Wednesday, July 25, 2012

What's been going on

I don't have much time to update, but I thought I'd post some photos...

Lots of things happening at the house - the house has been sided and right now we're working on tiling the kitchen. Once we're finished tiling the kitchen, we'll be installing cabinets. Some of them are mismatched, but in time we'll sand them down and refinish them.

I have tons of tomatoes, jalapenos and zucchini. I was hoping to start canning tomatoes, but a) I have no canning kit and b) I have no kitchen/range to use!

Dresdy is still alive and has rejoined the flock. Her bone is still exposed, but she's doing great!

I heard Mouse crow for the first time this morning. It sounded a little pathetic, to be honest. I was worried that he would be too noisy, but it's really not bad at all. Hopefully he won't get much louder. He's been kind of a jerk to the hens - I think it's because he's trying to mate with them. No eggs yet. We could get eggs anywhere from now until a month from now. I'll try not to anticipate it too much, as I'm sure that once they're laying, we'll be wondering what to do with all of them!

I think that I may hatch out some of the eggs next year, just to see what they grow into. A white silkie/black star chicken would be really interesting. I thought about getting new chicks next year and selling/giving away some of the girls (3 or 4) that are already laying... but now I think I'll hatch out a bunch of eggs and sell the extras to keep my flock at around 12. My boss said that I can borrow their incubator, so I think I'll take him up on that.

New siding is hen-approved

Upstairs reading nook! We installed laminate flooring in our reading nook, throughout the upstairs hallway and the third bedroom. Photo is a little dark, will have to take more pictures. This area used to be a room at the front of the house, but it was too small to serve much of a purpose. We knocked out the wall and made this inviting little space. We can either spy on our druggie neighbor or look out over the dairy farm across the street. I prefer the latter option.

One of our bargain chairs - we ended up getting a 36% discount... I can't begin to think how much money I could have saved in my life had I actually haggled with salespeople. 

Piper, aka Trouble, aka Kitty Whore, aka Princess Kitty Whore hiding out under the blanket

Siding project started. When we began this project over 3 years ago, this side of the house was covered by pine trees and vines. The square hole with the plywood over it on the right side is from the monstrous a/c unit that cooled the downstairs. We now have split system central HVAC and a pellet stove downstairs for supplemental heating. However, we still need to have the heat pump and air handler unit installed downstairs. We're expecting to do that after the summer, once demand dies down.

Dresdy in her hospital room

Mr. Draco checking out Dresdy on her trip outside to rejoin the flock

High heel race in downtown Denton.

They didn't have size 14W men's size in women's shoes, therefore the duct tape. Next year perhaps we'll get Jay a nice set of heels.

Shakespeare Alive. Jay playing a tree as part of a scene in "As you like it."

Tiling, tiling, tiling. It's all we do. This is the second time we've had to tile the kitchen, as the first time we used the wrong stuff and the tiles broke or came off the floor.

Chicky poos enjoying some corn from the garden... my corn blew down during that Derecho and ended up falling into shadow. At least the chickens got a chance to enjoy it! Check out the coloring of the black stars... I love their iridescent feathers. They're such pretty girls!

Finished siding! We still have to complete the siding on the attic dormers and some of the sofit.

Kitchen cabinets waiting to be installed

I took my first bath in the completed tub/bathroom, even though it's been done for 2 months now. It required a Sawzall, because Jay didn't install an access door. Our niece had taken a bath previously and we suspect that she tripped the breaker because she turned on the tub before it was filled. :-/ 

Morning chickens

We'll be attending a wedding this weekend. I'd much rather be at home trying to finish the kitchen. We are getting really close to having things nice in the house.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Why houseguests can smell like fish

I found this article today and could relate to it so well!!

Why houseguests can smell like fish

Published 04:00 a.m., Sunday, January 10, 2010
  • Steelhead fish up on shore after Willson retrieved it from his drift net. Photo By Michael Macor/San Francisco Chronicle  Photographed in, Klamath, Ca, on 2/12/08 Photo: Michael Macor, The Chronicle / SF
    Steelhead fish up on shore after Willson retrieved it from his drift net. Photo By Michael Macor/San Francisco Chronicle Photographed in, Klamath, Ca, on 2/12/08 Photo: Michael Macor, The Chronicle / SF

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With January now here, we can all enjoy being well into our New Year's resolutions and the relief of the holidays being over: No more frantic shopping, kids are back in school and perhaps most of all, our houseguests have mostly gone away: No one will be sitting in your special chair, commandeering your TV or taking up way too much of your hard-earned household oxygen.

Having not had any out of town visitors myself this year, I had sort of forgotten the joy of others dropping in and staying and staying and staying until you find yourself hiding in the bathroom, but then I saw an ad in the middle of the holidays from the California Academy of Sciences, urging people to come visit their Morrison Planetarium:

"Houseguests getting on your nerves? Send them far far away."
Well if you live in the Inner Sunset, it actually isn't that far away, but the point is well taken that houseguests can be a big pain in the asteroid and sometimes I think my visitors have never heard one of the more memorable bits of advice my dad ever gave to me. He said:
"House guests are like fish. They begin to stink after a few days."
I think this bit of wisdom -- apparently a paraphrase of Ben Franklin -- stuck with me because it is pithy, fairly accurate and the element of timing was impeccable: My dad told me this after I had spent somewhere between two and three months on some friends' couch in their very small one-bedroom apartment in New York.
Having just gotten out of college, the situation in New York seemed pretty fabulous at the time, and I had no inkling I could be an inconvenience to anyone, even though this couple I was honoring with my presence was 20 years older and very set in their ways. And here I was camped smack in the middle of where they ate, read, watched TV, basically did all of their living. Then one morning I'm lying in bed -- aka their couch -- and hear this from the kitchen: "I DON'T THINK HE'S EVEN BEGUN TO LOOK FOR A PLACE!! IT MIGHT NOT BE SO BAD BUT HE DOESN'T EVEN PAY FOR ANYTHING!!

At which point a strange idea slowly sank into my cranium: These people weren't thrilled to have me.
I left their apartment within a week but not before I went out and spent about $10 in groceries to prove I wasn't a freeloader -- and in doing so proving I actually was a total freeloader minus $10 in groceries -- and sometime soon after this my dad gave me his sage bit of wisdom about smelling like a fish.

If I had gotten his wisdom before going to New York perhaps I may have avoided being the houseguest from hell, but then again I was desperate. And when you're desperate you really don't care if you smell a little like last week's anchovies. Plus, let's not forget the etiquette industry has been instructing people on how to be a decent guests for decades, maybe centuries, and still the stench continues.

If you quickly peruse Emily Post, you'll find many a page on dos and don'ts for guests. And if you ignore the warnings about not using the host's staff as your servants (tsk tsk), there are some reasonable tips:
"The guest no one invites a second time is the one who dog ears books, who burns cigarette trenches on table edges... who tracks into the house in muddy shoes and then puts them on the sofa or bed...."
Fair enough, but perhaps if Emily had said something more concrete for house guests to follow like:
"If one raises one's armpit and detects the stench of the common mackerel, then one is advised to close one's bags, bid one's farewell and head back to one's abode.
...then perhaps the incidence of horrible houseguest syndrome could have been lower.

Then again, no matter how one tries to avoid being thought of as a rotting undersea creature, there are always factors in a visit that can't be anticipated. I stayed at a cousin's in San Diego recently and tried to be barely detectable. But still my 10-year-old daughter and theirs clashed so badly that our meals became an endless series of glares and stares and putdowns until I felt like our family was beyond rotting-fish guests, we were carcass-of-beached-whale-with-50,000-flies-buzzing-over-its-remains guests.

Then there are those down-on-their-luck guests -- often relatives -- who need somewhere to stay for a while, at which point you may wish you never moved into a place with a spare bedroom. While you can't kick them out, they may slowly drive you nuts in various ways. I used to seethe having to give regular reminders to please not smoke in the house -- "I'm sorry, I thought it was OK if I opened a window" -- and then having to clean out all of the butts stuck in the potted plants.

If as a host you are experiencing a visitor who strikes you in this way, you may be the one who needs to go far, far away. Maybe that means a trip to the planetarium where you can get a little perspective on their interminable stay: Stare at the cosmos and realize, while your guests have been at your home for what seems like forever, that compared to the age of the Sun it could actually be much worse.

And if that doesn't help and your foul mood persists, you may need to slip over to the aquarium and walk around and take in all the fish: See which ones remind you of your houseguests and pray they get eaten. 

Monday, July 2, 2012

Warning - Graphic photos of Dresdy's injury

As gruesome as some might find this, I want to share my experience of Dresdy's injury in hopes that these posts will help someone like me who is a first-time chicken raising person, completely traumatized by everything she reads.

I love my chicken, but a hefty vet bill for a chicken that could die tomorrow from her injuries or any other random incident isn't worth it to me. Some people would have culled her already, but I want to give her as much of a chance as I can.

As long as she seems happy, doesn't appear to be in much pain, and is eating and drinking, I see no reason to make any rash decisions like wing amputation or culling her. Sure, her wing may heal awkwardly - but she was never a good flyer to begin with, which is probably how she hurt herself to begin with. :-P

I'll try to post daily updates on how she is doing and what kind of treatment options I've pursued. 

Here is my post from the Backyard Chickens forum that I've been frequenting:

Okay, I now have some photos.

I think there's a possibility that the wing might not be broken, but with the end of the bone sticking out like it is, it looks like it. She still tries to flap it and struggle when I'm cleaning it out and putting more antibiotic ointment on. So I'm thinking that since she can still move it, that's a good prognosis.

I'm hopeful about it today, because when I first noticed the injury, it looked like more of the bone was sticking out and the end of it was actually dry. When I looked at it today, it is bleeding a little and it looks like some tissue is trying to form around it.

I bought some Blu-Kote, which I see people seem to use. I'm a little worried about using it on the open wound right on the bone though. Has anyone done that before??

I took her outside for a little while this afternoon so she could see her friends (through the fence, of course - I didn't want to risk them picking at her). She was happy to scratch around and be a normal chicken and was not happy to be brought back inside. I'd put her out there in a dog crate, but with her open wound, I don't want flies getting into it. :(

Anyway, here are the photos.. they aren't very good because I have no one to help me at the moment and all I have is my cell phone camera.


This is after I trimmed away some of the feathers, so you can kind of see the wound positioning.


A closer image of the wound


Hanging her upside down seemed to offer me the best angle to document her injury.

Now I'm kind of wondering if maybe it isn't broken and she got it from the other birds pecking at her? Seems pretty severe for something like that, but I guess it's possible.

I wrapped her wing with vet tape, because she seemed to be pecking at the wound once I put the ointment on it. Do they make cones of shame for chickens??

How dare you, google.

So I was thinking about wrapping Dresdy's wing and googled "how to wrap a chicken wing."

I'll save you from doing it yourself.

These are the first three answers:

  • Chicken Wing Wraps Recipe - - 22140

     Rating: 5 - 4 reviews - 30 mins - 618.6 cal
    I needed something to make for my finace who works away from home. I never
    know when he is coming home so I need something I can re-heat or freeze if he ... - Cached
  • Grilled Chicken Wing & Blue Cheese Wraps

    May 11, 2011 ... Grilled Chicken Wing & Blue Cheese Wraps yield: 4 servings Ingredients: 1-1 1/2
    pounds chicken breasts {2 large or 4 small} for the chicken ... - Cached
  • Bacon-Wrapped Chicken Wings Recipe | Leite's Culinaria

    1 hr 30 mins
    Jun 24, 2010 ... This bacon wrapped chicken wings recipe is love on the grill. It's easy, snazzy,
    and definitely will impress your guests. Just chicken wings ...

  • Just awful.

    In case you're wondering, in case Dresdy doesn't make it, I refuse to eat her. She's my pet, not my dinner.

    Weekend Disasters

    There were some disasters of varying degrees this weekend – garden, chicken, rubber ducky and cooking.

    I’ll start with the most serious disaster – my sweet silkie hen.  I’m dealing with my first chicken injury, and I don’t know who is more traumatized, me or the chicken.

    My sweet girl Dresdy (who is of course at the bottom of the pecking order) has an open fracture and/or dislocation of her wing. It’s at the end of her humerus. I noticed on Friday that she had a lot of poop on her back and wing area, which she was holding a little awkwardly. I asked Jay if he’d looked closely at her, and he thought it was just poop. I figured that she walked under the area where the other girls were roosting or something. Saturday morning I let the flock out and I decided that Miss Dresdy at the very least needed a bath. So I grabbed her and threw her in the kitchen sink… she had even more poop on her, poor thing. So I started washing away the poop, which she tolerated pretty well. I noticed that she was still holding her wing awkwardly even after I’d rinsed away anything that could be causing her wing to get stuck. Then, to my horror, I saw what looked to be the end of her bone sticking out. I tried to get a better look, but when I moved her wing too much, she started to struggle. I figure that she probably fell backwards off of her roost and hurt it while flailing around – she’s my klutz chicken.

    I washed the area thoroughly, rinsed with hydrogen peroxide and smeared her with antibiotic ointment.  I crushed half a baby aspirin and put it in her water with some sugar and have been feeding her scrambled eggs, a large ratio of ultra kibble and mealworms. She’s isolated in a box with wood shavings in the downstairs bathroom. She’s been a model houseguest and has been eating and drinking lots, and seems happy enough - she’s been scratching and making happy noises. I’m sure that she is loving that she doesn’t have to compete for food and water right now.

    In my internet research, I’ve seen that some people have amputated their chicken’s wings that have been similarly injured. Believe it or not, she seems like she can use the wing more or less. I need to get a better look at it, but Jay has been working a lot and it seems more like a 2 person job so that she doesn’t struggle. I’m at a loss for what to do… I don’t want her to suffer, but she seems to be okay for the most part and not in any pain. I would think that if she were in pain that she would have been moping around a lot more. Tonight I’m going to let her outside for a little while in a separated area… I’m sure that she misses her friends.

    Here are some pictures of Sweet Dresdy in the sink:

    The second chicken debacle happened yesterday afternoon. I’ve been letting the chickens free range whenever I’m home and up to yesterday, they’ve always stayed more or less in the yard. I let them out early in the day and they were fine the last time I’d checked on them, which was around 3pm. At 4pm, they’d vanished; nary a feather to be seen. I was mostly concerned because it was so hot out (nearly 100 degree heat index) and they’d wandered away from their water, which of course is incredibly important on hot days. I was hoping they’d come back, but eventually Jay and I went into the neighbor’s overgrown yard to track them down, since we’d heard chicken noises. We found them huddled by the fence panting and looking dazed. I grabbed Ginger (one of my Red Stars) and we herded four other chickens back into their enclosure. Thinking that they’d be hungry and thirsty, we went back to where the others had disappeared and put down the water. Immediately, the rest of them ran up to get a drink and some treats. I was able to carry two more chickens back that time.

    You haven’t lived until you’ve been sans-bra,  in your dirtiest t-shirt and sweatpants, drenched in sweat, getting eaten alive by mosquitoes while in your neighbor’s yard yelling, “Here chicky, chicky!”

    You also haven’t lived until you’ve had a chicken tucked under each arm, trudging back to your house on display for the entire neighborhood to see. Again, without a bra.

    Eventually we rounded all of our chickens up except for one (our runt that we call Johnny). She came home less than an hour later. I imagine that they all would have come back, but you never know. No more unsupervised free ranging in the backyard until we replace our fence.

    The gardening disaster came from our little derecho (Land Hurricane) that blew through Friday night/Saturday morning. My dear husband slept through the whole thing… I thought there was a tornado outside and the entire house was shaking. It was a scary night. Apart from numerous tree branches and other debris strewn about, our garden took the biggest hit. My cilantro was uprooted, along with some onions… my zucchini plant blew over, and two corns stalks blew over, but seem to still be okay. Everything was more or less flattened to the ground. I’ve tried to disentangle my plants as best I can. Fortunately my peppers were shielded by the wind by my tomato cages… they all seem to be doing pretty well.

    As far as my garden’s yield, I’ve gotten one cucumber off my plants and I have a few others that are just about ripe. We threw the ripe cucumber in whole with Jay’s pickles. Once I get a larger group ripened, I’m going to make some fridge pickles. Canning them is pointless – pickles don’t last in our house. Jay can eat a jar of pickles in one sitting. No joke. I have a few zucchini that should be ready to pick this week. For some reason, some of the flowers didn’t set fruit. There have been more bees buzzing around lately, so hopefully they’ll get to producing.

    My cooking disaster came when I tried to make the bacon ice cream. I don’t think that I cooked the bacon crunchy enough and I probably should have used two baking sheets so that the pieces didn’t overlap as much. I also wasn’t a fan of the amount of buttermilk in the recipe. It ended up making the ice cream pretty sour. Next time I’m going to try for a standard ice cream… maybe vanilla or if I get crazy, mint chocolate chip. Of course what I’d really like to try is making s’mores ice cream.

    The smallest disaster took place on Saturday during the 1st annual Marshyhope Duck Derby and Festival, benefiting the library. Angela (HotFrugal)  roped me into volunteering at the Duck Derby by helping to sell books with the Friends of the Library.

    How many rubber duckies does it take to fill a front-loader? Apparently about 3,000.

    Tell me that's not one of the cutest things you've seen in your entire life.

    The disaster came after the front-loader dumped the duckies into Marshyhope Creek. The tide table had been consulted and the ducks were supposed to go with the flow of the water towards the festival and finish line. The ducks had other ideas and once they tasted freedom, they headed under the bridge against the current, nestling cozily into the shore on the opposite side of the creek.

    There was eventually a re-launch thanks to the Boy Scouts. The ducks finally made the half mile float down to the finish line where the festivities were being held. There was much excitement when the ducks made their appearance around the bend. People were cheering them on, waiting patiently. It took about an hour for them to go the final 500 feet. Oh, and did I mention that it was 100 degrees?

    Here they are about half an hour after their re-release. You can see the bridge that they were initially released from in the photo.

    I think that next year, people should be allowed to soup up their ducks with Co2 cartridges or little sails. Although in this case, the sail would have worked against the ducks, as the wind was what caused the problems to begin with.

    Current events --
    Here's hoping to having a drama-free week with no more disasters or injuries. Especially since my husband will only be home one day this week. :(

    The good news is that our siding is coming in this week! We'll be in home project overhaul for the next few weeks and my BIL's will be here to help... so my house is about to be full again. 

    Having people around all of the time is a big adjustment for me, as I like my peace and quiet. So I will try to enjoy my time alone this week while I have it, even though I'll miss Jay. Unfortunately, most of my time will be spent catching up on my non-profit job.  Yes, at this point it's a job, not a volunteer position.  It takes up way too much of my time to be anything other than a job.  A dreadful, unpaid job that is not fun and offers me little satisfaction. The organization is great, but I was horribly misled when I took over. Not cool.