Saturday, August 30, 2014

Don't Be Chicken...

DISCLAIMER: If you are at ALL wobbly about talk of blood, I'd skip this post.
If not, onward then.

Don't be a Chicken...Give Blood

I WANT this shirt!
I only have to donate 2 more times to get one!

Particularly apropos' for me, don't you think.
'Cuz I have chickens and I used to be chicken about giving blood.

I have had 3 babies.
You'd think that experience would make me stronger than steel regarding all things needle related.
Well, it has----sort of.

Blood doesn't bother me one bit.
Mine or someone else's.

Shots don't bother me either.
Neither does lab work.

BUT, all these years (I'm 48) I never once gave blood until last March.
I didn't even know my blood type. 
Because my first experience with rather large needles was not a good one.
I was in labor with Preston.  
Starting my IV did not go well.
Three nurses and one person from the lab later, they got my IV started.

I've had many blood draws for lab work since then.
All went off without a hitch.

Still, no blood donations on my part.

Then I saw a commercial about blood donation that made it seem more real, more human.
A commercial with a family.
A commercial of them telling their story.
Their daughter, Lindsey had leukemia and received over 100 units of blood before her entire treatment for cancer was over.
She would have died without it.

I had no idea.
I watched video after video of the lifesaving gift of just one unit of blood.

A mobile blood drive was posted on my hometown Facebook page.
I signed up.
Eric signed up too.  He's never been a chicken.  He's given blood for years.

So, off we went on a little blood donation date. 
Heck, there were cookies and juice!
Food consumption with your hubby, while not at out your house equals a "date" doesn't it?

The folks that worked on the (immaculate/freaky clean, by the way!) blood mobile were such a hoot.
Funny, informative, "talk to strangers" sort of people.  
My kind of people!

They set me up in a chair-lounge sort of thing that I wanted to take home with me.
I could've napped had it not been so cold. (if you donate blood, wear a jacket).

The phlebotomist (fancy word for someone who draws blood) was so very, very good at his job.
Barely felt a stick.
Talked with me the entire time.
Gave me updates..."1/2 way done, almost done, another minute or so...".
I never once saw a needle or blood or anything that would give me pause.
It was all over in 10 minutes, tops.

I contributed to saving someone's life in 10 minutes.
All I had to do was lay there, chat with funny people who enjoyed their jobs, and then have snacks.
Why wouldn't I do this very simple thing, over and over again?
Why had I waited 30 years (you can't donate blood 'til you're 18) to do this simple, simple thing?
I was chicken.

Chicken no more!
Eric and I are off on another "give blood date" this morning.
This time we're going for real food after our appetizer of juice and cookies.

Are you chicken?

Don't be!  

If I can do it, so can you!

Save a life!
Be a hero!

Friday, August 29, 2014

Burro Brothers in Action

I still haven't figured out which donkey is the leader of their little 'herd' of two.
I think they're trying to figure that out as well.
Unfortunately, they haven't been gelded/castrated yet and their play time scuffles seem to be a bit rougher than other donkeys I've seen mixing it up.
Carson's donkeys, George and Alan, do not leave giant welts and missing pieces of hair on each other when playing.
George and Alan do not have obvious "I grabbed your ear with my teeth and held on so tight that you had to pull it out of my mouth" scrapes.

This weekend, Eric and I will take a look at his travel schedule and see when I can have the vet come out and do "Brain Surgery" (as other donkey owners have been known to call it) on the boys.
I think their recovery would go best if I have Eric here to help me.
It's infinitely more involved than simply taking your dog to the vet and then picking him up at the end of the day.

Until then, enjoy the pictures of the boys doing what brothers do best.
And Eating.

Thursday, August 28, 2014


I missed blogging about our summer celebrations.
Here's a quick recap.

We begin in May with my Father-In-Love.
Eight-six years young!
Homemade, triple layer German Chocolate cake.
In June comes Eric.
He won't mind me sharing that he turned 51 this year.
The pie was a fresh strawberry and peach pie.
Summer birthdays folks can have yummy fruit pies because all the good fruit is in season then.

Next was our anniversary in early August.
It was our 26th.
We didn't do anything.
He was out of town.
We exchanged cards.
It slipped by, mostly unnoticed.
Jenna marked our anniversary by making us an apple pie.
It was amazing!
She even bought my favorite ice cream in the whole world to go with it!

 To round out the summer months, we celebrated my Mother-In-Love's 84th Birthday in August.
Her pie was a fresh blueberry pie.

The thing that I am most thankful for is that the whole family shows up for these celebrations.
We were even lucky enough to have visitors in town for all 3 birthdays!

Jenna's sweetie, Jeremy and his brother, Jacob.
It wasn't intentional, but worked out wonderfully.
The more the merrier!

September sets off a whole new set of family birthdays.
Starting with Quinn's 16th!!

Monday, August 25, 2014

He's Grown a Bit, Don't You Think?

Quinn, on his first day of kindergarten.  
Same door, just outside instead of inside.  
Same great smile, same hopeful attitude.
School is were the friends are when you live in a rural neighborhood.
Kindergarden was probably a wee bit easier than his 10th grade year will be.
He's taking all AP and Pre-AP classes (Advanced Placement) this year.

Prayers for his ability to see through the tough stuff and know he's up to it.
Prayers that he deepens old friendships and makes new ones, too.
Prayers that he remembers what he learned this summer and reaches out to those on the edge---The invisible ones.
Prayers that he remembers that he is a person of worth; that he is smart and funny and handsome.
Prayers that he knows, deep in his bones, that he is loved--truly, madly, deeply!
Prayers that he remembers that he is worthwhile and that he will survive if his heart gets broken.
Prayers that he grasps that it is seldom the "teacher's fault" when things go badly in his schoolwork.
Prayers that we, as his parents, say the right things to lift him up when he is down and hold him accountable when he is out of line.
Prayers for him, for his fellow classmates, his teachers, and us as his parents.
Love you BooBoo!!, Mom

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Please Feed Me!

This is what I hear every night.
Click HERE.

Two Great-Horned Owl fledglings, calling to their parents to "Feed ME!"

That is the same sound I hear each night between my house and my neighbor's house.  
I am fascinated and troubled, all at the same time.

Fascinated because, well....because they're Great Horned Owls for goodness sakes!

Troubled because our resident pair of GHOs have successfully raised a pair of babies this year and my pasture is their beginner learning grounds.
Mom and Dad bring the chicks, who are now flying, over for "catch your dinner" lessons.
It is now more vital than ever that my cat and my chickens be in bed and not out doing hunting of their own.
The parents no longer respect the "creatures of the night" rule that they normally abide by.
They are coming up long before the cat and chickens are ready to go in.

Last night, I shooed the chickens to bed early and physically brought the cat indoors.
Then I stood like a statue with my donkeys and watched Owl training in progress.
Any movement on my part drives them away.

The chicks land clumsily in low hanging branches of my giant oak trees.  
The parents land on high perches to observe all the activity below.  

The chicks call and call---"Feed ME! Feed ME!"

The parents call back--"No, you try.  You find your own dinner."

That is what I assume the parents say, because not long after their call from the treetops, the chicks swoop into the pasture and land with a thump.  
They are wishing for rats and mice.  
They are getting the terribly large grasshoppers that are thriving right now.
They walk-hop-flutter in their hunt for bugs.
Then, when their hunger isn't satiated, they fly to fence posts, barely stick the landing and call again.

"I'm still hungry! Please feed me!"

The parents call back with the same message as before.
The chick is off the fence post and back with a thump again--hunting grasshoppers and emerging cicadas. 
Soon, soon they will learn to hunt larger prey.
Rats and mice.
Chickens and cats.
They will learn to perch high in the trees and watch, watch, watch for prey that will fill their bellies more quickly than grasshoppers and cicadas.
They will master flying without a sound and landing with the precision of a pilot on an aircraft carrier.

Until then, I am ever watchful as dusk approaches.
Fascinated and troubled.
I do not want a youngster to talk a parent into finding him a bigger dinner.
A dinner of chicken or cat. 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Dog Days of Summer

Or in our case, the Cat Days of Summer

Hobbes love to lay on the porch, all stretched out, in the shade.
He loves the heat that we all cower in fear of.
On 100* days, he will only come in for food or a drop of cream.
Then he's right back outside again.
These are the days when he knows what the weather will be like and doesn't drive us all mad by being perpetually on the wrong side of the door.
When he's happy, we're all happy.
I guess there's something good to be said about 100* days after all.


You didn't think I was going to let another cliche'/common saying pass without finding out its origins did you??

So, just what is meant by the "Dog Days of Summer"?
If you'll click HERE, you can read all about it.
You're welcome.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Darned Tree Rat!

Everyone who knows me, knows that I have raised orphaned baby squirrels for a local rescue group.
I have endured eye rolling and story after story of folks encounters with squirrels.

"Tree rats, you raise tree rats?!"

"My neighbor's house caught on fire because a squirrel chewed through wires in their attic."

"I've spent hundreds of dollars on squirrel-proof feeders and they still find a way to eat my bird seed!"

I've heard them all.
I understand and respect each story.

I'm also of the belief that people that find a nest full of baby squirrels on the ground after a storm have to have someplace to take them.
Good people want to feel like they've done something good in this world.
Not letting baby animals die of exposure or starvation or being eaten by fire ants is a "good thing".

I am keenly aware of both sides of the "squirrel" coin.
I have a squirrel (not one I raised) that has made it her mission to get into a rubbermaid tub that I have out by my donkey paddock.
At one time in its life, the tub held deer corn.
Its current use is to store donkey brushes, fly spray and halters.
Not food.

She was not convinced. 

I even left the lid off one day so she could see there was nothing of value to her in the tub.

She persisted.

The tub is now useless, except for open storage.
Replacement lids are not for sale---anywhere.

Once I get my barn up, it won't be a problem.
Until then, I'll have to find something or someplace to store things that cannot be gotten into by squirrels.
I can hear the squirrel haters now.
"Ha! Good luck with that! Darned tree rats!"

Monday, August 18, 2014

Beating Them At Their Own Game

This blurry picture of me and Amelia captures perfectly the daring spirit of some of my chickens.
They cannot be bothered with staying within the four "walls" of the chicken run.
I never had this problem with chickens before I put up the 3-rail fence for the donkeys.
It butts right up against the chicken run.
The chickens now have a visual landing spot for their escape.
The chickens before them could not figure out where the top of the fence was, and so never escaped.
I could probably jury-rig something to keep them from doing this. 
However, I have realized over my years as a chicken keeper that some things are just not worth the trouble.
 Keeping a chicken "in" when it wants to be "out" is a lesson in futility.
Every. Single. Time.

Case in point.
I once found 22 (yes, TWENTY-TWO) eggs in one hidden nest.
With at least 4 hens going on a walk-about every day, I wanted badly not to go on an Easter egg hunt each day to look for eggs.

I decided to let the hens think they were in charge, but used their "creatures of habit" personalities against them.

 I set up nest boxes in places they frequent while out on their rounds.
Amelia and Marie love the garage. 
I don't know why.
Amelia: Hmmm, there's an egg.
No blood, no feathers, no dismembered body---must be safe to lay here. 
 I used the old ploy of putting an egg in the nest box to signal to the girls that its safe to lay here.

Here's another outside-the-run nest box.

It's important that the boxes be hidden, so to speak.
My hens will not lay an egg in a place where they feel exposed to predators.  
As you can see, my ploy worked.
The egg with the X is the planted egg.  This is so I can tell which one is fresh and which one is not.

Here, Eleanor demonstrates where good hens should lay their eggs.

In the nest box.  In the coop.
I should be so lucky!

But, my idea is sound.
My adventurous hens can go their own way each day, but I can still find their eggs with no trouble at all.
Happy chickens mean more eggs.
That's something I can live with.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

I Love the Sound

I love the quiet sound of the donkeys crunching hay.
It's methodical and melodious.
It's simple and peaceful.

I am so thankful that I am a morning person.
I am able to get up with my animals each day and greet the sunrise with happiness instead of grumpiness.
I am able to enjoy the quiet sounds of animals and birds before the traffic noises on the highway become louder than the breeze that blows the noises toward my house.

This time of year the air becomes terribly humid as the sun rises;
so humid that the donkey's ears are damp.
I come indoors, laced with sweat from my simple chores of tossing corn to the deer and scratch to the chickens, from feeding hay to the burro brothers and filling water buckets.

I long for less humid mornings, as the dampness is the only thing that pushes me inside.
Come Fall, I may not go back indoors until my stomach cries out for its own breakfast.

What time of day is your favorite?

Friday, August 15, 2014

Isn't She Lovely?

Fair Warning----Snake post ahead

Monday morning I went out to let my chickens out of their coop and was greeted by this silhouette. 
The very same pretty Texas Rat snake I had purposely avoided while mowing my pasture a few weeks back.
They are called Rat snakes for their voracious appetites of all things rodent.
While mowing, I also saw many rats.  
I decided to let the snake stay, even though they are known for eating eggs as well.

They are also 'constrictors'.  
They grab on tight with their bodies and don't let go.
Here it's obvious that getting her unwound from the wall of the chicken coop was going to be a two person job.  
Thank goodness Jenna was awake.  
We gently cajoled her into coming out--one touch at a time.
It was my job to grab the bitey end while Jenna tapped the other end.
Gloves are a necessity, as they do bite.

 That flat head is one of the snake's defenses. 
I'm not squeezing her head, she's doing it all on her own. 
They flatten it to look bigger to whatever is bothering them.  
Humans have been known to be positive they have a cobra in their yard because of it.  
That behavior usually gets the snake's head chopped right off.

 Another defense they have, is the ability to "rattle" their tails.  
I don't know how they make the sound, but it's obvious they are mimicking a Rattlesnake.
This also gets their heads chopped off by humans.

 Luckily for her, I know all this snakes tricks and am able to simply move this fabulous predator to another location.

Happy hunting pretty girl!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Office Assistant Helps with Janitorial Duties

My office assistant, Hobbes, has always been very fastidious about keeping himself and his surroundings clean.
That is why it came as no surprise to me when he began helping me clean up after the two newest members of my team, Bill and Ted.

Ted and Bill, newest members of our family team.

Bill and Ted are part of my landscaping----or rather un-landscaping crew.
While they are terribly efficient at un-landscaping, they tend to leave "messes" in their wake.
I agreed to cleaning up those messes as a part of their contract.

Hobbes decided that I needed help this morning.
He's 100% all in when it comes to cleaning up messes.
I've even seen him cover up what the dogs have left in the yard.

I think he's bucking for a raise?
I think he might get one!

Hobbes: I swear, these new employees are messy!

Hobbes: I can not for the life of me figure out why Mom brought them on board.

Hobbes: They're just like the pet caterpillars she had a while ago---Eat, poop, eat, poop, repeat...

Hobbes: Good thing I'm here to help her clean up or she'd never get anything else done.

Hobbes: She has to have some time in the day to buy cat food.

Hobbes: I think that'll do it for that pile.
I wonder if she'd ready to talk about giving me a raise?