.

The bear had made an unsuccessful attempt to break into our pickle-barrel chicken feed container (the noise of which had made Joe look again), but had managed to roll it into the edge of the woods. Wilson had been quietly observing the goings on from the safety of the garden. Once the bear was out of sight, we let him out of the garden, but he still was in no hurry to chase after the intruder. I appreciate a beagle with a healthy sense of caution.

This exciting wildlife encounter makes this handmade mug I bought at Steppin' Out from Kirstens Clay very appropriate! Yes, Steppin' Out has come and gone. While it is a depressing tale if you were to consider the full economic scope of the venture, on the bright side I can say that I at least covered my booth costs plus $23, which accounts for the gas to and from for two days in a row and parking garage fees.

Oh well, life goes back to normal. I'm happy to have the time to catch back up on everything that's been sliding by. After mostly taking Sunday to rest and recuperate, I hit the ground running on Monday with some outdoor tomato canning. It wasn't a huge batch, but the tomatoes are still going fairly strong, so there'll hopefully be more canning to do soon.

August 03, 2011

The summer is flying by, and as usual it feels like a marathon! Last weekend was FloydFest. I performed with the Hoorah Cloggers twice at the festival in what may well have been two of our hottest performances ever (in a sweaty sense, that is). Now that our biggest gig of the year is behind us, I'll be taking a break from weekly clogging practices for a little bit so I can catch up on my home life.

In addition to FF, last week was the week of the Laurens. We had not one, but two friends named Lauren visiting, at separate times but back to back. Since Joe and I have been sleeping primarily in the Starpod, our bed was available for guests. It was fun having friends stay overnight. All of our extra bedding/padding is currently in use in the Starpod, but once we get a bed set up in the yurt, we'll have even more guest space. Maybe we should open a hotel? ;) In addition to sleeping accommodations, we also had first class entertainment options for our guests. I had a spare ticket to FF, so one of the Laurens spent a day at the festival with us. And the other Lauren got to enjoy a potluck and puppet show hosted by Joe's cousin. All in all a very fun week. The fun continues the day after tomorrow with Steppin' Out in Blacksburg. I'm as prepared as I can be at this point, so here's hoping for a fun and profitable festival!

After all this fun is over, I'm definitely turning my attention back to my own little homestead. I'm way behind on the harvesting and preserving part of my garden duties. I'm pretty sure I missed the train on blackberry season, but we're still hoping to make the most of local peach harvests. I have managed to sneak in some quick tomato harvesting and chopping and have a two gallon bucket (half of which are from Joe's mom's garden) of tomatoes in the freezer up at Joe's cousin's house just waiting for me to have some canning time.

Here are a few more photos of the yurt, fully completed.

July 26, 2011

While Joe and I were sailing in the Caribbean in 2006, he taught me some basics of bead weaving. Since then, I've done quite a bit of beading, usually in the evenings while watching movies. In an effort to continue to pursue my hobby without drowning us in beaded items (although it is fun having such an expansive collection of beaded jewelry on hand), I opened an Etsy shop and last year I had a booth at Steppin' Out in Blacksburg - a large, annual craft and art street festival. Neither venture has warranted quitting my day job yet, but I did have fun at Steppin' Out last year, and covered my expenses, so I've decided to give it another run.

Steppin' Out 2011 is happening on August 5th and 6th, very soon! I've been using this as the perfect excuse to spend the hottest part of the afternoon inside beading of late. Here are some photos of the resulting creations. And, if the festival doesn't go as well as I hope, at least I've got birthday and Christmas presents made...for the next decade!

July 25, 2011

Although you should not leave your pet IN your car on these beastly hot days, my pets have found a creative way of utilizing the automobile to stay cool.  

Thanks goodness for the StarPod! It has made these hot humid nights bearable, even delightful. For days on the radio, they've been announcing "excessive heat warnings". It sounds like much of the nation is in the same predicament, so at least we're not alone. I can't imagine what dealing with a heat wave like this would be like in a city. I may not have air-conditioning, but at least I have deep shaded woods, a creek, and the StarPod. What would one do in a concrete jungle without AC?

As I write this, almost noon on a Sunday, I am listening to the creaks and pops of my metal roof heating up in the sun. I'm biding my time, waiting for the grass to dry so I can mow it. This particular task defies my normal strategy for surviving hot summer days without completely sacrificing productivity, which is doing as much outdoor work as possible before the sun tops the trees to the east of us. I've usually spent an hour watering the garden, sometimes still in PJs, before I stop for breakfast. But, we were blessed with a thunderstorm that brought us an inch of rain yesterday, so I'm off garden watering duty for the next few days (yay!!). I was going to clean the chicken house out this morning, but that conflicted with egg laying time, and my hens are pretty fussy about wanting peace and privacy to do their business. I couldn't seem to find much motivation for weeding the strawberries, so instead I'm sitting inside using the computer.

Whereas the heat makes me a cranky, limp noodle incapable of accomplishing much, Joe is mostly unfazed. He has been on a super industrious streak as of late. Our place has gotten a complete makeover and reorganization. Instead of weedy, overgrown piles of random lumber scraps and odd materials, we now have neatly stacked piles whose contents can be accessed as needed. The back of the outdoor kitchen has now been enclosed, giving us space for a tool and misc storage room and a meditation room for Joe.
Joe's neatly stacked and organized lumber piles with the remnants of last night's bonfire that ate up the brush piles that had been growing around here.

Later that same day...
I was laying on the porch with Wilson in a post lunch and lawn mowing stupor when Joe's cousin and his girlfriend came jogging past on their way down to the creek. In passing they nonchalantly remarked - "You might want to lock your dog up. There's a rabid raccoon right over there. Lookin' pretty freaky!" And then they were gone. This is not a statement that you make without allowing for follow-up questions! Where exactly does "right over there" mean? And by what means did you determine it was rabid? I put Wilson inside, and went to look around "over there".  I got spooked by a stump and decided to lock myself up as well, seeing as how I'm not up to date on my rabies shots. ;)

I never did see any rabid raccoons, but I  did find this little guy while weedeating.

July 20, 2011

What's in a name?

I love naming things. There used to be a time in my life where I had
more names picked out than I had things to name. I had pre-named future pets for years to come. However, this was before I had chickens and had nine creatures to name all at once. As I mentioned earlier, Joe named two of our chickens Bebop and Rocksteady. Rocksteady, pictured at left, is definitely turning out to be a rooster. I've seen him and my young Salmon Favorelle (as yet unnamed) rooster sparring, or rather having very close range staring contests.

Below is a picture of the original Bebop and Rocksteady, namesakes for my two little chickens. Tough characters, these two!

I've decided to collectively name the three barred rock hens The Spice Girls, as they all look alike and make me think of salt and pepper. The two salmon favorelle hens will most likely get stuck with the moniker The Peepers 2.0 as our current favorelle hen was the original Peeper, which has now morphed into Ms. Peeps. 

I think it is funny how names and nicknames find their origins. For instance, Joe named Bebop and Rocksteady because to him the two polish chickens were the bobble heads, so the black and white polish became black bobble head, which got shortened to b bob, which immediately jumped to Bebop, which brought back childhood ninja turtle memories, and there you have it!

This still leaves me with the favorelle rooster and the speckled sussex hen to name..and I'm drawing a blank. I'm thinking the rooster should be given some time to grow up and prove his personality, earn his name, so to speak. As for the sussex, I decided to Google chicken names and see what I came up with. The top names on one list I looked at were Fingerlicken and Sunday Roast. Hmmm, we'll keep looking. On another website I noticed the names Britney, Paris and Nicole were quite popular amongst the chicken world. Since I actually want my chickens to like me and lay eggs for me one day...I'll keep looking. So, anyone got any good chickens names?