Category Archives: Family Life

He Lives . . . for Now

It has been one of those days.  Work went fine, since whilst I was tapping blissfully away at my keyboard in ignorance, building spreadsheets, making phone calls, and updating the program website, my lovely 6-year-old son who comes home from school with his older brother two hours before I do was wreaking havoc all over the place while his older sister who was supposed to be tending him had her nose buried in a book.

Ok . . . so in the perfect world, I would have been home at the door greeting them barefoot with cookies and milk, wearing a frilly polka-dot apron over my jeans.

This is not that world.

And to be fair, not everything went wrong. The kids had eaten dinner before I got home (so her nose came out of the book long enough for her to boss J into cooking spaghetti) even though the veggies had been tossed into the microwave at the end as a sort of afterthought instead of having been cooked properly, and then forgotten so when I went to warm up my plate an hour later, there in the microwave was a cold soggy bag of veggies to greet me. . .

But the part that I was really mad about was the fact that Zee had terrorized (weeded) my garden. All of my lovely little corn plants — vanished.  It was like nothing had ever been planted there.  Arrrrrrgggghhhh! And how can I really be mad about it?  It makes me feel like such a heel. And then he and Bee terrorized (loved) the baby pigeon and the pigeon egg while the parents were off having a breather. The baby pigeon is lucky to still be alive, and the egg . . .  at least it’s not cracked. I hope it still hatches – It is suppoed to hatch any time now. J’s hands are all pecked up from when he returned the poor things to their parents.

This whole thing makes me wonder a lot about the one afternoon that one of the chicks went missing for a whole day. I thought for sure that the cat had eaten one, but now I think that it spent the night under Zee’s bed in a nest made out of a hand towel. Other than the chick having mysteriously re-appeared in the coop the very next morning and my finding a towel under his bed with some feathers in it a few days later, what in the world would make me suspect such a thing???

I used to pray he would live to be at least five, and not accidentally kill himself in one of his crazy antics. Now I just pray for the strength to not kill him myself!

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 . . .

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 Funny Quote

This entry is part 5 of 5 in the series Kid Quotes

Zee helping Bee with the prayer at dinner time

Zee (age 6): Say “dear Heavenly Father . . .”

Bee (Age 3) “Dear Harry Potter . . .”

Chicken Pox Fun

On the CDC website it says: “Chickenpox vaccine is the best way to prevent chickenpox. Vaccination not only protects vaccinated persons, it also reduces the risk for exposure in the community for persons unable to be vaccinated because of illness or other conditions, including those who may be at greater risk for severe disease. While no vaccine is 100% effective in preventing disease, the chickenpox vaccine is very effective: about 8 to 9 of every 10 people who are vaccinated are completely protected from chickenpox. In addition, the vaccine almost always prevents against severe disease. If a vaccinated person does get chickenpox, it is usually a very mild case lasting only a few days and involving fewer skin lesions (usually less than 50), mild or no fever, and few other symptoms.”

I have discovered that this is complete BS! If I ever had any doubts about the chicken pox vaccine before, they were all well founded. I have met so many people over the last few years who’s kids got chicken pox (some even multiple times) after getting vaccinated. I was really starting to worry about my 11-year-old, because the older you are when you get chicken pox, the worse it can be, so I was actually relieved when he broke out with the itchy rash over the weekend. Two of my sisters who’s kids, most of whom had been vaccinated, also broke out right about the same time . . . and I can guarantee that there were way more than 50 lesions on each kid — even the bottoms of feet had chicken pox! I just talked to a lady the other day who’s fourteen-year-old son recently got the chicken pox, (after having the vaccination) and it put him in the hospital.

I have decided that the chicken pox vaccine is really just a tool for procrastination that really only provides a false sense of security and (maybe) buys you a little time, but that little bit of convenience bought is just going to come back and bite you in the butt a lot harder later. Those 8 or 9 people talked about on the CDC website are just delayed and will most likely get it sooner or later. I think that we were very lucky that my son’s case was not more severe, considering his age . . . Interestingly enough, of my two children who didn’t have the vaccine one broke out very lightly, and the other not at all . . . at least not yet. But for now, I am keeping them all away from other kids as a precautionary measure.

Kid Quotes

This entry is part 2 of 5 in the series Kid Quotes

Zee (age 5):I’m allergic to pink.

Zee (age 6): All right, I’ll use the pink cup . . . (sighing heavily) I’ll just have to itch a little bit.

Zee (age 6) to his sister who was singing loudly: Stop it! Your blocking my earsight!

Bee-isms (age 3): Cow Puppy = Toy Stuffed Cow, Puppy Cat = Toy Stuffed Dog

Alex (Age 14) After handing Zee an overflowing cup of water: Hurry, sip the top off! But do it slowly!