Monthly Archives: January 2012

Poor Clyde is Dead.

Warning: This post is not for the faint of heart. If you are the squeamish type, go elsewhere.

Back last February when we bought chicks I refused to name any of them for fear we would grow too attached to them and they’d die.

We paid for pullet chicks, and got them – for the most part.

But then there was Clyde.

Clyde was a beautiful red rooster with iridescent green and black tail feathers. He announced his presence at around 4:30 a.m. each morning. Sometimes as early as 3:30 a.m. He was a confused bird.

Clyde grew meaner over the last few months. He had attacked Ethan a time or two and he had attacked me.

Yesterday, Greg and I went out to move the coop and Clyde tore into Greg.

Really, it was one of the few times I lost myself in gales of laughter. Clyde was rushing Greg, and Greg was yelling, “Oh, no! He’s attacking me, sweetie!”

I was laughing so hard I couldn’t move.

After collecting myself we worked to get Clyde back in his pen, but he was having none of it and absconded to the woods behind our house, where he sat two houses down in the thick brambles and crowed loudly. Greg couldn’t stand it. He worried about the noise, he worried that Clyde would attack a neighbor child. He’s a bit of a worrier.

“If someone approaches that rooster, they deserve it,” I said. “And it’s not like the neighbors don’t know we have a friggin’ rooster, what with all the racket he makes.”

I figured Clyde would eventually come back to roost, if not before. We discussed what to do when he did, and decided it was probably time for Clyde to go. He’d gotten mean, he was prone to escaping, and he eats a lot of food without producing eggs.

I had mixed feelings about it.

Pretty soon our neighbor came to the door to let us know Clyde was in his yard. And so began a rousing round of Catch the Chicken, wherein the three of us chased Clyde all over the neighborhood with a fishing net ready to throw over him. After several near catches, Clyde was cornered in a cellar staircase. Greg cast the net over him and that was all she wrote.

I carried Clyde back to our house in my arms, and doing so made me really sad because he was so calm – scared to death, I’m sure – and his weight and warmth reminded me of a baby. It’s as if he knew we were making The Decision.

Greg and I stood on the back patio for a few minutes debating whether we could really go through with the planned execution. After all, slaughtering a chicken is by nature a very hands-on procedure. I knew I wasn’t going to do it. Greg thought he probably could if he had to but I don’t think he relished the prospect.

Reluctantly, I made the call to go forward with it.

I didn’t really want to watch it, but told myself I had to. After all, I was the one who wanted the chickens and knew at the time this might be part of it. Greg did the deed. I am not ashamed to admit that as Clyde lost his life for no other sin than being a rooster, I cried. I had a soft spot for Clyde, even if he did wake us at all hours of the morning and fight us when we messed with his home.

Then we had to decide whether to eat him.

By the time we got to that point I wasn’t in such bad shape. Now I was feeling more adventurous – I’d never slaughtered a chicken before, and now the hardest part was over. At this point it was more a matter of, “Hey, here’s something we’ve never done before, now if we go ahead and do it, we can say we’ve done it.” So we sallied forth with our knife and the book I call the “Chicken Bible” telling us just how to proceed. The Chicken Bible led us step by step through the process, and Clyde is now sitting in the refrigerator downstairs, skinless (we don’t usually eat the skin), his meat ageing for better flavor. I imagine that on Thursday or Friday he’ll be roasted up or made into chicken and noodles, with a likely casserole to follow.

This morning it was awfully quiet out in the chicken pen. I do sort of miss Clyde. I feel a twinge of regret, but I’m sure that will pass. After all, one reason I got the chickens to begin with was so the kids would know something about how their food arrives. Witnessing this ordeal, they certainly learned a lot about that. They also learned about respect for the dead. When Ethan wanted to chuck rocks at poor dead Clyde, Greg put a stern stop to it with a warning to have respect for the animal who died so you could eat.

Which is more than most kids know.

Photos:

poor Clyde

plucking

more plucking

beginning evisceration

skinned and ready to stew

Quilt #2.

For our friends Brian and Erin, who are expecting their little girl in just a few short months. We had the pleasure of delivering it this weekend at Erin’s baby shower in Columbia. The whole family went along and we made a family trip of it. It was awesome, and Erin looks gorgeous.

babyquiltfront

babyquiltback

Clearing a Name; or, I Could Just Scream.

So, regarding this post about our stalker:

It wasn’t my friend after all. It was a couple of nutty les/bi broads who live in a fucking RV out there in Vegas. He’d gotten involved with one of them, and when she found out about his ‘feelings’ for me she went ballistic, and so did her girlfriend.

You can’t make this shit up, folks.

We have 266 hits to our blog from the girlfriend’s place of employment logged. That was in one month. On one DAY she hit the blog 112 times. We’re even missing a few days in there so I’m sure it’s more than that. They were blocked but started using proxy servers. After she made a Twitter account and followed me around on that (suggesting that I’m a whore, copying my followers in on posts, releasing my full name to the public, etc.) I’d had enough. Still under the impression that my friend had gone off the deep end, Greg let my friend know that if this shit didn’t stop we were releasing the server logs to his employer, and let the chips fall where they may.

My friend called, we talked, found out what was REALLY going on (turns out he knew nothing about the harassment) and he promised he’d put a stop to it.

Well, he did, but…

…now he’s BACK WITH THEM. Making APOLOGIES for their behavior. Telling me that yeah, they may be loopy but they mean no harm.

Are you fucking kidding me?!

I could just scream.

I am so disappointed that he is going to let a couple of destructive women control his life. They want to move into his new house with him (of course they do! They can’t get one themselves, why not latch onto someone who can?). They STOLE from him.

Well.

This time there will be no warnings. If I even get a whiff of these knuckle-dragging broads trying to interfere with my life – if I even have a suspicion of it – those logs go straight to Clark County’s IT Department.

He might be willing to let The Krazy into his life, but I’ve had enough of it in mine and will not abide any more.

I guess I’m going to go to that handgun training after all.

GAH!

Construction Success!

This past weekend Ethan discovered an empty milk jug and cajoled Greg into making a bird feeder out of it. I told Ethan he had to sit down and design it first, and he did, including the drawing of the deck, rain gauge, and just how it should be hung. They dangled it from a long string and even though it swings precariously and twirls around enough to make me sick just watching it, it seems to be a favorite of the local tufted titmouse population.

Ethan's bird feeder

I just hope the birds brave enough to land on this feeder don’t get sick from the wild ride. I’m not looking to clean up bird vomit from the patio this spring.

Every Season is Garden Season!

Especially when you get your seed order in early:

seeds

Okay, I know what you’re thinking. “That’s a pretty paltry pile of plant particles.”

You’d be right.

But that is just this year’s order. I have a lot of seed from last year that I’m pretty sure will still be viable this year, including the spinach I’ve been growing all winter – the very spinach that is still going gangbusters down in the hoop house, 15-degree temperatures be damned.

And so, just for giggles and because I’m putting off showering, I’ve put together a collage of those seeds from last year most likely to make a repeat appearance:

seeds2

All of these (except the moon flowers, marigolds, and love-in-a-mist) are going to be taking up residence either in used yogurt cups to start seedlings, or directly in the hoop house within the next 4 months or so.

Come on, Spring!

Side note: The seed company always sends a free gift to me with my order. This time it was the love-in-a-mist. According to Wikipedia, this flower is ‘found on neglected, damp patches of land.’ They sure sent it to the right place!

The Great Eagle Escapade 2012!

A couple of weekends ago we went searching for the eagles who arrive in our area each year as part of their migration.

Okay, so it wasn’t as exciting as the title of the post would suggest, but we started our day with…

DONUTS!!!!!!!!

Henceforth, I will always do that. In capital letters with lots of exclamation points. Because, you know, they are DONUTS!!!!!!!!! And DONUTS!!!!!!!! make me feel just that way.

donuts

So the prospect of DONUTS!!!!!! and the coffee got us all rarin’ to go for the long drive up to Alton for our almost-but-not-quite-annual jaunt to see the eagles.

Before we began our search in earnest, we stopped off at Confluence State Park. None of us had been there, and it was honestly pretty cool. They have built a walkway down right to the very confluence, with interpretive stops along the way. Observe:

Missouri side

Mississippi side

And then, ta-DA! The confluence point itself, which has clearly spent much of its life underwater.

confluence

Having received our fill of the confluence (and DONUTS!!!!!), we moved along to our usual eagle-watching stomping ground, where we saw this gorgeous pair of birds:

eagles2

But alas, those were all we were going to see that day. We drove up the River Road as far as Elsah, but had no more luck. Perhaps if we’d waited a little longer in the season or if the winter hadn’t been quite so mild, we’d have seen more.

We consoled ourselves with the knowledge that although we failed in our eagling quest, we saw the confluence, which ranks right up there in majesty. We enjoyed a nice drive on a pretty warm (if overcast) day, and we got our fill of…

…wait for it…

DONUTS!!!!!

Sounds like a winner to me.

Quilting.

A few years back, I burned up a sewing machine. I was mostly interested in sewing garments, and made several for Laurel and even a couple for myself. When I purchased a new machine, I went for a nice one. I bought a quilting machine.

I figured I’d learn to quilt. It’s a tradition in my family, I guess you could say.

That, as I said, was a few years ago. I finally decided to take a class this past fall when Ethan went to Kindergarten.

Then the class was canceled.

So I got a couple of books and got my nerve worked up, and began. I didn’t follow a pattern. I saw a windmill quilting block and liked it, so I went through the entire rigmarole of designing the quilt top myself, measuring, figuring how much fabric I needed, the whole nine yards.

And I’m awfully proud because I only messed up once, the result of which was a trip back to the fabric store for more material. It could have been much worse.

Well, I guess I should say I actually messed up twice. When it came time for the actual quilting, I got a little too ambitious in my design and it just was more than my skills can handle right now. So I picked hundreds of stitches out and tried again.

It’s not a great quilt. It’s got errors in the stitching. It’s puckered in a couple of places. But it’s pretty good for a first try.

I learned a lot doing it.

And it’s mine. Even if it is going on Ethan’s bed.

quilt

How I Won the Lottery.

As some of you know, I’ve been taking a cake decorating class.

I signed up for it a month or two ago on a whim. I knew that with winter coming on, I needed a reason to get out of the house during the day, lest I fall victim to my typical winter doldrums, which hit me miserably right about this time. I had never given any serious thought to cake decorating, but it sounded fun and I knew it would give me something to do other than laundry.

After finishing the first course, I liked it so much I wanted to sign up for the second, which was to continue on the same day of the week, same time. But over the weekend I received the news that there weren’t enough students continuing in the course to hold the day class – but good news, the night class was still available.

That is good news from the standpoint that I still get to attend; but I find that I dislike going out on weeknights in most cases – that is time I like to spend with Greg and the kids without rushing around after dinner and homework. Furthermore, I really wanted to get out of the house during the day so I wouldn’t go stir crazy.

Saturday morning before I left for a  hair appointment, I told Greg what happened.

“How many students do they need to sign up for the class to continue?” he asked.

“I don’t know,” I replied. “At least one. Maybe two.”

“So just pay for the extra spot so you can still have the day class,” he suggested.

“After all,” he joked, “we’re making all this money. We might as well spend it.”

I got in the car and thought about his offer. Tears of gratitude stung my eyes all the way to the salon. I’ve never known a man so generous. I don’t know how I managed to marry someone willing to pay double the enrollment fee for a class just so his wife could take it at a more convenient time. It must just be dumb luck.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is how I won the lottery. And I wouldn’t give it up for anything.

This Is Why Ethan’s Teacher Rocks!

Ethan has picked up the unusual habit of writing his name on his school papers and following it with ‘6.’ When I asked him why he did this, he told me his math teacher told the kids they should always write their age after their names on their papers.

He’s carried this habit through to everything, not just math.

Yesterday, his regular teacher sent home his graded paper with her own name and age on it.

Very clever, Mrs. N! Thanks for the chuckle – we too wish we could put that number at the end of our name!

worksheet

January Harvest

Back in October and November when we were putting up the hoop house I wasn’t sure what that really meant. Sure, I knew it would extend my growing season. I knew that it was more likely to be successful in allowing me to begin next year’s season early rather than extending last year’s growing season late.

But this morning I went down and lo, nearly all my spinach planted last week is sprouting with terrific germination (the best I’ve ever had from spinach).

Further, I harvested a big bowl of salad greens and several sprouts:

early january harvest

We eat a lot of salad, but I think in the past 8 months or so I have bought one bag of spinach…maybe two.

I’ve also got healthy rosemary, kohlrabi, dill, and turnips. The perpetual spinach chard planted last spring is still going gangbusters.

I think I have watered twice – if that – since November.

That hoop house just might be a good investment after all.