Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Good Timing

Back when I began this journey with cancer, seems like eons ago or maybe yesterday, I tried to decide how much to share in this arena and settled for "not much."  Overall I have been tremendously impressed with the level of care and compassion offered by every medical office involved.  I've been floored by receiving personalized cards from the hospital staff after surgery and more recently from one of the PAs (physician assistant) at my primary care physician's office.  Back at the start, I had an excisional biopsy and there, too, was treated with such kindness.  Zoe, a nurse there, gave me a small ceramic "stone" on which was painted "Strength."  She explained that it would not give me strength, but would remind me that I was strong.  She said someone had given it to her, but she wanted me to have it to help with whatever might follow.  I've kept it nearby all this time.

After an appointment with the oncologist yesterday, unfortunately resulting in the need for a CT scan soon, I went next door and asked to speak to Zoe.  I put the little ceramic talisman in her hand and explained how much I had appreciated her kindness and good wishes, and I wanted her to pass it on to another in need.  Her eyes welled with tears and she said, "Me.  It's been a really bad day and you'll never know how much I needed this right now."  Timing is everything.

It was a good day.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Creature Comfort

For no particular reason, Celeste's pose tickled me.  She often lies this way on hot days, completely stretched out to catch the slightest breeze from the open doors.  It was her little crossed paws that got my attention.  She does like her creature comforts.

There is one mouse down in the barn who also gets special notice.  As I do every day, Sheila's milk gets squirted onto wipes on a ledge and also hung on the used-wipe bucket for the colony to suck up.  There is always some overspray that lands on the upright shovel nearby.  This particular mouse discovered that if she stands at the base of the shovel blade, milk will run like a waterfall right into her mouth, saving her the effort of sucking on the wipes.  Nothing if not willing to accommodate, now I also squirt milk on the shovel.

I'd thought Betty would outgrow her need to be carried like a baby, but every day she runs ahead of me, stopping and getting in my way until I pick her up.  We collect eggs together as she quietly chats and then she asks to be let down.

Yes, I'm guilty of spoiling my critters.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Just The Facts, Ma'am

When it comes to farm questions, Kathy V. is my go-to gal.  She gave me the clue about lobe color for chickens, so I sent her the photo from yesterday's blog and asked if she knew the breed.  Kathy thought it (she, because she is laying eggs) might be a brown leghorn.  Sure enough, she nailed it.  I'm impressed.  I'm also impressed with how quickly I could look up and verify the answer on the internet.  Growing up, I spent countless hours in various libraries checking statistics, finding topics for term papers, etc.  Rows and rows of little drawers filled with 3x5 index cards, coded with the Dewey Decimal System.  This provided a road map of sorts that would send me on a hunt through the building to find the source book.  I hope libraries never become obsolete, but it is quite grand to have a world of information at one's fingertips, only a click away.

You'd have to remember the old TV show "Dragnet" with Jack Webb and Harry Morgan (who later became Colonel Potter on "MASH") to relate to today's title.  Just another fact.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Ace Detective

The assignment was this:  find out who laid the white eggs.  Being a super sleuth, I followed the lead provided yesterday by informant Kathy V. and held a lineup of the usual suspects to determine the perpetrators (assuming there were two).  The white hens had already been cleared of suspicion by evidence left in the nest, obviously a case of mistaken identity.  Walking slowly past the unruly and semi-cooperative hens (Frederick had been excused), it didn't take long for this ace detective to identify the give-away white earlobes.
This is the mugshot of one, still wearing a disguise.  I had resigned myself to having two more males in the flock, as these birds have an oversize, floppy comb as do most roosters.  I'd seen them in the nesting boxes now and then but thought perhaps they had gender envy and were imitating the females, never once thinking they might be laying eggs.

I have no idea what breed these hens are, another mystery for another day.

This case is now closed.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Three's A Crowd

Cool?  Make that downright chilly.  Not only did I wear a jacket all day, I had to close the doors in the living room and the one in the bedroom yesterday.  I know a goosebump when I see it.  All three of the house critters sleep on the bed with me, and last night all three were jammed against my back and legs because they also felt the chill.  I won't say their warmth wasn't welcome, but they sure made it hard to turn over or stretch out.  This crowd of three nearly crowded me out.  If this weather continues (it won't), I see a comforter in our future.

I don't think I've said how much I enjoy comments to the blog.  Blogspot provides statistics on how many "hits" a day and countries of origin, and it is so rewarding and really amazing to see how many readers there are on a daily basis, averaging 50.  As of yesterday, there have been 98,221 views since I started writing and 93 countries represented.  Statistics are great, but the comments make it personal, putting a name to the number.  I find them encouraging and sometimes inspiring.

For example, yesterday Emmy mentioned that she had taken a rooster from the freezer to prepare for dinner.  I've done that.  It's always a crap shoot when you buy 3-day-old chicks whether you will get hens or roosters.  In the first batch or two when I started raising chickens, I ended up with two male buff Orpingtons and they turned out to be real stinkers.  One got so mean that I had to carry a broomstick into the pen for defense.  The day he snuck up behind me and drove a 3-inch spur into my calf was his last.  Steve shot him and the other as well just in case.  They were delicious.  At the same time, there was a much younger rooster in the flock who had seen the punishment for bad behavior.  It took forever before Leonard would even attempt to crow, trying to keep a very low profile.  He was very sweet and lived a long and productive life.

And I learn, as I did from Kathy V.'s explanation of earlobe color as an indicator of egg color.  I had to fill out paperwork for some government agency or another that asked if every animal/fowl on the farm had ear tags.  I had to answer that chickens don't have external ears.  (And no, none of my critters are tagged.  They never leave the property.)  A striking feature of the Araucanas is their bright blue lobes.  No wonder they lay such colorful eggs.

Kit is busy tending her darling grandchildren, but I miss her comments too.  Tote Trove pops in once in awhile, always nice to see.  In case I'm not making myself clear, all comments are welcome.  The more, the merrier.  They're a great incentive to start every day as I do, writing.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Make My Day

There are night people and morning people.  I am definitely of the morning variety and yesterday morning was an absolute delight.  Walking up from the barn after chores, it was such a pleasure to wipe a smattering of rain drops from my face instead of sweat.  It never amounted to anything more than putting polka-dots in the dust on the truck, but it was wonderful just the same.  After days in the 90s, the temperature dove down into the 60s!  It was a no-brainer to decide whether to wear a tank top or tee-shirt.  Summer is officially over with the autumnal equinox, but the heat will be around for a while longer, I know.  Today is predicted to be even cooler, and it's another example of take what you get and be glad that you got it.

Walking past the feed shed on the way to give the chickens their milkshake, I noticed Rhonda tucked into a corner nest she'd made.  Hmmm.  I should have said "give the chickens and squirrels..." because the furry ones were also waiting and crowded in for their share from the bowl.  Betty and I made the rounds of the laying boxes and picked up a couple of contributions from the pullets.  For whatever reason, the mature hens have not laid eggs in months.  On the way out, Rhonda was walking toward me and fluffing her feathers.  On the off chance, I checked her nest and lo and behold, there was an egg in the box.  Good girl, Rhonda!  The surprise was that it was a brown egg.  I knew it was Rhonda's egg because it was fresh out of the chute, but I'd always heard that white chickens lay white eggs.  Google tells me that isn't so, and now I know it to be a fallacy.  Perhaps it also works the other way around because I'd picked up two white eggs from the coop and there are only two white hens in the flock.  Live and learn.

I am not alone.  How many times have I gone into a room, only to stop, stand, and wonder what I'd gone in there for?  Bessie's morning routine is this:  first she lies down by my feet under the desk kneehole, then comes out and asks to be let outside, then comes in and waits to be boosted up onto the bed where she waits for me to finish at the computer.  This morning started out like any other.  There was evidently a gap in the synapse because she came back in, went under the desk, then came out and stood by the door again.  "Honey, you've already been outside," but opened the door and turned on the light.  She went out, stood there with the same look I've had so many times, and asked to come in again.

It doesn't take much to make my day.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

No Show

Nothing, and I do mean nothing, happened yesterday.  The customer who had asked me to save milk for an ailing calf called and left a message that the calf was doing better and he didn't need the milk.  This, after I'd walked past a pen full of disappointed chickens who were looking for their morning treat.  Oh well.

Watched a terrific and apparently semi-accurate docudrama, "Royal Wives At War," about the feud between Queen Elizabeth and Wallis Simpson as Edward VIII abdicated the throne.  He was a no-show as king of England.

No sign of Arden in the afternoon, which turned out to be a good thing because there was no sign of the vultures, either.  In talking about the migration with Cam, it turns out they'd gathered and flown off a couple of days before.  I missed the show.

However!  This morning while making coffee and replenishing food bowls, I thought I heard the sound of soft rain.  Surely not, but the air smelled fresh and was definitely cooler.  Later when Bess asked to go out, I turned on the porch light for her and don't you know there was truly a light sprinkling of rain on the deck.  Not enough to do anything but give one hope.  I'll settle for that.