Saturday, October 18, 2014

Walking On Sunshine

The weather has just been SO gorgeous here the past week.  If I were not so drugged on pain medication I would really be tearing my hair out about now to hit the road to somewhere, anywhere.  Even in my fog it pulls at me terribly.  I settled by taking Chigger for a short hike around the place.

Well, not exactly around the place.  That would take a while.  We just hiked up the ridge about halfway and took a deer trail over to where several large trees were downed by a storm.  They are not too far off the main trail because Jack has been slowly harvesting some of the wood.  Shame to let it just rot.

Anyway, it was something to keep me from sitting down for a while.  The Birmingham Botanical Gardens is having their biannual plant sale this weekend and I really wanted to go to that but just did not feel like driving that far.  Don't really have extra cash for plants anyway. 

I thought it was amazing that this tree got this big all the while being that hollow!  All things endure.

Why is it we get the wanderlust when we are least able to indulge it?  Or, at least I do.  Maybe it's a good lesson for me for when I am able-bodied!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Funny How Time Slips Away

Well, earlier today I had come up with a topic I wanted to post about, and had even half written the post in my head, and now I can't remember most any of it...Funny how thoughts slip away too.  I've read that chronic pain can cause immense bodily and mental fatigue, and that would explain a lot!  Then again, maybe I'm just getting old!  Nah!  I'm not old.  I just got here yesterday!  Or so it seems sometimes.
Once again it is the fall season and I can't believe summer is over.  I do know one thing; the older I get the more I dread cold weather.  And I don't even live where it really gets cold, although last winter was fairly stout.  The girls are loving the falling leaves though, as you can see above.  Jack raked up some piles of leaves near the house and they have spent the past couple of days spreading them all back out again!  I actually planted a shrub and a few daylilies that had been sitting on the deck for ever, so ZuZu was just ecstatic.  I could barely plant anything for her jumping in the hole or on the shovels full of dirt as I was trying to move them.  She's a sweetheart though.

Here is Chigger in her vigilant watchdog pose.  She's actually pretty alert most of the time but the warm sun on a cool day and the fact she had spent most of the night barking at deer finally got the best of her.  She was out like a light.

Heddy (on the left) was kinda put out that the older hens ran her off from the Feather Fixer grub.  Not all of them like that stuff but the ones that do go after it like it's chicken candy.  Bertha slurps it down so fast I kinda have to watch her and make sure she lets some of the other hens have some.  I think she's got a major addiction going on.  But, if they are that needy of protein and it makes them feel good I'll go get some more.

Things are slowly changing around her for fall and I've noticed a bunch of these mushrooms all over the place.  I believe this is a turkey tail mushroom but you can correct me if I'm wrong.  This one was probably about 8 inches across.

So, some of you may have noticed I changed a few things on the blog.  I did delete the pottery page because I just am not producing crap right now.  Not that anybody orders anything from this site but just in case.  Some days I hurt so bad I can barely sit down at all.  I'll even eat breakfast and lunch standing up.  And then some days I can sit for a while and I'm okay.  Still hurts but not as bad.  So, it makes it a devil of a time to sit and throw most days.  I got another restoration job so I've been making more money in that area anyway.  I've been thinking I may just take a break from pottery for a little while.  I have come up with a couple of new glazes I like but other than that I'm just not feeling very inspired in that area right now.  It's been my experience that when you get like that to not try to force it.  Just go off and work on something else for a while and I have a list of other things I need to do.
Basically I've just been biding my time and trying not to hurt so much.  Waiting for this next MRI and hoping and praying that it shows something and they can fix it.  Who knows?  I've got to find a solution somewhere though.  Jack is going to Texas next week to visit with family but I won't be making the trip with him.  Ya'll know how I like to travel but I can barely make it to Birmingham and back these days, so driving half way across Texas is certainly out of the question for me.  Such a bummer.  We haven't even been able to do a road trip around here in a couple of months or more.  Sorry to gripe about how I feel on here so much but I don't really have much elsewhere to let it out.  Jack is very supportive of me but I don't like to complain to him all the time. 
Well, the bed is calling me so I'm gonna wrap this up now.  Need to stand up anyway!  Hope you all are doing well.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Summer's End

Well, there's not been a tremendous amount of things going on around here but I have managed to keep consistently busy for the past couple of weeks.  I've been hurting pretty badly during this time also, so I haven't even tried to do any pottery.  I did do a little welding for a small repair job, which was fun, but I paid for it that evening.  I figured standing up and working would be better than sitting down and working but I guess I was bent over just enough and could barely move by the time I was finished.  So, most of my time has just been spent cleaning up around the place, cleaning the garden up (as you see here) and cleaning and purging the house.  That in itself has made me feel better.  I told Jack the other day it had got to looking like a bunch of white trash lived here.

The girls were a big help in the garden.  We had a few days where we were going to leave in the afternoon, well before they like to go inside, so rather than risk not being able to get them all back in when we needed to go, we just opened the gate from their run into the garden.  I'm so glad we built their run next to the garden with that gate because it has been very handy at times.  Of course, during the summer months we can't let them in there but in the fall and winter there are many times when we can and so they have an expanded area on days when they can't go out in the yard for one reason or another.  The big fig trees in there are good coverage for them too.  If they are under there I can't even see them without digging!  Or they can just run back into their covered run and coop.
Anyway, they really had a good time going through the garden after I had pulled up all the plants I wanted to discard.  I kept a few tomatoes that were still producing a little and the cayenne peppers are still going strong.  Despite those peppers being red the girls don't bother them! Haha!  I find very few grubs in the garden anymore since letting the girls in every so often throughout the year.  And of course, they fertilize as they go!

Susie was trying to decide which of my beautiful marigolds she wanted to trample upon.  They actually left them alone but goofy George, with his gimpy foot, managed to mangle 1 or 2 of the plants.  That's okay though.  The marigolds had gotten so large they had split anyway and were flopped over.

Here Susie is making a last minute inspection to see if I accidentally threw anything away she might want.  They are terribly curious about wheelbarrows and always go through them if you have anything in them.
I also harvested some herbs before the frost gets them and a bucket load of cayenne peppers to dry.  I took my time about doing this cleanup though and enjoyed it, despite having to do much of it on my hands and knees or sprawled out on my hip.  Bending over and sitting much are pretty much out of the question at this point.
I did go last week to see the BFD (big, fancy doctor) again and he has scheduled a MRI on the 20th of this month of my lower spine.  I am very anxious to get that done and see what comes of it.  Until then I skooch along on the ground and walk around a lot.  Ha!  I have developed a bit more enthusiasm for some actual building projects around here but my body is just not cooperating at this point.  So, I do what I can.

The mums are blooming here and there but other than that the flower beds are pretty drab.  The goldfinches were having a blast with a lot of the old seed heads so I always leave them. 
The leaves are just barely starting to turn here now and I heard we are supposed to have a colorful fall this year.  How they can tell I have no idea but we'll see.  It was well into the 80s this week but next week is supposed to cool off considerably.
Has fall arrived where you are (or spring?) or are you still stuck in Indian summer?

Sunday, October 05, 2014

Bare Naked Ladies

Actually, I fudged a bit on this post title.  The ladies are not totally bare naked and that is, of course, a music group and not a song title, but hey, after 7 years of blogging I'm allowed a cheat every so often!  In fact, after 7 years I should just throw up a variety of photos and let ya'll try to guess what's going on!  But, I would not do my dear readers that way.  Anywhoo, I had mentioned before that the girls were going through their annual molt and it's a real doozy this time.  The girls would be truly scandalized if they knew I were sharing their nakedness with the whole world but since they have not yet learned the ways of the Internets (at least I don't think) I think we are safe to snicker a little at their ragged accouterments.

After observing chickens go through molt over a few years, no one will ever be able to convince me that they, or any animal, does not have an awareness of self.  They know they all resemble the remnants of a major pillow fight and scoot around in the bushes or hide under the deck most of the day.  There's no strutting going on amongst the afflicted right now I'll tell ya.  The photo above of Marlena is actually about a week old and she is really looking bedraggled at this point.  That big beautiful tail she had is completely gone.  Only a few little wispy tufts blowing in the breeze back there.

Every morning Jack sweeps the lost feathers out of the hen house and they have almost carpeted the big run.  I think we almost could have filled one big pillow with what they have put off this year.

Missy is quite distraught over the whole thing and coupled with the fact we are letting George out with them now she goes about in a constant state of grumpy.  If you look close you can see she is getting back the smallest stub of a new tail though, so hopefully she is on the upswing now.

 They all appear to have had a run-in with the business end of a weed-eater but I think it shows up worse on Marilyn since she is all white.  She's always been kind of uppity anyway so the other hens are probably rubbing it in.  You know, I just noticed, it's funny how she has bright pink skin everywhere but has those blue feet!  Like she's wearing knee socks.  Ha!

 Now, Ms. BeaBea has gone completely through her molt and is now sporting a fresh, clean set of feathers in her customized black stripes.  Something of which Marlena may be jealous as she kept trying to photobomb her and partially succeeded with this one.
To help the girls hurry on through their change I usually up their protein intake a bit.  You can use any kind of natural protein like more oats, cooked eggs, organic soy in addition to throwing them a handful of good, dry catfood each day or mealworms.  This year I bought a new product called Feather Fixer that I found at Tractor Supply.  It was like an 8 or 10 lb. bag for $6 so it was pretty affordable and I thought, what the heck...worth a try.  It says to use it as their only food source but I just put a bowl of it out every day up near the house where they hang out and let them eat it when they want it.  We keep layer mix available in the hen house too and I do have a few hens still laying who are not molting..

So, in other news, Big George hurt his foot really bad about a week ago so he had to stay in the little run for a while until we were sure he could manage the yard on one foot.  We have no idea what he did to hurt it or even what he hurt exactly.  We have examined him several times and can find no cuts, no punctures, nothing to indicate what happened.  He just hops around on one foot like so.

I have no idea what to do to help him, other than keeping him up for a few days, and we gave him a baby aspirin for a couple of days in case he was in pain.  He is improving now and will let his foot touch the ground at least, putting a little bit of weight on it.  He has also resumed his pursuits of the girls but he's not much of a threat to them in this condition.  They have no sympathy for him either!  He still gets the crap kicked or bit out of him.  Poor feller.  I almost feel kinda sorry for him but the girls don't need him jumping on them right now anyway, in their "delicate" conditions!  If he gets use of his foot back before they all get their new feathers he may be spending some long days alone in the Goober Chicken Memorial Pen.  Big T and Pumpkin haven't forgotten him though and when he is confined they take breaks during the day to come sit next to the fence with him and chat.  I though that was sweet and George seems to appreciate it too.  He'll always lay next to them on the other side.

Thursday, October 02, 2014

Easy For You To Say

This post is a milestone of sorts, well, maybe that's not the right word, haha!.  The completion of a goal maybe.  This post contains the last word in the "word" post series and I saved the hardest for last!  Leave it to Woody to give me such a difficult word but I think he was trying to make a not-so-subtle point with the word, floccinaucinihilipilification: the act or habit of estimating something as worthless.  Yes, I had to look it up.
At the time I asked for the word contributions I had been kinda down on my blog, or my writing, for some time.  Making excuses and just generally whining about how the blog wasn't any good anymore.  Not that it was ever great but you know...When I got sick last year (or whatever it was that happened), I'll admit that I fell into quite a funk.  As if ya'll couldn't tell.  I wallowed in the uncertainty of what was happening to me and, at times, I just flat out hurt so bad I couldn't think straight, much less write something decent.  I let it get to me.
 My whole purpose with this blog had been to try to encourage a few people to try a few things that maybe they thought they couldn't do or were not sure about.  A few DIY projects, a garden, or heck, maybe even a house and have some fun in the process.  To share a bit of my crazy life so that other people might feel they were not such an oddball after all for not wanting the 'normal', 2-car garage life.  Oh, I've never been under the delusion that it was ever any more than a little meeting place for a few folks that sometimes feel like square pegs in a round hole or others that just like chickens and gardening.  There are no publishers beating a path to my door.  But we had some fun and laughs and maybe we learned some new things along the way or shared some inspiration.  It didn't help that my downtime just happened to correspond with what seemed to be a widespread loss of interest in blogs in the realm of social media.  I watched a lot of my long time readers fade away.  But of all the years my blog has been up and running I have felt like some people really got something out of it.  Sometimes it was technical information, sometimes just a friendship.  But it was all good. 
And then I lost it.  Or felt like I did.  See, I've never really gone the traditional route in life.  Got an art degree instead of something "useful".  Worked in construction for 20 years in a time where only 2% of tradespeople are female.  Never had kids, or wanted to.  I've basically been a free spirit my whole life and only recently settled down to some extent.  That kind of life leads to a lot of scrutinizing by outsiders.  Lot of them waiting for you to mess up so they can say 'I told you so'.  If you are the only woman on a job of 100 men you better as hell know how to work and make a showing, as they say and this blog was no different to me.  I needed to produce a good product.  I needed to offer my readers some meat, a full meal, and last year and even some of this year I felt like I was just throwing some lukewarm leftovers your way and I felt bad about it.  I know a lot of people really enjoyed the building posts and such, and considering how many horribly misleading construction blogs that are out there, I enjoyed doing those posts too.  Not that I consider myself any great expert!!  But I do know building codes at least and have many years of actual commercial experience.  I mean, my whole blog was built around the premise of me building a house and then wham!  I'm not building it anymore.  That sucks! 
Some of you may have noticed that I have been writing just a tad more lately.  It's not that I'm feeling particularly better...its more that maybe things have just rotated.  Not as much brain fog as before but a whole lot more physical pain.  I have however, found that you either adjust to such things that life throws at you or you just give up.  I don't like to give up.  I am a stubborn ass if nothing else.  So, I am trying to adjust the blog and my attitude.  And really, no one ever knows what is going to happen when they start some project like a house or homestead or even a new job.  There is never any guarantee on anything so I think my blog is still true to it's original intent.  I'm still a life in progress.  I will finish my house despite what some folks like to tell me.  I have always found a way.  I will find out what is causing me so much physical misery and I will get over it.  Or I will adapt to that too.  I hope that you will continue on the journey with me.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Mystery To Me

I have a little bit of a different post for all you dear readers today.  A bit of a Pabloesque mystery to help me solve.  Now, in my daydream world, if I were to decide not to be a counterfeiter, my next choice would be a detective or private investigator.  In fact, if it were not for the fact that you have to go all through police academy and actually work for a time on patrol, I might have seriously considered being a detective in real life.  I'm not much on reading most fiction, preferring technical or how-to books, but I love whodunits and any sort of unexplained phenomena.
So, here is my little mystery....Nothing earth-shattering for sure but a bit curious, to me anyway.  At the road end of my drive, near my mailbox, is one of the largest sycamore trees I have ever seen.  It towers well above the surrounding trees in the canopy and the circumference of it's trunk must be 10-12 feet.  A smaller red maple grows under it and both are a favorite of the local squirrels.  Chigger and I were out for our daily stroll to get the mail and as we approached the gate near the mailbox I noticed something seemed amiss.  Looking over underneath the giant sycamore I saw this:  (you may need to enlarge the photo to really see)

The bright green maple leaves from a newly broken limb caught my eye first.  We had not had any recent winds strong enough to blow that down and the leaves were quite crisp and fresh.  It had to have been very recent.  Patches of a blackish, powdery substances were splattered all about and blending into the gravel just a bit was the fresh body a young squirrel.  It looked as though he had fallen from a considerable height.

My first thought when I saw the blackish stuff was that some passing redneck had spit out his dip but as I looked around I realized it was a very, very large amount.  I seriously doubt that even the big-mouthed knuckle-draggers I know could hold that much Skoal.  Plus, there was no Skoal odor.  Perhaps some type of tree rust or mold?

Upon inspecting the small limb it appeared that the broken end had actually been gnawed.  The marking were very similar to the large teeth marks that beavers make when cutting trees.  It was like that but in miniature.  So, gnawed branch, flat squirrel, black junk.  My brain tumbled it all around for a few minutes while Chigger proceeded to sniff everything but she was careful not to disturb the evidence.
I returned to the house to get my camera and tell Jack about my discovery.  We concluded it had to be one of a couple of scenarios.  A. the little squirrel was being pursued by one of the local hawks and had broken a weak limb in it's scrambling to get away, falling to it's doom anyway.  But that didn't really explain why the end looked chewed or gnawed....And wouldn't a hawk have returned for it's prize?  Surely it would have seen the little squirrel laying there.  B. the little squirrel, lacking worldly wisdom, was simply on the wrong side of the limb it was chewing and essentially sawed itself into freefall.  But why would a squirrel gnaw on a tree limb?  Nuts I can see... and what about the black stuff?  I looked all around the large sycamore for any other sign of this black grunge but could not find any.  No other old decaying limbs anywhere that it might could have fallen out of.  After collecting my photos and evidence, and not wanting to see the hapless squirrel become anymore "messy" shall we say, I conveyed it's small body to a peaceful area of the forest to let nature finish it's process.
So, what do you think?  What was that black stuff and why was it splattered everywhere?

Double brownie points to any who can also tell me, off the top of your head, the band that the post title refers to.  One hint; this title is an album and not a specific song.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Autumn Changes

Happy Autumnal Equinox everybody!!  A little late maybe, depending on when you read this, but you get the idea.  Today was one of the very few first days of fall that actually felt like fall, in my recent memories.  In fact, the weather here the past few days has been gorgeous.  We've been enjoying not running the air and cooling the house by just opening the windows.
The weather has the animals feeling full of piss and vinegar too.  Mr. George has turned into a fine looking rooster and has been trying to put some moves on the ladies lately.  Mostly he has only succeeded in getting the crap bitten out of him.  The girls have been a long time without a male bossing them around and haven't cottoned to the idea of him doggin' them around, so to speak.  Can't say as I blame them.  Haha! That's no commentary on Jack, now.

Little T and Pumpkin are loving the free ranging too and are fitting in better with the main flock.  Not sure what is going to happen when Little T becomes Big T but I hope he and George can get along.  Little T is quite a character.  When he is out in the yard he is still sweet little T, loves to snuggle in your lap and get a good rubbing.  Come time to go to bed though he's like most youngsters....he does not like to go in.  In fact, when I go to pick him up and put him and Pumpkin in their little apartment, he will bite the living crap out of me!  He is serious!  He does not want to go to bed!  Fortunately, since he is still young, it doesn't really hurt.  Not yet anyway.  It's really kinda funny in a way.  I can just hear him saying, 'No Mama, I wanna stay out a little longer!  Imma big boy now!'

Several of the older girls are going through their fall molt so we are not getting a huge amount of eggs right now but that's okay.  A couple of our regular egg customers were so taken with the fresh eggs they ended up getting their own hens!  So, mainly we just give the extras to family and some friends.  I still sell a few dozen here and there.

And Pumpkin is getting to be a big girl too.  She is very sweet and the prettiest little thing.  I'm really not sure when she will start laying because I wasn't sure how old she was when we got her, but I suspect she will be another month or so off.

I finally managed to get a few photos of Susie sitting in my lap.  The young Buffs get very jealous when they see Susie or PeePee in my lap and usually rush over in mass to fuss and push them out.  In return, Susie and PeePee take any chance to bite the young 'uns when they are out in the yard.

Chigger gets a little jealous too sometimes but not often.  She is so good with the chickens.  I wouldn't say she is fond of them (Ramona was the only one that was kind of a buddy) but she knows it's her job to protect them.

So, that's the news with the critters.  The garden and flowers are not doing a whole lot right now, as with myself.  We are working on changing that however.  I'm going to take the opportunity during my next firing, when the studio is really too hot to work in there, to do a good clean up in the main garden and possibly get in a few greens for the winter.  Or at least get things cleaned up and put away.

I'm working on a few changes for myself also, at least for as much as the pain in my body will allow.  I've got to get back to working on the house and may relegate the weekends for that or maybe Friday through Sunday.  Secondly, I've got to start producing more work and income.  I feel my pottery has become rather stagnant in design, so I am working on finding some new glazes that I will be excited to work with and new designs.  I was always able to make a good living in construction and take care of myself but now, since that is not an options anymore, I've got to get my art work up to an acceptable level of income.  If I can come up with some designs I really like, and that show promise in sales, I may consider methods of producing on a larger scale.  Not to say the work would be mass produced but maybe not completely hand thrown.  It would still be all completely hand made though.  I have to consider the fact that I may not be able to always build every single part of the rest of the house and so to be able to hire out a few things would be nice.  Like maybe the roof on the other half.  I would like to finish this house before I turn 80 also.  So, I've got to get serious about this and quit screwing around.  I need a cohesive set of styles and colors that reflect my work as a whole.  As I've said before too, I'd like to expand a bit more into the restoration work also.  I don't really expect that to ever be a big deal but you never know.  One may work out better than the other and I enjoy both lines of work.  Or one may be my main job and then just do a little of the other on the side.  I guess I'm open to either as long as I can make a decent living with it and enjoy what I'm doing.

Any changes out your way?  Has Fall made an appearance yet?