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Like much of the East Coast, we are under a winter storm warning for tomorrow. Our supervisory union is already dismissing early tomorrow, to avoid the brunt of the blizzard-like conditions in the afternoon. We've already used four snow days this year, and people are starting to wig out over how late into the summer students will go to school. (It's a normal date to start summer vacation in Maryland, so it doesn't feel onerous to me.) I think the SU is trying to avoid using another snow day tomorrow when there is already a good chance that schools will be closed Wednesday.

As night fell, I schlepped the compost bucket down to the bin behind the barn. I have to admit that this is chore that I actively neglect because it's quite a slog in the snow, and prying open the partly frozen compost bin isn't fun either. But I knew that with two feet of snow on the ground, I'd want to do it even less. The sky was a flat white and the air utterly still, like the Earth was holding its breath. It was actually eerie how quiet it was and the way the trees stood like they were painted on the sky.

Bobby and I also hauled up seven bags of pellets from the barn. (Next year, we will clear out the shed alongside our house enough to hold all of our pellets; our yard is just steep enough to make carrying bags of pellets up from the barn a real pain in the ass, made worse when the snow is deep, which it is not right now.)

On a completely different note, we started our first indoor seeds a week ago and came home today to the first frail tomato stem curling out of the soil. We also ordered chicks on Saturday: ten pullets, five broilers, and three turkeys. Spring is taking hold, no matter how tenuous, blizzard notwithstanding.
Every few days, I think, "I should write in my journal about that!" but then never actually do. Although I'm not taking any classes right now, it's a busy time of the year in the House of Felagund, and I've been staying very loyal to my gym schedule. And I've been busy at work, with a large senior class this year and all of them in some form of jeopardy (usually related to HSAs), plus the after-school program. And trying to get the B2MeM ebook together. Anyway, I've been photographing things, so I'll at least share my photos and some updates will likely straggle along with those photos.

Pictures below the Cut ... )


Mar. 19th, 2014 10:02 pm
dawn_felagund: (peace)
I forgot to mention a whole bunch of stuff in my last post!

  • I have started at a gym. O.O This is something I swore I would never do. (Just like I swore I would never study English in university, would never become a teacher, would never write fantasy/fanfic ...) But I spent more than a year in constant pain, dealing with inflammation issues and joint pain that are finally under control. I have always taken pride in being strong, and I want my former strength back, that I lost during the year when even turning over in bed hurt. And. And ... I actually like it. I like feeling like a human being again who is capable of doing more than shuffling from the computer, limping into the basement, and limping back upstairs to bed.

  • We've solved the henhouse mystery, but it's gross. Just to recap, last year, we noticed we were missing eggs and discovered that the hens (or so we thought) were getting out of the coop and hiding them under the lawnmower. We didn't even give consideration that something might be getting into to coop ... well, we did, but we assumed that this critter would eat the eggs in the coop rather than going to the trouble of spiriting them out of the coop and into the shed. Wrong.

    We know we've had a critter in the shed that connects to the chicken coop. Bobby saw it a few times (but never well enough to identify it), and Alex was intensely interested in the lawnmower. Well, Bobby took me out to the shed one day, shook the lawnmower to scare out the critter so I could see it, and what ran out but a fat. fucking. Norway. rat.

    So yes. We have a damned rat in our chicken coop that is stealing the eggs. I can't imagine a worse outcome to our mystery. We set a live animal trap but Norway rats apparently avoid them. (Just as well. We had an extended conversation about what to do if we actually caught it that, at one point, involved me wailing, "I think we've gone totally country if we're talking about shooting vermin in our backyard with a .22!!") So Bobby set a rat trap and several trays of D-Con in the shed yesterday. Someone had a nice meal on the D-Con last night. Hopefully that is the end of the problem.

  • From my mod seat, B2MeM is almost over. The winter week is underway. I was stressing over the winter week, truth be told, because it was much more popular than the other seasons, so I had quite a number of stories to schedule, and of course, they're getting longer as the event progresses and people have more time to work. I didn't want anyone to feel shortchanged by having to share the spotlight with lots of other stories. So it was quite a balancing act, but it seems to be going well, and no one has complained (yet). Almost all of the spring stories are in, which means that scheduling could be done, in theory, by tomorrow. Yay? It almost seems to have gone too well. I'm waiting for a big wrench to get tossed into the cogs. (I know, I know ... I'm usually an optimist.)

  • I feel like there was one other thing I wanted to say but damned if I remember what it was.

A Weird Egg

May. 1st, 2013 06:31 pm
dawn_felagund: (wtf)
Okay, we just had an unsolved mystery. Bobby cut the grass this afternoon and, while he was replacing the push mower in the shed, pulled back the tarp he uses to cover it and found ten chicken eggs underneath. Although the coop is part of the shed, there is no way out of the coop and into the part of the shed where the mower is kept (aside from the door, which is always closed and latched). We have several different breeds of chicken, and it was obvious that several hens had been using that space.

I went into the coop and moved stuff around outside of the coop but could find no place where the chickens could even squeeze through to get from one half of the shed to the other. (Nor have we ever found a chicken loose in the shed or yard.)

I knew hens hid their eggs but dang. This is a bit much!
Yesterday, Bobby and I went to the livestock auction in Westminster. It was our third time going: once for chicks, twice for Ameraucanas, and the third time to replace the roosters. Well, we struck out the first two times, but three's a charm, and we came home with five fluffy hens: three Delawares and two New Hampshire Reds. We've already gotten two eggs out of them.

The roosters are gone. Bobby found a guy and his wife with a farm that pretty much collect chickens because they like them. He had an ad up on Craigslist and was happy to take our four fellows off of our hands. We dropped them off on Tuesday. It was a little sad saying goodbye, to the little reds at least. (The Rocks weren't particularly friendly and smelled bad and Dicey Riley clawed up my arm when I was trying to catch him on Saturday.) Sophia fluttered into my arms for one last time, and we walked out to the shed to refill the feeder, and that was it. But they're in a good place now.

As we drove away from the farm, Bobby's iPod shuffled the Dubliner's song "Dicey Riley." Ha!

And School ... )
Well, the rooster saga gets even better.

At our Halloween party on Saturday, my laurel Tristan told me that he thinks the two Rocks are roosters. I told him that I didn't think so ... but I hadn't really looked at them in a while either. (Bobby is their primary caretaker; my role is mostly grabbing them as Bobby flushes them out of the bushes where they hide when they don't want to go back into their pen.) Yesterday afternoon, we had them out, and I took a good look at them, and I found myself agreeing with Tristan. They used to have stubby hen tails, but no more. Their tails have really fanned out and colored up. They also fight with each other an awful lot. Bobby did some more research last night and came to the same conclusion I did: It's almost impossible to tell the difference between Plymouth Rock pullets and cockerels until they either start laying eggs or crowing.

This morning, I wanted to see the Reds crow since Bobby says they look humorously self-important as they do it, and this might be their last day with us. So we went out to the pen, and they all came running over, as usual, since they know that when we come out, they're usually getting something nice to eat like a cup of brown marms or getting let out. Bobby said, "Okay, perform." So Dorothy--one of the Rocks--threw "her" head back and crowed.

So this is how it went down. We bought six chicks, all of whom were supposedly sexed as female. One died. Four--four!!--turned out to be roosters. So of the chickens we raised, we have one that will actually produce the eggs we wanted. (Incidentally, that one is Rose, who has been my favorite since I first laid eyes on her.)

Thankfully, we have homes for all of them. Even if they don't go to friends, Bobby's been in touch with a farm that identifies itself as a "chicken sanctuary" because they like birds to roam around in the fields. So they don't care about hens and eggs (they probably have 90% roosters from people like us who bought "hens" that started cockledoodledooing). We'll be going to the livestock auction on Thursday to try to buy some actual pullets.
Well, yesterday, Bobby and I received definitive confirmation that a bad suspicion we'd had was true: Two of the chickens are roosters.

Two of the reds developed quite differently from the other (Rose, incidentally), so much so that we thought Rose might be a different variety. Then they started to shape up like roosters, with the resplendent tails and prominent combs. Then they started fighting a lot more than seemed necessary to keep their place in the pecking order. (They only fought each other, never the other three.) Since these are our first chickens, we have no experience on which to base our judgments, and pictures online tend to be terribly unhelpful, since there is so much variety even within some breeds. But then, yesterday, we heard it ...


Perhaps keyed up by all the excitement and weird people in costumes coming out to peer into their pen, one of the reds let out quite an impressive crow that confirmed our bad suspicions. This morning, the two of them were entertaining themselves in a game of monkey-see-monkey-do: One would crow, then the other, and so on.

Roosters )
Today, I was working and I realized that I've become Coraline's mother. (Not the Other Mother, thank goodness.)

The chickens have been out in their pen by day, so the Goldens have been in the house since they haven't quite learned to behave yet, and I don't trust them unsupervised. So here I am glued to my computer, writing gardening articles. (Yes, really. I write mostly gardening articles. Just like Coraline's mother.)


While the Goldens wander in and flop their heads over on me and sigh about how bored they are, and "Can't we go outside?"

No. Go count the numbers of windows or write a list of everything you find that's blue. Don't bug me. I need to work.

Goldens, if you discover a much better Mommy who offers you canned dog food for every meal and never tires of throwing Big Orange but who has buttons for eyes, don't fall for it.

Life here has been hectic. SWG birthday is underway. The chickens are growing quickly. We had one at the vet earlier this week, but that's for a post to follow.


Jul. 29th, 2010 10:29 pm
dawn_felagund: Skeleton embracing young girl (Default)
Catching Them Now, While They're Still Cute )
We brought home our chickens tonight!

Bobby and I drove out to Harford County this afternoon and picked up six three-week-old chicks, three Australorps and three New Hampshire Reds. We bought them from a guy named Tim


(not that Tim)

who raises chickens, mostly for fun. He had just about every breed imaginable, but the Australorps and New Hampshire Reds still as peeps, which was a requirement because, while we have the chicken coop, it is currently in pieces in the spare bedroom. Also, they will be big and ugly soon enough, so I wanted to enjoy at least a little bit of time with them as tiny, cute, soft babies. And they are so tiny, cute, and soft! Currently, the little gals are in a big box downstairs with a heat lamp. Bobby went down to turn off the fish tank light a minute ago, and they were all sound asleep in a row. I keep wanting to go look at them, but no, Dawn, let them sleep ... (besides that, if I looked at them, then I'd want to touch them, then I'd want to pick them up, and then the poor critters would suffer from lack of sleep).

There will be picspam soon. :)
Cut for Dog Poop-Related Grossness and TMI )

Speaking of animals, the Felagund Family flock is about to get bigger. Literally. Bobby called the town office today and received confirmation that, yes, we can have chickens. Not only that but, apparently, our humble three-quarter-acre residential lot is actually zoned for light agriculture! So we could till up the backyard, plant row crops, and sell them on the roadside if we wanted to. (Actually, after getting over my initial surprise, our zoning made perfect sense since our neighbor across the street does sell organic lettuce and eggs.) We cannot, apparently, have a cow, though, which sucks.

But, as I told Bobby, we were getting chickens no matter what the town said. I was fully prepared to pull a Henry David Thoreau on the Manchester bureaucracy and go all civil disobedient and keep chickens whether they were allowed or not. Two reasons why. Firstly, there are three other houses on our street that I know of with chickens. It's like the time my dad was trying to get a pool permit, and the county tried to deny him, and he pointed out all of the houses on the street that had built pools without permits, while he was trying to go about things legitimately and honestly and give the county their cut in fees. Secondly, sustainability is the closest thing I have to a religion. So there. >:-Þ

While I'm babbling about the town, Bobby and I went to the fire department carnival last Thursday, and I saw five of my students there. I told Bobby that, if I get a job at Manchester Valley, like I hope, when my certification's done, then I will probably know half the kids and parents at the carnival before long.

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