snowy days

The meteorologists were right. I’m sssssooooooo happy about it. Being holed up inside is one of my favorite things to be. And watching Gideon bunny hop through torso-deep snow brought so much happiness to my heart.
IMG_8566Gid could not get enough of the snow. He looooved it. Rolling, spinning, running, hopping, rooting, eating, barking and what seemed at times like dancing through all the powder. IMG_8300IMG_8275IMG_8276 IMG_8323 IMG_8390Tea, walks, bathrobes, fluffy socks, crunching snow, little puddles, netflix, naps, games, boots, cookies, blankets, icy fingers, and bright blue snow light.
IMG_8507 IMG_8567 The ladies would only venture out to an area we cleared of snow. They were not amused. IMG_8570 IMG_8568 IMG_8569Quickly the hens, and most humans in the neighborhood made their way indoors. To warm by the heater and look out the windows in wonder. I’m so sad to see melting this morning. Sigh.

Favorite snowy days moment: Matt and I stalked a few pre-teens around the neighborhood. Throwing snowballs and then hiding behind cars in hopes of confusing them. When they didn’t noticed, we decided an ambush was in order. What ensued was a 15 minute snowball fight that reminded me how hard it is to maneuver in snow.

Every morning…

…at the first sign that we’re waking up, a leg stretch, a yawn, any rustling whatsoever, and up he comes. Flipping and flopping, yawning, licking and softly woofing.

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Sometimes I just lay as still as possible and try to stealthily check the time. He’s got a sixth sense about us though and just knows. Or he’s already been awake for hours, sitting there on the floor watching us. Creepy little cutie.

The 7 Dwarves

It used to be the three musketeers. We’ve got a little sub-flock of three musketeers though. Miss Marple and two of the “chicks” (they are hens/pullets now, but I still call them chicks) are laying, so most days we’re getting three eggs again. Gosh I can’t describe how cool that is.

The bigger the flock, the more problems you’ll tend to have. More ladies to boss each other around, more chances for disease and more opportunity for pecking and all around chicken craziness. Recently, my absolutely favorite chicken Katniss, was getting her feet feathers pecked out. Now I’m not sure if that’s because she pecked them, then others saw the blood and went all psycho, or because someone singled her out. Either way, it was bad news. One day I found her hiding in the coop, blood spread all over the roost and dripping from her foot. Poor girl!

IMG_4885 IMG_5002 IMG_5003-001I love her. She jumps onto my lap and clucks sweetly. She also has the softest feathers out of all of them. I read that one way to keep chickens from pecking each other is to keep them busy and therefore distracted. Well duh. We tried out one suggestion, and so far I think it’s helped.

IMG_5430 IMG_5431 IMG_5454 IMG_5437 IMG_5435We strung wire through a head of cabbage (from our own garden no less) and hung it in the run. Let the chicken jumping commence. I love me some chicken watching time.

Annie

Sigh. Little lady I am SO proud of you. You paced around the coop for three days, trying to pop out that first egg. And you did it. I bet that was weird and slightly unpleasant for you. (See “egg labor” here…be warned.)560498_645838717854_1670373211_nAnnie, you are going to get your own special treat for this. I’m still confused why you don’t really cluck and instead you “scream cluck”. I could have sworn you were a rooster. Well, first things first…just get to laying!

 

Growing Things.

We went camping a few weekends ago. Of course we took Gidmaster-Fresh. I love it when Gideon comes camping because with his bed on one side and Matt’s on the other, I stay toasty and dew-free in the middle of our tent. When I woke up in the morning, I looked down to check on Gideon. This is what I saw: IMG_3888 He’s my favorite thing on the planet. It was so cute to see him tucked in under his blanket, sleepy and content. But back to the point of this post, look what I discovered today!IMG_4159Our first cherry tomato of the season. We’ve had a heat wave here recently, which I assume encouraged the sudden blushing of tomatoes. The corn, squash and beans are growing visibly taller by day. And the potatoes are loving life right now. Here is a glimpse of what we’ve got growing in the little raised bed section of our yard.IMG_4164We’re already done with broccoli and garlic, while kale, cilantro and some lettuce on their second plantings. New this year are the brussel sprouts and celery. We’ve had good luck with everything but the broccoli. This is the second year we’ve attempted it and somehow it never fully flourishes. Maybe there’s a trick I don’t know about? I was super happy with my choice to grab elephant garlic over the small cloves this year. It seemed to produce a better head of garlic more quickly.

One very cool and literally very big new thing we’ve got planted is asparagus…but more on that another time.

What are you growing? What’s flourishing? What’s ending up in the compost?

Empathy wins again.

Well, it happened again. For some reason stranded/wounded animals are drawn to me like a magnet. Or maybe it’s the other way around. Long story short, this poor gosling was found severally wounded. It’s leg (which you can see there) is almost assuredly broken. It was bloody and unable to walk. IMG_3775 IMG_3777This baby’s family was desperate to keep it safe. The flock (a handful of adults and several babies) would cross the street to a nearby pond and when they realized that this one couldn’t follow, they would stand in the middle of the road honking…practically yelling at it to come with them. The whole flock would then turn around and head back to the injured bird. They were fiercely protective. Well we all know how this story would have ended. The bird would have either starved, drowned or been eaten. That and the flock was in high risk of more injuries crossing the road so many times. Another concerned animal-lover helped fend off the geese, while I gently tossed a towel over this baby and placed her in my car. Then over to the Audubon Society in NW Portland we went. While they cannot guarantee that they will release him/her back to it’s original location, their goal is always rehabilitation and reintroduction into the wild. They get hundreds of injured goslings a year. They group similar aged geese together, and over time they bond and create their own flock. Then they are released back into the wild with their new posse. Sounds a whole heck of a lot better then a slow painful death.

What is it with my intense empathy for animals? A couple months ago, Portland had this bizarre heat wave. Two very large and very hot looking dogs were spotted wandered around my church, where I work. A man told me they were following him around and narrowly escaped death-by-car a couple of times. My first reaction was, “Oh I’m sure they live right around here.” In my head, “Those are some huge and scary looking dogs.” The guy insisted they were really nice but didn’t want them to keep following him into the busy street. He also pointed out that the one very big and very furry black dog was struggling in the heat. Well there we had it. I was suddenly hooked and immensely worried for these pups.

So I gave them some water and called the local shelter. There are so many strays on the streets that shelters can’t pick them up unless they are aggressive (a danger to others). They just don’t have the resources. In the meantime the pups had begun wandering back into the busy street. So what do I do? I opened up the back door of my Ford Escort sedan and hollered, “Come on guys! Up! Come on! Get in!” And up/in they went. They were so huge that my car visibly sagged when they jumped in.  IMG_2774 IMG_2773So here I am suddenly with two hot, slobbery, huge dogs in my car, heading towards a dog shelter. I was so worried about dropping them off. I’ve heard horror stories about animals being mistreated in places like that. But the moment I got there, they assured me the boys would be kept as close to each other as possible (as it was obvious they were “siblings” at this point), and that if someone out there loved these dogs, they would check the local shelters and they would be going home.

The next day I got a call from the animal shelter, letting me know the owner had picked up her boys and wanted to speak with me. She was overjoyed! Her dogs had never left their backyard until that day. Huckleberry and Shadow just decided that it was the day they were going to dig out of the backyard and as it turns out, travel 20 blocks away from home. I was so thankful their momma found them. I can’t imagine losing Gideon. The shelter posted a description of the dogs on their website the same day, which the owners happened to see when looking for the shelter info online. So they knew they babies were ok!

I felt that God had opened up an opportunity for me to care for those pups and in turn to help out their owners. I went with my gut (AKA God saying, “Just throw them in your car!’) and it worked out. I’m so blessed to helped their little family. I know they were thankful too. Look what she dropped off at my work a few weeks later.

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Lyra-Girl

It’s been a sad couple days for my Hubby and I. Our hen Lyra died  two nights ago. A raccoon got into the coop and snagged her. We’re both so sad and feel incredibly guilty. For the past two years, we often wait until well after dark to close our coop up. We’ve never had a problem. Well this one time we weren’t so lucky. We got home late and following our normal routine we started to close everything up. As Matt approached the coop he noticed a raccoon scurry across the yard. He soon discovered poor Lyra-girl. We must have been just a few moments too late. She was in-tact except for an injured neck. We pray she went quickly. We buried her in the back yard and held Miss Marple for a long time. She narrowly missed being a raccoon snack as well. Now Miss Marple is out there all alone. Luckily for her, she’s got six buddies who will join her in a few weeks. Until then I take a chair out into the run and sit with her to keep her company.

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It’s odd. Matt and I actually grieve the loss of Lyra, not just a hen. The fact that I had about 80 pictures of her to choose from should tell you something. We’ve been talking about her individual quirks, her beautiful  feathers, her puffy cheeks and beard, her green eggs and memories of her crazy chicken-hawkness.

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I’ve come to realize that it will always be hard to loose a hen. The grief might become less and less shocking, but in reality hens die all the time. They get sick, they get eaten, they get in fights with cats/dogs/eachother, they don’t have very long life spans. Chickens die in chicken ways, which is usually not graceful. But when we think of our pets, we hope they die in natural and graceful ways. When they don’t, when they die suddenly and painfully, it’s all so tragic. So I’m working on how to reconcile these two elements of my pet-parenthood. How do I keep loving my chickens as dear pets, but grieve for them appropriately when they die not-so-pretty chicken deaths? Cause we’ve got 7 more to go folks and I’m really not looking forward to sobbing that much.

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If you feel like it, pop on over and read these old posts about Lyra (“A Brood Awakening” and “She’s Back.”)…they are some of my favorites.

P.S. To those with chickens…if you have a run to enclose your ladies make sure you lock them in there if you’ll be away past nightfall. If you don’t have a run, make sure you get them closed in their coop when it gets dark. You honestly never know when something might happen and it’s best to err on the side of caution.