Monday, December 7, 2009

Ducks in the Coop!

I managed to tempt two of the ducks into the coop run today. The other duck was more difficult and flew to the roof of the house. When I went out to close up the coop door after dark I found the duck sitting on the deck. I herded him toward the coop and after a lot of feinting, got him inside, too. Now all my birds are together in a much safer building which has done a lot to give me a feeling of relief. I just checked the temperature outside and it's down to 17.6f! Plus there's a snow storm on the way. I hope they don't mind too much, but they aren't getting out. No point with the pond frozen over.

Today Hal made tire chains for the rear wheels of the mower. It moves so much better through the snow now. We were able to move 3 loads of firewood. Then we had hot chocolate.

I think I may sleep pretty well tonight.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

The Spirit isn't Willing

Or at least the Christmas spirit hasn't arrived yet. Just can't get into the holiday thing this year. My mom, little sister and her boy friend are coming in 2 weeks and the house is barely decorated. By this time last year it was approaching gaudy. Don't know if it's depression, stress, old age, who knows? I know a lot of people who feel the same way though. Probably didn't help that my ducklings got killed a week and a half ago. Even getting that deer on Thanksgiving Day didn't really kick start me. I imagine this might be how I'd feel on lithium. No big "ups" and no big "downs". Just sort of moving forward without any enthusiasm.
I do have the C-7 lights on the outside now, and candles in the living room window. Instead of running them along the gutter I put them along the deck and around the picture window. Easier than dragging the ladder around and no chance of them getting frozen into the yearly ice dam on the roof. Of course, if we get a ton of snow the ones along the deck will get buried in the snow bank I'll create when I shovel. But we haven't gotten much snow yet, might be an inch total out there. It is cold though.

I forgot to put the wreath up for a week. That never happens. I put up some of my indoor wreaths today. I also started cleaning the loft so sis and BF will have a place to sleep. The loft was big problem but manageable now.

The last couple days I was helping Hal with the firewood. He'd cut and I'd pile it into the trailer and stack it by the house. I tried to do it alone today, but that mere inch of snow made it nearly impossible to get the lawn tractor and trailer into the woods and back. No chains on the tires. I had to detach the trailer 3 times and throw the logs back onto the ground before I could get back to the house. I finally gave up. That's when I started cleaning the loft instead.

A small bit of good news, the hot tub no longer leaks. Hal got some advice from the plumber guy who plumbed the main lines from the heat exchanger and it worked great. Looks like we'll be able to hot tub all winter long. And I won't be emptying the bucket in the basement so often any more and then having to refill the boiler. Now if that plumber would show up and fix his leak that would be perfect.

Well, going to bed soon, hopefully I'll have more spirit tomorrow.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Horrible Duck Disaster

A couple weeks ago Mrs Duck disappeared. Then a week later 3 of my ducklings were killed by Yogi and his sister Keisha. Three days later Mr Duck vanished without a trace. While looking for him I found the place Mrs Duck had been dragged to. Nothing left but feathers.
Thursday I had shut the remaining 9 ducklings and their 3 older siblings in the garage while I went to the farm for Thanksgiving dinner and then to Hal's camp to hunt. The next day Hal went home to feed the birds. He found all 9 ducklings dead in the garage, killed by a weasel or mink. The older ducks were alive though the female was blood spattered. The garage is in a shambles from the ducks flying about trying to escape.

Hal released the ducks and slammed the garage door down the extra inch I had accidentally left it open that allowed the mink entrance. I feel lousy about that. I came home today with a live trap baited with venison. (I had gotten a doe Thursday evening). I placed the trap in the garage by the slight opening left under the door. I heard movement in the garage but we have mice and chipmunks due to all the feed. I left to get my dogs from Uncle Butch's house and visted my neighbors. A couple hours later I went into the garage and saw the trap was sprung. There was an awful hissing as I approached and it held a big, ugly brown mink. Hal figured it stayed in the garage even though daylight had arrived because the last ducks were still alive and they kill anything in sight until nothing is left. It's last mistake.

Revenge is bittersweet but that mink isn't going to kill any more of my ducks or any other small critters wild or domestic. I feel a little better now. Not a lot, but a little. It will have to do.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Dead Ducks

Mrs Duck is dead. She disappeared Friday night. I wasn't sure, I knew she wasn't in the garage with the ducklings Saturday morning. She likes to fly out of the pen during the day and if I'm around before dusk she lets me herd her back inside. But Friday night I was at the farm for dinner and didn't get home till 7:30 pm. She's stayed out before, I assume with her 3 older kids. Mr Duck as usual, snoozes on the deck outside my bedroom sliding door. There were white fluffy feathers at the pond but no other sign. I thought I heard her in the garage, perhaps hiding behind the straw bales, perhaps on a new nest, but I couldn't find her. Today I found real sign about 30 feet from the pond, large black and white feathers with meat attached. Nothing else, but that is pretty telling.

And it gets worse. This week I started letting the ducklings out into the driveway, they love nibbling on the grass, being able to run about. I also filled up the duck pool. They discovered it and merrily splashed around in it for the last 3 days. I got up early yesterday and let them out around 8 am. I went inside to put some pans away, I came out a few minutes later and found Luna running about like a maniac all wet. She never swims without me so I followed her down to the driveway.

Eight of the 12 ducklings were sitting in front of the pen. I looked around, saw the pool water really sloshing about. I went over to look and just down the hill was a pile of ducklings with Yogi, Uncle Butch's labrador standing over them. At first I thought it was his brother, Boo, who killed Auntie duck and a chicken last year, but no, I later determined it was indeed, Yogi. I threw the coffee can I was carrying at him and he ran away. One duckling was already dead, a second died as I carried it into the house. A third was missing, Yogi didn't have it, so I assume it was his sister Keisha, since they had run off together this morning. (This time, no one had thought to call and warn me.)

The 4th duckling was in shock and soaked. They all were wet and muddy, they must have been attacked in their pool. I brought him in and set him in a large paper bag in front of the heater duct to dry off. I force fed him some electrolytes. When he was drier I took him back to his siblings who I had already chased back into the garage. He ran right over to them and sat down. His tail hung limp, but he moved when they moved. I finally saw him drink on his own last night and he's moving around with them this morning. I think he'll be okay but now I have only 9 ducklings and I have no idea if any are female.

I have one female in the first 3.

Mrs Duck was a good duck, an exellent mother. Whether my one known female makes it through till spring to hatch her own eggs is of course, unknown. Without being able to fence in the whole yard and pond, it's debatable whether I should continue with ducks. Time will tell.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Devil Dog


Happy Halloween. Never cared much for the day, and this is purely coincidence but as usual Rocket came home from Uncle Butch's house around 9 pm. Luna comes too, sometimes earlier, sometimes later, sometimes together. Tonight she didn't appear at the door. It took a while but then I thought, maybe she's done it again.

Yes, there she was, inside the chicken coop run. She's done this several times in the past month and she sits there and doesn't say a thing. She's crawling nnder the back fence and can't get back out the same way. One night she must have been in there for 3 hours.

Little idiot! But she got back at me tonight. It's been raining for days and she was sitting in wet chicken poop. I didn't realize it until she came in the house and sat on the beige carpet. Now there are chicken poop butt prints everywhere!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Hal's Going Hunting Tomorrow

He's off to the wilds of New Hampshire with my younger sister's boyfriend. He's got his SUV packed except for his lunch and over night bag. They were originally heading to Maine but the guy with the cabin had to cancel so the backup plan was the BF's place in NH. They had a good time there last year so I suspect they'll have a good time this year.

While they're gone I plan to read a lot of books, (reading Mailman by J. Robert Lennon at the moment), watching old movies, having some chips and dip, hot dogs, garlic bologna sandwiches, and just lazing about. I still plan on walking my dogs every day, of course, it's not as though I'm going to lay about and eat bonbons all day long.

Perhaps I should get into the spirit of the season and hunt some squirrels while he's gone? Brunswick Stew, yum!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Woodsy Stuff

I dragged DH off to the woods yesterday morning for a forced march. Okay, it was a walk, but it was before 11 am and it got him off of his butt, out from under his laptop computer and out into nature. The day turned out to be beautiful. Although the foliage was past peak there were still plenty of yellow maples hanging onto their leaves, the sky was blue with fluffy clouds and the temperature did finally reach 60f which it hasn't done for days.

What I thought would be a 20 minute walk, if I was lucky, turned into almost 2 hours of traipsing through the thickest brush looking for and tagging dead or dying trees to cut down for firewood and the north east property line which we re-marked with lime green tape. With the leaves falling off the trees they sure are easy to see.

A week ago we slogged through a very swampy part of the property thatrequired boots while looking for the property line. We found it eventually, most of our old keep out signs were missing or severely deteriorated. That walk was a lot more tiring. Luna was with us on both of those and I do believe we finally bored her or tired her out, too.

I'm not sure when we'll do it again, it's supposed to rain tomorrow plus we have a bunch of chickens and guineas to bring to the Amish. I'll have lots of birds to freeze on Thursday!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Blogger Admin Problems!

I decided to change some things in my blog today, admin things; layout, gadgets, etc and discovered I couldn't. I tried both accounts but I have no layout tab, no template tab and the settings tab is missing 7 of its 8 sub tabs. I use Firefox normally so I thought maybe something odd happened to my copy of maybe my pc so I tried it in Opera. No luck. Finally I tried it in Internet Explorer and lo and behold there are all my missing administrator tabs.

I searched Google's Blogger help section and forums and wasn't getting any useful info. Finally I straight googled "firefox blogger incompatibility" and discovered that the problem must be in Firefox 3.x. Yes I updated FF 2.x to 3.x and apparently there are many things that don't work any more, Blogger being one of them. Now I have to figure out if I can make FF work or just do the administrative stuff over in IE.


For now I'll stick with IE and hope FF and Blogger get it straightened out without me having to think about it any more.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Miscellany - Or, I can't Think of a Better Title

Ended up on Alpena today to pick up my new eye glasses at Wal-Mart. Nice bronze colored frames, only 9 bucks. First frames I looked at were $94. I think $9 is a much better deal. I picked up a few other miscellaneous items too including a box of canning jar lids for the potential applesauce sitting on our living room floor disguised as apples inside of plastic bags.

We picked the apples yesterday. They probably would have been better if we'd picked them before 2 nights of freezing temperatures but we may have been able to salvage enough for some tasty applesauce. Hal made some great sauce a couple years ago. I agreed to can it if he made some more. We need to get to these apples tomorrow.

I also popped into the beauty school in Alpena and had a student cut my hair. I really needed it, and she did a nice job. Feels and looks a lot better and Hal thinks it looks shabby chic.

I stopped in at the farm on the way home and helped Hal finish digging the potatoes he, his dad and I planted earlier this summer. Only got about 2 bushels, we really need to plant more next year. Plus it would be nice to learn how to run the old tater digging machine. The old spade fork method gets old fast when the rows get over 50 feet long.

Hal's dad had his ankle surgery last Friday. (Did I mention he broke it the week before when he was run over by a steer? Five hundred pounds of mad steer (he had become a steer about 5 minutes before the attack) generally is going to win in a showdown between man and ex-bull. Consequently, my father-in-law wasn't in any shape to show us how to run the potato digging machine.

All this activity didn't allow me to get home till almost 6 pm so the planned burritos or enchiladas has been rescheduled for tomorrow and tonight's dinner was a hodge podge of left overs, tomato soup and grilled ham and cheese sandwiches. And a beer. A beer is nice to have after a hard day of slogging through stores and potato fields.

But I must log off now because the 4 South Park episodes we were watching have now ended and I feel like getting a good night's sleep. Toodles.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Movie Review: "Megafault" - Mega Stupid

So once in a while Hal and I have nothing better to do and end up watching the Saturday night Scifi (now SyFy) movie on the same named TV channel. This one stars Eriq LaSalle, of ER fame and some female whose lips seem over botoxed. This movie is BAD. It reeks. it is beyond stupid. And we're not even going to get into the poor CGI.

An earthquake starting in West Virginia devastates Washington D.C. where a botoxed seismologist (BS) is giving a speech while her daughter and husband watch. She races in a helicopter to WVA where Eriq's character is a miner blowing up mountains that look suspiciously like the Rockies and is now buried in a sandy crater. She and the burly copter pilot rescue him.

In the meantime the USAF sends her family home in a C-130 because all commercial planes will be grounded since a new fault is racing west from WVA. All the airport control towers in the midwest are broken so all of the planes are "flying blind!" Apparently, GPS and pilots looking out of windows has been conveniently forgotten by the writers.

Eriq and BS then race in the copter to KY to save his mom, but too late, the new quake has hit and blown up the very gas pipeline in her street and destroys his mom's house. Then the shrapnel somehow hits the wing of the C-130 way up there in the sky and takes it out. Only the dad and daughter survive and are picked up by a trucker driving a gasoline tanker that looks suspiciously like a dirt hauler. Of course, the quake chases them and the Alaska pipeline, which seems now to run through the midwest right next to this trucker's road starts exploding, sets the tanker of fire and dad has to crawl outside and release the tanker from the cab.

While this tense tanker truck action is leaving us breathless, Eriq blows up an outhouse to distract the chopper pilot who rushes to put the fire out with his handy dandy fire extinguisher and Eriq and BS steal the chopper to find her family.

But then the air force forces them to land in Kansas where the general tells her of the super secret ice quake satellite weapon (used to destroy the enemy from beneath) but now will be used to stop the quake at the Grand Canyon. SB must tell them where to fire the ice laser.

But wait, it gets more ludicrous.

The military keeps giving BS priority to find her family so they put her in an Osprey "the world's fastest helicopter" but then, of course, first must rescue a family in an RV, the only people apparently driving across the midwest, and risk being in the laser's line of fire, etc. Of course, they survive, narrowly, but then not only do they not stop the quake, they just sent it north toward Yellowstone's buried super volcano caldera! Now Earth is threatened by an "extinction event"! So now Eriq, the great miner he is, must create a new Grand Canyon between the fault and the caldera to stop all hell breaking lose.

Next, a long, drawn out, bad CGI depiction of 20 million (??) tons of explosive making this new canyon (where the hell is the dirt and rock actually going? I didn't know the Earth was hollow! As Eriq and BS race away in a jeep while yet another helicopter chases them with a rope lowered towards them (that can only save one of them, of course), Eriq sacrifices himself because his rear wheel gets stuck in a rut and is sucked into the "Newer Grand Canyon". BS finally makes it to Denver (by car, apparently, the copter couldn't take her the whole way?) where the quake, has destroyed their home after her husband and daughter get there. After much shouting and crying and gnashing of teeth, they are found unscathed (oh there should have been slow motion when they ran toward each other!) The camera pans away inot orbit showing that the new earthquake fault was just the other side of their yard and crosses 1/3 of the United States.

The End

I forgot to mention the best part! The people near Yellowstone have their feet, hands and heads suddenly erupt into flames from the heat of the caldera. Such stunning visual effects!

Can I stand the wait till next Saturday?!!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

23 Years of Wedded Bliss

That's what you're supposed to say, right? Well Hal and I aren't doing too badly. There's been downs and ups, currently we're on an up and maintaining it fairly well. Because money is tight we ate at home tonight instead of heading out to one of our 3 favorite restaurants. (Dang those vet bills, medical bills, car repair bills, etc!!) I tried something different for me, a flat iron steak on the recommendation of a friend. We did not care much for it. Hal thought it tasted "aged", to me it was just "wrong" as though it had set next to some nasty fat for too long a time. I won't be buying another.

But the pinot noir was good.

A pretty low key day. Hal was at the farm helping with the cattle (his dad is in the hospital after being run down by a new steer on Friday, he needs ankle surgery). Then he cut some trails at his hunting camp. I spend the day cleaning the great room and preparing dinner. At least the sun came out. It's been cloudy, cool and rainy the last 2 days.

I'm still picking fleas off of Luna. Doesn't seem to matter what shampoo I use, which flea medication to apply, or what I bomb the house with, I just can't get rid of these pests this time! I'm considering flea collars next but I never did think they worked.

Well, here's hoping for another 23 plus years of wedded bliss to my favorite man.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

It's October

How's that for a provocative title? Since this is just a short update post there didn't really need to be anything fancy in the title. The temperature last night dropped below 32f. There was frost. My zucchini and cucumbers didn't amount to much this year. First it was too cold and wet then it was too cool and dry.

The 12 ducklings are doing well. They're slightly bigger and eating everything they can. I'm sure mama would love to take them to the pond but there's another 3 weeks to go before I let that happen. They do fine with their little trashcan-lid pond.

Took Rocket to the vet today to be treated for tapeworm. Luna went last month. Plus he's got an ear infection in both ears. I don't know if the flea problem we have caused it or if it's just coincidence.

I had to bomb the house with 7 flea foggers last week. Plus I used 2 kinds of spray, the first did nothing but I think the stuff that had "nylar" in it which is an IGR (growth regulator, I can't remember what the "I" stands for.) Next day I re-bombed the bedroom and washed the sheets again because I was still getting bitten in my sleep. It's very annoying to be allergic to flea bites. Complaining to Hal who isn't affected so consequently isn't as sympathetic or as concerned as he could be is also annoying. I think setting up several flea traps using nightlights to attract them and dishes of water to drown them when they drop in helped show Hal that there was a BIG problem and I wasn't just bitching to hear myself bitch. The trap in the guest room where Luna sleeps held around 25 bodies the first night. I still have a few traps set up and the quantity is not anywhere near as great.

The prescription flea killing topicals I bought from the vet did not kill the fleas on the dogs. I had to use a comb and spend 3 hours one night to clean about 50 fleas off of poor Luna. I tried the same thing on rocket but he being a brown dog and the fleas being brown made it practically impossible. I gave Luna a bath and tomorrow I will give Rocket one assuming Hal can get my poor arthritic boy into the bathtub. He does weigh 95 pounds.

But at least I am finally getting things under control. I need to vacuum the carpets again tomorrow and next week fog/bomb the house once more to get any newly hatched fleas, then hopefully, I'll be mostly done with this insect insanity.

Maybe it will even snow next week.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

New Ducklings!

On Monday the 22nd 12 ducklings hatched from 13 eggs. Unlike last time when the garage was much colder, these guys hatched within a few hours of each other instead of over a few days. Mom has already taken them swimming in the trash can lid I provided. She would prefer to take them to the big pond but last time I allowed that 4 ducklings became 3. If I can manage to keep them in the garage for a month at least they should have a better chance at survival.

This morning after momma duck flew to the pond and back for a swim she couldn't figure out how to get back in so persuaded the panicked little ducklings to escape and make a break for the pond. Fortunately, I caught them in the act before they got 15 feet. They are now safely back in the garage and the holes in the fence blocked.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Eleven Fewer Chickens

Took 11 chickens to the Amish yesterday, including Mr Chicken. He was a good rooster but he beat up on Mrs Chicken a little too much and I am interested in hatching buckeyes and other brown chickens next year instead of barred rock mutts. I picked up the birds today and all are cleaned and in the freezer except for the 2 smallest ones which will become fried chicken for Sunday dinner. I sort of feel I ought to feel bad for Mr Chicken, but I don't really. Must mean they really aren't considered pets by me. I feel worse for the beta rooster, Mr Buckeye. He hasn't crowed all day. Maybe he's in mourning?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

BTW, the Hot Tub Works

I neglected to mention that the non-functioning spa/hot tub/jacuzzi knock-off works again. It took a lot of re-plumbing and electrical work but Hal got it working just before the end of August. It's hooked in to the new outdoor wood furnace. Hey, I may have neglected to mention that, too! Nope, just checked, it had a short mention in July.

It's sort of weird burning wood in summer but it's heating the domestic hot water and that saves on propane. As soon as the outside temps drop low enough to cause the propane powered basement furnace to come on the heat exchanger installed inside the plenum will heat the forced air with hot water from the wood stove boiler instead of propane flames.

Last year we bought $3000 worth of propane. This winter we've ordered only $500 worth. If propane prices jump again we'll be sitting pretty. Wouldn't it figure that prices would drop after we buy the stove? Just lucky that way. I am sure they'll go back up again, eventually.

But we've been using the hot tub almost daily. It's great for soaking those aching bones and muscles strained from too much firewood cutting and hauling, or other strenuous activities. Or just nice for the fun of it. It's especially nice with a little coffee liqueur and cream, in a glass of course, not to sit in. Tonight though, we just drank cold water. We're not lushes, you know, no matter that we live in a small village with a big bar downtown.

Now if I can just wire some nice outdoor speakers out there.

Romance Novels?

This is an odd topic for me to bring up since this site is mostly about chickens, dogs, ducks, guineas, kayaking and the occasional hobby, but really, how much can one say about these animals all the time? While I love my dogs and lots of time want to strangle the guineas they just don't lead exciting lives. I also am not one who can pretend my dogs are talking. I have never referred to them as furbabies, that's just too weird for me. I'm weird enough.

So lets talk about something different that I've been toying with all summer (at least since July) and that is romance novels. Hal's sister loaned me a bunch (at my request, I must admit). In fact she'd loaned me 3 in the past, one I had returned years ago. I did read it, the plot was set in medieval times and the hero was some guy named "wolf" or some such thing. It was amusing and the hero was 'hot". I had not read the 2 others that she'd left me, however, because if memory serves they just didn't interest me, and the one I had started left me thinking "how silly"! and I gave up for 2-3 years.

Generally my reading runs to the occasional mystery (I have read quite a few historical ones at my mom's, she loves mysteries), police dramas, the odd Grisham, Jane Austen, etc, but science fiction is my first love, starting way back as a teenager reading my dad's Analogs, galaxy, and F&SF magazines and his small collection of books from Asimov's Foundation to E.E. Smith's Grey Lensmen. Dune by Frank Herbert, of course, goes without saying.

The past few years have seen me reading Dan Simmons (Hyperion, et al are great!), Neal Stephenson, The Killer B's, Vernor Vinge. Currently, I'm reading "In the Courts of the Sun" by Brian D'Amato. It's all about the Mayan calender end of the world thing in Dec 2012. Lots of descriptions on how the Maya may have lived and a little time travel with a twist. Interesting. Much more interesting than my attempt at reading "Gravity's Rainbow" by Thomas Pynchon. God how verbose! I valiantly kept slogging and got to around page 120 but his descriptions of minor things went on and on ad nauseum! (And the premise is so interesting!) Yes he writes well but get to the point damn it I have things to do in this lifetime! Hal is trying to read it now, he's been reading it for weeks. I take pity on him. Only one other book have I never finished (as far as I remember) and that was "Gone with the Wind."I tried to read it in high school for a book report. The movie was better.

I think it was Pynchon that drove me into the historical romance thing. Now there's an excuse! I needed some light reading. So I acquired several books from my SIL by Stephanie Laurens, some random samplings of the Bastion Club (spies) and the Cynsters, (cousins who look like Greek gods). These all take place in England shortly after Waterloo in the Regency period of the early 1800s for those who are clueless.

These books are laced with sex. Oft times I found myself wishing the sex scenes would just find themselves a quiet room and let me get on with the story, which was usually some mystery that put the heroine in danger by the end of the book. VERY formulaic and once you read the first 2 Cynster novels the rest are pretty much the same. The Bastion club's are a little more interesting as there is this sinister traitor hiding just out of reach of the heroes. But my gosh, why are these guys always so tall and drop dead gorgeous? The women get to be all different heights but they are even more gorgeous! (Still, at least the heroines don't go on and on and on about how handsome their men are as did Bella in those insipid "Twilight" books.)

But I digress. Thinking that there must be better written romance novels out there (you'd think I would have discovered these long ago since I so like old B&W movies with Bette Davis, Kate Hepburn, etc), I googled and found some fun websites. One in particular I loved so much I joined this morning and I don't join many things on line. Smart Bitches, Trashy Books. These ladies are hilarious. They and their minions review romance novels and there have been some doozies! My particular favorite review is the "playboy sheik" novel. Just follow the Greatest Hits link under the "Who are We?" section. I can assure you I'll Never read the actual book.

I don't expect that I'll delve any deeper into romance novel discussions on this board, it is a family blog after all, but I thought it important that I update my blog with what's been going on lately and that's pretty much been it.

Time to walk my dogs.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Frost Advisory

So on top of it being a lousy summer for growing vegetables with too much rain, too cool temperatures, (thanks to global warming) tonight there is a frost advisory! Good thing I checked the zucchini and cucumber and pumpkin plants today to verify that there is nothing to pick. There are a couple 1 inch zukes, I got 4 badly shaped pickling cukes, and there are NO fruit at all of any size on the pumpkin vines. So there is nothing to worry about, nothing to cover.

There was a frost already yesterday in the inland counties but it didn't reach this close to the lake. It's down to 51F already, last night it dropped to 38.8F. I wonder if next summer will be the same or more normal. This is the 3rd cold summer in the 10 years I've lived here and the second in a row.

It's nuts.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Kayaked Today - I'm Exhausted

For the first time since last summer and Uncle Butch's stroke. Besides myself and Uncle Butch his 2 daughters were there and a granddaughter. Also 6 children. One daughter has a health issue and could not help in getting her dad into and out of the kayak. Things went pretty well for a while then suddenly Uncle Butch went off kilter and into the water he went. Of course, he did this in a mucky bottom deeper section and since he refused to wear his PFD standing him back up in the current and corralling his boat and paddle while keeping ourselves from falling out or losing our paddles was an experiment in managed chaos. His daughter_in_law also tried to help but she was holding her 20 month old baby.

During all this one of the younger boys in his own kayak started crying because he was suddenly alone and floating downstream. We finally convinced his mom to leave us and go "save" him. (Incidentally, all the kids wore their PFDs).

In the end, some tubers came over and helped out by picking up his kayak and his daughter's to empty the water out and re-float them. (Her kayak had filled up when she jumped out to rescue him.)

Other than that little incident the trip itself was nice. The day was hot, blue sky, big clouds, very pretty. We were supposed to leave for the river at 10, didn't get on the road till 11:21, and didn't get to the water's edge till 1:21. We didn't get off the water till 5:30 and not back to the house till a little after 7 pm. Longest kayaking day I've ever had for what is normally a 2.5 hour water trip.

It's possibly the only time I'll be able to get on the water this year though, so I'll try to remember the good parts.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

A Few Dogs at the Lake

Back on July 21 my friend and I took our 3 dogs to Jewell Lake for a swim. Mr Mike, an English Setter, and Luna retrieved a dummy till we got tired of throwing it while Rocket lazed around on the bank or occasionally in the shallows.

I thought it was about time I posted a few photos.

Luna really liked to leap after the thrown dummy, unless she decided Mikey was closer, then she'd just wade off and wait till the next throw.

Now and then Mikey seemed to protest Luna winning most of the races so he'd try to get his own piece.

These photos aren't all from the same retrieve but they might as well have been.

I need to call my friend and set up another lake date. And there may be another dog, he says he got Mikey a little sister.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Mid August Update

Summer is back again. It's trying to get into the 80s and it hasn't rained in a couple days. The mosquitoes are thick especially at night down at the hutch run. I just hope the birds aren't getting sucked dry. They seem okay every morning.

I'm again using my new laptop. It's very nice. It took a week of trying and one email but the registration process for Windows 7 free upgrade I was promised finally worked. So when it becomes available supposedly I will only have to pay shipping and handling to get my upgrade disk.

We bought a large dehumidifier 2 days ago since last year's died last year. I got tired of buying a new one every year from the big box stores so went to a real appliance store and purchased a heavy duty one. The basement humidity was 75% and things were smelling musty. It's dropped to just over 60% which is much more comfortable. And now things in the basement pantry like flour won't go moldy. Hopefully, that hasn't already happened.

Mrs Duck's 3 ducklings are hanging out on the pond every day. And now Mrs Duck has 8 new eggs as of yesterday. She hasn't started sitting yet but I hope I get some more girls. In this photo you can see Mrs Duck behind the other 3. The smallest white one is the female.

Hal's off to his camp now to finish planting the food plot he started yesterday. I need to mow the lawn before he gets back. Should have dried from the morning dew by now.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

My New Laptop is Here!

Three days earlier than expected! It arrived in a nice little box with a handle. I signed for it, popped it out of the box. plugged it in, turned it on and followed the instructions on the screen for registering, etc. Setting up the wifi network connection was a pice of cake, too. It searched for it, found it, I typed in the password Hal gave me and boom, I'm on the network and then online.

Now if I could only find reasonably priced broadband around here as there isn't any DSL or cablemodem service available. Doesn't look good, either Alltel for $60/month, Directv for $50, or HughesNet for $60. Dial-up is slow but it's only $10/month. I guess we'll be suffering out here in the sticks a while longer.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Completed Hutch/Run

Here are a few photos of the run Hal and I built with the old rabbit hutch. He added a ramp and a ledge attached to the front just below the sliding doors. The kennel is 6 feet tall and 12 by 12 feet square. Two inch bird netting covers the top.

The 2 month old chickens are checking out the ledge.

A Silver Laced Wyandotte makes his way down the ramp, while guineas huddle underneath.

The younger guineas and chickens huddling in the corner. This is where we found them after dark tonight. We had to pick them up and stuff them back inside the hutch. The older birds had already found their way into their half of the hutch.

In total there are 18 guineas, 4 that are 10 weeks old, 14 under 8 weeks; and 29 chickens, 20 of them 10 weeks old, the other nine less than 8 weeks. The chickens are mostly mutts; half Barred Rock and half Buckeye or Gold Laced Wyandottes. The Silver Laced Wyandottes I bought, all others I hatched in an incubator.

Monday, July 27, 2009

The Chicken was Tasty

But not yet perfected. Next time I will try starting it in the pan with the butter and then finish it on broiler to crisp it up. Hal wants me to add extra spices, too.

Oven Fried Chicken

It's in the oven now. I made it Italian style which only meant putting oregano, basil and onion powder in the bread crumbs. (The crumbs are homemade, btw.) I also added a dash of hot Hungarian paprika. I used 2 of our chickens, cut them up, took me half an hour, one of these days I'll discover the secret to doing that quickly. The pieces were rolled in a flour, salt and pepper mix, then dipped in beaten eggs and then into the seasoned crumbs. Instead of sitting them in a pan with butter like Hal's mom does I have them on a broiler pan and basting with butter and olive oil. I did the sitting in butter trick the last time and thought them too soggy. Tasty, but damp. They seem to be cooking fasters this way, I hope they aren't too dry. I may take them out before the hour is up.

Sure smells great though. A white wine. mashed potatoes and gravy will be served with them along with some of my own green tomato pickles.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Making a New Chicken Run

Hal and I started the new 3 season run/coop today. First we moved the rabbit hutch we had acquired from his dad a month ago in front of the old vegetable garden. We used a combination of the riding mower on one end and a wheelbarrow on the other to slowly move it approximately 35 feet. The hutch is very heavy. Then Hal took apart the fence surrounding the garden and we moved the 12 foot long pieces to the opposite side of the hutch. (The garden is pretty much done at this point, between bunnies and bad weather.) He reattached everything into a square while I stapled chicken wire along the back wall under the hutch. Eventually the one whole side of the hutch will be accessible to the inside of the run and the chickens won't be able to sneak out through any holes.

Numerous showers and thunder storms moved in and out so we had to take breaks. Another storm is coming in now so we have to postpone the rest till tomorrow. He did manage to string 2 ropes corner to corner to support overhead netting, he'll have to install that tomorrow.

When it's done the birds currently in the hutch, the silver laced wyandottes, guineas and the mutts as well as the birds still in the brooder in the garage will be able to free range inside a little 12 by 12 foot section. They should be much happier while they get bigger and we decide who we're keeping and who will end up in the freezer.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Bought a Laptop!

Around midnight this morning, after 3.5 days of research I ordered a Dell Inspiron 15 laptop. This has been one of the quickest decisions I've ever made on a big ticket item, but after days of being frustrated by random, frequent freeze-ups on a used laptop, plus the fact I can't really use my 9 year old Dell desktop with only 256 MB of RAM for anything other than email, blogging (I'm using my old Dell for this right now), etc, and other wimpy, older applications, Hal decided it was time to put me out of his suffering. I guess I complained a little. Okay, a lot, but not without reason.

The final decision was between a Dell and a Lenovo. I sort of regret not getting the Lenovo because it has a high definition display and Dolby surround sound speakers, but the Dell allowed me to change the processor for a better one and in the end there was only a $40 difference. Except for taxes, I met Hal's requirement of keeping it below $600. This old desktop cost me $1069 back in 2001 and the power of the new one is far superior. Four (4!!) GB of RAM, a fast processor, wide screen display, dvd/cd burner, web cam and a 320 GB hard drive. I can hardly wait. But I'll have to since they said August 7th was the estimated delivery date. That's the problem when you don't buy off the shelf. They have to build this one for me.

In other news it's raining. A torrential downpour and we need it. I've been watering the veggie garden at Hal's camp with a water barrel on his tractor. Not very effective and only enough to keep the little plants form completely shriveling up. This will help tremendously. It may be a week or more before I have to resort to manual labor. The zucchini, cucumbers and pumpkins will survive. It's probably too late for the beans though.

With all this rain the dogs escaped early to Uncle Butch's so they can stay there for now. I may read my book after this, another Harry Dresden by Jim Butcher, "Turncoat". It's due at the library tomorrow, I shouldn't have any trouble finishing tonight.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Bird Fight

Mr Duck and the 2 roosters went at it today. Mr Duck clearly winning but then he is bigger. The roosters both had their feathers fluffed out around their necks to look bigger. But Mr Duck lunged after them unafraid. Hal said he saw the guineas harassing Mrs Duck and apparently Mr Duck came to defend her honor! Of course, as soon as Mr Duck plunged in, the guineas disappeared, they weren't crazy enough to harass a duck that big!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Been a While

I sort of got caught up in FaceBook but now that the newness is wearing off I figure I ought to get back to the important things in life, like blogging.

We watched Endeavour launch on NASA TV today. Nice launch.

Hal and I went to Alpena today on another hot tub parts run. We didn't find what we needed and only returned a piece that was the wrong side. Hard to find schedule 40 unions in 1.5 inch diameter out here.

The weather has been abnormally cool all summer so my snow peas hadn't grown enough to be picked till last week. Spinach bolted while still tiny, so we didn't get any of that. Lettuce is still small, probably due to the 90 degree temperatures we had early. We have zucchini and cucumbers and pumpkins planted over on the hunting land, we've had to water by hand with buckets or using a hose from a 55 gallon drum of water on the tractor for over a week now because it hasn't rained.

The new outdoor wood stove is installed. Of course, Hal dug the trench running the water hoses from the furnace to the garage on the opposite side of the driveway during the heat wave. Mid 90 degree weather is not the time to fire it up and test it.

The hot tub parts are for heating the tub with wood instead of electricity. Much cheaper. He's been cutting down a lot of dead trees for firewood, too.

I've got lots of guineas and chickens.

Some hatched here in the incubator and some were bought through the feed store. I hatched mutt chickens, half barred rock, half buckeye or gold laced wyandottes. The chicks were all black and white, the barred rock is apparently dominant. A couple of them look to be purebred BRs since they have single combs instead of the flat pea combs of the wyandottes, and buckeyes. I also bought 10 silver laced wyandottes. They are also black and white but the barring runs front to back instead of across the feathers.

Momma Duck also had 4 ducklings hatch but one disappeared at the pond while very small. Since then I've kept the ducklings in the garage. Momma can fly in and out of the fence while they stay there safe and sound. I'm hoping she'll hatch one more batch but though Mr Duck seems willing, Momma is not interested.

I also watched the local fireworks on the 4th and took photos with my new camera but they didn't come out very well. There didn't seem to be as many as last year but the weather was dry for once.

That's about all I can think of for now.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Real Farming

At least real enough for me and more than I 'm used to. Hal had plowed and disced a quarter acre of old farm land that had been in nothing but weeds for years last fall and planted winter wheat. This year he tilled that under and yesterday I planted 61 hills of various varieties of zucchini and cucumbers. Later we went to his dad's farm and helped him plant 7 rows of corn, 20 pounds of Chieftain potatoes (red), and a row and a half of tenderette green bush beans. It may not sound like a lot to real farmers but for 4 people it should be more than enough assuming the critters don't eat it all before we can harvest some.

My muscles are tired today but it feels good to have something like this accomplished. Now if I can just get the 4 tomato plants I bought into their pots. The ones I grew from seed are barely 3 inches tall.

Friday, June 5, 2009

All Gone

The ducks that were sent to the farm last fall because of the killer mink in my pond are all gone. As is Squash the Barred Rock rooster and his 2 hens. Something got into the chicken yard, we suspect raccoon and killed everything except the 3 guineas. No one there even noticed. Hal and I went there today to plant some corn and I went over to the bird yard and found nothing but white feathers from the Pekin, l'Orange and the carcass of the rooster. Poor guys. What an awful way to go.

Monday, May 25, 2009

More On-Line Social Stuff

Hal convinced me to join Facebook this weekend. I'm still figuring out what it's all about but I did get one of my sister's to join and found a cousin already on it. Plus I found some old college buddies and some email buddies, too. It's been kind of fun but sure takes up a lot of time if you don't watch yourself. But since I haven't been feeling well all weekend it's given me something to do other than moan and groan while watching old war movies. Still, nothing like a good WWII war movie on Memorial Day.

Here's to the memories of our war veterans.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Chick Update

There are 8 black and yellow fluffy chicks in the hatcher with the meaties and 2 more in the hatcher. Hal and I had to help one of them out of it shell and pick more pieces off him two more times before he could stand up. Poor thing was really stuck. It looks like that will be all for these 24 eggs. Ten out of 24, about a 41% hatch rate. That's better than I feared we would get. Hopefully these two will be ready to add to the brooder tomorrow.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Keet Found!

This morning Hal thought he heard peeping coming from the garage which is under the bedroom. I didn't hear anything but he went to investigate. He told me he checked the 3 still in the brooder and they weren't peeping so just stood there quietly till he heard it again. He quietly walked over to the door directly under the bedroom and there he was a foot away from it. He tried to escape as Hal got closer but walked toward the back wall where there was less light and sat there till Hal grabbed him and popped him back into the brooder. He's going to rig something to make the spaces narrower to prevent further escapes.

I think I neglected to mention my lone Muscovy duck is setting on a nest of 7 eggs also in the garage. She hisses dramatically if you get too close, but she's been there for over a week now. I hope these hatch because having only one pair is not enough in case of future accidents. The eggs hatch after 35 days so it will be well into June before I know.

And today there are now 5 hatched chicks and another pipped. Fingers still crossed that I'll get some more before we open the hatcher tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

More Chicks

Hatching is happening! Around 6:15 pm I realized there was peeping coming from the hatcher and I saw 2 freshly hatched chicks still damp. They look like pure bred barred rocks, black down, and the one I could easily see had a big yellow spot on its head. One more egg has pipped, have to see what comes out of that, hopefully by tomorrow morning.

Can't find the keet that jumped out of the brooder and ran away. He's long gone and more than likely will not survive the night. Too bad, now I'm down to 3 and they could try to run any time. I've got the garage doors closed now so if they do get out it will be inside.

New Chicks

I went to my feed store to get my new chicks this afternoon. They only had my Cornish Xs. The Wyandottes won't be in for another week. But I took these little guys home and put them in the brooder, made sure each had a drink and pointed out the food. They're going to town now. In 3 days they won't look this cute and fluffy, these guys grow fast!

I was hoping to have some hatched chicks to put in with them but though this is day 21 there hasn't been a peep from the 24 eggs remaining. I just added 12 fresh eggs to the incubator. Maybe those will have better luck in 21 more days.

Found one of the guinea keets on the garage floor, too. They can squeeze out through the bars of the brooder. I put him back in, hopefully they all learned a lesson.

Temperature outside hit 88.5 today, this after a frost and a freeze 2 and 3 nights ago. Nutty weather. (Final temperature his 96.4 today!)

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Nothing Much to Say Post

I can't think of anything to say. I feel I ought to say something since it's been 2 weeks since my last post and still I haven't even filled out the one about my Florida trip. I did finally download the photos to my computer but that's as far as I got.

My 4 guinea keets are doing well, they've been moved into the brooder in the garage. They were unsure what to do with all the space. Next week my eggs in the incubator should hatch, hopefully with more success than last time. There are 36 chicken eggs and 6 guinea eggs. I candled 3 this morning, one chicken egg was clear, 2 others were dark. It was really hard to tell if anything was alive, I need a stronger flashlight.

I also will be picking up 20 chicks at the feed store next week, 10 meat birds and 10 silver laced wyandottes. So if nothing of mine hatches I'll still have some new chicks.

I've sort of started a weight loss program. I haven't stopped overeating quite yet but I have started walking longer and lifting free weights this week. I gained 14 pounds on my vacation.. That's what happens when one spends 10 days eating without exercising! I hope to lose 2 pounds by my birthday in 2 mnore weeks.

The weather has inmproved finally, too. Mostly 60s and some sun. Some days it's hit the upper 70s. Not a lot of rain, don't know if that's why I haven't found many morels. I'd heard it was supposed to be a bumper year for them. Haven't seen that around here. No idea where those who predict such things get their information. The one batch I cooked up tasted really great though.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Went to Florida

Earlier this month I went to Florida with my MIL, SIL and one of her friends. Had a great time. One of these days I'll fill the rest of this post in, but not today.

Four Little Guinea Keets

I hatched 4 keets out of 42 eggs. Two of them Hal and I had to help out of their shells and were weak for the first 2 days but as of this afternoon all 4 seem to be well and happy. I candled the remaining eggs: 21 were clear (infertile) and 16 had some growth but then died for unknown reasons, we're thinking perhaps too humid. We can never be absolutely sure.

The four survivors are either pied or purple, the keets look similar so we also won't know which they are till they feather out. My guineas all run together so unless they are pure purple there is no guaranteeing what the parentage is. Whatever they are, they sure are cute at this age.

Today I put 36 chicken eggs and 6 more guinea eggs in the incubator, Hopefully, I will have better success with these.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Almost April

Less than an hour to go in the eastern time zone. Not that it means anything other than flipping the calender. Another nice, sunny day, let the birds free range again. Only hit 41f for a high today. Still a little more snow melted making up for the inch we got the other night. A few more days and I'll be heading to Florida with my a couple of Hal's relatives, his mom and sister. I've never been there, hoping to see some manatees and Kennedy Space Center. That would be cool.

Saturday, March 28, 2009


I just saw my first 2 robins of the season this afternoon. Not in my yard but one street over. Hope they don't mind what's left of the Texas/Kansas snowstorm that's coming through tonight and tomorrow. Still now spring has officially arrived.

Another Sunny Day

It may be chilly outside, only in the mid 30s but the sun is still melting a little of the ice and snow. Just got back from walking the pups in the woods, I'll take them out again in a couple hours. The chickens and guineas are wandering around the yard having a good time scratching in the dead leaves. They make more holes to take dust baths in than Luna ever did just for the joy of digging. I fear for my flower beds this year.

I set up voice mail on my cell phone today. Worked like a charm. Now anyone who calls me can hear my melodious voice and leave me a message even if my phone is turned off. Eats my minutes listening to them though.

Yesterday Hal and I met with a man who sells and installs outdoor wood furnaces. After the propane prices more than doubled last fall we decided we needed to do something else to heat our house and water. I have no desire to get into the global warming thing with people who think this is inefficient (I could get into the carbon footprint thing between wood and oil and coal, but I'm sure it's better explained already elsewhere.)  We can't afford propane if it keeps rising and even though petroleum prices came down, propane didn't, at least not very much. Petroleum prices aren't going to stay down either. Gas pump prices are already $2.15 per gallon for regular unleaded around here. And these furnaces are much more efficient than the open fireplaces that still get used. It will be nice to have a warmer house in the winter, too.

Hamburgers for dinner tonight. With potato chips and homemade dill pickles. Just thought I'd throw that out there. Time to go do some more useless stuff.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Net10 -- AT LAST!!!!

My 3rd phone was delivered yesterday afternoon via FedEx. I was not in the mood to deal with it then so I called the Net10 people this afternoon. This was a refurbished phone, I guess they were tired of sending me new ones? But it seems to be in good condition, no noticeable scratches or anything annoying.

But I called, talked to "Michael" who was understandable and explained yet again what had been going on (you'd think it would be documented somewhere in their database?!) We repeated numbers back and forth which I typed into the "Code Entry Mode" section of the phone and my phone number that was attached to the second phone was moved over. He tried calling and it did not ring. Then gave me the standard spiel of waiting an hour and testing. I said "sure, okay, yeah right" or something similar, and we said good bye. Then I called my cell phone from my home phone.

It RANG!!! I nearly fell out of my chair. At least I didn't drop the phone on the floor. I then called my home phone from the cell phone and it rang, too!! Whoa! Who'd a thunk it?! I called my neighbor's phone and got a busy signal. I walked over there and we called back and forth. It really does work!

I left a message on my mom's answering machine and later in the day she called me back on it. I still can't believe it! This must be a dream. To think a repaired phone works when 2 new ones did not. This is the way technology is supposed to work!


Sunday, March 22, 2009

Screwed Boots

A year ago I slipped on the ice in the driveway and cracked my head on the ground. I required 2 stitches, there was blood everywhere and I had a nasty concussion. I did not lose consciousness so I assume that was the reason I did not get an MRI or CT scan. It took weeks for the bump to go away, in fact even after the stitches came out the skin didn't heal for weeks either, too much old blood buried underneath.

This winter I haven't had any such scares because Hal took matters into his own hands and doctored my boots with #6 3/8" long hex head screws. There are 11 in each sole and they have done wonders for keeping me upright and steady on my feet. They do slip a little if the ice is really smooth but there aren't a lot of patches like that around here and eventually the heads do grip the surface.

It feels good to have confidence walking again.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Net10 Saga Continues

After spending an hour and 12 minutes on the phone Monday they suggested I wait 24-48 hours. I waited 75. Today I spent 2 hours 11 minutes on the phone and although at one point we got new and "interesting" results on the phone, still no working number.

So they're sending me another new phone. Same model as the second one, an LG200 flip phone, but I don't see how it's going to help. I asked him, he thinks the phone must be defective, otherwise, why didn't anything he did work? I'm still guessing that maybe Alltel just hasn't released the phone number to them? Not much I can do about it though. So I'll just wait till this one comes and make another phone call to their customer service reps.

But on a happy note, tomorrow is the first day of spring! Now if it would warm up again like it did earlier this week. Lots of good snow melt. Only reached 31.8f today though.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Believe it or Not....

That tracking number for the Net10 phone worked this morning and half an hour later FedEx delivered the new phone. Now, after spending more time with 2 different reps on the land-line phone for an hour at least, I do have a local phone number. Unfortunately, it doesn't work. Yet. I've been reading a lot of complaints on line this evening, about Net10 problems and I am not alone. I have hopes that perhaps in a few more hours, (or even a week) this number might actually activate for real (not as their website claims that it already is activated). Some of the complaints I have read about have actually been resolved. I also noticed a lot of people who didn't get their problems fixed seemed to have been rude to the poor reps who are really only trying to do their jobs with a minimal amount of training.

It seems to be a nice enough phone although the original one seemed to get better reception. At least they increased my end date to June 1st and added the old minutes to the new one. Now if it just starts working everything will be great. It's possible it's a "porting" issue, I'm not going to try to explain that because I'm still unclear exactly what it means. Suffice to say, as Net10 rents cell towers from other providers, e.g. Cingular, and Alltel, and the message Hal gets when trying to call my cell from our land-line says "this number is not in service, Alltel 188", maybe it's just a matter of Net10 and Alltel getting together and finishing the activation.

But I'm not holding my breath.

(edited for typos)

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Net10 Fiasco Continues

So my new SIM card arrives yesterday and after replacing the old one in my phone I call Net10 to get the new local number this SIM is supposed to give me. After talking to 3 people again, and spending 90 minutes on the phone the last guy determines it's not a SIM card problem but the fact my LG300G phone is using GSM technology and I really need a phone with CDMA technology. So when I suggest I just return this phone (which they won't let me do because it's more than 30 days old, but hey, it doesn't WORK people!!) "Alan" says they will send me a new phone, free of charge that will allow me to get a local phone number. He gives me a "ticket number" has me repeat it back to him, and takes my email address. I should get the phone within 3-5 days.

This afternoon, 24 hours later, I decide to check the status of this "ticket number" online (I did this the other day with the number for the SIM card and it worked fine). Their website tells me this number does not exist. So obviously, this "Alan" screwed up. I have now sent them a short yet detailed email about this non-existent ticket number and what is supposed to occur and got an email back saying someone will check my complaint out within 48 hours.

I need to strangle something.

In the meantime, I have a mostly useless cell phone with 288.5 minutes and it is running out of days. I have to renew it before March 23rd or I lose the minutes I paid for when I bought it. Want to bet how I get screwed next?!!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Driven Nuts by Net10

I bought my very own prepaid cell phone in January. When I was assigned my number I called technical support because the prefix (those first 3 digits after the area code) were for a town that would be a long distance call for me. I was told I had to verify that first by making a test call and checking my phone bill. Sure enough, I was charged 35 cents for 1 minute on top of the 10 cents per minute that my cell phone deducts.

This morning I called back and made my case. The girl, for whom English was not her first language, but still was understandable, gave me a new phone number after about 30 minutes of back and forthing. I then had to wait an hour to test it. It didn't work. I went online to their website and plugged in a bunch of numbers provided for reactivating my phone. When I tried again I still could not use the number. So I called them back.

Person number two, a little harder to understand had me type many numbers into my phone again, kept asking me to be put on hold while he checked with his supervisor, etc. After about an hour of this I was told everything should work after waiting another hour which I did. Again, no joy.

Now I asked both these people about changing my zipcode, but the first gal said I couldn't do that unless I actually moved away. Person number two had similar difficulties.

The third time I called I got a third person and after explaining my problem yet again, he finally informed me that the new number would not work for me. After typing in more strings of digits a new phone number appeared which had the same 657 prefix of my original phone number. I again mentioned that that number is a long distance call from my home phone to my cell phone and made no sense. However, this person had little trouble being persuaded to try different zipcodes for me. Finally, we hit one that still had local prefix numbers available for my phone. The only problem was I would need a new SIM card which could take up to a week to be delivered. Then I will have to go through the reactivation process again. Still, if this is what it takes to get me a local number, that is fine with me.

My only question now is why don't their zipcodes and access numbers actually match as they do for the old landline phones. It sure would make things operate a lot more smoothly! Spending 3 hours on the phone for something that ought to be simple makes little sense.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Dead Poultry

I've lost a buckeye hen and one of my female muscovy ducks to rampaging dogs today. The owners don't seem very concerned that their dogs escaped yet again and this time, though I was home, they attacked my free ranging chickens and killed my duck. The male duck is severely wounded and is in the garage. The other female flew away but eventually came back and she is in the garage tonight as well. My buckeye rooster has a couple nasty gashes in his back and lost a lot of feathers. He's in a crate in the house where I can feed him and watch him for shock. I'll be lucky if both these males survive. Four of the guineas refused to go back in the coop tonight and are sitting on the fence. It is snowing. It's been a lousy afternoon.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

A Little Snow Storm

Winter is back. A snow storm snuck up on us yesterday. There was nary a flake falling from the sky at 11 am but afterward it snowed steadily till after midnight. There's at least 10 inches of fluffy snow out there, I measured it, plus drifting. I shoveled the deck once last night and again today, exhausting work. Then I shoveled a path to the coop and inside the chicken run. Those little beasties hate getting snow on their feet. When I opened the pop door this morning they fell all over each other to keep from getting any snow on them. The sun came out a little today which was nice, too.

I took Rocket and Luna to the vet Thursday for their heartworm tests and got some medicine for a yeast infection in Luna's ear. I have to treat her for 10 days, already she isn't scratching or shaking her head as much. Currently, she is sleeping while Rocket is at Uncle Butch's. He may be staying there for supper as I am too tired to go get him, walking through all that snow is hard. I should have worn my snow shoes this morning on our walk. Left to his own devices he won't come back by himself till 9 pm but I know he's happy there.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The Thaw Continues

Today was the warmest day of our February Thaw. Tomorrow is supposed to be colder and rainy. The temperature reached 53F today and the sun came out in the afternoon after the fog cleared from the sublimating snow. I was able to empty the duck pool and add fresh water which I am sure the ducks will appreciate for the rest of the winter which is returning on Thursday.

The guineas and chickens had a chance to run around all day, too. They still try to stay off the snow, they like the deck and the ground around the bird feeder since it's covered with seed husks and therefore not quite so intimidating as all that strange cold white stuff. They even went into the coop tonight without any prodding by me. I'm getting 1 or 2 eggs a day which is pretty good for young birds in winter. One of these days I'll put in the order for the other birds I want, assuming I ever make a decision.

I've been taking mini movies of my dogs and the birds outside today. I haven't tried to download them to the computer yet, but they look pretty good on the camera. It's amazing how much better these digital cameras are than the old VHS-C camera we bought years ago. I don't even need to supply extra lighting, another good point of this Panasonic. So far it's been just the perfect camera for me! Perhaps I'll download some photos for this blog tomorrow.

Monday, February 9, 2009

The February Thaw

Usually, the thaw happens in January. This year it stayed very cold (doesn't say much for the so-called global warming now called "climate change" by some in order to cover their asses, but let's not get me started on that). Saturday the temps here reached 50.1 and yesterday 40.1 Fahrenheit. We've had a lot of snow melt but fortunately it hasn't rained so we didn't get any flooding. I was able to let the chickens and guineas out to free range which they seemed to enjoy immensely. They especially liked the seed scattered under the bird feeder. Looks like the temps may reach 50 tomorrow, too. By Thursday though things will be back to normal with snow. Oh joy!

Still, it's February, we expect snow and I try to enjoy it because there ain't nothing I can do about it anyway. My neighbor, Mikey's owner, called from Florida last night and even they have been hit by 50 degree temps. Florida isn't all it's cracked up to be. I'm hoping I may get to visit there for a couple weeks this winter with one of my sisters-in-law but things beyond my control may keep that from happening. I'd like to visit Kennedy Space Center.

Luna is pacing about, she can't get anyone to play her, poor thing. I think she misses that annoying little puppy, Lyra at times. Rocket is still snoozing though he's already been outside. Yesterday I was able to clear a path to the lower gate in the fence and open it so he no longer has to walk up and down the stairs which is hard on his hips. Soon I will feed the birds and perhaps let them out to run around. It's only 23 at the moment but the sun is shining so I suspect the temps will rise soon. It's already risen 5 degrees since I got up at 8.

Friday, January 30, 2009

I Rediscovered Sudoku

I'd tried the number game before but never could solve even the easy puzzles. Yesterday I discovered I'd been playing it wrong. I thought besides having to keep the 9 digits from repeating in each row, column and square that I also had to keep them from repeating in the long diagonals. Once that premise is thrown out it's a heck of a lot easier. So yesterday I plowed through 7 puzzles, all 3 levels, easy, medium and hard till 12:30 am. These are in my local newspaper. It seems to me that they have a poor rating system since some of the "medium" ones are harder than some of the "hard" ones which were a breeze. The one I'm working on now is labeled correctly, though. It's labeled "hard", and I've been at it on and off for a couple hours. I really don't need another addiction taking my time.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Meet the New Boss....

Same as..... me actually.

I finally figured out how to transfer my blog to my other gmail account (bet you didn't know I wanted to). In actuality I merely added my other gmail account so it now looks like this blog has 2 authors. All this so I no longer have to log out of one gmail account and open the other over and over in order to post. Till now it's been annoying enough to keep me from blogging for days at a time.

Still a bit chilly here, -15F the past 2 nights. One of my ducks got its butt frozen to the ground. Found a pile of downy butt feathers frozen to the cement outside the garage door. Stupid ducks. Had to chase them into their house last night, probably have to do it tonight, as well.

Hal had his dad's plow truck towed out of our driveway today. He's spent the last week trying to fix the clutch which got stuck in reverse while he was plowing us out after the last storm. But he just doesn't have the equipment or expertise (even though he did replace the master and slave cylinders) or a nice warm garage. Laying on the snow packed driveway in sub-freezing temps could not have been fun. But after fixing the hydraulics it seems everything else in the clutch system fused/welded itself together and makes a nasty grinding noise anyway. It's going to be one heck of a bill.

My sister emailed me some new photos of Lyra. She is getting tall and has reached 30 pounds in weight. She looks a lot more like Luna, too. She likes to chase leaves.

I've been reading a lot. Right now I'm working on the latest Neal Stephenson, "Anathem". Very interesting, sort of a secular monastery system with the religious types on the outside and the monks being the scientist and philosopher types. Scientific advancement is slow because the monasteries can't communicate with each other for 10 year intervals (and longer), apparently due to some sort of law set down by the outside "powers that be" many centuries earlier. Very strange. The book takes a little longer to get into because a lot of the words are almost but not quite what we're used to seeing. Once you get past that, you can't put it down. And now that I've run out of blogging stuff I think I'll go read some more.

Friday, January 16, 2009

A Bit Chilly

Had a few cold nights this week. Now last night it only dropped to -6.7 degrees Fahrenheit, and in December we had already gone as low as -10.6 f so that wasn't very bad. But night before last we achieved a bone chilling -20.4 f! (And Tuesday night -16.1 f.) I know it gets colder in other parts of the country and the world but for this part of Michigan, that was pretty significant. I was sure yesterday morning my chickens would be little chicken-sicles because the coop had dropped to 6.7 f even with the 250 watt heat lamp. At the very least there would be frozen toes, but they were fine, just very quiet.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Christmas, Calories, Cameras, and Cinema

It's a Saturday night and I'm sitting in my husband's creaky, slowly disintegrating la-z-boy rocker watching the Empire Strikes Back on commercial TV though I have it on VHS tape (the original version, not the enhanced one). I've consumed a multitude of m&ms and a few pretzels and 2 or 3 glasses of milk. I did stop eating before 9 pm, it's my first attempt at getting back to more "normal" eating after the insanity of the holiday season.

Luna lays at my feet (under one in fact) while Rocket has retired to his twin mattress on the floor in the loft. I am using Hal's laptop which he inadvertently left at home when he left for his camp today. It's possible he left it on purpose as he has 4 new books to read, one of them by Neal Stephenson (Anathem) and rather large. I'm currently reading another of his books, The Diamond Age, a bit of cyber punk SF I'd say, very interesting.

I took the Christmas tree down a few days ago, I still have some odds and ends that need putting away as well. I do a little bit every day but I also have some housework to catch up on. Nothing like holiday chaos to slow one down.

I weighed myself on Wednesday, something I've been avoiding. I was pleased to find I'd only gained back 3 of the 6 pounds I had lost last fall. Perhaps trudging through the deep snow helped fight against the extra calories I've been consuming. I'm not going to lose them too quickly as long as I keep eating m&ms though.

I did have a wonderful time this Christmas. With my mom and younger sister here and 3 dogs, one of them being a puppy, there was plenty to do. The weather was messy so we didn't get out much, one day of shopping before Christmas and one day a few says later we went to Harmony Acres in Mikado. (The guys spent they're time hunting, we hardly saw them at all.)

Christmas dinner we had roast duck and chicken, baked potatoes, green beans, creamed corn (homemade by me and my MIL last summer), home baked bread, the ubiquitous Ocean Spray jellied cranberry sauce, gravy, an orange/raspberry sauce for the duck, and of course, a white wine. Or was it a pinot noir? I can't remember. My sister made chocolate cream pie for dessert. Oh, and there were cookies, too.

The photos I'll be posting from now on will be from my new camera DH gave me (with a little help from me, I did all the research and bought it so I got exactly what I wanted). It's a Panasonic Lumix LZ-8 and it's been fun learning how to use it. It has no viewfinder which is a minor disappointment, but the viewfinders on other cameras, the Canons for instance, are nearly impossible to see through anyway. Since I bought rechargeable NiMH batteries I also don't have to worry about ripping through AA batteries dozens at a time per month. My old Fuji used 4 AAs at a time instead of merely 2 and they weren't rechargeable but as I almost never used the the LCD screen (it has a decent viewfinder) they lasted a pretty long time. But after 5 or more years that camera became inadequate and a little less reliable (kayaking is not a good thing necessarily for electronics). There simply were too many negatives. I wanted an optical zoom, more manual control of things like shutter speed and aperture, things I used when I still used a film camera. It only had 1.3 mega pixels, 8 is much more impressive though I'm only using 5 of them regularly as 8 is overkill for what I do.

Star Wars #5 is almost over now, Han is a carbon cube and Luke is about to have a family reunion. I should wind this up so I can go to bed at midnight. I've got lots of things to do tomorrow.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Good Bye 2008

I was rather busy last month with Lyra the puppy and decorating the house as well as cleaning it for the holidays. My mom, sister and boyfriend did make it here. They had some interesting snowy weather at the end of the drive but got here safely despite cars driving up the off ramp at the last rest area before they exited I-75.

Lyra seemed to adore them and they her. The first few nights she still slept in the crate but by Christmas Eve I had put the puppy on mom's bed and those 2 slept happily together the rest of the visit. My sister and I and the 3 pups walked in the woods a lot and Lyra plowed through the deep snow with little trouble.

They're all back in MA tonight, having left Saturday morning. This time the weather was good for driving. I'm told Lyra has already torn up one of my sister's azalea bushes and attacked the snow shovel while sis's BF shoveled their way into the driveway.

I miss the little ball of fire.