Monday, November 30, 2009

Missed Me!

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I'm glad I wasn't raking paths when this limb fell out of the tree. No way was I going to go out in all that wind with the trees whipping around. I found the limb laying next to the path and drug it over so it would show up better in the photo. Today I dragged the rake around on the narrow paths, cleared them and made them safe for walking.

I raked all the way around the fence line this afternoon. I still have to move leaves away from the house and clear the paths that run across the property. That will be fun for another day or week. I did spend time and cleared off the wide paths. I would like to extend the wide paths all around the property, but that would mean cutting down some very large trees. So, for now I have narrow paths on that side that fit between the trees.

I let the chickens out of their pen when it was getting late and Morgan and I sat and watched them for about an hour until it got dark and the girls went back in the coop to go to bed.
The hens don't like the flash, but I needed to use it because it was pitch dark in the coop. I couldn't see a thing. I just aimed the camera and pushed the button. They are so cute!

Click here to vote for Suzanne.

[2 eggs today]

Sunday, November 29, 2009


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This is one of the oak trees that hangs on to its leaves as long as possible. Most of the oaks have very few leaves left after the wind gusts yesterday. One of my friends had a pine tree go down yesterday that luckily just missed a car. I see this tree everyday when I look out the front slider.
Doesn't change very much.
I don't have to work tomorrow because we made enough wreaths to fill the orders and we don't want to make wreaths too far ahead of time because they may dry out and look bad. So, if people don't buy many wreaths this year I may already be out of my seasonal job. I think I will have fun tomorrow raking leaves off my paths. I really enjoy being outside doing yard work.

Vote for Suzanne here.
Thank you!
She is catching up!
Click here to check on the voting.
I think she is behind because she is at the bottom of the list.

[2 eggs today]
Kristine counted the chickens again today and we still have 17.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Windy Day

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Today's wind came in great gusts that would bend the trees toward the horizontal. Scary. But the good thing is that everything that was going to fall out of the trees has been shaken loose except for some stubborn leaves that are still hanging on for dear life. I suppose we will have to wait for a good freeze to get those leaves to let go and flutter down to add to the leaf litter.
Thanksgiving day photo of Morgan watching the chickens.
It rained and snowed a bit yesterday so Kristine put the feed inside the coop. The chicken pen is not muddy due to the covering of wood chips. I think the pen is about ready for another layer. Today was a day off for me. I rested, made stew, rested, read, played on the computer and watched Murder She Said again. Back to work again tomorrow. Work won't last much longer, too bad, but I'm enjoying myself while I can.

Vote for Suzanne here.

[2 eggs today]

Friday, November 27, 2009

Coat Hanger Christmas Wreath Or How To Make A Christmas Wreath

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* Click On Photos To Enlarge *

Yesterday, I had the time to try out my DIY coat hanger wreath idea and take photos to show how to make the wreath. I bent two coat hangers into a circle shape, wrapped them together with wire and bent the top over. Yes, I know it looks weird and that's because the coat hangers were not the same size. Oh, well. I wired the two coat hangers together very well and tightly at the top.

This photo shows the coat hanger base.

This photo shows how I put the bundles together. Left to right: cedar, white pine, one piece of cedar. I put the cedar on the bottom, white pine in the middle and a piece of cedar on top. You can make the bundles anyway you want.

This photo shows how I hold the bundle while I put it together. When I can just cover the fingernail on my index finger with my thumb then the bundle is fat enough. If some of the pine is too long at the bottom I clip it to match the others.

I used wire to hook each bundle together.

This photo shows the first bundle wired securely to the top of the hanger. I didn't want to worry about the bundles sliding around the base so I made sure to use a lot of wire around the bundle, base and coat hanger top hook... (the part I bent that goes over the closet pole.)

This photo shows the amount of overlap I used. I overlapped and wired each bundle securely to the next bundle and to the base. I think next time I will use a little bit thicker and stronger wire. It took a lot of this thin wire before I felt the bundles were really secure. And next time I will overlap the bundles closer together. They were a little bit too far apart this time.

This photo of the back shows how the bundles overlap.

Halfway around!

Making bundles and wiring them together and having them ready to attach to the base made the whole operation move along much easier and quicker. I will make all the bundles first next time I do this.

This photo shows the space for the last bundle
with the pine pulled back to show the base.

This is the same spot with the pine covering the base. Pull the pine back and attach the last bundle. Or... if you are going to attach a large bow, pine cones, etc., then you can leave the space and attach the decorations there. I attached the bundle here.

Yay! Finished! I took a break to visit the chickens and to throw the pine cuttings I didn't use in the chicken pen. Morgan wants the chickens to come out and play. I have a photo I''ll post tomorrow of Morgan watching the chickens. It has been raining and even snowing which means the chickens will have to stay in their pen for a few more days.

After my break, I unpacked some Christmas boxes and found some old ornaments and a bow I used to decorate my coat hanger wreath.

Next time I make one of these I will be sure to make all the bundles ahead of time, make smaller bundles, use a bit thicker wire, and place the bundles a little bit closer together.

This wreath used 12 bundles. Next year for the same size base I will try using 13 bundles. Since I will wire each bundle individually, I will be able to place them around the base and see how the wreath will look before I wire them on one by one. Well, at least I will try it out and see how it works.

Another good thing about making all the bundles at one time is that it will make it easier to tell if I'm making all the bundles the same size.

I should have done a search on Google on how to make a coat hanger wreath. I just did a search and there are a lot of sites out there with information. I haven't read any of them yet but I think I will take a look at some of them before I make my next attempt at a coat hanger wreath.

with a wire wreath base.

[3 eggs today]

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Don't talk to me of solemn days
In autumn's time of splendor,
Because the sun shows fewer rays,
And these grow slant and slender.

Why, it's the climax of the year, --
The highest time of living! --
Till naturally its bursting cheer
Just melts into thanksgiving.
~ Paul Laurence Dunbar - Merry Autumn

Happy Thanksgiving!

I wish a Happy Thanksgiving to all.

Tomorrow I'll post photos of my coat hanger wreath making attempt. If nothing else, I can post photos of how it all didn't work out the way I planned. I'm also going to go search up some wooden bases I have stashed around this place somewhere. Be happy!

Vote for Suzanne here.

[no eggs yet]

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Christmas Wreath

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I like living.
I have sometimes been wildly, despairingly, acutely miserable,
racked with sorrow, but through it all
I still know quite certainly that just to be alive is a grand thing.
~ Agatha Christie
Murder She Said - movie on YouTube
Margaret Rutherford
I love this movie!
Thank you Agatha!

I am grateful for life.

The bow on this wreath is the first wreath bow I made after a maker showed me her technique. I have a feeling that this bushy wreath is one of the first ones I made because I did learn to make smaller bundles for the smaller wreaths. This is a 10" base and the wreath is the size of a 12" wreath. It is so bushy there is hardly any center not covered with pine. Tom and Kristine are going to take this wreath down to Bill's tomorrow. I don't think he will care if the bow is a bit wonky and the wreath is shaggy. Hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving day tomorrow. I'm staying home and sleeping and maybe playing with my coat hanger wreath.

Vote for Suzanne here.

[2 eggs today]
Thanks Kristine!
She went out to the coop in the dark and got the eggs.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Wreath Making!

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Click here to see how to make a coat hanger Christmas wreath.

November thankful poem/song:

How much is that doggie in the window? (arf! arf!)
The one with the waggley tail
How much is that doggie in the window? (arf! arf!)
I do hope that doggie's for sale

I'm grateful for Morgan and all the dogs in my life.

* Click On Photos To Enlarge *

Decorations and the base from last year's Christmas wreath.

How to make a DIY homemade pine Christmas wreath.

Today I walked around the property looking for different kinds of pine trees and taking photos. All I could find were cedar and white pine and this was the best photo of the cut cedar. No red pine! I was hoping to find red pine too because I think the wreath bundles look better with three kinds of pine and the red pine stays fresh longer so I like to put it on the top of the bundle sometimes. Instead of cutting the trees down I just went around and cut off the tips of the branches. White pine and cedar are OK, but they don't last as long as the red pine and I don't have any spray to help keep them from getting dried out. It has been very dry this year and the white pine is dry and thin looking.

One pile of cedar tips and one of white pine tips.

This photo shows how the tips are about the same length as the glove.
I use my glove as a guide when I'm out clipping the tips off the branches. It is important that the tips of the branches are all the same length. I hold the branch with the end of the branch at my finger tips and cut at the cuff edge. Not to stress! If later I find the tips are too long I just make sure the tops all line up fairly well and clip off the ends that are too long. But, if the tips are all pretty much the same length it makes bundle making much faster and easier. Some people gauge the cutting by the length of their spread hand from tip of little finger to tip of thumb. That's about 8 inches.

Next year when I make this wreath I will try making all the ten bundles up before I start adding them to the wreath. That way I will be able to tell more easily if they are the same size and putting the wreath together may go faster.

One bundle ready to be clamped.
For this wreath I started layering white pine tips in my left hand and then layered cedar tips on top. I stop when I can just overlap my thumb over the fingernail on my pointer finger. I like to try making bundles with different kinds of pine and alternating kinds of bundles. First a bundle of cedar, then white, etc., experiment making bundles and find what works.

First bundle clamped.
It is harder to use pliers to fold the prongs over. Usually I use a foot operated clamp. The photo shows the prongs are set around the base about a finger length apart. I am careful not to get the ends of the bundle in the next set of prongs. When I make up my own base out of coat hangers I will keep the same spacing between the bundles. You can see how the next bundle will overlap the bundle that is already clamped.

Almost done.

Finished. Well except for the decorations.
I could have used Christmas ornament, dried flowers or seed pods. I was thinking it would be fun to decorate a wreath for a dog owner and add dog toys or other items that people like.

It was getting dark and the chicken coop was the place with the most sunlight. And yes, I asked Morgan to stay there. I think she wonders what I'm doing. Morgan is clean and white! She just got back from the groomer!

Thursday I will try making a wreath using coat hangers as a base along with wire to anchor the bundles. That will be an experiment. Hope it works. I'll try! Back to work tomorrow.

Click here to see how to make a coat hanger Christmas wreath.

[2 eggs today]
The chickens have been locked up since the fox attack.
They want out!

Monday, November 23, 2009


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Two roads diverged in a yellow wood.
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
~ Robert Frost - The Road Not Taken

I'm grateful I have and can make choices in my life.

Wet hen running for cover...

This photo of the Light Brahma is from my photo archive because I got home too late to take any photos of the hens since most of them were already roosting and they were locked up in their pen. I have posted so many photos of the chickens in their pen and roosting that I decided to spare my blog more use of those boring photos. I have plenty of regular boring photos.

Day Off! I get a day off tomorrow and I plan to sleep in and then use the rest of the time to cut pine branches and make some wreathes here at home. Good thing I'm getting some time off because I am very tired and was sleepy all day.

Kristine brought home pizza for dinner for her and Tom. I finished up the soup and had sour dough bread made in South San Francisco. I used to live in what we called South City and we natives referred to San Francisco as The City and would grimace at each other when someone would call The City "San Fran, Frisco, or SF" because we loved The City and we wouldn't demean the place by using tacky names. Of course this was in the 1950's and times were much different. When we girls and Moms went to The City we always wore a hat and gloves. And for sure our shoes and purses had to match. I haven't been to The City for many a year and I have no hopes that any of the niceties remain in force. Not that I want to wear a hat or gloves, but they were indicative of an attempt to retain a level of good taste.

Voting for Suzanne? Click here. We need to keep voting everyday until December 7th. She is behind in the voting, so if you have anybody you know who might vote you can ask. I emailed my daughter and asked her and her friends for votes. I have no shame. Check on the voting here. Suzanne's blog, Chickens In The Road, here.

[Two eggs today]
The hens are eating up the new organic feed!
I have hopes of more eggs.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Fox Went Out On a Chilly Night

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The fox went out on a chilly night,
He prayed for the moon to give him light,
For he'd many a mile to go that night,
Before he reached the town-o, town-o, town-o,
He'd many a mile to go that night,
Before he reached the town-o.
~ from the 15th Century English Folksong - The Fox And The Goose

I'm grateful for Music, lyrics, rhymes, and poems.

Go Morgan! Go!!! Morgan chased the fox tonight and almost cornered and got her teeth into it, but the fox was smart and ran toward and under the old wooden horse fence. Morgan had to run to the end of the fence to get to the other side and by that time the fox was long gone. Whew! Kristine counted the chickens and (amazingly) we still have seventeen. Morgan is upstairs drying out because after her adventures she is a soaking muddy mess. Poor baby!

Kristine reminded me that we kept the chickens in their pen for a couple of weeks after the coyote attack. The coyotes still use our property as as they pass by daily, but they don't try and get the chickens. Maybe they are just biding their time until the opportunity arrives?

Wreath Making 101: These are some of the steps we go through to get to a finished wreath.

1. Some brave soul spends a lot of time out in the forest in the cold, rain and snow cutting down pine and cedar trees.

2. Said soul carries and loads the trees in a truck and delivers them to the wreath making site. Then unloads the trees.

3. The wreath makers use large cutters and cut off the branches.

4. Said makers carry the branches over to where makers trim off 8"+- lengths of useable pine. Usually that would be the tip ends of the branches.

5. The cut pine is placed in sorted piles so the actual wreath making can begin.

6. Somewhere along in there the tree trunks are carried by the makers and loaded back in the truck to be hauled away with the rest of the branches that aren't useable. (Tired yet?)

7. The makers have to make lots of bows ahead of time so they will be ready for decorating. So far I have avoided steps 1, & 2 and bow making, but I think I am going to have to learn how to make bows one day soon.

8. The head maker knows how many of each size and kind of wreaths need to be made and keeps track and also has to label and price the wreaths.

9. Bundle making: A wreath is made up of hand sized bundles of pine arranged and wired or clamped to different size and shape wreath bases. Makers make fan shaped layered bundles of pine and clamps them to the base. Sounds easy. Not so easy to get the right size and shape bundle every time. Takes practice. I use a foot operated mechanism that closes the clamp around the pine bundle.

10. All the clamps on the base are filled! Congratulations! You have a wreath!

11. Maker sprays the wreath to seal the cut ends to help prevent the wreath from drying out.

12. But it needs decorating. So, the maker may add a bow, or pine cones, dried wild flowers and seeds, Christmas ornaments, etc.

13. The head maker loads up the wreaths and delivers them to sale sites.

14. That is some of what goes on getting a wreath into a store so a customer can say, "I could make one of those" and complain about the price. I do admit the price can seem high until you think about what it takes to make a wreath.

Having a job for a few weeks out of the year is something I enjoy. I especially like being around friends I haven't seen for a long time. The wreath making is enjoyable, but tiring. My hands have been wet and cold all day. But I have learned to stand up straight because leaning over the piles of pine looking for just the right piece to add to my bundle was making my back ache. Also I bought a new pair of gloves that may help keep my hands dry. But everyone had wet soaking gloves so it wasn't just my gloves that failed.

I miss having time to read and comment on the blogs I usually visit. I try to read a few when I get home, but that doesn't always happen. I have been voting for Suzanne. She is behind in the voting the last time I looked. Phooey!

[Two eggs today.]

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Early to Bed

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And when lights begin to show
Up from the town,
I will mark which must be mine,
And then start down.
~ Edna St. Vincent Millay - Afternoon on a Hill

I am grateful for walks.

When I got home I got my camera out and went to collect eggs and take some photos for the blog. The hens were thinking about going in the coop to roost, grooming, getting a snack and scratching in the wet dirt. Wet! Yay! It's supposed to rain tomorrow.
This Light Brahma is looking better since the feathers on her neck and elsewhere grew back. Her feathers have not all grown back in, but she looks a lot better than she did a few weeks ago.
The feed is undercover and safe from the rain.
The hens are eating the new food!

I made wreaths today, and decorated some of them. The bad thing about this wreath making is that just about the time I get really good at the whole thing it is time to quit because the wreath making only lasts for another few weeks. I love the smell of the pine, being up higher in the mountains and being outside. Yesterday it snowed and this morning there was still some snow on the ground in patches. The chicken soup is ready, so I am going to go have dinner and then go to bed. I'm tired (This is a standing up and moving around job) and I have to be back at work early. I don't know when I'm going to get to work on my wreaths. Maybe I'll stay home Thanksgiving (we do get that day off) and rest and play with my wreaths. I'll see how I feel.

If you are voting for Suzanne, please click here to go to the page to vote.

[Two eggs today]

Friday, November 20, 2009

Busy Us

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The love of learning, the sequestered nooks,
And all the sweet serenity of books.
~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I'm grateful for books!

This a photo from yesterday of Morgan watching the chickens. Kristine and I have decided that she does a great job of watching the chickens when we are there with her and the chickens. But she spends a lot of time looking for squirrels in the trees and laying on the back porch when she knows I''m on the computer near the back porch window. I didn't put in enough time training Morgan to watch the chickens all the time.

I spent the day cutting branches and making wreaths. It is a lot of fun, but my back hurts. We get Thanksgiving off and then back to wreath making. I think tomorrow I will get to do some wreath decorating. I wanted to take some photos today but it was too foggy and windy. I suppose I could have taken a photo of the fog. The sun should be out tomorrow.

I did pick up some florist wire today. Now all I need is some free time to work on my wreaths. I'm going to go to bed and read one of my C. J. Cherryh, Foreigner books. Early to bed and up again early to make more wreaths. I'm tired and not tracking real well. This post seems a bit disjointed.

It was very cold today, foggy, windy, rainy and we even had some snow. But no puddles on our property. Rain is forecast again for Sunday. Sun tomorrow. I feel bad for all the people who are suffering because of too much rain. We need the rain here!

I made chicken soup tonight for tomorrows dinner. Tom can heat it up on the wood stove so we can have dinner ready when I get home. Kristine is going to be visiting friends.

[One egg today]
I filled both the feeders with the new organic feed tonight.
Hope the hens like it.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

What Fox?

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Eye halve a spelling check air
It came with my com pew tear
It plane lea marks four my revue
Miss steaks eye kin knot sea.
~ From the internet

I'm grateful for my computer!

The chickens seem to have forgotten all about the fox attack and have gone back to the attack area to scratch around and dust. I was surprised. I went outside today with Morgan and the chickens and raked my paths clear of leaves and branches and stuff. Some of the chickens followed me around because they have figured out that I am moving a lot more of the leaves around than they are and it is easy for them to search and find good things to eat. Morgan sounded off once in the afternoon and took off for the back fence line. Maybe the fox was near? I need to count the chickens and see how many are still here.

Before I came in from working I checked the Christmas boxes and found the bag with last years wreath base and decorations. Tomorrow I hope to stop and get some wire so I can work at making some wreaths. I have been thinking of several ways to make them by hand using things I already have (except I need wire.) I will need to find my good pliers and garden clippers. I'll take photos and I hope my ideas work out and I can make a post soon on how to make wreaths at home. Well, one way, the way I make them. I'm sure there are lots of instructions for wreath making on the internet.

[Two eggs today]

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Rain, Rain, Come Back!

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Drip drip the trees for all the country round,
And richness rare distills from every bough;
The wind alone it is makes every sound,
Shaking down crystals on the leaves below.
~ Henry David Thoreau - The Summer Rain

I am grateful for rain!

We had some rain last night and some is forecast for Friday. What we really need are some heavy rains that will come through and make puddles. Haven't seen a puddle yet this year. The chickens spent most of the day in their coop in case the fox came back for another chicken dinner. We will wait to let them out all day for a few more days and then I will go outside with them and rake or do something. Cut branches for wreaths? Tanya suggested I make a post about putting a wreath together. I will take some photos and see what I can put together. I will try making a hand wired together wreath and one made using a foot operated clamp to close the prongs on the wire base.

Kristine found several breeds of chickens that we are thinking of adding to our flock. We like the Jersey Giants, Sussex, New Hampshire, and Welsommer because they are not white, do well in cold climates, free range, are not agressive and have brown eggs. I like brown eggs. Kristine did find that there are blue Delaware hens, so we will see about finding some of them too. I don't want to get anymore white chickens that can't hide in the leaves from predators.

If you are voting for Suzanne, Chickens In The Road,
to get to the page to vote for Suzanne click here.

[one egg today]

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Pay Attention

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The teacher who is indeed wise does not bid you
to enter the house of his wisdom
but rather leads you to the threshold of your mind.
~ Kahil Gibran

I am grateful for all the wonderful teachers I have known.

Some have been friends, some were instructors,
but they have made a difference in my life.

I think of teachers as bringing light to clear away the darkness.

This afternoon I heard Morgan barking and yelled at her to "leave it!" I thought she was barking at squirrels. No! My neighbor called and said her daughter had seen a fox nab one of our white chickens and take off with it. Morgan must be so confused or just think I'm a big dummy. The new rule is that when Morgan barks I need to pay attention and go outside and find out what she is barking at.

Now we have two Light Brahmas left. The white chickens are easy to spot and we have now lost two of them to predators. The Wyandottes are the only breed we still have four of, so camouflage is definitely a good thing.

The hens are doing their pre-roosting before going in the coop for the night. I think they are a bit rattled after the fox attack. Tom said he saw them all come running out of the woods. Poor Morgan. She can't be everywhere and me telling her to be quiet didn't help.

If you want, click here to go to the page to vote for Suzanne, Chickens In The Road.

[One egg today]

Monday, November 16, 2009

Hold Still!

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All around the chicken coop,
The possum chased the weasel.
The hen on her eggs was fast asleep,
Pop! goes the weasel!
A penny for a ball of thread,
A penny for a needle,
That's the way the money goes;
Pop! goes the weasel!

I'm grateful for playing and having fun!

Kristine remembered this nursery rhyme when I asked her if she remembered any rhymes that had something to do with hurrying around. I thought of Hickory Dickory Dock and Three Blind Mice, but I liked Pop Goes the Weasel best.
If you click on the link under the rhyme it will take you to a wiki page with lots of variations of the rhyme. I picked and chose the stanzas I thought went well with this post.
Since the chickens and Morgan were being especially hard to get a photo of, I decided to post the kind of photos that make up most of the ones I take.
Besides, the blurry images do give a good idea of how fast the critters are all moving around. I usually just keep taking photos until I finally get a few pictures of them standing still or at least not blurry.
The hen wants some more carrot peelings or broccoli or anything and Morgan wants me to tell her it is OK for her to go outside. At least they were both still for a few moments.

I made stew on the wood stove again and this time I added barley. Kristine liked it! In fact she was the one who suggested I add the barley instead of lentils. I think I like the stew with lentils better than with barley, but they are both good.

After I made pancakes this morning I went back to bed and slept off another headache. Pancakes, sleep and then stew! I feel much better!

Oh! And for those who are voting for Suzanne, Chickens In The Road the voting is starting up again. She has made a video and there is info on her web site. Click here to go to the site to vote.

[no eggs today]

Sunday, November 15, 2009

No Place Like Home

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Mid pleasures and palaces though we may roam,
Be it ever so humble, there's no place like home;
A charm from the sky seems to hallow us there,
Which, seek through the world, is ne'er met with elsewhere.
~ John Howard Payne - Home, Sweet Home

I am very grateful for home.

My brother and Sandy built this house and I am happy here. We moved around so much when I was a kid that I wanted to stay in one place after I married. So, we built a house and stayed there for over thirty years and now we are here. I like this photo of the house. It looks cozy nestled in the snow. I would sure like some rain and snow!
Another chickens in the woods photo.
This year I'm going to be making wreaths! I made this wreath last year. Here is a link to a post showing me taking this wreath apart. I need to look in the Christmas boxes and see if I can find the wreath makings to use again this year.

I'm looking forward to handling the pine trees, cutting the branches into wreaths size bunches, and assembling the wreaths. Then will come the wreath decorating part of the operation. Adding Christmas decorations to the wreaths is fun! With the economy the way it is I hope people will be able to buy wreaths. It's a bit sad to make a pretty wreath and then not have it sell and be able to spread it's Christmas cheer.

When I started making pancakes this morning I remembered we were out of baking powder, and Tom hadn't gone to the store yet, so I made soda pancakes. Can't say as I liked them as well as baking powder pancakes. They were OK, but I don't want to make them again. I remember making soda bread and I didn't really like it very much either. I guess I would like it better if I was used to the taste. I suppose we like what we grow used to eating.

[3 eggs today]
The hens are still molting.