Monday, December 14, 2009

Mr. Fox

Saturday night, we thought we'd take in a movie as a family. Without consulting William, we decided to go see Mr. Fox. It had gotten good reviews and was suitable for all ages. It was animated, but nowadays, some animated films are amazing.

William complained. He did NOT want to see Mr. Fox. Why did we have to see that? He wanted to have a say blah blah yada yada..... Being adults and having the money and keys to the car, we used our advantage. EITHER - you come with us to Mr. Fox OR you don't see a movie. We were offering a free movie to him and we had heard he would surely like the movie.

About half-way through the movie, he asked what time it was. I was right there with him, and vowed to include him in all future movie choices.

Notes:
Had a very nice horse ride on Saturday with dh. He tried the new horse, which we are keeping for my sister. His name is Okie, and we are in the position for the first time of having a horse that knows more than we do. He's had a lot of training. But all of our riding has more or less been English - and he is a neck-reining Western horse. New things to learn!

Last night, I went to turn out the barn lights, and after shutting the doors, paused. It was a bit cloudy, obscuring the meteor shower. But I listened. So quiet. Then, I could hear the highway two miles from us. I wish I could hear what it might have sounded like to live here before cars and planes. I tried to imagine. I heard a dog bark. Maybe animal sounds? Would too much quiet bother me? I became aware that my ears were ringing a bit in the quiet, likely reverberating still from constant sound. I think our world has lost something in not occasionally having complete silence.

Privacy

I could not help but be amused with the arrival of dh's Golf Digest, covered with photos of President Obama and Tiger Woods: "10 Tips Obama Can Take from Tiger". What horrid timing! In tip #10, it says "Tiger never does anything that would make him look ridiculous". Oops! How about telling the media you just had a little fender bender at 2:30 in the morning because you couldn't sleep and your wife, instead of say, trying the door locks or breaking out a less expensive side window, breaks out the back window and hauls your sorry rear out the back. We were supposed to buy that? Amusing.

Does he have a right to privacy? Interesting question, because he thinks it doesn't affect us. Truth is, in today's world, he visits my home as much as some people I know in real life. My son looks up to him, and worried over his accident. He has hurt a "community", not just his family. He has let people down - but then perhaps it is our fault for thinking that the wealth, fame and power were incidental to his character.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Gingerbread Houses

Just in case you are preparing for Christmas by making gingerbread houses, you might want to read why I will not be making one. I still remember laughing with my mother-in-law over this. Fun times. You can also read why it is amazing I even associate with my sister.

Blocked for Content

Somehow, Windows downloaded a family safety filter to my computer. I don't know when or how it happened, but I wouldn't have deliberately added it. It decides if the web pages are family friendly or not. My own blog was blocked for content! It must have been those posts on big (chicken) breasts that elicited all those hits. Perhaps it was the post on sexy hooker shoes?

And fellow bloggers, I could tell you that a few of you are blocked as well, naughty as you are. I need to get the blasted thing removed, but that takes time to figure out where it is stored. For now, I disable it each time I turn on the computer.

Speaking of content, I find it most interesting that the entry on my blog most read was not written by me, but by Lauren. It is about how music has been changed by technology. Many people, especially in Great Britain, Germany and other European countries, go directly to this article. I wonder if they know each other, these readers, or if it is linked somewhere from someone else's blog. Just curious. And a little ego deflated. It does point to the type of writing that can get a lot of attention, other than big breasts that is.

As for technology, I've become an old fuddy-duddy already. Don't get me wrong, I love learning new things and though we have our moments, I love computers. But recently, I was asked if I'd like an iTouch for Christmas. Many friends extolled the virtues of this device. Yet, I cannot help but think it is one more thing to keep track of, one more thing to figure out and no time in which to do that. And my purse only has one pocket for my phone. I'd have to turn this purse in for a new one and I haven't even had it for five years yet.

I think I'll stick to just my ordinary cell phone for now. Go ahead, tell me how much you love your iPhone or iTouch. I know you want to.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Cold

I congratulated myself on my ability to handle the cold, the horse chores, the schedule. God must have thought me too proud and sent the wind. NOW it is cold. Now, the wind rips through your layers of clothing so that you can fully feel. So, y'all have to suffer now the cold because I was too proud of myself. I'm not anymore, so maybe He'll take it back.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

My Town Monday: Kentucky Fried Good?

This appeared on the wires the same day that PETA sought permission to put a five and a half foot statue (see photo left) on a corner of downtown Louisville, protesting KFC's treatment of chickens:

In a state where horses are a mainstay of the cultural and economic lifeblood, the new top perch for chickens in the pecking order of Kentucky agriculture once seemed unlikely. Kentucky's slumping horse industry appears on pace to be overtaken by poultry farming as the king of the state's agricultural sector, economists said Thursday. In a state where horses are a mainstay of the cultural and economic lifeblood, the new top perch for chickens in the pecking order of Kentucky agriculture once seemed unlikely.

That both articles appeared in the same week should not be dismissed as coincidence. It is unlikely that Louisville will give the permit, given that KFC headquarters there and provides a number of local jobs.

The change in the state's leading industry to date, horses, was indicated in our state motto: "Unbridled Spirit". Given the decline of the industry and the rise of the chicken, I propose that the motto be changed to "Unruffled Feathers" or perhaps combine the two for "Horse Feathers".

What do you think? Should PETA be allowed to display its chicken statue?

For more posts about towns about the world, visit My Town Monday.

Notes:

Got our first snow today. William insisted on sledding, though he slid more on grass than the white stuff.

Decided that Jack the Cat looks so bad because he's so old, he can't clean his coat especially on his far backside. So I took a comb to him and removed a whole catful of hair.

Judas, who betrayed me by being a boy, crowed today for the first time.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Poopy Farts

My kids always say I'm crude, so I'll just lay it on the line and tell you about it. I have nothing to lose. My horse, Etta, has the poopy farts. It's so bad, that she's decorated the walls of her stall, and I'll not describe that in detail in case you are having this blog with your morning coffee and toast. I've not seen a horse have this problem before, but it is of concern because of her lack of extra fat and the coming winter. Yes, I know, we all wish we could eat all we want and not gain weight, but in a horse, this is a problem. And, would you be willing to have poopy farts to achieve this? I thought not.

So, I've begun an investigation as to the cause, starting, of course, with Google. And yes, there is information about it on the net, and you my friend, are about to learn a horse thing you might not otherwise know. You can entrance friends with your newfound knowledge at cocktail parties.

Etta arrived thin. I thought perhaps it was because she's had eight babies in her sixteen years and Arabians tend to be thin. I increased her senior horse feed, and for awhile this helped put on weight. But, more recently, she seems a bit down and off of her hay. Sad because Quid left? Possible, but combined with her digestive problem, it is something more.

I talked to the vet, who asked for a sample. How much, I asked? Several "apples". He said one over-zealous horse owner delivered to him a garbage bag full of manure for a fecal test. While the test for parasites is being run, I'm going to give her QuestPlus wormer. Though recently wormed with ivermectin, it doesn't get tapeworms. Rule that out. Evidently, she could be the type of horse that bimonthly worming doesn't effectively relive her of parasites.

It could be that she has an imbalance in her gut. After investigating the parasite problem, we'll move on to a probiotic or enzyme supplement, though reviews on their effectiveness is mixed. And if that doesn't work, it may be that she has irritable bowel syndrome. In a horse. yeah.

I'm thinking about taping paper to the walls and selling the results as "horse paintings". It could be a trend. Think I'm off-base? Our local zoo sells elephant poop at a premium for gardening. I'll add the artistic flair to it and make a mint!

Notes:
I've named the smallest of my bantam black hens "Aunt Rita", after my 90+ year old great-aunt. My family laughed at me, but one night in the barn, the hen turned to look at me. With her jet black "hair" and curled head feathers, hunched a bit, she reminded me of my Aunt Rita. I don't know why, I told you I'm losing it!
My brains feel like scrambled eggs these days. I'm waiting for the big mistake, the thing I forgot I was supposed to do. After the big push to get all the college applications completed for Lauren by December 1st, I now realize that it is Christmas season. We've not even set up the Advent wreath yet, and we're already up to two candles by tomorrow.

The kids have asked when we will set up the Christmas tree. I had a good excuse on this one - I buy from my good friend, Becky, whose tree farm wasn't open until today. But then, after getting the tree, I have to dare to open the closet under the steps in the basement where ornaments live in the off season. I think a good deal of monsters live there, too, chaos monsters, and that's why I fear opening the door.

It is fearsome cold here. Last night, we went to our town's "light up" celebration, ate at the Irish Pub while watching the train outside roll through the town only 30 feet from our table. It is always an interesting experience. We strolled the Main Street, all the while stamping our feet, drinking hot chocolate, and proclaiming it cold. Darting into antique shops and book stores might have helped, except that William had on enough clothes that he "looked like a tick about to pop". As a result, he was overheated in the stores and has no patience for antique shopping anyway.

By the time I returned home and gave the horses a brush, put on their blankets and threw them hay, my bumm was so cold that I had to go stand in the shower to warm up. I dream of silk underwear, and before you think I'm feisty for an old lady, I'm thinking of the kind that is rated like horse blankets for the cold.

I leave you with this short video on how to dress your child in the winter. The movie, A Christmas Story, is a real scream.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Teaching William

It may be that it will take me twenty years from now to fully educate William. He'll be leaving home about the time I'm ready to go to one (a nursing home, that is). Why would I say that? Well, every problem, every learning experience requires not only reading the question, but discussing all the possibilities.

One program we use is Explode the Code Online to learn basic reading skills. I recently sent them some feedback:

My feed back is about the questions in which he must answer yes or no. Perhaps it is my son, who not only tries to read the question, but also analyze the drawing that accompanies the question, and all the possibilities that might occur.

For example, is a grasshopper fine if it rests all day? The answer is yes, but my son wonders if the grasshopper is sick, for it might otherwise be eating and hopping, not resting.

Will a robin nest in a wastebasket? After explaining what a wastbasket is (we use "garbage can"), he said it wasn't possible to know if a robin had ever done that. They don't usually, but it doesn't mean they won't.

He doesn't know what a cream puff is. Is there no other more common word you could use, like perhaps ice cream?

Also, he'd like you to know that your horse drawing is not of a horse that has "trotted", but rather the horse is cantering. Comes from owning horses. You obviously don't.


I email them about once a week with such observations. I'm sure they appreciate me as their customer. I didn't tell them how William thinks a little less of them because they don't know that we send Valentimes, not Valentines, in February.

Dh says we are raising William to be royalty. Why? Well, he's taking piano lessons, art, fencing, and horseback riding. And of course, he has a princely name.

Notes:
One counselor form I must fill out for Lauren asks me to write why we chose to homeschool. So far, I've come up with "because I didn't know any better".

Monday, November 30, 2009

Cyber Schmyber

So today was Cyber Monday, the day that millions across America sat at their desks and got paid to do their Christmas shopping. See what I miss not having a job? Or at least a paying job. My job today was college and career counselor as we put the finishing touches on Lauren's college applications. Each one was a bit different, required a little something extra.

The most difficult, yet interesting, question for me, the homeschool teacher/counselor/mom is that I am to write the reason I decided to homeschool this child and my homeschooling philosophy in 1500 characters (characters, mind you, not words) or less. Well, I could write a book, and do - right here on the old blog. Think I could just send them a link?

Notes:
Jorgen and new horse, Okie, fought the two times they've been together. I decided a new strategy was needed. I put copious amounts of hay about the field, half a bale. I put Jorgen out first to pick his pile. He began eating. I then added in Okie, who of course HAD to eat from Jorgen's pile, just to see if he'd be allowed. Surprisingly, he was. Etta then went out and that caused a momentary stir as Jorgen wasn't too happy that she's so promiscuous as to hang around the new guy after such a short time. Anyway, it's all about the food, evidently, for they behaved all day until the food was gone and it was time to come in for grain.

A cold wind is blowing. Can I survive? I'm thinking this way and it isn't even January yet. It is going to be a long winter.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving - But Not You Mr. 'Possum

I grabbed the two chickens by the tail and threw them into the yard, accompanied by the sound of what can only be called chickens screaming. Trying to remove them from the coop in the dark, I was fearful of getting bitten by the young opposum hiding in the corner. Rabies shots are not on my Christmas list.

It was later than normal chore time, having returned from a wonderful dinner at my sister's house two hours away. I would not have noticed it, except that Daisy (our Beagle-Dor, half Beagle, half Lab) was scratching at the edge of coop, something she doesn't normally do. So, I opened the hatch and looked in to see the wee wicked thing hissing at me. After removing the two chickens sitting there, apparently unaware of the danger, I took them to the barn and caged them. Though opposums won't normally kill a full-sized and healthy chicken, the two chickens in question were bantams.

So, tomorrow, I need to secure that coop. The bottom of the housing section hasn't any wire on it. With a dirt floor, somehow the 'possum squeezed under. Likely, he was after the bits of feed left over (chickens are messy eaters), but he may have been after his own Thanksgiving dinner.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Up and Over

Etta seemed a little unsure when I released her into the pasture with Okie. After touching noses, they both began walking about together, picking at what little grass remains. Two white horses, I shook my head. Lots of grooming. After assuring myself they were going to behave, I walked back to the barn and retrieved Jorgen.

Jorgen is a boss horse, a small pony with a big stallion attitude. Yet, he'd nosed Okie under the fence since Sunday with no apparent fireworks. I thought I'd see what would happen. He immediately made a jack#ss of himself, braying like a donkey and backing up to Okie. Both gave a good accounting of their ability to kick each other's rear. I sighed, caught Jorgen, and leaving Okie with Etta, put him on the other side of the electric wire.

All was well most of the day. The minis joined Etta and Okie, as Jorgen could only look on. In the basement doing bills, I didn't notice that it had grown dark, and with the darkness, Jorgen's insecurity grew. As I headed to the barn, I could hear, but not see, horses braying and running.

Sure enough, Jorgen was in chasing poor Okie. No harm was done, except both got a good workout and couldn't be fed for awhile. I checked the fence, and it was on and in good shape - meaning Jorgen had jumped it. Not the first time - he's a jumper, and at 12 h 3, he's jumped a four board fence - we saw him do it. So, I guess tomorrow, Jorgen will get the girl, so he'll not feel the need to jump the fence. Horse socialization is so interesting.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Changing of the Guard

I let the tears run down the inside of my throat. I wish I could explain to her why I was leaving her, why we were taking her away from her friends. After loading, Quid called to Etta, and my foolish human brain heard words in the whinny.

Quid: I'm over here! They've loaded me in the trailer. Etta! Etta!
Etta: Don't leave me! Don't leave! Come back!
Quid: It's moving, Etta! Help! Bye! Don't forget me!

If only I could explain, tell her that I was thinking only of her welfare, that we still cared!

Now, fool that I am, my eyes tear up just reading back my own imaginings. Truth is, Quid was very happy the moment she realized where she was going. She walked into the stall, and promptly checked out the food bin. Lauren stopped by yesterday, and Quid was in the biggest field, figuring out who was to be her new buddy.

Because of Lauren's heavy schedule and varied interests, Quid was languishing in the field, and for a horse like her, that isn't fair. Quid likes to run, and compete. I've seen her rear at a starting line, anxious to go. She is going to be ridden by one of the finest international games riders for the next year. I look forward to seeing her back to having a job and getting to run full out. Still, she's the finest horse we've ever owned in many ways. We still own her, but I had to do the right thing and let her go for awhile. It seems to be my season of letting go.

And where God closes one door....The stall door opened for Okie, my sister's horse who needed a place to stay for awhile. He's a big quarter horse who will be a fine ride for dh. He has a gentle disposition and is fitting in fine. He's been separated by an electric fence from Jorgen and Etta, until they all get to know each other. The minis, however, have abandoned protocol, crossed under the fence and spent the day with him. I'll try to post a photo tomorrow.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

A blonde woman and her fiance just got married. They were really poor so she went to church and prayed. "God, I need to win the lottery. My husband and I really need the money. Please!" So she went home that evening and watched to see if she won the lottery. She didn't. So she went back to church to pray again. "Please, God, we really need the money. Please." She went back home and again, she did not win the lottery. She went back to church and she said, "God, why won't you let me win the lottery?" A big, booming voice said, "Lady, you need to buy a lottery ticket to win the lottery!"


Likely, if you have an email address, you've seen this joke. Well, I'm here to tell you that God doesn't always even expect you to buy the ticket. You know why I know? You got it - I won lottery money without buying a ticket! Now, it was only $32, but that's pretty good considering that I never buy lottery tickets, scratch-offs, bug-offs, or any type of state rip-offs. How did I win?

I was one fall day out weed-eating a patch that is down in a deep ditch near the road. We often just let it grow up there - no one can see it much, it is at the outlet of a culvert pipe that sometimes in a hard rain sends through a lot of water to our creek, and the vegetation holds the soil. But, about once a year, we'll beat it back. Often, while doing this chore, one has to pick up a good deal of trash that trashy people throw out their car windows. I noticed a lottery ticket of some kind in the weeds, but didn't bother to pick it up, weed-eating, weed-eating.....And then, my weed-eater hit the folded ticket, and money flew into the air! I killed the power, and looked to see. A twenty, two fives and two ones, $32! Unfortunately, the twenty was rent in two, and the remaining money was moldy and not in good shape.

However, the bank was willing to take the old money, and give me new. I won the lottery (or at least one of the games) without buying a ticket! My lucky day. Wish I could win a million like that. There was no way to know who had lost this money to return it, and before you say it was yours, I've already spent it. Also found in the weeds was a small binder which had last names in columns and notations of $3 or so in the far right column. Likely a "bookie" lost it. I left it by the road to see if it was claimed, and it did disappear one day and we noticed someone had, unasked, completely weed-eated (is that a word?) the area and removed all the brush. We don't know who. Was it a kind neighbor? Or was someone looking for their lottery ticket?

Notes:
Etta had her stitches removed yesterday and had her first few hours outside. She is still very afraid of the fence.

Okie arrives tomorrow - my sister's horse who will live with us for awhile.

Bought winter wheat yesterday. We need to seed around the small arena we built. Winter wheat will hold the soil until the grass can come in during warmer weather.

We were in Northern Ohio, I think I told you. Were very interested that they had all their fall colors, leaves still, while here - only the oak trees cling to their brown leaves. It looks like winter here already with naked trees. Yet, it is warmer and sunnier. Why is that?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

LOL

Last night, dh read one of Lauren's essays for a college application. It was a well written account of her three week visit to Japan, and the difficulties in learning a new culture quickly. He suggested, however, that she remove the paragraph in which she described the complexities of the Japanese toilet. We laughed and laughed as he asked us to envision an admission officer reading the essay, "As I sat there, it suddenly dawned on me that I didn’t know how to flush the contraption!" * Did we really want the person deciding her fate to have a mental image of her sitting on a toilet? Maybe not. We laughed again. (I might or might not have originally suggested adding that as a memorable bit of her trip, make her stand out a little, eh?)

* (There are many buttons on these $4000 toilets that accomplish various tasks, such as spraying you with water and blow drying your bumm. No, really.)

We spent this past weekend visiting colleges and family, a four day road trip. We now have until December 1st to finish all the applications. Sleep is overrated anyway. The weather in northern Ohio was unreal - warm, beautiful weather. It should have been icy cold blown by winds, raining. Perhaps it was the area's attempt to get Lauren to think what a beautiful place it would be to attend college. It worked.

Coincidences
  • I stopped by Debra's place in Peninsula, Ohio but should have called ahead. She wasn't there, but I did meet her husband, see her art in person and buy a mug that I use for my daily coffee. Next visit, I'll have to tell her I'm coming! Funny thing is, I've passed her place many, many years on the way to visit family. What a coincidence.
  • My friend and hairdresser lives two miles from me. She told me she was going out of town. Oh, me, too! Same exact days. Where, she asked? Oh, you'll not know it, small town. Not only did she know it, she was going to visit her sister right down the street from where I'd be. Just a few miles. Little did we know we had that connection.
Notes
Etta is healing nicely. Should I take the stitches out tomorrow? She would really, really like to go outside.

It is dark here. Winter approaches.

Quid (POA horse) is going to go into training. Awaiting new arrival of "Okie", my sister's horse who will live with us for awhile. Can't have an empty stall, after all.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Disaster Strikes

I knew as it was happening that it was going to be bad, one of those slow motion train wrecks that you can only stand by and watch. Because of the new small arena construction in the front pasture, our horses were in the back. I had all the stalls readied, but no grain out and the minis were put away. So, I decided to let the horses out to walk up to the barn themselves. We do that all the time from the front pasture and the horses sedately walk to their individual stalls.

Well, this night, Etta balked at crossing the electric wire fence, the first I'd noticed that she was very afraid of it. Normally, she comes out a metal gate, no electric involved. Jorgen and Quid had already crossed past me, where I held the handle of the wire. Etta bolted past me and ran as only an Arabian can when spooked. She took off to the barn, up the driveway. Half-way up, she fell. I could do nothing, but follow. By the time I got to the barn, everyone was in their stalls.

Etta had several abrasions, but one bad four inch impact cut, needing stitches. The vet was called and stapled her together. It's been two days now, and I'm watching for infection, as one edge could not be sewn, missing skin as it was. She's confined now to her stall, and not all that happy about it, although she has the fat minis as company most of the day. I only let them out for about four hours a day. They are what we call "easy keepers", meaning they get fat just looking at grass.

Notes:
I have decided to call the big rooster with black and red feathers "Lester" after his forefathers. Wm is superstitious about naming chickens after previously killed chickens, for fear they'll suffer the same fate. But he's a rooster. And I have two more.

The other rooster I name "Peter" after hearing the story of Peter denying Jesus at Sunday school, and the white silkie rooster shall be Judas, for he betrayed me by being a rooster instead of a hen.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Dissed

I was having a bad day. I'd gone to have the tires balanced and rotated, and of course, they told me that the tires were so badly worn, I needed a new set. I told them I'd return another day. THEN, they told me that they were running a free "DNA test" on the cars that came in, and Eugene the Van could use a transmission and power steering fluid change.

"Oh, my van has a DNR," I replied, using their "cutesy" use of medical terminology. The man looked at me blankly. "It has 200,000 miles on it," I explained. "Do Not Resuscitate." He laughed, and admitted that with that many miles, stirring things up by changing fluids could cause more problems than solving them.

Then, at Wal-Mart, the computer at self-checkout would take neither of my credit cards. "Card not accepted," she said in a scolding tone. Knowing they were recently paid, I turned to the clerk. "Is your machine not working?"

"Oh," she said. "It wants me to see your photo ID."

Now, as much money as I drop in that place and as frequent, it ought to greet me by name and I jokingly told her so.

"Yes, but it doesn't know what credit card you are using."

Sure - it doesn't know anything about me - what brand toilet paper I use, where I live, how often I'm there, whether I use 1% or skim milk. I always use the same card. I was dissed by the Wal-Mart computer.

Dh wisely pointed out that maybe, they were making sure it was me to protect me and my card. That made me feel better. Maybe Wal-Mart's got my back. Right.

Notes:
William found a magnifying glass, not very powerful, but powerful enough to get a little smoke from some dried leaves. This gave me the idea to burn our American flag that was in shreds. I had to pour gasoline on it to light it, and found that it burned down to bubbling goo. It melted. I wonder what it was made of?

November is proving to be mild. Dare I wish for a mild winter?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

I was on the phone when William called me from the bathroom with an emergency. He'd dropped the fingernail clippers into the toilet while using it. Given the circumstances, I wasn't going in after them (they only cost $1), but we've had enough problems with the lines that he knew to ask before flushing. If you want to know, it didn't seem to have caused any problems - yet. And why did he have clippers near the toilet? He's learning to multi-task. Why am I writing this? He doesn't yet read my blog.

Lazy

The teen girl, who attends public school, asked if I'd be offended if she asked me a question about homeschooling. When I told her to go ahead, she asked if my teen daughters could wear their pajamas all day. (I've heard this same question before.) When I replied that they could (though aside to you, they don't), she replied, "COOL!"

I find this amusing because just the other day, I'd been to a local retail store, and in front of me was an older teen wearing her flannel jammy pants and fuzzy slippers entering the store with her mother! Could not the mother be bothered to say, "For goodness sakes, throw on some clothes or stay home". (Or threaten to wear her flannel jammies which should elicit enough teen embarrassment of mom to get her to change.)

Notes:
The horses winter coats are growing nicely.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

What would happen if...?

William question of the day:

Wm: What would happen if the earth stopped spinning?
Me: We'd all die.
Wm: Why would we all die?
Me: (making it up as I go along) Well, only one side would face the sun, and that would mess up plants growing and eventually, all the plants and animals would die and we'd have no food.
Wm: Even the cows would die?
Me: Even the cows.
Wm: Does the moon rotate?
Me: Don't know, I'll Google it.

So this is a wonderful reason to homeschool, I learn all kinds of things. For example, if the earth was to stop rotating suddenly, the earth would stop, but the atmosphere would not, meaning winds in the range of 1100 miles per hour for the world's greatest hurricane. And if it slowly stopped spinning, well read for yourself. And yes, the moon does rotate.

Of course, the recent harvest moon had us talking about the cause of the overly large red moon both at home and dh's work, where he learned that it is an optical illusion. On this website, it said that one way that you can trick your mind out of the moon illusion is to bend over at the waist and look at the moon upside down through your legs. I suggested to dh that management could use the same technique on employees to test morale. Substitute "happy employees" for moon. Maybe it wouldn't change the view of management, but it might lift morale.

Question of the evening: What would happen if the earth split suddenly in two? (I haven't researched this one - have at it.)

Notes:
Work began today to grade our front pasture for a small arena to also be used as a dry lot.

The small chick born the other day suffered an amputation of the toe (cause unknown) which proved to be fatal.

H1N1 seems to scare more people than the health care plan.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Ka-Boom

Today, I took William, two of his friends and Lauren to see Doktor Kaboom. On the way there, the aroma in the car changed as suddenly as it only can with three small boys enclosed there. And of course, the discussion quickly degenerated into "who did it".

Boy 1: I didn't do it. (big goofy grin)
Boy 2: I think mom or Lauren did it. (you can guess correctly this was William)
Boy 3: (Sniff, sniff, smile) I think it smells good. Smells like bacon!

We were entering downtown Louisville, and so it is entirely possible that we'd just passed the Fischer meat packing plant where they do indeed make bacon. I can only hope.

Notes:
My schedule is PACKED, and just when I think I have a moment to enjoy the fall weather, something comes to fill that time. Which is why I leave you now, with just this short blog today.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Apple Head

Anna's gone over to the Mac Notebook Pro side. It gave her a big head. She think's her computer is better than ours. She's right.
William says the only Mac he wants is a "Big Mac".

Trying on a Different Style


Self-Portrait
by Anna
Oil on Gesso
Using a "brayer" (print-making tool)

Notes:
Would someone please inform the animals that the time has changed? No one told them.


Friday, October 30, 2009

Lurking

The night is peaceful. Bats fly overhead, chickens chuckle soft sounds as they settle, and horses make low calling sounds to me, encouraging me to their feed. It was later than I normally do the chores yesterday evening, fully dark. As I emerged from the lights of the garage into the semi-darkness of the driveway, I heard a tremendous crashing in the woods, of something either caught, terribly frightened of me, or both.

I stood still and wondered if the minis had wandered into the woods, which they rarely if ever do, and gotten caught on a vine or the rolled wire fence. As much as I love the peaceful night, I wasn't about to go into the unlit woods to encounter whatever it was that thrashed there. Finally, I heard steps. It had escaped whatever held it there, and I could hear it carefully walking away.

Proceeding to the barn, I found the minis in with the larger ponies. Likely, it had been a deer. A herd of six does were across the street just this week, eyes glowing in our headlights. There must be a bumper crop of deer this year. Carcasses litter the roadsides all over, and I'm guessing body shops are doing a very good business.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

I measured the miniature horses for weight in preparation for worming them. Perhaps I can use Roxie for an exercise ball, so round she is getting. Two hundred fifty pounds! Interestingly, Chiron is not so round, yet they eat exactly the same food and are turned out for the same length of time. Both seem to have about the same energy level. Similarly, our newest horse, Etta, is thin but is getting more food than our other two ponies who are fat.

The minis are now on a restricted diet, much to their dismay. They are only turned out on our luscious lawn for half the day. Had I more time, I'd start walking them around the "loop", our 2 mile walk, but for now, I'm still in the college visit mode.

Conversations with William in the car:

Why are those people selling wood? Where did they get that wood? Why doesn't wet wood burn? Why doesn't water burn? Will rubber burn? Will gasoline explode? What if I took a fishing pole and hung a lit match from it over our house, filled the house with gasoline, and stood far away and then let the match fall, would the house explode? What if I took gasoline and poured it all over our driveway and lit it? What is gasoline made out of? How do they make it? What are the ingredients? What if I mixed water with gasoline, would it still burn? What makes things burn? Why does rubber make smoke when it burns? ....Conversation finally ended due to arrival at our destination but fully convincing me why I needed a degree in Chemical Engineering - to answer the questions of a seven year old boy.
(And as a side note, I will be hiding all of our matches.)

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Show Me the Money

I suppose I didn't expect the FAFSA form to tell me that our family was eligible for financial aid. We're not wealthy, but we make ends meet most months. FAFSA is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Still, it amuses me to find out what "they" think our family can pay out of pocket for our first college student. It doesn't (or at least the estimate form, I can't fill out the real form until January, I think) ask any pertinent questions like:

  • How much do you spend in horse feed each month?
  • What were your library fines in June?
  • HOW OLD is your van?? (Are you nuts?)
  • How many sizes of gym shoes did your son go through last year?
And then, they could provide some cost savings ideas:
  • Would it be possible for you to live in your car while financing your daughter's education?
  • Have you applied to third shift Walmart yet?
  • Could you sell your dishwasher and wash your dishes in the creek?
  • What is the average temperature in your house? Please lower it 15 degrees in the winter to save on heating bills.
I have learned also that it is to our advantage to not own anything but our house, our cars, our retirement accounts. Our daughter must not own anything. Were I to get a job, after I pay taxes, the amount I earned would go against us and the little bit of loans we qualify for would disappear. So, I will look for little scholarships here and hope that Lauren's piano talent will be recognized.

Notes:
The silkie chickie is a rooster, as he attacks when you try to pick him up. Once he gets over the initial shock of one's hand, however, he will perch on you like a parrot.

Renee asked me via Facebook how I get our hens to sit on eggs. Well, Renee, they are bantams, and bantams like to sit on eggs. In fact, it can be a problem. We have one hen right now sitting on four dud eggs, and she has for some time. I feed her where she sits, but she waits in vain.

I showed up for a 10 o'clock class yesterday at 10:30, thinking I was on time. The 10:30 class is on Thursday, not Tuesday. I'm losing it!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Someday, I hope to become organized. It amuses me to no end that people that aren't often at my house will make a comment to a mutual friend, "she is so organized". I try not to snort. I put on a good show to the outside world.

At home? I think of the other day when dh brought in my meat tenderizer hammer which he found in the yard. Or perhaps the day when I looked over to see William using the sweater shaver (you know, the little thing that takes the pilings off your sweater?) on a banana. My eyebrows are getting out of shape for want of tweezers, which likely have been used in some bug dissection.

I visualize some secret hiding place in my house where, if I could locate it, I might find all the cordless phone sets, a few remote controls, my tweezers, about a dozen or more finger nail clippers, every blasted ink pen I've ever bought, and loads and loads of clear tape. What would you want to find if you located the secret hiding place in your house?

And if you wonder why I'm posting at 1 a.m., if I'm going to keep up this blog, that's when I have quiet and time to write. My current job is to scour the Internet for scholarship opportunities for my up and coming college students. I spent some precious minutes filling out a form for the Optimist Club, only to find that their "submit" button seems to not work. Optimistically, I kept trying to submit, but after several tries, I gave up. I wonder if that was a test I failed? Perhaps I should have kept trying - optimistically.

Monday, October 26, 2009

What Used to Be My Blog

Possible reasons I abandoned my poor blog:
  • I've been abducted by aliens.
  • I've gotten the swine flu and now live in the barn.
  • I've lost my mind.
  • Every moment of my day is consumed with college searches, visits and filling out forms.
  • I have no free time.
Well, if you've guessed number one, please come get me. Life inside this space ship is exhausting. And I don't think I've gotten swine flu - yet, but it is all around our community. I think I have lost my mind, so if you find it, please return it to me. And the last two are definitely true.

I will try to regain my footing and post again, as my mom says she hasn't anything to read during lunch. My sister says she keeps up with me by what "used to be my blog". Ouch!

William quote of the day:

"I really like our Church. You know why? 1. It has good value and 2. It doesn't take long to get there."

Notes:
My nephew called me yesterday to inquire as to how long a pumpkin lasts after you carve it. I am now the great pumpkin expert! My answer was what he wanted to hear - go ahead and carve it!

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Punished by Rewards

Bribing with food is not recommended by people who don't have young children and aren't over-scheduled. Knowing better, I still told William that if he came with me immediately without complaining so that I could get to the post office in time to mail an urgent package, that I would buy him an ice cream on the way home.

After mailing the package and on our way home, I heard a familiar refrain: "I'm hungry." I asked is he wanted the promised ice-cream cone or something "more substantial".

"More substantial, please," he replied. Long pause. "What does that mean: 'stantial?"

Thursday, October 01, 2009

William and I began our study of religion that day by discussing the number of Sacraments.

"I know already. Seven," he said confidently. Surprised because I help in another classroom and not his Sunday school class. Our class hadn't yet covered this. I asked if he could name any.

"Well, there is Marriage. Baptism. Then, there is the one where you have to follow the rules."

I was puzzled. Follow the rules?

"Yes, you know, like Father Mark must follow the rules."

Oh, Holy Orders.

Any others?

"Yes, Annoying of the Sick. But I don't know why they use that word: annoying."

Notes:
About a year after our built, insulation began flaking off and hanging in sheets inside of it. It has taken us about two years total, but today, they will take off the roof, replace the insulation and put the metal roof back on again. It seems that it was a bad batch of insulation.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Sign Language

I wondered at first if this might be considered a Corporal Work of Mercy,
for surely this was an imprisonment. Though she had a beautifully landscaped enclosure, this intelligent creature sat forlornly in the corner, eyes sadly downcast, looking away if someone tried to take her photo. Though I know orangutans generally live alone, I could not help but feel sorry for her boredom.

We put our palms to the glass, yet she didn't respond. We were about to leave when she suddenly climbed to the grating above the window. She took a small twig from her mouth and began to feed it through a tiny hole in the corner of the plate glass. A few people began to gather behind me. What was she doing?

She climbed back down and pointed at my purse and then up again at the hole. She wanted me to give her something through that hole. Knowing I would not as I don't want to get arrested, yet wanting to interact, I began to show her things in my purse. At each item, she'd look, wave it away, and point again to my purse. Finally, I just held the purse up to the window, and she peered in, inspecting more closely than an airport security guard. Indeed, I wondered why they didn't reassign her to these duties. She motioned for me to move over the dividers in my purse so she could see better. She memorized my credit card numbers, hence the creative fundraising the zoo is now employing.

Having found nothing satisfactory, she pointed to William's backpack. He'd brought along clothes and goggles in the unlikely event that on this cold day, the sprinkler park would be open. William did not want an ape going through his things, nor did he want his mother to show the ape his backpack. Still, the orang pointed. Finally, we were able to negotiate showing that the pack contained only clothes. Back to my purse.

By now, a docent told us that "she" was Amber, and was curious. She loved to watch women put on lipstick and see what else you have. And the docent had caught people trying to stick gum and other items through the hole. The ape is very persuasive.

Amber stuck her long arms though a fence behind her and grabbed an even longer stick. She stripped it of side branches, and again gave me a present through the small hole. We sat "talking" to her, forever divided by glass.

"Is she dangerous, mom?" William asked. About that time, Amber yawned, showing very large teeth. I have no answer, and will not have the opportunity to find out. We left, able to call goodbye to her from the outside fence where she could hear us. She looked briefly, then went back to frisking the rest of her audience.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Zoo Finds New Method of Funding

After days of rain, yesterday, we had beautiful weather. I left my mountains of housework and tasks to take William and Anna to the zoo.

I was taken aback at their new fundraising techniques, that is, they seem to be training the animals to pick my pocket, or in this case, purse. Here you see a lorikeet looking in my purse, only after eating $2 in nectar and then licking the side of my face.

Evidently, he (she?) did not find the pickings satisfactory, for shortly after the photo was taken, it bit the back of my arm sharply, which hurt like the devil.

Next: how I got frisked by an orangutan.

Notes: Where have I been? Two of our four computers completely crashed. When you have two daughters working on online courses, that becomes a serious problem. So, computer time has been limited.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Last night I was out at my favorite time of day, just after it turned completely dark. I looked up at the stars far above, stars that have been looked upon by many generations gone before, stars that will be here long after I'm gone. What's it like up there, I wondered?

My eyes often turn upward after my evening chores and I think of such things. It is quiet, just me and the crickets, and I think about life and the beyond. Last night, I thought about Chuck.

It is my great sadness to write that Chuck of Chuck's Chatter went to heaven this past Saturday after a brief illness. I met Chuck several years ago when he and I became partners in running the Church thrift shop. Chuck would relieve me of running the register and I'd relieve him of folding clothes, a satisfactory arrangement for us both. His wit and updates on his family brought him into my extended family.

William asked, "Who will count the money at the shop now? Chuck and I used to count the money together." I reminded him that it was okay to be sad, but to also be happy that we had the opportunity to know him.

Chuck was also known around town as Constable Chuck, as he ran unopposed as a write-in candidate in last November's election. He made it his project to ticket motorists parking illegally in handicapped parking spots about town. Every time I look at handicapped spots, I will think of him and look for their handicap permits. (Not that I plan to take his place in these duties.)

The thrift store will not be the same for me, as I really continued my work there longer than I probably should so that I could hear stories about his wife, their two sons and grandchildren, about wintering at the Mets baseball training camp, about Lorain, his 80-something baseball training camp friend, and his favorite spots to eat.

Rest well, my friend.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Pushing the Limit

My sister has embarked on a new exercise program and she daily updates us with her progress on Facebook. She mentioned today that she was doing push-ups. I responded:

I'm doing push-ups, too. I'm pushing my coffee up to my mouth, and pushing my new reading glasses up on my nose, and pushing my butt up out of this chair to go do chores.

We've been college shopping for Lauren. It feels a good deal like house shopping. First one has to find the right neighborhood, then the right house, and THEN, can one afford it? Another analogy might be that it is like shopping for a husband for her, knowing all the while none of them are good enough for her, but ultimately, you'll have to find the one that is good enough to send her away to.

This college shopping is something that I don't remember doing when I went to college. I remember having a short list of colleges, none of which I visited, and finally just picking based on cost and that the location was nearby. Of course, cost remains a factor. Yearly costs are more than a luxury car.

Notes:
Was that duck supposed to hatch this weekend or next?

Pet sitting for neighbors who have ducks. They are very stupid, even worse than chickens. How do they survive?

Anna and my mother-in-law have an art show starting on Monday as a multi-generational art show.

My days are so full, I'm afraid one day I'll wake up and find that I'm ninety years old and it went by so fast.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Hay Fairy

Yesterday was a day of mystery. I could not find the juvenile red rooster, and in the middle of the day, six square hay bales appeared out of nowhere. I asked one neighbor, and she denied having been my benefactor. Perhaps it was the neighbor to the west?

After working at the Church thrift shop, I went to feed the horses their afternoon grain, and there was red rooster. In the morning, as I put out grain, the chickens try to steal a little before the horses come ambling in. It seems he got cornered, and though I had looked in all the stalls, I missed seeing him. He seemed relieved to be let out.

After an early morning ride, a friend stopped on his way home. He was my hay fairy. Someone had gifted him with twenty bales and he couldn't fit it all in his barn, so he gave me some. What a nice surprise!

The bantam continues to sit on the duck egg, and I can only imagine what she will think when this ugly duckling hatches.

On Monday, we picked Anna's artwork up from three sources, farmed out for the fair and an art show. We were surprised with a three foot trophy as she had won (unbeknownst to us) the title "Supreme Grand Champion" award for 4H at the Kentucky State Fair.

We're going to donate the trophy to the 4H office, for surely it'll be knocked over by some dog or kid here at our house.

And, for those of you that care, today is Talk Like a Pirate Day~! William says pirates don't do homework. I said pirates also get thrown overboard or run through with a sword. Just sayin'.

AND! This day twenty years and twenty pounds ago, I was walking down the aisle to my future happiness. I hope for at least twenty more! Happy Anniversary, honey!

Prayer request: Chuck of Chuck's Chatter is in the hospital in ICU. Please leave him a note on his blog wishing him a speedy recovery. I'll print it out and bring it to his room.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

One of My Favorite Movie Clips

The Element of Surprise

We looked around for Anna's painting in Cloverville, the make-believe 4H town in the West Hall of the Kentucky State Fair. The painting, bigger than most there, and of course, very familiar to us, would catch our eye immediately if we laid eyes on it. I suggested maybe it was in another room, though this was the senior painting division room. "They better not have lost it," Anna said ominously.

We were directed to the information booth to inquire. And there, beside the booth, were the Grand Champion winners encased in glass. My throat choked as I saw Anna's painting with a large purple ribbon. Indeed, they had not lost it.


"Temptation"
by Anna

Notes:
A neighbor (you know who you are) stuck a duck egg under my broody bantam hen. Duck eggs aren't so big as goose eggs, so the hen was happy to adopt this egg. Now, what she is going to think when her efforts result in this child of hers, I don't know. Neighbors have been notified that they will adopt said smelly child when it is "weaned".

It's finally summer here, reaching the high 80s. Somehow, we escaped without having temperatures in the 90s. The nice weather ruined some crops, but our famous grass is beautiful. Good hay season!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Here, Kitty, Kitty

Butt in the air and down on the pavement with my dress clothes on, I momentarily gave pause that my daughter might be embarrassed if she and her friends were to see me right now. A six week old, jet black kitten was meowing piteously and panicked. I meowed back, a soothing mommy-kitty sound. As I reached for it, it climbed the tire of the car beneath which it hid.

I couldn't leave it there: we were in downtown Lexington, and cars were whizzing by on the busy street, pulling in and out of the parking lot for the campus bookstore of the nearby university. The kitty retreated further into the car, following the cavity where the axle came out to the wheel. Oh, well (no pun intended), I would sit on the curb and see if I was quiet, it might come out. I had time to kill.

Lauren was having dinner with friends in a nearby restaurant, a precursor to an event we were attending that night, a "masterclass" with Alessio Bax. I eat fast, so I went walking around to the bookstore to browse. Upon exiting, I heard the kitten.

After awhile, I looked under the car again, and got a curious look from two young coeds. I shrugged. "There's a little kitty under there."

Both girls immediately joined in to trying to coax kitty out of the car. They went back into the store, found the car owner who came out to open the hood. The mom of one of the girls had also arrived. My meow seemed to elicit more responses from the kitten, so the girl asked me to keep meowing.

By now, Lauren and friends had arrived, and luckily, I was on my feet and ready to get out of there before I found myself taking home a small black kitten. As I walked away, one girl had her entire arm down in the engine of the car, trying to reach it. I worried that she'd break the car or her arm, but not my problem. We walked back to my car, and all loaded in to our next stop. On exiting, we could see the car down the block, which now had several more people crowded around it, all trying to get the cat out. I was amused. But as far as I was concerned, I had deftly solved the problem by delegation.

Notes:
Yes, Lauren, the fact that he is so handsome probably doesn't hurt his career at the very least. But he does seem to be an amazing pianist (haven't really heard him play yet, only teach).

Adding classes at a university the day before classes start isn't smart. Lesson learned.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Teach...Your Children Well...

Baby talk, that is, high-pitched helium gas talk, isn't well tolerated in our house. Yet, we do find it difficult to let go of cute mispronounced words. Letting go of them somehow means that the child is growing up, no longer wanting a "hambur-bur". At seven, I suppose it is time to teach William that magazines are not "mazagines", but mazagine sound so much better. And he loves to go to Cost-so to get "zamples". A zample is a sample of a product which is used as an example. I think it is a cool new word.

Speaking of zamples, they really do work if you have a seven year old with you - and it isn't crab meat. William loves to try all the zamples and then see how long it takes to wear me down to buy it. He "got me good" on the Angus hamburgers with blue cheese. Boy, were they good (and expensive). A friend of mine is a zample presenter, and she laughed recently, when William started to take her zample and I asked, "William, you do know it's crab meat, right?" I pictured him throwing up all over the aisle when he found out. We didn't buy that zample.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Moo

The soft inquisitive eyes stared out at me through the galvanized slats. Not at all introspective about the hypocrisy of heading to the store to by lunchmeat and feeling sorry for the cow in the trailer, I hoped that the owners weren't heading to the slaughter house. She (?), the cow that is, not the owner, was wearing a leather halter with a shiny brass buckle. You wouldn't put a leather halter on a meat cow, now would you?

Ohio license plates turned towards StuffMart. Then, it dawned on me. State Fair. The Kentucky State Fair started today! Maybe it was a famous, prize cow I just saw, headed to the Fair to win more prizes. Relieved, I stopped worrying about her. And went to buy roast beef.

Notes:
Rode Etta in the pasture, or rather, sat on her and watched the sunset. I'd share the photos of this Anna took, but my computer refuses to cooperate. Maybe tomorrow.

Today, our Math-U-See shipment arrived, William's math curriculum. I had to buy new, different manipulatives to go with this program. William spent much of the day building hotels, stores, houses with them. One hotel had some kind of high tech safety beam on it so that if anyone shoots at it, the bullets are deflected. So glad he likes his new math supplies,

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Eugene the Van

We were a couple of miles from home when the stupid orange-yellow light came on. Out of gas. I told Anna to grab my purse, the one gas station between here and there was coming up. No purse. I did, however, have the dry cleaning bag full of my husband's dirty dress shirts. Evidently, my mind was on a slight blip. I didn't think that the gas station takes dirty laundry in exchange for gas, but that's an interesting concept. What to do? The drive to Anna's art class is about 20 minutes, perhaps 15 miles give or take, and then back. My light comes on when I have about 30 miles left of gas. If I went home, she'd be very late for class.

Anna had only one paper dollar on her, but then remembered she might have some quarters. Digging around in her purse, she came up with three more dollars. That'll do it, I said, and continued on our journey. After dropping her off, I carefully pumped four dollars, not even two gallons, but enough to get me home. I went in to pay with my change, feeling like white trash driving a van with nearly 200,000 miles on it and paying with quarters. But, I didn't have to walk.

Speaking of Eugene (the van), we had briefly considered turning him in for the clunker program. Even with the rebate, we decided that to get a vehicle big enough to haul the girls back and forth to college in the coming years, and with needing to have extra vehicles for two extra drivers, it was not economically feasible, given the price of new cars. It would be better to get a newer used one (aren't you proud of us, Dave Ramsey?).

Perhaps we should not have anthropomorphized our van, and given him a name, but we all felt we could not turn him in to be euthanized. That is just wrong! Just as a wedding ring is not just a gold band, neither is Eugene just a trashed old van. Many, many hours have been spent in that van, and to know that it would be injected and silenced for ever, and then crushed! Well, not going to happen. William, eavesdropping on the whole conversation, asked if the people would take Eugene, fix him up and return him to us. I hadn't the heart to tell him that the van would be smashed.

Besides, having an old vehicle fits us right now. Dogs and kids pile in. Spill your drink? Oh, well, wipe it up. Smelly cleats, no problem. Dog throws up? Get a towel. New vehicle response, "(not printable)"

Notes:
My busy season is about to start, visiting colleges and starting some more formal schooling for everyone.

Yesterday, William and I spotted a male luna moth.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Liebestraum

It is an interesting phenomenon that two engineers (and dh an MBA to boot) produced two children focused on the arts, one in performing arts, one in visual. How did that happen?

Lauren returned this past Sunday from two weeks in Sacramento, California culminating in a 10 Piano Performance where 10 pianists played the same piece on 10 grand pianos simultaneously.
Awarded Piano #5, a great honor, she was very pleased with the performance. She even commented that the Japanese teachers there clapped!

Why make a comment like that? The Japanese teachers are very strict, working students very hard. Only towards the end of the two weeks did they begin to relent and nod. Yes, students were making improvements. A compliment from them meant something, for they were not given lightly.

Given the cost of travel right now and other family obligations, the family did not go with her, and my heart was heavy to not see her perform. Still is. Yet, she is moving into her adult life, and it is nearly time for her to fly this chicken coop. One more year. Here is the performance as taped by a parent in the audience:

Chickens

Things you probably don't know unless you raise chickens:

  • Chickens have very warm and soft feet.
  • Despite feeding them and handling them every day, an ordinary chicken will never come to trust you entirely. They know if it came down to the wire, you'd eat them. Don't lie to them, they know.
  • Chickens don't mind the rain as much as people think they do. "Madder than a wet hen" isn't really that mad, and they really are more sad than mad when wet.
  • Chickens will eat most anything, even chicken meat, though I don't do that to them, it seems wrong.
  • Chickens "peep" until at some point, their voices change to clucking. You can tell when they are full grown when their voices change.
  • Some chickens are "engineered" to grow very quickly, and are slaughtered for meat by six weeks. (I don't do this, I'm chicken.)
  • Chickens love to take baths - dirt baths that is. It will appear to be a seizure or death throe at first, but they are really just rolling and flapping about to get the dust all over them.
  • There is a "pecking order" amongst chickens. Caged, bigger chickens will kill chicks that are not their own, and must be separated. Free-ranged, the mom usually can keep the chick away from the bigger hens, and she will attack just about anything that tries to come near.
  • Big hens have been selectively bred to be not broody. Bantams love to be broody. The bantam that dropped her eggs recently continues to sit as if they are still there. Broody hens will eat and drink little for the 21 days incubation period.
  • Because they are sloppy and fed at will, their food attracts rodents. It's best to not keep them in a horse barn. (Horses rarely miss a morsel.)
Now you know.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Horses are Good for the Soul


Quid and Joey (my nephew)
Notes:
Rode Etta Mae for the first time this evening on the road to neighbor's house and back. She was superb but evidently has never seen painted road lines. She trusted me, though, and stepped over them. I wonder if she could feel my hands shaking through the reins?

Spent the day at the park and pool with friends/fellow homeschoolers, a "not-back-to-school party".

Turned in Anna's artwork for the 4H portion of the state fair! More artwork to turn in this weekend for the non-4H side. Lots of shows coming up.

Dumb old Blogger. This is my Saturday post but it won't save it as such and is publishing today. Oh, well, no Saturday posts and two Fridays.

Insult to Injury

My neighbor found a naked man in her yard. Well, not entirely naked, she clarified, he was wearing a green bandanna. (Good thing, too, otherwise he'd be indecent.) The man was standing near the tree line of her woods. Steering her daughter away, she began talking loudly to me over the fence line, saying she was coming my way, though of course, I was not there.

Comment from Facebook reader: Whaaaattttt??? Did she call the police? I mean the green bandanna just adds insult to injury. Maybe he's one of those genius sorts who forgets pants!"

After getting away from him, she called the police. They were able to track down a man matching her description in a truck, except by now he was wearing shorts and of course, denying that he had recently been naked. The policeman disclosed that it was possible it was the man in question, and that he was a neighbor on a nearby street, but no arrests were made. They're going to run his tags.

It isn't amusing on the one hand, that I have a neighbor that obviously has some kind of issue going on. I suppose I could assume he's just now moved here from a California nudist colony and doesn't know how conservative this area is. No, that wouldn't be it - he was, according to the neighbor, only tan on the upper body, meaning he doesn't do this frequently. That leaves druggie, mental patient or sex offender, none of which soothes this writer.

On the other hand, it would be sort of amusing in a "boy, is he stupid" kind of way (and I hope he remembered his sun tan lotion on all that white skin) if I didn't have children that heard the exchange and will now not go into the back of my own property alone probably ever again. You never know, you could run into a naked man.

Living in the country, you'd not expect to have such occurrences, and indeed, I think this is the first I've heard of something like this. I'll have to start walking with my bo when I go to the creek.

Notes:
It's finally hot.

One hen is sitting on a white silkie egg my sister gave me. It's due to hatch Sunday.
One hen tried sitting on two of her eggs, neglecting to admit to herself that she did not have a baby-daddy. She also chose a bad spot - on top of some square bales - and one day both rolled away from her and fell, smashed.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Falls

This time of year is filled with a mixture of excitement at a new start. I set my resolve to keep better records, to be more organized and to do a better job at our studies at home. The books still have that new smell, and I haven't yet discovered the reasons why that particular approach won't work with that particular child.

By the second day of working with a seven year old, I listen wistfully to the big yellow monster rolling past my house. Is it too late to sign him up? Would public school for just this one be so bad? Am I too old to do this all over again? I brace myself, and try again, reading to him about the early days of this continent, about the mammoths and saber-tooth tigers that once lived here.

The next day, I tell him of a surprise. We are going somewhere. We travel to the Falls of the Ohio, so named for waterfalls that are now under water due to dams and locks built help navigate the river, but exposing Devonian era rock filled with fossils, some huge, from the period of time when this area was a shallow sea. Even in our own creek bed, miles away, I find horned coral. But here, fossils are everywhere you look, and are very large.

William loved walking way out on to the rock bed, jumping over the puddles left behind by higher water levels and looking at all the fossils. He thanks me repeatedly, saying how much he's enjoying his day. I remember that this is the first day of public school. Maybe, maybe, we can make this work.

Inside the interpretive center, we study the difference between the mastodons and mammoths, see artifacts from earlier inhabitants of the region, look at dioramas of the shallow sea. A mannequin displayed the dress of early trappers. William asked if it is James Bond. Loudly.

He is anxious to get back to the rocks, climbing up and down the piles of rocks and reminding me why God gave teenagers the ability to have children and why forty years olds doing the same ought to keep up their aerobics.

Later in the day, we returned home, had a few arguments to end the day again wistfully thinking about school buses. I post these photos to remind myself of why I'm doing this.

Notes:
I've threatened to cut the cable wires to the TV due to someone whining about schoolwork and a desire to watch TV instead. It seems a higher power agrees with me, as the downstairs TV cable isn't working. William is less than willing to be alone upstairs due to being scared of the naked man roaming our neighborhood. What??? Read about that tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Of Mice and Men

Vermin
Each morning in the barn, I try to do something extra while I'm doing my chores. One morning, I cleaned stall windows, or removed few cobwebs. Yesterday morning, I decided to hang up some of the saddle blankets that were tossed in a pile in the tack room, thinking we didn't need so many, and some of them could perhaps be packed away.

As I picked one up and turned to hang it, I heard a distinctive squeak. I stood still, afraid the mouse was climbing Mount Junosmom. Seeing no mouse, I looked down and saw a nest with four baby mice, all pink and defenseless. One had been crushed by my giant white tennis shoes. The smart farmer thing to do was to drown the remaining ones, but the mommy in me cannot do that to defenseless little babies, even if later, when they are adults, I will mercilessly snap off their heads in mouse traps.

I pushed them all towards the remains of the nest and left the tack room, knowing mice are good mothers, and she would come for them. Sure enough, later in the day, no baby mice were found, having been moved to another location.

Lessons Gone Astray
I often come across magazines where the pages have been altered by busy pens of a certain young boy. Photographs of women sport mustaches and goatees. This is supposed to be hilarious. Last night, as I was working about the house, I hear Anna joining in the fun with William, using her unique artistic abilities to disfigure the visage of a woman in the magazine. William giggled. He looked at the now heavily bearded, low-browed, and wild-haired woman and said, "She looks like a Canadian!"

It took us a moment to decipher that he actually meant "Neanderthal", a people who we had discussed earlier in the day. We had looked at photos in National Geographic and online. We had several times identified them as Neanderthals. How they became Canadian is beyond me.

Monday, August 10, 2009

The Birds and the....Gorillas?

Lifetime lessons surround us. Such as....did you know that for some wild mammals, mating season is not only during the spring? And did you know that if you invite your friends to come to the zoo with a teen girl and teen boy of modest standards, that you are likely to prove that point?

Yes, the animals had no shame that day. In front of God and everyone (and there was quite a crowd), Simba (or whatever his name is) decided to make little Simbas. People with little children began steering them away towards the spider collection. Had they waited, it was over quickly - or so we thought.

Simba thought to try again, make sure of his future offspring. But as my nephew, Joey, pointed out, the female bit him. "She BIT him! She's like, "I've had enough, get OFF of me". We decided at this point it might be wise to make our way to the spiders as well, although William could not figure out what the big deal was.

Spiders bore after awhile, and so eventually, we stared through glass walls at the creatures that are so like ourselves, so much so, that you feel sorry for them that they must endure our staring. I wondered why they were not outside. A female lay back, clearly feeling the ennui.


Her cage mates had other ideas. The silverback caused gasps from the crowd as he came down a pole from a ledge. Despite the glass separating us, his sheer size and power gave me chills. He caused the females to run about a bit, wondering if he was in a good mood or inclined to throw them around. After all settled, it was time to find the spiders again. Yes, again, right in front of God and everybody. Interestingly, in both cases, the female asked for it.

Yes, lifetime learning is all around us.

Notes:
I rode Etta last night in the pasture. She didn't even flinch when the demonic horses from next door charged along the fence line. I would have been in the next county if I had been riding Phantom.

I am stunned at the losses of the Louisville library. Although it is quite a drive for us, the Main library is worth it. It is closed due to the severe flooding which caused $5 Million damage, wiping out the computer system and their entire electrical system. I am wondering when it will reopen - it is one of the cornerstones of our homeschooling resources.

Yesterday was hot and humid - a day like most summers here. It has been a pleasantly mild (yet unusual) summer until yesterday. Humidity today? 96%

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Clifty Falls

This morning, a gentle thunderstorm is rolling through. I imagine myself still in bed, windows open with curtains fluttering, dozing. Imagine, I say because animals and children do not share my love of thunderstorms, gentle or not. They must be reassured and, then, fed. Outside, the morning light shines through all the green, giving the world a eerie yellowish color.

Yesterday, we took advantage of the milder, sunny weather to go hiking at Clifty Falls in Madison, Indiana. Most people think of Indiana as flat corn fields, but in several places Indiana is quite hilly, and along the Ohio River in Madison, forested limestone cliffs provide waterfalls (sometimes), creeks, and interesting hiking.

With packed lunches and my latest book, I harbored the ridiculous hope that we'd hike to the creek, the boys would eat and throw rocks, explore the creek, and I would read, basking in the sun. Rather, they ate quickly and wondered, "what next"?


Their bare feet were tender on the rocks. I showed them how to find clay, pound it with hard rocks and make pliable clay. When I was child, a friend of mine lived near a creek that had a small waterfall and we would sit on rocks and pretend to be native Americans, making pots. The boys loved this - for about ten minutes. Still, I was glad to pass on this memory.


Daisy enjoyed the hiking.

Reluctantly giving up my reading, I decided that a hike up trail #2 was the ticket. Trail #2 is straight up the creek, and you must sacrifice your shoes. It was worth it. And the kids really enjoyed it until Anna spotted a snake. Joey, my nephew, had already been talking about watching for copperheads (we've not many poisonous snakes here), but I remarked that the snake, which escaped into the creek, looked more like a water snake or water moccasin. Was I stupid enough to say water moccasin? It took some convincing to get them back into the water to continue our journey. Going back would be worse than going forward.



We found some cool fossils (one that looked like a lobster tail) and overhangs. We could not go in the caves, closed because bats here are suffering from white nose syndrome, and they are trying to curb the spread of it.


The creek, of course, ran at the bottom of the hills, and we must go back up. I may or may not have occasionally taken people on short hikes that turned into long marches, so my suggestion to take a "shortcut" was met with skepticism. But, find our way we did, although we had to rest a few times on the arduous climb up. These knees of trees provided a good seat.



The rain this morning is likely gushing down these hills now, heading to the creek, causing it to rush and tumble, though yesterday it was calm.

Notes:
My writing must end now as two boys want pancakes and bacon for breakfast.

I left our creek-soaked shoes outside last night to dry. Great idea, huh?

Monday, August 03, 2009

An Open Letter

Dear Mr. Raccoon,

Finding food growing freely is very resourceful, and truly, I don't mind that you take a tomato once in awhile. In fact, I love to give back to the environment. But I find you very wasteful to have chosen FIVE fully ripe tomatoes from my vines and to eat only 1/4th of each. Shameful, it is. Please, clean your plate next time before going back for seconds.
Sincerely,

Owner of only two tomato plants

Notes:
My nephew, Joey, is staying with me this week.

Lauren will be playing in a 10 piano concert in two weeks. She told us that she was chosen to play the #5 piano! The two middle pianos, #5 and #6 of ten, are the most prestigious for the best players. They are in control of the start and flow of the piece. She will be playing Liebestraum.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

No Strike Zone

You may notice that I've no photographs on my blog of late. I've broken yet another camera. This time, it was when I hit a miniature horse with it. Now, before you call the animal rights activists, you should know that I have a no strike policy with all my animals and children and almost never, ever hit one. This was in self-defense.

Roxie was having a bad-mare-day and bared her teeth at my midriff with the intention to give me an instant tummy-tuck, no liposuction needed. Instinctively, I swung with my right hand to knock her off her course of action. That hand contained my palm sized digital camera with the lens open from taking pictures of Etta. It broke the spring that allows the camera to open and close, and is now stuck somewhere in the middle, neither open nor shut, and will not work. I suppose I'll have to rely on Anna to feed me a photo now and again.

Notes:
Baseball season begins today. William was less than pleased with the 8:30 a.m. Saturday practice. Dh and I were less than pleased with dealing with him less than pleased. He has a foot sensitivity - the socks aren't right, the shoes are too tight, there is a rock in the shoe, there is dust in the shoe....Took 1/2 hour to get the shoes right. Are you sure it was a princess and a pea, or could it have been a prince?

Lauren arrived at her destination.

Etta's cut is almost healed. Shall I ride?

Friday, July 31, 2009

Move Back Behind the Line

I couldn't help inching forward, and honestly, wasn't over the line. Still, I was shooed back by the uniformed security. Don't they know my baby is over there, taking off her shoes, ready to get on her first flight alone? Nor do they care.

I watched people in the line. Two Amish men and one woman seemed incongruous as they took off their shoes to go through a metal detector to fly through the air in modern technology. Somehow, I expect better of them, taking their buggies across the open plains for days, dodging all sorts of dangers. At least, their appearance suggests that would be the case.

Cursing my short stature, I stretched to see. Was she through? I suppose she was, and I resisted the urge to be the helicopter parent and call her with one last suggestion. It's not like she's not flown before - traveled to Europe twice and Japan once. She'll be gone for two weeks this time to another piano event. I'm getting used to letting go.

Still, she touches base, just landed her first leg of the trip, plane delayed for the second leg. I watch online for updated information - oh! now they are boarding. I now switch to watching the plane in flight for a few moments. But, the horses are hungry and chickens need to be watered and fed. My day is beginning, as so many do, and I haven't time to sit and lament that she is gone.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Sleep Tight

William told dh he had the best dream. "I dreamed that the floor was made of pizza and I could eat all I want!"

Notes:
I have been so busy, I hardly know what to write. Not much seems funny when you are dead tired. Maybe this week will be slower. (Right.)

Research on Etta continues. It amazes me that in her paternal lineages, there are some of the most highly regarded Arabian horses ever, yet she has been given away not once, but twice and was starving and had sores. I am going to start her on senior horse food today and see if the beet pulp in it will help bulk her up a bit.

The weather this summer has been just weird. Normally, we are sweltering in the heat of July. Yet, it is unlikely to get out of the 80's (F) this month. I'm enjoying it.

Picked green beans at a friend's house and put up four quarts. I hope I did it right - don't want to poison anyone.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Effie

After a bit of research, I discovered that Etta Mae was raised in a town about an hour and a half from here. I reached a man by phone who had bred Etta's mom, Odette, to Bold Fortune, a very successful endurance horse in these parts. Because he thought this line of Arabians produced both smart and calm horses, he was breeding half-Arabians to sell. Etta was one of his broodmares, chosen because her gray color crossed with a cremello horse should produce a buckskin or palomino horse. Because of her genetics, however, Etta's babies started out the desired color but as they aged turned gray, which was not desired. After a divorce and a need to thin his herd, he decided to find a home for Etta and her mom, Odette. Etta had had eight babies by then. He still owns one mare which is for sale. He's going to help me get her papers.

He had called her "Effie" - using the "F" from Fortune and the "E" from Ette for F-E or Effie. I dislike the name in part because it sounds like one is cussing the creature, as in "that Eff-en" horse. She deserves better! Given that she spent most of her time a broodmare, she'll likely respond to "hey horse" or whatever. Her calm demeanor came from often being in the barn around children, chickens, dogs, tractors, you name it.

The story was interesting but he saved the best for last. He gave Effie, now Etta, to a man that wanted the horse for 4H kids. However, up until this time, the mare had never had a bit in her mouth or had been broke to ride. By my estimation and record of her last birth in April 2008, that means although she is sixteen, she's only been ridden for a year or less. Gulp!

Horses always provide the most interesting learning experiences.

Notes:
I gripped the wheel when I left the fairgrounds last night, trying hard not to gun Eugene's (my van's) motor and ram into someone's car. The desire to do so was there. I had watched three heats with Wm and dh of the demolition derby. What a, uh, cultural, experience trumped only by the even preceeding it: grown men riding around on souped up lawn mowers trying to turn each other over or ruin each others machine.

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