Tuesday, June 30, 2009


Today was the day my chicken eggs were supposed to hatch. I started out with 8 fertilized marans chicken eggs. Approximately 2 weeks later there were five. Today I gently checked the eggs and three of them were sloshy. I took them to the dumpster and carefully cracked them open. Two of them were gloppy and gross. The third had a recognizable embryo in it, but it also was obviously dead and disgusting. I'm not holding much hope for the remaining two eggs.

I'm not really sure what happened. The eggs were obviously fertilized. The hen sat on them. I have to think she did what she was supposed to do. Did they just get too hot? (This week in particular we've had 100+ temps). Did the other hens jostle them around too much? I just don't know. I'm afraid I'll have to put this down as a $50 learning experience.

I still want to get some dark brown egg laying chickens. I got some birthday money and I think I'll use that to order some chicks. I'll give the remaining eggs another couple of days and if they don't hatch I'll be back on the computer checking all the hatcheries.

I guess sometimes you just have to wait.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Diaper Cake

If you've never heard of a diaper cake before, it may not be what you're thinking. It most certainly is not edible, for one thing.

My sister and I went to the LA area this weekend to meet with our other sister from Arizona. Her oldest daughter is about 8 months pregnant with her second child (a boy). The occasion, of course, was a baby shower.

Carli made the diaper cake as our gift for my niece. I bought all the stuff and she put it all together.

A diaper cake is basically a tiered "cake" made up of diapers. For our diaper cake we used different sized disposable diapers. They are tightly rolled up and placed around the center core, made up of bottles of lotions, powder, shampoo, etc. Every so often an item of clothing or wash cloth is also rolled up and placed around the cake. Each tier is held together with a big ribbon. The tiers are supposed to be held in place with dowels, similar to an edible tiered cake. We also used sippy cups to adorn our cake.

We got lucky because we bought all the stuff before my niece registered for her gifts. Turns out the theme was safari or jungle animals or something like that. Notice the lion at the bottom of our cake!

My nephew-in-law (?) is a recent graduate of cooking school and he made all the fabulous food for the shower, including the cake! I can't even tell you how good it all was. There was salmon with spinach or chard wrapped in a phyllo dough crust, potatoes, cheese, fruit and yogurt, tiny bread and croissants, olive tapenade and garlic and artichoke tapinade, and my favorite, blueberry blintzes. I may have forgotten something, I'm sure. There was lemonade and the fixings for mimosas. The cake was a sponge cake with whipped cream frosting and decorated with strawberries and kiwis. Not only was it beautiful it was delicious!

The next day we met the family and had a leisurely breakfast. We sure had a good time. The last time we were all together was almost exactly a year ago for my last birthday.

It was really nice getting to see everyone again!

I'm not even going to mention the crazy driver who wasn't paying attention on the way home because she was yakking with her sister so she had to shoot across about six lanes (that's what it seemed like) of the 605 to make the west bound offramp of 210 (it tee'ed and you could only go east or west). Fortunately the traffic was very light and that curb the car dropped off of was only about 3 inches high.

My car is fine, thank you.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

I Can't Help Being A Little Worried

It's Thursday afternoon and the eggs are due to hatch on Tuesday, in about five days. I can't help but be a little worried that this will work. My little banty hen went broody about one day before I bought the supposedly fertilized eggs off of e-bay and since I got them in the mail I tucked them underneath her and kept a close eye on her.

In her defense she has been staying in the box most of the day, just coming out every so often to dust herself and eat and drink. The other hens usually take advantage of that time to sit in her nest box and lay their eggs, even though there is another nest box they could be using. Except for the brown hen. She has been loafing for several weeks now. The two white leghorns have been pretty regular. Every afternoon I carefully lift the banty up and pull out the one or two white eggs. When she does leave the box I keep an eagle eye on her to make sure she returns to setting within a decent amount of time (from what I've read it usually should be within thirty minutes).

I started with eight eggs and just a few days ago all of a sudden I noticed there were only five dark brown eggs in the nest box. I don't have a clue as to what happened to the other eggs. I can only guess that maybe with the other hens getting in and out of the box they may have broken the eggs and then eaten them. I've moved the nest box to the floor of the house so in case when they hatch they won't fall off the shelf and die.

If just one of these eggs hatches it will be a $50 chicken!In other news I made a couple of hypertufa bowls and started mosaicing the inside of the first one. Unfortunately I ran out of the little flat glass marbles that I was using. When I started I really thought I had more than enough.

Today I went to two Michael's stores, a Tuesday Morning, Target, Petsmart (fish dept.), Walmart, and even a Hallmark store trying to find the same colors. I couldn't find the same mixture (it's a very pale blue and green mixture) but I did find a green that is the same. I found a blue but it turned out to be a hair darker than what I had. I can't even find these colors on-line and I can't help being a little worried that I've screwed up and I'll have to somehow start over.

As you can see I still have a fair bit to do. I'm going all the way to the rim. Now what!?!
I also can't help being a little worried about my moringa seeds. I got a packet of ten seeds and planted five of them in peat pots. I've kept them moist and nothing's been happening. I took three of the peat pots and planted them in a potting mixture and they aren't doing anything either. So far the only thing growing there is a mimosa that somehow must have blown in. About a week ago I took the remaining five moringa seeds and followed directions on a website that recommended soaking for 24 hours then placing the soaked seeds in a plastic bag. The bag is then put in a dark drawer and they are supposed to start sprouting in three to fourteen days. It's been about 7 days now and so far I haven't seen any sprouting.

Another seed I bought recently was from a plant called the "shoo fly" plant. As the name implies they are supposed to help get rid of flies. The tiny seeds I planted in the little peat pots about a week ago still show no signs of sprouting. I can't help being a little worried that they won't. I'm not sure what's going on but even though I increased my order over last year the fly predators I've been getting every month don't seem to be working.

At least my tomatoes are going crazy.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Squash Hat Society

I'll bet you've never heard of the Squash Hat Society. It's a super secret club with only a few select members. Carli and Wil joined back in 1994 I believe... They were the charter members. Until recently the only members.
This past weeked the baby became the newest member.
The club has come a long way since the original founders created it. Now there are certificates available.
You too can join the Secret Order of the Squash Hat Society! It's so easy to join. Simply grow any type of squash until it's big enough to carve out and place on a person's head. Although the feather decoration is not required it is highly encouraged (click on the top picture to see the feather better!). Squash hands are for fun only!

If you'd like to have an inductee's photo on my blog attach a jpeg photo to an email along with their pertinant information and I'll post it here. If you'd also like a certificate (suitable for framing) include a virtual $5.00 and it will be sent right out by me, the chairman of the Squash Hat Inductee Team.

You know what they say... the Squash Hat Inductee Team happens!

Friday, June 19, 2009

The Dot

You know how at Christmas or birthdays you stick ribbons on the kid's heads and they walk around and it's so cute? Awww.

When I got the new ram shield yesterday it had a little sticker on it. I took it off and put it on the baby's forehead. She thought I stuck something in her hair and kept trying to swish the "thing" out of her hair. I had to pretend to take something out of her hair and showed it to her to prove that it was not longer there. That satisfied her.

She didn't realize that the sticker was still on her forehead and I thought it would be funny to leave it there for her mom to find. Of course it ended up ruining what would have been an otherwise perfectly nice picture.
What's on the sticker?

When her mom came to pick her up she saw the sticker and wondered aloud, "I don't remember going to Pakistan for vacation!"


Thursday, June 18, 2009

It's That Time Again

It's time to put the Perry, the ram, with the ewes again. I could not do it without my assistant (above). (Tomorrow I will explain the dot on the forehead. For now just overlook it.)

I had somehow misplaced his ram shield and didn't want to put him with the ewes until I got another. It arrived in today's mail and we went to get everything ready. In case you didn't know, the ram shield is like the blinkers on a horse. On the ram it allows him to see to the side, but not to the front, thus making it difficult or almost impossible to head butt the ewes and possibly hurt them. Not all rams need one, but Perry gets a little aggressive if the girls are being less than cooperative.

Here's my assistant making sure everything is looking right.
Next comes the marking color. I have blue, green, and red. The color is applied to the area between his front legs. The color will be changed every 16 or 17 days (the sheep's cycle). If there is a mark on the sheeps' bottom then I know they've been bred and I can better estimate their due date.

Here he is all marked up and ready to go.

The ewes always freak out the first day he is with them. They just don't know what to think of the freak with the mask!
By tomorrow everything will be good and they'll be happy again.

Here's hoping for another great lamb crop in five or so months!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Finished Electrical

All the new electrical stuff we had been working on is now done. The professional electricians came to finish the job neighbor Dean did by installing a 30 amp breaker at the house and in the garage, and running a new line to carry that power from the house to the garage. No more trudging out back in winter to feed/water with just a flashlight. Now all I have to do is go from the house to the big garage and flip a switch.

This is the view from the house to the barn. (The big garage is on the right. The barn is way in the back in the center of the photo.)
Here's the view from the barn towards the house.
Additionally, each stall is now lit.
It's so pretty!

The other good news I have to report is my husband's job will continue at least until August, instead of the expected lay off at the beginning of July. Now we can pay for the electrical work! (That was a bad joke!) Actually, every little bit helps.

Also, Wil's Coast Guard stuff is moving along. We've already helped him fill out probably about 60 pages worth of miscellaneous government applications. Slowly but surely...

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

More Hart Park

The entrance to Hart Park.
When I went to Hart Park the other day I also took some pictures of some of the other things there. One of which is the old mill house.

The park has a lot of feral cats. These were just down the road from the mill house.
These were just a small few that showed themselves. They live in the old mill house.
Some well meaning people bring food to the cats here and elsewhere in town.
One of the problems with this is the trash it generates.
Personally I don't think they are really doing the cats any favors. That may sound cruel but it would be kinder, in my opinion, to leave them to their own devices, or try to trap, rehabilitate, and adopt them out. Those that are unable to be rehabilitated could perhaps be spayed/neutered and returned to the park. Our county already has an impossibly high animal euthanasia rate. I realize all this costs money, but how about using that money they spend on food. It's a difficult situation with no real easy solutions.

Then I went out to feed my leftover biscuits to the ducks and geese.
As I tossed my stale bread out to the birds I started thinking...
I was being just a little hypocritical of the cat people. The ducks and geese are crazily overpopulated too, and here I was throwing bread at them just like the cat people were feeding the cats.
Let's pretend I never said anything about the cats, okay?

On my way out of the park I saw a young coyote sitting at the edge of the road. He took off when he saw me suddenly pull over to the side of the road.

Good thing it's not a busy road during the week!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Hart Park Peacocks

My husband told me the peacocks at Hart Park were doing their breeding displays and I thought it might be cool if I could catch them in action. As it turns out I only got the one (above) displaying and he unfortunately was in the shade.
My trip wasn't totally in vain though because I still got a few shots of the birds. Their peacock blue is really stunning and the photos just don't do their brilliance justice.
This was a beautiful male. Unfortunately he was in the shade. Look at his gorgeous train. I did enhance it just a little so it was more visible.
These three played ring around the tree trunk for at least five minutes or more. It was kind of funny! Silly birds!
And this peahen is all white! I'm not sure if she is a true albino because her eyes are not pink. She kind of looks like a turkey.
And finally today I leave you with a closer shot of a male. He was sitting on top of a tall cyclone fence. I just can't get enough of that blue!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


This weekend I became obsessed possessed with the need to find some new chicks. I'm not sure why this happened to me. Perhaps it was the fact that I ended up buying two dozen eggs from the store over the last week, I'm not sure.

If you know me at all then you know I have a strange quirkiness for owning the "slightly rare and/or unusual" (eg: Irish Dexter cattle, although they are not so rare anymore; Wirehaired Pointing Griffon, and now his replacement Clyde, the goofy Bracco Italiano).

On my quest for a "different" kind of chicken I remembered reading in another blog a commenter who has Speckled Sussex chickens. She mentioned how they are extremely friendly and lay nice brown eggs. As my search for this type of chick went on I stumbled across some other chickens that were categorized as rarish and brown egg layers.

Eventually I made a list of four breeds I was interested in. They were the Barnevelder, Marans (several varieties), Welsummer, and the Speckled Sussex. (You can do a Google Image search to see what they each look like.) They each had attributes I liked (which to me sounds slightly silly to say about a chicken!) and so the real search was on.

I checked a bunch of commercial hatcheries and most were sold out for 2009, or they didn't carry the breeds. I'm one of those people that when I get something in my head (and it's not too expensive) I really want it now!

What to do next? Why, e-bay of course!

I've looked on e-bay before, just browsing things like jewelry or cow bells, but have never purchased anything there. The only on-line auction I ever did was about 15 years ago from a video auction site when I won a VHS of the movie "The Final Option" (called "Who Dares Wins" in Britain).

So guess what? They really do sell everything on e-bay! Some of the prices for some of the fertilized eggs were already too steep for me, so I found a couple of egg auctions that hadn't yet gone too high, and that were scheduled to end fairly soon. I watched and waited until virtually the last minute and made my move, but was outbid. That's when I learned about the automatic bidding. Also, I hadn't yet opened my PayPal account so I vowed to do better on the next one. I got ready to go and again, in the last seconds entered my bid. Someone else had done the automatic thing and I was outbid again, but I had enough time to post one more bid and I won. (Or as my friend says, You didn't "win"; you "bought" something. I prefer to think I won!)

I received my precious 6 + 2 eggs today. (I've learned that most egg sellers will usually add about 10% eggs in case of breakage during shipping.) They came in a big box.

Each egg was carefully individually wrapped, first in a paper towl, then bubble wrap, then a sheet of newspaper.
Then they were placed in the big box of shredded paper. I was afraid that I would break one just trying to unwrap them all!

Here is a picture of the unwrapped eggs with a white egg from one of my leghorns. I didn't have any brown eggs to really compare. But you can get a good idea of just how dark brown these eggs are.

I had contacted a neighbor a couple of houses down who raises quail and pheasant. He has an incubator and he said I could use it if I needed to. Fortunately for me one of the banties I adopted from next door just got broody. I replaced each of the eggs she was setting on with a "Wheaton Marans" egg. I didn't feel like getting pecked so I wore gloves for the transfer procedure.
Now hopefully in 21 days we'll have 8 new baby chicks. And all but one will be pullets!

Keep your fingers crossed for me!

PS-Did you know there are actually several on-line auctions dedicated to selling poultry and poultry eggs? Just Google "egg auctions" and you'll see. Who knew?

Monday, June 8, 2009

You Say Tomato...

...I say delicious!
Just a couple of days ago I found one reddening tomato. Now it seems there are at least a dozen! I had one for lunch today and it was delicious. The timing could not have been better. This morning I had the post for my dental implant installed. Now I'm supposed to eat only soft foods on the opposite side of my mouth for about one week.

I was going to post a picture of my tooth area but it was even pretty gross for me, so you all got lucky. Instead I'll show you these gorgeous tomatoes. The little one is a plum tomato, the other two are supposed to be beefsteaks.
Here they are cut open and you can see the typical meatiness of the plum, and the plain good lookingness (?) of the beefsteaks.

All I can say is, I wish you were here so I could share my bounty with you!

PS-The dental implant procedure went well and I'm not feeling too bad right now, just a little sore. I'm expecting it to be worse tomorrow (it's always worse the next day or two, then it gets better). But I'm prepared for that! I've got the fixings for margaritas to go with my tomatoes and cottage cheese and vicodin.

Thursday, June 4, 2009


Things that make me smile:

Tomatoes finally turning red!
Actual canteloupes on the vine!
Ollie checking out the new fixtures.
Baby petting sheep.
Hope there are some little things to make you smile too! ☺