Wednesday, January 23, 2008

The Gift

Well, much to my surprise, over the weekend the chicks hatched. I had some trouble with the incubator and was unsure of their outcome. I think I just keep it too cold in the house for the incubator to keep a constant temp. During the day, the sun heats the house up nicely and then in the evening it gets downright cold. Anyhow, one day in particular I had trouble keeping the temp up even with the incubator wrapped with towels, so I turned it up several times over the course of the day and then by morning I awoke and it was 104.2. I was pretty certain I had done them all in, but much to my delight, 6 of them hatched. I do feel quite bad about the rest though. They were just 2 days from hatching when they got overheated. Some were duds, but most were developed. I feel like such a bad chicken mommy. Once it warms up a bit more, I plan to get both incubators running and hatch out a bunch.

We picked Josh up from his Tulsa trip yesterday and used some of Steve’s hotel points for a hotel stay just for fun. We had such an enjoyable time together. Steve has an √©lite status from staying so often that they furnished our room with complimentary candy bars, snacks and drinks. Also we enjoyed the manager’s hour and had a light dinner on the house, as well as a free appetizer at the restaurant. We sent the kids off to swim while we enjoyed our time over some delicious Bruschetta. A nice hot breakfast awaited us this morning, and then it was back to school and back to the real world. It was fun while it lasted though.

I got a surprise package in the mail today. You know that special person in your life, the cheerleader who always remembers birthdays and gets just as excited about your life as you are? That person is my Aunt Sis. She is technically Steve’s aunt, but I claim her as mine. The kids can always count on a birthday card from Aunt Sis. I can hardly remember my own birthday; how she remembers and gets cards in the mail on time is truly remarkable.

Well, today I got a box from Aunt Sis with a really wonderful gift inside. What is it about an unexpected gift that makes it all the more special? Of course I tore the paper off the box like I was 3 years old, tossing shreds of it around the car. Did you think I would wait till I got home to open it? I opened the box to reveal the most beautiful afghan, and an equally wonderful letter from Aunt Sis. She said it was a prayer blanket that she had started long ago. And that she prays while she crochets, first that it would actually resemble a blanket when she is finished. I must say she did an absolutely wonderful job; resembled a very fine blanket to me. She also prays that the person she gives it to will be happy and healthy. She said she started it simply because she loved the colors but knew from reading my blog that she was to finish it for me. What an honor to receive such a blanket, one fashioned from love just as much as from the yarn that went through her fingers. She wanted me to be reminded of the coming of spring and of her love for me and my family. She didn’t know when she started it that spring is my favorite season, and pastels, my favorite colors. Also, I doubt she remembered that the orchid and purple were our wedding colors, orchid being my favorite color. It was as if God himself chose the yarn. When I opened it the colors spoke to me, the purples of God’s love and commitment to me like a marriage, the pastel greens of his promise to lead me to green pastures and the pastel yellows of happiness and warmth. I cherish the gift of that blanket, and I cherish the gift of Aunt Sis in my life.

I love it when God sprinkles people into our lives. There is the cake, and the icing on the cake, and then there are the sprinkles. The sprinkles are those that God flings into our lives for the shear purpose of making it more meaningful, more significant, and more beautiful. I thank God for those He has chosen to sprinkle into my life.

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A chick hatching

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What a bunch of fine looking chicks.

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A close up of the beautiful afghan Aunt Sis crocheted. The picture doesn't do the rich, vibrant colors justice.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

A pattern here

Well, I've noticed a pattern here. Every time Rachael comes to visit I can't blog for days, sometimes weeks. I was on a roll and then, wham no posts for a while. Rae is visiting Granny and Papa for two weeks, ha, not sure why I find that funny, but I do. Of course she Skypes me every day and was utterly thrilled to find out that I have a camera now and can see her. I had to watch her dance, jump, hop, skip, stick her tongue out and make faces. In fact at her request and much to her amusement I joined her. "Okay hop now aunt neice, okay freeze, okay hop, now freeze. Let me see you stick your tongue out" It went on for 30 minutes at least, it felt like longer. "Do you see me twirling? Now what am I doing?" Oh the joys of technology. Of course I had to go to the garage and bring Hopper the one-legged-chicken in for a camera appearance. She was beside herself when Hopper talked to her. Oh to be four again.

The only other thing she wanted from me besides doing crazy stunts before the camera was to explain to her over and over and over how to take care of chickens. She is pretty sure she will be taking some chicks home to live in her bedroom. "Should I just make a glass house or a metal house for them? I think I can just teach them to talk and also to go potty on the toilet, wouldn’t that be a great idea aunt neice?" She didn't like my recommendation for little chicken diapers; I thought they would fit nicely in the "little chicken suitcases" I convinced her were necessary and talked her into making, maybe it will give Granny and Papa a break for 20 minutes. Her face lit up like a kid on Christmas morning when I told her that the eggs in the "inking bator" as she calls it, wiggle when they are turned over. She thought maybe we could just crack one and look at it. She returns home Saturday, the same day the chicks are supposed to start hatching, oh boy. I see a visit from her in my near future. If my posts slack off, you'll know she was here.

On another note, Josh leaves for Tulsa tomorrow. He is going to Winter Retreat at the church we used to attend there. He was told by several of the youth that it was announced at Wednesday youth service that he was coming back and the room erupted in applause and cheers. What a great feeling that must have been he had so many friends there and was greatly missed when we moved. I'm happy we could send him back; it means so much to him.

It’s been cold lately, dipping down below zero last night. It’s so beautiful here, but I am ready for spring. I admit, I'm a wimp, enough of the cold and snow already. Think I'll start my tomato seed soon, maybe tomorrow. I plan to grow them in pots on the upper balcony this year. The deer and rabbits find them too tempting. Some day I'll have a nice fenced in garden, but for now I have to keep them out of reach, kinda like the eggs in the inking bator.

Friday, January 4, 2008

A Beautiful Day

Today was an incredibly beautiful day. Starting with an amazing sunrise and ending with Em and I watching a nearly 400 head herd of elk in the meadow behind the house as the sun slipped behind the mountain. The sunrises lately have been so colorful, just amazingly beautiful.

I candled a few more eggs, all seem to be developing. Rachel came today, I showed her the developing chicks. She really wanted to pet one of them, um, kind of impossible at this point and also a bit messy I’d suppose.

Washing a few pans at the kitchen sink late this morning, I noticed some elk up in the meadow behind our house. There were about 35-40 that I could see. I got the binoculars and went upstairs for a better view. I kept an eye on them off and on all day as they made their way down the draw and toward the house. At about 4:00 I noticed they were just 100 yards or so behind us and talked Em into hiking up onto the boulder behind the house to take a look. We brought the camera and the binoculars.

As we got up near the top of the ridge, our view was expanded and we realized the extent of the herd. At one point I counted 364, a good mix of cows and bulls. One in particular had an enormous rack. He must have weighed 1000-1200 lbs. Yum, he would have made some good elk burgers.

They were aware of our presence, but just kept a cautious eye on us, looking up from their grazing every now and then as they made their way further down the draw past our granite perch. Early tomorrow I plan to drag Steve up to see them; hopefully they have bedded down for the night not too far away.

As the sun slipped behind our peak and dusk began to creep upon us we headed back down to the house. The sunset was just as breathtaking as the sunrise; a beautiful end to a truly wonderful day.

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Sunrise

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Em on the rock

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Our view of the elk

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Another view of the elk. All the little dots in the background are elk too. This picture represents about 1/5 of the herd.

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Our view to the south

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Beautiful sunset

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Another picture of the sunset from the front porch. We've just got a little bit of snow. Although a big storm is supposed to hit tomorrow night or Sunday.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

The Chicken Eggs

We bought Josh an airline ticket to OK for winter retreat. It was only $5 with all the miles that we've accumulated. Not bad for a weekend with is friends in a good Christian setting. He and the youth pastor were so close; it is great that they can spend some time together again. When we moved to CO, he stayed behind for almost a month with the youth pastor and his wife and their family; in fact he would still be there if we didn’t force him to finally move to CO with us.

I got a 20.00 coupon from a seed catalog company, so I've been perusing the catalog, it covers shipping as well, so I can get a couple of things for free or nearly free. I'm looking at getting a Stevia plant or two. It would be great if I could get them to grow and not have to buy sugar as much. I love using Stevia in tea and such. It can be used in baking as well, although I’ve never tried it.

My sister Melissa is coming over tomorrow; she said she’d help do a few more chickens if I wanted. By the way, the eggs in the incubator are developing. I candled 10 and I can see chicks in 9. The 10th had too thick/dark of a shell to be able to see if it is developing, but I have no reason to think it wouldn't be. They kind of look like a spider, with the chick as the small spider body, and the veins as legs. I can see the eye as a small dark pinpoint of blackness. I’m so excited they actually are developing. For one I wasn’t sure what fertility rate I had and second, some of the eggs had gotten pretty chilled in the nest boxes before I brought them in so I wasn’t sure how viable they were. This will be the 3rd batch I’ve hatched out, and the first batch from my own hens. I’ve got 20 eggs total, which I expect to hatch on the 20th, give or take a day. Probably a day or two later since I’ve had trouble keeping the temperature up, it tends to want to hang at a degree or two lower than it should be; probably because we keep the house so chilly.

Rachel is coming tomorrow with Melissa; she will be spending the night. I’m excited for that. She is so much fun to have around. Pretty Boy will be accompanying her. Melissa says she tells everyone “this is my niece’s dog.” Too funny, as I now too get to say this is my niece’s dog. She also decided to change his name to “Gato,” a tribute to her dry sense of humor. She has a truly curious sense of humor for a four year old.

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Here are the eggs, I added 2 more (a green & a large brown) for a total of 20. They are written on so I know which way is up, they have to be rotated several times a day or the chick will die.

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In the incubator. They are not up to temp as I had just opened it and placed all the eggs inside. It took several hours to get to the correct temperature.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy New Year!

It was a cold morning; 11 on my thermometer when I awoke. Melissa came over around 8 or 9 a.m. and helped butcher some chickens. We got 10 done before I decided to call it quits. I awoke with a headache this morning that I just couldn't shake and by chicken number 10 I was done. She was a big help, even bringing her own knives and sharpening stone. Even Steve got in the act, plucking 2 of them. I was bummed that 2 ended up being hens. They were the bantams, and I didn't want to keep them, but I was still bummed. I had two new hens that had just started laying a couple days ago, but had no idea it was the bantams. Oh well, in the end I had to remind myself that I didn't want bantams in the flock. I have several more chickens to do, hopefully later on this week. They are starting to get crowded and there are just too many roos out there. 

By the way, my headache was not due to my New Year's Eve partying, but rather that of the entire youth group who invaded our home last night and stayed till around 1 a.m. or a little later. lots of energy and noise. They had fun and it was nice to be able to host them. I hate to say, but I'm already looking forward to going to bed tonight. I'm so sleep deprived that I didn't realize it was actually 2008 till about 2:00 this afternoon. Does that mean we have the youth group over a little too often??

I have a feeling I'm fighting something too. Headache, muscles ache, brain fog and I just can't get warm today. we turned the heat up, but it hasn't helped much, neither did the 4 Tylenol that I popped earlier this afternoon. Its been years since I've taken a pain reliever, but even so 2 did nothing for me and the 2 more I popped shortly thereafter didn't seem to help much either; I still have a bit of aching running down the back of my head and neck.I'm sure a little extra sleep will help a bunch. 

Hope everyone had a great 2007 and and I hope that 2008 is great!