Wednesday, February 25, 2015

more winter pics

From last week's ice storm: (Broken off the hen house; left a good 2" in the chicken wire next to the roof)

17" icicle
The dogs weren't too crazy about the ice last week. Buster enjoyed running and sliding some, but Little Dog stayed in the insulated dog house most of the time. The snow was a different story, however. Both dogs played and played and played. The funniest part was when I threw a stick, and Buster actually got a mouth full of snow picking it up. He had the strangest look on his face, chomped his jaws a few times, bent down to pick up the stick, dropped it, and repeated the above process. 
What? You're going inside? Already? I've still got three more sticks and two tennis balls!

Once the chickens realized the snow wasn't the same as ice, they headed out. I don't know why, but their prints always make me laugh.



And amidst the melting snow, flowers are coming up.
(The small ones in the middle are bulbs I planted this fall from a friend).

and the newest shoots coming up, also from the fall bulb

and one of my two lavender plants is still living!
Planted these down by the pond where the dogs hang out. I've read they're supposed to repel ticks.

 The drain to the pond has been either temporarily stopped or totally stopped since the beginning of January. (We've occasionally had a trickle going through.) With all the rain we've had this year, the pond has consistently stayed at a high level - high enough the spillway has seen a fair amount of action, which seldom happens. Above is the duck house. For those who've never been here, there's a walkway on the left and a small boardwalk on the right, as well as a platform in front and behind...all under water.

 And the water is now to the bottom of the pier. At one point when the pipe was totally stopped, it rose even with the floor of the pier. A neighbor was has been regularly working on it and was able to get a trickle streaming through again. With that and the spillway, it helped bring the level back down.

 I know everyone keeps saying this is the coldest winter NC has had in a long time, but this is the first year the pond has not froze off an on all winter. Last week was the first time it started freezing. I love this pic cause it shows the layering of the ice (not sure if that's from the wind blowing or the depth of the ice).
 This shot is close to the edge. It's quite thick here (at least two inches), but you can see the water underneath and where the water is beginning to crack the ice underneath.

 Cracks further out in the pond.
 I made this picture larger. See that pole out in the pond? That used to be a foot or two from the edge (about calf deep).  Not anymore! There also used to be a small island and a creek that are now flooded.

And the view facing the dam. Those white spots are the geese on top of the dam eating the corn I put out.

It was so nice out this afternoon and almost all the snow is melted. It's hard to believe they say more snow/ice is coming tonight.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

snow day!

I had set the alarm this morning so we could take my car to the Honda dealership to replace some parts that have been recalled, only to have my husband inform me we weren't going anywhere. We now have a good 2" of snow on the ground, and it's still (as of 4:54pm) lightly falling. I've not looked at the weather forecast, but I think there may be more on the way in the next two days.

The chickens are treating the snow the same way they treated the ice last week...mostly staying in. The dogs are liking the snow (they tolerated the ice and slid around some for fun) and have continued their daily ritual of chasing each other. They're not happy because I won't go outside and play, and Buster recently started chasing all the birds eating seed off the ground. I guess he's bored. FedEx and UPS haven't been to our neighbors today, and he loves to race the trucks (inside the fence line).

Meanwhile, I've done some family research and baking. No sewing yet today, though maybe after supper I can. Meanwhile I'm off to feed the chickens and check the mail. Last Thursday when it was so bad our mail didn't run, and we're joking that she may not come today either. There was once before that she left a note and didn't deliver a package because "there's a dog and it's raining." But realistically, I don't blame anyone for not coming down our road in inclement weather.

Monday, February 23, 2015

disgusting irony

Saturday night a movie came on about the beginnings of Facebook. I had read some of the controversial reviews while it was in the theaters, and was curious to see what it was really all about. Many parts of it were very disturbing for various reasons, but there was one stupid part that made us laugh. One of the characters was a pledge for a Harvard fraternity, and one of the things he was required to do was carry a live chicken with him everywhere he went. He was in the cafeteria, and the only thing they were serving that day was chicken. He "had" to feed his chicken, so he cut his meat up into small pieces and put it in the chicken's cage. The chicken ate it. Some students saw it and became outraged that one of the Harvard Facebook founders (it was then for Harvard students only) was encouraging cannibalism and animal cruelty that it created quite a rift between its founding partners.

We laughed over that for several reasons. One, the boy wasn't smart enough to go purchase what the bird needed to eat. Two, anyone who has had chickens for a while know that they DO have some cannibalistic tendencies.  Have an injured bird? Some birds will peck at it until it dies. Flies swarming over an injured bird? They'll stand around eating the flies off of it, injuring it more in the process. Have an egg that's been rolled too hard in the turning process? (Hens use the same nest and will kick the eggs around with their feet to make things more comfortable, or if they're nesting they do it to rotate the eggs and change the amount of heat the side of an egg is receiving.) When that egg cracks, the chickens will devour it...yolk, shell...all of it. Many old time farmers save the shells of eggs that they've cooked, let them dry, then grind them up to place into the hen feed as a layer nutrient. Otherwise you buy ground oyster shells and sprinkle it with their feed mixture to give them the calcium they need. Without it, you'll get a weak or shell-less egg.

So with that in mind, I come home from church Sunday to find that a hawk has feasted on one of our hens...the Welsummer to be exact (my one and only dark brown egg layer). After examining the crime scene for a little while and debating with Bobby about whether or not it actually was a hawk or the coyote the dogs were barking at the other day, we determined hawk and I grabbed a shovel to toss him in the woods. Bobby laughed at me for coming back to get the remainder of his insides (GROSS alert: hawks tend to pull out a bird's intestines and put them to side, one of the clues it was a hawk killing.) He said, "You know, the other chickens will eat that if you leave it for him." And then we both remembered the movie and started making cannibal comments. I didn't leave it there. And the reality is, they most likely would have eaten it (a chicken was already pecking the ground in that area by the time I put the shovel up).

I find it disgustingly ironic that some of the brightest and best were protesting "forced cannibalism" when any chicken owner knows chickens CAN be cannibals. It's been a while since I've been to the forum at www.backyardchickens.com , but there used to be a thread about how to deal with chickens who consistently ate their own eggs.

Lately I've not been refrigerating the fresh eggs, so I could still incubate the two remaining dark eggs I have. I really don't want to pull the thing out and start the process, but it would be neat to have at least one of its offspring. And we did buy an egg turner a few years ago, so I wouldn't have to turn the eggs 3-5 times every day. That makes the process a LOT less arduous.

So you've probably learned a lot more about chickens today than you ever cared to know. And the fact that I can not only do all this but actually write about it and not feel squeamish tells me I'm not as citified as I used to be. :)

Saturday, February 21, 2015

a few party pics and one frozen day pic

 Lighting the candles at Aunt Linda's 70th birthday (Right: Niki, Aunt Lin, Jennifer, Krista)

 Niki's lighter had the LARGEST flame of any I have ever seen. Everyone was laughing about her having a blow torch. She turned it down to the lowest setting, but it was still sending up huge flares (as you can see in the above picture).

And when I gathered eggs yesterday...one of them had not only frozen but split open. That doesn't happen here very often!

Friday, February 20, 2015

basketball

A week ago today (to be exact) we had the opportunity to see Carly play in her last basketball game of the year. We were a little late leaving, so we didn't arrive at the school until halftime. The games were at Sumiton Christian Academy. I knew where the school was located, but had never actually visited the campus. We arrived. Went inside the gym, and met my brother-in-law on his way out. I heard him ask the lady at the ticket table "Where are the 9&10 year olds? I've been waiting to see my daughter's team come out for an hour." The lady laughed a little and said "They're in a different gym." She then gave him directions. I hated he had to wait that long, but was thankful we met him when we did or we would have missed her entirely!
When we arrived at the 2nd gym, a group of parents with 7&8 year olds were asking when their team would play, and the ticket table was sending them to the gym where we had just left. Crazy!

Carly after getting bumped in the mouth. She reminds me SO much of my younger sis.

D-D-D-Defense
(yes, I still remember the basketball cheers from my jr high cheerleading days! :)



The pictures are not the best and are fuzzy, but I forgot my good camera. I had the zoom here at full length on my pocket camera, so I'm thankful they turned out as well as they did. Go Lady Devils!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

craziness

Last night I watched the Duke/Carolina game. For my AL family, it's the basketball equivalent of the Iron Bowl, except weirder.

For one thing, it's a private college (Duke) against the state's oldest public university (UNC). When my sister-in-law was accepted to both schools many years ago, her acceptance letter from Duke included the amount and deadline for the first payment. The amount of the payment decided that Duke was not an option.

Another thing that is insanely crazy is this ticket system they have for awarding students tickets to the games. Students at Duke have to camp outside in the dead of winter. They take roll every morning (rumor has it many students don't sleep there but just put there stuff up and register and then show up at roll call) and the ones surviving at the end of the time period get tickets to certain games.

The Duke fans call themselves Cameron Crazies. (Cameron is the name of the stadium.) And after watching them during the ballgame last night, no one has to ask WHY they're called crazies. It's the dead of winter. We had the coldest weather EVER in the record of the state last night, and these kids went to the game, without coats, wearing shorts and body paint. Even some of the band members were shirtless and had painted their bodies to look like they were band shirts. Somehow I can't see that flying with the million dollar band (although few people watch the basketball games, so who would know what the AL band does when they're off the field?). As the camera zoomed into the stands between plays, three things came to mind: Smurfs, Dr. Seuss characters, and an insane asylum. I will say the cookie monster outfits in support of Cook were a smart and unique play on words.

And the last thing that still baffles this transplant is the bonfires. No, not for pep rallies...for victory parties. One year the Duke kids even burned their own park benches. No kidding.  And at UNC it's even worse...the drunken idiots (let's hope they're drunk to do something so stupid) try to JUMP the smaller fires. I'm not kidding! They actually play "Jack be nimble..." from the old nursery rhyme and jump over the FIRE! I've always wondered why the media shows and reports on this every year as if it's a great thing, but they never report the next week how many students showed up at the UNC burn center or the student campus medical facilities for treatment.

Even though it seems almost everyone here pulls for UNC (which many years ago I ignorantly insulted my brother in law Todd by asking him why he was wearing a t-shirt with a muddy foot), their rancor over their team rivals the most abnoxious Alabama fans, and I hate listening to them taunt/whine (depending on their win/loss) so I can't bring myself to pull for them.

While Duke is known as a place of excellence, they also excel in all things, even perversion, and their liberal bent is as bad, if not worse, than UNC. Sometimes I tell people I pull for Duke because they're the Blue Devils and my high school mascot was the Blue Devils, but the reality is - it's not my fight. Sports does not run in my veins, and picking a team in a sport that I've never followed, well, my transplanted roots haven't run that deep, yet.

But I have to admit...it was a great game. :)

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

highlights

No photographs from today's ice storm. The dogs seemed to love sliding on the ice, though, and seemed to think it a bit strange how slow I was walking to the chicken pen. And when I shoveled the ice from the edge of the driveway, Buster kept licking me in the face and Little Dog was standing on the shovel. Not the most productive use of my time.

Had a great time with family this weekend, even if the time was short. We managed to surprise my aunt for her 70th birthday, though she kept us wondering up until the last minute whether or not we could pull it off. My job was to try and get her to the church. It took many of us pushing and prodding (at the last minute, that was literally true as my Mom grabbed her by the arm and pulled her to the doorway! Bobby asked me who was holding whom?) and scheming. Our last resort, which we didn't have to use, would be that Bobby and I would go to her house and ask for a quick tour of Carbon Hill, which he's never had, and once we had her in the van would "kidnap" her and take her to the church fellowship hall in Townley. For some reason everyone thought that was hysterically funny. I'll try to post pictures tomorrow.

One of the funniest things was after the party we went to my younger sister's house for her 40th birthday. My niece was desperately wanting a party for her, and wasn't very willing to take no for an answer. So we did a make-shift party. Earlier in the weekend Carly had asked Bobby if he liked "TruMoo" milk. He told her he did like chocolate milk, but wasn't sure if he had tried that specific brand. When it came time to prepare drinks, Carly was reminded that she had told Bobby he needed to try TruMoo. She hesitated, sighed, then got the gallon out of the fridge. She took out a small glass and a red plastic cup. She poured the small glass 3/4 full, then about 2 tsp into the plastic cup. That one was Bobby's. And when he drank his "sip", she asked in a shocked voice "You drank it all?!! Already?! How did you like it?"  When he responded in the affirmative, we thought she might offer him some more. Instead, she replied "Good. Now, do you want water or Coke?" I'm not sure what was funniest...her response, Bobby's facial expression, or Naomi's horrified/bemused expression. It was priceless!

We made a lot of memories this weekend, and relived a lot of memories. It was a great time, and was a weekend I'll treasure for some time.  TruMoo anyone?

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

a pop quiz

Ever since the National Prayer Breakfast, Facebook and editorials in the newspaper have been popping with articles, memes, and comments (both pro and con) about the President's remarks that Christians should not get on a moral high horse when it comes to Islamic violence. He then proceeded to list some examples of Christian violence, such as the Crusades, the Jim Crow laws, and slavery.

So, here's a religious quiz for you:

1. Women are beaten and raped because they have a different faith. Where and by whom did this happen?

A. in countries with a high Muslim population to any infidel
B. in Tibet to non-Buddhists before the communist take-over
C. in Italy to the Waldensian women who were Protestants and not Catholics
D. all of the above

2. People are burned alive at stake for being heretics. Where and by whom did this happen?

A. In Europe to the Arminians by the followers of John Calvin
B. In Salem, Massachusetts, America to anyone accused of being "a witch" by young girls
C. In Syria by ISIS to a fellow Muslim
D. all of the above

3. People are legally banned from owning/renting a home or sending their children to school if they adhered to a different religion.Where did this happen?

A. In some towns in England - mainly affected Arminians
B. In Germany - mainly affected Jews
C. In Iraq/Afghanistan/Pakistan - affects anyone of a non-Muslim religion
D. all of the above

4. In America's earliest days, there were often beatings, sometimes to the death,  between people of what viewpoints:

A. Calvinists and Arminians
B. Christian slave-owners and Christian abolitionists
C. Protestants and Catholics
D. all of the above

5. What religions/ways of thought have coerced parents to send their children to a school that teaches their religion/viewpoint?

A. Catholic and Protestant missionaries to American Indians
B. Communism
C. Islam
D. all of the above


The answer to all of these questions is D.

I don't agree with the time and place of the President's remarks. But I do agree with his assessment that we can't view all Muslims as hate-filled killers any more than we can view all Christians as hate-filled, screaming Westview Baptists. We need to know our own history. We need to understand how dangerous it can be when someone tries to coerce others to their own viewpoint, especially when it is done in the name of religion.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

book reviews

This last month I've read Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus by Nabeel Qureshi and The Year of Living Biblically, by AJ Jacobs.

And both have been interesting and enlightening. Bobby wasn't as excited about the first one as I was (he wasn't thrilled with all of Qureshi's theology, though I don't remember exactly what he found distasteful). But I enjoyed reading through his childhood thoughts and teachings, as well as his questions and answers about Christianity. Some of it also left me feeling very stupid. While I appreciated his scientific analogy of the trinity, it was over my head. Maybe if I had studied chemistry in college I might grasp the concepts, but I didn't.

On a different level, Jacobs' book came from a very different mindset, addressed a slew of different questions, and had a very different ending. Jacobs is an agnostic Jew, so it was interesting reading his perceptions of the Torah and New Testament. I was pleasantly surprised to read what he had to say about Answers in Genesis, Liberty and Bob Jones, and greatly appreciated his balanced approach in these areas. While some of his comments on other things disturbed me greatly, it also made me laugh and think through some of the things I believe and why.

So if you're looking for reads that are religious but not a Bible study nor fiction, these are two that I would highly recommend.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015