Thursday, December 22, 2016

Goodbye, Precious.

A Most Excellent Dog.
Yesterday was truly the darkest of them all.  I have no words, only tears.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Chilly. China. Whiplash. Death. Timber!

Now, there's a catchy heading...

Lots happening but not a lot of opportunity to post.  So - you get it all at once, you lucky devils.

First, there was this:

Notice the minus sign...
which is not surprising, since I do live in the Northeast and it is winter.  However, there was heat.  I quickly got on the phone and called - pardon the expression - my furnace guy's hot line.  Also as no surprise, there were quite a few of us queued up on the hot line.  And, as there were elderly people living in trailers with no back-up heat source, I was relegated down the line.  A fire was lit in the fireplace and the electric space heaters were put in bathrooms.  We snuggled.

Then there was the good news/bad news - it was not my furnace (good) but it was my thermostat (bad).  Off they went in search of a replacement.  Some hours later, they were back and installed the new thermostat.

Next morning?  Rinse, repeat.  Bad thermostat.  Made in China (really surprised you there, didn't I?)  Second thermostat seems to be holding its own.
Lovey is very happy the new thermostat is
We had a cold front move through - more than one, I believe - behind a gale-force wind.  It was  Then we got eight inches of snow.  Then it rained.  Then it froze.  Herein lies the whiplash effect.  Sunday morning I woke up to rain and 39 degrees.  This morning?  It was 9 degrees.  At least it was in the positive.  Gads.  In between, I was busy shoveling, raking snow off the carport and fuel tank cover, loading sand buckets, chipping piles of icy llama beans, adding layers to duck huts, chicken coops and barn floors.

In amongst these activities, I ladled out the birdseed.  Only later in the day - after noticing a drop-off in bird activity, did I discover there had been a violent death.  Gah!  I believe it was one of my mourning doves.
Nothing but feathers and a little spot of blood.
Between the 8+ inches of snow and then the rain, I was kept on my toes by the slow movement of snow and ice down my shiny new metal roof.  After the close call with The Pepperoni, I am very alert.  The entire back of the roof shed its load right when I was baking my latest GF discovery.  I am blaming the collapse of the loaf on the extremely loud noise the snow load made as it hit my deck.  Not only that, the center was not cooked through, even after an hour and fifteen minutes.  I was loathe to cook it longer, as it would have dried to the consistency of a hockey puck.  Can chickens eat chocolate?

Living in the Northeast in winter is not for sissies.

Monday, December 12, 2016

It's back.

It's true that you can 'smell' snow coming.  Yesterday, as the feeble rays of what passes for sun disappeared behind the clouds, I could smell it.  The funny thing, is that I was standing out in the chicken/duck yard, nose in the air - I looked over and the ducks were standing still, beaks in the air.  I feel  I'm special, all right.  Bring on the padded wagon and the 'special' jacket with the long arms...

I bustled about, trying to get loose ends tucked in before it snowed.  Then I went inside and put on a pot of soup - Ski Country Soup, a family favorite.  That allowed me to clean a little more out of the freezer and mega-stash of canned goods.  I also managed to can 24 pints of vege broth - I had been hoarding my vege-ends in the freezer and thought it would be a perfect weekend to haul them out and make stock.  Imagine my surprise when I uncovered three stuffed gallon zip bags full!  I have one more batch of stock to make - this from an assortment of bones and carcasses (carcassi?) and that's on the schedule for next weekend.  If nothing else, I will go into this winter well-brothed.

Having been sidelined with a sore throat and slight fever (I work with the equivalent of Typhoid Mary - she of many sickly grands), I was hoping that I didn't have her latest acquisition - strep throat.  I don't.  Close call.  Since I was house-bound, I got a few more things (piddly) checked off my list, but every piddly thing helps.  I made a GF version of one of my all-time favorite muffins - one that I have not baked since pre-GF-ness, which has to be 3-4 years now, and I tried it on the barn crew.  Success!  They are Breakfast Muffins - a combo of Bisquick, shredded cheddar and crumbled hot sausage.  I happened to have a box of GF Bisquick so whipped them up.  I would change a few things next time, but all in all, they were tasty.

I also did pawdicures - Lovey is such a breeze to work with, The Pepperoni is like working with a pill bug, and Scrappy - who used to be a walk in the park, is now Mr. Bop-The-Mole with his nails.  Luckily, TP has an appointment with his groomer next weekend - he loves her and lies there like a besotted furry pillow, while she does anything she wants to him.  It's maddening.  I got four loads of laundry done, the drying of which was helped along by a fire in the fireplace most of the weekend.  I also slipped in some reading and knitting.  All in all, it was a pretty descent weekend.

It was a good thing I rested up - I awoke to eight inches of icy snow, so spent a great amount of the morning shoveling.  The ducks have now come to grips with their new cold, white reality and are down the ramp and in their water bowls with hardly a pause.  The same cannot be said of the chickens.  Poor Bunny got booted out of the coop and forlornly went and joined the ducks.  While the poultry yard is plenty big for two roosters, the coop is not.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Les femmes ducks. And Peckito.

After having spent some time observing the four duck-girls, I have named them.

Pardon the dark picture - I have been waiting for more sun, but, then, you wouldn't see this until April.  From left to right:  Cornelia (Cayuga - home hatch), Gertie (Ancona - Melanie hatched), Dolley (Cayuga/Swedish Blue - Kentucky Baby - Fiona!!!), and Dimples (Ancona - home hatch). 

Gertie is the one who protects the flock - she comes at you, head lowered, laughably unthreatening.

Cornelia is the prima donna - bathes in the water dish, no matter who needs a drink.

Dolley is the noisiest - she has the cutest white bib.  She is also non-stop babbling.

Dimples is adorable.

I love the duck footprints in the snow.  You will also note the inevitable fluffy Faverolles.  They still think that the duck yard is theirs - plus, they are still young and light enough to make it over the fence.  (Ah, I remember those days...)

I took this picture of Peckito with his little harem on my way back to the house to get ready for work.  Bunny has the young girls, Peckito has everyone else.  The two roosters look remarkably alike, with Bunny having silver/grey legs and Peckito with bright yellow. 

Peckito with Betty, Biffy, Buffy, and two
of Bunny's girls....

I was so thrilled that I was ahead of the curve on getting out of the door on time, when there was quite a flap in the chicken yard - I had to throw clothes on and race outside.  It must have been a hawk, as everyone was under cover - some under bushes, ducks under their hut and the rest in the coop.  It's always something.