Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Christmas Tree Shopping At Lowes

My husband says I have ruined is favorite place to shop now.

But let me start from the beginning.

Shelby and I met him after work at Lowes. He gets there before we do. As we pass through the garden section into the building I see the artificial trees and give them a once over glancing. Let me tell you, the pictures on the Lowes site are useless. The trees I thought were ugly are not, the trees I thought were full and pretty, are not. The only thing I can figure is you have to bend your branches and stems just right so it looks good with no gaps and so I ended up getting something totally different than I thought I was going to get.

Shelby and I went on into the store and found Ian. It wasnt crowded, it was quite the opposite in there. As I strode by the pet section I snagged a bottle of Adams flea and tick spray. I need to spray my show birds with it, seven in particular right now this week as I am showing seven barred rock bantams this weekend in Dalton. Its more of a just in case thing. I checked them all over yesterday and didnt see any mites, but, if they are placed next to other birds in the show, you never know what someone elses birds might have. Its a good habit to keep them sprayed all the time. I usually use the Frontline Spray, but I am out of it right now.

On to the trees. You know how it is. You have to look them all over at least 27 times! You have to be SURE. This can be quite daunting for my family as their patience is next to none. Ian is not interested in getting a 'plastic' tree and Shelby has no interest in being at Lowes at all for any reason whatsoever. She is more tolerant when it is just her and I, because when you add Ian into the mix its like having two children with you. Add a lack of interest and it gets annoying pretty quick.

I was actually in a very good mood. I haven't felt in the Christmas spirit for a few years now. I am feeling it this year, and I feel like it is going to grow through December. I was looking forward to getting some new garland for the new tree that I finally picked out. I ended up getting one without the lights already on it. After inspecting closer I saw the lights were just twisted ever whichaway on the branches and I didnt much like the look of the tangled mess. I got three strands of multicolored LED lights over on the lighting aisle. I also got a beautiful huge crystal type star. Shelby said she thought it was pretty too. Ian walked around the corner and I kept staring at the star and I told him... well, I thought it was pretty...but, all I could thing of was those crystals looked like...well, your going to laugh, but they remind me of the crystals at the Fortress of Solitude, all sticking up out of that table or whatever they are all on. Yep, Superman Fortress of Solitude Crystal Christmas North Star. Thats what is going on the top of the tree. Too funny. He said that was just too sad, lol, but he could see what I was saying.

Before finding all the other odds and ends...I walked around and down each Christmas encrusted aisle, looking, gawking at all the pretty shiny stuff. Then I saw it. I think my face turned red as a beet and my head about popped off my neck from the pressure I got so excited!!! Wait til you SEE what I found. I found...wait for it...I found....

A lighted...Christmas....CHICKEN FAMILY!! Oh YES I DID! It can be used outside or inside. I am afraid it gets too windy out here for it to go outside, so I will probably set them up right next to the tree! They are SO CUTE! :) Ian rolled his eyes and Shelby was like OH MY GOSH MAMA like I had lost my mind over such a trivial thing...I dont care, I got excited!

I found a new ornament. Its a teeny tiny John Deere tin lunchbox replica...so neat.

I loved wandering the aisles, sniffing the candles. I found a nice cinnamon/pine scented candle that wasnt pungent like most pine candles. I will burn it so we can have that 'tree' smell in the house.

Now I must make something clear. Usually, I won't acknowledge Christmas until the day after Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is a favorite holiday of all of ours and we want to give it our full attention. So when I wanted to go get this tree and browse at all the Christmas decorations and buy a few things more it was met with discontent and resistance by my family. Ian said it wasnt time for Christmas yet. I explained that he sure didnt want to come here the day after Thanksgiving, or any day after that. There would be no choosing which tree, you would get what they had left. It would be noisy and crowded, people and their kids up and down the aisles, stuff pulled off shelves, stuff missing that I would have wanted. It would have been less that a pleasure for sure. I was only trying to get the tree before all the chaos begins. I won't even be able to put it up until this Sunday.

I just felt happy. My family often comments about my moods, especially when I am in a bad mood. When I am grumpy. Most of the time it is because I am very tired and it is at the end of the day and I look around and there is still laundry to do, dishes to do...and I have no energy left to do that. I barely have enough left to cook supper. I pointed out that I was in a very good mood, but they were trying to ruin that mood with all the moaning and groaning. They should be thankful for when I am in a good mood.

We all know the saying. If Mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy. ;)

Anyway, I have my PLASTIC tree. I have my light up Chicken Family. I have lights to go on the tree. I have a star and garland. I will get Ian to go up into the attic on Sunday and pull down all the bins of Christmas decorations. I thought all this warmer weather would make me not feel in the holiday mood, but it has actually been quite the opposite to my surprise.

So Ian says shopping at Lowes for Christmas decor has ruined his love for shopping at Lowes. I bet he will recover and live to shop again...at Lowes. ;)

They did like the little cardboard glasses with the lenses that made the lights on the tree look like certain shapes. They were such a simple thing, but so neat! One pair of glasses made the lights look like snowmen, another was snowflakes, and the last one was little Santa heads. It was really neat, so we got one of each.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Christmas Trees

Ever since Ian and I have been married we have gone to get live Christmas trees. We always went to Browns Christmas Tree farm down in Fayetteville with his parents, along with Walt and Barbara, his aunt and uncle and their son, Ians cousin, Matt. After Shelby was born it meant even more to go to a Christmas tree farm and get a tree. Ride the hayride, see the farm animals, have a cup of hot apple cider in the country store on site. After picking out our trees, cutting them and loading them up we would all go back to Walt and Barbaras and have home made chili and cornbread. Barbara made the best chili, and I make mine just like she did to this day.

Ians mom passed away and it seemed that she was the thread that held together many traditions. Ians dad no longer wanted to go, which was understandable at the time. Walt and Barbara had moved some time before out to west Georgia. Things just kind of fell apart.

Ian and I continued our tradition of getting a live tree every year. The three of us would go out and get a tree. After moving out to the country we had to start over and find a local Christmas tree farm, but none of them had the tractor pulled hayrides, the animals to see, the country store with jellies, jams, homemade ornaments and much more. We just never really recaptured that feeling. Maybe because his mom was all about Christmas. She loved Christmas so much. She had a collection of Santas, the ones that looked like dolls on a stand. They were all so beautiful. She always had a beautiful tree, the bannisters wrapped in trim. Good memories. Yep.

Shelby is a teenager now. She is sixteen years old, so going to get a tree is okay, but we have never been able to find a place like we went to back when she was little. The last time we got a tree we went to a local farm and they didnt have anything left to speak of, every tree, except ones that wouldn't fit in the house, was gone. We did find a very small local Christmas tree farm that we got a fine tree from last minute...in the rain, and the cold. No hayride, no animals, no nothing, just cut the tree and go home.

Thats the last time we got a live tree. Last year, if you have been around my blog long enough, you may remember our Christmas tree was our date palm because it was taking up a third of the living room, or so it seemed, and has to be inside for the winter, so I just dressed it up and made it our Christmas tree. I loved it, WE loved it, but this year, I am feeling more traditional.

I have talked about getting an artificial tree for a long time. Every year I bring it up and every year it gets pushed to the back burner. I have many reasons for wanting one. For one thing, live trees have gotten pretty darn expensive. Its nothing to go out and find a normal size tree and have to pay fifty dollars for it. I learned that pine trees are messy and firs dry up and become quite the fire hazard. Leland cypresses are perfect, but they are pricey. If you want a tree that is going to last all month, you need a leland cypress.

Everyone knows that the first half of the year is when everyone has money. Tax returns come in. The last half of the year, not so much left. Ians hours always get cut back this time of year, but this season it may last for quite a while...on into next year and who knows. Every dollar counts around this time of year. With his hours cut we have to cut our spending and be careful with our money.

With that in mind, who has the money to spend fifty bucks on a live Christmas tree?

We don't exchange gifts with family or friends. We do get Shelby presents, she is still our baby girl and we want her to have her gifts and surprises at Christmas. She is the only one I shop for though. Ian and I both agree that anything he or I wants, we usually get it over time. Who needs to spend money on little trinkets that will be forgotten over time? I am not a jewelry person, nor do I like fancy clothes. You all know what I like. Does that mean I will get a chicken with a bow on its head for Christmas? No, but if I wanted one, I would get it myself, because only I know what I really want. I don't want gifts for Christmas. I want the fellowship of my family together for Christmas, that is what its all really about. Lots of good food and good people getting together.

Now, back to the tree. I told Ian this. I told him it was perfectly fine to get an artificial tree at this time. I pointed out that his other aunt, Aunt Linda, had always had an artificial tree, and she was pretty darn Christmasy, as she is his mothers sister. She is also a big fan of Christmastime. If Linda can have one, so can we, and still be Christmasy. (Is that even a word? If not, it is now, lol)

So, armed with our Lowes plastic money, today after he gets out of fire brigade training up in Rome, we are going to go get our first and probably our last artificial Christmas tree, so I want to make it a good one. I looked online at the trees. I don't particularly care for the Holiday Living brand trees. I do however like the Spruce multicolor lights seven foot tree by GE.

Holiday Living:

But, its like one of those things, your probably only going to buy this once, so why not get what you want to begin with. I mean, I am not unreasonable. I see there are trees that are 300 dollars, but I just don't want to spend that much, even if we will have it from now on. I am one of those in the middle kinda people. I don't want the least expensive piece of junk that will fall apart in no time, but I don't want the outrageously overpriced one either.

So, after we get this tree we will never have to worry about not having the money to get a tree, or finding a tree. We will have it, and I can breathe easy and just put up the tree. We have so many beautiful decorations we have collected for our family over the years, I think its going to be nice to hang them all on our tree this year. :)

I am even thinking about pulling out ALL the Christmas decorations this year. I haven't done that in a long time. Time to go into the attic Ian! :)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Hay and Feed

Fall has been very dry here in Georgia. Usually we can squeeze by in the back pasture if I don't cut the grass just before it starts to go dormant. This year we had very little rain to give the grass that last boost and so there is little left to eat out back for Derby, Boggin and Dolly. They still browse, but it was time to buy some bales of bermuda hay.

I called my neighbor about five or so minutes away that has really great quality barn kept hay, but the army worms had taken over some of his fields and so he didnt have the supply he usually has. I bought his last four square bales. Now all he has are the big round bales. I would love to buy one, but I have nowhere to store it where it will stay dry and that is important. Moldy hay can kill a horse. I don't think it would do a llama much good either. I have a couple of local hay farmers phone numbers out of the Market Bulletin I will be calling soon.Right now one bale is lasting a week for the three of them.

The pigs don't eat hay, they eat fresh grass, but not hay, so I have switched them over to sweet feed. I was giving Boggin an Dolly some too, but it got expensive fast, so they are strictly on hay now. I have blocked the llamas from an area only the pigs and emu can get into. Its funny how I have to organize everything and be strategic to feed everyone. The emu that is out, Pacer, he has a feed dish that sits right outside the fence so the pigs can't eat his food. He sticks his head through and reaches it easily with his long neck. The llamas want the sweet feed, but can't get to it, so they hum longingly as the pigs smack and drool and eat their sweet feed.

Winter time is expensive to feed animals. There is no grass, no bugs, nothing much out there for anyone. I have so many chickens now (guesstimating close to 200) it is a big financial burden at this time of year to feed them and the big animals that are free to feed in the summer because of the green grasses being abundant. We get by though, we always do. I don't have to have any of these animals. We choose to have them because we wanted them, and we love them all very much. Lucky for them and for our pocketbook our winters are short compared to some other parts of the country.

Speaking of feeding, its time to get out there and do just that. It is pretty cold early in the morning so I wait for the sun to take the edge off before I venture out. It also gives me time to have my coffee and ponder the day while surfing the internet. I see a patch of rain moving through on the radar this morning so I thought I would wait that out for a bit. I am ready for the sun to come on back on this morning please!

I know my last entry seemed doom and gloom and pretty harsh. I do feel better after getting it out of my mind and onto the screen. It doesnt change the way I feel, it just doesnt feel like its poisoning me anymore. You can't keep that kind of intensity going inside, its not good for a person.

I hope everyone is having a good week. The weekend is almost here and I am hoping to get some things done outside. I have been trying to do some cleaning up out in the yard and around the outside of the house before winter really does come knocking on the door.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The State This World Is In

I have a lot rolling around in my head this morning. I thought maybe if I got it out here it would help relieve some of the pressure on my brain...and my heart. This entry may seem disjointed at times and it is about the good and bad of people. This is how I see the world. Everytime I hear or see the ugly truths of what human beings are doing I try to remind myself that there are also people out there, good people, trying to stop what the bad people are doing. Without them, there would be no hope.

I see our government imposing all these new rules and regulations, laws being passed, all to 'save' us from ourselves. To 'protect' us from ourselves or other outside sources. The fear they have put into people has allowed people to let it happen. They couldn't get away with NAIS, so now, they are going to try and pass a law that will control all food supply. Google S 510 and you can read all about what is going on. This is Monsanto, this is big AG, this is the big boys taking your basic freedom to choose what you eat. They say it will make the food supply safer, but I only see control. Back yard gardens, farmers markets, roadside stands, the little man...is going to be shut down. Oh no, they will try and alleviate your fears, reassure you with a bunch of nonsense talk, but its just one more freedom lost.

There are so much wool being pulled over everyones eyes. The government is too big, too powerful. The people have no power. You say we have a vote? Yes, well who are you going to vote for anymore? They are all ready to jump in and control something or other. The only difference your vote will make is if you vote for the person that is against something that affects you. There are so many gray areas now, its overwhelming. The government has every right to listen to your phone conversations, snoop around in your computer, every privacy you thought you had is gone with the Patriot Act. I don't care, I don't think Joe Blow down the road riding his four wheeler through the woods hunting deer is a threat to the United States security.

I just read some article that the government wants you to share your retirement money with them, your 401K. They want to take half of it to help you save it or some baloney. It doesnt have a thing to do with the fact that the government is in the hole and the housing market is collapsing, people have no jobs, the economy is in the toilet.

I used to just think to myself maybe I was just getting more cynical with age. Ian and I had a conversation the other day, and with all that is going on...we have decided we are not just becoming cynical and griping about things the way our parents did, and their parents did. Nope. This is really happening.

I used to think storing food, ammo, water and other necessities was overkill. Maybe not. Maybe by the time I can see it is necessary...it will be too late. I am stilll not sure. I admire the people that already do this as a way of life. They have wood stored up, they have a whole room dedicated to shelves and shelves of canned food right out of their garden. No geneticaly modified organisms will be in that food. You have heard of GMO's haven't you?

Every day I see signs that we are just guinea pigs for them. They are finding out that the wonderful chicken pox vaccine your child took to prevent chicken pox is now showing up as shingles. You see...our bodies get chicken pox only once, then we are immune, but, it also makes us resistant to shingles which is in the same virus family as chicken pox. By preventing chicken pox you have set yourself up to have shingles. I remember when this vaccine first came out and Shelby was a baby. They asked me if I wanted it for her. I said no, thank goodness.

So many recalled drugs. Did you know that heart related surgeries are more often than not unnecessary? Try googling Unnecessary heart surgeries. The doc gets his though doesnt he. So does the insurance company that keeps going up on your rates year after year.

The internet has exposed horror after horror from undercover cameras in the U. S. about how animals are killed for our consumption. The cruelties they must endure before they get blessed relief from death. Chickens stuffed in cages all their lives to produce eggs til they are spent. So depressed even if they have the fortune of being rescued by an organization such as Farm Sanctuary they stand in one place, defeated, closing their eyes, closing out the horrors they have endured for so long. Cattle, being turned upside down in a kill barrel to have their throats cut, only to be dumped out onto a bloody cement floor to scrabble about until bleeding to death. Over seas...undercover videos of fur farms. Animals being shocked, their fur being stripped off of their bodies while they are still alive and aware. Cats and dogs in cages, diseased, unhealthy looking, waiting to be chosen on a street market to be someones supper. Dolphins..laid out on a fish market floor with their throats slit to bleed out. I ask myself, what kind of human being can do this over and over to a living breathing feeling animal, day after day, week after week, year after year...for money. How do they look at themselves in the mirror? These people...are they dead inside themselves? I do not know, but it is scary to me.

I do eat meat. I am not vegan nor vegetarian. There is a right way and a wrong way to do things. Just because a wrong way is cheaper does not make it better. When you kill an animal to eat it, it should have lived a very comfortable life up until its moment of death. Death should be swift and painless. There should be no suffering. This animal is giving up its very life so that you may eat, and we should be respectful of that animal and thankful to that animal. These old barbaric ways I see should be outlawed. There is so much that needs to be changed.

Now I come to what I watched yesterday evening. I finally watched The Cove. This film is about the slaughtering season of dolphins in Taiji, Japan. The very man that trained the original Flipper dolphin back years ago, and was also in Flipper the tv series heads this movement up. Every September through March dolphins have a migrating pattern that comes through Japan. A bunch of fisherman corral these dolphins in to trap them with nets in coves. People can stand on a bridge and see this, but what they do not see is what happens in the other coves. The water becomes red with the blood of the dolphins that are not chosen to be sold to theme parks for 150,000 dollars each. They are brutally slaughtered, repeatedly stuck with spear type tools until they have bled to death. They are strapped up onto boats and pulled out to be processed.

The majority of Japan knows nothing of this. It was discovered that the dolphin meat was toxic, very high in mercury, so markets sell the meat as whale meat to disguise this. High amounts of mercury will do all sorts of damage to us. It messes with the brain connections and you lose motor skills, all sorts of things. There was a similar 'disease' they called it back in the fifties I think it was that was not a diseaess at all, it was discovered a company was dumping its toxic waste into the water and eventually it affected the people, babies were born disabled and later deformed. It is going to happen again if people aren't informed of the dolphin meat they are unknowingly consuming.

There is so much more in the film. If you have not watched it, it is a must watch if you care about the planet we live on. What I have told you here is just a fraction of the film. At the end, it was gut wrenching to watch, and when he walks into the room where many representatives from many countries are debating and present with that slaughter playing on a screen strapped to the front of his chest the delegate from Japan is trying to convince whaling to become legal again, saying the killing of the dolphins is much more humane and they are quickly killed...when the video that is playing shows otherwise. I burst out, crying, ashamed, mad. My hands pulled to my mouth covering up the sounds I wanted to make, but also mixed with feelings of joy that this man who knew no better back in the day...now chose to rectify his wrong and to try to change the way things are going.

Every day, the sun comes up and it is a new day. Today, I cannot go back to how I felt yesterday before I saw that video. Everytime I see and hear about things that I have spoken of in this whole entry it rips away a little piece of my faith in man. There are people out there fighting for what they believe to be right. It doesnt matter if its about our laws, our food, animals, even human rights. There is a right and a wrong, and these people remember what is right. Without them we would be doomed. I don't know if its enough. I hope it is. That is what keeps me going. The hope that the good will win out over the bad.

My days of innocence are gone. I am grown and I see things for what they really are. The rose colored glasses are off. How do you go about your day with all these things happening. How do you remain happy...when you know that each day our government is taking more and more away from us, using fear tactics to make us believe they have our best interest at heart, and us believing in a system that was broken a long time ago because it became fueled by greed and power instead of love and concern.

I used to believe moving out here to the country would isolate me from the outside worlds horrors. Although I don't have to put up with neighbors noise, cars going by with loud radios, and all that comes with city life, I can't get away. The government is bringing it to our doorstep. They are going to tell us what we can and cant have, what we can and cant do, what we can and cant grow in our own back yard.

I don't have the answers. If I did, I would act on them. For those that say to themselves "Things arent as bad as you think they are", I beg to differ. I don't know what it is going to take to turn this world around, I really don't. I see so much beauty in nature, but we humans tear it all down and tear it all up to make it our own twisted version.

I will continue on with my family life, with my farm life, with this life I have been given. I love my life very much. I just feel tainted. Like a white linen table cloth that gets more and more stained with spills each day.

So many issues, so much to ponder. It is very overwhelming, especially when you feel like such a very small fish in a very big pond.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Lay Offs

Every year about this time Ians workplace has lay offs and cuts back everyones hours to save a few dollars right at the end of the year. It happens every year like clockwork.

Its obvious that this is the worst time of year to do that with the holidays coming up. Usually most are called back after a few months, but this time its different. This time instead of laying off a few here and there, they have laid off sixty people. They are shutting down some of the machines in production from lack of business.

Ian works on those machines, along with 14 others on various shifts. A month ago it was said they were understaffed in the shop and three people needed to be hired. This month they wanted four people laid off. Make sense? No, I don't think so. Ians boss said NO to laying off people in the shop. He said everyone would cut out overtime hours so that everyone could stay the duration of this lean time. Ian has seniority on a lot of folks in the shop so the plant would have to shut down for him to lose his job. Lets hope it doesnt come to that.

I feel for the ones that have to endure this time without jobs. Anyone who says the economy is getting better has not been paying attention. Ians place of work makes cartons for various brands of beer, Coca Cola and Pepsi products. If the economy was getting better why are these sales down so much. Yeah. Exactly. Because people are making tea and Kool Aid at home or drinking water.

We will be okay, we do this every year. It gets lean about this time of year. We make it through to the beginning of the year, Ian gets his vacation checks in by the end of January, except I bet we have to wait a bit longer this time. I bet they hold on to that money as long as they can. Then it will be tax return time and we will have our relief fund so to speak.

Christmas is not stressful here anymore. We never exchange gifts between adults. Its just not necessary. If we can just all get together and enjoy each others company and some good food thats enough, its plenty to be thankful for. I like to keep it simple. Simple is nice.

In the meantime I will be able to enjoy Ian being home on weekends. Whole, full weekends. We won't have any money to do things, but we will be home together. We don't live in a crowded noisy area anymore so we can enjoy each other in peace and out here in the country.

I do have a few things in mind for us to do weather permitting. Painting. So many things need painting outside. Ian hates painting...I don't mind it, I just don't have time most of the time.

Thanks for stopping by to see me, I really do appreciate all the visits :)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Possum, Hawk...and Weasel?

Before I get carried away, I want to remember to answer Lisa's question. Lisa, if you want to buy a pullet that is already about to start laying you can expect to pay anywhere between 8 and 15 dollars, depending on the breed. Some are more in demand than others. For instance the dark chocolate colored egg layers like Cuckoo Marans and Black Copper Marans are very popular right now so they go for more. Before you invest in chickens I always suggest to read first on housing, basic care, predator proofing, nutritional needs, health issues, such as diseases and parasite control, both internal and external. There are no avian vets around here, so I have to do my own doctoring, Jeffers Livestock Supply online provides a wide variety of vaccines for poultry among other useful things. Some of it will be a learn as you go thing, trial and error. Things happen, you learn from them. Everyone also has their own way of doing things. You just have to find out which way works best for you, whether it be parasite control or nesting box preferences.

So, we had a possum coming and eating the cats food every night, and I managed to trap him and take him off to the deep woods where he wouldn't find anyone to bother. Ian spared his life, I am not sure what would have happened to him had it been left solely up to me. He was not diseased or mange infested looking, he looked healthy, so we let him live, far far away.

Yesterday, I went out to let everyone out and found one of my older black austrolorp hens dead in the chicken house. Her head was eaten off and her neck stripped down to the bone.
This is a classic way that weasels eat a chicken.

From time to time I have to go through and do maintenance on the pens as they become unsecure. Ties may break, staples come out, the usual stuff. I knew of a couple of areas that needed repairing and did so yesterday. I brought out my trap once again last night, baited it and left it to hopefully catch what had done this. This morning I found nothing. The food untouched, the trap still open.

Also yesterday, something got a hold of one of my young speckled sussex chickens and there was evidence of feathers being pulled out of the breast area, classic of a hawk clearing the way to eat the breast meat. Except the hawk was interrupted by Shelbys miniature horse Derby. I never saw what happened, but I knew.

Shelby went to let Derby out to the back pasture and found a trampled chicken carcass. She called me out to investigate. From the pulled out breast feathers I could see it was a hawk attack. From the broken up legs and feet and bulging eyeball and many other broken internal bones I could see that Derby had tried to get after the hawk, but in his freaking out he killed the chicken. He was trying to do the right thing, but it just didnt work out.

I have learned during a predators leaner months not to let my chickens out as soon as it is first light. Thats a good way for a fox to sneak in from the field next door and grab breakfast. I wait a little bit before I feed them and let them out.

Trial and error, even ten years into having chickens. Its a battle out there. Everything likes to eat chickens. All you can do is keep trying to keep them safe. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. Most of the time I think I win. I don't lose many chickens. To lose a few a year to a predator when I have upwards of 200, is not bad. I hate to lose any of them, but I have been out here long enough to know it is inevitable.

I used to cry and freak out and throw a fit everytime something like this happened. I don't anymore. Its not because I don't feel anything, its because, well, you know its coming eventually. I am not close to every one of my chickens. Sometimes it affects me more than other times. I feel sad, but I don't freak out like I used to, unless it is one I was really really close to. Then I freak out, and rightly so.

I guess this predatory season has started early. I usually don't have troubles til the foxes and coyotes have their kits and begin having to feed them long about February.

Going out there to see how things are going, lets hope I don't have a weasel. I can block out a possum or a raccoon, but a weasel can squeeze through chain link fence, and I will have to make other provisions if this is the case.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Egg Recall... Again


The food industry better wake up, the people are starting to wake up. More folks want a few chickens in their back yard for their own eggs, and sometimes meat. More people are growing their own vegetables or buying organic after hearing about GMO foods. Who wants genetically modified junk?

I have read articles where the government is trying to make it difficult for you to do these simple things though. You have to fight for it. What would you rather have living next to you? A few hens scratching around in someone's organic garden, or a few flea bitten smelly dogs that poop up against your fenceline and no one cleans it up? Not saying all dog owners are this way, but, I am painting a picture here.

There is a 93 year old man that spent several thousand dollars on a coop to have a few chickens, relive some good memories and make some with his grandkids, but he has to fight for it. Here is the article.


This is just one example of many many people having to fight for their right to have a few hens in their back yard. The old way of thinking needs to go out the window. Chickens make great pets, they don't need to be classified as 'livestock' anymore. I have proved time and time again that chickens have personalities and feelings. But the government wants you to rely on them, on their big companies they have invested in.

People are waking up, and they want to know what is in the food they are eating...for example...

There is just no excuse for putting that junk in there.

Here is a nice video to end with. Everyone, take control of your food! :)

Friday, November 5, 2010

Weathering the Winter

Living in Georgia is a blessing when winter comes. There is a well known saying this far south in the U.S., if you don't like the weather, wait a minute, and it will change. With that said, we still have our fair share of cold weather. Some love cold weather. I don't particularly like it for the simple fact that I have to go outside in it to tend my animals no matter how wet, cold, windy and miserable it may be. Some may ask why I do it. Because the rest of the seasons favor doing what I do, and I love my animals.

When I first started out with chickens, I had no idea how big the 'hobby' would grow, until now. I keep about 200 chickens on a regular basis. A couple of small houses, a few pens, that used to be enough. My set up isnt the most convenient for me any longer. The majority of my chickens are let out each day, and they may love the set up because they have their own little groups they run in. However, I would love to have one central roosting, feeding and watering house instead of all these pens lined up to close up each night.

I have been covering pens with heavy tarps, stapling them down securely because we have some pretty vicious wind out here at times. The seramas will have to have a heat lamp in their pen as they don't do cold weather well at all. I don't worry too much about the heavy layers. They always do fine as long as they are out of the wind and rain. Did you know that a chicken copes with the colder weather by adjusting their body temperature, lowering it as they sleep through the night? I still worry though. Its just my nature to want everyone to be comfortable.

I also rake out each pen and put down a thick heavy layer of wheat straw. I have over half my pens done this way already. Clean and dry. Dry is important to me when its cold out. Some folks use pine shavings, everyone has their method.

One day I want one central house for everyone, with graduated roosts, hanging feeders and such. That way I can feed them indoors and when its windy, cold, raining, I am not at the weathers mercy. Of course I am also expecting everyone to go in at night together, which may not happen. Not everyone gets along out there if they are put in a situation where they can't spread out. Eh, it will probably never happen. You see, all I did was cover pens, and they were already terribly confused and have been for several nights now on where to go to roost. They are all mixed up because all they can see is their doorways now. They will figure it out eventually.

The run in that Ian built last winter is going to be great for the pigs, llamas, and Pacer, my one emu out on guard duty in the back pasture, to use to stay out of the bad weather.

I have read we are going to have a mild winter. I hope so. Last year we had snow twice. The second time around was a good amount for here.

Before moving to the country I really didnt mind the cold. I only had a handful of chickens at the old house and it was easy. I guess the winter is there to make people like me appreciate the summer even more, and boy do I ever.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Shelby's 16th Birthday

Sunday October 24th was Shelby's sixteenth birthday. Time passes so quickly these days. She has grown into such a beautiful talented wonderful young lady. I think Ian and I have done a pretty good job raising her so far in her young life.

We had a few friends over and had a cookout. Baked beans, french fries and baby back ribs. I will never live it down, because I do make awesome fall off the bone ribs....when I smoke them for a few hours. When I am in a hurry and put them straight on the grill...well, they don't turn out so good, they were overcooked and of all days for me to rush a good thing...lol...Shelby will forever remember the ribs, tasting like charcoal. I am truly sorry, but whats done is done, and from now on anyone coming to have baby back ribs at my house will just have to wait for them to slowly smoke from the smoker. Indirect heat makes for much better ribs let me tell you!

Shelby recieved her birthday gift from us early. She had been wanting a ball python, but not just any regular one, an unusual one, so we had been looking up breeders online and found a good one in PA, but it just didnt pan out this time. The one she had picked out got sold before we bought it, but she says it gives her something to look forward to next year.

Poor Ian, he says to us, "Why is it when anyone wants anything around here it is always an animal? Shelby, don't you want a video game or something?" He said it in jest, not in anger of course. If you have been reading for any length of time on my blog you know we love our animals, and have many. Shelby responded that YES, she did want a video game too. ;) Mawmaw and Gaddy had that covered.

This is Bandit, her new young ferret. I must say, I have never laughed so much and for so long. He is totally entertaining and so much fun to play with and watch. He makes a great buddy for her. He lives upstairs in a big kennel, of which we modified for ferret fun and living. The cage you see him next to was temporary til we got him fixed up in a bigger home.


It was a wonderful birthday with great company. Karen and Tiffany were even able to stop by that evening and visit for awhile. Here are some pictures from her birthday.



Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Poultry Show Oct 23

I love poultry shows, I think that has been established. I have never been to one that I have been disappointed in, even if I didn't win a thing...until now.

I was called at the beginning of the week, and was asked to show because the show had a severe lack of large fowl. With such a shortage, it would be easy to win something, so even though it was Shelby's birthday the day after I agreed to come. I was told it was okay for me to coop out early seeing as I needed to get back home and pick up the cake, clean up some around the house, decorate and get ready for the party on Sunday.

I packed up all of my birds in carriers and boxes the night before and put them in the back of the covered bed of my truck, packed up any grooming supplies, feed and water cups and feed. I also was thinking ahead for once and packed two director style folding chairs for Dwain and myself. It seems at almost every show there is nowhere to sit, so I brought my own seating to ensure a spot to plant myself. I also brought bottled waters in a cooler and some of those Arizona Tea mixers with Splenda. I am trying to stay away from any cokes of any kind.

(Yes, I know...coke is what we southerners call everything, be it Pepsi or Dr Pepper, its all a coke. Pop, soda, carbonated drink...its all coke to us)

I always have to leave the house at an unreasonable time to get to the Monroe show. It is two hours away and I like to get there and settle in without rushing. I got up at 1:30 am and left the house at 3:10 am. There was no danger of heavy traffic, or any traffic for that matter. I do like that fact. As I got into Atlanta I picked up Dwain. He is my best chicken buddy and the only one that will go to shows with me. My husband works a lot, and Shelby is just not going to get up and go with me at that hour of the morning, and I don't blame her. She did show last winter show season and won big, and I commend her for it.

After picking up Dwain we headed straight for Monroe. The directions seemed simple. They seemed simple the last time we went to a show there. They had it at Criswell Park. The directions for that location stated to go past the white church and turn right on Highway 11. No one informed us that there were 127 white churches on Highway 11, and that Monroe should probably be renamed the City of Little White Churches...and I say that laughing softly in jest with a smile.

The directions for this time sounded very simple. Go north on Hwy 11. After you pass over Hwy 78 start looking for the sign that points down the road to the show. Simple...right? But no, it was anything but simple. We rode up and down the highway in the dark looking for a sign, a sign in a sea of little signs all along the road displaying ads for all sorts of things. We stopped at the Waffle House along the road and I began searching on my phone on a message board to see if anyone had left directions. YES! Paydirt! It was on the Britt Family Property. So I googled it, and I got it! It was down some squiggly long country road, first road on your right after passing through Hwy 78. As we started to pull out, I heard a little bantam crowing in the truck in the same parking lot. Dwain suggested we ask him, just to be sure. Thank goodness we did. He said we would never find it to follow him. I thanked him very much and we followed.

Now, as we are going down the road, we don't go the way I expect to go at all. We pull into a parking lot with a building right there, and on the front of that building is Britt Appliance. We pull down the side behind that building to another building.


Why wouldn't you just tell anyone coming to the show to pull down the side of Britt Appliance???? After daylight we did see the show sign, but COME ON!!!

Anyway, we thanked the man again and pulled on in. Hardly anyone was there. Not really too surprised seeing as no one was going to be able to find it until daylight.
First order of business for me is to use the restroom. I go into the building and ask where the bathroom is. There is no bathroom. There are two port o pottys outside. GREAT. No real bathrooms. So I go on and do my business...in the big blue port o potty. At least it was still clean and unused at the time.

Dwain and I began unpacking birds, I stood in line and got my birds tested (all birds must have a blood test for disease before you can show them) while he brought in the rest. After testing and paying my entry fees I took an exhibitor list and found my exhibitor number. We went to the large fowl section to look for the birds coop tags that would put each bird in its place.

Well, when you go to a show, usually you have coop tags with your number, the birds variety, breed and cock, cockeral, hen or pullet. I brought eight birds. I only had four tags, thus only four coops. Well this was not good. I went up to the table up front and told him I didnt have coops assigned, no coop tags, what was going on? He gave me clips and more coop tags, and I, yes I, had to fill out my own and put them on some empty coops so I would have places for my birds. To top it all off, all breeds are supposed to be together. Two of my cochins were on the far end of the table, while two of my others with three other peoples cochins, were on the other end. I think this cost me later on when the judge was judging as he came upon Buckbuck and Babes daughter and had to rethink his judging. He said he didnt see these. I told him I didnt have a choice, that the Andelusians were already tagged at that end. He understood.

So, I have every bird in their respective coops, finally. Now its time to get out the hanging water cups and give everyone some water. I usually fill my water jug before I even leave the house, but this time I didnt. So, once again I go to the front and ask where a faucet, spigot, hose, something to dispense water is. Then I was informed that there was no running water there. GREAT. Luckily a man overheard me and had a huge orange cooler full of water and filled my jug for me. I thanked him profusely and went on my way.

After getting everyone some water (you don't feed til after the judging, it fills their crops and the judges can't feel the birds physique as well) we got our chairs and cooler (and at that time realized I could have used some of my bottled water, oops), sat down in front of the large fowl table and relaxed for a few minutes. It was still dark outside, but the lights were on in the building, until they went out. Yep. So everyone that had gotten there later was running around in the dark using their cell phone lights to see. I had groomed my birds the night before and wasnt really concerned, but others were not having such an easy time. So, no toilets, no running water, AND no electricity. Wonderful. The lights finally did come back on about an hour later.

They did have a nice trailer brought in, one of those that cooks inside and serves food. Dwain and I got some breakfast when they opened up. Dwain was sleepy so he went out to the truck and napped. I don't blame him, I would have if I could have. He said later I should have got him up sooner, because he missed the judging.

Before the judging started I met a nice lady from the SC/GA border. She had been told I would be there by the lady I get my cochins from. She also had bought a cochin cockeral from her. She was new to showing and Beth had told her that I would talk to her and help her out. We sat and talked, I looked at her boy, he was beautiful. She told me not to think of her as competition, that she was just wanting to learn right now. I smiled and said to her Yeah! Until you win a couple of times, then you get bit by the bug and want more and more! Its addictive I tell you. I really enjoyed talking with her and meeting her and we hit it off right away. We exchanged phone numbers and plan to keep in touch and see each other at shows.

Now the judging begins. I had never heard of any of the judges there. There was a reason for that, but I will tell you about that later. Lets just go along with the story as it happened. The judge goes around looking at birds, pulling some out to look closer. Back and forth, scribbling things on coop tags. I wait patiently with my new friend. Dwain is still napping so we sat in the two chairs I brought, waiting for results. As he came by, I was telling her about stubs on Polish (tiny hairlike feathers, barely able to see them, but a no no, have to pull those out before a show, usually found between the toes) and how clean legged birds should not have those, he was looking for stubs on my buff laced polish pullet. He peeked over and overheard us and I nodded and acknowledged what he was doing and told him he wouldnt find any on my polish. ;)
He then proceeded to tell me my polish were all underweight. :( I informed him that three out of four were only about seven months old. Polish take a long time to fill out. They are not a heavy bird anyway, they are a more upright slender bird. He said it didnt matter, they were underweight. ????????? Whatever. Again, what I found out later explains a lot about this comment.

As all large fowl judging was over, Honey(my new friend) and I went around looking at the coop tags. I was explaining to her what each scribbling meant and how the judging process worked. There was also a discrepency of how the black cochins were numbered, there were two 'ones' and two 'twos' which makes no sense, they should have been labelled one through four. Again, you will understand this finding later on when I tell you what I found out.

On her tag was the word "COMB". Now, when a judge puts something like that on your tag, it generally means there is a fault with that part of the bird. Later, she was told that the bird was too young, and so the comb was not big enough or some crap. It was crap nevertheless.

William, my splash cochin got Champion Asiatic. WONDERFUL!!! My buff laced polish pullet got Champion Continental. FANTASTIC!! Shirley, my silver laced polish got Reserve Continental. GREAT! So I had won some stuff, and I was excited and happy. But wait...who won Champion Large Fowl and Reserve Champion Large Fowl? I mean, sheesh, I was a shoe in easy right? What happened? Even Beth just knew I would surely take home one of these places. Nope. Same exhibitor, won both, with two sumatra hens. I am sorry, but I have seen much better sumatra hens. I am not one to whine about losing to a better bird. I bow down to a better bird than my own and will always give tribute to a rightful winner. But not this, this was just not right. But, I would go home with something right? A trophy or two, or a plaque, whatever, so I went on up to the trophy table and started looking to see what I was going to recieve. I mean there had to be something there, there was a table slam full of stuff. Looking....looking. Not seeing anything. I see random stuff, weird stuff, like Best Phoenix, and even Second Best Phoenix? But there were none of those in the large fowl??? I was confused. So I asked.

"Oh everything here on the table is for the juniors except three things. The only thing for the adults is Champion Large Fowl, Reserve Champion Large Fowl and Champion Bantam.

??????????????????????????? Uhhhhh HUH??? Jilted, I walked away. He told me next year they would try and do better.

Some shows, small shows, don't have the money to get stuff. This is a medium sized show for the area. I have brought home four plaques AND a trophy from ONE show from this show in Monroe before.

I am all for promoting the juniors, but, they need to remember WHO pays for the juniors entries and WHO brings the juniors to the shows. Sometimes the parents are not exhibitors, but sometimes they are. Without the adults, and their money, there would be no juniors. So lets feel the love for the open show too, even if its just a little something, if you win, you should get a ribbon at the least! I was not very happy. I was not lied too, I won alright, I was told I would win, but I had nothing to bring home to show for it to put in with my other wins.

Well, poo. It was time to pack up and get out of there. I wasn't feeling any obligation to stick around for anyone so Dwain and I packed up and left. I didnt even take any pictures, and I am sorry for that, but I just wasnt feeling very happy. Plus it was too dang dark in the building to take any decent pictures.

Headed down the road I felt relieved to get out of there. What a waste of time. I know I should feel good about the good marks, but taking home a little piece of paper with scribbling on it just didnt seem very prestigious. Most of the birds I took were already proven champions, so I didnt have anything to prove, so to me it was a waste of time, gas, and money.

Now, onto what I found out later about this show. When you read this, if you are still with me, I know this is long, but if you are still with me, this explains a LOT!

First of all, I found out the show was put together haphazardly in a matter of weeks. Second of all, someone in the club that runs that show 'lost' 1500 dollars. Yeah, classy huh. Next, I found out that the judges they scraped up at the last minute had JUST gotten their judges license, so they werent even wet behind the ears. Totally inexperienced.

I talked with a friend of mine who's kids showed there, and she said when she asked the judge later what he deemed wrong with one of the kids birds his statement was,
"I just didnt like the bird". YOU DONT SAY THAT WHEN YOU ARE A JUDGE!!! You have to tell the fault in the bird according to the standard of perfection of that bird! Especially when kids are involved in learning! I was disgusted. She said even SHE could see the fault in the bird they picked for champion in the juniors, the back was not right on the bird at all. So, you see, all that I mentioned before, makes sense now. They didnt know what they were doing.

A lot of people you see at shows are not good sports and will complain because they didnt win. I promise you I am not one of those, and neither is she. We have just seen enough and been showing long enough we kinda know what is what. The judges are supposed to know much more than an exhibitor, but this time, that was not the case.

I have to honestly say, I wish I would have stayed home and took all of Saturday to prepare for Shelby's birthday party. I wouldnt have had to stay up past midnight preparing if I had stayed home. I was talked into the show with the notion I would be adding to my collection of plaques and trophies, and when that didnt happen, I was disappointed and pretty unhappy.

On a side note, I looked up some trophies online at trophydepot.com...and found some really nice trophies with chickens on top, really cool looking ones for anywhere between 5 and 10 dollars each. Engraving and shipping was free. So I dont see what the problem was. Bad planning, that was the problem, and lack of money, because someone felt they had to pocket 1500 dollars. The trophies they had were very cheesy and chintzy looking, bordering on ugly, some of them. Guess they got a deal, cause there were plenty of cheap looking ugly trophies.

Next entry I will have pictures and all about Shelbys birthday! A happier entry for sure!