Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Big Storm

Last night, the midwest was hit with big storms, thunder and lightening, and ultimately, tornados in February.  Keith was called out on vacation to go to Harveyville, a small town of 275 about 40 miles south of Topeka, which was hit hard by a tornado.  As he said this evening, it was incredible how an F2 tornado could make such a narrow swath of destruction through the little town. 

People automatically think that the federal government steps in and provides low-cost aid and loans to the people who are injured in these disasters, but that is not true at all.  In fact, since there were no municipal buildings hurt in the little town, they are not going to qualify for federal aid at all, and that is part of Keith's (unfortunate) job to tell them.  He did help coordinate disaster aid to them, however, and will be back down there tomorrow doing the same.  Debris removal will start right away, and hopefully, many of those whose houses were destroyed will prove to have insurance.

One man, unfortunately, was injured grievously, and may not make it.  Please pray for his family, who has been so devastated by this natural disaster.  Already in the next town over, though, are 1000 volunteers who are waiting for the word to come in and help, Red Cross, Methodist churchpeople, the Mennonites, and all those other folks who come in behind these terrible events, and try to get people back on an even keel.  They need our prayers, too.

Since Keith left so very early in the morning, I did chores here alone. 

This was how the big henhouse looked this morning... the door had blown open in the terrible winds we had last night.

If you look closely, you can see the dry interior of the coop just beyond the door.  This was slick, shoe sucking mud, about six inches deep, and if you look hard, you'll see my footprints.  This was the accumulation of feed, etc. from the winter on the feed room side, where Butch, Reddy, and Fancy and April live.  UGH.
Pile I dug out so I could get back and forth without falling on my tush.
I had to spread straw to do so, it was so slick.  We've never had this much rain inside the henhouse.  I unplugged the last heater that was plugged in, the llama tank.  It's done for the winter

Unfortunately, this was wating for me on the dry side.  It was Ruby, our oldest hen.  Ruby, Rosy, Helen and Rambo (Big Rambo, father of our Rambo now) were all adopted from the Olathe Animal Control office 8 years ago.  Ruby was still laying an egg every three days or so, and was a smart, smart girl who taught the other hens.  She regularly came over to the feed room side to lay, and hang out with Butch.  My guess is it was her time, and she must have falled off the rafters during the storm last night.  She was a great old girl.

Here is proof of Keith's engineering expertise... the hoop house stood through the 80 mile an hour winds last night, and is none the worse for wear!  And, in case you can't tell... that's a red-winged blackbird on the flat feeder, the first I've seen this year... Spring is really HERE!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Is It Tuesday Already?

I missed Monday night.  I was sick again, I am really having trouble getting over this stuff.
Yes, I went to work both days, but whew, I'm tuckered out tonight. 

Keith, on vacation, has been very busy, though.  Do you remember that Sunday I posted a picture of the first hoop up?

Look now!

He has gotten the whole thing up, just about... he is pointing at where he drove big spikes into the ground.

You can just barely see the spikes in the bottom. 

And yes, it's duct-taped to the framework.

The idea is that the wood frame would give it a little more stability. 
There will be a door at the front and back, but the ends will not seal off, as there must be airflow throughout.  Remember, the tomatos and peppers will be growing in there.  The dimensions are 10 ft. x 20 ft.

Tomorrow, we'll put the plastic on.  I can't believe it went up so fast!

Despite the fact that it rained most of the afternoon, Keith accomplished a lot.  He did have some help, though.

Abby supervised.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Sunday Story

It's so beautiful here today, that I have windows open to clear the doggy smell out of the winter house and turned the furnace off for a while while we worked outside with no jackets!  Right now, at 5:11, it's 63 degrees, on February 26th!

In fact, look who is back in their big pasture, next to our yard!

The Spehars had moved their eight calves out of the big pasture and into their "yard" pasture just outside their house, because it has a barn and a waterer for the really cold days.  Since winter has been mostly a non-event around here, they moved the calves yesterday back into the big pasture where there is a pond for them to drink from.  We were glad to see them, we like these little calves.  They all came over to see me this morning, and to "talk" to their llama friends. 

I have enjoyed seeing these little guys growing.. so has Keith... though we don't like to think of their end.  Our neighbor Kathy told me today that she would like to fence part of their acreage so they could raise a couple of calves for their big family to share.

The chickens had a great day in this weather... and here is the big flock waiting for me to bring their bread treats.  They get old bread from the Hostess bread store across from my office.

And here's what we collected this afternoon.  Sixteen nice eggs!

Keith is on vacation this coming week, and look what he was working on this afternoon.  Here's the first hoop in, and he is working on the others while I type this.  In fact, there are six more already up.

He will make a wall on the front and back, with ventilation, of course.  He will also make a way to tie the whole thing together, to make it wind resistant.  Our first hoop, you know, did not work... he used a short plastic t-piece that normally is meant for plumbing... it would not hold the loops at the tension they needed to be.  Now, he has devised a way to sand down the PVC, and feed the smaller pvc into a piece at the top which you cannot tell from this picture which fits over both sides and holds them fine.  He had to cut nine inches off either side, to make everything work, but as you see, there is plenty of headroom.

Here you can see the slightly bigger piece in the middle, into which the other two parts are fed.

While I'm in here typing this, Keith is hard at work on making more hoops.  I'm going to close down now, and go do dishes, as we have already eaten.  Then I'm actually going to sit down and watch a little of the Academy Awards, and you notice I say "a little".  That's about all I can take. I don't think I have seen even one of the pictures that are nominated this year, for ANY award... pretty sad!

By the way, I stand corrected about yesterday's Western Farm Show.  Keith told me he enjoyed seeing all the equipment that big farmers have to have, that he found it interesting, but he's glad we don't have to have that kind of debt.  So am I!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Saturday Nearly Mended

On the mend today, and we went to a farm show early in the morning, after dropping off the eggs.

The Western Farm Show is held down near Kemper Arena, in the American Royal buildings.  There was a tractor pull in the arena on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights.  There was a huge crowd.

There were tractors large and small.

I took this for one of my oldest friends, this was her maiden name!

There was even a pink tractor, owned by Harold Denholm of Tonganoxie.

However, we basically walked quickly through this entire large show, as there was nothing aimed at hobbyists, hobby farmers, or small animal keepers.  Nothing.  We were very disappointed in that respect.  There was nothing "chicken" to be seen anywhere.

So, after a two hour walk for excercise, we started home.  We did stop at Big Bob's restaurant in Bonner to have some barbecue... delicious food but big mistake for me, as my stomach is still not right.

So, we came home to watch the Iowa State game... (they won) and then to watch the KU - MU final regular season game.

As you see, Keith had lots of company watching the game.  I was in the recliner with Bessie behind me.

There was great rejoicing in Lawrence, tonight, by the way.

Then we went out to do chores... as you see, the llamas were lined up waiting for Keith.

And he even did the chicken chores, since I'm still pretty tuckered out.  Our poor henhouse, you can see what cleaning we have to do in a few weeks.  The rafters are nasty from the starlings.

Here is Lil on the deck in the late afternoon sunlight.  Just a few hours after this picture, Keith had gone to bed early, and I had taken the little girls out to go potty.  The night is cold but very clear, and you can see the stars forever.  In Troy's back yard, a group of coyotes began to yip and call, very, very close (there is a pond there).  I ran into the house to get the good flashlight that illuminates far away, but by the time I got back out, they were far down the road to the south.  They don't often come clear to the pond in the dark... it is only about 50 feet from the back of Troy's house, so I had hoped to get a glimpse of them.

I was going to blog-hop tonight, but today's trip reminded me that I am still not completely over this virus, so will go to bed early again, and hope to sleep a little later in the morning.  Keith is on vacation this coming week... lucky will get completely caught up on his rest.

Though the farm show was a disappointment for us, next week is the home and garden show in Johnson County.  I went to this two years ago and got some great ideas, so we will give it a try.  We're getting very close to planting potatos and starting seeds.

Friday, February 24, 2012

I broke down today and saw my health-care provider, who gave me a Zpack and some cough syrup with codeine to try to combat what's left of this virus I have had for two weeks.  I hoping by the end of the weekend to be totally on the mend!

It has been a good two weeks since this picture was taken:

I'm hoping that's the last snow we see this winter, though some of our neighbors north of 435 are seeing snow tonight.

We have had temps as high as the 60's this month, since that picture was snapped.  Today's issue of USA Today had a story about the early emergence of bugs this year, and said that it is possible that mosquitos could make an appearance as early as next month!

It's time to start making real spring plans, to clean up the winter's messes... to get the garden ready... to order some seeds, though we buy many here.  It's time to put the hoop house together, and to take an hour or two to go to the Western Farm Show tomorrow at Kemper Arena... I'll try to take as many pictures as I can there.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

What Her Paws Hath Wrought

It's no wonder she's tired.

She's been digging to China again.  I noticed a large hole in the side wall of the henhouse, and I am going to have to bring it to Keith's attention tomorrow, or else we are going to have a wholesale slaughter.

She's been digging all along the side of the big henhouse, including under the scaffolding stored in the corner, where she has exposed a bunch of tree roots.  Yes, mice and the odd rat are going in and out on this side, but she must have been at it all day in the wind.  And yes, folks, it's windy here!

We are both still dragging on day 12 of the Crud.  I am actually going to go to the Army post tomorrow and see my healthcare giver, I just cannot seem to knock it, and we suspect a second infection.  Keith is much better, though, despite the odd cough here and there. 

I promise I'll spend some time this weekend looking at everyone's blogs... and putting a decent story on this one! 

I end with a picture of Gremlin ears

Just call her Gizmo!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Hump Day

Hump day, and we are still dragging, I'm afraid.  I found out today I am definitely not the only one in my department suffering from this... a co-worker came back today but was as tired as I.  The one thing that made it bright was that it got up to 62 degrees here, and it was a pleasure to do chores this morning and this evening.

Look at Miss Maybelline Eyes, isn't she beautiful???  (Aztec)

She and her mama and daddy have been digging into the hay lately, because, I'm sure, any nutritive value has gone out of the grass that will soon be growing again.

We have about ten bales left, and that will carry through to fresh grass time.

Notice waste on ground.   They love to lay in the spilled hay, chew their cuds, and pull wisps out to eat.

Notice unpainted haybarn to right.

I have a long list of spring chores to do!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

A Boom, and then Darkness

Last night, at 7:00, Keith had decided to run to the grocery store for peanut butter.  Still not feeling well, neither of us had an appetite... until he decided peanut butter on an English muffin would fill the bill.  Off he went. 

I sat on the couch to watch tv in between the pugs... and at 7:15, the lights popped.... went off.... came on, popped again like a spark, and went out.  I became aware there was a VERY high wind outside, and actually got very scared.  I tried to open the door but it was blowing very hard, and I was afraid the pugs would run out.... then I called and called for Lilly Ann, and didn't see her in the dark.  And I want to tell you... it was  It had rained during the day, and the clouds were still hanging low. 

I came back into the darkened house, and tried to call Keith, who didn't answer.  I sat in the dark and waited for him. 

When he got there, Lil came in with him, and he got the big strong flashlight.  Setting me up with it, he went out to check on everything, and here is what he found in Beau's old stall at the front of the big henhouse.  Yes, it's become a catchall place, and I hope to start getting things in order this weekend, as I feel a big spring cleaning coming on.  Things HAD been stacked neatly, and I think it's interesting that even though we have two elderly trees in our yard, the only things that gone blown over were IN the stall.  The lights were out until 10:45, but I was long in bed.

We are still feeling the lingering effects of the colds we have had.  I can't seem to get an appetite going, and it's hard to regulate your blood sugar when you can't get anything down.  The cough is also driving me crazy; though Keith's is mostly gone, I am still hacking away.  I'll see a doctor if it's still going on by Thursday.

Keith's first question when he got here had been "I need the flashlight.. did the walnut tree go down???"

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Second Post Sunday

There's a new little friend sitting with me now sometimes.

Gertie Lou has always been my little buddy.  She's such a good little girl, but I have a nice story about Abby that happened last night.  Keith was gone on an errand late in the afternoon, and it darkened outside.  Abby was laying in the doorway of the room, and jumped up and began to bark.  I kept telling her to calm down, that everything was okay, but she would run down the hall (think Lassie) and then run back and bark at me.  I finally got up to see what was wrong... and the front door had come open by at least three feet!  Abby was letting me know that something was wrong and I needed to see it!  I was so proud of her.  We have noticed since we adopted her almost three years ago now that she is very protective of us, and a very brave girl to boot.

While blog-hopping earlier today (pre-nap) I came across two new "pug" blogs... It's Tiffy Time, and Pug Possessed, with the most wonderful little pugs.  I read a number of pug blogs... I can't help myself, they ARE truly the most wonderful little dogs.

Please ignore the fact that our John Deere has been sitting out in the elements all winter. It has a tire that has been going flat for months, and has to be aired up every time it is moved... on February 27th it goes in for it's annual tuneup and by golly, that tire will be fixed for good!   What I really intended for you to see is the torque in the trunk of the huge old walnut tree.  It began last summer, and sometime in the last two weeks, a great big piece of bark just out of camera view to the left came off in a big sheet.  There is a hole on the left, also, that leads into a den inside the tree, where the trunk is hollow.  It bore very few walnuts last year. We estimate it is probably 100 years old, and one day soon this year I bet we find out (Keith!)

Cost of removal of this huge old tree is prohibitive... yes, people want walnut, but they want logs brought TO them, they no longer come get them.   Is it going down on the shop and Keith's dad's boat?  We hope not!  (Keith!)
Walnut trees are the very last around here to leaf out in the spring, and ours started dropping leaves in July last year.

While we feel better today, Keith was able to sleep in until 1 and I did not go to church, which I rarely miss.  It was not fair to the congregation to sit and listen to me cough my head off and I felt it was better to stay home as I MUST go to work tomorrow.  After all, it's my annual review day. (!) Thank heavens, it's technically the last one, though I will have to do one for this spring.  It will be a transitional one, I'll write it as I plan to turn over things to whomever my successor will be.

We did chores early, and I fixed us a decent small meal of spaghetti red... and we are waiting to see if we have the appetite for a wonderful dessert we saw yesterday morning on The Pioneer Woman Cooks on Food Network.  If I could find the link to it, I would give it to you... but it was a banana dessert (Ree Drummond hates bananas!) that she made for her mother in law and kids, who were camping out.  You took a banana, sliced it about 3/4 of the way down, open it a little, put in caramel pieces, chocolate chips, mini marshmellows, then pulled it together, wrapped it in foil, and warmed it in an oven (or over a campfire) at 350 degrees for as long as it took to melt everything.  YUMMM. 
Keith got the ingredients at the store yesterday but doggonit, we are still not up to eating it.  I think if another day passes, we should be back to feeling a little more normally.
Spring is evidently springing in the henhouse.  Rambo came across the rafters today, jumped down, and ambushed one-eyed Butch. It looks worse than it is, though.  We cleaned him up and put Neosporin all over him.  Our problem, though, is that spring IS springing.  I noticed that the big roosters are riding the tiny hens in with them terribly, and something will have to be done about it.  I am praying that once the new henhouse is finished, I can sort everyone out and get the bantam girls away from the bigger roosters.  And yes, we are facing having to thin the rooster ranks again.  I have protected Butch so far, but I can't put him back in his pasture pen and let him have the run of the pasture because it would mean keeping Rambo and the bigger flock in again.  Once the new henhouse is up and running, most of the hens still laying will be heading that way. Then we'll sort out what to do about the rooster population.  The mild winter also meant that the older roosters, whom I did not think would make it through another bad winter, all lived.  I do have one little old hen not looking well right now, but we'll see how she does over the next few days.

Have a good start to your week, everyone!

I Feel a Two Post Sunday Coming On

Okay, I have a couple of early morning rants so I must be feeling better.

One is the fact that now one has to type in not one but TWO nonsensical words on Blogger when one is trying to post a comment on some blogs.  The funny thing is, I am sure I have misspelled several of those words, and the comment is accepted anyway.  I mean, c'mon, Blogger!

Another comment problem.... even though I am signed in to our own blog, I will come across the odd blog where, when I try to comment,  it will tell me to sign in with Google Friend Connect, Yahoo, Facebook, etc..  Then, when I press "Google Friend Connect" absolutely nothing happens.  Does this happen to others?  I have found several very nice blogs lately that I wanted to encourage and tell them how much I enjoyed their posts... but could not. 

Totally off this subject... and sorry, if I'm offending anyone... but honestly... was Whitney Houston a national heroine?

As you might imagine, there have been a lot of Hall's Mentho-Lyptus cough drops consumed here this week.  I really would rather not have a cough drop that lectured me, despite the fact they are so soothing to the sore throat.  Their wrappers contain sayings such as "Keep your chin up", "Dust off and get up", and "You got it in you".  Maybe the fact that I was supine and suffering aggravated me the most.

And non-rant-wise, I'm going to try to get caught up on blog-reading today since I'm still not top shelf yet (nor is Keith).  We are also finalizing gardening plans, and hope to have Chris up next weekend to help get all the beds ready.  We are expecting some rain here this week, and some cooler temps.  If Keith is up to it later... and we are not sure he will be... he is going to try version two of the hoop-structure plan to see if it works.  More about that in a separate post.

We received a wonderful Hallmark card from our friends Theresa and Don after we lost little Hannah.  I wanted to type out the sentiment here (I hope Hallmark will not sue me) because it was so wonderful, and because I hope it will help friends like Vickie, who has so recently lost her own best dog friend...

"They will not go quietly,
the dogs who've shared our lives.
In subtle ways they let us know
their spirit still survives.
Old habits still can make us
think we hear them at the door
Or step back when we drop a
tasty morsel on the floor."

She didn't know north from south at this point, but oh, how I miss her warm little body at my feet as I type.

Saturday, February 18, 2012


I don't know how we made it to the end of this week.  We think we are on the mend... Keith was able to get out and do the Saturday errands... feed store, groceries... but finally gave up and laid down for two hours this afternoon.  I laundered everything we have been wearing and sleeping on all week... and hopefully we have killed some of the germs.  I was able to go out and get the chores done and come back in without falling over with exhaustion.  I did make a good stew with some corn muffins... and I must be reviving, because I ate a big bowl with pleasure.

"They" say a cold's effects can last seven to ten days... so I hope this one is on the wane.  We haven't been struck this hard in several years.  My guess it's the cold, the doing of chores in the cold and wet, and constant stress over the last month that got us down.

Here's something else that made me grin today:

There are the rosettes coming to life again in this planter of asters.  It's time to get out to loppers and cut off all that dead growth here and in the garden, in fact, past time.  It will all have to wait another week, though, as I am not going to go too fast and have a relapse.

Here are my two sweet little helpers waiting for me at the gate this afternoon after I carried feed into the henyard.  The starlings had wiped out the little henhouse.  The odd thing is, there was plenty of feed outside, but I have those seven birds who DON'T go outside.  Even Silka, my buff silkie hen, no longer goes out.  The starlings were in the big henhouse, too... they had fouled the waterer but had not eaten all the food... we have noticed this for the past week.  Maybe.... maybe the worst is over!

Do you believe this?
On Wednesday, as I came home from work early and staggered, literally staggered through chores.... I upended the nest box that has been sitting on a cement block in the center of the big henhouse. Under it, where you can just see in this picture, there is an empty space, formed by the two boards that are the framework for the nest.  On the cement block was a nest full of baby mice that had just "haired" out... they were woolies, instead of pinkies.  I set the box back over the nest carefully, and then freaked out, I mean FREAKED out that their mama could not get back into where they were.
In fact, I worried all night, and despite the fact I was barely able to crawl out of bed the next day, dragged back out there and found one baby in the dirt at the side of the block.  I lifted it up and put it back with it's brothers and sisters.  Finally, I was so worried, I went back out one more time, and lifted the nest box back up, set it down on the dirt... and went away, letting Mama Mouse have her way.  Yes, by Friday, they were UNDER the box on the floor.  They also doubled in size in two days.
I lifted the box up this afternoon to check them, and there they were.
Hopefully they will be old enough by tomorrow or Monday, and I can put the box back up on the cement block again, where the little hens have easier access to it.

Don't start about vermin in the henhouse... how aware of it I am!

I read a blog tonight about a lady who has just started raising chickens... she is determined to keep vermin out of her henhouse.  Folks, I don't know despite 15 years of keeping chickens, how this can be arranged.

Totally gratuitous picture of Bessie, Queen of the Recliner:

How lucky we were that this sweet little girl came into our lives.  She is very undemanding, completely housebroken (Abby and Gertie!) and though not cuddly, likes to be near us.  She has not replaced our little Hannah, but filled a hole left in our hearts three weeks ago. 

Friday, February 17, 2012

Folks, we are still sick here... we are on day five.  Keith has been sick all week, but did manage to go to his office yesterday afternoon and this afternoon.  I don't know how he did it.  He is NOT a big baby, but this stuff we have has knocked us both for a loop.  We are living on Nyquil at the moment. 

I missed work yesterday and today, and am as weak as a puppy.  The little girls are going crazy with being cooped up and no one to play, so they are NOT being very easy to get along with at the moment.  Thank heavens for quiet Bessie.

I made myself go out to do chores this afternoon, because I knew Keith was exhausted.  It took me almost an hour to zombie-walk around the place, and I didn't do everything. The llama tank was nasty.. and Azzie had pulled the heater out of it again.  I did not have the strength to dump it and carry clean water to it, we'll have to wait until tomorrow.  I asked Keith to put a bucket in it, and he was able to do that.  I have coughed so much that it hurts to breathe.  Thank God it's the weekend.

This cheered me up immensely.. the buds are now swelling!

The Naughty Girls flew up to the fence to greet me.  I am praying we don't lose these little girls who are now almost a year old, as I want to make a breeding trio with Boots.  The D'Uccles are wonderful little birds, friendly, and chatter to you constantly. 

More proof we have rounded the corner to spring!

The Yard Guard was on duty all day, here she is howling at a siren as I trudged behind her.

Here are the birds from the "Black and White" flock, the descendents of our Japanese bantams, Fred and Wilma and Little Fred, who was a girl.

Here's our new little girl, ready to go in the house.  I had to walk all the way from the henhouse, because she was standing at the door and barking, because she thought I was inside.  I wanted to curl up on a porch chair and go to sleep!  I did let her in, and went back out to do water.  Here's the weird thing... the starlings are now leaving feed... but drinking the water.  It was in the high 50's today, and will be back down in the 40's tomorrow, so I guess they'll eat the feed then, too.

It's 8:15, so I am going to call it a day, take some Nyquil, and go to BED.  I hope by tomorrow we'll be back to our normal selves, or nearly so!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Service Interruption


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Yesterday to Today

We had snow here, finally, yesterday!  It filled the satellite dish with snow and ice, so our service went out temporarily until I thought to have Keith check the dish today.

Only about two inches all told, it still made walking treacherous. 
Keith had to get my car out of the driveway, I managed to get it stuck as I was leaving for work.

These two didn't care about the snow, they wanted to help in the henhouse. They got to, too.

Today it got up to 50 degrees, and this was the result... mud, mud, mud!  The forecast is for rain tomorrow.

And in case you were wondering, yes, Bessie is still with us, and as you can see, has made the back of the recliner her sleeping place.  She can jump up onto the chair and then clamber up onto the back, and makes herself quite comfortable.  She can also see what's going on everywhere from here.  She's learning to look for snacks, and I'm glad, because she still has a long ways to go to fill out that little starved frame.

Keith is stick tonight with a cold, and I am coughing and praying I am not coming down with it.  Our romantic Valentine's Dinner that I planned was eaten at the same table, but not touching. We had New York Strip steak (we share one), baked potatos, peas.  I ended up not fixing the rolls I had gotten since I took so long doing chores.  Keith was able to get up to eat, but is in bed now.  His boss has told him to stay home, they have already had one round of this at the state office building where he was supposed to go for a training class tomorrow.  I am sure hoping that I don't get it, my office has also had a round of it about 3 weeks ago. 

I hope everyone had a great Valentine's Day.