Wednesday, May 27, 2009


Yesterday was a challenge.  Or a lot of them put together.  I'm trying to find the last few (hard to find) parts for this daggum plucker, and I don't know if it'll happen by this weekend, when I SO need it.

After the girls slept SO late, the whole day was a little delayed.  I went to the local tool/bolt shop where they quoted me $38/apiece for some bearings I can get online for $9.  Of course, the $9 might not get here very quickly...  I ordered another thingamabob to save Hubby the trials of fabricating it *just right* (and that piece needs to be just right), and came home to unload lumber, mark it for cuts, and mark around the barrel-tub for the holes we need to drill.  The third time came out right.  Payday is tomorrow, and we're (again) out of apples and most other fresh items, which makes snacking hard.  I haven't cooked or baked a lot lately.

In the midst of this "shop" work, I was trying to keep an eye on the kids and keep the chickens out of the garage.  Big Sister came to tell me something, starting with, "I'm sorry to have to tell you this, Mama..."  

That's never good.

She continued, "I was walking by the laundry room, and my shoes were sticky, and I looked around to figure out what was going on, and there is a big bunch of laundry stuff spilled out like a flood."

I just stared at her.  "What?"  Earlier, Little Artist had been bagging up several items from the pantry (to play with, of course) and left them out. I had instructed her to put them all back, so I knew she'd been in there (our laundry room is also our pantry is also where our furnace lives).  I sent Big Sister to retrieve Organique from the now-turkey house where she was crawling about (ick!), and hollered for Little Artist to come quickly.  

She's been having a hard time lately.  A very hard time.  It takes great effort on my part to get her to obey or comply with any instruction, and it's always met with howling objections of some sort or another.

I took her inside where we both surveyed the scene.  The earlier-almost-full 3 quart jug of laundry detergent was on the floor, aiming downward (of course) and the pump-top had come loose, spilling the contents ALL OVER the floor, into the hallway a bit, and under laundry hampers, mop buckets, the dryer, boxes of rice milk and ziplocs and ingredients for homemade laundry detergent (which I haven't made yet), into socks and mittens and dust bunnies that had moved into crannies.  I tried to be calm.  I explained (somewhat passionately) that this was a big mess, that the laundry detergent wasn't something to waste, etc.  She was surprised and dismayed at the mess too.  She had been aware that the jug had been knocked off the dryer, but didn't know it had opened up.  I explained further that this was why I was constantly telling her (and everyone) to stay out of things not their business, and to clean up and put away things they'd played with.  Her disobedience in ignoring one mess (knocking off the detergent) had led to another mess, a far more expensive one, in terms of money and labor.  And let me tell you, after hauling lumber and everything else, I was already hurting.  I wasn't in the mood for this kind of additional labor (or any kind, really).

And how was I going to clean this up?  Could some of it be salvaged?  How far did the pool spread?  I really didn't need this right now.  I can hardly reach the floor as is, and I certainly can't get on my knees here...  What do I do?  Tears of frustration threatened as I shook my head in disbelief and looked through kitchen drawers for some kind of answer.  I needed a flat scoop, I supposed.  A dough cutter would have to do, and a container.  Little Artist kept trying to slip away (as is also usual these days), and I kept barking at her to stay in one place, and not to move.  Soon I was slipping around (not good for someone who looks like me...), trying to scoop up dirty, gooey laundry detergent.  I let my frustration win out, with each new discovery of items soaked and puddles of detergent along the wall where the vinyl curled up and exposed wood.  Would the floor be ruined?  The wall?  I just kept on with the admonitions and lecture.  She couldn't understand (or wouldn't) my instructions to get a garbage bag, and couldn't/wouldn't hurry at all.  She kept saying, "I don't know what I'm doing!"  I was stuck where I was, and couldn't assist.  She was crying now, and complaining of tired feet from standing there (I know she's only five, but sheesh!  I need to teach her diplomatic ways of complaining to a pregnant lady!).  She wanted to go rest.  I wouldn't let her out of my sight.  She was yelling and crying now, changing her complaint and request with each bellow as I stepped out of my shoes and filled a mop bucket.  Then it was, "I don't know what I'm doing!  I just don't know what I'm doing anymore!  I just don't want you to be angry!  I wish this didn't happen!"  These were the most honest words she'd said all day.  My tears spilled into the bucket as I prayed.  God, what do I do here?  How do I make such a mess of life?  Please help me do right.  I'm just so bad at parenting.  What am I thinking?  How can I reach her?  I hobbled to where she was and crouched down to tell her I was sorry for being angry.  That I also wished it didn't happen, but it did, and we must take care of it now.  I hugged her and told her I loved her, and that I always love her, even when I was angry.  She calmed down quite a bit (but still complained when I told her she could sit there instead of elsewhere) and I began to mop the slippery mess, hauling bucket after bucket of suds away.

There is still goo in the corners, under the vinyl, and under the dryer (probably) and it wasn't the last battle of the day, but I hope that something is salvaged.  Like the quart of so of detergent that I filtered through a paper towel, I hope that God teaches us a new dynamic, or inspires me with the key to reach past her stubbornness from day to day.  I pray that next time some disaster presents itself at the worst of times, that I can handle it far, far better than I did yesterday.  Please, God.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Get Your...

cotton-pickin', finger-lickin', chicken-plucker's outta there!

Did your mom ever say that?  Mine did.  I do.  It must be said really fast.  Of course, my kids have no idea what I'm saying...

But this brings me to my dilemma.

I have 35-40 Meat Mutants, panting out there in the heat, eating more $$ per day than my children manage, and I think they'd do far better relaxing in a VERY cool place.  Like, the freezer in my basement.

Tomorrow is our 9-year anniversary!

Put those together, and what do you get?  "Honey, for our anniversary would you please build me a chicken plucker?"  (I know, I wanted it for Mother's Day, but that's come and gone.)  I'm sure husbands all over America are sick and tired of hearing that phrase.  Or not.  Yes, I'm weird.

We've been slowly working towards it, gathering parts and materials, spending lotsa money on said parts and materials, and we're getting down to the wire here.

The only question mark (haha, yeah right) is "at what RPM does the pluckerplate need to spin?"  We don't have the official plan book (long story), and really don't have time to order one at this point.  Since we're also using a slightly different motor than is called for, and slightly different size of drive pulley, we're not sure what size the slave pulley needs to be!

I'm sure this is all making perfect sense.

I have an algebraic-looking formula scratched down here on my scrap paper (I think it's the inside of an organic cookie box - what I actually got for Mother's Day), and not enough information to get my answer (remember when we always thought we'd "never use this stuff in real life"?).  I have "x" and "a" but I need to know "b" before I can figure out "y".  "Y" is the size, in inches, of the pulley I need to buy/find, and "b" is the RPM I'm aiming for.  And youtube videos aren't exactly helpful for that kind of information.

I've put the question to others out there, on a blog or two, and I'm hoping someone can help me out.  As far as I know, this will be the only tub-style chicken plucker in three counties (else I'd be borrowing/renting the other one, for heaven's sake!), and I'd like to get it right.  Or close.  Or useable.  Usable would work.

So, the moral to this story?  Don't count your chickens before they...  er...  Don't pluck... er... Don't order 50 broiler chicks before you've MADE your plucker.


Sunday, May 24, 2009


Organique, this past winter.

That my mom is here for the weekend, giving me a hand with some of what's on my plate, driving many hours to do so, dealing with my stepbrother's 2 kids along the way and the delay and expense of putting the wrong fuel in the car she almost never drives.

That after five days of working far more than he didn't, Hubby gets 3 days off - not even on call.

That while I lamented the state of my garden and un-planted plants, Hubby was, after a LONG nap (which I didn't begrudge him, even if I was starting to freak out a little), able to tear apart the rototiller (again) and get it running (again) on Saturday.

That after putting Organique to bed, Hubby and I got to take some time to ourselves and go on a drive.

That after hitting a skunk on said drive, the extended freeway-route we took to circle towards home did the job of airing out the underside of the van.

That we didn't hit the other skunk that was within inches of the same fate.

That I planted some more potatoes.

That the brief windstorm doesn't look like it wiped out my peppers entirely.

That my carrots are beginning to sprout.

That my kids have cousins to play with this weekend.

That we haven't killed the kitten we're watching for some out-of-town friends.

That the weather has been mostly lovely.

That I've been able to keep myself from the breadstuffs.

That I've been able to eat a *few* more vegetables.

That Granny hit her 91st birthday this past week.

That we enjoyed a rhubarb upside-down cake in her honor.

That rhubarb is a vegetable.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

May 19 Update

I apologize for the tone of yesterday's post.  I've been struggling, and it's hard to write about uplifting or funny things when I'm that way.  Usually I just don't write at all.

I referred to almost killing the goslings and poults - Hubby was tired of having the geese splash dirty water on his motorcycles, so they had to be removed from the garage.  Wait, when did I update last?  Did I mention we had geese?  I'd ordered them, but they came suddenly last Tuesday.  They were put into a small rabbit hutch-type pen and set over our wimpy wheelbarrow.  We have 3.  We also ordered six turkey poults (white this time), and they came as well.  They were put in a small, round, galvanized trough thing (in which we boil water and scald them, eventually).  One died before the next morning; I think it failed to learn how to eat and drink.  I tried to teach it, I really did.  They were all slow learners, though.  I wonder if white are dumber than bronze...?

So anyways, the garage just wasn't working.  We can't feed the cats on the porch, because the chickens go up there and eat their food, so we were letting them come into the garage at times to eat.  That obviously wouldn't work with cute little turkeys living there.  Too, having the door open at all is a bad move in daylight hours - we've kept feed (in addition to cat feed) in there, and the chickens - all of them - have learned about this.  They will flock inside the garage, leaving the floor in a condition that seriously displeases Hubby.  Ahem.

While Hubby worked ALL DAY Saturday on service calls, the girls and I burned ourselves out making a very fine "shelter" for the Meat Mutants in the garden are (I prefer their 'fertilizer' to be put to good use next year, and this way I won't have to shovel it).  I'll have to take a picture, though:  Their 'shelter' is the floorless pen covered in chicken wire, with the truck canopy leaning up against it, to provide shade and shelter from The Hawk.  At least I hope it does.  Their entire pen consists of garden fence (reinforced with chicken wire) along one side, and poultry netting (not electrified, currently) to make a semicircle.  Sunday, Hubby removed the truck bedliner that was in the greenhouse-style hoophouse and *cough, gag, choke* cleaned and hosed it out.  We put in fresh shavings, and the seven little turkeys moved in.  Seven?  Yes, while in town on Thursday we bought 2 more.  Six is just right for our yearly needs, and one more just in case...  These had lived 2 days at the farm store, so I was pretty sure they knew how to eat and drink.  The goslings are still in their little rabbit cage, but on the ground alongside the truck bedliner (still inside the hoophouse).  We covered it with a tarp to provide some shade, but it still definitely has the 'greenhouse effect' and they don't need heat lamps at high noon, for pity's sake!  (That's a reminder for myself)  Maybe I should get a plug-in timer thingy...

We've lost no Mutants since I sprayed them with antiseptic or Benadryl.  This makes me glad.

My lettuce is SLOWLY growing.  The biggest 'bunch' is about an inch across.  I have some lovely reds out there, and I can't wait for them to grow bigger.  Which they might not do if this heat keeps up.  The potatoes are sprouting pretty well, and anything green in those boxes makes me happy, so...

Our disastrous greenhouse run yielded some herbs - chives, sage, thyme, which as of this writing haven't been planted out yet.  I'm not sure they can handle it.  Keeping them alive in the hous e is a challenge too, though, when there's not much dirt to hold water for their roots.  I wanted four peppers (four square feet, you know) for Hubby, and got a Big Bertha (large bell pepper), a Chocolate Beauty (bell pepper), and a 4-pack of Garden Salsa (mildly hot chile) and a 4-pack of Sweet Cherry (sweet little round pepper).  If he can get and keep the rototiller running, I'll plant the extra peppers  with the tomatoes.  Of tomatoes I got 4-packs of Old German (stripey looking thing, orangey), and some Beefy-kind (2 sets) - though they were the last of the larger plants and I'm not sure they are what they say, and not the sturdiest things, either.  Especially after I smashed them with the stroller.  I did take a couple busted-off plants and stuck them in a cup of water... perhaps they'll root?  I got 2 tiny cucumber plants, and 2 tiny yellow zucchini plants.

I started several pots of pumpkins which are all getting their secondary leaves now, and a few pots of basil.  Some unknown household member plucked the leaves off several plants, but there are still some left.  I've also started cilantro, and two pots have sprouts.

I have seed potatoes still, and great plans to plant potatoes in a bag.  Or several bags.  I'd like to get a truckload of compost to help that endeavor - which costs the same as about 5 bags of such - but have no trailer hitch on the van, and the camry isn't licensed anymore.  Hubby's truck is full of stuff for the dump, so I'm stumped.  It's a trip to the far side of Town (the closer place is closed weekends) for it, and even if their front end loader-scoop could fit inside my van door, I don't think I'd choose that method of transport... (but you were wondering, weren't you?).

Pregnancy-wise, all is mostly fine.  I had an appointment last Friday, around the 28-week mark, and decided the midwife's scale is really a Minion of Darkness and Hates me.  The feeling IS mutual, though.  Let's just say that I'm within a pound of a REALLY BIG NUMBER - which I never even hit when pregnant with Organique, and only barely topped at full-term with Big Sister.  For the life of me I can't remember what it was with Little Artist.  I'm supposed to "walk" and "exercise" and "stop eating so many flippin' carbs."  To which I say, "and when am I supposed to find time for that?" (well, okay, I can find time to stop eating pancakes and french toast and such).  I can't keep the house in order (but I was for a while!  I forgot to update that time, though...), can't keep the family fed decently, can BARELY keep the critters alive, and you want me to exercise?  *sigh*  Also, my urine showed traces of blood and leukocytes (white blood cells) indicating a possible bladder infection.  Which surprised me, because I've had those before, and know what they're like.  She said they're often 'asymptomatic during pregnancy.'  I told her those were my favorite kind.  But, I'm swigging cranberry juice a few times a day.  No, JUST cranberry juice.  It's not very nice, really.  Definitely tolerable, and even better than my old remedy of swigging cider vinegar, but it's not within the scope of "refreshing" or "Cran-Apple" or "sit back and relax with a glass of ____", certainly.  She gave me some cool pee-tester strips to use in a week or so.  Fun.

I think that about wraps it up.  I ordered some rubber fingers to build one of these, and I hope and pray it gets done before the Mutants need freezer time (and that's looking like very soon).

Monday, May 18, 2009

Oh Man

Last week it was about 50 degrees and the wind was blowing.  I didn't like going outside.

Today it's 90+ degrees, and there's no breeze.  I don't like going outside.

No middle ground, see?

Lately I've also been thinking/praying on some other issues.  Issues like how I need to rely on God more and on *my* strength less.  Patience.  Diligence.  Consistency.  Being sensitive to the leading of the Spirit.

I'm so very bad at all that.

I don't know if today is part of a journey to doing that better, but I HOPE it has some lasting fruit.  It's been a challenge.  Not the worst day ever, certainly, but it kinda feels like it.  

Seems like I spend a fortune on groceries, and come home and can't figure out what to make for breakfast.  Or lunch, or dinner, for that matter.  Little Artist has two settings; pleasant and cooperative, or screamingly defiant.  She uses the latter setting most times.  And that stuff is just wearing me down.  I can't focus, I don't have clarity on the 'behind the scenes' of the situation, and I react, instead of respond.  This morning was full of much weeping and gnashing of teeth for breakfast, and I tried to figure *something* out while dealing with un-done jobs that were supposed to have been done last night.  Like the kids' bathroom floor still COVERED with laundry, shoes, bits of toilet paper and trash, and random toys.  What HAD been cleaned up was actually tossed into the hallway amid other things awaiting attention.  The kitchen was still buried in the dirty dishes from yesterday, 20 lbs of over-ripening bananas needing peeled and frozen, 25 lbs (maybe more?) of apples - some of which Organique had made a small bite in - and all the crumbs, jam, honey, mess left from each person's snacking/preparing from the weekend.  After I began to peel potatoes and make 'oven fries' and serve cottage cheese, Organique got into the arrowroot powder (the same thing her older sister got into as a toddler, in fact..), and made a moderate mess of that.  Big Sister tended to that small emergency, and then, stools unavailable (we have to keep them that way), Organique hauled over the plastic container in which I keep the *expensive* organic sugar.  She overturned it by the stove, and apparently the lid hadn't been replaced correctly because the whole thing (the last of my stash) poured onto the very unclean floor.  This was about all I could handle for the day, it seemed, and breakfast hadn't even been finished yet.  I salvaged what I could, and swept up the rest, nearly crying as I went.  I then hung out a couple loads of laundry and told Little Artist to get into the van (we needed to go to the local greenhouse for some plants).  Instead of complying, of course, she asked, in a very shrill tone, "Why?"  I responded that I was her mother, and I told her to.  She followed it up with much yelling and screaming, demanding that she be told *why* I wanted her in the van.  I should mention here that I've yet to instruct my children to get into the van unless I plan to take them somewhere.  Letting them 'play' there is not a good idea, and wouldn't ever be suggested by *me*.  I left her howling and she eventually got herself to the van in a decent attitude.

At the greenhouse, they of course had sold out of everything I needed.  Unless I was willing to settle for tomato plants that were 1" tall instead of 15" tall.  I wasn't.   Zucchini was completely out, so I got yellow squash and some other tomato varieties, lamenting that my Beefmaster and Early Girl tomatoes were snatched up by people more organized than myself.  It wasn't long before the heat and humidity of the greenhouse had the girls all whining for a drink of water, and blaming me for not bringing my water bottle along.  By the time we got to the van, even Organique was crying, so we headed home (which is less than 2 miles away!).  Of course, upon our return the resident hawk was circling our property, making me worried that he was assessing the available menu.  I can't tell if he ordered yet or not.

I removed kids quickly to go get their drinks, and went to retrieve the plants from the rear of the vehicle - where the large double-stroller had tipped over and smashed a very many of my plants, mostly the tall tomatoes.  

Of course.

The girls had filled one cup of water and were taking turns with it, resulting in a lot of crying and demands for their turn, and leaving Organique to cry for hers.  I supplied additional cups (they usually use a dozen or two at a time, it seems, why be frugal now?), but then Organique mostly choked on her water, trying to drink it so quickly, and that made her cry more.  By this time I took myself to my room to cry, and then called Hubby to ask that he pray for me today.  He didn't answer, and my sobs started anew when I was leaving him a message, which I really didn't want to do.  Organique came to comfort me, and tracked dirty shoes all over my mattress pad (the sheets were on the line).

I got some schoolwork started with the girls, and put away bananas while Organique napped.  And then realized that I hadn't tended the livestock (well, birds).  Which I was certain had resulted in their excruciating death by heat.  I sent Big Sister to check on them and unplug their heat lamps, and while they weren't dead, they were indeed in need of food and/or water.  I went to tend this after putting water on the stove to boil for my prenatal tea.

Of course.

I got the poor goslings some water, then some food, both of which they needed desperately.  I brought a bucket of each goose food and turkey starter (geese and ducks will die if they eat medicated starter) into their area to make refills more efficient, and set them carefully in different areas so that no one would confuse them.  Then I realized the Meat Mutants were ALSO out of feed and water (they had 6 gallons just yesterday!), so I began to tend to their water.  I noticed Little Artist was sitting on the *icky* floor of the now-goose-and-turkey house, reaching her arm into the turkey's feed, which she'd gotten down from it's high place of rest.  I asked her to not do that while I hauled the Mutant's feeder to refill it.  I brought them their food to fight over (while making other little piles here and there to cut down on the violent competition) and realized my lettuce was probably dying and my carrot seeds were probably already dead.  I went to water these things, and then I noticed the Little Artist had indeed abandoned her turkey-feed mischief, but she'd left the bucket on the ground.  And had left the door open.  Gorging themselves on the super-protein, medicated starter was a rooster, 2 or 3 hens, and Aflac, our duck.  Not good.  I had to use the hose to spray them out of the place, and I hope Aflac doesn't die from her indulgence.  Kindof.

Sometime within the above goings on, Big Sister hollered out to me that there was a pan on the stove "bubbling and bubbling."  I had her turn it off, and later found less than 1/8" of water left in the pan.  Thank you Lord, that I didn't wreck the pan or burn the house down. Since then I had a debate with my brother over the right- or wrong-ness of the state overseeing what parents teach their children (I can't believe his conservative self views things the way he does), and had many opportunities to say, "would you remove your sister from the dining room table for me" and "please take that chicken back outside" and "who turned on the sprinkler system for the front lawn?"  

But I haven't cried again.  Well, not from yet another impending disaster, anyway.

Please tell me that this has purpose.  Like labor to bring forth a child, tell me that this will produce in me something of eternal value.  Patience, maybe.  The ability to face trials with joy, or at least without frustration and overwhelm.  Sensitivity to His leading.  Something.  I want my girls to view the jobs of a mother with admiration and respect, as something to aspire to, and I feel like I'm giving them every reason to run far, far from such a life.  I need hope (but not the Obama version).

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Jury Update

Well, Hubby dodged the bullet last month.  He did serve that first time, about 3 days' worth or so.  He was called to appear for selection each of the next 3 weeks, but when he double-checked the night before, he learned that the case had been settled already.  Thank you Lord!  

My plan to show up for May selection with the 3 girls has had Hubby a bit worried.  We've heard of less-than-nice Jury Commissioners who take issue with such shenanigans, and the last thing I need is a Contempt of Court charge.

So at his request, I called at the end of April to find out what could be done.

I don't have a babysitter.

No daycare.  And wouldn't.

No, a 4-month delay won't help; I'm having ANOTHER child in 3 months, and it's not going to be any easier to arrange this then.

Are you kidding, my husband served last month, at great cost of income, and there's no way we can afford that again.

No, all the local relatives work full-time.

Well, yes, I have some friends, but they all have babies to care for and I can't ask them to watch 3 more for an entire day or days.

Sure, my grandma probably would drop her schedule, but she lives 2 hours away and is vision-impaired (though she still manages to pass her driver's test).  I'm NOT comfortable asking her, because I hopefully have many years ahead of me, and I don't want them wracked with guilt if she kills herself or someone else on the freeway.

My mom is dead.

Oh, my (step)mom would love to, but she lives 12 hours away and is in the middle of custody issues with my stepbrother's children who live with them, and the whole 'crossing state lines' thing right now is probably unwise.


Okay, there's a cousin.  But she has and homeschools her own 3 children, is taking some classes at college, works weekends, and most days watches another (working, going-to-school) cousin's 2 boys.  It would kill me to ask her.

I have to kill myself?  Seriously?  You know, for a state usually such a nice shade of red, this is sure not a very family-friendly policy.  Yes, I know you don't want to exclude any particular demographic, but yikes.


The "alternative" they offer to 'cases' like me is for me to select any Wednesday/Thursday window of the month and serve on 'magistrate court' from half- to full-days.  Of course, the last minute settling of cases would cancel this out, but I wouldn't be 'on call' every week like the regular jurors are.

So after telling the lady I would do my best, and REALLY trying to work this out, I finally killed myself - er, called the cousin to ask if watching my kids for 0-2 days might possibly work for her.  She mostly agreed, and I continued to try to find other options.  I couldn't.  She called on May 4 to let me know that the 6th and 7th would work, though she was watching the other cousin's boys from 2-5pm those days.  I said I'd call and put myself on the schedule for those days.

I called the Jury People, who told me the 6th and 7th were already 'taken' and in fact I was supposed to show up the following day at 8:45.  *gasp!*  Oh, but it looks like the case was just settled, so you don't have to show up after all.  *pant, pant, collapse*  They didn't say I had to call the week beforehand last time I spoke with them!  The cousin is leaving town on the 18th, so there weren't a whole lot more Wednesday/Thursdays I could take; I took the 13th (tomorrow!) and 14th while it was still available and hoped it would work for the cousin.  THANKFULLY, it did.

So now I pray the case(s) will be settled, and wonder about leaving Organique for so many hours.  I am actually asking SOMEONE ELSE to change her diaper.  How will she nap?  What if she climbs their counters and snatches a fistful of butter?  At least her sisters will be with her, but they are not Mama either.  Too, I'm wondering about the miracle that will have to be performed to get myself and 3 kids not just out of bed by 8:00 a.m. but in the van and ready for an entire day (or two) by 8:00 a.m.


Monday, May 11, 2009

Dr. Mutant At Your Service

Or is that Mutant Doctor?

Our Cornish Cross (a.k.a. Meat Mutants) aren't faring much better than the batch we had 2 years ago.  Remember them?  Suicidal things.

I've been trying to figure it out.  For a few weeks they lived in a greenhouse-style hoophouse, propped up and in a small pickup bedliner.  They had pine shavings, medicated starter (ugh, but no getting around it), regular grower ration, and clean water.  When they finally started getting too big for that, we moved them out of the bedliner, to the ground, inside the same shelter.  Every few days Big Sister pulls out another carcass.


It's very discouraging to see at least 2 meals disappear from your yearly menu every time one of these things kicks the bucket.

We started at 52; if we counted correctly when we moved them to the floor, and we subtracted correctly each time one dies, we're at (or near) 39.

I've added cider vinegar to their water occasionally (not consistently enough to be able to tell if it helps), but that's rumored to reduce pecking, which isn't an issue with these things.  Sometimes one or two will get a little energetic and spend 2.3 seconds sparring, but mostly they eat, drink and sleep.

I (or Hubby, more correctly) may have figured out the problem.  It's hard to keep food and water in front of these beasts - they suck down 3 gallons in a day, and 25 lbs of food every 2 days or less - and if we're at all late with the refills, it gets kindof violent in there.  They're bigger, too, so less of them can fit around each feeder/waterer at any one time.  When they're fighting for a spot at the trough, they'll jump up on one another, and the underlings end up with scratches on their back/rears.  This might be mild if their feathers grew as fast as their bodies, but most of them have bare patches in that area, and end up with nasty, bad gashes from the claws of their cohorts.  Not pretty.  I noticed it a few days ago.  Hubby noticed it last night, and suggested their wounds might be what's killing them; infection and whatnot.


Sounds as plausible as anything else I can come up with.

But what to do?  Dip them each in a bucket of rubbing alcohol?  Apply neosporin?  Use bandaids?  Nail clippers?  Fill my air-pressured weed sprayer (which I use for organic foliar fertilizer) with hydrogen peroxide and hose down the whole crew?  None of these ideas seemed reasonable or doable, without a trip to the drugstore, anyway.  Do they put you on an FBI list if you buy 3 gallons of isopropyl alcohol?

Last night one had a particularly bad cut.  At least an inch long, and what you could see under the skin (which was entirely cut open) looked decidedly like 'chicken thigh' for your dinner, except it was still walking around.  When Hubby made his refreshment run, I grabbed from the medicine cupboard what I thought might be antiseptic spray.  I say, "thought" because we purchased it when Little Artist was still back in her super-destructive mode, and would peel every sticker, label, or packaging off of anything she could get her hands on.  Which was most things, apparently.  So this particular little bottle of spray (there were two of them, equally naked) had no identifying marks.  It might've been anti-itch antihistamine spray.  But I hope not.  In any case, I took it outdoors and sent Big Sister into the Nasty House to obtain as many chickens as she could, and one by one we inspected and sprayed their hindquarters.  Some had minor scratches, others had cuts that seemed to be healing.  Some never got caught.  We made sure to catch the 'freshly wounded' and douse them well.  What would Benadryl spray do in an open wound, anyway?  The chickens did settle down for a nap after we were done terrorizing them.. Hmm...

We plan to move them soon to another area; we have 6 turkeys and 3 geese on order, though we don't know when they'll arrive (nothing like being prepared.  Or not.).  We'll need the little hoophouse for them, and we're working on prepping an area of the garden for the Mutants.  This has become additionally complicated by a pair of large hawks (red-tailed, I think) that have moved into a tall tree just across our eastern property line.  The other day I heard a piercing squeal that continued, and when I looked toward the sound I saw a hawk heading from the north end of the field to it's tree to the east.  The squeal was carried with it, and I think, I hope it was a rockchuck.  A few days ago Big Sister was hanging out laundry and came in to excitedly tell me that the hawk had tried to get one of the guineas, but didn't.  Up to that point it had left our chickens alone; I figured perhaps they were too large to be tempting, but the guineas are about the same size, so...

The Mutants are not too big to be tempting.  In fact, their bright white-ness combined with their lethargy would likely spell "Hawk Feed Here" to any potential predator.  Thus their 'outdoor' area is going to have to be severely rednecked, er, situated to discourage airborne attacks.

And I don't expect that will be pretty either.

Hello, Texans?

The DHM at the Common Room is continuing with her FLDS information.  She posted several interesting points on Saturday, and another today.

Today's is especially important if any of the following apply to you: a) You live in Texas, b) you have children, c) you homeschool.

The state is trying all sorts of governmental and legislative schemes purported to "get" the FLDS, but as with every other governmental plan, it's a big net and you could find yourself caught in it quite easily.  It's not just about underage marriage or polygamy.  More power for CPS?  Less burden of proof? Felony charges for truancy?  Yes, yes, and yes.

Contact your state senators and reps..

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mother's Day

Mother's Day tends to be a bad day for me.  Whether it's the 'expectations' that don't get met (and believe me, I don't expect much!), or just the way my emotional issue(s?) chooses to focus, it's usually lackluster, at least in my mind.

And it really must be in my mind.

This year, nothing unusual happened, and I'm fine.  I really am!  

I think it might be because I learned Woodrow Wilson instituted Mother's Day as a national holiday.  That kind of ruined it for me.  Which is apparently a good thing.

In any case, though I'm pretty tired, it's been a fairly good day.  BEAUTIFUL weather!  70s!  I went to the farm store and bought some more peat moss to replace the big hollowed-out bowl the wind carved in my expensive Square-Foot-Garden dirt *grumble grumble*,  added some in, mixed it up and planted 3 types of carrots (4 squares each), planted the last 3 square feet of the deep box with Red potatoes I bought from the local greenhouse, dug a few weeds, hand-watered the raspberries, watched American Carol with Hubby on the computer (liked it), affixed chicken-wire to a length of the garden fence (with zip ties and some help), had Hubby move a couple unused critter-shelters (ok, so one's a truck canopy...) to a different part of the garden, watched Hubby bury two (more) dead Meat Mutants, enjoyed my wonderful kids and husband, and doctored some Meat Mutants (more on that tomorrow).

Now the girls are in a bath (Organique for her 2nd of the day - she's enjoyed the outdoors for sure!), Hubby is puttering in the garage, though he made a quick 'refreshment run' (helping me with the fence and digging the hole earned him that, he claimed) and brought me some Kashi Oatmeal Dark Chocolate cookies (he says I don't have to share them with the kids).  It'll be eggs and toast for dinner (again!) for the kids and I.  But I'll have cookies for dessert. :)

Hope your Mother's Day was as wonderful!

Friday, May 08, 2009

Oh My.

These are not mornings I like.

And I'm guessing the Sears Repairman feels the same.

The girls and I visited Gi-gi on Wednesday and Thursday, and let's just say the bed did not like me at all.  I can usually 'reset' most of my aches and pains overnight, sleeping in different positions and such, but I couldn't even move without hurting badly enough to wake up.  Getting up to pee was excruciating.

I was happy to be back home last night, even if we did all have Wheaties for dinner (I know!  Corn syrup!  Ack!).

I collapsed into MY bed around 9:30, and aside from the multiple pee-breaks, I slept well.  Organique awoke screeching at 6:30, so I changed her and loved her and put her back to bed, praying the bright sun shining around the blinds in their east-facing window wouldn't keep her awake, because I was SO not ready to be up yet.  Aches and pains hadn't reached 'reset' stage, obviously.

I fell back asleep, and awoke at 8:15 when the phone rang.  It was Hubby, and while I certainly didn't manage to answer it before the answering machine, I did crawl to the nearest phone and groggily call him back.  Then I sat for a few minutes at the computer, catching up on some reading and emails from when we were gone and trying to blink awake.

I was still wearing my nightgown, head bandana (with hair flying out at all edges), droopy eyeliner (which I almost never wear anyway), and pillowcase-creases etched into my face when I observed a bright blue Sears Repair van enter the driveway.

"Oh no," I said.  I was pretty sure all my Kenmores were functioning properly.

I hurried to my room and donned my fleece robe, grabbed Organique from her crib at the other end of the hall, and went downstairs after shrieking at my reflection in the mirror.

"Oh no," I said, asking God, why, why did the house numbers have to blow off the house 2 years ago?  (I didn't ask myself why I hadn't acquired and affixed new ones)

Should I just not answer the door?  Unlikely prospect, because Little Artist was up and around and would bound to the door or window as soon as the knock came.

It came.

She bounded.

I.... answered.

Whether it was the pajama-clad baby in my arms, my own wicked appearance, or my long pause after I said, "hi...", he got the picture.  Smooth, well-groomed character that he was.

"Thirteen-forty?" he asked.

I pointed to the "fancy neighbors" up the driveway.  "Next house."

"I figured I had a 50/50 chance of getting it right," he said, as he backed away from the specter before him.  I tried to laugh, and likely only scared him more with a mouthful of unbrushed teeth.

I wanted to say, "I was out of town!  I'm ALWAYS dressed before I check email!  I was extra-tired, see, and pregnant too!  Please understand...  Having kids doesn't make you all freaky, necessarily, you just caught me on the WORST POSSIBLE DAY!"

I really aspire to be an example of all that is good in motherhood, in raising children, in delighting in the blessings God has granted us.  I want women to be inspired that having children isn't a terrible drudgery that is worthy to be escaped via daycare.  I want to encourage others who are 'on the fence' about having 'just one more' that it will be something that they'll always be so glad they did.  I want to encourage men that their wives don't have to become robe- and bandana-clad frumps after they have children.


Wednesday, May 06, 2009

So Worth It

I wrote about getting our van legal (so far she has no name yet, and the kids keep asking), and doing our errands for the first time with it.

I didn't mention my favorite part.

In Mary Jane (our camry), Little Artist sat along the rear passenger window.  Her carseat wasn't quite tall enough for her to get a good look out the window, and any time someone would say, "Oh, look at that!" and point, she'd strain against the straps and most times would miss it entirely.

In the van her carseat is on the passenger side as well, in the 'very-back.'  For the first 20 minutes or so of drive time, all I could hear was one breathless exclamation after another:  "[Big Sister], look, I see a sheep!  Mama, I can see the grass and the road!  Oh, wow, they have a tire swing in that tree!  Look, I see a white horse and a brown horse.  When I get big I'm going to borrow the white horse and ride it."

It brought tears to my eyes (still does, when I think of it) to think that my Little Artist has missed all this wonder during each mundane car ride in the past.  She, to whom the beauty around us likely means the most, has missed it, up until now.  And aside from all the obvious conveniences and necessities that the van offers, I'm so grateful that she now gets to bear witness to God's wonderful creation as we "walk by the way."

Friday, May 01, 2009

On The Road & Birthdays!

In the VAN!

Hubby's work has done the seasonal pick-up; he worked last Saturday and late most evenings these past couple weeks, and we were able to pay the sales tax and transfer the registration to our van!  It's so nice to have that done.

Yesterday we left the house around 10 am to do our bi-weekly errands, starting at the bank, and then to the DMV across the street.  We dropped off some used clothing to the thrift store, bought chicken and dog feeds at the feed store, called and insured our van from the road while driving to Town to hit the auto parts store, the hardware store (then all the way back downtown to the electrical supply because Lowe's has poor inventory) for Hubby's birthday present, the grocery store, the fabric store, Costco, the post office, the organic store, my neighbor's for illegal milk, and HOME!  It was 5:15 when we came home.  You might say I was tired.

The last shred of energy was used up getting the awake girl to help me unload at least the perishables before readying dinner.  Hubby was home near 8:00, and enjoyed (well, I hope) crock-pot roasted turkey breast and green beans for his birthday dinner.  Where's the carbohydrate in that meal?  Well, we followed it up with popcorn and a movie (during which he fell asleep), and the kids and I stayed awake far too late for our own good.  We've paid for it today.  *yawn*

My sister-in-law's husband also had a birthday yesterday, and his 'party' is tonight.  I may or may not *yawn* make it, especially since Hubby is likely working too late to join me.  Dishing up 4 plates at a barbecue, trying to keep doggies from eating it, feeding (or corralling) Organique, keeping an eye on each munchkin, all of this adds up to a BIG reason that God intended children to have a Mama AND a Daddy. :)  Of course, it's not like I'm at a public event or strange place; they're mostly surrounded by family members of one type or another, but I realize what a big responsibility children are, and I don't wish to presume that others will or should caretake *my* obligations, whether or not we're related! :)  Can you tell I have a hard time asking for help?  I usually do so only when absolutely, terribly necessary...  But at least if I go it'll be in the van!  

Tomorrow afternoon we're hosting some friends and family for Hubby's birthday.  I didn't exactly get the house in as much order as I'd planned today, so tomorrow will be another big day.  Hopefully I'll have slept a bit more tonight!

Little Artist turns five (!) next Tuesday, and we'll probably have some people over (if they're not all sick of that) next Saturday for *her* day.  I ordered some colorbooks online and bought her some crayons yesterday, surreptitiously at the grocery store. :)