Foxing Day

Well, we knew this day would come.  It was a quiet fall and winter, we had a huge hatch – out of chicks last August and not one of those idiots will remain in the penned areas where it’s safe.  We have a large-ish group that free – ranges all over (even into our neighbor Jack’s yard – good thing he likes them) and I am always worried those dummies are going to get eaten by something.  I freely admit we get far too attached to them, and when they get snatched it’s sad and traumatic.

Fortunately, we have Tevye.

I’d been noticing that his rooster-ish behavior has been much like our dear departed Big Jim – unlike our other roosters who hog all the food to themselves and run at the first sign of trouble (or beat up on each other as well as us humans).  By this I mean that he is an exemplary roo – he makes sweet clucking noises when we bring out the food to tell his ladies to come eat.  He keeps them around him when they’re all free – ranging.  The few times I’ve noticed a hawk circling fairly low I’ve seen Tevye gather all the hens into the underbrush and wooded areas to keep them safe.

He’s also pretty darn friendly to us.  In other words, the perfect rooster.

Today he’s proved himself again.

Today the foxes came back.

We were alerted by the sound of probably all 40 or so of our chickens clucking in unison and when I looked out the window I could see a fox departing across the creek and away, a chicken clearly in its mouth.

Emily and I ran out and I heard a loud “squawk”, and then the fox dropped the chicken and ran.  It was Tevye, and he came bounding back to us.

A check through the yard proved no one was missing.  Tevye clearly gave the fox a good fight and kept the other chickens safe.  He’s got some rather nasty wounds right now, but they could have been much, much worse.  I doused him with Blue Kote, gave him some treats and sent him happily back to his girls, where he crowed loudly and triumphantly.  My fingers are crossed they heal up quickly and don’t fester.

I think somebody deserves a bag of meal worms, don’t you?

 

 

Saying Goodbye to Winter

Normally I wouldn’t give up on winter so soon.  After all, where I grew up,  March was blizzard season.  Even here in Virginia we’ve had more than a few surprise March snowstorms; at least of those was nearly record – breaking.  However, given the incredibly mild weather we’ve had since fall I think it’s not foolish to expect winter is done.  Perhaps we’ll have another blow-out – who knows?  But I am not holding my breath.  Not when in the same week we’ve had several inches of snow followed by nearly 80 degree temperatures three days later.

So, over the course of the week we’ll be washing and packing away the heavier winter items and changing out our winter decor for spring.

Yes, I change the art on the walls along with the sheets, the pillows and the blankets to coordinate with the seasons.  It’s easier than a re-doing your furniture every time you get sick of where it all is.

It’s hard to believe I took all of these pictures not eve a full week ago, considering a few days ago we were outside like this:

I gave in and planted some of the cold crops: beans, peas, arugula, Black Seeded Lettuce, and Red Romaine.  I’m afraid if I wait for the normal planting date it will be too warm.

Spring cleaning, here we come.

One of the Sweetest Kids You’ll Meet

I’d like you all to meet Katie.

Katie is the adorable twelve year old  daughter of my  friend Jessie and also a friend of my Emily.

Katie was diagnosed with diabetes when she was very young, and hasn’t had as easy a road as many other kids her age. There have been some very scary moments over the years.  Somehow, despite the many restrictions she faces every day she manages to be down to earth and full of grace.  So recently when Jess announced that Katie was going to take part in a clinical trial to test algorithms used for an artificial pancreas I wasn’t really surprised.  But I was proud.

You see, this was Katie’s decision.  Although she knew she was to be compensated handsomely she also knew she’d be subjected to A LOT of intrusions on her personal comfort (I’m being nice here) for the duration of her hospital stay.  She wanted in anyway.

And you know what?  It wasn’t easy.  Her first round of this trial was very well, trying and painful.  When things got particularly tough Jess told her she could quit if she wanted to.  Jess would even give her the money she’d be out by excusing herself from the trial.

She told her twelve year – old she could leave the pain behind and still be paid.

Katie stuck with it.  She said she needed to let them finish the research, because it was important to her.

I wanted to share this story with you not only because I am ridiculously grateful to be their friend, but also because everyone needs to remember that kids can do amazing and selfless things – I kind of think that in a lot of ways they can be far more selfless and wise – and stronger –  than we adults are.

I hold my children to higher standards in many ways than I do my adult friends and occasionally I catch flak for that.  You know what? I think they can handle it – I think kids deserve far more credit than we give them.

 

Snowy Sunday in Pictures

I didn’t think it would happen – I dismissed all talk of it.

But it happened – we got SNOW!  Not only that, we should be around 4 inches by the time it stops – a positively HUGE amount for us!

The recipe for the French Onion Soup comes from Susan and it can be found HERE. It is AMAZING.  I made some crusty bread today to go with it and pulled out my French Onion Soup pots, filled them with soup, stuck a thick piece of bread in each one, topped with grated gruyere and OH MY GOODNESS.

Best way to warm up on a snowy, blustery day!!!

Sweeties Day

For Valentine’s Day I gave my sweeties fun glitter projects for school.  It’s been quite a messy morning, but it’s been worth the peace and quiet and overall happiness that has been the result.

We all look forward to Valentine’s Day because of dinner.  Every year since Paul and I have been married we have had Chinese for dinner on Valentine’s Day.  The first two or three years it was a fluke (we were living in NY, restaurants were impossible but there was great Chinese take – out), and then once we realized there was a pattern going it became tradition.

So tonight we are all excited for Chinese, and we are adding a new element.  I got a fondue pot after reading all of Susan’s blogs from Zurich this week and tonight we’ll have chocolate fondue for dessert (I cannot wait to try cheese fondue, though. Maybe tomorrow?) with strawberries, marshmallows, pound cake cubes and pretzels.

How about you? Do you have any fun Valentine traditions?

More Knitting Completed (for once)

My needles have been on fire!

Well.

Not in the Caroline Fryar sense of “on fire”.  Seriously, that girl can knit. Not only that, but she is quite the up – and – coming designer.  I’m ridiculously proud that my Emily got to model some of Caroline’s garments for the JMF spring books, because before long that girl’s name will be all over the place.

Anyway.

I have been keeping my head down and zooming through some projects I’ve had going for awhile.  I’ve still got at least 5others  going on needles now, but that’s a story for another day.

I finished a hat for myself while Paul was in surgery – I wanted a slouchy but simple thing to keep my head warm around the house (and possibly in bed) while the cold winter settled over us.

Unfortunately the cold winter never materialized, so the broken upstairs heat pump has been not much of an issue.

And I haven’t really gotten to wear my hat at all.

I got the pattern HERE.

The yarn is Debbie Bliss “Baby Cashmerino”.  It’s light, it’s soft, it’s a perfect icy, wintery blue.  If only it were really winter instead of fake spring.

The other finished thing was actually finished for quite awhile now but awaiting blocking.  It’s a good thing I finally managed to get it done because it’s a very belated Christmas gift for my grandmother.

It’s another “Far Away, So Close” shawl, this time knitted in Malabrigo.  I don’t remember which Malabrigo or even the colorway because I lost the tag.

Surprise grandma! I’ll have it in the mail ASAP.

It’s super – soft and warm, and Emily is upset that once again she was asked to model a shawl that she does not get to keep.  Yes, I get the hint.

It’ll be nice and cozy with my grandmother, who lives not far from Buffalo, where it’s much colder than it is here.

Usually.

Just not this year.

 

Citrus-y

Even though the weather is NOT cooperating (as in, we’re having fall followed by spring) I am still trying to enjoy all the goodness that winter has to offer.

Cozy handknits, warm fires, hot tea…….citrus fruits.

Yup, citrus fruits are in season now, and we have plenty of my favorites: clementines and Meyer lemons.  I’ve never actually been able to find Meyer lemons locally before, so I was surprised to find them at (of all places) our local WalMart.  (I know….I am not a WalMart fan.  But…..when they carry Concord grapes and Meyer lemons, how can you resist?)

Last week I made a lovely Shaker Lemon Pie, and we’ve been snacking steadily on clementines, but as of this morning I still had plenty of both.

So I rooted around a bit on Pinterest until I found what fit the bill for some lovely citrusy fare: recipes for Chinese Orange Chicken and Meyer Lemon Pudding.

Oh yeah.

Neither one was particularly difficult to make, and the results were outstanding.  Seriously.

Paul declared the chicken “The best orange chicken I’ve ever had”.  That’s saying something, because we are quite fond of Chinese food and we’ve tried quite a lot of it.  It was fresh, bold and bright, with a strong orange flavor.  If you like orange chicken, you HAVE to try this recipe.  The only change I made was when frying the chicken, I simply coated the raw chicken pieces in cornstarch (I didn’t use the egg or flours at all).  This was due to simple laziness.  The sauce I made no changes to.

 

We followed the chicken with the Meyer Lemon pudding served on a slice of pound cake (which Paul picked up from the grocery – I didn’t feel like baking any).

After all of this it is a very good thing that I have been following a workout routine for the last week.  SO MANY CALORIES!!!

 

 

 

Gone Visitin’

Yesterday I was treated to being able to get out of the house a bit (Paul is almost fully recovered, aside from restrictions on lifting) and see Susan, who was home for literally ONE day between trips, and also to see my animals, who I’ve been missing terribly.

We’re making headway in our efforts to bring them home, though.  Trees are coming down, cleaning up is underway, plans are in process.  It’s very exciting!  I can’t wait to be able to look out the window again and see my flock.

Sophie and Adelaide’s baby-daddy, Jack – who may or may not be the future baby –  daddy of kids that Milkshakes may or may not be already carrying.  She’s been sneaking into his pasture to spend some “quality time” with him.

I got to see Coconut, who is 18 kinds of adorable, and I just want to rub those ears!  But, aside from nibbling at Susan’s fingers, he’s a bit skittish still.

Mr. Jefferson here gave me lots of nice, wet cow kisses.

Sophie and Adelaide are almost as big as Milkshakes, and they won’t let me near them.  On the plus side, unlike Frodo and Finnegan who thought they were lapdogs, these little ladies know they are goats.

Wren!  She’s gotten just about too big for me to be picking her up and snorgling her now.

As for Jerry, he likes to make it difficult to get a decent picture.  Once he knows your game he’s either INYOURFACE or lurking just behind you.

This way you either get NO pictures, or ones like these:

I miss that crazy llama!