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I’m not one who likes a full schedule.  I need time in my days/weeks/months for just doing nothing.  I haven’t had a lot of that lately.  Between work and school, I’m running all over the place.  I am learning to drive a big truck, and finally feel comfortable doing so.  I understand where my trailer is now – something I was having trouble with.  Now that I”m getting it, I can back up that sucker!  Next week is finals of quarter one of two of truck school.  So far, so very good.

And now for pictures!  I’m going more or less in time order, since it’s been awhile since I unloaded my camera.

poppies

These poppies are from my trip to California at the end of March.  My grandmother passed away and I went to be with my mom.  We took a drive and I was determined to find some poppies to take a picture of.  I did, and the color of them makes me happy.

rose

 

This rose is from my grandmother’s garden.  I love how it just seems to glow from within.

 

hills

 

The central California foothills are the landscape that is burned into my soul.  I have loved everywhere I’ve ever lived, but this landscape of rocks, oaks and green hills soothes me like no other can, except anything with water.

truck school

 

April 3 was the first day of truck school.  I’m learning a lot, enjoying knowing the instructors and other students and eager to be done so I don’t have to stay home alone any more.  It does mean big changes with critters, but they’re ones I’m willing to make for the sake of me and my marriage.

horses

 

Our sixth anniversary was April 28.  We went to Grand Rapids to visit the Grand Rapids museum, have a good dinner (we went to The Twisted Rooster and I wholeheartedly recommend it – great food!), and see a movie (Oblivion, with Tom Cruise – we both enjoyed it).

museum birds

 

This display was at the museum, up high.  All the colorful birds just really caught my eye.  The exhibit was old Victorian case collections and described how they preferred to look at collections, rather than things in their natural habitats.  It was very interesting to see things like these birds grouped together.  I think I like seeing both.

 

flowers

 

While he was home for our anniversary, David left a few days before my birthday.  He sent me flowers at work, though, and a balloon.  I was grinning all day.

kayak

 

I celebrated my 50th birthday by getting out on the water, for spring had finally come.  I almost talked myself out of it, worrying about going alone, blah blah, but then just went, and I was soooo glad I did!

turtle

 

Pretty painted turtle – it had climbed up a tree branch to sit out over the water.  I was careful not to scare it, as it had obviously worked hard to get there.

kayak after

 

Afterwards.  I was so peaceful and relaxed…

tucker dew

 

The dogs have been getting walked in the woods a lot.  Tucker is a little taller than Sadie now, but lighter.  He’s getting to be a better dog all the time.

handsome tucker

 

And he’s very photogenic.

tucker attack 1

 

When we’re walking is when his herd dog breeding shows.  Sadie was meandering up behind us when he went into his crouch.

tucker attack 2

 

Then he leaps into motion.

tucker attack 3

There is a quick altercation – lots of teeth (though less teeth now as he’s growing up mentally).

tucker attack 4

And calm.  When we walk, he spends probably the last 25% of any walk pestering Sadie, trying to get her to chase him.  He loves to be chased.

samuel

And no blog post would be complete without a chicken.  🙂  This is not Jack!  This is one of his kids – I thought I had 4 pullets hatch last summer.  What I forget about the BBS Orpingtons is that the cockerels are slow to show themselves.  I even thought Jack was a pullet for the longest time.  I call this guy Samuel, because he’s Jack’s son.  Heh.  That’s how my mind works when naming chickens…We lost Romeo in March (while I was in California, so I’m not sure what happened to him) so Samuel gets to stay, as I prefer to have 2 roosters with a large flock of hens – this way they get watched out for.

 

 

 

 

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I was just transferring pictures to my laptop (291 since last time I did so) and realized there were some pretty cool pictures there, and I want to share.  So here I am.

lake michigan shoreline

From my adventure Saturday.  My camera will do a panoramic sweep, so I did one to capture the breadth of the shoreline where I was standing.  So much snow still, although Saturday night it began raining and continued through yesterday.  This morning at 9, the temp was 43 degrees. If it continues like this, it won’t matter that I ran out of firewood.  I’ve been quite comfy in the house (although it’s 64 degrees) the past couple days.  And if it does get cold, my dear friend Candy supplied me with a number of phone numbers to get myself a face cord to get me through the last days of winter.  (if the picture is cut off, click on it to get the full effect…it’s quite wide)

hobie ice

This picture made me laugh when I saw it because I remembered how Hobie slipped on the ice when he tried to walk down the windshield.  We had a few days of icy rain this winter.  The driver’s side door on Hank froze shut a couple times.  If I hadn’t been doing yoga, I would not have been able to get in and behind the wheel a couple times there.  Right now at home, the walkway and driveway are pretty much sheet ice.  My Yak Traks are so very welcome then.

jack

 

We almost lost Jack this winter.  The dogs got bored due to the snow and Phoebe and Tucker ended up in the barn.  Sadly, Baby Chicken was killed in the altercation, and Jack was wounded when he fought them.  He had no outward signs of problems, but for a week he was very weak and I’d say close to death.  I had to feed him egg yolks by syringe, and give him water that way as well.  After a couple days of that, his strength began returning and finally he has recovered.  I was very close to putting him down, but David suggested putting him in a cage in the house and seeing what happened.  I’m so glad he did.  When Jack crows, it sounds like the opening  notes to “Get Smart” except in chicken.

icicles

I’ve taken such a picture before, but then the orange snow fence showed up in the background.  Since we removed it and I saw the light hitting the icicles, I grabbed my camera and got out there.

sunrise thru trees

 

Sunrise through the snowy trees.  I love it when the light looks physical, like something you could reach out and touch or take into your hands.

orange 2

 

I finished my orange embellished (encrusted, you might say) quilt.  It’s 12 x 12 and fully covered in various orange things.  This picture pleased me because of the accidental rubic.

orange 1

 

More orange.  I’m framing it in a shadowbox frame that matches the one my mom made for me.  I plan to hang them side by side.  They are quite cheery with all the orange.

bigger orange

 

A shot with more things in it.  The overall quilt has a pattern within it – there’s a lighter orange spiral circling out from the heart.  I’ll have to see if I can get a picture showing that.

 

Asnow face

Tucker’s snow face.  He certainly enjoys playing in the snow.  Or he did until he cut his foot.  Now he has to hop about on 3 legs in the snow, because he has an open wound on his foot and the snow crystals seem to hurt him.  Not that this slows him down, mind you.  It is finally healing over and soon he’ll be back to his normal wild self.

floppy tucker

 

Tucker loves the recliner.  He reclines it on his own – he figured it out when he was smaller and fortunately isn’t so big he’ll break my chair – and lies on the back.   I should say he flops on the back.  Sometimes he does curl up into a little ball on the back, but for the most part, he flops.

mouth

 

Big mouth Tucker jumping and trying to bite my hand.  He’s a silly dog.

tucker sadei

 

He’s grown to be nearly Sadie-size.  She hates that.  He is an alpha male and she doesn’t want to give up her alpha spot.  But she’s getting older and sometimes she loses.  They tussle a lot in the manner of wolves, but sometimes it escalates.  Fortunately, they both defer to me and will stop.

basket tucker

 

This weekend he started curling up in the laundry basket.  This was new.

dogs

 

From earlier in the winter. Big snow then sunshine.  Getting all three to look at me, that wasn’t happening.  But I liked this one well enough.

cardinal

Also from my adventure Saturday.  When I pulled up in the parking lot of Lake Bluff Bird Sanctuary, this cardinal was perched right there on these red branches.  Looks like my camera focused more on the background, but I still like this picture a lot.  I love winter branches.

 

 

 

 

 

August 12 – Tucker lying on his spot.  I made this cat bed (knit and felted) when I first moved to Michigan.  None of the cats use it, so I gave it to Tucker and he can often be found lying on it.

This week is a little puppy heavy.  I know you’ll understand 🙂

 

I mean, look at that face!  How could I not keep taking pictures of it.  Besides, puppyhood goes by so very quickly and I want to be sure and have a record of it.

 

August 13 – The extent of my potato harvest in the bags.  It’s between 5 and 10 pounds, not the 100 I was hoping for.  They’re all rather small, but no doubt will be tasty (and I can get more at the Farmers Market).  It’s enough for 2-3 recipes of this.  Gen will be happy that we finally tried these potatoes and LOVE LOVE LOVE them.  David can’t get enough.  We heartily recommend them.  I surprised him one night by saying dinner was going to be zucchini fritters and the potatoes.  He wondered aloud if that was going to be enough.  Afterwards, he agreed it was, and we’ve done it a couple times now.  Kinda cool growing all the food for dinner.

 

August 14 – I was doing a walkabout the house and discovered a mass of long black feathers.  Fearing the worst, I went to the barn to find poor Jack with his tail pulled out.  He’s fine, if a little raw from having chunks of feathers pulled out.  It appears he fought off the coyote, losing his tail in the process.  All that’s left is those couple feathers.

 

August 15 – Tucker is tuckered.

 

August 16 – I got rained on.  I was taking a picture of the way my glasses looked after.  And my hair curling.  I ended up liking the picture quite a bit.

 

August 17 – Tuckered again.  I took him to the Farmers Market for some socializing.  A young girl of 12 or so (maybe a little older, but maybe not) got down on the ground and wrestled with him, he met some very tiny girls of 2-4 (and he was sooo good) as well as a number of other people.  Puppies draw folks in, that’s for sure.  One of my favorite farmers wanted a picture with him and she even asked if she could buy him, as she wanted a herding type for her sheep.  I declined.  I did buy 5 pounds of ground beef.  Tucker was very tired when it was all done.

 

August 18 – Super Tucker!  He just poses so well sometimes.

July 29 – We drove down south a bit (an hour or so) to visit a friend of David’s.  I baked this lovely loaf of bread using a no-knead recipe I found in Mother Earth News.  Since then I’ve made another 3 loaves.  David loves it!  We also took a couple of the meaties we had processed last week, some homemade barbecue sauce and some zucchini from the garden.  His friend did the cooking and it was amazingly tasty.  We seriously need to get a grill!

Ted has bird feeders set up, so I was in heaven.  His home overlooks a lake and we brought our kayaks, though they never got taken off Hank.  Instead, we went out on Ted’s pontoon boat (link to picture added for folks, like me, who had never heard of a pontoon boat).  The lake is shaped, he says, like a puzzle piece, and we went into each nook and cranny.  We seriously need a pontoon boat!

We saw this guy out on the lake, along with many turtles.  The interesting thing to me was getting to watch the turtles swim down, as we were up higher on the water.  When we’re in kayaks, they just disappear.  It was a very nice day.

I also had taken along a Barred Rock hen to swap with Ted.  He has around 100 chickens (an ordering glitch by his brother – 15-20 each turned into 50 each of Rhode Island Reds and Black Sex-Links).  He also ended up with a single black-and-white barred chicken – possibly a Rock, but  possibly not.  Now, the thing about chickens is that they can be surprisingly clique-ish.  The red chickens hang out with the red chickens, the buffs with the buffs.  So this poor single black-and-white chicken (Speckles, by name) was consistently getting pecked and beat up to the point where it wouldn’t leave the coop.  One versus 100 is horrible odds.  So we took along an adult Barred Rock hen and I traded for one of the Black Sex-Links.  We waited til dusk to put the hen in, and when we did many of the youngsters (all his chickens were 12 weeks old, mine was 1 1/2 years or so) came running up to check her out.  She ignored them until someone grabbed her tail, then she whirled around, hackles raised.  Then she went back to eating and was left in peace.  I just hope she and Speckles get along and can form a little band of two.

Here’s a picture of the chicken I got, now named Jess.

July 30 – I took this picture of Hobie because I had to take Phoebe to the vet.  Our vet only sees Hobie in February, during his annual exam, vaccine booster.  Every year, he tells me Hobie needs to lose weight.  Every year, I assure him Hobie does, during the summer.  By February he has been Cabin Fever Cat for 3-4 months, with no good exercise outlet.  So, I wanted photographic proof that my cat does indeed slim down during the summer.  Dr. Harrison was convinced.

Phoebe had to go in because she had a small round wound on her back leg that wasn’t healing and had become swollen.  It’s called a Lick Granuloma, quite common.  She’s now on antibiotics for three weeks (ACK!) and has to wear a bandage around her foot to keep her from continuing to lick at it.  A couple times now she’s gotten rid of the bandage and all the healing that had taken place got licked off.  We’re keeping a close eye on her now.

This is the only way I can successfully get a pill into Phoebe.  While she smacks the peanut butter, she usually swallows the pill.  Usually.  Sometimes she still manages to spit it out, necessitating more peanut butter or brute force of sticking it at the back of her tongue and making her swallow.  She HATES pills.

We also have orange bandages.  They cool because they’re stretchy and self-sticking.  And come in many colors.

July 31 – Got this awesome full-wing goose shot just by sitting with them for awhile.  I was also getting them to chase me so I got some other pictures.

c

This one is rather dreamy.   Completely out of focus because I forgot to push the button half-way first, but I love the light and the colors.

August 1 (already???) – Someone brought this lovely Barn Spider to work for us to identify.  Charlotte, in Charlotte’s Web, was a Barn Spider.  I brought her home and released her – the people who brought her in had no interest in returning her to her home.  She’s an orb-weaver spider.  Evidently she was building a very large web.  I haven’t seen her since releasing her.  I was hoping to see a very large web.

August 2 – Trouble is spelled G-O-O-S-E at our house lately.  They go after the dogs.

They started chasing the cat.  Poor Hobie is not happy.

August 3 – Ox-Eye Daisies.  I love having wildflowers at my house.

August 4 – During heat of the day (which has been very hot lately), the geese will hang out under the trees with the chickens.  All the big birds are happy with the new truck, as they like sitting under it as well since it is higher up than Hank.

July 22 – I’ve decided I’m going to write cheerful messages on some of the rocks in the driveway and then put them back where I found them.  So far there’s just this one, but whenever it catches my eye, I do indeed smile.

July 23 – My Australorp hen was broody and I let her sit on some eggs.  One hatched!  I discovered this by noticing that the dogs were far too interested in a chicken and the chicken was fighting back.  When I realized it was Mathilda, I ran over to find her protecting this wee one.  Sadly, he was killed in a stupid barnyard accident yesterday.  His mother was trying to keep some of the meaties away from the food I had tossed to her and she jumped at them.  They jumped backwards into a broom and it fell on the chick.  It would be like a tree falling on us.

There have been other chicken deaths lately.  Rose, JuJuBee and one of the Barred Rocks all went missing.  I found feathers from two of them.  I’ll be glad when we get the rest of the fencing up, although it may have been a hawk.  We also lost Reuben to another silly chicken accident.  It looked like he was being chased and he ran between two saplings and got stuck and died in the struggle to get out.

July 24 – Half the meaties went to freezer camp.  We ended up with an extra – the farmer doing the processing called David and said there was an extra chicken, were we sure we had brought 12?  David didn’t know.  When I picked them up that afternoon, they had given the extra to us.  We just had to pay for the processing.  I pointed out there was an extra and the farmer’s wife gave a big shrug and said “sometimes it happens.”    When I got home, I counted and there were 14 left, so it wasn’t ours.  I’m giving the remaining ones another week to fatten up some more, then they’ll be joining their brothers in the freezer.  I’m keeping two hens (who are lean and active and actually can fly) to be the mothers of the future meaties.  Frances, my one remaining Freedom Ranger will also contribute to the cause.

July 25 – I was on my way home and saw this turtle by the side of a very busy road, trying to get across.  I turned around as soon as I could and went back to move it.  Traffic was solid enough to have kept it from leaving the side of the road (it kept sticking its head out and pulling it back in with every car that zoomed by), but it couldn’t figure out to go back.  So I picked it up (wearing a glove) and moved it about ten feet away from the road, facing into the field.    A Google image search indicates it’s an Eastern Box Turtle.  Now I’m wishing I had brought it home and introduced it to my field.  I think our field would be a good turtle habitat.  Then it would be safe from the road…

July 26 – I have been searching for a fan for awhile now.  Last summer I started having the occasional hot flash and this summer has been worse since the temps have been considerably hotter.  This fan makes me very happy.  It kicks up a good breeze AND it has ducks.    I thought I wanted a folding fan, but they don’t kick up nearly enough air.  I found this at a local vintage shop, The Atomic Closet.

July 27 – I was driving up north to see my friend Marcy and saw this on a side road.  The head is about three feet across.  I couldn’t tell if it was made of fiberglass or steel, but it certainly made me smile.

I was going to pick up this!  Our friend Beverly gave it to me – she was clearing out stuff she wasn’t using and remembered me saying I wanted a serger.  I’m looking forward to giving it a test run.  I wanted a serger so I could make one of these sweater coats (I already have the tutorial!)  I even have an order for one from another friend, once I get the hang of it.

On the way home I saw a rainbow.  At one point I could actually see it touch the ground.  I didn’t go look for the pot of gold because it was in someone’s house.  🙂

July 28 – Even though we’re in a drought situation here, my garden is doing really well.  We had a couple days of rain then warmth and things seemed to go crazy out there.  Still no heads on the cabbage, and I have stupid squash vine borers in my zucchini, but it looks like I will get a lot of tomatoes this year.

Today I harvested three large (though not overly so) zucchini and a couple grape tomatoes.  I’m really looking forward to the black cherry tomatoes.  There are a lot of them on the plant but no color from them yet.  I also have Early Girls, Golden Jubilee (a golden tomato that I thought would be pretty canned) and Romas.  My Swiss Chard is quite harvestable.  There are also some tiny watermelons that have plenty of time to become big melons, so I’m quite happy.

 

This is an onion that has gone to seed.  Perspective is a funny thing.

July 15 – I am growing cabbage in my garden.  There are eight of them and they fill up the end of the raised bed.  So far there isn’t much in the way of heads of cabbage but there are many big lovely leaves.  I love the shadings of green and nearly blue in them.  There will be slaw!

July 16 – Self portrait with geese, to give an even better idea of how large they’ve become.  I just love my silly geese.

 

July 17 – The geese, as I’ve noted before, love touching things with their bills.  The springy lanyard attached to my kayak (there’s a whistle attached to it for safety reasons) fascinated them and they sat nibbling on it for quite some time.

July 18 – This is how the meaties spend their days – just lounging around in the shade waiting for the next meal.  They do eat bugs and grass during the day, but lately everyone around here has been lounging in the shade or someplace with air conditioning.  It’s been HOT.  I’m just pleased that these chickens act like chickens and seem to enjoy themselves.

If Phoebe and Sadie get separated (in this case it was the length of the garden) and Sadie is slow to respond to my call, Phoebe lowers herself into a herding crouch and waits for her.  This slows Sadie up further as she meanders up to me, looking anywhere but at Phoebe.  If she makes eye contact, Phoebe will spring into action and chase her.  Sadie seems to enjoy this, though lately she has been having some arthritis problems with her front paws in the wrists.  We have her on glucosamine and it seems to have helped, but running hard seems to really aggravate the problem.  And of course any time there’s a creature about, hard running ensues.

 

July 19 – Today was a big day!  I got my first paycheck (yay!).  Then I drove down to Grand Rapids to pick up my turkey poults.  They’re a week and a half old and they were quite tired after their day of travel.  There are seven of them.  Two Bourbon Reds, two Narragansetts and three Chocolates (the links go to the hatchery pages and show adults of that variety).  I love the color of the Chocolates.  I had ordered four of the reds, but they had hatching issues and I said they could substitute.  I’m hoping I get a male and female of the reds, as I’d like to be able to provide heritage turkey poults to the local 4-H kids.  Heritage turkeys are a little harder to come by – minimum orders are 15 poults at $10 a pop.  I split an order with someone (which is why I drove to Grand Rapids to pick them up).  I guess if I get a mated pair of any of them I’ll be happy.  The plan is to raise my own poults so holiday turkeys get cheaper.  If I had to, I’d mix them up since they’re just for us, but that 4-H plan is in my head.

On my way to Grand Rapids, I dropped David off to pick up our new truck!  Hank now has a friend.

 

David now has a truck of his own.  It will be the winter truck.  It’s a Ford F350 Super Duty with a crew cab, so there’s someplace to put the dogs.  I have a hard time taking them both in Hank.

 

July 20 – The poults in the brooder box.  The tall ones are the Narragansetts.  The white-faced ones with brown bodies are chocolates.  The light-colored ones are the reds.  They’re very sweet little birds.  I did some glamour shots!

 

Bourbon Red.

 

Narragansett.

 

Chocolate.  Those single full-size wing feathers make me laugh.

 

July 21 – I was in the garden watering and the geese followed me in.  I turned the hose on them, and they really seemed to like it.  They lift their faces up and bite at the water.

 

Phoebe smiles.  🙂  She likes lying in the shade of the boat shed, keeping an eye on the road and the chickens.  Oftentimes she will be surrounded by chickens, as they like the shade as well.

I’m a little slow this week as I’m finding even a part-time job takes some getting used to.  I find I’m tired after work.

 

 

 

 

July 1 – We’ve been having unseasonably hot weather here the past week or two.  Normally we have average temps in the 70s.  This week has been topping out at 95, with heat indexes and heat warnings.  Have to keep the chickens hydrated!  That little brown one there is an Ameraucana/Easter Egger I picked up when I bought some fancy layer pullets.  I chose her because she was sooty grey and black and I thought she’d be pretty.  She is, but she’s certainly no longer sooty colored.  Those EE chicks are funny that way – they look like one thing and turn colors.  Chicks that look nothing alike as chicks will grow to be similarly colored as adults.  It’s a crapshoot.

When I go to take goose pictures, I often get one like this as they come to check out the camera.  Often they will mouth the camera strap and tug on it.

July 2 – Had to go in for a pre-employment physical and drug screen.   This turned out to be a Very Good Thing, as I found my old doctor there (he actually did my physical).  He had left the clinic at which he practiced.  I wasn’t happy with the replacement (though I haven’t met her yet, and now never will because my old doctor will let me establish with him at his new practice!).  So, this made me happy.  I don’t see a doctor often, but I always liked him because he *LISTENS* and lets me talk all the way through.  He lets me have some say in my care and responds to what I say is going on.  I need that in a doctor.  So yay!

Chicken comparison picture.  On the left is Baby Chicken, a fully grown large fowl pullet.  In the middle is one of my fancy egg layer pullets at 6 weeks old. The white is a Cornish Cross meatie cockerel at 6 1/2 weeks.  They grow so fast.  I’m having very good luck with them this year – their feathers are keeping up with their growth spurts for the most part.  Sometimes if they get too much to eat, they outgrow their feathers and run around half naked.  I prefer them feathered.  I do have a couple pullets in the group and plan to keep those to grow my own meaties from.  While the crosses don’t breed true, they still should breed bigger than say just an Orpington, so it will be interesting to see what we get.

July 3 – I found an ice shaver at the Goodwill over the weekend (YAY!) and bought some snow cone syrup.  I was dismayed that they (of course) are made with high fructose corn syrup and lots of chemicals (but they taste soooo good – I love cherry snow cones).   So I googled and found a recipe for homemade syrups.  1 1/2 cups of sugar plus 1 1/2 cups of water, brought to a boil and boiled for a minute, then add two envelopes of kool-aid in your favorite flavor.  So far lemon-lime is winning, though the black cherry is very good.  True, there are chemicals and artificial colors and such in kool-aid, but it was less than in the syrup.  And these taste very good.  Next up will be orange and grape, I think.

July 4 – David was gone and Cadillac isn’t having fireworks until July 7, so it was a quiet day and less quiet night at home.  Henry went after Sadie, and I caught her jumping away.  The dogs keep their eyes on the geese lest they be goosed.  Phoebe can’t get in the pool anymore because the geese have gotten territorial about it.  They also will chase the chickens away from the waterer, so I have to make sure there are a couple options for water in the yard.

July 5 – This strange toad showed up today.  I call him strange because he came in the house and later jumped at me as I was walking past.  Finally I put it in a cool place in the shade.  I hope it stays around.  I like having a toad around.  While I haven’t seen our resident snake, I did find a shed skin today as well, so I know it’s out there too.  I’m glad to have these critters around eating bugs and small creatures.

July 6 – First Farmers Market tomatoes!  Since mine got a late start and are still growing, I picked up a small box of fresh tomatoes because I was craving a BLT.  The BLT represents a huge departure for me from my childhood eating habits.  Before, the bacon was the only thing I would eat.  That lettuce would’ve been too green (I only ate iceburg), the bread too brown (white bread only), mayo was icky and raw tomatoes were a big NO.  Now I can’t think of anything better at this moment in time.  Isn’t that a pretty sandwich?  I was sorta planning to make some bread for it, but it’s too hot still.  I understand the garden fresh tomato thing, and this year I may even be one of those folks who stand in the garden and eat one out of hand…

July 7 – This morning I was getting the kayaks out of the barn AT LAST, and noticed this on the lattice chicken gate.  Wolf spider with many many tiny baby spiders.  I was quite fascinated.

You can see her eye!!

Lots of tiny baby spiders.

And later, while hanging laundry, I found this tiny yellow spider on a clothes pin.  I have taken a picture of such a spider before, but this one appeared to have a face on its back, so I needed a new picture.

What appears to be a fence post is the end of a clothes pin.

So, I got the kayaks out so we could go watch the fireworks from Lake Cadillac.  Yay!  We think they’re the best seats in the house.

I also got a very nice picture of us on Instagram and I think this link will take you there.  I’d download it from my camera, only I don’t have the cord with me.  The water was a little bumpy so my long-exposure fireworks photos all turned out squiggly – colorful but squiggly.  It was a lovely evening and this is now a holiday tradition for us.  Picnic dinner on the lake while watching the fireworks.  This year they had live music (a Bob Segar tribute band) again, but it lasted longer into the evening.  We also got to have dessert with friends because I texted her we were on the lake and she invited us over (Thanks, Candy – that lemonade cake was the bomb!)  I was able to get out of my kayak at a dock, which was an achievement.  David then lifted them straight out of the water, which I don’t think I could’ve done.  It was just a lovely lovely evening and I felt full of love all through it.  The fireworks finale made me happy because at the end there was a round of cheers and applause from everyone on and around the lake.  Good times.

Also, more video bonus reward for reading this far!  The geese getting happy in the kiddie pool.  You can see them here!

Halfway through the year already???  How is that even possible?

June 24 – This year I have day lilies!  The deer have not eaten them just before they open!  They evidently changed their track through our yard and instead browsed all the leaves from my new apple trees.  I finally know that in order to get these apple trees to live through the deer and bunnies, I have to wrap the trunks in tree wrap and the leaf canopy in deer netting until they are three years old…They’re going to look like some strange mutant lollipops.  I’ll show you once I get them done.

June 25 – Personally, I can’t get over how much they grow so quickly.  Even the turkeys didn’t grow this fast.  This is Henry at 5 weeks.  I’ve been trying to get Phoebe in each of these pictures to show the true size.  She’s keeping an eye on him because Henry likes to use that bill of his.

The meaties are out with the other chickens all day.  On hot days they go up under the mini coop and stay in the shade, which is sort of contrary to some people’s experiences with these Cornish-cross chickens.  If they are kept penned up with food, they will stay at the food all day, not even bothering to move to get water, and thus can be lost to heat stroke.  For me, treating them like the other chickens and feeding twice a day keeps them acting like other chickens.  They range around the yard, eating bugs and grasses, run to greet me when it is feeding time, stage mock rooster fights and keep themselves hydrated.  They’re rather fun to watch.  Because I left the front of the barn open with the fence keeping them apart, when I did remove the fence there was no unpleasantness between the regular flock and the meaties.  They do keep to their individual flocks, but when they gather at the water everyone is there together.  They, too, are five weeks old, and nearly as big as the layers already.

I had a job interview today.  Spoiler alert:  I got the job!  I’ll be working for the MSU Extension office, doing secretary stuffs and answering questions about bugs and plants and what-have-you.  If you’ve read my blog at all, you know this is a great fit for me!  I’m really looking forward to starting next week.

June 26 – These three are very inter-dependent.  If one gets out of sight of the others, there’s quite the consternation.  It doesn’t happen often, but usually involves the barn (one goes in to filch chick food) or the gate (one or two figure out how to get out and the other(s) don’t).  Chickens and geese have a lot of trouble with the concept of gates.  Unless they watch someone using said gate, they will pace back and forth in front of the fence trying to get to whatever has caught their interest.  This week it was a chunk of watermelon.  I have to stand in the gate and call them, and even then it can take awhile.  Sometimes I herd them through, just to save the time.

I believe she was actually looking at the grass under the glass, but it surely made for a pretty picture.  One day in the not-to-distant future, that glass will become a greenhouse!  Then I’ll be starting my own plants early and having longer lettuce harvests in spring and fall.  I am so looking forward to that.

June 27 – I finally found a Monarch caterpillar!  I’ve been keeping my eyes open because I have seen the butterflies and the milkweed is going gangbusters right now.  I found this one and brought it in the house.  It’s in a half-pint wide-mouth canning jar, with a square of toilet paper as a lid being held on by a canning band.  I went to this Monarch site to learn how to care for my caterpillar.  It told me that this size (2″ or so) is when they pupate, so I was doubly excited.  I had never seen a Monarch caterpillar, nor a chrysalis.  It’s munching on milkweed leaves.

June 28 – I also have orange day lilies!  Still!

June 29 – This morning my caterpillar was hanging upside down in a “J” shape,  just as the Monarch site said it would.  Two hours later I looked at it and it was already a chrysalis!  It’s not the best photo of it, but it’s there, hanging from the lid!  It’s very shiny and a lovely shade of green.  In two weeks it will be a butterfly!

I bought the geese a larger water dish, thinking this might happen.  They appear to take turns climbing in and bathing as best they can.  The ones on the outside will often submerge their heads while the third is in the pool.  They seem to really enjoy it with the heat we’ve been having this week.  I want to build a small pond for them now.

July 30 – Barring a pond, I pulled out this kiddie pool I bought two summers ago during a heat wave.  As soon as the water was a couple inches deep, Phoebe was in there.   She doesn’t like deeper water, but loves it when it’s  shallow.  When we were in Florida six years ago, she would go wading every morning to get her belly wet, then would retreat to the shade under our bus.  Midday, she’d be back in the water to re-wet herself.  She actually surprised me by jumping right into the pool.

I put Henry in and he seemed to like it a little, but he mainly just stood there.  I put the others in and they pretty much panicked and actually leaped straight up and out.  Didn’t realize they could jump so high.

Edited to add this picture.  Two of the geese now have this pattern balding look to them.  Henry has a smoother head as he’s growing fastest.  This is the smaller girl, and to me it looks like a monk’s tonsure.  They are  just so pretty.

So this morning (Sunday) I went out to feed and water and Phoebe jumped right back in the pool.  The geese seemed interested and were investigating the sides of the pool by working it with their bills (they work everything with their bills…it still doesn’t hurt when they grab my fingers, but it’s close).  After a couple minutes of that, one of the girls walked in (the sides push down very easily) and she plopped down in the water and started grooming.  The other girl joined her and also plopped down.  Their bottoms were waggling and they wiggled their shoulders into the water they way bathing birds will.  Henry stepped in but he remained standing.  The water isn’t quite deep enough to float unless they really kick their legs back and one of the girls figure that out.  She started scooting around the pool and got very excited.  Her excitement transferred to the others and suddenly they all jumped out of the pool and ran around the yard with their wings up, calling loudly to each other.  I just stood there and laughed at them.  Their voices are changing so their little whirring cries often end with a soft honk now.  I’m hoping they figure out the pool and enjoy it.

Still no kayaking yet this summer.  I am disappointed.  Looks like I’m going to have to take myself if I want to get out there.  That said, the fireworks are next weekend (instead of on the 4th itself) and David should be home and he knows how much I enjoyed being out on the water for them last year…  so hopefully next week will have water fireworks pictures.

June 17 – Ghosts of bacon past…I discovered baking bacon on a cookie sheet and have never gone back to the frying pan.  It all gets done at the same time without me getting spattered with hot grease, and it never gets over done.  I just never noticed the shadows it left til this time.

June 18 – Big thunderstorms this morning.  The lighting is interesting.  This is just out my living room window.  The wildflowers are blooming like crazy.

I put off chicken chores as long as possible, but finally decided those meaties had to eat.

I am so glamorous in my ducky pants and boots.  You might notice the barn door is open back there.  I’ve begun letting the meaties out to graze.  Because I had the fence in front, all the chickens got to know each other and there’s been very little squabbling.  Occasionally a hen will peck one of the youngsters  to put him in his place, but overall it’s quite peaceful out there, chicken wise.  Goose wise is another story.  Henry is something of a bully and thinks nothing of grabbing a chicken, almost any chicken, by its feathers and dragging it squawking.  The one chicken all three geese fear is JuJuBee, the Dominique pullet.  She is the lowest of the chickens in the pecking order and is determined that she is going to be above the geese.  So when she struts over to their food, they make a peculiar little squeak and run away.  The other chickens get a lowered head and hissing.  It’s a very strange thing to watch.

June 19 is sunny and warm.  I had to run into town for chick food and on my way home I stopped at Lake Mitchell to see how the water felt.  I never went swimming in Washington’s lakes because they all felt like glacier melt.  Here the lakes get warm in the summer, so I did a little wading.  It felt good.

June 20 – Four-week old geese.  Their bodies are downy and they have good feathering over their wings and tails.  They are getting feathers on their heads.  Their wings have grown so when they run with them spread out it’s quite the sight. I had never touched webbed feet before and for some reason (probably toys) I thought they would be more solid.  However, the webbing folds up and is very soft and pliable.  Young geese are amazingly clumsy, yet they are getting more control over themselves and can jump up on things now.  Makes getting them to bed easier.

June 21 – So, I had been finding eggs around the yard occasionally and had chalked it up to strange chicken behavior.  Until the day, that is, I saw Sadie walking out of the barn with an egg in her mouth.  She carries them around awhile then leaves them sitting in the yard.  This time she found the Secret Chicken Nesting Grounds (one chicken decides under the tarp is a grand place to lay and before I know it there’s a dozen eggs there before I find them…stupid chickens) and took an egg from it.  She even carried it to the house when I came in to get my camera.  She has a surprisingly soft mouth, and she hasn’t figured out how to get into the eggs.

June 22 – Chickens on the wood pile.  I was surprised how they all hung out awhile.

Flowers are blooming around here.  I went out with my macro lens.  This is a small bright pink climbing rose that was given to me.  I hope to eventually train it to climb the Art Chalet porch.

Deptford Pinks are very tiny flowers – maybe 1/4″ across.  Macro lets me see the details on them.

This was a partial Black-eyed Susan that the sun was hitting just so.

I hope to someday get a true macro lens, instead of a macro filter.  The focus area of the filter is rather small.

 

June 10 – My sage is blooming.  Purple sage, obviously.  The flowers smell sweetly of sage.

June 11 – The garden is planted.  Mostly.  I still have to put in the beans and peas and some carrots.  But I have red bell peppers, jalapenos, red onions, cabbages, and many tomatoes.  I purchased starts, since I was slow on the seed starting.  I’ll get it next year, I hope.  I do have some seeds started, but I wanted to make certain I have many tomatoes to eat and can.  I used up the last jar of the Summer 2011 tomatoes on spaghetti sauce this weekend.  The tomatoes I’m growing out there are a Black Cherry, Grape, Early Girl, Golden Jubilee and Romas.  The smaller bed in front is happily growing rainbow Swiss Chard – time to thin and move those around already.

I went out at night to see the fireflies.  There were so many!  All I can do when they’re around is stand there and grin.  While we have quite a few out in our pasture, there are even more out by the road, so I go out there as well.  I found one perched on a leaf up near the house, so I got to see it up close.  Fireflies make me feel like a young child again.  I was seven when we lived in Florida, and that’s what it takes me back to.   The blackberry brambles in Washington have the same effect.

June 12 – They are looking like geese.  Here they are at three weeks.  Some feathers are coming in on wings and tails.  They know where they sleep, though one of the girls usually fights going in at night.  I give them a bedtime snack and that usually helps.  That same girl seems to love dandelion flowers.  I watched her walk from flower to flower and just gobble them right up.  I hope that continues for a goodly long time.  Henry seems to know his name (geese are demonstrably smarter than chickens).  I’m considering changing one of the girls to Penelope, which just seems like a good goosey name…

Bigger than my foot!  For reference, I wear a size 10.   I didn’t realize I would be so fond of these birds.

June 13 and we had a frost warning last night.  Picture me in the dark covering my newly installed garden with swaths of cloth.  Phoebe knows how to enjoy the sunshine.

A close up of one of the Yellow Goatsbeard fluffs.  They are about the size of a baseball.

June 14 – The meaties are also 3 weeks old.  I had to open up the full front of the barn to them, because they are growing so quickly.  Plus it’s been hot (and cold) so they needed room to spread out.  Feeding them is something I need to video.  It’s like a piranha feeding frenzy in there.  In order to quell it at least a little, I end up tossing some food on the floor in a couple places, just to lure some of them away from the feeder.  I don’t let them have all the food they can eat, as that leads to them growing too fast and their hearts and legs not keeping up.  I feed twice a day, and they are growing quite fast enough.

I took the dogs on a walk but didn’t take my camera.  I had found a dropped pen near the Art Chalet, so I had that when I saw a new-to-me plant, with great big leaves.  It looked like a rhubarb to me, and I wondered if I had hit a jackpot.  David likes rhubarb.  I sketched out the leaf and made these notes so I could look it up when I got home.  The rhubarb leaves were different – on my sketch you can see I placed the veins at intervals and not directly across from each other.  The rhubarb leaves have veins that are directly across from each other.  So I googled “wild rhubarb” and discovered it’s Burdock.  The roots are edible.  However, I now have plans to cut a couple of those big ol’ leaves (seriously, 2 feet long!) and using them to make stepping stones (as seen on Pinterest – how I love thee Pinterest).

June 15 – It was one of those days when I just HAD to get out of the house.  The road construction that has our normally little-traveled road as part of the detour continues and the dogs are barking at many cars going past.  Plus it’s hotter than normal here, in the mid 80s.  Add to that I haven’t been anywhere in quite some time and well, it was bound to happen.  So I drove up to Traverse City.  I went to the cemetery because the last time I had photographed Ida it was a grey day and I wanted a sunny picture.  She’s the grave marker of a young woman who died in 1888 at the age of 19.  I also hit my usual craft stores and thrift stores, as well as the library.  David had told me of a Bob Edwards interview he had listened to where they were discussing the music mentioned in the Little House books (The Pa’s Fiddle Project) and that he was interested in music.  Yay, the library in Traverse had one of the CDs (there are 3).  Interestingly, neither David nor I have ever read those books, and he is interested in doing so.  I checked out a few since I don’t think they’ll take us long to read.  According to the website linked above, Laura Ingalls Wilder mentions 127 songs in her books.  These CDs are the soundtrack to the books.  Me, I love good fiddle music.

In my day out, I also had a quest.  I wanted a straw cowboy hat.  Something that looked good on, that would help keep the sun off.  The other hats I have don’t quite fit my inner vision of me.  I went to Diversions, a hat shop in downtown Traverse City (and also wandered Front Street looking into all the cute little shops there) and after some tryings on and searching, found just the hat for me.  It’s a Stetson!

Instagram photo.  I love my new hat.  Thank you to my mom for the birthday money that bought it.  🙂

June 16 – The Friends of the Library in Cadillac have brought these awesome life-size bronze statues to town for the summer.  I think I’ve seen all 11 now.  This little girl is sitting in front of the library.  Her book, which looks so real, is really enameled bronze.  When I first saw her out of the corner of my eye, I thought she was just a little girl waiting out front.  I’ll have to take a photo walk and get pictures of the rest of them.

My camera has a pan & scan option, where it will take a big ol long picture like this.  This is the view from the front of the garden, scanning around to the chicken fence.  You’ll have to click on the photo to get the full effect.  The layout of the blog cuts it about in half.