You are currently browsing the monthly archive for April 2012.

April 22 – I have the speckled egg narrowed down to one of two hens.  Esme, the Rhode Island Red and Buffy, the Buff Orpington were the only two hens out in the yard and then two eggs appeared in the newest Secret Chicken Nesting Grounds (which fortunately Belle, newly laying, pointed out with her very loud cackles).  So I know it’s one of them!

April 23 – I learned that sage is a perennial herb, even in Michigan winters!  So I already have fresh sage when I want it.  May need to get some prosciutto and make some Chicken Saltimboca.  yum.

April 24 – This week’s horse was Charm, a Quarterhorse cross.  Possibly with Arabian, based on that pretty head.  Charm was the first horse I ever rode out there, and his trot scared me at first – it’s very…active.  Now I don’t have much trouble with it.  Sue, my instructor, told me she can really see improvement in my riding, which made me very happy to hear.  This week we did obstacle course work, which shows control of both rider and horse.  I love it.  Next week we’ll probably get to canter.  I’m looking forward to that.

Oh, I did go to the doctor about my ankle (54 days later…) and x-rays showed I may have cracked it.  There were a couple bone chips that resolved themselves, and what they thought was an old injury.  Though the last time I sprained my ankle I had an x-ray and it didn’t show anything at that time.  I decided to just stop everything and let it rest, and now (a week later) it is feeling much better.  My active healing was only going so far, and I was still having swelling and pain.  Now that I’m resting it, no swelling, no pain.  So this will continue for another week or two – I’ll stick to swimming and my lessons.

April 25 – Baby Chicken in her hiding spot.  I don’t worry too much, except for Hobie.  His new thing is to wait til dusk, just before she heads to the coop for the night.  He stalks her, pounces, and she flies up at the window where she has seen me.  The dogs and I rush out.  Sadie chases Hobie off, I call Baby Chicken over, pick her up and take her to the coop.  I’ll be glad when she’s a little bigger and Hobie stops thinking he can take her.

April 26 – Shades of pink across from the library.  It’s a nice lakeside park.

April 27 – Baby Chicken lets me stroke under her bill.  Her eyes shut halfway and I think if she could purr, she would.  I like her russet eyebrows.

Even sweet chickens can look fierce!

Baby Chicken will follow me around the yard when I’m outside.  She will also follow the dogs.  The other day she was in the chicken yard and on the compost bin fence.  The dogs went over to see what she was doing and she jumped on Phoebe’s back!  Phoebe whirled around and Baby jumped over to Sadie’s back.  It all took place in about 5 seconds and had me wishing I had my camera up and ready.  The look on Sadie’s face was quite priceless.

April 28 – It was our fifth wedding anniversary so we went to Lakeside Charlies.  The food was good, though I prepare better.  The Lemon Herb Aioli wasn’t very lemony.  We got both the specials and shared, which was a nice way to do it.  New York Strip with 5 Jumbo Shrimp (though sorry, not jumbo…maybe large-ish) for me and Lake Perch with the aforementioned Aioli for him.  Sadly, dessert was Not Good.  We got the Chocolate Decadence cake to share and it was this thick, dense brownie thing that required David and a knife to cut.  The strawberry coulis that was with it made us eat a few more bites, but overall bleah.  We demonstrated to the waitress the denseness (since even between both of us we were not inclined to finish it) and she apologized and said she’d tell them in the kitchen, but that was the extent of it.  It was nice to get out to eat, and not have to cook and clean afterwards, but for the money I’m not impressed.  Mostly because, as David put it “You are one helluva good cook.”   Since developing that skill, I find it hard to spend that much money to go out when I can do so much better.  Part of it, too, is what we refer to as the Midwest Palate.   Most restaurants don’t season much because around here folks don’t seem to like it that way.  I have an extensive spice collection (I should take a picture!) and use it freely.  David is a very willing guinea pig to my excursions.  I think we’re both rather spoiled.

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April 15 – Baby Chicken, as she continues to be known.  She will probably always be Baby Chicken now, because she actually comes to that when she’s called.  At least by me.  David tried, and she stayed in the bushes.  I walked out, said “Baby Chicken” and she ran out to see what I was calling her for.  She has moved into the bushes just out the front door.  There’s a pine tree with very low branches that allow her to hide and to perch.  There are juniper bushes to hide under.  I brought her out a feeder and water fount, so she’s pretty well set up.  She moves to the little coop during the night and when I let her out she leaves the chicken yard on her own (she can squeeze through the fence) and goes to her chosen spot.  So far, the only problem is Hobie thinking she’s fair game.  We’re working on that.

April 16 – I gave the chickens a grape tomato from a salad (don’t care for them on salads, especially cold).  It turns into a free-for-all chase and is quite entertaining.  For whatever reason, when a hen picks up something good, she makes a lot of noise about it and draws the attention of the others.  Then they chase her and try to peck it from her beak.  When a rooster finds something good, he announces it to the hens and generally doesn’t expect to eat it anyway.  Here we have Sault trying to take the tomato away from Willow while being followed by a gang o’ hens.

April 17 – It’s a bowl full of shiny inspiration.  Beads were on sale. I could not resist.  Right now I’m really being drawn to lime greens.

April 18 – Last fall I wandered around with a wagon-full of daffodil bulbs.  I forgot where I planted them all, so seeing these pop up on the steps that lead up the hill was a pleasant surprise.  I’ll be doing it again this fall.

April 19 – These poor daffodils have managed to come up in spite of the chickens.  The chickens were scratching at the initial green growth because at the time it was the only green out there.  I planted these in my flower bed inside the garden.  Chickens are not friendly to growing things.  Those are three of the Brahmas – Shirley, Angel and one of the Buster Collective.   The Busters are soon for freezer camp.

April 20 – Hobie can open the door if it’s cracked.  So can the dogs.  Phoebe can open our bedroom door, which doesn’t latch, but Sadie can’t.  Doors and critters are an interesting combination.

April 21 – I probably don’t need the arrow to point it out, but going grocery shopping in a big truck surely is helpful when you come out and look for your vehicle.  It’s very easy to find.  Of course, you are required to park further out but it was a nice day.  David got home last night and had to deliver some boats in Traverse City so I went along.  I like riding along when I can.

I consider it “Project Horse” because these riding lessons are my first step to finally realizing the dream of having a horse of my own.  Each lesson teaches me a little more about interacting with horses and what to expect from myself when with them.

April 17 – Second riding lesson of this spring series.  Today I rode Charlie.  He’s an older guy, prone to having his own mind, but he and I get along very well.  I feel very comfortable on him, like we fit together.  There was a little problem getting his bridle on, but I got some experienced help and we were soon underway.  Before I went to the barn, I took my SLR to the little booth that overlooks the arena and set it up.  I had my remote with me.

It was a beautiful day out.  We played “Simon Says” and then did some weaving between cones at a trot.  Charlie did what I asked him every time.  I finally got the hang of keeping my heel down – it feels very exaggerated, but is evidently correct.  I also had to mount from the right side again, as my sprained ankle just can’t push me up, yet can hold me in the stirrup.

Trotting!

Vanity pose without my hat.  I was happy to have it out in the sun.  Even with hat and sunscreen, my face is rather pink this morning.

April 8 – What it looked like before I enlarged the chicken area.  I need to get them out of my garden area, as well as what used to be the chicken yard as that will also be garden this year  (I’m doubling my garden space!)

And after:

I gave them the line of spruce trees they like the hang out under, more than double the space the had, and lots of things to perch on.  The moment I opened the space the hens were out scratching in the leaves and dust-bathing under the spruce trees.  They have developed little holes in the dirt that fit a chicken perfectly and they were happy to have access to those again.

For us, pulled pork on homemade rolls.  I use the recipe for Pulled Pork for Two in Cooks Country magazine and a recipe for rolls I found on the internet (which I can no longer seem to find online, but I wrote it out into my personal cookbook).  I can’t make one without the other, so it turns into a rather long process, but always worth it.  It’s one of my favorite meals and is so gratifying to know how to make.

April 9

Tomorrow is my first spring riding lesson and my boots look terrible!  I finally found a place in town which has proper shoe polish (my choices til now have been brown or black.  My boots are DARK brown) and picked some up.  I had just washed off the left boot, which is why it looks darker.

Isn’t that something?  That’s one thing the army taught me – how to shine some shoes.  Well, that and to toss hand grenades, shoot an M-16, and slide along a rope bridge.

David got busy with the chain link fencing.  It was on sale and I bought another four 50 foot rolls.  The dog came back looking for my chickens yesterday, after I had improved their fencing.  The gate was open (I was gone) and he just walked up the driveway.  The chicken fence did its job, though, and then our dogs ran him off.  It inspired David to install the next 200 feet of fence.  It goes around the south side of the house, enclosing the new chicken coop (the blue through the trees) and the around to the back of the house.    Soon we’ll be enclosed and Phoebe can live her dream of remaining outside on the front stoop or watching the driveway all day.

April 10 – Riding lesson day!

First we have to groom.  It’s spring, the horses have not been ridden a lot in the past few months, so I got the fun of getting all that hair off Travler (their spelling, not mine!).  He seemed to be enjoying it.  I still have horsehair on my vest days later.

His mane, when I finished, reminded me of my friend Ken.

After grooming, saddling.  Guess whose saddle Izzy the barn cat is sitting on?

I lured her to the next saddle but she hopped right back over when I went to pick mine up.  Then she batted at me, grabbed my hand and bit a little (the way cats do) and finally I just scooped her up and moved her down to the end of the row.

Trotting on Travler is amazing, as he is a Missouri Fox Trotter.  Soooo smooth.  I enjoy being horseback so very much.

Oh,yeah.  It was snowing all day.  Cold air, warm ground.  Nothing stuck, but it was rather strange.

April 11

Windy day.  I repaired my various wind chimes and bells and they were singing.  Prayer flags were doing their thing.

April 12

The chickadees are building a nest in the top of this broken tree.  Makes me wonder if it’s the same pair that built in a tree next to this a couple years ago.  The bird looks upside down.  Right now they are taking away wood bits.  They lay 3 eggs (which must be tiny!) and take only 10-12 days to hatch!  Then another 10-12 days nesting.  I’ll have to keep an eye on this nest.  I didn’t realize it was in use such a short time.

April 13

Three words as to why I am preserving these Meyer Lemons.  Preserved Lemon Hummus.  Just the sound of it made my mouth water.  I already had the lemons (on sale for $1 for a bag of 6 or so) and had been planning to do this.  Then I found the recipe, and yeah, it had to happen NOW.  They won’t be ready for three weeks, but I’ll let you know how that hummus is.  I found all this in a roundabout manner because the blogger linked there, Alana Chernila, has a new book out that I want, The Homemade Pantry (amazon affiliate link).  The lemons are preserved in lemon juice and salt along with some bay and cardamom.  They ferment, so they’re pickled lemons at the end.  I’m curious about them.

April 14

I love the faces of these daffodils.  These are some new ones I planted by the Art Chalet.  Others I planted aren’t getting as much sun, so are slower to come up.  I’ll have daffodils around the place for weeks!  Next year I may try planting some tulips within the fenced areas in hopes the deer won’t be able to eat them.  I’m just very glad they don’t like daffodils!

Mr. JLB is now being called Reuben.  He invites you to come see all the chickens.

April 1 – Hobie is practicing his hunting skills.  He still can entertain himself for quite some time with this toy.

April 2 – The fencing and gate has been a huge success.  The dogs stay in the yard, even in the face of pedestrians and the school bus.  They barely react.  It’s as though they recognize the boundary of what is theirs to protect and what isn’t.  It removes a lot of anxiety from my life.

April 3 – The chickens sun- and dust-bathing in the garden.  I’m working on fencing plans so I can get them out of the garden so I can start planning my planting.  I can’t plant while they can get in as they will eat my seeds and seedlings.

April 4 – Broody hen.  Rose is taking a quick dust bath before going back to her eggs.  She’s currently sitting on 11 eggs in the barn.

April 5 – I have a grackle visiting my yard.  He’s been calling for a lady friend.  Here’s what he looks like when he does:

He fluffs up and makes this strange hooting whistle sound.

April 6 – The view from the other side of the gate.  I have to chain it when I’m on the other side because Phoebe knows to push through it and escape.  She showed this knowledge when the UPS guy came by this week and scared him.  She looks quite fierce with her fur all on end and rushing out at full speed.

April 7 – The view of our little homestead.  House on the left, behind the privacy fence, then the boat shed, the barn and the little coop.  Currently the little coop is occupied by Mr. JLB and Baby Chicken.  A number of the hens also prefer to lay their eggs in there.

March 25 – I finally have forsythia blooming!  This winter I built a little cage over my tiny plant to protect it from the psycho deer (the deer here eat things that *all* the books tell me deer don’t eat, like the forsythia) and it worked!  I bought this plant a few years ago as a big specimen plant only to find it browsed literally to the ground at the end of that winter.  It’s taken this long just to get this little foot tall shrub going.  It’s a pleasure to look out and see that lovely happy yellow.  I planted the crocus around it to get the nice contrast of yellow/purple.  I love the flowering part of spring.

March 26 – I found these glow-in-the-dark animals at the Goodwill.  I have an affinity for anything glow-in-the-dark.  It stems from my childhood, when my mom put glow star stickers (the waterslide decal kind) on my closet doors.  I love lying in the dark staring at the stars.  Since then I have glow-in-the-dark whenever I can.  (note to self – put some stars in the living room on the ceiling…)  These critters live in the bathroom, which is the darkest room in the house.  They make me smile when I see them.

March 27 – I bought this Radio Flyer wagon at a garage sale last spring during birthday week as a present for myself.  As I was wheeling it away, someone asked if they could buy it.  I am glad I said no.  I have a garden wagon that is supposed to be for adults, I guess.  The handle is far too short and now it mostly sits around filled with something or another.  If I do use it, I have to use an extension on the handle, usually an old dog collar.  The Radio Flyer, supposedly for kids, has a handle that is long enough for my tall self.  I find myself toting things all over the place, from taking the trash out to the road on trash day to toting 100 lbs of chicken food to the barn to save myself a trip from the truck.  A wagon is a very useful thing on a small farm.

March 28 – Hobie jumped into this window, which is not a normal perch for him.  It’s built for sitting cats, as the width of the window sill was extended so cats would be comfy.  However, it’s also the window where the small air conditioner goes during the summer, so cats get out of the habit, I guess.  Anyway, he jumped up and posed like this and I grabbed the camera.  Then he persisted in looking at me, or out the window, rather than this cool side view.  So I tricked him!  I looked over in that direction like something was very very interesting, and he looked too.  And I got the picture.  ha!

March 29 – Very dim picture due to the time of day and me not using a flash (which I tend to not do anyways).  Hobie and his prey, a small mousey thing.  He’s been very active in the hunting department lately.

March 30 -“Look, ma, it’s snowing!” from the happy dog.  My reaction?

Pretty much this.  I had a hair appointment to get to.  I got there before the snow was too horrible.  Then I went to the library to wait out the rest of it.  We got a few inches in a short couple hours, but I was warm and amused.  David had loaded some logs back into Hank’s bed, so I was safe from spinning out on the slushiness.  Nothing can help with the way a snowy road will grab you if you go outside the tire ruts, though.  Fortunately, I only had a couple miles of road like that.  Once I changed counties, our roads were plowed.  (we live about 2 miles from the county line between Wexford and Osceola counties – we’re in Osceola and Cadillac is in Wexford)

March 31 – I finished knitting this awesome hooded cape.  I saw a display knit in a store some five years ago.  I finally got the pattern four years ago.  Found yarn for it three years ago (Chunky Al, it’s called, an alpaca/wool blend and so much less expensive (since it was on clearance at $3.75 a skein) than the Alpaca Grande the pattern called for) in this lovely deep blue.  Started knitting it two years ago and got a few rows of over 300 stitches knitted before moving on to the next shiny thing (I’m such a magpie!).  Decided to sit down with it this year and knitted on it while watching various TV series DVDs – mostly Battlestar Galactica and Game of Thrones.  Finally finished it and love it.  It’s called a cape but feels like a hooded shawl.  It’s the largest thing I’ve ever knitted and now I now I can someday follow through with a sweater.  I’ll get a better picture of it soon.  It’s great for running out to check on the chickens.