Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!

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I wish everyone a very Happy New Year!

Thanks for reading and commenting on my blog.
Last year at this time I made a deal with myself to make a blog,
post a photo and some text every day for a year.
Wow! I did it!

I guess I will keep posting on the blog, but I don't think in the future I will get all upset if I miss a day posting. I originally thought the blog would be a good way for Kathleen and the grandchildren to keep track of what was going on around the old homestead, but I don't think Kathleen has time with three children, home schooling, etc., to read the blog. So, the blog became more a way for me to keep a journal of sorts of what was going on around here. I think I will keep that going.

Smiles
~:>

Bean Pot

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I had to use the stainless steel pot because there were too many beans to fit in the dutch oven. And after I added the ham hock the pot was full to the top. I learned a lot cooking the beans mainly by making mistakes. Even with my errors the beans still tasted great. Good thing! I have a lot of beans to eat.

First thing I did wrong was to cook the whole package of beans. Next time I'll just cook half and instead of one ham hock I'll cook two or three. Next time I'll make sure to either use beans that need a long cooking time or cook these mixed beans for a shorter time. The lentils and split peas pretty much cooked to mush.

This may be too much information, but since Kristine (or anybody) doesn't like to eat beans because of the flatulence issue, I looked around online to see what I could find that would solve the problem. I ran across this page from the Mayo Clinic about how to cook beans. Who knew? Under Preparing Legumes there is a step called Gas Free Soak that I tried after I had already soaked the bean for a few hours. These beans got many, many washings!

I didn't add anything to the beans except water until they were already cooked on the wood stove. Pretty funny! I'm no good at controlling the cooking temperature at a simmer. The pot was either hot or at a rolling boil. But, like I said, they still taste great. But then I like them a bit overcooked. Oh, well. After the beans were cooked I added the ham hock and over cooked the beans some more. I'm so bad. I added salt after I dished the beans in the bowl, then topped them with the cut up ham hock and chopped red onion.


No cornbread, but the Pugliese bread Kristine brought home tasted wonderful with the beans. Tom asked me if the bottom of the bread was moldy because it was covered with flour. The bread is covered with flour, especially the bottom, but it has a wonderful taste and texture.

I added the rest of the onion, ham hock, and some garlic to the left over pot of beans and put them in the fridge. I read somewhere they are good for four days in the fridge. I guess I will be eating beans until they are gone. I was going to try freezing some of them, but they are too mushy to rinse. Good thing I love beans!

Kristine is in hopes this No Gas soaking works because she would like to be able to eat beans. Since I am the guinea pig, I will report back in another post.

Good thing Kristine doesn't have to work tomorrow because she thought she had a fever and I know she has a cough. She seems to time her illnesses so she is sick on her days off.

[2 eggs today]
The chickens were out for the afternoon
with Morgan and had a lettuce snack.

Smiles
~:>

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Leaves?

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Yep! The leaves are finally off the trees and I can't wait to get myself together and get out there and move them around. I was curious about how the leaves let go and fell because some years there are leaves that hang on until Spring. The first article I found here told me more than I wanted to know. I liked my old idea of the leaves falling off and turning red and yellow because of frost damage. Oh, well, I suppose in years to come they will come up with new discoveries and this will change too.
The garage roof is one of the places where I will spend some time moving leaves. I really am glad that the leaves are down because some years the leaves keep falling and the roof gets another coat of leaves.

The chickens will be glad to get out tomorrow and so will Morgan. She went to the groomers today and looks so pretty and white. The sun is scheduled to shine tomorrow so my plan is for us all to get outside.

I didn't cook dinner because because there are still leftovers from Christmas and that chicken soup I made lasted until last night. Kristine doesn't like beans, but I am going to make a pot of beans and ham hocks. I'll have to make her something else. I have been thinking about the ham hocks, beans and cornbread I used to have when I was a kid and I'm giving in to the memory and making some. Hope they live up to what I remember. The recipe on the bag says to add onions and tomatoes, but I don't think I will. We used to put diced red onion on top of the beans when we served them and I don't remember ever having tomatoes or tomato sauce in the beans. Maybe next time. The beans are soaking overnight. I'm really going to do this. I think I will try cooking them in the dutch oven on the wood stove.

[0 eggs today]

Smiles
~:>

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Lost And Found

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Oops! I pressed the wrong key and published before I wrote anything. There was some blue sky for a bit today so I let Morgan and the chickens out to run around. I gave the hens a head of lettuce on the porch and enjoyed watching them chow down. Morgan came inside for her snack. The chickens stuck around the porch for about an hour and then vanished. Morgan was gone too.

I went out to try and find the chickens in hopes that the reason they were out of sight didn't have anything to do with the fox. Morgan was in the back barking at something. I walked around and finally heard and then spotted a chicken, then another one and then I saw that most of them (10+) were under the trailer taking dust baths. The hens are pretty smart. They found some dry dirt under the plastic covered trailer and a warm protected place to laze about.

I tried out the Auto setting and was able to capture a good photo of the hens shaking their feathers dusting that was OK. The chickens were very happy under there where there was no wind, it was warm and dry and where Morgan didn't run through the middle of them and watch them scatter.

I am way behind making comments and even reading blogs. I do check and moderate my comments a couple of times a day, but I've been under the weather and sleeping a lot. I hope to feel better and catch up tomorrow. Thank you for your comments!

[2 eggs today]
Smiles
~:>

Monday, December 28, 2009

Keeping An Eye Out

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Kristine took this photo of Morgan this afternoon. Morgan loves to hang out on the stairs because she can keep an eye on everyone and everything. There are mirrors on the wall so she can look toward the back of the house and still see the living room and outside.

It has been raining and the chickens have been locked up in their coop. Morgan went out with me when I filled the feeders and checked on the chickens and she got her paws all muddy. When Morgan comes inside her muddy paw trick is to go up to the loft and clean her feet. It is nice and warm up there and she spends some time letting them dry, and licking her pads clean.

I used to have a sweet doberman who liked to spin when he was excited. I taught him to spin on command when he came in the entry way on the floor mat. I would have him spin right and then left, back and forth, and what was happening was that he was wiping his feet on the mat. Saved me the trouble of messing with his feet and getting a bunch of towels muddy. He had a lot of fun spinning! As a puppy Morgan watched him potty and learned to lift her leg. Pretty funny!

I'm going to go back to watching White Christmas after I post this.

[3 eggs today]

Smiles
~:>

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Watch That First Step!

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iPhoto is playing tricks on me and hiding photos. I finally found this in the Thumbs. I don't know what Thumbs are other than that they sound small. This will be interesting. Oh! I just published and found out that the photo will not enlarge when I click on it. hmmmm.

The chickens are still getting used to the gate. I'm just happy that it keeps Morgan out of the feed.

I asked Kevin if he knew about a Sports setting on my camera (he has one too,) but he didn't. I have read through the instruction booklet a few times and the closest I can come to a setting that will capture motion is the Auto setting. I didn't take any photos today, but I'll try the Auto setting tomorrow and see how it works.

I watched some lectures by Rusty Schweickart today about Astrobiology, his space mission, astroids and the planets. Pretty neat stuff. I remember getting together with some friends after work to watch Neil Armstrong walk on the moon. That was amazing! It didn't take very long before we took the moon missions for granted and now I hardly ever even think about the space station.

When I lived in Campbell, California before the moon landing I remember the ground shaking (and me too) and was told that the rockets were being tested. At first I had thought it was an earthquake, but the roaring noise was from the rocket. I wish I knew what rocket was fired and where the test happened.

I made more cranberry sauce for Kristine. Well, for me too. I love that stuff and Tom bought about 12 bags of cranberries to freeze. I asked him to buy them because these are the best cranberries. Much better than any I have seen before.

We still have plenty of chicken soup for dinner tomorrow

[3 eggs today]
I think one of them is from yesterday.
It rained on the feed yesterday
and I found out that the chickens
love wet soggy food.

Smiles
~:>

Saturday, December 26, 2009

iPod

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I wonder what they are saying? "Did you get an iPod for Christmas?" "I told you to stop following me!" "Do you know where the snow is?" "No!" "Go away!" "Wanna find some squirrels?" "No, I won't help you find a squirrel!" "I don't know what you're talking about?" "No, I don't know where everyone went yesterday." "I'm white and you're white; maybe we're related?" "No!"

I don't know, but I did get an iPod from Kristine and I have been having lots of fun listening to music, lectures and playing games. I have way too many Christmas photos and movies to sort through so I know which ones to keep, delete or email.

I forgot to ask if I could post Christmas photos, so there are no Christmas photos. I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday. I really love seeing everyone, but I feel exhausted afterwards. Of course that could be from the hives. Kristine is battling off a sore throat. She has been exposed to the H1N1 flu at the library and at school. I really, really don't want her to catch it, especially since she won't go get the vaccine. She said the school nurse said she probably didn't need it. I worry because of her asthma.

I'm kind of loopy from taking Benadryl and sleeping all day. I tried to be careful and not eat strange stuff, but I got hives anyway. Phooey! But itching is better than a migraine any day.

[1 egg today]
A brown one from a Brahma.

Smiles
~:>

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

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I wish everyone a very Merry Christmas!

I'm posting this in the middle of the night with hopes of adding to it later in the day. The chickens are sleeping and I didn't think they would be happy to pose in the Christmas tree so I cheated and used my little lid pot holders. Ho, Ho, Ho!

[? eggs today]
I'll check for eggs later.

Smiles
~:>

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas Eve!

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Merry Christmas To All
Thank you to all who comment and read this blog.
I wish you a joyful holiday!

I took this photo on Monday.
I like the old street lamps.

[1 egg today]
It was an Orpington egg!

Smiles
~:>

video

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas Sunset

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Yesterday, there was a lot of gold in the sky along with the pink when I ran for the house to get my camera. By the time I got back outside this was all that was left and it continue to darken rapidly. My little camera doesn't capture the intense colors well, but this gives some idea of how lovely the sunset looked through the trees.

I counted the chickens (all there) tonight after I hung their feeders outside because we are supposed to have some sunny days. Not warm days; just sunny days. That's good. I think they eat better in the morning when the feeders are outside rather than in the coop. I still haven't convinced the broody Australorp to give up her nest. I'll keep trying.

My neighbor introduced me to the puppy their family got for Christmas. Now I want a puppy. Well, I've been thinking about getting a dog. In fact I was watching Cesar Millan videos when my neighbor called to wish us Merry Christmas. I've been trying to make up my mind about whether I should get a big dog. Or should I get a herding dog like Morgan? My very first dog was an Australian Shepherd and I would seriously consider getting one if I found a breeder around here. I wish the breeder we got Morgan from was still breeding puppies. I'll keep looking around online.

[1 egg today]
Pretty brown egg.

Smiles
~:>

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

What Is That?

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What is that stuff? Kristine called out that the chickens were on the porch trying to eat the snow. When I opened the slider I could hear the tiny snow hitting the porch with a tick, tick, sound. I guess the hens thought I was throwing treats out for them to eat. It is cold out. The chickens went to bed early way before they usually go in the coop; they are no dummies.

I went in the coop and made sure the hens had lots of pellets and I filled up their grain bin. One of these days the chickens are going to surprise me with lots of eggs, but I don't think it is going to happen until it warms up and the days get longer. A few eggs are better than no eggs. The pretty brown eggs Tom bought at the store look fine, taste different and I notice a faint barnyard smell to them after I cook them. Strange. I want my chickens eggs. Sigh.

Morgan wants in too. It would really snow if we had some rain. If some moisture moves in tonight, I may wake up to a lovely white world. I thought it was tiny hail, but I was voted down by the snow experts in the family.

I wanted to find out and looked up snow in wiki here and now know more than I wanted about snow. I guess the snow on the deck is snow pellets. Or not? Maybe it is soft hail? Snow flakes are so beautiful.

I remember the first time I cut out a paper snow flake. It must have been a second or third grade art craft and I was so surprised when I unfolded the paper to find a lovely snow flake. I feel the urge to fold and cut some paper and create a Christmas snow flake for the window. Or ceiling? I found a tutorial here. I forgot how to fold the paper. I like the simple Christmas homemade items. Paper chains anyone. Oh, I loved the smell of that school paste.

I usually read The Telegraph as part of my online news regime, and this morning I ran across this article here that I feel vindicates my mutterings to myself sometimes when thinking through problems or making plans. I usually catch flack for thinking out loud from people who think they are funny. Ha! I hate it when people make fun of others because of habit or for the sake of what they think is humor. I guess I'm just a fragile flower.

[2 eggs today]
My breakfast!

Smiles
~:>

Monday, December 21, 2009

Winter Begins!

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Today In History here says that Winter begins today. More info on the Winter Solstice here. The snow is gone, but the rain has shown up again and it is cold. So, I guess that counts as Winter. This rain is actually raining hard enough to make some noise. Hope the noise equals a lot of inches of water in the rain gage.

Kristine and I made it down the mountain today and bought some presents, had a late lunch, bought dinner for Tom. We met a lot of very nice shop keepers. One of the ladies even gave me a neat t-shirt for Christmas. On the way home Kristine stopped so I could take a photo of the town tree. It is tricky driving in fog and I really don't like it at all because of the nutty drivers who speed in the fog. What are they thinking?

The town's dedicated volunteers decorate a tree with lights every year. We were happy to find it lit up even though it was foggy.

On the way down the mountain we passed police cars, an ambulance, and a fire truck parked next to the bridge. Sad to say but we think earlier there was probably a jumper. Hope they talked the person off the bridge. I realize that people who suicide are not thinking rationally, but they don't realize the life long pain and sorrow they leave behind with those who love and know them. Their problems are over, but the legacy they leave behind is truly deadly. We have had a suicide in our extended family and I hope my grandchildren don't grow up to think that is a way to solve their problems.

I debated posting about this, but it is what we saw today and this blog is a record of what is happening around here, so, yes, I'm going to post it. May all people who despair find hope or become hope for others.

[no eggs today]
The chickens were in their coop and pen today
because of the rain.

Smiles
~:>

Sunday, December 20, 2009

On The Porch Again

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Wow! I just found out that pressing the control key and o causes the post to publish. I'm not all the way awake from a quick nap. I went to type On in the title box and oops! Publish... ready or not.
The chickens all look wonderful They are doing well in the cold weather which surprised me because it seemed that they weren't finished molting when the cold arrived. They all look plumb, well feathered and hungry. Of course they are always interested in food. This time it is lettuce they are cleaning off the porch. That is a stack of wood in a wheel barrow that Tom has parked outside the slider handy for filling the wood stove.

I hope the deck makes it another winter without me falling through one of the saggy weak spots. I have tried to patch up some of the weak areas, but in some places the support boards have cracked. Maybe we should just tear it out and build some stairs to the front door and sliders? I don't think Santa is going to bring us a new porch. I would love to have one with a porch swing, a clothesline and enclosed area to use all year. Dream on...
This is Pastey the Light Brahma with her pretty new feathers. She sure looks better than she did in October here when she looked like she was half plucked. I love fluffy chickens!

Tomorrow the plan is for Kristine to take us off the mountain to go Christmas shopping. I'll charge the camera and take it along in hopes of getting some great Christmas photos.

[no eggs today]

Smiles
~:>

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Treading The Boards

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Today I got the broody Australorp to go go outside! I had to pick her up three times and carry her out the door, but she is finally hanging out with her two sisters. I opened up the nest boxes so they are not dark and cozy. I hope she will give up the egg hatching plan. John here warned me to be careful of broody hens getting sick in the winter cold. It was good that he did because I usually just pretty much ignore them except for complaining and worrying about them.

Do these girls want to go on stage? No. I think they just like the boards because they have soaked up some warmth from the sun. But, I got to thinking about the trained chickens I have seen performing at county fairs and went to take a quick look on YouTube to see what I could find and came up with this. Chickens aren't so dumb!

I have trained dogs and once even got a third place in obedience with one of my Dobies at a benched Doberman show at the Cow Palace in San Francisco. The dog's scores were only a half point apart with the winner getting a perfect score. Yes. I'm blowing my horn. This blog is supposed to be a record of stuff that happened. I haven't used a clicker or whistle to train except to use them to get a dog to come for a treat. I save the clicker and whistle for times when the dog won't come and I'm desperate.

I wonder if I could clicker train the broody hen to give up sitting in a nest? I guess I could distract her for awhile with treats, but I don't think I have enough of an inclination to pursue chicken training. Training chickens to lay an egg when they hear a click? Now that would be worth the effort. I wonder?

I only got a little bit of path raking done.
Morgan wouldn't hold still for a photo.
The window I replaced yesterday was the top right window. It may have cracked because of the freezes and the wind rattling the windows around or maybe a chicken flew up and bumped the glass when they were all penned up in the coop. I was reading about farmers who use three sided chicken coops even in snowy weather. They did say they had winter hardy chickens. I guess the hens become acclimated to the situation where they are living. I like this set up here especially the idea of composting the wood shavings and chicken poo in place.

[no eggs today]
Smiles
~:>

Friday, December 18, 2009

Sunny Again

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Today the chickens were so happy to be free they flew out of the coop squawking and flapping. They headed off under the trees and were gone for about a half hour. Then I noticed they had come back to some open areas and were scratching in the leaves. This is a Buff Brahma who has scratched up a patch of dirt she likes. Shortly after I took this photo, three hens came over to help her eat up what she had found. Some of the other hens were sun bathing in protected spots. I had planned to stay outside with Morgan, rake, watch the hens and make sure the fox would stay away.
But, when I went in the coop, I noticed that one of the windows was broken. The glass hadn't fallen out, but it was cracked and loose. I have already posted about replacing a broken window here and here, so I refrained from taking more pictures. I forgot how long it took and it took longer this time to install the new window because I had to move one of the windows because the new window didn't fit and replace all the hardware without my power screwdriver.

By the time I finished it was getting late and I didn't have much time to clean up the coop. I cleaned out the nest boxes, raked the old straw out in the pen and cleaned up under the roosts. Then I got the hammer and repaired the little piece of deck fence I appropriated for the coop to keep Morgan away from the chicken feed.

I finished those tasks just about the time the chickens were trying to get back in the coop. For now I'm using the barrel to hold the fence up against the doorway. I'll have to figure out some kind of hook arrangement to attach the fence. Morgan is curious, but I don't think she can get in between the wooden stakes and she is not a jumper, so I think this will keep her out of the coop.

I made that little piece of fence to partition off a part of deck at the Glenwood house to keep the Dobies from running down the back stairs. I had hooks on the ends so I could move it easily when I wanted to open up the space. I can't believe I hauled it all the way up here. Well, I'm glad I found a use for it.

[1 egg today]
Several hens came in the coop when I was fixing the window. I still don't know which hen is laying eggs. I think it might be one of the Light Brahmas. Tom picked up chicken feed today.

I watched this sweet little Irish folk tale film last night and wished it had lasted longer. I had never heard of it until I read about it on a blog I ran across. Find all kinds of neat stuff on the net.

Smiles
~:>

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Stumped

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I didn't take any photos today and was stumped for something to post. Then I thought about the photos I had taken awhile back of my favorite stumps here on the property. I was going to make a stump post but the photos got lost in iPhoto. Ah, but I found them and decided to post these two pics. The top photo is of the stump by the front gate. Some years it has more moss growing on it and some years I have planted myrtle in it or other flowers.
This stump is not too far away from the gate and it has a small cedar growing out of the middle. I think they call these stumps "mothers" or at least they do in the redwood forests when redwood seedlings grow up out of another tree. I have lots of photos of other stumps, but I figure a person can only look at so many stumps unless they are a stump aficionado. Don't think there are too many of those.

I fell in love with trees, stumps and nature walks when we lived in the Santa Cruz Mountains. I used to take the girls to Henry Cowell State Park here in Felton (photos.) We would visit the nature center, walk the trails, identify trees and plants, and visit Roaring Camp next door and feed the ducks and geese. Sometimes we would make a day of it and take a picnic. I always tried to remember to take a flashlight so we could take it inside the hollow Captain Fremont Redwood tree here (story is he camped in it) so we could see the shelves they made in the side of the tree. Every year the opening is getting smaller, so eventually the opening to the burned out center will be closed and the tree will look whole.

I do miss the redwood trees in the area and on our property (neat photos here.) There is just something so special about a huge redwood tree. It is not just the size, but the fact that it has been alive for thousands of years through so much history. When I was standing inside or next to one of those trees it made the history of the area come alive for me. I am grateful for the people who fought to save the redwoods for all of us to enjoy.

Felton here is a neat little town and reminds me a lot of the old gold towns up here where I now live. On our jaunts we used to stop in Felton at a book store and then at a little cafe in an old hotel that made the best berry pies I ever had. I used to visit Felton with a friend's family when I was in high school and never thought I would be taking my children there to enjoy the same sights.

I knew some people in Felton, who had dobermans, so I could tell dobie stories too, but not now.
[1 egg today]

Smiles
~:>

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Day For Night

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I took this photo on the way to open the gate for Kristine this morning and remembered reading about how sometimes the movies shoot night scenes in the daytime. It is 8:30 in the morning! And the gate light is still lit! No wonder the chickens aren't laying any eggs if they can't tell when it's day or night. I think I will use the confusion as an excuse for why I feel sleepy. It is still raining.

Everything looks like it is covered with a layer of potato chips with just a touch of powdered sugar. We are supposed to have partly sunny days for awhile. Supposed to. I sure hope so, because I would like to get out and start moving those leaves around while they are still wet. I want to get raking soon because it is amazing how fast the sun can dry the leaves out which makes them harder to move en masse.

Kristine's last day of class for a while and final today. I'm glad she will have some free time. Maybe I can get her to blog? Post some photos? She said she will take me down the mountain to do some Christmas shopping. That will work. (I'll take my camera) At least I can spend some time window shopping and taking in the Christmas atmosphere. I think I really, really need to stop in at the quilt store. I could spend all my wreath money right there.

I miss reading Suzanne's blog and feel bad for her having to deal with a malware warning. I searched up some info here and sure hope I never have a hacker dump some code in my baby blog. All this malware stuff makes my head spin. I think if it happened to my blog I would just abandon it after a while if I couldn't find the problem. And since I don't know very much at all about finding bad code I'm pretty sure the whole thing would be a wash. Hackers and Spammers are such slime.

[no eggs today]
Hard to believe but one of the Australorps has gone broody.

Smiles
~:>

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Chickens In A Box

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Cute hens! This Light Brahma and Wyandotte are cozy and happy in a nest box. I always wonder how and why the chickens figure out where they are going to sleep at night. They don't seem to sleep in the same places except for the hens who are broody. The broody girls do pick a spot and hold on to it until they give up on the whole egg hatching business.

The Light Brahma could be Pastey, but I know she is not Screamer because if that was Screamer she would have her beak open making a lot of noise. I call all the Wyandottes, Dot or Dotty, because I can't tell them apart unless they are standing close together and not moving. That doesn't happen.

The nest looks pretty clean. I keep a pair of gloves in the chicken coop to wear when I check the nest boxes for eggs. I like wearing the gloves because, after I remove the eggs, I pick up chicken poo and toss it out of the nest onto the dirt area where I can rake it up and put it under the roosts. I rake dirt, straw, poo, etc., under the roost with the understanding that this is supposed to provide some warmth for the coop during the cold winter months. Composting? I clean it all out in the Spring, but for sure it is a lot easier doing it this way than hauling stuff around.

My brother named these three trees, John, Sharon, and Callie, after us kids. The trees are growing alongside the driveway waiting for a hello from passersby. I must admit that I go past them most of the time without noticing or remembering that they are special. But they are special and having them there is heartwarming.

I haven't done any or even thought about Christmas gift buying. At least I want to fill the Christmas socks with little presents, candy and fun stuff. Need to get something for Morgan's sock too.

[1 egg today]

Smiles
~:>

Monday, December 14, 2009

Baked Apples

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Baked apples on the wood stove were on the menu again tonight and I remembered to take a photo. First I put down a double layer of foil to line the bottom of the dutch oven. Then I put in the steamer and placed the corning ware pan on top. I used to have a steamer with adjustable feet, but this one has metal pins that don't move and the lid just fits. I was thinking I could put down something else metal to hold a cake pan off the bottom and try baking a cake or muffins.

That is a big pot of water we keep on the stove to help keep the humidity up in the house. Otherwise, the air gets so dry we can get nosebleeds and sore throats. The big pot isn't pretty but it works. I'm going to keep my eye on the lookout for a new tea kettle that I can use on the wood stove and a pretty big pot. After Christmas sounds like a good time to check out the stores and see what is available.

My cute rooster tea kettle kinda got melted a bit on the wood stove, so I only use it now on the cook top. The rooster whistle was so cute but it melted and cracked and the handle is a bit peely now. I need an old fashioned copper kettle that would love to live on the wood stove. I remember seeing one I really liked that had a ceramic blue and white handle. I'd like to find one of those.

Today started out bright and sunny and then turned gray and dark, so I didn't go out or let the chickens out either. I did put some of their feed outside in the pen so they could hang out there if they wanted.

[0 eggs today}
Tom picked up some brown store bought eggs today.

Smiles~:>

Sunday, December 13, 2009

More Wreaths

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Kristine made this wreath today and brought it home to share with the family. She said it was terribly cold up the mountain and that there was still snow up there. I think she did a great job and I like the bow she made. The ornaments are cute too. This was the best photo I could get and even Kristine took a bunch of blurry photos. I guess I need a tripod.
Here are two of the artificial wreaths I used to hang my old ornaments. I think I should climb up there and rearrange the ornaments because I think they got shuffled around in the storage box. I just hauled the wreaths out of the box and hooked them up there without checking.
The snow is almost all gone and we are stuck with slippery leaves and lots more rain. The sun is supposed to show its face tomorrow, but I'll be surprised and happy if we actually get to warm up. Everybody will be glad to get outside and move around. The chickens are fine but will enjoy a day in the woods with Morgan and I will have fun raking leaves.

Today I've been enjoying listening to Archeology lectures on iTunes U. Usually the lectures don't have visuals so I keep a browser page of Google Image Search open and plug in search terms as they are mentioned in the lecture to keep up visually with the talk. Works out pretty well. Most of the time I can find a picture of what they are talking about.

Kristine is happy. She sent in her last paper this evening. The semester is almost over!

[1 egg today]
It has been so dark and overcast
I think the chickens think it is always night.

Smiles
~:>

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Winter Blue

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Kristine took this photo on Tuesday with my camera trying to capture the beautiful deep blue sky. I have seen the sky like this a few times and the blue is hard to describe and even more striking than in this photo. Almost all the snow is gone tonight in the heavy rains we have been having, but we may have snow tonight if it gets cold enough.

There was a break in the rain this morning which allowed me a chance to let the chickens out in their pen. The hens walked calmly out and stood on the wet straw, looked around, fluffed up their feathers and then strolled back inside when it started raining again. I left the bottom of the windows uncovered so they can go outside when they want. I thought they would be more excited to get out.

I found a rainfall map here and thanks to the rain we are having I'm sure we will be over the 50% mark this year. I lived in the Santa Cruz Mountain through the wettest and second driest years on record.

During the heavy rains of 82/83 the mountains turned into peanut butter and slid all over the place blocking roads and doing all kinds of damage. The hill above us broke away and slid down and crashed into the side of our house, knocked in the wall and came more than halfway through the house. Amazingly the second story wall held, the rest of the house acted as a retaining wall and held back the hill. That was scary. That was the year Love Creek went and buried homes and people. Lots of people lost their homes and lives. One of my neighbors was killed when his tractor tipped over when he was trying to clear the road.

Correction: Kristine just told me I got my mudslides mixed up. 78/79 is when the mudslides hit the side of the house, knocked in about 24 feet and went inside. 82/83 is when, after the retaining wall was built and the house repaired, another mudslide came around the back of the house and filled up the backyard three and a half feet, right up against the back of the house, but didn't come inside. There were other mudslides, but these were the biggest.


1976/77 I remember as hot, dry and uncomfortable. Our home was on well water and the well ran dry and we had to haul water from Los Gatos or Scotts Valley to fill the tank. We became major water conservationists. If I could think of a way not to use water I didn't use it. The girls were told not to flush the toilet unless really necessary and to pee outside was advised. Peeing off decks into the forest was also enjoyed by the fellows in the area, but a bit hard for the girls. We used paper plates and picnic stuff we could throw away so we didn't have to use water to wash dishes. Simple cooking: baked potatoes, lined pans with aluminum foil to cook roast, etc., salads. We went to weekly baths and clothes washing. No watering which meant plants died. I remember our neighbors leaving to drive down to Santa Cruz to sleep on the beach because it was too hot to sleep at night. I remember being very afraid there would be a forest fire. It was so dry the forest would have exploded.

Then there was the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake that cracked the house down the middle, the other mudslides, the forest fires, the road cave ins, etc. Yep! I guess it was just one disaster after another living in those beautiful redwood mountains, but it was worth it being surrounded by all that beauty.

Tom and Kristine are watching Rio Bravo. Love that movie. I think I will watch The Ladykillers with Alec Guinness, Peter Sellers, and Katie Johnson. I like movies that have great dialog.

I made chicken soup with rice for dinner tonight. We had garlic bread, so that made an easy dinner. It is not even 5:30 and it is already dark. I'm going to go check on the chickens again after I post this. Maybe there will be an egg? I'll have to wait for a break in the rain because it is coming down in buckets.

[no eggs today]
Smiles
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Friday, December 11, 2009

Mistletoe?

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These could be balls of mistletoe hanging over the front gate, but sometimes I wonder if they could be squirrel nests. I'd rather go with mistletoe. Sometimes after a big storm blows through I have found little pieces of greenery that I think is mistletoe. I pick it up and get rid of it because I don't want to leave it laying around for Morgan or the chickens to find. Wish I could figure out how to get it out of the trees then I could make mistletoe wreaths.

The rain has not washed away all the snow and there is more snow due tomorrow if I can believe the forecast. Anyway, I am very, very glad to have the rain and the snow finally get everything wet! I have been looking forward to having the ground wet enough to sink a shovel in the dirt. California is in drought mode which I think is pretty much its natural condition.

Although I do remember some very wet years that lead to floods and lots of trouble. I would be happy to have a nice wet winter up here without the flooding, thank you. I guess I will have to move up the coast to Oregon or Washington to be able to have the wet stuff year round. Instead of worrying about stuff I think I will just enjoy listening to the rain. Sounds nice.

I burned the stew a bit tonight when the lentils soaked up all the water. That's what I get for not setting the timer and for setting the dutch oven directly on the top of the stove instead of on a trivit. It still tasted good.

I have been giving the chickens warm water to drink and giving them some grain along with their regular feed. Our chickens are supposed to do well in cold weather and they are doing fine except for the laying eggs part of the deal. Maybe when the snow is gone I will see some eggs?

[0 eggs today]
I told the hens they can go outside and play
as soon as it stops raining.
Smiles
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Thursday, December 10, 2009

Snowy Woods

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I love the snowy woods, but it is raining and I expect to wake up tomorrow to find all the snow gone from the trees, the leaves on the ground uncovered and just a few patches of snow left under some trees in the shade. At least that is what usually happens.

It is supposed to rain until Monday, so I'll have to wait at least until then to start raking. The weather is tricky. Sometimes I'm expecting lots of rain and the storm misses us. I'm looking forward to being outside working in the cold sunshine. I love winter.

I got a face and head freeze the other night, so last night I slept on the couch in front of the wood stove. How neat is that! I think I would like to move out there permanently or get a wood stove next to my bed.

Tonight I made baked apples in the dutch oven on the wood stove. I put a metal steamer under the corning ware pan with the apples in it (with a cup of water) and put the whole thing in the dutch oven and left the lid on until I smelled apples. I served the baked apples with some of the cranberries I cooked. The steamer held the corning ware up off the bottom of the dutch oven. I wonder if I could bake cornbread that way? I'll have to try.

Kristine brought home a Basil Rathbone DVD of The Woman In Green. I think I saw it many years ago and enjoyed watching it again. She also brought me a book, The World Of Jeeves by P. G. Wodehouse. I remember reading those stories a long time ago (copyright 1967) and I'm looking forward to reading them again.

If we get a break in the rain, I would like to let the chickens out for a bit. I feel bad keeping them cooped up, but between the snow, cold, and the fox I don't feel like I have much choice.

Kathleen called to tell me they are all feeling better and hope to visit in February. This will work! I get to keep all the Christmas decorations up until they get here to enjoy them. Well, at least that's my excuse!

[1 very cold egg today]
Thank you little hen.
Smiles
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Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Snow Coop

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Snow paths make it much easier for me to get out to take care of the chickens and for Tom to get to the wood shed to get wood for the wood stove. I used to carry a supply of wood and stack it near the house or on the deck, but this year Tom is taking care of the wood. One year I even had the wood stacked so I could open a window and grab wood for the fire when the weather was too bad to go outside. At least I don't have to go get the wood this year. That works for me.

This is the first year I remember that Tom shoveled paths. I think he was having fun. The other years I think either we ran cars out there to flatten the snow or our neighbor ran the snow plow around. I stuck duct tape on my boot and so far it is not leaking. I know if my boot was in better shape I would be having fun stomping around in the woods with Morgan.

I'm watching Gosford Park. One of my favorite movies of all time. There are not many movies that I love to watch time and time again. Gosford Park trailers here.

Hope everyone's winter weather is not too bad.

[1 egg today]
That was nice.
Smiles
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Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Blue Sky!

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Snow in the trees goes to show how cold it is staying even in the day. The sky was a gorgeous deep blue this morning. Usually, when the sun comes out the snow warms and and in a few hours it falls out of the trees. By the time I got outside the sky had lightened up a bit, but it was still a beautiful backdrop for the snowy trees.

I had to break up ice and dump and fill the water in the chicken coop, but the chickens are fine and welcomed the lettuce I brought. I haven't been out again to check on them because I don't want to open the door and let in the cold.

We are lucky so far and still have power. Lots of people around the area are doing without. There are volunteer groups going out to find and help people who are in trouble. I'm very thankful we are OK, but I do hope the trees stay upright.

Our neighbor plowed out our driveway and our road to the main drag out of here, so Kristine went ahead and drove today. She passed a lot of cars spun out on the side of the road along the way to work and back. She said she just drove at a steady speed around 35 and didn't have any trouble. Hope she will be able to get up the hill in the morning to get out of here. Ice sometimes makes it a slide.

Today I watched the DVD Kristine got us of Holiday Inn. I love this movie that was made in 1942 with Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire. I love the songs (White Christmas is from this movie) and the dancing, especially the firecracker dance. I love White Christmas too, but I love this movie even more. Holiday Inn YouTube. Holiday inn Wiki. Holiday Inn trivia.

Here are some of the sites I check for weather information.
Western United States weather here.
United States 24 hour loop here.
Looks like there is more bad weather on the way. Rain is forecast for Thursday. More snow? I'm still looking for a site that will give good up to date weather information for the area we live. Seems like about the time I find a site I like the site is changed or dropped.

[no eggs today]
Smiles
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Monday, December 07, 2009

Let It Snow!

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Yesterday, snow started fairly light and by evening there were about three inches. The power went off, but then came back on line. I didn't expect very much out of this storm. But, this morning we woke up to this! I love it when it snows. It is so quiet and everything looks wonderful. I'm sure I would feel differently if I had to work or drive in snow and ice.
Kristine didn't drive out and try to get to class. The advisory said not to drive except in an emergency. Tom is going to drive her out to work and back tomorrow. It is tricky driving down the mountain and back especially at night when the roads are snowy and icy.

It was a great day to stay inside warm and cozy near the fire. The chickens are fine. They have divided up with about half roosting and half sacking out in the nest boxes. They could all get in nest boxes if they wanted. Morgan had a lot of fun. She jumps up and down in the snow when she runs.

Poor Kristine stepped off the end of the deck and took a header into the snow. Puff! The snow flew up and landed on her back. Good thing the snow is deep. I waited to go out and feed and water the chickens until Tom shoved a path from the house to the shed and coop. Give me a break. I'm old. Well, that's my excuse. And besides my boot has a tear in it. I would have stomped around in the snow, but I would have got a boot full of snow. I need new boots. No. First I will try the boot repair stuff and see if I can seal the tear.

The forecast says two days of hard freezes and then another snow storm. I feel very bad for the mandarin growers in the area. They have only harvested half their crop. I sure hope their crop and trees are not damaged.

[1 egg today]
One egg is better than no egg!
Smiles
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Sunday, December 06, 2009

Snow!

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I find it hard to believe, but the snow actually arrived. And it has come with a winter storm warning and a hard freeze watch. I took this photo this morning when the snow was just beginning to cover the leaves. This is going to be a quick post because I want to beat a possible power outage. I'll add to the post if I can.
Kristine said she would buy us a winter flag if she could find one at our local store. I have some winter flags, but haven't found them in the boxes.

Last day to vote for Suzanne here.
Check voting here.
Suzanne's blog Chicken's In The Road here.

[no eggs today]
Kristine checked on the chickens and they are OK.
Smiles
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Saturday, December 05, 2009

Christmas Cranberries

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This is mandarin season up here and it is easy to find people selling big bags of mandarins. I love using mandarins because they are easy to peel, have no seeds and are sweet and juicy. I only had a small bag of cranberries and probably added too many mandarins. I love this stuff! Click here for Suzanne's recipe.
The recipe on the bag of cranberries called for one cup of water and one cup of sugar, but since the mandarins are so juicy I will consider reducing the water to a half cup and adding more if necessary. This batch has turned out a little soupy, but it tastes great!

I took the Recent Comments widget off the sidebar. Too bad it quit working. It was fun watching the comments appear. I hope google gets the code fixed.

Morgan got very sick last night after eating the organic chicken feed and Kristine was up all night with Morgan taking her in and out. Morgan didn't have bloat but she did have pain in her tummy. Poor baby. Morgan is better now, but we will have to be very careful she doesn't get in the feed again. I'm going to have to do some building and replace the chicken door the bear tore off the coop since Morgan can squeeze through there to get to the feed. This could be fun. I'll get to make a chicken size door that Morgan can't get past.

If you are voting for Suzanne click here. To check on voting click here. Only two more days of voting. Wonder if the judges will be wise enough to pick Suzanne.

[1 egg today]
Kristine brought home a new bag of organic chicken feed.
Smiles
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Friday, December 04, 2009

Cleaner Coop

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Nice new clean straw! (fake egg) I pulled out all the old straw from the nest boxes and raked it out into the pen. After the rain? we are supposed to get this weekend, I'll be able to tell how the straw will perform as a mud barrier. I can always put leaves or wood chips on top. Kristine said she had to take the back roads home because the freeway was packed with people headed up to Tahoe for a snow weekend. Snow? I don't see any rain forecast.

Some of the hens came back inside to investigate the straw. I caught Morgan eating the new organic chicken feed. She was licking it out of the feeder. Bad girl. I placed flakes of straw around in the coop so they would block drafts and give the chickens places to cozy up and keep warm. If it gets really cold I will block the exit under the windows with a big 4x4 at night. I have done that before and it keeps the wind from blowing in. I have to find the heat lamp tomorrow and have that handy if we need to put it in the coop.

I really like the snow. I just don't like having the worry of Kristine and other people having to drive in the stuff. I wonder if all those people headed up to Lake Tahoe have insider weather information because all the sites I check say there is not much chance for precipitation (20%) this weekend. Maybe they are staying for the week?

Kristine brought home a bag of cranberries to add to the mandarin oranges she bought the other day. My plan tomorrow is to use Suzanne's recipe and make some homemade cranberries. No canning. We plan to eat them up!

There was a lot of smoke in the air. I don't know if it was from smoky wood stoves or from people burning leaves, but I know I don't like having to breathe smoky air.

If you are voting for Suzanne, click here.
Click here to check on the voting.
Gee! Just three more days of voting.

[3 eggs today]
I washed the fake eggs. Hope the hens add some more.
Smiles
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Thursday, December 03, 2009

December Sunset

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This is a photo of late afternoon and the low sunlight hitting the tops of the trees. I have seen some lovely sunsets on different blogs, but I would have to travel to the side of the mountain to get out of the trees to be able to see the horizon. That's fine with me. I love living in the woods. And seeing the tops of the trees light up is pretty neat.

Monday it is supposed to be 24 degrees in the day and 23 at night. I wonder how that's going to work? Tom can hook up a heat lamp for the chickens if he thinks they will be too cold. No rain is forecast, so I don't think we will be getting any snow. Hard to tell what the weather is going to do. I would like some rain and a little snow would be nice. I feel sorry for the people who have to deal with a lot of snow and bad weather.

My plans for tomorrow include cleaning out the chicken coop and maybe moving the tall nest box or covering the opening to provide a a cozy nook for the hens. I want them to have a nice place to roost at night. I always read that chickens are supposed to have a draft free environment, but the chickens coops I have seen (and mine) have air vents at the top of the walls. So? I thought I would see if I could make an area in the coop that was pretty much blocked off from through breezes. I'll see what I can come up with. And I need to add some more wood chips to the chicken pen.

Recent Comments on the sidebar is still not working. I guess I should take it off. I'll give it a few more days and see if they fix the code.

Click here if you want to vote for Suzanne.
Click here to check on the voting.
Wow! Where did that lady get all those votes?

[no eggs yet today]
Smiles
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Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Myrtle in December

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The myrtle is very happy and green. Every year I worry if the myrtle will survive the summer drought, but every year the myrtle hangs on and as soon as the first rain comes it revives and stands up tall. Amazing stuff. And look. No leaves. Everything else gets covered in leaves, but not the myrtle. I don't quite know what it does to avoid being smothered. It either grows around the leaves or through them or both? I have transplanted the myrtle along the driveway and in numerous other spots on the property, but this is the place it grow the best. This is the spot that gets just the right combination of sun and shade for it to flourish. The chickens don't seem to mess with the myrtle. I guess it doesn't taste good?

Kristine got hamburgers and fries for her and Tom for dinner. I had eggs and the leftover pancakes. We had used up all the real maple syrup (boy, I love that stuff) so I used honey. I like breakfast for dinner! I need to put buttermilk on the list and make some more pancakes to have available in the fridge for snacks (or dinner.)

There is something wrong with the Recent Comments on the Sidebar. All that shows up when I look is a white box. I reported it to Google. They asked. Blogger said they had added some code that may have messed with the gadget. Don't know. Well, we'll see what happens.

The movie watching and decorating isn't happening tonight. Tom and Kristine are watching Christmas shows on TV. Now I think they are watching Rudolph The Red Nose Reindeer. Ho, Ho, Ho. We will do the movie thing and decorating on the weekend? I'm going to watch a TV show on my computer (Ugly Betty) and later listen to a lecture on iTunes. Sometimes I get a better picture going through Hulu than using the ABC player.

Click here to get to the page to vote for Suzanne.

[2 eggs today]
Smiles
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