Saturday, July 31, 2010

Taking Pity on the Pregnant Girl

Well, a pregnant squirrel anyway.
How do I know she's pregnant?
She was up on my porch about an hour before I took this picture. By the pieces of plastic littered everywhere, it looked as though she'd spent a great deal of the afternoon trying to break into the bin where I keep the sunflower seeds. She lay quite prostrate under a chair in the shade. Worn out and without a single sunflower seed to show for it.
What she did show me, was a belly full of nipples that hadn't been used yet. It was also a very, very round belly.
I know squirrels are the bane of some bird lovers existence. I'm just not one of those bird lovers. Their antics, acrobatics and perseverance often inspire me. I spent a three years of my life volunteering with Wildlife Rescue. My animal of choice was squirrels. Baby squirrels.
Baby squirrels went to church and on vacation to Arkansas. Baby squirrels went to the grocery store (ssshhhh, don't tell the health department).
So, in affect, by feeding this pregnant momma her own bucket of sunseeds, I'm helping baby squirrels again. This time, I'll leave the raising them up to her.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Right Thing to Do is Often the Hardest

July 5, 2005-July 28, 2010
Tuesday is dead.
By my own hand.
It had to be done.
I had it in my mind, he was three this month. He turned 5.
Time passes more quickly as I age.
I aged a bit yesterday.
I cried a bit, too. I sobbed while digging the hole.

Why, you ask?
Tuesday has always been fair and friendly to his hens.
He was unusual in his beauty and his ability to be picked up and petted.

What he was not, was fair and friendly to my new hens.
The hens I raised to begin having a regular supply of eggs again.
For some reason, once they began laying, he started attacking them.
One hen in particular, was taking the brunt of his attacks. Unfortunately for her, she is terribly submissive and would just lay there and take it. The back of her head has no feathers, and I can see her skull. Not just holes, but split open. Just as she would begin healing, he'd attack her again. Her comb and wattles are battered as well.
I tried many different approaches to the problem.

Plan A-- I would herd my old chickens out of the run each morning, with Tuesday leading the way. Most often, one or two of the newer hens would get out and I'd have to catch them.

Plan B--I tried letting them all out--figuring the one hen would have a fighting chance if they had 4 acres to be away from each other. Each night I would have an Easter egg hunt, looking for the eggs I wanted so much. Tuesday still found that hen and would pummel her anyway.

Plan C--As much as it pained me, it was time to find Tuesday a new home. I would have to be careful. Craig's List wasn't an option. In the state of Texas it is illegal to fight roosters, but not illegal to raise 50 or so on one piece of property and tell folks you just like roosters. You can see why I couldn't sell him in an open market.
I tried giving him away on a forum here in Austin of chicken lovers. Backyard chicken owners like myself. People who name their chickens. No luck. They all had roosters to give away as well.

Each day, I would witness an unprovoked attack on the little hen. I'd doctor her wounds and send her back out. I had many, many discussions with myself:
She lays eggs.
He's eye candy with a side show of being able to be picked up.
Maybe I should cull her.
That would stop the problem. But she lays eggs.
He's soooo beautiful, though! Wait just a while longer, maybe someone will want him. He'd make beautiful chicks.
I raised these new hens so I could have eggs, why would I kill one?........on and on.
Last night was the last straw. As I sat at my computer, I looked out and saw Tuesday pecking her again. He wouldn't stop. I went out to break it up and discovered that my little hen was not only bleeding from her head again, but one side of her face was bloody. Her eye was involved this time. I cleaned her up the best I could and put her in the coop. I do know the eyelid was split in half. Healing will be questionable. Did she lose an eye? I don't know.

I do know that I made my decision.
Was it easy to kill my own rooster? No.
Was it the right one? Yes, it was.
Will I miss him? Yes, very much.

Rest in Peace, beautiful boy.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Schneaky Chicken

What's wrong with this picture?
Well, besides the fact that my older chickens are nowhere to be seen? (They're out free ranging)
I keep the new girls in the run, because 4 acres is just too big a space to look for eggs each day.

There are supposed to be four Buff Orpington hens in this picture, not just three.

August is missing. Where could she be? More importantly, how'd she get out?
Usually when a chicken accidentally ends up on the outside of the fence, they hang around.
That flock instinct is strong.

Hmmm, I wonder.
Several time in the last week, when the entire flock has been out free ranging, I've seen August come out from under this grass. Each time, I thought she must be hunting lizards and snakes. Still, this grass is an awfully long way from the coop and even the house. We have a very long driveway.

Nope, no chicken here.

For some reason, I decided to move the grass just a bit. Much to my surprise, the grass was 'hollow'. It seems the center of the plant died out, and left a perfect hiding place.

On the day I discovered her secret hiding place, I found 5 eggs in this 'nest'. Dang, I hate throwing eggs away! I had no idea how long they'd been there and it has been in the mid-90's for the last week.

Yesterday, when I took these pictures, I found she had escaped again.
Evidently, flying out of the chicken run, taking a very long and lonely walk, and then sitting in a grass right by the road to lay an egg is preferable to laying in the safety and quiet of the coop.
Go figure.

"What?" "Hey, while you're here, can you let me back in the chicken run. I'm hungry."

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Declaring Defeat

Lee calls these size caterpillars, "meaty".
He also refers to them as "yours".

"I found one of your caterpillars in the pool this morning."
"Oh. What kind?"
"You know, one of those big, meaty caterpillars"
A couple posts ago, I had a bowl full of these meaty caterpillars that I was preparing to give to the chickens. Turns out the chickens don't like them so much. Unfortunately, these cats are anything but meaty. They are just giant green goo, surrounded by interesting looking skin. I'm guessing the green goo isn't palatable to my finicky chickens.

The one in this picture went totally undetected until I woke up one morning and discovered another morning glory plant was missing. Well, not missing. It was missing most of its leaves.
These caterpillars go through several stages (instars) before they are fully grown. The earlier stages are exactly the color of the plant. So, unless you are really looking for them, they go about their business eating your plants. It isn't until they get very big that plants seem to disappear overnight.

I'm having a hard time identifying these caterpillars. What I suspect is that the cat in the picture above is a Pink-Spotted Hawk Moth (seen below).

I've also had my share of Tomato Horn Worms aka the caterpillar stage of the Five-Spotted Hawk moth.

At this point, my tomato plants and my morning glory vines are nearly a thing of the past. My morning glories weren't doing so hot anyway. My tomato plants are hanging in there. The caterpillar numbers are slowing down.
As I often do with all things wild---live and let live. I'm just glad that the big, meaty caterpillars stay outdoors. Wouldn't want to step on one of those in the middle of the night.

Monday, July 19, 2010

The Grass Doesn't Have to Be Green

"The sky doesn't have to be blue. There are no rules in art."

I loved that Pearl's art teacher from a class she took years ago, let her know that.
It opens up so many other doors from an artistic perspective.
The grand thing about acrylic paint, is that if you don't like a color, you can just paint over it. She painted his face a couple times before she got it the way the liked it.

I'm not sure if this piece has a name.
I'll ask her when she wakes up.
Artists keep different hours than me. :)

Friday, July 16, 2010

How Long Did You Say I Have to Wait?

"You have to wait at least six months. Probably a year."
"To go outside?!"
"Yes. I'm sorry."
"Because, right now, you're small enough for a hawk or a fox to carry off. Coyotes and owls at night."
"But I wouldn't get carried off. I'd be safe. I'd pay attention."
"What if you got lost?"
"I wouldn't get lost. I'd stay on the porch, or maybe just go as far as the garden. Maybe only as far as the chicken coop."
"Sorry. The answer is still no."

"Shoot! I know I'm missing something. I don't know what it is, but I'm missing it."

Thursday, July 15, 2010

I Don't Care What You Call Them

My chickens just call them snacks.
I found these 12 caterpillars munching on one morning glory vine. Needless to say, there's not much vine left.
They belong a species of moth that is often mistaken for a hummingbird--thus the name, hummingbird moth.
They also go by Sphinx moth and Hawk moth.
They have cousins that are very fond of tomato plants--Tomato Horn worm. Not worms at all, but that's splitting hairs when you grow tomatoes.
They all have a 'horn' on their tail ends. It doesn't do anything, but I still can't bring myself to pick one up with my bare hands.
These cats were each well over 2 inches long. They are usually this big before I spot their damage in my garden. What happens is, one day there's a plant, the next day it's nearly gone.

I'm sure I missed one or two because my morning glory is smaller yet this morning.
Off to hunt snacks for my chickens.

Friday, July 9, 2010



Really Handsome
Well behaved
Always on the move
Impossible to photograph
Did I mention Handsome,


Thursday, July 8, 2010

Which One?


Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Fairy Tattoos Are Very Popular This Week

In order to find pictures of bing and Google, I typed 'Bing' and 'Google' in my little search engine widget at the top of my computer page.
That would be known as using "Keywords" to find something.
I was a little disturbed by the images I got from 'Bing', but that's a whole 'nuther blog post
---or not!

If you look all the way at the bottom of my page, there's a little box that says StatCounter. I only look at it about once every six months. Mostly because I forget it's there.
It allows me to see who has visited this site. Where they live in the world (city, state, country), and some other stuff.
Many people come here by accident.
They type in a Keyword in a search engine and something pops up on their screen.
Some folks ascertain right away what looks useful and what doesn't.

According to my StatCounter, I am very popular with those looking for tattoos.
Really. I'm not kidding.

Here is a rundown of city, state, country and the words they typed in to accidentally come across my little blog.

Clearwater, Florida "Stupid Tattoos"
(but will you like a stupid tattoo when you're 60?)

New South Wales, Sydney, Australia "Fairy Tattoos"

Mooresville, North Carolina "Cartoon Tattoo Ideas"
(bad idea, you'll regret it later--like tomorrow)

Dhaka, Bangladesh, India "Tattoo Forever"
(Yes, they're forever)

Ames, Iowa "Barbie Fairy"
(really, really bad idea on so many levels)

Lincolnton, North Carolina "Fairie Tattoos"
(English spelling, hmmm?)

Cleveland, Ohio "Stupid Tattoos"
(Did you want a stupid tattoo? See Ames, Iowa.)

Smethwick, Staffordshire, United Kingdom "Tattoos of Fairies"
(all the rage this week)

Beeville, Texas "Couples Tattoos"
(for the couple that has everything--can you register at Target for these?)

Fruitland, Idaho "Yosemite Sam"
(See Mooresville, NC to see how theirs turned out)

London, England "Fairy Tattoo Pics"
(I feel a club being formed)

Rothesham, United Kingdom "Tattoo Gun"
(yes, it hurts)

Bakersfield, California "Girl Tattoos"
(of girls or for girls?)

Greensboro, North Carolina "Tattoo of Fairies"
(You can be the club treasurer)

Nashville, Tennessee "Tattoo Barbie"
(at last, the real reason why they're all here!)

What they got when they typed in their search was link to my post about
Really, there is such a thing.
What's interesting is, Bing claims to get you to want you want, faster than Google. Every one of the people listed above used the Bing search engine. None of them stayed more than a minute. Only the person from Nashville got what they wanted--I'm guessing. I'm hoping they don't really want a tattoo of Barbie.
To each his own, I guess.

What's even more weird about all this---all these searches took place from June 30th-July 7th. Eight short days and I got 15 hits about tattoos. Most of them about fairies.
I guess that makes me President of their fairy tattoo club?

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Nope, She Isn't Artistic in the Least

When we first got Smokie, Mandy wasn't too sure it was a good idea. Now, nearly four years later, she's still not too sure sometimes. This picture is one of the first times Mandy relented and just let Smoke do what she wanted----she wanted a doggy friend to snuggle with. They were both tired from playing hard. You can almost hear Mandy sigh with resignation in this picture.

This is a painting that Lee got for his birthday this year. Pearl painted it. She's not too sure she likes it. Lee LOVES it.
Of course, being the artist, she knows just where the "flaws" are.
We, her parents, who can't draw stick figures, only see perfection.
She has the gift of creativity and the ability to recreate what she sees, like my sister, Jean.
Lately, Pearl has been using the camera as her medium.
She's got quite an eye.
I just wanted to show off her work. I think she's amazing.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

What Happens in Vegas, Doesn't Stay in Vegas

Wednesday through Friday of last week, I was in Las Vegas with Lee. He had gone there for work earlier in the week and we decided to make it into a trip for the two of us.
None of the pictures are mine. I borrowed them from official websites. My camera doesn't like places that aren't very well lit. It may seem like a place that lights up like the 4th of July every night would be well lit, but my camera disagreed.
Onward and upward.
We stayed at the Four Seasons. It covers the top five floors of the Mandalay Bay casino. It has its own entrance that is completely free of slot machines and neon lights. That part was a nice respite from the 'in your face' spectacle that is what Vegas is all about. This picture could have been from our room. It was a lovely room with an amazing view of the strip.
KA - Cirque Du Soleil Las Vegas - KA Tickets – Las Vegas Shows: MGM Grand Hotel & Casino
The second night, we saw KA'. It is the first Cirque show that has a true story to follow. I was in awe for the entire time. The set and stage were constantly in motion, all with the actors trying to hang on. Click on the link so you can see some of what we saw. Pure athleticism and beauty.

The first night we saw Penn and Teller. They are all about debunking some of the mystery that surrounds magicians. They have very strong beliefs about magicians, mind readers, and those that 'communicate with the dead'. They think that folks that take advantage of the gullibility of others are the lowest of the low. They also have very strong Libertarian political beliefs that found its way into their show. Despite the seemingly message laden show, it was still amazing.

Before Penn and Teller, we ate at Gaylord India. Wonderful curries! Naan slathered in olive oil, garlic and cumin. Hummus, red pepper puree and feta cheese to dip the naan in. Lee and I think finding a recipe to duplicate the naan bread would be worthwhile. Now all we need is a brick oven and we'll be set.

Before KA', we went to SeaBlue. We were originally drawn to the salad choices on the menu, but both ended up something else. After all, you can have salad at home.

Titanic Leaving Southhampton
During the day we did a lot of walking, and people watching. We spent over an hour in the Titanic exhibit. It was very well done. A bit like they do at the Holocaust museum in D.C., they give you a card at the beginning that gives you an 'identity'---a real person that was onboard. You find out near the end whether you survived or not.
I did. I was a woman in first class, with lots of money.
Lee did not. He was a man in 2nd class.
Women and children first. Unless you were a rich man, then you got on a lifeboat, too.

I spent a lot of time wondering what all the kids we saw were doing there. Despite Vegas trying to make itself a more family friendly place, I didn't see any sign of it. Hotel pools were about the only entertainment available for the kids, although we did see a long line of kids headed somewhere within the casino. Looked a bit like a those 'kids club' things they offer on cruise ships and all-inclusive resorts.

Do I need to go back? No.
We don't gamble and two shows were very expensive. They are no longer offering good deals on food. As far as we could see, the whole city is bleeding money. Granted it was in the middle of the week, but the casino floors were empty.

Did I have a good time. Yes.
I enjoyed the time alone with Lee. Talking about whatever we wanted to talk about. Waking up when we wanted to. Watching what we wanted to watch on the TV. Simple things. Sometimes the simple things are the best.