Saturday, March 11, 2017

Messing with the Mamas

I underestimated the duck.

After noticing the duck had laid one egg back in the nest with Goldie yesterday, I snatched it out and placed it in another pile of duck eggs in a different corner of the coop. This morning, I went out to check on the birds, and noticed first thing that there was only ONE duck egg where I had left the pile the day before. Befuddled, I dug around in the mound of hay surrounding the single egg, thinking they might have gotten buried in the hay, but nothing was there. I glanced back over toward Goldie's nest (that the duck had just abandoned when I came in), and there they were. Somehow, that duck had moved her eggs back to the nest she was cohabiting with Goldie!
Meanwhile, Fluffy-Head was getting hungry. As soon as I threw down some feed a few feet away from her nest, she jumped up to eat, and I was able to get a picture of her chick.
Finley named the chick Bailey after her band-mate that shares a birthday with the chick.

I figured I probably needed to move FH and her chick to the pen in the stable so they would have hassle-free access to food and water. I plan to move Goldie and the chicken eggs out there later tonight, in hopes she won't get too shook up by the move and the duck will get to have her duck-egg nest all to herself. Who knew birds could be so complicated?

Friday, March 10, 2017

Funny Farm- Fowl Feature

It's springtime once again on the Funny Farm. The daffodils and a peach tree are blooming, the tulips are poking up through the soil, and the grass looks green and lush. And this weekend we might get snow. I am a little disgruntled.

We are also in the throes of chick-fever. The incubator is cooking up some eggs, and out in the chicken coop, there are other things happening.

A few weeks ago, I noticed Fluffy-Head, our little white silkie, stubbornly sitting in one corner of the chicken coop floor. I was a little surprised, because I had been good about gathering eggs daily, and knew there couldn't be but a few under her fuzzy bum. A few days in, and I finally caught her off the nest grabbing a quick bite to eat. Only one egg. But I could tell, she was determined.

About a week later, I caught our other silkie hen, Goldie, acting a little broody.
Goldie was sitting on a big pile of duck eggs, her little body not quite big enough to cover them all. Worrying that she wasn't going to be able to keep them all sufficiently warm and that the longer incubation period for duck eggs would be hard on her, I swapped the duck eggs out for some chicken eggs. Though Goldie grumbled a bit when I lifted her off the nest, she settled right back onto the new eggs without much complaint.

But, poor little Goldie. I didn't realize there was a kooky mama duck half fixated of that pile of eggs. Periodically, when I would go in to gather eggs or check on the birds at night, that duck would be nestled down next to Goldie. Then, disturbed by my intrusion, she would jump up and run off, leaving Goldie to tend the nest solo again. On top of it all, mama duck is still laying eggs, mostly in locations other than the original nest. Even though I've tried to pile them up in the spot she laid most recently, she'll keep going back to sit on the nest with Goldie. I guess ducks aren't too bright.

Yesterday, Finley noticed that Fluffy-Head's egg had pipped. I watched for a bit while F-H was off her nest, and sure enough, out popped a beak, breaking free another little section of egg. Quick births seem to be rare occurrences. Eggs are no exception, so I knew enough to be patient and wait until morning to check on the chick.

Last night, a cold front moved in, and today isn't nearly as warm. Fluffy-Head is refusing to move from the nest, but periodically, I can hear the chick peeping somewhere under the fluff. I am tempted to try to snatch F-H off the nest just to catch a glimpse of her baby, but am not sure I want to traumatize them. We'll see. Impatience may overcome my empathy.

Monday, December 19, 2016

A Letter To My Cousin Once Removed

Dear Jeff-

When I talked to my mother this morning, she said she told you she wasn't going to tell me that you commented on the increasing infrequency of my blog posts. Obviously, she did anyway.

Just so you know, I was about to start this letter, when I remembered that I needed to call my accountant before I didn't remember to. He told me it wouldn't be a bad idea to put off invoicing until after the new year, so that is one thing off my plate for now. That is welcome news, since my plate seems fuller than my husband's on Thanksgiving Day. There is the load of laundry sitting in the washing machine begging to be dried. (I'm not worried about that, though. It's winter, and the laundry can sit in there for a solid day before starting to smell musty and needing a re-wash.) The toilets are about a week overdue for a scrubbing. Finley baked cookies yesterday for holiday parties at school, and the kitchen counter is littered with dirty pots, pans, and utensils. (I have been threatening and coercing and heaping guilt upon that girl in an effort to get her to clean up after herself without being asked, but apparently the part of her brain that dictates order does not function. I am hoping it is just a hormonal, pre-teen thing, and not something that is permanently broken.) It's a good thing we don't have mice. The amount of crumbs scattered throughout would make them fat and happy. The truck needs to have its intake gaskets replaced. I have bales of pine needle sitting in my un-weeded flowerbeds. You are beginning to get the picture.

Truthfully, there have been at least one hundred posts I've started in my head, but pushed aside in an effort to accomplish the things on my mental list of priorities. A few times, I actually sat down and started to type one out, but I was either interrupted or my thoughts veered completely off the original path and I gave up. Today, however, priorities have shifted and come hell or high water, I'm writing.

It occurs to me that some of the blame for my failures lie squarely on the shoulders of your cousin, my mother. I have people suggest that I set aside a time slot for writing (or other artistic endeavors that fall short of the survival category). Frankly, though, my mother did a lousy job instilling a habit of self-discipline in me. As well-intentioned as my intentions are, I just can't seem to keep appointments with myself.

Now, if some one else gives me an assignment and a deadline, I'm on it. Paper due in the morning? I will eek it out in the wee hours of the night. Kids out of underwear? The washing machine jumps to action. Knowing this about myself, I did sign up for an art class this year. Having shelled out a chunk of money and someone to tell me what to do, I've actually painted a few things this year (see below). Perhaps I should hire you to be my writing boss, and then the words will flow.

I don't know why I've let your expectations dictate my morning, but they have. And what will I get in return? You have a way with words, but aside from a clever poem every decade or so and the occasional (and I mean occasional) e-mail, I never read anything from your pen. If I ever find out that you have a trove of stories and poems ferreted away in a desk somewhere that no-one has had the pleasure of reading, I will be first upset, then delighted. So I suggest that unless there are a myriad of legitimate excuses your retired self cannot write, you make use of the frigid, Montana winter and scribble a few things down.

I hope you and Sandy are staying warm and well.


Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Road Trip

There are things I really miss about Nashville. The library. The variety of fun parks. The variety of food options. Good coffee shops. Wishing Chair Productions' shows at the library. Did I mention the library?

Sometimes I wonder why we don't go hang out in Nashville more often.

Today, we headed to the big city to meet friends at Cumberland Park on the river. Z and Joe were absorbed in electronics for most of the ride there. It wasn't until after we had turned off Vietnam Vets Blvd. that they looked up, saw Nissan Stadium and FREAKED. "We're in Nasvhille! I love this place!!"

We found a parking spot, got out of the van, and started walking toward the park, the kids taking in everything around them.
"Look at those buildings! I'd be scared to go in one. I'd be scared to walk across that bridge!"

I almost felt like a failure, having unintentionally sheltered my kids from big-city experiences for six long years in the country. Why don't we come here more often?

We played at the park. We walked. We crossed the scary bridge. We got some coffee and treats. We walked some more. We looked at fountains and climbed walls and walked some more, crossing the not-so-scary-anymore bridge again, and ended up back at our vans.

It was a good day.

Then we started the hour-long drive home.

I don't deal well with tired, cranky people when I'm tired and cranky myself. So I will spare you the details of the melt-downs each one of us had on the way home. And that drive home, I realized, is one big reason we don't spend more time in Nashville.

Friday, August 19, 2016

The Van

I've been driving our Chevy Venture van for ten years.
Ten years.

I cannot remember the last time the check engine light wasn't lit. The ABS light came on about 5 or 6 years ago. Last year, the power-sliding door decided to become temperamental, and sometimes refuse to open with button-pushes, so the kids would have to yank on the handle with all their might while the other cars in the pick-up line had to wait. A few weeks back, the door got even more touchy, and after pretending to close all the way, would pop back out just a little with the DOOR AJAR warning lighting up another space on the dash. And then the red airbag warning light came on. It's hard to focus on the road with all the amber glow.
I'm not the sort of person that wants a brand-new vehicle with all the bells and whistles. In fact I still daydream about my old Toyota pick-ups, and am sure that if I they hadn't been totaled in one accident or another, I'd still be driving them. And while I kind of hope that the van can make it another 14,000 miles to 400k, I was about to throw in the towel Monday morning.

As we loaded up to head to school, I warned Z to stay off the door. Although she was buckled in, and the door was mostly shut, I didn't want there to encourage any freak accidents. I dropped Finley off, then Z, the door almost shutting between schools. And then, as the door started to close behind Joe, it freaked.

Like a little kid that was having a melt-down trying to decide between chocolate and fudge, it bounced back and forth on the rails, refusing to fully open or close. I put the van in park, hoping that would help the door make up its mind. But no. So I drove down the road with the door doing its dance until I found a safer place to park.

Turns out, some trim piece had slid out of place and was in the way. I ripped it off (who needs trim?), and sure enough, the door closed. All the way.

I can't decide if I'm mad I don't have a good excuse to buy a newer vehicle right now, or excited I still might be able to coax this piece of [steel] to 400k.