Friday, August 28, 2009

No More Chickens

My dog killed all of my chickens but one.

The carnage was unbelievable.

I'll blog more when I get my computer back.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Bizarre-o World

Today we took a trip to Bizzare-o World, where everything was the opposite of what I've come to expect.

The goats enjoyed a refreshing drink from the pool...

...while Noel and Adam swam in the goats' trough.

The ducks also sampled the cool water from the pool... Jack came to inspect what fun was to be had in the trough.

The ducks used the pool for its actual intended use... the lure of the trough grew too strong for Mike to resist.

Mike willingly shared a popsicle...

...and brotherly peace reigned supreme.

Humperdink enjoyed a few licks of the popsicle.

Jack walked on all fours.

A cute walrus splashed in the trough...

...and Adam was naked.

It's good to know that some things never change.

(Mad props to me for only one of my kids being naked!)


I love my birthday. I think everyone should love their birthday. People who say that their birthday is just another day irritate the crap out of me. Birthdays are special. So, after 28 years of mostly less-than-memorable birthdays, I finally decided to throw myself a birthday party. I called it "JULIEPALOOZA: A Birthday Extravaganza". Then the next year, on my 30th birthday, life was crazy and I couldn't muster up the gumption to throw myself a party.

This year, however, I pulled out all of the stops. I invited practically everyone that I know. A lot of people weren't able to come, but somewhere around 60 guests showed up. We had so much fun! We had BBQ beef sandwiches, chips, fruit salad, and a swimming pool full of soda. I had planned on having a giant slip and slide, but it ended up being too cold. So some of the crowd played bocce, but most of the guests visited; checked out the chickens, goats and ducks; played on our sweet new rope swing and we ended the night with a fire in our new fire pit.

I didn't get very many pictures because I was too busy having fun.

First, the cake:

Emily and I spent the drive to pick up my cake hoping that it would be a wreck. Sadly, the cake was in fair condition, considering that the "1" in "31" looked more like a "7". And why a farm cake? Why not? I live on a farm, and my little boys ended up with some cool toys after we were finished with the cake.

Here are some of the guests before they realized that I had a camera in my hand.

The same guests, after the quick ones picked up on the fact that they were being photographed.

Monica, the party's resident glamour queen, resplendent in her jeans and hoodie.

Joe, always good for a cheesy smile.

Our rockin' new fire pit. Check out those awesome benches that my hubby made from branches we trimmed for the rope swing!

Seems I need some pictures of the rope swing.

It was great! Thanks to those who came. I'm already planning for next year!

Things Are Never Boring With Me Around

Yesterday, we went to one of our favorite (read: fun and cheap) places of entertainment - McKee's petting zoo. The kids love it, and, I'll admit, so do I. I just love critters of all kinds. I especially love the little baby animals. Sometimes the older ones freak me out. The camel that they used to have, Lucy, tried to bludgeon me to death with her giant head, but that's a story for another time.

Last night, I was admiring all of the baby goats. They have so many and they're super cute. I was crouched down, petting a baby goat that couldn't have been more than a week old. There was a little girl standing a little behind and to the side of me. I could tell that she was a little bit scared to pet the animals, so I was showing her how nice they were. (If you know me at all, you can probably guess where this is headed.) The kid, the goat, not the human, started sucking on my finger. I said something to the little girl like "See, he thinks that I'm his mama and that he can get milk from my finger." The little girl moved closer to the goat, appearing to be considering trying to actually touch the animal. The little goat turned his head toward the girl, which twisted my finger in his mouth.

We interrupt this story for a little-known bit of trivia: goats don't have top front teeth. They do, however, have very sharp molars on both the top and bottom, even when they are as young as a week old.

As he turned his head, my finger brushed against his molars and he bit down, hard.

In my defense, I didn't scream as loud as you would expect a mauled zoo patron to scream. But it was enough to startle the little girl away from me. I won't be surprised when I receive bills from her therapist in 20 years.

I tried to fix the damage my scream had done to the little girl by quickly reaching back in to pat the little jerk's - I mean, goat's - head, saying that he really was nice, but the damage was done. The girl and her mother moved on to find gentler animals with less zealous admirers.

I gathered up my children, trying to hide the tears which were welling up in my eyes and the blood which was pooling on my finger. We found Morgan, who did what you would expect from any supportive husband - he laughed at me.

On the drive home, he kept glancing over at me examining my finger and he would chuckle. I even got some pictures of the carnage on my phone, but I'm unable to send the picture to my email right now. I'll update with it later. At one point he turned to me and asked "Why does this stuff always happen to you?"

I replied, "I guess because I'm the one stupid enough to put my fingers in the mouths of unfamiliar animals."

"No, I mean, getting knocked unconscious by a bag of frozen marinara sauce, accidentally stealing someone's windshield wiper, hitting a horse with your car, losing a snake in your car, freezing yourself to the inside of our freezer - you're the only person that I know that has stuff like this happen to them."

I pondered for a few minutes. Why does weird stuff always happen to me? I can only think of one thing.

"I guess that God knows that I wouldn't be satisfied with a boring life."

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Why I Love Living in Rural Idaho

I imagine that this is the Love Nest. I mean, really, what is more romantic than a cab-over camper with all windows and sources of fresh air covered in asphalt shingle rolls? I bet this baby is just h.o.t. on a mid-summer's night.

I may start a blog series entitled "What I Found In the Trailer Park".

Sunday, August 9, 2009

American Falls Day

I had a booth at American Falls Day yesterday. It was super duper oooper cold for August.

To see pictures and read about it, go here.

The Saga Continues

This past week has been super crazy so I didn't have time to share the great news until now.

We have collected our first eggs!

I went out Friday morning to feed and water our birds and goats and thought that I should go into the coop and check for eggs. The chickens are getting old enough now that I had been thinking that we would get eggs any day. Plus, I like to check out the coop every other day or so to check on the most recent vandalism. Right now there are a lot of bare bales of straw in there (we're currently working on fixing that) and the chickens and goats just love to pull it all apart.

Anyway, when I went in Friday there was an egg on the floor. It was a little smaller than a chicken egg that you would get from the grocery store, but not super small. I read that when chickens first lay eggs they will be small but get larger as the chicken matures. I came back later in the afternoon to check around for more eggs and found the little one on the left in the picture up on one of the straw bales. It was so tiny! This picture doesn't really do justice to the size of the eggs. They're not like song bird egg tiny, but there is a definite difference in size than what you would get at the store.

I checked again on Saturday and then today and there was one more egg each day, both of them teeny like the second egg, which is sorta weird. As near as I can figure, we have just one chicken laying eggs right now, and her first one was just strangely large.

I decided to cook all four eggs today, and found out that the first one was indeed strange, as it had two yolks. I scrambled them and then the three big kids and I ate them. Everyone was so excited to be eating our very first eggs. I have to admit, it was sort of weird to me to be eating a something that one of our pets produced, but eggs are eggs, I guess.

I know that I write about our animals a lot, but it's funny to me that we have ended up with the flock that we have when you consider what we tried to get. When we first moved into this house, there was a flock of seven ducks that roamed around the yard. There were two females and five males. We could tell which were female because they had very few feathers on their necks, backs and tails and they were covered with bite marks. Apparently two females weren't enough to satisfy the appetites of the five males, if you get my drift. Those poor girls. I would hear frantic quacking from the yard so I would open the door and yell "No means no!" but by that time the male would already be finished with his business. It was just their foreplay that was so rough.

Then the ducks started to disappear one by one. In the fall there were one female and three males left. One of the males was quite a bit larger than the others and he was obviously the alpha. He didn't let the others near the female so her sores healed and her feathers grew back. I was hoping that we would get some ducklings from her in the spring, but one day the rest of our small flock disappeared. We think that coyotes got them.

The point of this whole story is that after watching how abused the females were, we decided that we only wanted female birds. The idea of eating fertilized eggs kind of grossed me out, too, so on the day that we bought our first batch of birds, we requested all females. The people at the store said that they could give sexing the chickens a try and figured that they would be about 98% accurate with them. Ducks are different and too hard to sex so we just had to guess with them.

We randomly selected four ducks - two mallards and two domestic. Then we got three Leghorn chickens, which came from the chicken hatchery pre-sexed. We were told that they were guaranteed pullets, which is chicken-speak for pre-laying hens. Guaranteed female? Great! Then the lady attempted to sex two Barred Rocks and a Rhode Island Red for us, giving us those which she thought were female. A few days later I saw some Bantams and couldn't resist their cute little tiny fluffiness so I got three of them. My ultimate goal was to end up with a flock of eight to ten hens and no roosters.

If you read my Lady McBennett blog, you know that a lot of our birds died. Here are the amusing and ironic facts:

  • Of the first three Leghorns (which were guaranteed female, you remember) only one is still living. His name is Foghorn and he love-love-loves to crow.
  • We totally lucked out by getting a male and female each of the mallards and domestic ducks. They make cute little couples, always going everywhere together. The mallards are especially affectionate and are rarely found apart from each other. Even though we wanted all females, so far they seem to be quite content in their separate relationships and maybe we'll end up with some ducklings.
  • The two Barred Rocks did indeed end up being female, so mad props to the lady at CAL Ranch for her chicken sexing abilities.
  • Maybelline, our Rhode Island Red, just showed her true colors one day last week as she attempted to mount the male mallard. Not only is she obviously not female, she, I mean he, has his species and gender preferences all mixed up.
  • Mike won a chicken at a church party last month, and it ended up being, you guessed it, a rooster.
So our current bird population stands as follows:

  • Three confirmed roosters, one of which was a "guaranteed" female.
  • Two cute little pairs of male and female ducks.
  • Two confirmed hens. (yes!)
  • Four youngish chicks, gender as yet undetermined.
All I can say is that those four babies had better end up being female. While having roosters around isn't really a problem (yet) and I don't mind their crowing, we will probably end up killing them or trying to find someone who wants a living alarm clock.

All in all, we bought 27 chickens and four ducks. The chickens we wanted for eggs as well as pets and the ducks we bought on a whim to have as pets. Of those 31 birds, all of which were supposed to be female, only 13 are still alive. Of those 13, at least five of them are male. 18 of 31 died. That's over a 58% mortality rate! At least our mortality rate for our children is at far.

It just goes to show that no matter how much you may plan, life will be what it wants to be and you'd better just roll with it.

And if anyone ever tells you that something is guaranteed, take it with a grain of salt.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

I'm Either a Really Sane Crazy Person, Or a Really Crazy Sane Person

After Tuesday's post, in which I laughed about being asked if I was on medication, I have thought a lot about how much I joke about that fact. I have wondered if anyone thinks that I am too flippant about mental illness or the use of medication to help control it.

I'd like to state, for the record, that I do not support or condone the use of any drug for recreational purposes. Mental illness, in and of itself, is not funny. No disease is funny. Some diseases are horrible and sad and debilitating and my heart aches to see people who suffer from any kind of ailment.

I would also like to state two facts:

  • I suffer from mental illness in the form of depression. It ranges from mild to severe, depending on the day and situation.
  • I take medication to help my body cope with the chemical imbalance that makes my brain and emotions all out of whack.
Now that we have the serious facts out of the way, here are a few more facts:

  • I have a mental illness. It is mine, and I will choose to deal with it in any way I see fit.
  • Mental illness is not funny, but some of the effects are hysterical.
  • I choose to laugh at my situation, because who wants to be serious all of the time? Besides, laughing about it makes me feel better about the situation. If I can laugh at my mental illness, then it won't win. If you were ever bullied as a child and had the nerve to actually laugh at what the bully said, you understand the power that laughter gives you over your opponent.
If you didn't read my friend Cristina's comment on my last blog, please take a few minutes to do so now.

Go ahead. It's okay. I'll wait.


*insert elevator music here*


That, my friends, is how I choose to deal with my disease. Granted, I will probably never have the guts to actually do something like that, but the thought of it makes me pee in my pants a little with mirth.

(Cristina: I went shopping with my hubby last night and your comment was running through my head the whole time. At one point, I turned to him and hissed in my loudest whisper, "Pixie Stix! I need Pixie Stix right NOW or I'm going to lose it!" The look on his face was priceless. Then I explained your comment to him, and we giggled together for the rest of the shopping trip at all of the socially inappropriate things that I could do in a grocery store. I actually had to hold myself back from hucking a package of strawberry cream Twinkies at the back of a lady's head who bumped into Moe with her cart. We're going shopping again today; maybe I'll be braver and have a better story for you. Here's hopin'!)

So, if my seeming lack of respect for a serious subject offends you, I'm sorry. I'm sorry that you have not learned of the power which laughter holds. The most serious of situations can be diffused with laughter.

I've seen a bumper sticker several times, and I only wish that I had thought of it first:

"I don't suffer from insanity, I enjoy every minute of it."

Now that we have all of the apologies and explanations out of the way, here is another great mental illness related thought

Since I have had several secretarial jobs, I know what it's like to be the first person in the company that a customer or client has contact with. I know that people can be very irate when the person that they are trying to reach is unavailable. Some of my best conversations with strangers have started with me answering the phone saying something along the lines of "Thank you for calling My Place of Employment, how may I help you?"

Now that I have had some experience on the client side of the mental illness industry (Industry? Is it really an industry? ....let's just run with that, shall we?) I have often wondered what it's like to be on the secretarial side of that phone. Really, don't you think that that must be one of the most interesting jobs out there? You know that nine times out of ten, when you pick up that phone there will be a nut job on the other end. It must take people with loads of compassion (and self control to not totally mess with the patients) to handle those kinds of calls every day.

I'm thinking about this particular subject this morning because I had an appointment scheduled today with my psychiatrist to discuss how well my new medication is working. The sweet secretary just called to tell me that my psychiatrist is sick and could we reschedule.

Who wants to have that job?

"Ms. Smith?"

"Yes, sir?"

"Please call this list of fifteen certifiably insane people and tell them that I won't be able to meet with them today."

"Yes, sir! Right away, sir!"

I would quit my job right there on the spot.

I actually considered messing with the girl a little bit, like totally wigging out and screaming "but she made an appointment with me! That's like a promise! I can never trust anyone ever again!" but I played nice and expressed the appropriate concern for my doc, sent warm wishes of good health her way, and then cheerfully rescheduled for next week.

See? Even crazy people can behave themselves.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

I'm still giggling to myself

When you live in a town as small as the one in which I live, you get to know people. The same few waitresses at the local diner, the same few clerks at the grocery store, the same pharmacist, you get my drift.

So when I dashed into the grocery store for a couple of gallons of milk a few minutes ago, I wasn't surprised when the checker asked about my family, my kids and when I was planning on going back to work at my sister's restaurant.

I told her that since I'd had two babies so close together that I had no plans to go back to work. I mean, I still work and all, but there is no paycheck.

And then she leaned in close to me and spoke four words which made my day:

"Are you on medication?"

I laughed out loud. Then I realized that she was serious. So I cleared my throat and told her that yes, pharmaceuticals help me through my day. I asked her if it was that obvious.

"You're just so calm!"

Oh, darlin', if only you knew.

Am I on medication.... *giggle*

Monday, August 3, 2009

Comments, Please

Um, I only blog for the comments. Reading comments helps me to feel good about myself. Verbal Xanax, you might say.

Please medicate me.

The Legend of Lady McBennett

In the summer of 2008, a youngish woman came down into the land of Seagull Bay, in the county of Power. She brought with her a husband, two sons, a daughter and a tired old dog, along with the unplanned baby in her womb.

And verily, there was much work to be done upon the house which was to be rented.

And verily, the heat of the sun did beat down upon the gestating woman, insomuch that she did lay on the couch near the window-mounted air conditioner.

And summer slowly gave way to fall. And upon the first day of fall, the woman did give birth to a fine son.

The children grew in knowledge, strength and back talk as fall changed to winter and winter changed to spring.

And in the spring, the woman and her family did make their way to the local farm and ranch store to purchase some fowl with which to delight the senses of the family and produce eggs to nourish their bodies.

And the fowl did lodge in the wading pool in the laundry room.

And the stench of the fowl did become so great and the number of the fowl's excrement did also become great, insomuch that the woman did beseech her husband to helpeth her to build a chicken coop.

And the coop was built and the woman did see that it was a fine coop, built in the redneck fashion.

The spring weather grew ever warmer, and the woman did peruse the local craigslist frequently. And it came to pass that she did happen upon an ad for bottle-fed goats. And the woman did beseech her husband, children and close friends to purchase baby goats. And it came to pass that the goats were purchased and housed with the fowl in the chicken coop.

The goats were exceedingly cute and did tug upon the heartstrings as they bleated for their bottles every morning at dawn. And the tired old dog became used to the goats, and chased them not.

And it came to pass that some of the fowl did pass away, and the woman tarried to the local store to purchase ten more fowl.

And it came to pass that she often forgot to fill the chick waterer, insomuch that the baby birds did hop upon the goat's water trough and several of them did drown. And after several narrow misses, the tired old dog did develop a fondness of chasing chickens, and soon thereafter a fondness for the taste of raw chicken flesh.

And the day came when there were but two of the new chicks left; and the woman did tarry again to the farm store to purchase eight more chicks. And soon there were but two of the third set of chicks left. And the woman decided that enough was enough.

And it came to pass that the goats did become weaned, and were allowed to freely roam about the yard. And the goats did require daily reminders that they were not allowed in the house nor upon the furniture.

And they did nibble upon the flourishing sunflowers which the woman had so tenderly planted. And the woman did wail and there was much gnashing of her teeth.

And it came to pass that the young daughter did pee-eth in her pants and her counselor suggested that if the young girl child was to have a pet of her own that it may help to keep her pants dry.

And so the woman and her husband did read much concerning the raising of pet rabbits, and the litter box training of rabbits. And they did search the land for the best (cheapest) rabbits to be found.

It came to pass that the family did journey to the land of Fort Hall, where a suitable rabbit was purchased. And the woman did see that the rabbit was exceedingly cute, and she did long for a rabbit of her own.

It came to pass that the family left the rabbit breeder's house with two baby bunnies. And verily, their names were Sergeant Pepper and Sir Francis.

And it came to pass that the family did again journey to the farm and ranch store, and purchase many materials with which to build a home for the rabbits.

And the woman and her husband tarried late into the night, carefully crafting the Rabbitat.

And behold, several days did pass and the woman learned lessons of waterproofing the bottom of an indoor rabbit house.

And behold, the urine of the rabbits did stink much, and the mound of their excrement did grow larger every day.

And it came to pass that the sunflowers began to sprout new leaves, and the woman began to feel forgiveness in her heart toward the goats Humperdink and Flopsy.

And the woman noted with warmth in her heart that her trellis of morning glories was beginning to climb, and to flourish.

And then those bastard goats did eat them, too, and also the new leaves of the sunflowers.

American Falls Day 2009

I have decided to have a booth at American Falls Day this year. I have a lot of new stuff; new items and new versions of items that I have previously shown on my sewing blog.

My sister Cori will share my booth with me, selling her beaded watches.

So stop by and visit, ogle my and my sister's newest creations, buy some stuff, become my new best friend, etc., etc. (Just kidding about the best friend thing, Em. I only have eyes for you.) Oh, and you can get some scrumptious ice cream from the Lucky's booth, too, which happens to be owned and operated by my sister Holly and her husband.

Now we just need to include my other siblings and it will be a family operation. Maybe Rachel could do blood pressure checks, Rod could discuss child safety, and Lonnie could recommend the best fertilizer for your wheat, potato or beet crop.

Hope to see you all there!

American Falls Day
American Falls City Park
Saturday, August 8
Parade begins at 10:00
Booths are open from 10:30 - 4:00 pm