Thursday, June 29, 2006

Under Her Wing

Now I better understand the phrases “mother hen” and to “to take someone under your wing.” We stopped by the “nursery” mini-coops on the way to work this morning, and were greeted with some peeping and THIS:

Wow! (More pictures later if Blogger cooperates!)It happened sometime during the night or morning- actually quite a secretive event. We expected to be able to see shell bits or something, but she stayed snuggled down on top for the hatching. We’re eager to get back home tonight to check on the other hen- she was still sitting patiently when we left, but all eggs seemed viable at last check a few days ago.

This birth of new life was made more poignant later in the day, when the news came that my Grandma had passed away about at the same time the chicks were hatching. The cycle of transitions...She grew up with chickens, and was a great “mother hen” who cared for her own 9 chicks and 21 grand-chicks.

I’m the oldest of those 21, so I had lots of time to watch her in action. She was barely done having her own kids when I was born. My mother’s youngest brother was born when my mom was in college. Can you imagine having kids over a span of 20 years?!? Incredible. Thankfully that trend is fading, but I’m always amazed at the women who did it and survived!

I was able to visit her on Monday, and she was ready to go. We all got to say goodbye, and I believe she got to say goodbye to us, even if only with her eyes. She wasn’t talking much this past week, but had very expressive eyes. We will all miss her dearly (she was my last remaining grandparent) but she was looking forward to a reunion with her husband of 58 years who died 3 years ago.

I learned so much from my grandparents, humble people who only had an 8th grade education but a wealth of gardening and frugal kid-raising knowledge. All 9 kids went to college, turned out well, and the next generation is now in the process of graduating from college, etc too. There's even a third generation beginning.

If only we could all be so lucky: to live life fully and depart gracefully with loving, functional family at our sides. But if you’re a smoker, please also remember that you might get less of that life than your genes originally decreed.

More news on the chicks and other Frolic Farm happenings soon!

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Aliens in our eggs!

Ok, they are not really aliens, and they are not really "our" eggs. Quite the opposite of aliens, really- something that is growing right where it is meant to grow- baby chickens in our chickens' eggs!

Yes, exciting and bizarre. We have 2 broody hens again, and determined, broody hens + soft-hearted owners = baby chicken experiment 1.0. WF is in charge of this one, and made a home-made candler a couple days ago. We weren't exactly sure what we were seeing, but then the MOVEMENT inside the eggs convinced us that things were developing nicely. (YEEK!) It's been just over a week that the hens have been sitting on these eggs. Things were not very clear, but there's definitely something in there! Both amazing and a bit creepy at the same time.

Those are the same type of eggs we eat on a regular basis, fertile thanks to the remaining rooster, kept from developing by being stored in the refrigerator. Bizarre to see them moving on their own! One of my semi-regular, yet slighly egg-phobic egg customers did NOT welcome my amazed description of the egg's efficient development in just over a week. Ah, life!

So, wish us luck with this experiment. More soon!

Saturday, June 17, 2006

More Lake Action!

Aha! Blogger cooperation! More pictures of our weekend adventures- yay!

To bring you back to the story: Friends from Kansas inspire GTR and WF to explore woods and put paddle and boats to water. Enjoyment and good truck karma ensue!

It really was nice to get back on the water. I used to drag this boat out quite a bit, but it's been stuck in the back of the garage covered in straw for the past couple years. Here I am doing some sort of strange interpretive paddle dance, outfitted in my all-second-hand-so-completely-uncoordinated paddling gear. We go for function, not fashion around here! Want some more proof?

Hehe. WF is DEFINITELY all about the function. We normally use a bit more, ah, sophisticated floatation, but with 4 people to outfit, this was his choice.

After all that PFD modeling, we were hungry and ready to get back home. Ah, but the adventures were just beginning! WF was driving our newish-to-us truck and stopped to adjust the canoe on top. I wandered over to see, and noticed (with a cringe) oil dripping from the wheelwell. That's never good. Closer inspection revealed a blown hose (very odd design on these particular truck- oil coolant hoses go from engine to filter and back again. Plot by car company to make a more "disposable" product?)Hmmm. Trucks work best WITH oil in their insides, and this truck was showing NOTHING on the dipstick. Yikes.

Here's the karma part. We were not very familiar with the area, but there at the rural intersection was a sign for an auto repair place 2 blocks away. Aha! With 4 people total, we decided that we could push the thing there! Yeah!

I was deemed the smallest (and perhaps wimpiest?) member of crew, so I got into the drivers seat and yelled encouragement (and steered- it was an IMPORTANT role, really). WF, Byron and Theresa pushed with all their might, and they got that thing to the crest of a small hill, where they let me go... wheeee! Truck was nicely parked at this reputable-looking place, and we all trooped back to my car, left in the intersection with my crazy kayak acting as a great traffic cone.

We'd never heard of this fix-it place before, and it was closed when we left the canoe-laden truck. But calls were made, and that truck was healed within days. It was the checking of the canoe and the ability of the 4 of us to get the truck to the repair shop (without starting it up again) that prevented the complete destruction of the engine. Everyone has a story of siezing up their car, right? Shudder.

So, with nary a scratch (but maybe a sore shoulder or two), we all continued with the festivities. The cats didn't know quite what to think about the fiddles, but there was MUSIC! Impressive, adult-prodigy fiddle music! And out-of-practice bumbling on the penny whistle (on my part)! I'd show you the photos, but again, Blogger says no, grrrr.... Just trust that it was a bit more rockin' than we usually get around here on a Sunday night. Thanks again, Byron and Theresa! There IS more to life than work, chickens, cats and gardens- who knew?

Friday, June 16, 2006

Still Here- Where?

Hmmm. I seem to have lost my blog voice for a while, there... wondering what to post, and finding myself at some different "sites", ones with water and trees and bugs and NO computers, and other people there to enjoy and share it with.

It was really refreshing, something I need to do more. Can you believe I've actually worn RUTS into my work computer keyboard? Really- plus worn spots on the mouse where my fingers fall. But yet I haven't bought new hiking boots, etc in years... So what does THAT say about my computer/outdoor ratios? And I need to remember my terrestrial community here, people I can share dinner with or head out on a hike with on short notice. I know the blog world can be a community, but if not many people read this, why bother? I dunno- writing practice, I suppose. I guess I'm in a rut- ha.

OK, lunch-hour existential blog angst time over: On to the goods!

We had a brief but eventful visit from my old friend Byron and his girlfriend Theresa, whom I'd never met before. They were a delight! Byron is a very studious and curious person with a healthy sense of adventure, and that inspired WF and I to get OUT and enjoy some more of our surroundings beyond the garden and coop. Byron made a wild guess that people who live in MN and own canoes might know some quick, nice local canoe spots (what is he, crazy?!?!). My embarrassment over that lack of knowledge (shh, we go to the BWCA every year!) led to some good research and map perusal.

WF found a great small local lake where we paddled around for a couple hours. We stuck to the reeds and saw great blue herons, a loon on a nest (we got away fast!), red wing blackbirds, a muskrat and lots of cool plants including blue flag irises. Byron and Theresa added an extra level of appreciation, as their Kansas flora and fauna is quite different.

My crazy old kayak felt the water for the first time in years (again, ahem) and it felt GOOD. I'd show you a picture, but Blogger is being completely uncooperative at the moment. One picture per post? Grrrr.

More later if it works...

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Greener Grass

Somehow, the grass is always greener.... And so are the weeds! Eieeeee! It was a beautiful long weekend for me here around the Frolic farm, but I'll admit to spending some of it longing for my comfy cubicle and keyboard (gasp!).

Wanna see my weekend nemesis? The full horror might not come through on a teeny blog photo, but brace yourselves:

I can't believe I just showed the whole internet that view. The ordered, weed-free-German-gardening genes in my body are screaming out "NOOOOOO!" The combo of early heat and then tons of rain made the weeds unstoppable this year. This bed was well-tended last year, and even weeded some earlier this spring-(but no green manure or heavy mulching, dur). I spent much of the weekend hacking away at this garden (after HAND PICKING the stupid seedheads off those 'lions). I was going to take an "after" picture, but ran out of steam. I am a huge believer in mulching, but guess we didn't do another layer last fall. Learned my lesson this year!

I got revenge on the dandelions, though (or really, a partnership?). Some of their impressive roots are going to be soaked in vodka and made into a tincture. I think I impressed them a bit too much with their usefulness, so the population on the lawn is doing their best to grow REALLY tall and offer as many seeds as possible. I don't mind dandelions and even eat them sometimes, but this year's long, snakey seedhead performance is wierd.

The weekend did have a touch of entertainment, with a book group hosted. Here's Alexis enjoying some of the food- (Hi Alexis, loyal local reader!) The oddly-shaped item in the foreground is my first attempt spinach-rice pie from the new "Vegetable Heaven" cookbook by Mollie Katzen. Good, but really more of a winter dish. It just looked intriguing!

Overall, a good, productive weekend. But why don't I feel more "ahead" in all my tasks? I thought taking off work was the key to getting caught up, and now I'm not so sure... Any ideas on how to make 36 hour days??

Friday, June 02, 2006

Tiny Critters

It's the hottest nectar joint around! The patrons are the ultimate lightweights, but that doesn’t stop them from getting a little aggressive about the refreshments! One even buzzed the proprietor, who was glad she wears glasses as protection from pointy beaks. It’s also a great place to pick up (or buzz) some "chicks"!

Ha. I think there was some intense competition for the nectar, either that or some heavy duty courtship going on- there was actual impact between birds a couple times. I could only confirm one male and at least two females among the four that were frequenting the feeder. One hung out for a long time on the feeder afterwards, looking exhausted.

He (?) flew away after a while, so no permanent damage, I guess. I’m keeping the feeder cleaned and filled, or there will some angry patrons to contend with… maybe I need to expand the joint?

Other, not-so-welcome tiny critters have also been making their presence known. Blackflies and mosquitoes are out with a vengence (we have both standing and moving water on this rather wet piece of land) and my body reacts with an equal vengence to the bites. I'm still nursing along black-fly bites that are nearly two weeks old- sheesh. I've heard you can build up immunity to bites after a while- WF seems to be much more immune than I am.

I managed to spend about 25 minutes in the woods last weekend (rest of the weekend was chores, chores and yet more chores) and came back with exactly 17 ticks, all intently trying to burst through the seams of my clothes, etc. All woodticks, though, thankfully.

We also have some "robust" black ants wandering aimlessly (with particular interest in the honey jar) in a couple rooms of the house. I can't figure out where they are coming in- there's not much focal point. My patience is wearing a bit thin- they got waaaay to close to the potluck food yesterday. Perhaps some non-toxic but very sharp Diatomaceous Earth for them? I have a good supply now, from the moth incident.

But at least ants don't eat sweaters, suck blood OR buzz around with pointy beaks!