Thursday, December 30, 2010

Happy New Year!

I've been away for the while due to Christmas, the prep and the aftermath... feel like I have a lot of catching up to do with everyone's blogs! Things are getting back to normal, though, and it feels good. I've had a chance to reflect on this last year and turn my thoughts and energies towards the coming year. While I know January 1st is just an arbitrary marker of time, I do enjoy a little reminder now and then to gather, inspect and regroup.

I prefer to stay away from the term "resolution" cause if I don't follow through, I tend to feel I didn't jump high enough. I like the phrase "New Year's intention". That way I can do my best to stay focused and motivated, but if something gets in the way, or life moves in another direction, then there's no grade below a C! I think the healthiest motivator is pure desire and I try and remove the bonus prizes. I liked someone's quote recently of "follow your passion, not your pension".

So, with reflection, this year has had a lot of joys and a lot of scares. A bit of a roller coaster ride for sure! The housing market has continued to decline which has made the selling of our home more difficult. We still are going to list it when the workshop is fully constructed, but aren't holding our breath for an offer that will lead us to sell. So, whether we sell or whether we have to stay, we're trying to make peace with either outcome. Positively, I have learned a lot more about my horse and horseback riding. I'm gaining a lot of valuable skills that will forever be with me. I've established myself here in this town as a mental health therapist, and even though I'm not making a ton of money, I have my own business and a lot of freedom with scheduling. I built a chicken coop and got chickens and that was months in the making and something I'm very proud of. I get enjoyment each and every day from Jack and the girls! My partner's resurgence of melanoma was one of the down turns and now we're sitting with stage 3C, but besides the surgery to remove 6 positive lymph nodes by means of a modified radical neck dissection, all the treatment has been holistic with no chemo or radiation. So, far so good, and the current health and energy levels for both of us are high! Juicing about 8 fresh juices each day is part of the treatment my partner partakes in, as well as watching what foods are eaten. It appears to be working, as mountain biking and running daily are back in the daily routine! So, that's a very rough outline of my past year. I could get more details, but don't want any folks nodding off!

As for this year, I'm excited. I like feeling like a kid about life and all the things I want to do. I am considering a couple of things for the new year. One is the possibility of getting honey bees and hive(s) on my property to have and sell a little honey. I've been looking into it and if I could build the chicken coop and take care of the chickens, I think I can take care of some bees. Another possibility is raising a few turkey. I don't eat meat, but am considering raising one for my family and a few for friends for when Thanksgiving comes. I am adamantly against factory farming which most people here support when they buy their Thanksgiving turkey, so if I can humanely raise a cage free, organic turkey and prevent them from purchasing a factory farmed one, then that is in line with my vegetarian values.

One thing I'm DEFINITELY going to do is raise some chicks. I am hoping it can be done naturally with one of my hens and hope one goes broody in the spring. If not, I'll get a small incubator. I look forward to the challenges and joys that will bring.

Getting my shop all constructed is first on my list and we'll be starting on that as soon as this cold front passes.

Giving a garden one more try is also a definite - esp. now that I have chicken manure for fertilizer and saw someone who has a thriving desert garden and saw how they kept the rodents out. I hope to plant in spring.

I also hope to grow my business a little so I can save a bit of money and hopefully go on a real vacation. I haven't been on a vacation aside from an extended weekend in several years.

So, these are the things that are top on my mind and they are my intentions for the New Year. I'm feeling very grateful and very energized and motivated. There are many more things I want to do, but the list might start growing too long, so I wanted to put the big ones down. I love the feeling of getting excited about life. There's so much to do! I feel grateful for this little 5 acres out in the desert and if we're prevented from moving, we'll just do the best we can with it.

I would love to know what your intentions/resolutions are for the New Year - please share!! And, for now - I hope everyone has a very safe, happy, healthy and prosperous New Year!!!!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Almost Christmas Everyone!

Well, I'm up bright and early and getting ready to head a couple hours away to have Christmas with family.  Tonight my parents have their 50th annual Christmas Eve party.  There's usually about 75 people there and it's a lot of fun.  I go down early and help them out.  This will be my last post till after Christmas and I want to wish everyone a very safe and Merry Christmas!!  

I want to start saying hello to new folks who jump on to follow my blog (Inger at Desert Canyon living does that and it's nice) - so, hi Peggy and thanks for adding my blog and welcome!

This photo is of Sherman the Boxer a couple of years ago when we got a nice snow here.  I thought I'd put it up cause it fits the season!  No snow yet, though!  Only rain so far, and today it's gonna be blue skies again.

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Clear Skies!!

The skies have finally cleared!  Yay!  In the picture above you can see the move which is still up this morning.  It's been several says since I've seen that.  I'm so looking forward to being able to be outside some today!  As of last night, I'm off work until after Christmas, so the timing is great!  I'm sure the chickens will be very happy to not have to be in the rain if they want to venture out of the coop.  They'll have some sunshine to accompany their chicken activities!

Speaking of chickens, when I got home for work last night right before dark and went to close up the coop, one of the chickens was in the nesting box.  I thought is was the hen who hasn't been feeling 100% and I have noticed that this rain has taken her down a notch or two after she was starting to show good signs of improvement.  I figured she was too weak to get up on the roosting bars so I left her there knowing that inside a nesting box would be about the snuggliest place for her.  This morning when I went out to open the coop up, I realized it wasn't the hen (Gertie) who has been a bit ill.  It was another hen and I think she feels 100%.  I reached under her and pulled out two eggs.  So, I'm wondering if she had gone broody?  On two eggs?  A Rhode Island Red in December?  Hmm... any thoughts from you chicken experts out there?  Well since I'm not planning on chicks till Spring, I reached under her warm, fuzzy body and took the two eggs. 

In the meantime, the dogs have decided they want to sleep in a bit more and wait till it gets brighter outside before they go enjoy a rain free day!


Monday, December 20, 2010

Rain, Rain, Rain!

It's been raining here in the Southern California desert for several days now.  (and most of Southern California in general).  While I know we need the rain, enough already!  I shouldn't complain - I could be in several feet of snow and freezing winds!  Nah, not really complaining.  The only thing that's hard is convincing these dogs to go outside and go potty!  They start to go out, do a quick u-turn and want right back in.  They are forecasting two more days of rain and then it should clear by Thursday.  Actually, that's good cause Southern California can have a lot of damage if it rains too much with mudslides.  The rain will make for beautiful wildflowers this Spring out here in the High Desert.  I am enjoying staying in after work, listening to the pitter patter and reading or playing on the computer. 

And, since the chickens can't have outdoor recess while it's raining, they decided they might as well lay eggs. 

Also, my two babies (the Plymouth Barred Rock & Easter Egger) that I had segregated for a while have finally gotten brave enough to come mix with the rest of the hens!  They have been staying up on the perch after they came out of "segregation" and jump down to feed and water when the older ones go out to the run.  Today I came home for a break and they were out with the big girls holding their own!  Yay!  I'm excited for them to start laying, but that will probably be a couple more months.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Some of the Gifts I've Made.

This year I've tried to make a lot of gifts myself.  I think it means much more to give a simple gift that time and effort has gone into.  Not that time and effort don't go into a gift bought from a store in the form of time spent at work, but there's something about a gift made in someone's home with their hands that, to me, mean a lot.  I remember when my grandmother Mammaw was living and she would often give me jars of her homemade jam for Christmas and I LOVED it!  This year, among some store bought gifts, I'm giving some canned items I've been making over the last few months.  Among them are Bread & Butter Pickles, BBQ Sauce, Salsa and eggs from my chickens.  This weekend I'm going to make one final canned good and I think it might be sweet relish.  Also, I'm making about 3 or 4 homemade apple pies the day before Christmas Eve.  I've enjoyed all this a lot and actually look forward to giving these items more than the store bought ones.  I had fun making labels on my computer for them and named each item after one of my chickens.  "Lazy Dog Ranch" is the name of my place here and it's just the prototype of when I get my "real ranch".  The name was inspired by my former Pug Carlisle who was a master at exerting minimal energy!  The sad little tree you see in the above photo is the only one we get this year.  It's a living tree at least but since our new Pug, CJ is such a TERROR, we knew the tree would be toppled and strewn all over the house. It's strange not having a large tree, and not having it where we normally do, but at least we have all the stockings up in the living room with some lights around it!  It's pretty festive.  Below is salsa named after my hen Miss Osie.

Followed by Rooster Jack's BBQ sauce! (you can't read it all the way, but the fine print at bottom reads, "use on everything but chicken".

My favorite - bread and butter pickles!

Also, many folks are getting some fresh, organic eggs and these are the carton stickers I've made. 

Below - I know it's not so traditional, but our TV is usually moved and tree put here.  This year, since there's no big tree, just stockings and lights - but it works!  Troy, the Chihuahua found wandering the desert even got one.  His is the one with the "T" on it.  ha ha.  Hope you all are having a great time getting ready for Christmas!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Big Slow Down...

This is going to be a short post, but want to give an update.  There has been a big slowdown in the shop due to poor workers AGAIN who don't know their stuff and/or don't show up.  My folks who have all the experience and thought things were under control headed back down to San Diego 3 hours away and then the workers just fell apart.  What they did do on the roof is shabby at best.  I did some research last night and discovered how many major mistakes they have made and the whole thing has to come off.  It hasn't been sheeted, so that's good.  But, the ridge, joists and rafters all have to come down.  I have studied it and it's not rocket science.  I'm taking the whole thing down and we're going to build the roof ourselves.  It might not get done that fast, but I'll learn, we won't waste any more money on poor "help" and we'll have the satisfaction.  So, the shop is gonna be a while yet.  So far, just four walls and electrical all run.  Patience...  and patience with workers.  I don't understand in this economy when people say they need work so bad why they can't even show up, or if they do show up, why they are so bad.  Ugh. 

Friday, December 10, 2010

Four Walls Up!!

Today was a long but very productive day!  Above was early this morning and we were prepping the ground for the foundation.  "Poor man's foundation" - since I can't afford to poor concrete for a proper one, we layed the plywood shop floor on 2x6's and since it hardly ever rains here in the desert, it will last much longer than I'll ever be here!  It's plenty solid and we got it level.  I do have to boast about about the California weather and say that it was about 70 degrees today with a slight breeze.  Below is a picture of the floor after we got it all into place.

Alas, we have the first wall up below!  My mom and dad and their friend came up.  My dad used to be a contractor and his knowledge is handy.  I also hired a 19 year old young man who was very polite, knowledgeable himself, STRONG and luckily did now wear his pants below his butt crack for all of us to see.  Ugh, can't stand that look!  Will it ever end?

Below is wall number two with my mom joking around with hammer above my head.  Spirits were up as the progress was good!  The "homie" graffiti will be covered with some T-111 - don't you think? 

Wow, wall number two again.  Whoo hoo!  We have the windows and they will go in close to last.

Prepping for wall number three below.

My dad having a little rest and fun below.

Wall number three!

And, by 4pm, we had the final wall up!

Tomorrow, the 19 year old is bringing 2 of his friends because the pitched roof is VERY heavy.  We are hoping to get the roof and if time permits, also the carport started.  I'm so excited!  That pile of lumber is actually turning into a shop.  Well, it's going to be a short post, but I wanted to put this up.  It's gonna be an early night for me!  Also, my 6th year anniversary today!  Yay!  Believe it or not, it was a fun way to spend it. 

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Raising the Roof (Part 3)

The adventure continues!  First off, I have to say the Mexican workers we hired from the Home Depot parking lot were awesome.  As I said previously, they did more work in 2 hours than the "Craigslist crew" did in two days.  They had the shop and carport down and loaded on a trailer in record time and brought it to our home an hour and a half away.

Here's a pic of them taking all the sheetrock, some siding and the roof off.

Below is a picture of them loading everything up.  Our little trailer was there also and it is loaded full of stuff.  Goodies in my book, maybe junk according to others.  Shop lights, work benches, cabinets.  They would have been thrown away and they will go to good use when the shop is up.

The next pictures are of the shop on my property.  It's here!  I can't believe it!!  Isn't it beautiful?  Ha ha.  I bet you all are saying, "oh, no... what did you do?"  "Why?"  "What are you thinking?".  Ah, just wait!  This weekend, the foundation will be prepped, the walls will go up, insulation and siding back on, electrical put back and it will look like a structure instead of pile of wood.  Now, don't go placing bets with one another, okay?

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Raising the Roof (Part 2)

This will be short as I'm tired and not in the best of mood.  I've been gone all day.  Long story short - the people we hired said they would have the workshop down in one day and back up on our property the next.  Well, Friday went by and they asked for another day.  Saturday went by and still not down.  This morning (Sunday), we called the man who we bought it from and whose property it's on and he said it was only about 20% finished.  Keep in mind, the man is moving Wednesday, so the workshop has to be gone by Tuesday.  Uh, we can do that math.  We called the guy who was supposedly working for us and he was all full of stories.  We drove up there (an hour and a half) and not only was it 20% done at most, but they were taking all the siding off and the windows out!  What were they planning on doing, driving us down a truck full of lumber?  My partner called the man and fired him (we did pay him a $300 deposit but felt we had no choice).  Okay, now what?  Here we are on a Sunday with $500 out for a shop we bought and $300 lost to people who were completely unreliable and lacking knowledge and integrity (they consistently weren't showing up on time and Saturday only stayed 3 hours to work) and an hour and a half from home.  My partner had $700 left in the original budget to get this thing taken care of.  So, we drove to Home Depot where the Mexican men hang out for work and drove some back to look at the workshop.  They said for $700 they would take it down and deliver it to our home but would not reconstruct it (The roof will be in two pieces cut at the ridge cap, the carport roof cut in two, the 4 walls and floors).  So, they got their tools and started working like crazy.  They did more work in 2 hours than the other joke of a crew did in 2 days.  My partner is meeting them back up there in the morning bright and early and they are to bring it back tomorrow.  As for putting it back together?  My dad (age 76) who is 3 hours away was a contractor and he and my mom and a friend of theirs will drive up and we are gonna get that thing put up next weekend with the help of a neighbor or two, I hope.  If all goes well, we will come out on budget and only be a week behind, ha ha.  But, I'm still keeping my fingers crossed cause a lot can happen in the meantime and there's a lot to be done.

I'm also not in the best mood cause I have a sick hen.  She wasn't able to get up to the roosting bars with the other hens this evening after I had come come.  She is wheezing some, her eyes look glassy and she is listless and inactive.  I put her in a carrier, put a towel down (her toes are curling some) and put her in the second bedroom where she'll be warm for the night.  I'll check on her in the morning.  I don't do well with sick animals and I"m angry at those people who took our money and had no idea what they were doing because I was gone all day while she was sick. 

Friday, December 3, 2010

Raising the Roof (I Hope!)

Okay, first off, I'm hoping you all have the same sense of humor I do.  And, I hope you find the following story about our weekend adventure as laughable as I do.

I have no idea how the following situation will turn out, but of course I'm telling myself it will be good.  I'm no sucker and usually am conservative about business deals.  One thing I have been very unhappy about with my current house is that it has no garage.  I don't care about parking my car in one, but have no area to use all my tools and can't create or build anything.  I had to build my whole chicken coop out on the desert floor.  I have a small shed with electric and literally climb on top of things (like my compressor, the bicycle, table saw, etc.) while trying to get to something else.  Frustrating beyond belief!  Well, my partner found a workshop with attached carport on Craigslist yesterday.  The workshop is 12' x 16' and the carport is the same making the whole setup 24' x 16'.  It is built with the same construction a house is, is wired with electric, is insulated, has windows and sheet rock, a man door and a sliding door going into the carport.  It cost about $8000 to build about 5 years ago and my partner bought it for $500.  The problem is how do we get it here?  So, we ran an ad on Craigslist to have someone take it down and reconstruct it here on our property.  My partner talked to a man on the phone and he sounded very friendly and professional.  They met (the workshop is about an hour from our home) this morning and he looked and acted professional and knowledgeable.  The deal was that for $1000 he would do all the labor.  A heck of a deal!  Especially considering I don't have any money to spare.   If it was up to me to purchase it, I'd be without a workshop for a long time to come.  Yay!  Super excited!  Early Christmas!  (it's my Christmas present)

And... then... this morning... my partner met... "the crew".  Oh, my.  5 other people...  the main man's wife who has purple braided hair, 3/4 length sweat pants, halter top with red socks and house slippers and long red painted finger nails that wave around a lot.  There is also an adult child who my partner wasn't sure was male or female - sideburns and fingernails, no breasts but seemingly a "package" down below.   Chalk it up to California?  Then there are two skinhead looking fellows and one guy who just kinda hung around with his hands in his pockets seeming a bit lost and not sure what to do with himself.  Would this make you a bit nervous?  Well, apparently, they are just as nice as can be... very polite and well mannered.  So we went ahead with the deal.  I wanna give everyone a chance and a lot of people really need the money these days.  So, we're going with it.  They are supposed to come down tomorrow late morning with the workshop broken down and reconstruct it.  I joked about how they have their deposit money, cancelled their prepaid 7-11 phone and are driving away with our workshop laughing as they zoom down the road.  Well, it's given us a lot to giggle about.  I hope we didn't use poor judgment.  We wanted to give them a chance and, again, since the main man really seems knowledgeable, my partner rolled the dice!  If all goes well, we'll have a workshop and carport tomorrow late in the day or Sunday morning.  If it doesn't go well, ... well, not sure what we'll have!  But, we'll get ready to buy them pizza for lunch tomorrow, be great job hosts and cross our fingers.  Wish us luck!  I'll be back soon with pics and the rest of the story.   

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Can I Rant For A Moment??

I guess I just need to vent for a moment, so if anyone is not in the mood, feel free to skip this post!!  It won't take long. I try not to be political in my blog, and this isn't blatantly political, but some might feel it's hedging on it.

I don't know if most of you know, but I'm self employed and have a private practice as a mental health therapist.  When I lived in San Diego, I made pretty good money and since people generally have money in that area, I didn't have to deal with insurance companies and took cash pay clients only.  But, I made a decision to move to a more rural setting on my little 5 acres where I was happier and took a chance with private practice in an area that was socio-economically depressed and has a low population.  My days of cash pay are over, and I happily decided to apply to all the insurance panels and jump through their hoops to receive much lower pay with a lot more paperwork. 

The last 6 months have been hard.  Really hard.  Some clients up here can't even make their copay.  Some clients, because they are in  a lot of chaos in their life,  no-show on me/their appointment and then don't return calls when I attempt to collect the fee for them cancelling without notice.  I see some people for a very low fee or almost no fee because I like to have a couple pro bono spots and like to help those who are in need when I can. 

A disturbing part of my private practice are on some kind of public assistance or trying to get on public assistance.  I have nothing against this when needed.  I've had people come to see me just because they wanted me to fill out paperwork so they could get disability.  Most of these people that I encounter, with some exceptions, are cheating the system.  They are able minded and able bodied people who just don't want to work.  That, too, is frustrating.

So, I'm doing my best to keep my financial head above water.  The last 6 months have been tougher.  So, here's my real rant.  I got a summons for jury duty last week.  "Oh, my", I thought.  "There is no way I can go to jury duty - I can't afford to lose any time working".  Keep in mind, as a therapist, I can't hire anyone while I'm gone and it's just money I don't earn and I have no way to recoup it.  I'm mean, I'm scraping together the mortgage these days!  It's tough.  So, I fill out my form the county sent me and under the excuse section, I apply for an excuse based on the fact I'm self employed and am on the edge myself financially and am not able in my work to have someone fill my spot.  I got a card back from the county yesterday in the mail and it read, "SAN BERNARDINO NO LONGER EXCUSED THOSE WHO ARE SELF EMPLOYED".  What?  In this economy?  Are you kidding me?

It really seems like those who are trying to make it on their own (not just self employed, but anyone) have it harder.  Sometimes I just get frustrated and pouty and feel like those who don't want to do much get a lot back from the almighty government, but those who try and be self sufficient are having a much a harder time.  So, what am I supposed to do?  Here I have to give up a day of work which is REALLY going to hurt me (I haven't taken a vacation in over 6 years aside from an extended weekend), and with Christmas, property taxes, quarterly self employment taxes approaching, this is not good.  And, I would most likely not make my mortgage payment if I got picked for a jury!  I know that if I were myself, I would be picked for a jury.  So, do I go in there and lie to preserve my financial state?  "Hi, I am trying to move out of California because I think the system sucks here (well, that part isn't a lie) and I think the problem is all the Mexicans, blacks and gays and white trash."  Well, that would cover most groups up here, I think and would most definitely get me out of jury duty.  But, how creepy is that?  I can just imagine it then - the jury person (the court is just a few miles away) goes around telling the locals that the mental health therapist in town is really a bigot.

So, I'm angry and scared right now.  I'm angry at the system that they don't make exceptions for those who are self employed and can't work otherwise.  I'm angry that in this economy they recently CHANGED their policy and only now don't make exceptions for self employed.  I'm angry that I pay a lot of taxes and don't ask my government for anything and when I really need some understanding, I'm not given it.  I'm scared cause financially I'm in a tough spot and this is gonna make it really tough. 

So, that's my rant.  Am I out of line here?  Any thoughts?  Argh....!!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone!!

No picture today, no story.  Up bright and early and gotta make that apple pie to bring down to the family dinner.  It's about 5am right now and I'm baking, getting ready and then have a little over 2 hours to drive.  Not bad!  I hope everyone has a wonderful and safe Thanksgiving and to some of you who are out of the country, just have yourself a great all around day!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

After 9 Years, He Has Earned It!

I gave in tonight. I chalked it up to him "earning it" after 9 years of "dog stellarness". After all, Sherman the Boxer has never chewed up or destroyed ANYTHING except when he broke a pen in two and even then, no ink came out. He occasionally will find a shoe and bring it to his bed, but never any teeth marks. He doesn't bark unless it's to tell me someone has driven up or a coyote or dog is on the property. He doesn't run off. He doesn't jump up. He's just a stellar dog! He was rescued from a backyard situation about 9 years ago. He was about 3 months old and half the weight he should have been - 12 lbs. instead of the average 25 lbs. for his age. He was emaciated, dehydrated, had infections and sported the fresh consequences of a horrible butcher job of someone trying to dock his tail at way too late of an age. He has eternally soulful eyes and always looks somewhat sad but it's really quite the contrary. He lives to play. He lives to run! He'll chase anything and is always up for a run or a walk. He is friendly to all and looks out for his little dog brothers well. Oh, one other thing he doesn't do... he doesn't get up on the couch. Well, he has never been allowed up on the couch. Somehow, the small ones managed to stake a spot on it. Maybe cause they're just small and I really don't notice them as much? Perpetually covered with a sheet, the couch sits two people and two small dogs most of the time. But, poor Sherman has never been allowed. I've spent many nights looking at those pitiful sad eyes as he envied his smaller brothers snoozing away while he's been the only mammal on the floor. Well, tonight I said no more! Rules have changed and after 9 years of being such an awesome dog and good friend, you deserve it, Sherman! Live it up! And, with the winds blowing cold outside, he did just that.

Sherman, Vagabond Troy & CJ the Pug (yes, Sherman eats plenty and is healthy - he has just always been very thin since being rescued)

Sherman & Vagabond Troy

Saturday, November 20, 2010

My First Homemade Apple Pie

Today was cold, windy with sprinkles off and on in the desert.  Definitely too windy to ride Mickey, so I took a day off of horseback riding and went in early to the farmer's market.  Got some Granny Smith Apples and pickling cucumbers (for bread & butter pickles tomorrow cause it's supposed to be cold and windy again) and came home baked my first apple pie from scratch!  It's an experiment to see if it's good enough for me to bring to my parents' home on Thanksgiving.  I went on and looked for a good pie crust recipe and liked the recipe that got great reviews and was handed down by someone's great grandmother.  I got the filling recipe from Better Crocker's website.  I wish I had my Mammaw's recipes, but they were all in her head and went away when she passed away.  BUT... I do have her southern apricot "fried pie" recipe as I asked her to walk me through the process.  As she added "a little of this" and "a little of that" from her memory into bowls, I measured them out beforehand and wrote the recipe down.  I'll share that before too long.  So, the pie turned out great!  Super flaky delicious crust and the filling is awesome.  The only thing I'll do differently for Thanksgiving is baste it and sprinkle some sugar on top to give it that something extra.  Looks like I'm having pie for desert tonight and I ran over a couple big pieces to an elderly couple that live not too far in their 5th wheel.  They were happy to get it!  Tomorrow, I'll give the rest to some other neighbors and I'll be ready for pie making on Thanksgiving.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Beer, Boots & Buttermilk

Okay, it's the simple things in life that put a smile on my face.  And, today, it was beer, boots and buttermilk.

I don't drink much at all, but most nights I love to have one beer after work.  Maybe I'm a beer snob.  Or, maybe it's because I only get one and I want it to count.  For whatever reason, I like my beer to be a good one.  Life's too short to drink cheap beer!  This time of year, I can't wait for my favorite brewery to come out with their holiday "Celebration Ale".  If you like beer and haven't had it, I highly recommend you try it!  Brewed in Chico, California.  Comes in a pretty box with an even prettier taste and I found my first batch of the year.  Um, um, good!

For my birthday, I was given a new pair of Ariat Fat Baby riding boots since I finally wore my other pair out.  They were the wrong size, so this week I just made it down to San Diego to exchange them for the right size.  (After I picked up the good beer!).  So, I'm like a kid and want to wear them all around the house with my pajamas.  Yep, puts a smile on my face and can't wait to wear them on Mickey this weekend.

Buttermilk?  I have decided to lax my strict vegan principles that I've ascribed to for almost a decade.  I don't stray much, but I am indulging in some organic raw goat milk cheeses I score at the Co-op in San Diego, the fresh eggs from my chickens (when they are cooked with something else as unfortunately, I still don't like the taste of straight up eggs), and some occasional raw, organic butter.  And, this weekend I have decided to give myself a real treat: buttermilk.  Buttermilk has always been a favorite of mine, but I haven't had it in almost 10 years.  While at the Co-op, I found some organic buttermilk and decided to splurge.  Tomorrow there will be some hot corn bread around here and I can't wait to break the buttermilk out!

So, there you have it.  Three simple things that are leading me to smile and feel good about life today!  Beer, boots and buttermilk.  What are your favorite simple things?  What little things put a smile on your face?

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Did Jack Lay This Egg?? WOW!!

A couple of days ago, I went out to collect our eggs and there was a HUGE egg in the nesting box!  I had been teasing Jack the rooster because I have caught him in the nesting boxes several times, so we have concluded it must have been Jack who layed this enormous egg.  ha ha.  But, kidding aside, I have never seen an egg so big!  The egg carton will barely close on it.  It's 3 inches long!  So, I just like to look at it in amazement and so far don't want to use it.  Keep on laying, Jack!

A biggy, huh?
Next to a regular sized egg!

Pretty easy to spot.  Jack is a super star!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Babies Get Day Play

Yesterday, I was starting to feel bad for the two young hens that aren't big enough yet to be mixed with the older ones.  They do have a nice, safe area in the back of the coop where the older ones can't get to them, but, I hated that they don't get sun and more space.  So, I grabbed a few pieces of cut rebar I had lying around and several feet of 2 foot chicken wire behind the shed and sectioned them off an area on the corner of the run.  I put their food and water out and boy, did they have a great time!  They pecked around and scratched, took long dust baths, and I gave them 4 grub worms I dug up from my pathetic attempt at a garden last spring.  They also got some fresh pomegranate and treats.  So, weather permitting, they will get day play regularly until they are big enough to hold their own against the older ones!  I feel better, and I'm quite certain they do also!

day play section
the dust bath begins

Theodocia checks the young ones out

Pretty Barred Rock

More dusting

Ah, feels good!