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Archive for May, 2012

This morning I met my best friend and a neighbor’s daughter, also a friend, out in the garden.  We got our implements and seed packets ready.  Then we got busy.  While they worked to create raised beds for green beans, I planted corn.  I know we’re late with planting, but life happened between plans,…more than once.  Anyway, while working we started talking, which is the best part about working with others.

We talked about how the new chickens are adjusting to the flock and vice versa.  The three new chickens are just shy of starting egg production.  They will lay brown eggs.  The three oldest chickens were removed from the flock because one of them was brutal to the new hens, and they will soon be harvested.  So, after they were removed, the black one took over as alpha chicken.  She refused to allow the new hens to eat or drink.  They, literally, had to stay in one corner of the run and not move.  Well, on a hot day, that just doesn’t work.  It would kill them.  So, this morning I removed the black chicken.  She is now in a cage up near the house with the three oldest hens.  Let’s see how the flock adjusts now.

Well, then we started talking about all the stuff we were finding in the garden.  The old plastic fence was held in place with zip ties.   Rather than collecting the zip ties when removing the fence, they were allowed to fall into the garden where they were lightly tilled into the soil.  How rude.  We also found metal wire.  We put all that we found in a pile to be carried up to the house for proper disposal.

We also talked about the deer tracks we saw in the garden.  This is the reason we’ve not yet planted our tomatoes.  If we did plant them without the fence in place, they would be eaten to the ground in one night.  Which brought up the need to do more research on companion planting.  We need to plant things around the garden that detract deer.  Not only are they a problem in the garden, but they bring deer tick into the yard and garden also.  I’ve already been treated for Lyme’s a couple of times.  Fortunately, I caught it very early so that no long term damage was done.

So, anyway, talk turned to all the work that needs to be done on the property.  The garden fence.  Mixing soil and filling the two-tiered garden.  The new round bed in the herb garden.  The old round bed also in the herb garden.  Then there’s the planting.  The mowing.  The weedeating.  And much more.  You know what I mean.  The chores never stop coming.  But that’s okay.

Friendly gardening.  It’s a wonderful way to get work done while spending time with good people.

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Several months ago, at the same time that we got the Cornish Rock that we later harvested, we got three pullets.  They stayed in bins inside my home until they were old enough to be outside.  We kept them in a smaller cage near the house so we could keep an eye on them.  I didn’t want to put them in with the larger chickens until they were older.

Yesterday, we introduced them to the existing flock with disastrous  results.  The alpha chicken was brutal to them.  They hid in the corner of the run and were not allowed anywhere near food or water.  Well, there was a simple answer to that.  The aggressive chicken was one of the three oldest chickens.  They are about ready to lay their last eggs, which are yokeless.

This morning, I got the existing flock to go into the coop which allowed the new ones to eat, drink, and explore.  The flock was very noisy for about an hour with the alpha letting me know that she was not thrilled.  After they calmed down, and before the day started heating up, I caught the three oldest chickens.  I took them, all three at once, up to the cage that was once for the new pullets.

The older chickens are not happy with the arrangement, but it’s okay.  Separating them served many purposes.   It allows us to monitor when egg production in the older chickens ends.  It will also allow us to remove food twenty-four hours before harvesting so that their crop isn’t so full.  It also allowed the new pullets to make friends with the existing flock, minus the three.  The group dynamics, a.k.a. – pecking order, should be easier to work out and less traumatic for all the birds.

I didn’t realize that the one would be so aggressive toward the newcomers.  Hopefully, they won’t be so traumatized that they won’t adjust and settle into the new flock.  Next time, I’ll have to try a different strategy.  Perhaps putting the smaller cage beside the large one in order to get them use to each other, or removing the alpha once she is identified.  I think the latter might be the best choice.

Chickens in the run

 

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I finally decided to create an author page on Facebook.  It, of course, doesn’t contain much at this point.  As an author, I’ve not had anything published since high school.  Back then, I had several poems and short stories published.  I didn’t think of writing as a potential career at that point.  I had too many other things that I needed to work on.  Mostly, I wanted a degree in psychology so that I could work on my Self.  I needed it.  I’ve been working on me for most of my life, and I’m not done yet.

Anyway, back to this writing thing.  I’ve written a novel.  Well, actually, I’ve written a novel and am almost done with its first sequel.  Once the sequel is done, I’ll revise the two of them simultaneously in order to get them to fit together better.  Then, I’ll work on the third book using the first two to make it the best that I can.

I’m also working on short stories for publication and contests.  The only writing contest I’ve ever entered was for poetry.  My poem was published in an anthology.  To me, it didn’t seem like a real contest.  It seemed like a way for them to sell the anthology book.  In essence, I really didn’t think my poem was that good.   Of course, it could be that I didn’t see it as good because it was a rewrite of a poem I wrote in high school.

Contests can be an expensive way to break into the writing business.  The entry fees add up while winning tends not to occur, for most writers.  I’m sure that will be the case for me as well.  It’s okay, though.  Writing for contests means writing to become a better writer.  The rank at which one ends a contest tells how much work is yet to be done to become good enough to win.  Of course, winning also depends on the judges and their moods, thoughts, opinions, and etc.  A story that finishes fifth in one contest might finish first in another.

I’ve considered putting my novel in a contest.  There are several good contests for novels.  A few are very prestigious and offer publication of the novel as part of the winning prize.

I’m also working on several short stories for publication in local magazines.  I considered writing something for the local papers, but I’m not sure about that option.  Of course, I’m not sure about some magazines either.  I pick them up, read them, and wonder if I really want to see my writing in them.  One of my friends pointed out that perhaps these magazines need me more than I need them.  But, I’m not so sure about that.

I’ve considered publishing some of my short stories here in this blog.  I already write about country life, gardening, wildlife, and my thoughts.  How would people feel about short stories?  Fantasy?  Science Fiction?  Drama?  Fiction?  Nature oriented?  Maybe some intrigue?  Not romance though.  I don’t usually write romances.

Any opinions leave a comment.  Or add a rating.  5 stars for short stories.  1 star for not.

 

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I awoke early to find fog awaiting the dogs as they went outside to start their day.  I decided to get the camera and go outside for a while, too.  The morning was quiet.  The neighbors had already left for work.  Even if they hadn’t, it only takes a few minutes for them to leave one car at a time down the dirt road.  Even that, somehow, wouldn’t seem out of place.

 

 

The trees stood quiet and there were few birds.  I didn’t hear any singing.  It’s like they relished the late morning so they could sleep in, also.  Then, I saw movement.  An owl swooped down just above the trees.  I wasn’t holding the camera at the time, so I missed him.  I saw him, though.  I hear the sound of air as his wings broke through it.  He must have thought he saw something to eat scurrying about in the field.  He didn’t catch anything though.  A few flaps of his wings, gone into the woods and probably home for the day.

The goat barn, which hasn’t had goats in it in years, is slowly being taken over by nature.  We still store things in it, like boxes of books, canning supplies, and such.  The Maypole is there just barely visible in the fog.  The barn has a black snake in it.  It lives in one of the near empty boxes on the top shelf in the milking room, which has a wooden floor.  I wonder, male or female?  The dirt floor of the goat side of the barn would be perfect for eggs.  I don’t think I’ll try to find out though, since I am allergic to bees.  I know there are bees nests down there.  I’ve seen them from a distance.  Maybe some foggy morning like this one, I’ll sneak a little closer and use the lens of the camera to zoom in.

I turn almost straight downhill for this photo.  It shows the edge of the goat enclosure fence.  See the white poles in the lower left?  They stand near hazelnut trees that we got from the Arbor Day society.  They were part of a testing program for a new variety of hazelnut, a hybrid.  We answered questions for years about how they were doing.  Each year, the deer would eat them down.  This year, however, they are doing beautifully.  The tallest is now about two feet tall.  We really do need to cut down that multifloral rose before we have a field full of them.  They have pretty flowers, but they are very invasive.

I turned toward the corner of the property.  This photo looks downhill toward the creek where our property meets with the property of two of our neighbors.  The creek makes a lovely sound.  Water tinkling over rocks while the tiny fish swim without a sound in pools of shallow, relatively still water.  Most of the pools are only a few inches across.  A few are a foot or more across at their widest point.

The sky is still quiet.  No birds in sight.  No bird song breaking the still of the fog.  Even the chickens are quietly hunting for bugs in their run.   No fussing this morning.  No chicken announcing that she has laid an egg, not yet anyway.  It’s too early for egg laying.  Although I still wonder if they are bragging about having laid, or if they are complaining that it hurt?

I decide it’s time to go back inside.  I’m hungry.  I start walking slowly back inside.  I stop to check on the toad pool.  Many little toadlings and tadpoles are in there.  They’re still this foggy morning.  The sun hasn’t warmed their world yet today.

I step back into the house, and the noises hit my ears like drumsticks.  The fan, the coffee maker finishing its task, the air filter, the refrigerator,….  Maybe, I’ll go back outside to the quiet of the foggy morning after I get a cup of coffee.

 

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Today, I wanted to share photos of toad pool.  I hope you enjoy them.

A toadling in the hand is worth two in the grass? Water?

They’re in there somewhere.

tadpoles, eggs, toadling

frog eggs and toad tadpoles

Frog eggs that will be moved to a better place in the swamp

Toad tadpoles and Frog eggs

It’s the Lone Toadling. Wonder who his sidekick is?

It’s a meeting of toadling minds. Wonder what they’re thinking?

At least three toadlings, do you see any more?

Toadlings and Tadpoles

Toadlings, tadpoles, and eggs

My older dog, Freya, beside the pool

 

 

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My best friend has a very different reaction to the medication prednisone than I do.  She has fibromyalgia.  Prednisone makes her feel better and have less pain.  She focuses on tasks and gets a lot of work done without the usual consequence of doing too much.  She likes prednisone.

I have a very different reaction to the same medication at the same dose.  It usually makes me sleep and zones me out.  I am taking it now, for bronchitis and pneumonia.  The doctor said it would reduce swelling and muscle spasms which would allow the mucus to work its way out of the lung.  I must admit it is working nicely on just those things.  I am able to breath better, and the coughing has lessened considerably. 

 The problem?

I feel like I am in a fog.  A head fog.  I know what I want to do.  I know how to type and, reading this, you probably think I am typing just fine.  Not so.  Backspace.  Many, many times.  I do not usually misspell the word “is.”  Today, though, anything goes.  Prednizoning.

My head feels heavy and full, but empty of any significant thought.  I am tired, and I want to sleep.  Yet, sleep will not come.  It stays just beyond my closed eyelids.  It teases and taunts from a near distance that is, well, frustrating.  Prednizoning.

Coffee, my morning wake-me-up friend, has failed for the first time to touch the tiredness in my mind.  Tea, no help.  Shower, temporary reprieve.  Cold splash of water.  Walk outside.  Must feed the chickens and check for eggs.  Must feed the visiting dog.  Must check the tadpoles in the flattened, blow-up ring pool that we did not take in over the winter.  Toad found it first.  Now, wood frog has left eggs too.  Cloudy sky, no sun to warm me.  No sun to prevent daytime sleep that will not come.  Walk to the chickens.  Bedding for the nesting boxes, done.  No eggs.  Plenty of food and water.  Done with chickens.  Back to the house.  Computer waiting for words that,…  Prednizoning.

Music playing.  Good variety of music.  Newer, older, mixed genres, nice.  Air filter blowing on my arm.  Shoes off.  Keyboard clicking, making words.  Backspace is my friend.  Spell check later.  Surprising to not see more red lines under badly spelled words.  Mental fog.  Prednizoning.

Dog asleep at my side on his pillow.  Shared my lunch.  What was lunch?  Oh, yeah.  Think.  French fries and sausages.  Easy.  Oven did all the work.  Tea glass full.  Head heavy, music playing, dog sleeping, wish I could.  Sip.  Tea is good.  Olive leaf glycerite tastes nasty.  Good for the lungs, a friend tells me.  Vitamin C with rosehips.  Echinacea with golden seal.  Garlic capsules, fortunately odorless.  Burp…not so.  It will all work together to make my lungs better.  Prednizoning.

Music changes genres.  Eyes droop.  Maybe I will sleep here at my computer.  Slouch in the chair and wait for sleep to come.  Maybe.  Dog sleeping.  Music nice, gentle song.  Stomach full.  I close my eyes.  Relax.  Let the chair hold me.  Head back.  Jaw relaxed.  Burp, yuck.  Sit up.  Drink tea.  Yuck.  Head heavy, tired.  Eyes droop.  Lean forward on my keyboard tray.  Collapse.  Pick up tray.  Pick up new keyboard.  Make sure it is not broken.  Pick up mouse.  Fix keyboard tray.  Place keyboard and mouse on the tray, wait, where is the mouse pad.  Found it.  Put it under the mouse.  Tired.  Rambling.  Almost done with this round of prednizoning.

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The toad tadpoles are doing very well.  Many, many have arms and legs and leave the water regularly.  They are so tiny, about the size of the top of a AAA battery.  I’m very careful when walking around the pool.  It’s impossible to see them in the grass.

Most are still awaiting the arrival of their legs, much less their arms which arrive about three or more days after the legs.  All appear to be developing normally in spite of online warnings about radiation in the rain.  No Frankenstein’s  mons-toadlings, yet.   🙂

My youngest son has taken to sitting beside the pool to watch the toadlings when he’s outside taking a break.   The other day, he informed me that our pool/pond had a visitor of the adult amphibian variety.  Last night, sure enough, he was back.  He was calling a mate who was more than happy to leave her eggs in our pool.  This time, they’re frog eggs.

Photo of Frog Eggs

Unlike toad eggs which are laid in a string.  Frog eggs are laid in a mass.  More than likely, frog will be back tonight so we will have more eggs tomorrow than today.  The decision has already been made that these eggs will be moved to a better place either in our creek or in the neighbor’s swamp.  Once the toadlings have left the pool/nest, we will take the remains of the pool up and dispose of or reuse as appropriate.

Here’s a photo of toad eggs for a comparison to the frog egg image above.

Toad eggs in a string

 

 

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