Thursday, November 29, 2012

More Glorious Weather

Another beautiful day, amongst those we have been blessed with these last few weeks.  We revel in them, but pray that some rain will come soon. 

Here is Bitty, a blue/black silkie that will soon be moving over to the new henspa.  She is not purebred, but is mostly silkie.

We are finally getting a little Christmas on around here... Keith helped me when he got home from work today, it took two of us to do this right... actually, it took HIM to do it right.
 Of course, I had him facing the setting sun.  That's my 2.00 wreath I got at the food pantry thrift shop.  The star and bow were already on it, but it was all crinkly... the bow smashed and the branches all smushed down.  I perked it up, and added some dollar picks from Hobby Lobby.  Now it's hanging on the deck for all to see. 
Keith has been under the weather for the last week, so I really appreciated his coming out to help me.
This hole, which is just outside the wild bird's feeding area, looks into a gaping area underground.  I meant to show it to Keith.  Though it looks larger here, it's about a little larger than a silver dollar.  You can look down into it!  I am wondering if we are about to have a collapse due to the dry conditions. 
And here's our big boy trying to figure out how to get up the steps this evening.  It's getting harder and harder for him every day.  We help him up in the house regularly, or bring water to him.  He is getting around better once up, on his medications.   I think a simple ramp would help him, but hate to add it to the List that Keith is burdened with. 

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Some Blogging Stuff

Everyday in my email inbox, I get links for some blogs that I cannot follow through Blogger... and today I got one from "Brown Eyed Baker" that I think a lot of you will enjoy.  Here is the link to 120 recipes for Christmas baking and cooking!  It's really an incredible list and your "one-stop shop" for Christmas recipes.
Yesterday, I read some very interesting words on another blog, here,  "On Crooked Creek" written by Pat, to wit:
Retirement is a special time. . .
time to edit,
time to explore,

time to organize,
time to plan,

time to research,
time to refresh? ? ?
Some folks have suggested that I jump right into volunteerism, now that I'm no longer working and have "lots of free time".  Let me set the record straight... I'm 62.  I started working at 14 as a volunteer usher for the Kansas City Philharmonic, which predated the Kansas City Symphony.  I took my volunteer work very seriously, and my parents made sure I was at every performance.  When I was fifteen, I began working in the summers at a doctor's office, and then worked after school (for which I paid my own tuition for my sophmore, junior and senior years) for the next few years.  I bought my own horse, and paid for her stabling, her vet bills, and wore the boots my parents bought me for 20 years.  When my kids were four and six, I began working back in the theater and local arenas as a part time usher and ticket taker and did that for the next 27 years... until I became the manager at a theater at nights and on the weekends. All year, I worked all day long in an office

I'm enjoying retirement! 
The things that Pat wrote about are the things I am doing now... editing my life, exploring things I have always wanted to do... organizing the house... planning for my next few years with which God will hopefully bless me... researching those things that I always wanted to know more about... refreshing my marriage to a wonderful man. 
I get up and do chores morning and evening so that others can have some protein on their tables... and for now, that's my volunteering.  I hope, in the spring, to begin regular hours at several different places... but for right now, I'm taking care of Mary Ann and Keith. (and our babies!)
Here's another blog truism... if TexWisGirl from the Run Around Ranch has been there before me, I know it's going to be a good post!  I run into her on many of the blogs I read, and she not only has a good blog, she makes good comments!
I'm just now getting things out of the storage buildings to decorate for Christmas.  So many of my friends have stopped decorating, but I think the grands still enjoying seeing the house prettied up, and I know I do.  I saw a great idea for Christmas decorations yesterday at Cindy's blog, Retro Revival, and that's the link to the beautiful wreath she made.  The wreath is one I have seen in lots of magazines... made from Christmas balls.  I could never imagine making one myself, but they are EASY.  Cindy linked to a site that had an easy tutorial on it... and I read it and realized I could make this wreath, too!   It is as simple as feeding the bulbs onto a wire coat hanger, and hanging them with a lovely bow, as she did below.  You do need to glue the stems to the bulbs, the hanging stems, that is, the little circular things that hold the hangers into the bulbs, so they won't fall.  Easy, peasy!

Cindy's gorgeous wreath. 
I am going to scrounge up the unused bulbs I have and make one for us!
Here is something I did recently at home.  I have to tell you that except for scrapbooking, which I used to do... I am not a crafty person, but enjoying trying some things.
This is a lampshade that I found in September at a shop that was going out of business.  It was 2.00.  It has tiny pinpricked holes to allow the light to come through.
I bought a lamp for 2.00 at the food pantry thrift store where I deliver eggs on Saturdays:
I painted it light blue, to match the shade and it is sitting on our bible table now.  I don't really like blue and white Christmas decorations, but I found the shade and it was pretty, so I adjusted.  The little container in front of the lamp was also found at the thrift store for 1.00 last weekend, it is designed (I think) to hold a candle, but I may use it for candy.  And yes, the shade is probably a bit too small for the lamp, but I am using it at Christmas only, I think. 
That's my little Christmas dog in honor of our Oscar the min-pin, whom we lost so many years ago. 
Now I'm off to check the situation in the henspa, and then to the commissary, to stock up on Christmas ingredients for all the baking to come!
I hope you enjoy the links in this post!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Battle Royal

Today, I moved Butch, Reddy, April, Folly and Fancy to the new henhouse.  My original plan was to move Butch first of all, so he could be the dominant rooster in the new house.  Then, Friday's cold night dictated that the pasture bunch were moved first.  I had hoped that the three little roosters with them were still so immature that whomever was introduced next would be able to cow them.  How I wish I could put a video on here!

This went on for about six minutes... I had planned to let them fight until one or the other stopped, so that the pecking order was established... Butch actually got Junior down three or four times. 
But let's face it... Butch is five, and Junior is seven months.  Butch has one eye.  I was afraid the other eye would be lost, so I finally stopped it.  I did tape them so Keith could see.
So, my plans are awry.  I can't put Butch in with the big flock, the other roosters tried to kill him.
He's back in the feed room, for now.  Butch is dominant over Fancy, so I really didn't anticipate too many problems.
Fancy, Butch, and the three hens have lived in the feed room of the big hen house for a year (at least four of them for a year, and Folly joined them after the owl killed her sister).  Fancy has a bad habit of attacking us from behind, which precipitated his move today.
He was totally cowed by his arrival in the new henspa.
He didn't quite know what to think about the bigger and more well-lit digs.
He and his girls, Folly and April, are up on top of the nest boxes for the night, and I noticed that Reddy had flown up there with them.  I don't think Keith thought about them being a good roost.
I put the water up there for a few minutes so they could get a drink, they were so stressed out.
I put a chair in the feed room side, because I think I am going to have to monitor tomorrow morning for a while, once Fancy is forced to come down for a drink and some food.  Junior is going to try to push him around... I think that will be a fight!
At the last minute tonight, as I was locking up... I grabbed Mabel, an elderly hen that has been living in the little henhouse since she came here in April.  She has a partner, Mack... and Mack ran in fright when I grabbed her buddy.  She screamed clear across the yard.  One of these two old hens is still laying a huge egg every other day.  They are bonded, so I will move Mack tomorrow.  Then I'm going to stop for a while so Keith can cut the pophole on Saturday, and we hopefully can get the netting up.  Then everyone can go outside and lose their minds for the first day, and I'll have to use the net to get them all back in, I'm sure.  (Sigh). 
Reddy, calmest of everyone and takes everything in her stride!

Monday, November 26, 2012

A Blustery Monday

Cold out here today in Leavenworth County, and supposed to get to 18 degrees tonight.  Keith has gone to buy another warming light for the coop side of the big henhouse.  You see, we understand all the controversy around "heating or not heating" in the winter.  We have always run a light on bitter nights, and we still get a certain amount of frostbite in the combs, etc.... but we feel it gives the chickens a fighting chance.  We use a simple red light, as we do for keeping chicks warm.  My old rooster pet, Butch, really appreciates it, and actually roosts close enough that he has burned his feathers in the past.
The only one that will not have one tonight is the little henhouse, the red house.  I am going to move part of those hens tonight, the tiny ones... and we do have a light in there.  I should have pulled the cord for it while Nathan was here Sunday, so he could crawl in there and connect it for me.  I'll do that sometime tomorrow.
The temps are supposed to get a little higher later this week.
We had some snow flurries this afternoon, too... small, dry flakes and it did not last long.
Keith called me about 10:00 AM this morning to tell me to look outside and see the sky, which had been sunny.

The evening news has just shown a short film of heavier snow than we had in Kansas City, north.
Look who has come out of their corner in the new henhouse.  I found four eggs in there this afternoon.
I'm going to move two hens from the little henhouse over there tonight, after dark.
Gertie slid between my legs when I was going in to lock the birds up, and Jackson made it very clear he did not want her in the henyards.
She finally went under the little white hutch and stood there.
She made a break for the big hen yard, and Jackson held her in one spot for a few seconds, sticking his neck out and gobbling at her.  She decided it was better to come with me, than to stay in there with him.  He literally chased her out, and I could not get a picture of it, because I had the egg bucket in my hands. 
She came back in and laid down by her big buddy.
"I'm the good girl, aren't I, Mama?"


Sunday, November 25, 2012

Best Buddies

And here's our beautiful moon tonight, at the end of Thanksgiving weekend.  We hope you all had a great Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

The Henspa

Me:  "Everything is going to be okay.  You can come out of the corner now".
Them:  "Not on your tintype!  Don't look at her, maybe it will all go away and we'll be back in our cold and wet pasture pen!"

Actually, they have come to the middle of the coop to eat and drink.... and Junior, the rooster in front, and one of the little white hens flew up to the nesting boxes.
The rest have been in the corner all day.
The nest boxes, all ready for some occupants.  (Dream on, Mary Ann)
This is a shot of the ceiling.  Keith build a heavy support system in there in case we decide to hang the feeders.  We also have a bunch of birds who like to roost high up... and this should accomodate them.  Also...the light was $38.00 or some ridiculous price, but it should last us until we die, or some incredibly long time.  I think it was smart of Keith to do this and be so green!
These are on either side of the door into the coop from the feed room.
Smart, huh?
This cabinet will hold various feeders, etc., when not in use, also medicines, etc.  We got a steel cabinet to hang on the wall, too, just above it.  We have a large wood cabinet in the big henhouse that is actually a great cabinet, but has been home to thousands of mice in the last 8 years. 
The northeast side has the feed cans and also, some more of the excellent organizers. 
We still have a lot of construction debris to carry out... also... we need to put handrails on the stairs, a railing around the east deck... the "steps" on the chicken ramp, and put the shade net over the yard.   Frankly, it's TOO COLD out today, though it did get up to 41 degrees fahrenheit about an hour ago.
We're old.  We're tired.
I think I'll go out and look for the Thanksgiving bin to put the fall stuff away.

Friday, November 23, 2012

A Surprise Move

Between yesterday and today, the temperature dropped.  Yesterday we had fair skies for part of the day, and temps in the high sixties.  Last night, the wind blew like a lion, and this morning when we rose, it was 32 out.  I had to drop the waterers to break their ice (pick them up a few inches and drop them). 

I have been worried for a week about the little crew in the pasture pen.  They sleep in a dog house that has no door on it.  The pasture pen was meant for summer only, not year round use. 

So, Keith went out in the cold to try to finish the new henhouse as much as possible, so I could move that group first.  I had not meant to move them first of all... rather, Butch, Fancy, and their three girls were meant to go first... but now Fancy is sneezing, and I've got to nip that in the bud, so in the feedroom of the big henhouse they will stay for a while.

First off, I had to run down to Garnett and get Nathan, since we needed his help.  While I was on the way back, Keith called me.  He could not find his watch cap from last year, and he asked me to stop and get him a warm winter hat.

Behold... Elmer Fudd.

You know he is truly a nice guy when he lets me tease him like this.  It WAS cold.  He DID tell me he is going to go get himself a good black watch cap at Cabela's tomorrow. 
He wore it while we hurriedly moved construction stuff out of the henhouse and the henyard, and straightened things up.  I did not get a picture of Nathan, but he was doing the heavy carrying.
Then he did this for me.
(Spread the straw)
Then he did the really hard job... he crawled into the doghouse in the dark (I had a flashlight) and 20 mice popped in his face as he tried to get hold of the chickens, who, of course, were nestled at the very back of the doghouse.
Here are the victims first residents of the new henspa! 
I did not intend to move the little roosters, except for Junior, who has been taking great care of everyone. 
The two smaller ones will probably end up in the batchelor's quarters which will be the little henhouse/yard in the future. 
Here is how we left them, piled into the far corner, under the roosts.  They are used to sleeping in the little henhouse, with no roosts, though there were two roosts in their pen, and they used them during the days.
Tomorrow morning, we'll get their food/water sorted out... Keith wants to be sure we don't slosh water all over the floors in there. 
I wanted to hang the feeders and make them work for their feed, but I don't know if that's going to work now.
The henyard is not ready for them yet, we don't have the nets up, and the ramp does not have it's little "feet" on it yet, for them to walk up and down.   For now, they are going to stay inside and get used to their new, airy quarters.  It won't be like the pasture, but they'll get used to it, and I won't have to rake eggs out of the doghouse they were living in!
I'll also get some much better pictures taken in the daylight, so you can see the cool things Keith built in to the new henspa.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

First it Came, Then it Went

Started off at church this morning to thank God for everything He has given us this year.  We have truly been blessed.

This is my first Thanksgiving without my little sister, but I am grateful for the fact that she, my mom, and my dad are all looking down on us today and laughing.

Here is the feast (yes, we ate at 12:30)...

My table is never going to match the beautiful tabletops I see on the net.  I am just trying to get everything there while it's hot.  I DID get the Spode and the good silver out, though. 
That's corn casserole and greenbean casserole, of course... mashed potatos and stuffing from a box, because we rarely eat it.  The meat is a great roast from Munson Premium Angus Beef that I put in before going to church, and cooked low and slow.  We didn't really need a knife to cut it.  You notice the gravy boat is empty... the au jus was so good, we didn't need gravy (or ketchup). 
Here is someone else I'm grateful for:
He's bad.  That's all I'm going to say about that.
Look... I got my picture taken, too. 
Grateful for these guys who got to go off their diets today to have some extra food.
Grateful for all the creatures we have in our care.  We like our turkeys on the hoof around here.
God has been good to us for another year.  Please join us in prayer for those who have had and are still having a struggle this year.
Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

A Big Night Out

Since I retired, I don't go far from Calamity Acres alone... sad, but true.  Getting into fast traffic is unsettling to me, and I prefer to stay out here in Leavenworth County, where it's quiet.
Last night, though, I went to have dinner with some workmates from my "career" job at Time Warner Cable/American Cablevision of Kansas City, over in Kansas City, Missouri.  I worked there right at 23 years, and it was the heyday of cable tv... when people would stop us on the street to beg for cable to be installed at their homes.  We had a lot of fun there, as well as working very hard, and learned lots of things about the channels that were being added monthly. 
I have stayed friends with these former workmates for many years, and it was so good to see them all.
We met at a restaurant that served Mexican food, and had a good visit.

Mary, Mayling, and Linda. 
Mary is remarkable... she worked at one company for 44 years...worked part time with us...and ushered at the theaters with me for a while, too. 
Terry and me.  (Note to self, time for another hair cut!)
This is how much of a baby I've become... I had to follow Mayling to be sure I got back to where I knew I could get home!  I have not driven all over Kansas City, Missouri for many years, though there was a time I would not have thought anything about hopping in the car and taking off. 
We had a wonderful time visiting, and it was so good to see everyone again, even though we are all long in the tooth now.
Here's a picture of Jackson and one of the babies (still unnamed!) in the henyard this evening.
That's a leaf where Jackson's beak is.  He likes this girl (the bigger one) more than the smaller.  I'm still trying to think of good names for them.

Here's Buddy again, one of my "models".  He is the most beautiful golden color, even though he is a mix, of course.  He has a very rakish comb for a cockerel!
Hope all your Thanksgiving plans are taking shape.  I'll have just a short post tomorrow, as Keith and I will be cooking together for our dinner.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Some Small Explanations

I talk a lot about things here at Calamity Acres, and forget there are some people who do not understand the things to which I refer.
I thought today I would take a little time to show some things to which I refer repeatedly, so you understand what I mean when I name a building or a location.
First, the chicken yards. 

This somewhat grainy photo shows you the two chicken yards.  Well, the first two.  The one on the right was the very first thing Keith built here at our place.  We had   no... I HAD bought two pairs of chickens before we ever moved in, and they were boarded with a friend.  Keith intends to re-build these pens at some point, because they are all leaning now and the gates don't work very well anymore. 
On the right is the "Big Henhouse", the one that has been invaded so many times by the starlings in the winter.  It was a small building with a closet and air conditioning that was used to watch children of the people who came to the strawberry farm to pick.  We find debris all the time, coming up to the top of the ground, so we think the back of it was used as a dump at one time.
It has been a very serviceable henhouse.
The one on the left, we refer to as the "Little Henhouse", and you will see it's up on stilts.  It provides shelter for the birds in the summer... and from snow and rain in bad weather.  We used to make a wall of straw bales around it we called "Fort Apache" to protect our ducks and geese in the winter.
I backed off into the pasture to take this picture this morning.
Looking north, to the right, you can see some other buildings.
Now you can look past the fenceline and see the pasture pen, a dog pen that I have used for some birds the past two summers... and the little horsebarn behind it, with it's corral, that I call the "horseyard" or the "llamayard", when we had our llamas.  This was a serviceable three sided shed for winter cover.  The little red barn is for hay, it sits outside the pasture fence.
The framework to the front of the picture was for another shed Keith was going to build, that never really got started.  The poles are still so straight and true that the pond man did not want to tear them down, as he uprooted the three you see in cement.  This weekend, we are moving the little flock from the pasture pen, over to the new henhouse.  Also... you can see a fence brace to the right... that was a pad that Keith made for a proper barn.  Because of making that pad, we had a tiny little pond that I loved, and our ducks and geese loved... but when we tried to make a big, regular pond... we hit limestone and could not do so.  Our little pond was filled in, and that created the weedy area in the middle that you can just see.
I am going to take the pasture pen down, and we will move it into the yard to use as a pen for the dogs on days we have company and need to pen them up for a bit.
This is the "new" henhouse, or the henspa... built in the yard.  That's the garden area in front of it, and the firepit. 
Yes, there's still construction debris around it...
but it's just about ready.  The framework you see in the picture will hold the shadecloth which will cover the run.  The poor chickens who are now used to running at will in the pasture will be kept in this smaller run so that the layers can lay where I can find the eggs.  They will have access to underneath the house too, hence the steps you see at the east end and the south end.  We'll be cleaning up this weekend, and hope to move the chickens on Saturday and Sunday and Monday.  We are expecting temps to drop from the 70's today to the low 40's by Sunday.
Looking north from here...
We look into the garden bed area, and the area where this year's hoop house stood, but where we will set up a small greenhouse next spring.  We are thinking of putting a small gazebo near the chicken yard, where we can sit and watch the hens.  The porch you see will also have a railing around it, and a deck bench on it, so we can sit there.  Keith has also bought flower boxes to put under the windows on the north side. 
(And I'm praying I won't have to crawl under the henhouse to find eggs!)

Working on my Pictures

I have taken some advice from Brenda at Cozy Inspiration and tried to go slower with my photography, actually "setting up" some pictures instead of just snapping at random.  I still like to tell stories with them, but I am surprised at what pictures I'm getting now that I am taking a little slower time to take them, and looking for shadows, etc.

Yesterday's post showed some of those shots that I had taken a little more care with, and I'm probably going to bore you with more in the next few days.

Yesterday afternoon, I was at a loss for something to fix for dinner from the refrigerator.  I found this delicious recipe:

Crockpot Breakfast Casserole

Picture from Finding Joy in My Kitchen

YUMM!  I was out of "oomph" and short of things to fix for dinner that did not have to be thawed.... and this fit the bill. 

You can find the recipe here at Finding Joy in my Kitchen.

Leeann over at The Old Parsonage is having a giveway on her blog... she has such a nice blog and makes you feel so good when you read it... here is the link to her giveaway, go see her and enter to win some Christmas books. 
Here are a few more pictures I took yesterday.


I'm really starting to see the benefits in thinking before I snap... however, it's hard to keep the models still!
As I was working at the computer yesterday morning, on another beautiful day... I saw a bunch of chickens in the yard.  A year ago, Lilly would have killed all of them, without hesitation.
Now, she simply laid there and let them peck. 
 I kept an eye on her.
After a while, I went outside to put them back in the pasture... you see, I don't mind them loose for a few more days, because as of this weekend, they will be in the pen of the new henspa, and not running loose in the pasture anymore. 
Here were the escapees:
And here was Lil getting ready to help me round them up.  I did have to tell her to leave them alone.  She stopped her run immediately.

She's a powerful girl.


Monday, November 19, 2012

Scenes from around Calamity Acres

Wanna-Be Mom... wrong time of year
The Range... with his crooked muzzle from abuse as a young dog
Muffy, a Mille Fleur d'Uccle hen
A Porcelain d'Uccle cockerel
Gertie, on Pasture Patrol