Monday, December 31, 2012

2012 Redux

The end of 2012, and the end of my dear little sister, and many losses here at Calamity Acres. 
I had not planned to do a month by month memorial, but decided this afternoon to do so.
January saw the new year in, but it was a sad one for our little Hannah, our little pug girl.  We had to have her eye taken out on January 2nd and she never quite recovered from the trauma of it.  By January 24, we realized she was not eating and drinking, and that it was time.

Four days later, someone brought this little ragamuffin to our door.  Bessie became a member of the family for a short while, and then our neighbors next door fell in love with her, and she lives there with them now, and is very much loved and well cared for.
February 4 was my little sister Kathleen's 60th birthday...
Here she is at about 30, on her son Chris's birthday, always close to Easter.
We didn't know it then, but mild temps in March that allowed Keith to grill out were a premonition of the summer to come.
April did not bring showers this year, but rather milder temps and some new turkeys for us.  There is teenager Jackson in the foreground.  
May ended springtime with higher temps... and these guys.  However, we saw very, very few snakes this year compared to others.  Tony was one of the reasons, he killed them when he saw them.  We aren't sure of the other, but we saw a third as many as years before. 
June came, and with it, high temperatures.  We decided to re-home our llamas, since Tony was getting to be too much for me to handle safely.  The kind people who gave them a home, Renee and Brian, brought us these beautiful Hackney pony mares, who we sent along to our friend Joani in northwest Missouri.  How nice it was to see them grazing in our pasture for a few days.  
July brought searing heat... and little rain.   Keith made huge progress on the henspa after it was roofed through the kindness of Eddie Ibarra.
August brought my 62nd birthday, which was celebrated at our favorite stadium, Community American Ballpark, home of the Kansas City T Bones.  I retired on August 3rd after 46 years of working, most of them several jobs at a time.
It was hot that night, too.
The whole summer was HOT.
September saw us take a short trip to Branson, but this was momentous because WE NEVER GET TO GO ANYWHERE TOGETHER.  Thank you, Grandson Chris.
In October, something got our beautiful Annabelle.  We had already lost our first Turkette, Clarabelle, earlier.  We still aren't sure what it was.
November saw me already thinking ahead to next year's garden after this year's abysmal gardening season.
And December saw the birth of Keith's first granddaughter, Brynn Allison... who is the best little doll we could have had for Christmas.
(This man melts into a sap with one look from this tiny baby.)
It was a long year, this year.  From the high of retirement, to the low of losing my only sister in May... I still can't believe she's gone. 
So many of our animal companions gone too... Hannah in January, the Turkettes at the end of the summer, the llamas gone in re-homing... and now, last week, Gertie Lou in such a tragic way.  But, this is life.  I have faith that my sister is where I will see her again one day... and be reunited with her and my parents in happiness.  I look forward to next year and can't wait to see what it brings.  We pray for rain... we got some snow today, and were glad of it.  We pray there is more moisture to come behind it, for green gardens and fertile fields for the farmers all around us here in Leavenworth County. 
I hope all my blogging friends have a good 2013 too, and all of you who are readers and commenters... you don't know how encouraging you are with your comments... and how great it is to know that someone out there thinks like you do... even if we never meet!  This blog has enriched our lives, both Keith's and mine... and because of your blogs, I know what beaches look like though I've never seen one... I know what the top of a mountain looks like... what other countries look like... and have seen beautiful homes and happy families and animals I can never dream of owning.  To blog is to dream. 
Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Chicken Stuff

Legs Diamond, a Keeper.
Please note Legs' comb.  See the black along the tops?  That's caused by cold weather.  It can be helped by putting Vaseline on the comb when you know the weather is about to dip (like tonight, for us).  It's 45 now, but will be 29 as a high tomorrow.  I have had roosters nearly lose their combs to cold, and the Mediterranean breeds suffer more than others.
This is one BIG rooster.
Do you know about Kathy Shea Mormino, the Chicken Chick?
She wrote a great article on quarantine, and why we should all do it.
You can find it here.  After you read this article, you will know the importance of keeping new chickens isolated from your flock for a while.  Do we all do it?  I venture that most of us don't, even though we should.  Do I?
Ummmmm...... no.
Don't do as I do, do as Kathy says.  In fact, her blog is chuck full of great information and ideas.
We are facing a crisis here.  We have seven little roosters in the little henhouse.  I have been moving hens out of there since the henspa opened.  Six of these creatures have ganged up on the two year old partridge cochin left in there, and a battle royal has been going on daily.  It's time, unfortunately.
Keith can do it, though it is unpleasant, so our resident fox is going to have some good meals for the next week.
Once these guys are gone, the last five hens, the three Welsummers (two of whom have started to lay again), Rockette, the gold penciled Wyandotte, and Fluffernut, the little home-bred brown girl that I hatched last summer in the Brinsea, are moving to the Henspa.  That leaves the little henhouse empty except for it's resident mice.  At that point, I'm going to thoroughly clean it out.  (except for the mice nests)
Two of the worst fighters, and their friend Fluffernut.
Another view of Legs, who is a huge rooster, and some of his girls. Oh... and Rosie.
I got these out of the henspa an hour ago.  I will tell you that my friend's hens are definitely laying, and some of my little girls aren't.  They are just taking a day off, though, as I am getting plenty of bantam eggs out of there.  The two oldest girls, Mack and Mable, are laying often enough to justify their being there, too!
Should I be getting 22 eggs out of there daily?  I guess in a perfect world, I would... and we may have to address that problem someday soon, too.
(22 hens and four-roosters-soon-to-be-three in there).
We are expecting snow here tomorrow, and bad driving, so I'll be staying right here at home.  I'll share a good recipe with you, too, that I made today. 
I hope that this post hasn't depressed people... it depressed me a little to write it, but in the middle, I went outside and found yet another rooster fight.... it's time.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

A Very Sunny Saturday

I stopped to take a picture of sleeping geese on a pond just on the outskirts of Tongie on my way to the food pantry this morning.
As you can see, it's a lovely wintry day here.
We do expect some single digit temps this week, but as Keith reminded me this morning:
"Live in the moment".  He's RIGHT.
I have someone new keeping me company now.
And someone else managed to pull his hind legs up on his new bed and get comfortable. 
As far as the eye could see at Wally World, there were bins of Christmas on sale this morning.  I looked through some of it, but, honestly, they put it out so early anymore that you are sick of it by Christmas.
And you don't realize how cheaply most of it is made, until it's all in a jumble like this.
Okay, I admit it.  I bought two boxes of bulbs that were chocolate colored, for our fall prim tree next fall. 
So guess what was around the corner?
On to the next holiday!
I got my latest issue of GRIT in the mail this week, and there will be a Mother Earth Fair in Lawrence, Kansas this fall.  Yeeha!
J and S at Cranky Puppy also wrote about this. 
I am overjoyed.  I have already let Keith know that I will be gone the weekend of the 12th and 13th of October next year to spend all day soaking it up.  The previous fairs have been held in Puyallup, WA and Seven Springs, PA for several years, so this is a bonus for us.  As MEN is published in Topeka, it's about time!
I have some chicken stuff to talk about tomorrow, so stay tuned.

Friday, December 28, 2012

A Cold Day in Leav Co

It was 30 here today, but felt much colder.  I had to get out to do a few errands, and I told Keith when he got home from work that it felt like the cold was biting at me.  He agreed, and put on a sweatshirt under his Carhartt to do a few things out in the yard and run an errand.  I went out later to finish up after dark, and I swear it was ten degrees colder, and the wind blowing... but the thermometer says it is still 27.  It's snowing, though.
Keith is out sorting out the feed sacks as I type this.  I paid attention at the feed store, as someone was in front of me asking about hay.  It was Friday, and they still had hay!  Brome is still 9.00 a bale.  They also had orchard grass and alfalfa, and I did not hear the prices. 
I found a receipt from the same mill, Valley Feed and Supply Co., in Bonner Springs, Kansas, for some feed I bought in 1999, on August 21st.   
25 pounds of Sunflower Seeds = $ 5.50
20 pounds Scratch =                       3.50
50 pounds Quick Grower =            5.50  (I must have still had chicks)
50 pounds Oyster Shell grit =         5.50
50 pounds Wild Bird mix =            7.95
1 Bale Alfalfa Hay =                       4.50  (I fed this to my rabbits)
Compare this with today:
100 pounds of Chopped Corn =      22.00 (I use this instead of      scratch, a lot of which they left)
50 pounds layer pellets (20%) =     13.10
40 pounds Backyard Blend =          22.99 (This is a wild bird mix
                                                         of sunflower, safflower, peanut,
                                                         millet, cheaper than trying 
                                                         to mix my own. I actually 
                                                                                     bought 80 pounds.)

I took the tree down today, and will move all the containers out tomorrow.  There are still a few things to put away, but the majority is down.  I'll leave our Nativity set up until Epiphany, though.
Yesterday, I bought a new dog bed for Ranger, who appears to be unable to get up on it.  Someone else figured it out, though.

That's good, because she gave me the stink-eye earlier.

I'm not sure what that was about... do dogs get tired of being photographed like kids do?
Here are Jackson and Rosie, tonight.  Helen was on the roost opposite, facing them.  Rosie follows Jackson around like his biggest fan.  They are lovely turkeys. We should have trained the first Turkettes to roost inside.
This rather disgusting mess was the remains of the roast that I cooked on Christmas Day. The following night, we had roast beef sandwiches.  This (above) turned into this: below:
There was a LITTLE bit more meat than what showed above, but not much.  It made a very satisfying beef/vegetable/barley soup, and there is enough for me to eat while Keith drives to Council Bluffs tomorrow to take son Brandon and his friend Paige to lunch.  I am baking goodies tonight for him to take... an apple crisp, and some cookies.  The last of the Christmas fudge is going with him, too.
We did not get to see Bran over Christmas, as he is a working man now.
We want to thank everyone for their loving comments this week.  I have had a very bad head cold, and coupled with the sadness we had here on Monday, it has been a long one.  Thank you all for your supportive words.  I am trying to remember to keep Christmas in my heart.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Abby Here

Abby here, my mom is typing this for me.
My mom and dad tell me that my little sister Gertie is gone away to a place called the Rainbow Bridge.  I don't understand this, because I can still smell her everywhere here in our house.  I smell her on our beds, and on my mom and dad's bed especially, and I smell her on the toys and on the rug everywhere because she could never go outside. 
I smell her on mom and dad's coats, too... and Ranger and Lilly don't seem to know where she is, either.
We're all lonely for her. 
If you see her, will you tell her we miss her?


Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Zorpia Emails

I was not going to post today, but I wanted to let you all know that I have NOT send out the "Zorpia" emails that you have received in your inboxes if we had had correspondence.  I am not sure where these came from, but I think several people's emails were hacked, or Blogger was hacked.  My apologies if you got them from me.

Some further information via Wikipedia:

Zorpia is social networking service, popular in India and China, that uses spamming, scamming and phishing to recruit users.[2][3][4][5][6][7][8] It was founded by Jeffrey Ng in December 2003 and is operated by Zorpia Co. Ltd. The company is based in Hong Kong and has 30 employees.[9]
Zorpia is infamous for sending repetitive "private messages" to people who are not users, referring to fake senders who never have sent any message, "inviting" people to read those "messages" by joining Zorpia by providing their private data.[2][3][4] The site metric data (like the number of users) never has been verified by external parties and it has been suggested that the site is using phishing techniques to gather private user data.[2][5][6] People have been reporting that the account deletion requests are not honoured and their data is continuously used for outbound invitations, and their - supposedly deleted - photographs being shared with others.
Zorpia is one of the few ICP-licensed international social networking services operators in mainland China where it operates the site[10] Zorpia's primary features are photo album, online journal, social networking, customized homepage, comment system, and discussion forum. Users are at least 16 years old.[11] Alexa Internet ranks Zorpia among the 6,000 most frequently visited websites worldwide,[1] 40 percent of its users come from India where its Alexa rank is around 700.[1][10]

Jeffrey Ng, the founder and CEO of Zorpia, was born in 1982 in Hong Kong. He graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign, majoring in computer engineering. In December 2003, he founded Zorpia in his apartment. He was interested in meeting people from around the world and gave the site the name Zorpia because he wanted it to be an online nation for people to make new friends.[12]
Past and current partnerships have included Viximo, Meebo, RockYou, and AdSense. In 2011 Zorpia launched its first Facebook App, Get Dating, focusing on helping Facebook users to find dates, followed by the app Get Friending to find friends.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas to All!

Nathan took this picture of us Friday evening, and we could NOT get Gertie to hold still and model her little snowman hat.  Abby, of course, was a perfect doll. 
We intended for it to be our merriest of Christmas greetings to you all, and that's what we still want.
We thank you from the bottom of our hearts for all the wonderful comments you have left.  We stayed home today after church, and had a quiet Christmas, with a simple dinner.  It's very cold out, so we went outside from time to time to replenish water for the wild and domestic birds, but otherwise, stayed in and cuddled Abby and took it easy.
We hope all of you had a wonderful Christmas with your families, full of peace and joy and good will.
That's what we wish for everyone.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Eve at the Rainbow Bridge

Whether snuggling in Hannah's blankie on the couch Friday

Following Big Sister Lilly in the snow on Saturday
Waiting at the window with Abby for Daddy to come home
Watching the Chiefs (lose) with Daddy
Helping find mice for Mommy in the henhouse
Starring in what we hoped would be her own blog on New Year's Day
Taking a little rest with her sisters and her Daddy yesterday morning after church
Posing for ONE second with Daddy in her Christmas hat
And in a beloved picture with her sisters Hannah, lost in January this year, and Abby. (Our Three Little Girls)
She was our dear little pug girl, and we loved her so very much.
We lost Gertie Lou this morning around eleven.  She slept all night with me, under the covers as usual... ate her breakfast more slowly than usual, but then ran outside and circled me in loops as we went to the henhouses.  Her usual, irrepressible self.
At eleven I was in line at Wal Mart when the phone rang.  Keith asked me to come home right away. 
He had been at the desk with Gertie and Abby near him, as usual.  He got up to do something, went around the corner into the hall, and found Gertie on the floor in the living room, by our bible table. He tried to revive her, but she was gone. 
We think a heart attack, though she was only 3. 
Yes, she had regular vetting. 
Addie Mae was lost the same way... a bad heart.
We have decided, instead of burying her... that she will be cremated and her ashes spread here, where she was so happy.  How she loved to run in the pasture... how she loved to follow Lilly all over the yard, and she lived to adore her Daddy and cuddle at his side.
How we will miss her sweet little cooing voice, she cooed like a baby when you moved her.
We only got to love her for two years... she was adopted after being given up by several families, and how blessed we were to get her and love her and be loved by her.
Run to the Bridge, little Gertie, and wait for us there, Lilly, Abby, Ranger, and
your Mommy and Daddy who loved you so much.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Fourth Sunday of Advent

The Sunday of Peace, and our pastor reminded us that this is a "strange" Advent, as we are not really having a fourth week... It literally was ONE day, today.  He reminded us too, that this is the week we should pay attention to our families, and to our spouses.  I realized with horror I had forgotten to turn my phone off... (he suggested turning our phones off so we REALLY paid attention to each other at Christmas) and pulled it out and turned it off, thinking... "No one ever calls me".  Imagine my surprise when I got home from church and found a message!
You see, months ago a friend at work had offered me some hens.  She bought a wonderful little coop and moved it to her home, which is in the country.

Nifty, huh?
The problem was, the coop came with seven hens, and she already had seven at home. 
She tried to sell them several times, and word was gotten to me last week that she still wanted to place them.  They are 2 year olds, but I told her I would take them, so stopped by today on the way home from dropping Nathan off with his mom.
We loaded them into carriers, and then of course, I forgot to give her the cookies and fudge I had bought them since we were visiting.  (sigh).
There were three carriers... the other was facing these.  We left them in them until the light had gone down.  That way, everyone had time to check each other out.  And yes, I should have isolated them to be sure... but they appeared very healthy.
I've turned off the overhead light and now the warming light is on.  I have noticed that several of the birds lay beneath it daily.  The four hens on the left are new birds, and that's Reddy, my almost two year old production red on the right. This henhouse is now at capacity, except for one small bantam girl I am going to move over.
I didn't realize it, but my friends lived very close to my
Grandmother Peterson's farm.  My grandmother, her son, my Uncle Marcus, and her daughter, my Aunt Ruth, lived on Moonlight Rd., west of Olathe, Kansas.  My uncle milked Holsteins, and my aunt worked in town at the bank.  I drove up the road and realized I was very close to our family "home place" where I spent such happy times as a little girl.  It was going out there that fostered my love of animals large and small, and open spaces.  My brother Mike felt the same way, and we talked of buying the place some day.  Now it is in a hugely expensive county, with luxurious homes all around it... we could never afford it, but I still dream about it sometimes.
The picture does not do it justice.  Starting on the left... the low barn is a hog barn, used for storage when my uncle was farming there.  The silo is still there, of course, and the huge barn next to it had hay storage in the middle, and then long run-ins on either side with a built in manger down each branch, so the cattle could come in out of the weather to eat in the winter.   To the right is a storage barn where tractors were parked, and lots of "farm stuff" was stored.  You can barely see the mik house through the trees... it is now a dog kennel, for an AKC judge lives there, and she has built kennel runs also obscured by the trees.  On the other side of it is a garage, and a road runs down from the house drive to the farthest barns.  The house is on the right, with it's long porch that wrapped around.  It was not the original house, but a "ranch" house, which was new in the 1950's... all on one story, but with a basement for safety during bad storms.  The only building missing 50 years after my childhood is the small calf barn that sat in a fenced area just this side of the house, and left of where the house porch ends. 
As you can see, the people are taking wonderful care of the barns, and I felt so good seeing it.  I did not drive clear down to the driveway... but turned around just as I hit the fenceline.
When my uncle died (my aunt and grandma were already gone) he had 80 acres there.  The real estate agent could not sell it as an 80 acre parcel, and it was divided.  No one has ever built on the second forty (I was at that line).  I used to ride in the pasture all the time, as my cousins and I all had horses there after the cows were gone.  The paved road was gravel, and there were two ponds on the property.  How I loved it!  What a wonderful place it was to go after church on Sunday to have dinner with Grandma.  And how my mom disliked it... we had to use the outhouse always, winter and summer, and my grandma would not let her or my aunt smoke in the house.  (laughing here).  My little sister was not brave, and hated stepping in manure... it would make her cry forever.  She was afraid of the cows, because of their size, and was afraid they would hurt her.  I ran about among them, and loved going in and watching my uncle milking, after bringing them up from the pasture.  He would always ask me if I wanted to help him... but the cows knew, as soon as they saw him, that it was time to march in.  Of course there were many barn cats, and King King, the collie who lived on the back porch in a doghouse, because dogs didn't come in the house then.  (yes, he was "King King"... two kings :-))
There was yet another farm... "the old place"... that was east of this one.  My Uncle Frank and Aunt Ellen lived there, and they farmed with Barney and Benny, a team of horses.  I used to sit in their empty stalls and think of all the stories I was told about how strong and brave they were.  There was a gorgeous huge white barn on this farm, but no house.  My aunt walked out of the house to do something one day, and it blew up behind her in a propane explosion, and of course, burned down.  No cell phones or firefighters around the corner back then.  Uncle Marcus farmed that place for many years, and then decided to remove the barn.  He took it down alone, board by board, and brought it all home to the home place.  I used to have a picture of that barn, but have lost it now.
My uncle grew sorghum there, and taught me about harvesting it, and how it was used to make molasses.  I am sure he used it in the ensilage he made and stored in the silo at the home place.
This farm, at the end of a road that became unused when they quit living there... passed out of the family many years ago.
And a postcript... my little sister fell down the pile of hay one day when we were sliding in the hayloft of the big barn on the left, and hurt her pelvis.  It was the last time she ever slid down the hay!
Now we have reached the Christmas countdown... and the Day is nigh.  Has everyone finished their baking and wrapping? 
I did not... though I went down yesterday and spent almost eight hours sleeping, I was not on top of my game most of the week.  I did not get everything done I wanted to do... and I am letting go of it.
The important things are being done... seeing family, enjoying their company.  Cookies can wait. 
( I did make a huge batch of the wonderful fudge, though!)
I have one last short grocery shopping trip in the morning, and then relaxing, enjoying Keith's company, fixing a good dinner for the big day, and going to church on Christmas morning.  Our forecast is for brutally cold weather... so we are going to hunker down and take care of us.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Wayyyy Under the Weather

Your blogger spent most of the day trying to sleep.  I leave you with one picture only, taken early this morning, after the fox had come and gone.
Hope to see you tomorrow.

Mild weather has been good to the coyotes.

Friday, December 21, 2012

The Kindness of Others

To all of you who answered my plea for the fudge recipe last night, my heartiest thanks!
Here it is, sent to me by several kind people:
               Peppermint Fudge
1 2/3 cups granulated sugar
2/3 cup (5 fl. oz. can) Carnation Evaporated Milk
2 T. butter or margarine
1/4 tsp. salt
2 cups miniature marshmallows
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate morsels
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. peppermint extract
1/4 cup crushed, hard peppermint candy
Line 8" square baking pan with foil. Combine sugar, evap. milk, butter and salt in medium, heavy-duty saucepan. Bring to a full rolling boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Boil, stirring constantly, for 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in marshmallows, morsels, vanilla ext. and peppermint ext. Stir vigorously for one minute or until marshmallows are melted. Pour into prepared baking pan; cool for one minute. Top with candy, pressing in slightly. Refrigerate for 2 hours or until firm. Lift from pan; remove foil. Cut into 48 pieces.
As you see, Diann (in this instance) took the trouble of re-typing it.  I was sent the same recipe by 3 other people, and I am so very grateful to you all.
I used goat's milk instead of Evaporated... and did not put peppermint extract in it, but used peppermint marshmallows.  It was so creamy and good.  I got the pan out to make more this afternoon, but ran out of time, so will make some tomorrow.  (Oh, and I will use parchment paper, too)
In the meantime, I received a wonderful gift from little Ramsey, the Dancing Donkey, of homemade fudge!  Thank you so much, Ramsey, Emma, and Kris!
I am stunned again at the kindness of bloggers and blog readers everywhere.
Friend Jill, who is a registered vet tech, believes she is a pregnant vixen, and I think I agree.  I have seen no evidence of a dog fox.  We got many pictures of her last night around 7 PM, and again at 4 AM.  Something was worrying her, as she kept stopping and turning around and looking down the pasture, though this is to the northwest.  Something was worrying her. 
No possums last night, which is very curious.
Nathan caught these geese for me on the pond at the foot of our road.  There is still some water in it... and the geese land there often. 
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey in 3D
Nathan and I went to see this tonight.  We liked it, it was nice to return to Middle Earth.
However, I must really be getting old, as I can't watch the fight scenes anymore.  I close my eyes and scrunch my face. I liked it, but came home to read reviews and found out lots of people were disappointed, but I thought that the director would have had to squeeze three movies out of a small book, and do a lot of filling in.
Here are our two little girls, so excited when Daddy comes through the gate at night:
Every morning, I push the curtain aside so that Gertie can lay on the back of the loveseat and watch out the window.  She loves to lay there and watch the road and the gate.
Here's Nathan popping the Reese's bells into the peanut butter cookies this afternoon before we left.  These are going to the food pantry in the morning, for the volunteers, along with some others.  They do such good work all year.  Then, I'll make some more after Nate goes to his dad's for the day and night.
I have a LOT more baking to do after that!