Sunday 31 March 2013

Peace In The Chicken Coop!

After Maude went all Lizzy Borden on poor Gertie, I did some heavy duty research on the problem of chickens becoming aggressive.  Of course, I talked to Farm Girl to get her suggestions.  She offered to take Maude back to the farm but I wanted to try and work things out here, if possible.  Google came up with some very interesting boards that showed this is a pretty common issue with chicken keeping.

Gertie was kept in protective custody in the old coop during the day and, for warmth, went into a cat cage in the new coop at night for a couple of days.  Too much light can stress them, so I turned off the lights in the coop and went with natural light only.  Boredom is another issue and I hung some veggies from the rafters and spread scratch around to give them something to forage for.  Every attempt to reintroduce Gertie failed.

The final suggestion was to isolate Maude and make her lose her place in the pecking order.  Actually, the final suggestion was to put Maude in a soup pot.  A neighbour offered to kill her for me, if I didn't like to eat her after I killed her myself.  Yes please.  And, next, will you put Maeve on a skewer for me to BBQ.  Nope, that's not gonna happen!

So Maude went to jail. ~

She was furious and paced up and down the run non stop.  At night she came in the main coop with Dizzy Lizzy and Gertie went in the cat cage.  This was getting to be a royal pain, shuffling chickens around!

After a week, Maude got all sulky and sat in the nesting box refusing to eat. ~

Gertie and Lizzy don't care.  They get to pull apart the fallen limb that I hauled into the pen and eat bugs. Yum! ~

By the end of week two, Maude starts looking pretty sickly.  Is she really sick, starving herself out of pique or dying from a broken heart because I won't let her in with the others?  I'm no good at discipline!  

So, today I decide to start fresh.  I break out my brand new wheelbarrow (the first thing I bought when I sold my rental property) and get ready to haul the manure out of the coop.  I let it build all winter and just added fresh straw on top. It's supposed to keep the coop warmer if you do that.

Doesn't the wheelbarrow look great with my snazzy boots? ~

I hope you aren't reading this while eating breakfast.  It gets kind of gross!  I've checked the girls over for mites and lice and don't see any (told you it was gross) but I want to make sure there aren't any in the coop. They feast on the birds and make them anemic.

That manure was a good 12" deep and compacted so hard I couldn't get a shovel through it.  It took an old fashioned, metal pitchfork and a garden pick to break that stuff up!

Here's a beauty shot for you.  At least I'm wearing pink gloves for a feminine touch. ~

Several hours later and, with some extra help from my sister and BIL, the coop still isn't pretty but it is clean! ~

Maude was loose all afternoon and finally started eating.

We have three chickens together and none are bleeding!  Yay!!! ~

Mind you, Gertie flat out refused to come in that coop for the night unless I put her in the cat cage.  We'll work on that one next.

By the time this posts it will be Easter Sunday.  I hope every one of you feels the spirit of renewal and the joy of the season! ~

courtesy of  The Graphics Fairy

Tuesday 26 March 2013

The Face Of Epilepsy

Today is National Epilepsy Day and I thought it would be a great idea to show you what it is.  Of course you know it's a neurological disorder, but did you know it has a face?

It's a toddler falling in love with nature. ~

It's a big sister~

An animal lover ~

And a teenager. ~

It rides crazy horses that bolt ~

and graduates with a degree in anthropology. ~

It's a young wife and mother. ~

It's a writer and activist and, right about this time ~

It's a first grand Mal seizure.  It comes without warning, in the middle of the night.  It is severe and she can't tell the emergency room doctor her name. She doesn't remember details of her life for awhile.  Her back muscles are torn and she fights nausea and vertigo.  The neurologist tells her it's one off and she is fine.

Over the next five years, she buys a farm, rescues abused and abandoned farm animals and starts a pilot programme to pair 'at risk' boys in foster care with farm animals under rehabilitation.  ~

She adopts four more kids.  She drives them to therapists and doctors and lessons.  She gives them the love and stability they have never known. ~

Then, another grand mal.  This one is worse than the last.  She can't tell the paramedics her name and isn't sure where she is.  For months she can't tolerate noise, bright light or commotion and there are six kids in the house.  She can't drive or be alone in the barn.  She has to find homes for the large animals that present a danger if she is unconscious.  She can't take a bath or boil a kettle if she is alone in the house.  We all learn to watch for her pupils dilating or a sudden flush in her cheeks.  Tests show she is having almost continuous small seizures. It is wearing her body out.  We aren't sure she will live. Months of tests and experiments with drugs go by before her she is functioning normally again.

Epilepsy research is grossly underfunded.  Perhaps that is because epilepsy doesn't have a face.

It is the face of my daughter, the one you know as Farm Girl. ~

Today ~

Monday 25 March 2013

Did We Save The Earth?

Whew!  Saturday, at 8:30 pm, millions of people turned off their lights for Earth Hour and saved the planet.

What, it's going to take a little more than that?  Darn! ~

photo courtesy of

We're all pretty much aware that we don't really have a choice in striving for a green lifestyle, any more.  It's now or never, if we want to turn this thing around. ~

Here's a couple of easy ways to make a difference on a daily basis.  I tried the first one a few years ago after  David Suzuki, a leading Canadian scientist and environmentalist, suggested it.

Take note of how much shampoo you have in your hand when you wash your hair. ~

The next time, cut it in half and see if it still gets the job done.  The time after that, cut it in half again.  I found that I really only needed 1/4 of the amount of shampoo I had been using and it took much less time to rinse it out, as well! ~

Talk about a win win situation.  You save money on shampoo, time in rinsing and just reduced your impact on the environment!

Now, we all know it's ridiculous to be buying bottled water when we have access to clean municipal water.  Study after study shows that bottled water is just packaged municipal water 40% of the time. There are no regulations on disclosing the source or testing for contaminants.  Independent tests show it frequently has biological and/or chemical contamination.  Municipal water is tested daily and those of us on country wells can have our water tested (free in Ontario) as often as we like by the health department.  If the bottled water companies draw from an underground source, they are taking too much out of one place and seriously alter the water table in that area. 

Did you know that the petroleum used to make this bottle would fill it 1/4 full? ~

I'm just not buying it!  I don't buy the crazy pure spring, low sodium, 0 calorie, health drink in a convenient carrier story and I won't buy their land fill nightmare, potential carcinogen product!

Instead of buying a case of water, pick up some of these. ~

More win win.  You don't have to pay for water, haul it in your house, store it somewhere, fill up the recycle box with plastic and may even be saving your life!

I know I'm not living off the grid or doing anything monumental with the lifestyle changes I make.  I do, however, believe that a whole lot of people, making a whole lot of little changes adds up to good things for the earth.

I'm completely open to suggestions, so if you've found something that was easy to change, let us all know in a comment!

Saturday 23 March 2013

Havoc In The Henhouse

Have you ever noticed how many everyday sayings are related to chickens?  We feather our nests, scratch out a living, throw hen parties, deal with bird brains are happy if something costs chicken feed and doesn't cut into our nest egg.

Right now, I'm living a few chicken sayings.  I don't know if it's my chickens being cooped up too long this winter, but we definitely have ruffled feathers!

It was wonderful in the summer.  My two chickens survived their battery farm conditions, responded well to decent care and lived in harmony in chicken Bramasole. ~

But, that cute little coop wasn't weatherproof and my sister and I planned on merging her three with my two for the winter.

I gave up my garden shed, walling a tiny area off in the back for a bit of storage. ~

The merger did not go well!  Newcomer Charlotte was a tough old bird and she set up a pecking order immediately.  Poor, blind Gertie (my favourite) was at the bottom of the heap.

Those chickens flew up on the shelves and pooped on my skill saw and garden tools.  The nested in my summer tires and filled them with straw and poop.  I don't know how I'll explain that at the garage when I take them in to switch out the winter tires.  They started eating the eggs.  Now, I know we've all had times when we wanted to eat our young but we usually just keep that to a thought!

I spent oodles of time with the little flock, hanging treats and getting the standoffish ones tamed.  They fattened up and all but Charlotte were friendly. ~

I trudged out there in the worst of weather with a warm mash supper for them every night.  I was AWESOME and it was the happiest coop in the world! ~

Then, old Charlotte died.  She just keeled off the perch one night and that was it.  I tried to feel bad but she was so mean to the others that I really was glad she was off to chicken heaven.  My sister didn't blame me for her chicken dying.

A couple of months later, Chatty Cathy started going downhill.  She's the one who wound up in my bathtub. This was extremely disturbing to Maeve!  I guess there's a cat code that says chickens aren't allowed indoors.  I sat up with that chicken until two in the morning.  As I was trying to get a little water into her, she closed her eyes and her little head flopped over.  I felt so bad and wished I'd had a little more knowledge about treating chickens.  When I told my sister, she thanked me for taking such good care of Cathy.  I've killed two of her chickens and she's thanking me.  AWKWARD!

Now, a whole new pecking order has started!  Shy Maude, who used to hide behind sweety pie Gert has turned into this. ~

She is determined to peck Gertie to death.  Gertie stays in a cat cage or hides behind me and looks like this all the time! ~

So, if you want to know why the chicken crossed the road, "NO REASON AT ALL!".  Chickens do crazy things for no apparent reason.  

Tuesday 19 March 2013

Make Believe Spring

With snow flurries and grey skies as a constant this March, I've come to the conclusion that I will have to use a little imagination to get in the mood for Easter decorating.

Since I'm making spring up, why not spend it wherever I want.  I choose Paris.  Who doesn't want to be in Paris in the springtime?

I have a cute tablecloth with all kinds of Parisian images. ~

I'll need a centrepiece for the bistro table.  Since I'm running a chicken infirmary at the moment, I have feathered things on my brain and start by putting a cute, fuzzy hen, her chicks and some moss in a huge rose bowl.  ~

Of course these aren't REAL chickens.  Remember, I keep a real chicken in my bathtub.  If the weather doesn't improve soon, I'll be dumping these chicks out of the rose bowl and using it for a wine glass!

I was hunting around for a tray for under the rose bowl and it occurred to me that a vintage egg plate would do the trick.  Some paper mache eggs are mixed with real eggs my daughters painted for me when they were little girls. ~

You wouldn't go to a bistro in Paris without having pastries, cheese and wine.  Some bistro plates, pearl handled dessert forks and knives and stemless wine glasses are perfect.  ~

Someone already started into the wine! Is that my imagination or did the power of positive thinking bring some sunshine into the room?

There's really no point in dumping that wine back into the bottle is there?  The French would be appalled!

No, I shall have to linger awhile at my bistro table and savour all that is wonderful about springtime in Paris!

I'm sharing Paris with ~ A Crafty SoireeThursday Favorite Things Blog HopShare Your Cup ThursdayHome And Garden ThursdayOpen House PartySunny Simple Sunday

Monday 18 March 2013

How Did A Chicken Get In My Bathtub?

I don't think I have the words to adequately describe how crazy last week was!  Maybe you can get the gist with some hastily snapped pictures.  I think it's become a habit to snap a few and I didn't even know I had most of them until I went to use the camera today.

A week ago today I was revelling in the first mellow sunset since this stormy winter began. ~

Monday morning I had the wonderful surprise of the first spring flowers. ~

By the next day we had this. ~

I've been helping out a friend who broke (completely shattered, actually) her ankle on the wicked ice we've had this year, so I'm making my way to the chicken coop gingerly these days.

Her husband dropped a couple of bags of straw off on the front porch for my chickens. In the morning I see something needed a warm bed and pulled a bag of straw apart right beside the front door. Canine is my guess from the tracks.~

That won't be fun to clean up but I'm glad it had some refuge from the storm.

Not one but two offers came in on my rental property.  A change of real estate agent and we have action! The second offer bumps out the first and wants to close in four days!  This sets off a flurry of calls to lawyers, utilities and tax offices to try and pull this end of the paperwork together in record time.  This is a big house, it's fully staged and all the furniture and accessories have to be removed.  Removed to where? Ekes!  Wait, there is a snag in the financing.  The deal is on hold and the agent doesn't want anything taken out of the place.  At 5:30 on Wednesday the deal is confirmed and everything has to be out by midnight Thursday!  Start hauling furniture and packing dishes and make more calls to start giving a lot of it away.


All I have to do on Friday is pick up my cheque and head to a party friends are holding to celebrate the sale.

Oh, and take my lawyer a couple of jars of my dill pickles.  It's a deal we have going.  My daughter misunderstood me when I said he always wanted pickles when he did work for me.  She said, "Mom, I think it's just weird that your lawyer wants tickles."  Right, Farm Girl, pickles is weird enough but I draw the line at tickles!

Let's tuck the chickens in for the night and head out.  That wouldn't be nearly enough drama, would it? Of course not.  I open the coop and find Gertie bleeding profusely.  How she got the wound, I don't know, but this has given the other three girls the idea that she'd make a nice meal.  I'm holding her up so they don't cannibalize her and frantically dialling my cell to get my friend to Google how to stop bleeding in a chicken.  Did you know the blood will spray out of them like you cut an artery open?  One Google solution is to dump flour on the wound.  Seriously?  Her husband will be right over with some steptic powder.  I dial Farm Girl to see if it's okay to use it on a chicken.  I call it septic and she feels the need to correct me.  Really?  Blood is spraying all over my face and she wants to discuss pronunciation, grammar, syntax ...!

Gertie is in quarantine for the weekend so the girls will leave her alone.  She has to stay in a cramped cat cage and I was debating giving her a bath.

I really don't want to take a chicken in the house and bathe it, but that dried blood is a real problem if I don't want her to get pecked to death. ~

As I'm standing there debating the craziness of putting a chicken in my bathtub, I realize one of my sister's chickens is looking very bad.  To be honest, that chicken is old and probably on her way out but she looks like she might be egg bound.  The only help I know for that is to stand the bird in warm water.  She liked it so much she lay down in it. Now, I'm juggling too many sick chickens. Out comes my phone and I call my sister to come over and help.  The weather is turning cold and I have a wet chicken to warm up.

So I ended up with a chicken in my bathtub after all! ~

Dizzy Lizzy got to stay in the tub to warm up and we moved the unused, little chicken coop into the run so Gertie has a space to move around in during the day. ~

And that, my friends, was my week.  How was yours?

Saturday 9 March 2013

Cornflower Pattern Glass

My thrifting find for this week is a beautiful lemonade set in the cornflower pattern.  In a local consignment shop, I spotted the set which included a 9 5/8" high lemonade pitcher and eight glasses.  They were in mint condition! ~

Priced at $29 they were a steal and I snapped them up!  Cornflower lemonade pitchers are hard to come by and I've seen them priced over $100.  The glasses usually sell, individually, for around $10.  There isn't a chip or scratch to any of the pieces.

Cornflower is a pattern created by Canadian glass cutter WJ Hughes in 1912.  For 75 years it was the favourite pattern choice for Canadian homes.

The pattern is distinctive in it's deep cuts of 12 cornflower petals and hexagonal grid as the flower centre. The tips of the petals are fringed. ~

  The stems form a graceful arch and are dotted with elongated leaves. ~

The Hughes Cornflower Co. specialized in cutting and embellishing glass and ordered their pieces from as many as 20 different glass manufacturers.  Although it came from as far away as Europe, most of the pre WWII glass came from the USA.

Some pieces are crystal.  Others are ordinary glass.  The rarest and most expensive, as collectibles, are the coloured Depression glass pieces.

I remember this as my grandma's pattern.  By keeping an eye out at my local Salvation Army Thrift Store, I've put together a set of 8 juice glasses for 50 cents each.  Now that I have 8 tumblers and a pitcher, I can move on to wine glasses and serving pieces.

This lemonade set has an honoured place in the dining room.  It's sitting on an old, cast iron furnace grate until I come across the perfect tray for serving ice cold lemonade to my guests! ~ 

I'm sharing this with ~ What's It Wednesday

Wednesday 6 March 2013

Lazy Day Project

Shhhh -  Maeve is sleeping. ~

I don't actually shush people anymore when they come in the house and Maeve is sleeping.  I sure did when she was a baby.  That kitten, feral offspring of a feral mother, was a mental case!  I'm not talking cute kitten, chase her tail mental.  It was more like up everything/into everything/break everything mental.  She was the teeniest, tiniest thing but she was a whirling dervish and the only time she slept was when she crawled inside my shirt (while I was wearing it) or under my sheets with me at night. It was like having a squirrel in the house. The only person I know who can truly understand how crazy a kitten can be is Deb from Just Cats.  Her Audrey could be Maeve's twin and if Deb, a professional cat sitter, found it hard to deal with you can imagine the trouble I had!

A couple of years later, all it takes is the first sunny day in eons and Maeve lazed around all afternoon. That's pretty much all I felt like doing today, too.

Just to say I accomplished something, I pulled out a wrought iron hanger I'd been meaning to paint for the kitchen.  It's such a small room that I have to utilize every square inch and I needed somewhere to hang tea towels and oven mitts.

The original paint was a greenish white that clashed with the mellow white on my walls. ~

I gave it a coat of latex black paint. ~

As soon as that dried, I dry brushed some of the grey kitchen cabinet paint over it. That dried quickly and I gave it a coat of spray, clear lacquer to protect the paint from wet towels. ~

It tucks nicely under the antique medicine cabinet I use for a spice cabinet.  This replaces the key holder that a certain black cat still thinks is to give her something to knock down and shoot around the house.  I didn't find crawling under furniture to hunt for car keys all that convenient. ~

Wow, will you look at the dust motes dancing in the sunshine from the dining room window!  Maybe I should have worked on that instead today.  Nah

Hang some towels and call it done! ~