Monthly Archives: May 2009

Our Backyard Chickens

This entry is part 1 of 6 in the series Backyard Chickens

Having chickens in our backyard has been really fun, especially for the kids. They love the chicks, and want picture-049to feed them and play with them all the time. It is a challenge sometimes to keep the kids out of the coop so that the chicks have some time to scratch in the dirt, run in the grass, and eat bugs and snails – all the fun stuff that chicks like to do. . . this is Bee with her favorite chick, Rose. (Rose is an Aracauna and will lay blue or green eggs.) We have been collecting one egg nearly every day since the beginning of April from our black bantam, Gertie, and the kids get really excited about bringing that egg in every day. I think it is really good for them to see where eggs come from. These chicks won’t lay yet for quite a while, but they really make great pets.

picture-055The one problem that I do have (other than keeping the cat at bay) is keeping the chickens out of the garden. Gertie loves the corn, and has eaten the tops off of almost all of the little corn seedlings since they came up about two weeks ago. Because of this, I am afraid that the corn is a little behind in its growth. I have also had to re-plant some of the peas and quite a few other things. The one thing that she hasn’t eaten are the onions 🙂 One thing that helps is that we dumped some wheat out onto the ground and let it grow — they really love the wheatgrass, and they have eaten it down quite a bit. I keep it watered so it keeps growing back, and every time I let them out, that is the first thing they go to. I am thinking of building a little run so that they can be outside without fear of the cat getting them, as well as skunks and hawks. This would also keep them in one part of the yard, so that I won’t have to worry about my garden. Then I can put a little ramp up to the coop and they can

Zee and His Chick Ruby

Zee and His Chick Ruby

come in and out when they want without me having to open the door for them and then worry about forgetting to put them back in at night.

The chicks are growing fast. They don’t need the heat lamp at night any more, and are getting to where they can jump out of the coop on their own. They like to play games where they chase after eachother and jump into the air flapping their wings. They can actually lift off of the ground a little. I’m thinking I may need to clip their wings after a while to keep them from jumping the fence into the neighbors yard. Now wouldn’t that be a dandy chase?

Looks Like Lunch to Me

This entry is part 3 of 6 in the series Backyard Chickens

Since our chicks have been out of the coop more and more in this nice sunny weather we’ve been picture-054having, I have had to be extra watchful of the cat . . . the chicks are pets, but they look like lunch to her. This is our cat Peppermint Schnapps, so named because of her shockingly green eyes and the fact that we rescued her from a bar where the drunks were making a game of trying to throw her into the rottweiler kennel that was next door. After a few nights of this, the bar owner called me and asked if I would please take her before she was killed. She is very independent and takes care of herself, but she also wants to be where people are, which explains why she didn’t just run away from the bar . . . it was the only inhabited building for quite a distance.

picture-0591One of the first things she did after we moved here was to make a quick dinner out of a nest of baby robins that I had been watching for a few days with the hopes that I could use the experience as a kind of science-project-from-a-distance for my kids — I imagined letting them watch while the birds grew and finally left the nest. No such luck with this little preditor running about. But the fact that she is so self sufficient, and yet kid friendly it is exactly the thing that makes her such a great pet.  I was really disappointed but I should have known that a nest low enough for me to see was not safe with our cat around.  Which brings me back to where I started . . . here she is watching the pigeons on the roof.

A Face Only a Mother Could Love

This entry is part 3 of 3 in the series Keeping Pigeons

picture-046Well, I have seen the poor, well loved little thing (it turns out that there is only one hatchling so far) and it looks much like a miniature plucked chicken with a bulging neck and an over-sized beak. (I caught a look while the mother left her nest for a few minutes today). The other truly amazing thing about this baby is that it has tripled, maybe even quadrupled, in size since it hatched only just days ago. It is now the size of a Jumbo sized chicken egg, from something about the size of the ball of my thumb . . . truly amazing! The picture is a bit blurry, since I only had one chance to snap a picture before mommy came back to shoo me off . . . but it really doesn’t look a whole lot better than this 🙂

Babies, Babies, Babies!

This entry is part 2 of 3 in the series Keeping Pigeons

picture-051One pair of our rollers has hatched her babies! I was lucky to get a tiny little peek at them today when I went out to feed the chickens, but she was not happy about me snooping at all. I saw what looked like a tiny little fuzz ball with a huge beak 🙂 I think that they are about two days old now, but since she sits on them all the time still, I wasn’t sure if they had hatched yet or not, and I was starting to worry just a little, since the 18 day incubation period has now passed. So I poked my head in, thinking that I might have to try to pull the eggs out for a minute to check them in the light to see if they were viable or not. She puffed up her feathers and hissed at me menacingly, and then she moved just slightly to the side just enough that I got a glimps of one of the two little baby birds. I will try to get a picture to post, but I don’t want to harrass her too much, so if I can’t get one, then you’ll just have to wait until she is ready to leave her nest for a little while. Our other little pigeon mommy just laid her eggs last Sunday so she has another 10 days before hers hatch. What a wonderful little adventure this is turning out to be — Now we just need to find new homes for them all . . .

The Write Brain Workbook: 366 Exercises to Liberate your Writing

This entry is part 4 of 5 in the series Raising a Writer


The Write Brain Workbook: 366 Exercises to Liberate your Writing by Bonnie Neubauer is a fun book. I don’t usually go absolutely nuts about writing prompts, but that is really what this book is. Every page has a new exercise, made up of a combination of pictures, graphic elements, and writing ideas that can be done in any one of several different ways depending on your mood, or if you change the wording in the prompt just slightly, or who you read it with . . . I found my kids flipping through it one day, and we looked at a few of the pages together, reading the exercises and looking at the pictures, and each of us had a completely different idea of what we thought we would write about each page. Fun! Even after writing a few pages bases on one of the prompts, I was able to come back to the same one from a different angle and come up with something different, and that is what is so great about this book. Each page has a “take the next step” that gives you a different twist, or an idea that can be used over and over for an endless number of original ideas. For example on day 133, it has “List 6 different snapshots from your life that took place in May. Use these to prompt further writing.” You could change May to any month, and combining different snippets of memories can give you a lot to write about. This is the kind of book you will find that you want your own copy, because the library only lets you check it out so many times in a row!

Race for the Cure Salt Lake

My oldest daughter and I walked in the Race for the Cure on Saturday. My friend has been struggling with breast cancer the last several months and we went to support her. I think it was also a good experience for my daughter to see how many people were there with signs that said “in memory of . . .” and how many lives have been touched by breast cancer. I took several pictures for Meg since she had her last chemo treatment the previous day, and was unable to make it.

A Pink Baloon Arch marked the starting point for the 5k

One of the Bikers Who Were Helping With Crowd Control

A Group of Walkers Dressed Up for the Cause

A Group of Walkers Dressed Up for the Cause

Geeks for a Cure

Geeks for a Cure

C@nc3r D03$ N0t C0mPut3

C@nc3r D03$ N0t C0mPut3

Sorry LInda, They Wouldn’t Let us Run Naked

Proof that I walked at least 3 miles 😉

Meet Our Rollers

This entry is part 1 of 3 in the series Keeping Pigeons

Last fall, my husband decided to try raising some pigeons. We now have four roller pigeons, and our newest aquisition, two homing pigeons. One of our pairs of rollers is brooding and has two eggs. The male has become quite protective and has chased the other pigeons out of the coop. He tolerates the chicken and her chicks, but I think he would prefer that they were not there either. It has been fun to watch the whole process. Zee brought the pigeon’s first egg in the house along with the chicken’s egg the day it was laid and I had him take it back out. I put it in a shoebox with some sawdust and wood shavings to keep the chicken and chicks from stepping on it, but at the same time thinking that she would probably abandon it because it had been touched. The next time I went out to check on them I was pleasantly surprised to see her sitting on it. She has been sitting on it for a little over a week now, and from what I have read, it takes 18 days for a pigeon egg to hatch. My husband took a peek in the nest the other day when she was off of her eggs and verified that there was a second egg. I don’t know if the first egg will hatch or not, since it was cold for a day before she started brooding, but from what I have read, that may not matter. I am thinking that we will probably need to get a second coop if we want to keep our birds all happy . . .

Spring Brings New Chicks

This entry is part 2 of 6 in the series Backyard Chickens

Since Gertie’s friend Harriet met an untimely death earlier this spring, we decided to get her some company. We now have five chicks–three Aracaunas, a Rhode Island Red, and a Black Wynadote–to keep her company. I am waiting to name them until they are a little older and I am sure that they will make it into adulthood and that they are all indeed hens as promised. The kids adore them, and Zee has promised that he will not be giving them any baths. Gertie was a bit skeptical at first, but she now follows them around and clucks over them and protects them from the pigeons. I am thinking the Rhode Island Red will be Ruby, then the blonde Aracauna will be Rose, then the others will be Prudence, (Prue for short) Maude and Ethel. Here they are scratching in the dirt in a shady patch in the yard where grass doesn’t seem to want to grow. The chicks were very nervous at first, since this was their first time out of the coop. We have to watch them very closely so that our cat Peppermint doesn’t make one of them into dinner–she has been stalking the coop since they arrived. Once they got accustomed to the outdoors, they didn’t want to go back in. They are growing really fast, so they shyould be able to enjoy more time outdoors as long as there is someone there to keep the cat at bay.

Here We Go Again!

Just as I was beginning to think that I had gotten away without her getting the chickenpox . . . what was I thinking? I guess I was just being hopeful, but I wasn’t really surprised by it . . . she does seem to be scabbing over a little quicker than Zee did, but she is also way more miserable and she was also angry with Zee for giving her the chickenpox 😉 LOL . . . Her being so sad inspired me to look for something to relieve her suffering more quickly, and so I have been spritzing her with a mixture of a few drops each of tea tree and lavender oils diluted in about 2oz colloidal silver and water (about 2 parts water to 1part colloidal silver) with just a touch of DMSO to help it mix together evenly. (too much will irritate the skin–it only takes a couple of drops.) I tested it on my own skin first on the inside of my elbow to make sure it wouln’t irritate, and it seemed to be fine. I think that witch hazel would probably work better than the colloidal silver, water, and DMSO mixture, since it is also antiseptic and is also an astringant, and would also act as a solvent so that the oils would mix in, but I didn’t have any on hand to try. If you do try this, use a spray bottle, (I found a small one that had glasses cleaner in it before but was now empty, and I rinsed it out really well to make sure it was completely clean.) or use a cotton ball and dab, don’t rub. If they have scratched the tops off of the pox, it will sting, so you might not want to use it at all if that is the case. For the face, don’t spritz it on, because you will get it in their eyes. Instead, use a cotton ball and dab, don’t rub because it will break the blisters and then it will sting, and probably scar. Bee said that it made them stop itching, but anything wet will do that until it dries again. The best test is that the pox are already almost completly scabbed over after only two and 1/2 days. The picture above is from Saturday afternoon when she finished breaking out. It is now Monday and they are mostly scabs now. This picture is from today. The big cluster that you can see on her arm just below her sleeve was the first one that I tested this on, and it didn’t scab, it just started going away. I think I got a lot more of the solution on it because I dabbed it on with a q-tip since I didn’t have a spray bottle at first. It’s hard to tell from the picture, but the pox are red around the edges and then each one has a scab on top. Her face is a little behind the rest of her since I didn’t start puting it on her face until yesterday because I was afraid of getting it in her eyes. I still haven’t used it right around her eyes or on her nose because I think she would rub it into her eyes. (I have had tea tree oil in my eyes before and it was really one of my most unpleasant life experiences! NOT reccommended 🙂 ). I anticipate at this rate they will be all scabbed over by Wednesday . . .

Another Fun Writing Excercise

This entry is part 3 of 5 in the series Raising a Writer

For something fun that can help break you out of a rut when you’re stuck, try going through the dictionary for a bunch of interesting words, and then put them together into a poem or story. You never know exactly what you will end up with.

The Reverie

in my reverie i rode along the zodiac
past scorpio and sagittarius
i heard the zither play
i was sitting with xerxes
eating grapes, discussing the zeitgeist of zoroastrianism
drinking some sort of zymurgy
when the wind rushed through my soul
then, i was riding on a camel
with a yemen sheikh
past men in yarmulke
praying at the wall
in a caravan to zaire or zambia or zanzibar
with a bunch of xenophobiacs
a zulu warrior and his pet zebu
a zouave munching zwiebacks
making zounds to crush the yahoos of spain
and suddenly the world expanded
and i was blown like a leaf
into the xylem of a yucca
bringing me to stand
in the peyote hut of a zuni warrior chief
in a sand painting of the clouds
racing through the sky in a zeppelin on a zephyr
when i came up out of the ocean
off the coast of guam
with water in my snorkel and zoophytes on my arms
and a bad case of the bends.

You can also try words that only start with a particular letter for a fun excercise in alliteration:


Avast! The axial anopheles lurking in the azalea
avaricious in its ardor of
the aliphatic crimson heat;
his greedy brain’s abaci
prematurely counting out his prize.

Rising to the apex
of his azimuth—
a fleshy airdrome
agog—an amateurish astrogator
on the aphelion of grace
actuating his annular descent
an agnostic tourist visiting Alsace-Lorraine;
an aquanaut exploring depths
never before explored

He paid no heed to the accelerometer
Paid no heed to the slapping hands . . .
He gleefully dodged them, refusing to abdicate,
But to no avail—buzzing through the arnica
At last arriving at the abattoir
Of his apoplectic end

(Now, wasn’t that way more fun than just saying the circling mosquito got smacked? Take it and run!)