Friday, June 14, 2013

I'm...I...I'm DONE?!

So another day of raking up juniper branches, picking up trash...and suddenly we look around and realize...

...we're done.

It takes a minute for this to sink in and for us to realize it's true. The branches and trash are cleaned up and gone. Granted, we still have a bunch of juniper stumps to dig out, my pond I want to install, the sprinklers to repair and the yard to replant since it it now pretty much a blank canvas, but the major cleanup is done!

Trash Lasagne by the back door? Gone.

Chicken coop and the rest of the property is visible! I'm pretending not to see the work still to be done beyond the fence, for now. I think my brain would crack if I thought about it too much. One hurdle at a time.

Surviving cypress plants thinned out and being suffered to live as possible cover for the chickens for now.

None of the juniper stumps greened up once we cut them back, lucky for them.

There DOES still remain the gigantic old concrete posthole next to one of the big stumps to remove, though.

I figure it'll be some time in 2040 before I stop gnashing my teeth and cursing the previous tenants of this place. Especially since I realized that it has been a solid year since we started the work on this part of the yard.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

My Mother Has Impeccable Timing

...and has for years.

When my daughter was a baby, I could practically guarantee that the minute I was elbows-deep in a poopy diaper, the phone would ring and it would be mom. My husband and I got to the point where we'd joke about it--until it really, truly started happening all the time. I even told mom about it and asked her to just wait 5 minutes whenever she wanted to call me.

Today was no exception. I'd spent the morning cooking and baking, not doing a whole lot. Later on I went out, intending to resume pickaxing the trench around the small run, and instead discovered that Wiggles, one of our tiny Belgian d'Uccle hens, was covered--and I mean covered-- in blood. Her head, neck, breast, legs and feet. So much so that I couldn't tell where it was coming from, her head or her foot. I did see that she kept scratching her head, though. She'd been fighting with another hen, the little snot.

A quick check revealed no other bloody combatants, so I scooped up Wiggles and headed for the house to take care of her. Meanwhile I'm getting a good coating of chicken blood, too.

As I near the house, I see my kid at the back door, and she cheerily sings out, 'Grandma's here!'

Oh, PERFECT. She has to show up now. My mother already thinks I'm crazy for keeping chickens, and this little episode won't help. Oh, well, into the house I go, telling my confused mother as I sail right by her that I've got a bleeding chicken and will be with her in a minute. Myself, my husband and the kid go into the bathroom to clean up Wiggles and try to play 'Where's All That Damned Blood Coming From?', which takes us a few minutes. Poor mom probably thinks I'm performing a ritual sacrifice in there or preparing that chicken for dinner at this point.

Eventually we get Wiggles fixed up and discover that she was missing her face muff feathers on her left side, which while this gives her a rather lopsided look and she's sporting a raw patch there, isn't serious. So we dry her off and set her down to roam the living room and dry out for a few minutes before she goes back out into the coop.

My mother, meanwhile, is standing there trying to hold a conversation with me while Wiggles twines around her feet asking to be picked up--obviously she felt that mom needed to be wearing gore like everyone else--and my mother politely ignores her and pointedly tries to not stare at my chicken-blood-smeared shirt. All this while the kid is excitedly asking grandma if she'd like to play with the older chicks, and is helpfully on her way to let them out so they can run around the living room like complete psychos. Thankfully I was able to head her off before my life suddenly morphed into some kind of retarded version of 'The Egg And I'.

But lord, mom has impeccable timing.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

In Which I Commit A Chicken Faux Pas

So the day after we seperate Yoya, our broody mama, from her 6 week old chicks, I go out to make sure she's OK. It's 100 degrees and yesterday afternoon she had been getting bullied a bit by the other chickens upon her return to the flock, which made her hide in one of the nest boxes. I want to make sure she isn't continuing to hide and risking dying from the heat.

Uh huh--sure enough, I look and find her in one of the nest boxes, huddled down. I try to shoo her out.

She ain't movin'. I shoo more energetically, pushing her towards the opening. Nope. OK, she needs to drink and get OUT of there. I end up grabbing her none too delicately and lifting her out. I place her outside the row of nest boxes, but damned if she doesn't just instantly try and climb into ANOTHER one.

Dang chicken! I scoop her up before she can and carry her out into the run, as I do so she's practically lying in my arms. I set her down next to the waterer so she can drink. She sort of hunkers down, fluffed up, right where I place her and doesn't want to move. I'm worried. I gently prod the backs of her legs in an effort to get her to take a step or two.

Suddenly she stands erect and walks away a few steps...
...and in her place is a lovely, large, fresh egg. Oh lord, I interrupted her while she was trying to lay, poor thing!

I grabbed up the egg and spent the next few minutes following her around, showing it to her, praising it/her and apologizing profusely. Yoya just kind of stared at me in a witheringly disappointed way--like I shouldn't be left alone to be roaming about unsupervised--and walked away.

Monday, June 10, 2013

With Sincere Apologies To Edgar...

`Be that word our sign of parting, bird or fiend!' I shrieked upstarting -
`Get thee back into the tempest and the Night's Plutonian shore!
Leave no black poop plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken!
Leave my loneliness unbroken! - quit the bust above my door!
Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!'

...quoth the pigeon,
'What...? Wait, is that something shiny?!'

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Carson Valley Days!

What a huge difference from slick, regulated, large budget big city parades to those in small towns. I think I prefer the small town variety.

Our parade started off with a walk/jog/run up the parade route and back. Since they had to close the highway for an hour before the parade started anyway in order for traffic to clear, they ran a race.

This lady made everyone grin and got a huge cheer. I love people who are fearlessly silly. To her credit, she ran the entire race.

Even dogs participated!

Then the parade started. The cops had their glamour cars out...

...including their monster truck!

As parents we felt morally obligated to cheer LOUDLY for the school buses, much to our child's disgust. Which only made us laugh all the more. They did a nice serpentine down the street.

The good lookin' cowboy banner carriers got loud fangirl shrieks from the crowd around us.

Although the float for the swim center had NOTHING whatsoever to do with swimming and received well-meant but confused applause.

By the way, a 'float' around here consists of the following elements: Your buddy Jim's pickup, the neighbor farm's flatbed hay trailer, your kids and their friends, and the kid's cobbled together costumes and construction paper decorations. Plus maybe some of mom's gingham tableclothes. Hardly anything store-bought, just lots of creativity, group effort and imagination. Plus as they proceed, friends and family members along the route yell out hello's, family members run out and hug participants, friends walk along with the truck driver and have conversations...

It's awesome.

The local roller derby girls raided their closets for the weirdest stuff they could find and skated along with huge buckets of candy for the kids.

These girls were good. They'd get up a bunch of speed, then go down on one knee and quickly slide to a stop RIGHT in front of the kid they'd picked out, hand outstretched with candy at the ready. The kids were awestruck. Nothing but style.

Also, they were recruiting and I had to sternly remind myself about the state of my knees and left ankle, cause OMG I'd love to do this.

The local gymnastics studio was a hit with their trampoline-on-a-truck. Lots of the floats were an insurance company's nightmare. The guy in the sumo outfit was great, the guy perched on the sign over him took over right after this.

The local public health office float was one of the nurses' cars with posters from the clinic taped to it, including the one with the BIG SCARY NEEDLE made of a cardboard gift wrap tube. Don't ask me who thought that having a poster with a big, scary needle hung in a clinic thought it might be a great idea.

The guy with the WWII era motorcyle was cool with this little one, who ran out with his aunt and STOPPED him so he could touch the bike.

His mom was sitting next to us, she nonchalantly said, 'Yeah, he loves motorcycles...'

The guy swung around for a better picture later on.

One of the local off-road clubs, with the judge's stand in the background.

The judge's stand, by the way, was another flatbed hay truck with a few chairs and what seemed to be a few people of all ages rounded up at random to serve as judges. We watched them setting up the two canopies, they were too wide for the trailer so the each of the poles at the rear are supported by two chairs borrowed from the local casino, stacked on top of each other. Like I said, insurance company nightmare. It mostly worked and only one of them started to slip off near the end of the parade. Everyone just ducked down and ignored it in a hilariously 'Meh' way.

Vintage tractors!

Another homemade float.

..except I'll bet 'even' the tractor could spell better.

Tiny and cute!

Bigger and NOISY. Oh my God, was it ever loud. The round thing on the side was a spinning flywheel of death, just begging for you to stick yur hand in there so it could eat it.

*juvenile giggle*

The local theater company had a trailer set with a saloon scene, with a full-blown bar fight going on. No safety gear of any kind, fall off the trailer and everyone'd just laugh at you and help you back up.

But let's talk about the greatest thing on this float...


Cactus Guy's costume was an old cardboard box covered in a single layer of green bubble wrap with TOOTHPICKS STUCK IN FOR SPINES. Disney, I've seen your expensive parade costumes, are you paying attention?

The resident steampunk group's vehicle was powered by biofuel.

I'm thinking this thing sees time out on the playa at Black Rock every year for Burning Man. The thing on the back was a HUGE water cannon that had more than enough range to reach everyone.

Cool old fire truck. This one is mostly covered under a tarp during the year, they broke it out for the parade, though.

The democrat's float. Mostly polite silence from the crowd with a few, 'Aw, poor misguided souls' sighs. They smiled in a disheartened way and waved their flags, but had clearly forgotten the candy to toss out. We felt bad and cheered for them, which got a big grin out of the driver.

The republican's float, complete with obligatory Reagan poster and a COVERED trailer. This float got the biggest roar from the crowd all day, which was a bit creepy. They'd roped in the Boy Scouts to hand out candy.

The Red Hats. The horse and wagon are the same one we rode at the local ranch that does the fall festival every year. Horse sporting nifty hat, as is the supportive husband on the bike bringing up the rear.

Sadly right about then my camera battery died, I missed the last 1/4 of the parade. Next year we may participate and load the Jeep with chickens and stick a 'Jack's Henhouse' banner on it and make people wonder what the Hell we are on about.

It's tempting...

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Monday, June 3, 2013

RIP, Brand New ReptiPro Incubator!

So...with one week to go before hatch, my new damned ReptiPro 6000 incubator failed spectacularly. It had been having problems holding temperature, dropping to 97 or shooting up to 102, despite being set at 100 degrees. The temperature fluctuations were becoming more and more frequent until two days ago, when it stopped heating altogether and instead chose to start making weird, electronic, 'gonna kill you in your sleep' smells.

I'd already contacted the ReptiPro folks and unfortunately they are out of stock until mid-June. Ack!

Time for a work-around!

Her name is Sonic and she's a Golden Laced Giant Cochin, she is a hatchmate of Yoya's and luckily went broody about 3 weeks ago. The 5 eggs from the incubator are under her now, it's all up to her for the next week. The only other alternative is the old styro incubator, but I trust Sonic over it as long as she doesn't abandon the eggs. With the way the ReptiPro had been freaking out, I don't hold out much hope that any of the eggs will hatch, but we'll see.

The only other alternative is me walking around with eggs in my bra for the next week.

Sonic passed the acid test today when she emerged from the box to eat, drink & poop (broody hen poops rival skunks for sheer stink power). After a few minutes I gently redirected her to the box...she eyed it warily, but spotted the eggs...and after a minute of disapproving clucking, reentered the box to sit on the eggs.

Atta girl, Sonic! The ReptiPro may have a cool blue light, but MY unit features growling & fluffiness as standard equipment. Not to mention it's an automatic egg turner!

And YES, I emailed this goddamn pic to the ReptiPro guy.