Happy Halloween!

The spooks are out!

We are heading out in just a bit for trick or treating, but first I thought we’d show off our pumpkins and costumes.  My little skunk is napping so only the older girls are ready.





It took a few hours to get them all carved and lit, but we had some excellent pizza and The Nightmare Before Christmas on dvd.  If I’d had time to plan it properly I’d be capping off the evening with some old Hitchcock movies and a bottle of red wine, but alas, it’s been too busy ’round here.


Princess.  This is, in fact, the dress she wore to her uncle’s wedding a few weeks ago.


Coraline.  If you haven’t seen the movie, I highly recommend it.

Tomorrow I’ll post pictures of my littlest stinker in her costume.  We’re also getting a very special delivery in the morning, and I will be sharing that with all of you as well.

Have a spooktacular night!


Culprit named in eating death of HenRietta the chicken.  Local hunter friend Heath spent time camouflaged in the woods tracking what he thought were deer, discovering instead “a pretty good – sized” bobcat.  The bobcat was spotted not far from the house and all efforts will be made to trap the suspect.

Too Busy To Think, and R.I.P. HenRietta

I spent the better part of an hour writing up a post and went I hit “save”…it exploded.  SO frustrating!!!  Just the right cap to my “perfect” week.

Last week I was feeling frustrated and fed – up with the state of the house and the property and in the midst of laundry and cat litter the handle broke off my washing machine and I think part of me may have snapped as well.  My rage ended up being focused on a small accent table in the “sitting area” portion of my bedroom.  It’s been there for over a year, waiting to be repainted but instead accumulating lots of junk with no other place to go (paint supplies for the table and the alcove itself, some discarded batteries that hadn’t made it to the trash, my uncle Jamie’s underpants he left here last Thanksgiving……..dont’ worry.  They’re in a ziplock.  We had intended to frame them and send them back as a gag, but never got around to it.  Sorry guys!!!! (Oh come on….like you all don’t play weird jokes on your families)

As I was saying, in my rage I zeroed in on this poor little table and decided that damn it, it needed to be painted.  Right now. I dropped everything else I was doing to prep the area.  While I was at it I figured I could paint the frame of the poster I intended to hang to match it, and heck if I was doing that why not paint the whole dang alcove?  Never mind it was nearing 7:30 pm on a Wednesday night.  I needed to expel some pent up fury!


Before.  This is the view from my spot on the bed.  I’d been living with this for a few years now and I was more than ready to fix it.

While the girls congregated on my bed and watched Ghost Hunters and Destination Truth on SyFy I painted and cleaned and re-arranged as much as I could.  I finished up around midnight.  It’s not magazine worthy, but it is a huge improvement.


The next morning, while admiring my handiwork I realized that I still needed some sort of window coverings.  I had the fabric laying around for ages and decided to just get to it.


While the rest of the house deserves nothing but our shame and derision, my bedroom at least looks halfway acceptable.

Speaking of shame………

Emily cleaned her hamsters’ cages for the first time in Lord knows how long over the weekend.  I told her to dump out the old bedding and food into a trash bag and then wash out the cages with soap and water in the bathroom, which she did.  Except for one thing.  She also rinsed out the stuck – on food into the sink.  Hamster food is mostly seeds.  What do seeds do in a damp environment?  They sproout.  I looked into the bathroom one evening and there were plants growing out of the drain in the sink.  Great.  We should be jailed for our house-keeping skills.

Emily made yet another mess two nights ago, but this time it was ok.  She had to make a totem pole for a class project and when I pulled out the plaster of paris and a wrapping paper tube and paint Paul mentioned that he could much more easily make a totem pole with some wood and a chainsaw.  Here’s the thing:  Paul’s never been what you’d call “good with a chainsaw”.  Not that he’s inept or anything, but he’s not artisitic on his best day, and I can’t imagine how on earth he’d figure out a totem pole.  Not one to back down from a challenge he went to it while Emily and I hedged our bets by getting to work making a mold out of the tube and some duct tape and working with the plaster.  In the end Paul won out surprisingly with a superior product.  Since it is a rare occurrence I don’t mind admitting he proved me wrong.


The wooden one on the right is Paul’s.  Emily painted them herself and wants to take both of them to school.  She better get an A!!!!

Yesterday I had planned on organizing the great laundry disaster of ’09.  First I went to check on the chickens, though and found that HenRietta was missing.  She had been escaping the pen all week (no idea how) and I figured I’d find here running over once I started scattering some corn for them.  Instead, just on the outside of the electric perimenter, I found a clump of grey feathers.  Then I followed a trail of them out to the backyard and down to the stream, where the trail went cold.  We scoured the woods but found nothing more than those large masses of feathers and a single animal print, suggesting either a large fox or a small bobcat.  Poor Emily is devastated and planning an elaborate funeral and feather burial.  Paul and I have resolved to strengthen our security system.  Currently the pen looks like this:


Soon we’ll be getting a goat – we’re being gifted a handsome devil courtesy of Paul’s uncle.  Paul is actually on board with this plan, and is helping me devise a list of needs.  We’ll be expanding the electric fencing and putting up a shelter, but when I mentioned perhaps a guard dog I knew I had lost him.  Then I slipped in a little known faxt about how llamas make great companions/guards for goats and sheep, and Paul completely agreed that we needed one.  I’m looking at a few this weekend.  I’m as shocked as you are.  I can’t believe Paul is so okay with this.  I am totally going to strike while the iron is hot, I’ll tell you what. I’ll also need to see if I can find a female dairy goat for our new boy.

Now if I could only get my chickens to lay some darn eggs.  Ruby says she’s considering going rooster instead.


I put two little text boxes on this photo to point out the pointy saddle and hackle feathers she has begun to develop.  Hens don’t get those.



Holding Pattern

Ever feel like you’re just spinning your wheels?  Like nothing much is getting accomplished despite what feels like non stop work?  That’s how it’s been lately around here.  Lots of hurrying up to wait.

The chickens are still not giving up the goods.  No eggs.  Plus something keeps stealing the golf balls I’ve been putting in the nesting bin to encourage said egg – laying.  Our friend Heath brought over his trap camera tonight so we are hoping to catch the culprit on film.  Most likely it’s a ‘possum; it’s been too cold for snakes.  You’d think, though, that after 3 golf balls the critter would’ve learned that there’s nothing yummy to be had from that particular bin.  It’ll be interesting to see what develops!


Old decrepit house in Portageville, NY

I’m just about done knitting Neve’s cardigan.  All that’s left is to bind off the neck and knit the button band.  Pictures soon, I hope –  it’s currently sitting on my dining room table, mocking me.  It knows how difficult it has been to make it to a “knitting portion” of the day lately.  Maybe I need to forego sleep for a few nights?

We hooked up a small tank of propane to the fireplace since it has been getting cold enough that we have had a frost a few mornings this week.  That was when we discovered that the valve on our fireplace is bad.  Now I am awaiting a replacement and then we’ll hopefully be ordering a large tank that will see us through the winter.  I also found out on of those frosty mornings that the heat in my car is not working.  Nothing starts a day off better than three shivering  children whining about how evil you are to take them to the bus stop and wait in an ice cold car with frozen leather seats.  I am waiting (I know, big surprise, right?) for that to be diagnosed and fixed.  (Though to my credit I did add a quart of oil to the same car after the light came on rather than wait for the engine to explode).  I then continued my own transformation into ice – woman by driving to my doctor’s appointment without heat and was so cold, and apparently pitiful, as well, that my lovely doctor went and found me a blanket to wrap myself in.  ME.  Hot flashy, heat – hating, cold – lover ME.  What is the world coming to?

And while we are on the topic of frosty mornings – how is it that it can be 36 at 7 am when you get up and get the kids dressed and off to school and then at 3:30 pm when you get them off the bus it is like 78???  No wonder we’re all feeling a bit grumpy and out of sorts – clearly Mother Nature can’t make up her mind.


Somewhere between Portageville, NY and Nunda, NY

The dog peed all over the living room rug again today.  She only does this when Paul is out of town, and she loves to do it in such a way that no one notices until their feet get wet walking over to the couch.  I noticed it while vacuuming.  I’d pitch the carpet right this second but I have nothing to replace it with so I am (guess what?) waiting for a new one.  (Disclaimer: If this were the first doggie indiscretion on the rug I would simply give it a good cleaning.  However, this is doggie indiscretion number eleventy-billion, and I am sick of watching Oona and Neve roll around all over that nasty, stinking rug).

The laundry continues its assault on my mental well- being.  Not only is the dirty pile mountainous, but the clean pile that I started sorting out on Oona’s bed has become a veritable Mt. Everest of assorted clothing and towels that I am afraid might topple over and bury a small child should one wander in there to retrieve anything.  Every attempt at organizing and putting away this towering pile has been met with the inevitable wailing of children needing 378 other things from me.  (I’m hungry! I’m thirsty! I need more toilet paper!  I can’t find my homework!  I need help with the chickens!  The dog peed all over the floor!)


Portageville, NY

Right now we are in the midst of Massive Bug Invasion 2009! It started with the fruit flies.  That’s really nothing new – around here late August through December is fruit fly season.  It doesn’t matter how clean your home is or how air – tight you built it – around here you WILL have fruit flies.  But, on top if those we have been inundated with those huge mosquito hawk things.  It looks like some biblical plague has been visited unto our neighborhood.  Spend some time at the bus stop here and someone will mention it.  You can’t walk or drive through  without being swarmed.  They’ve gotten trapped in the many spiderwebs all over our house and now we look more than ready for Halloween.  I’d be pretty happy if we could get someone out to power – wash the place right about now – but I am waiting for Paul to make that call.

Making an early appearance this year are the lady bugs.  Usually they don’t start invading until around Christmas, but I am starting to see them make their way to our windows and doorways already.  Time to break out the shop vac!  Not much else you can do, unless you want to spray lots of poison; with all the animals we’ve got I’d rather not risk it.

On the goat front I am still looking at finding some lovelies to adopt.  There are a bunch out our way looking for homes but right now I have no shelter for them so I will have to wait until I can get something built that will be an adequate shelter.  I also think I need a llama.  Or an alpaca.  Both?


Somewhere between Portageville, NY and Nunda, NY

What we have gotten accomplished was a fruitful trip to Sam’s Club in the bus.  Yup.  We took the bus to Sam’s.  It was sort of weird but really fun.  And let me tell you – you can fit a lot of Sam’s Club merchandise in a bus.  It’s also a nice change to not have the kids whining and complaining and fighting for the whole trip to town.  I even almost got Paul to buy me a cute old – fashioned looking electric woodstove for the playroom.  It gets pretty cold in the winter since it’s over the un-insulated garage (geniuses built this house, I tell you).  Alas, he could not be swayed.  Oh well.  Maybe I’ll get some time to knit up some warm wool socks for me and the girls before the real cold sets in (Hey!  I hear you laughing!  Stop that!).

I also made 2 pumpkin pies so far.


Or, as I prefer to think of them, Breakfast Pies.

I also made a few loaves of Pumpkin – Oatmeal bread but they have not turned out as well as I’d like.  I’ll have to fine – tune the technique with those a bit.  Thanks to Oona I am waiting for some time to do that.  Currently she is laying at my feet shrieking that she wants to go to bed.  What she means is she wants ME to go to bed with her, and that should I dare try and get up once she is asleep she will at once awaken and cry and cling to me fiercely.  Therefore I am hoping she will tire herself out and either let me hold her in my lap or fall asleep on her own.  See?  More waiting. Poor cute little thing.

The Long Drive

Several long drives took place this week – Maddie, Oona and I drove up to New York to visit family (roughly 9 hours each way) on Friday and back yesterday, and Paul drove up to Long Island Thursday night (roughly 7 hours) with the girls and back Sunday night.

Paul and the girls took the bus.  I was a bit nervous seeing them off on Thursday night.  It wasn’t until about 9pm that they got going and I guided them out of the driveway.  Paul’s quite capable with large vehicles, but as a former bus driver I worried about him making his maiden voyage without any real training.  I reminded him about 10 times about clearance and weight limits and pivot points (that would be your back tires) but he made it up north without a hitch.

Maddie and Oona and I had a smooth drive up Friday and enjoyed the scenery.  We took route 15 north basically the entire way from Virginia into New York and once we got into Pennsylvania the foliage was just spectacular.  Maddie quickly got bored of staring at farmland, but I kept wanting to stop and take pictures of all the beautiful old barns and farms (I didn’t).  Once we got into New York it got dark and rainy (and cold!) and we had quite a lot of fog.  Still, we made it safely and had a lovely weekend with our family.


The maple tree next to grandma’s house is all golden and red and there was a delicious chill in the air (though I think I may have been the only one who enjoyed it – everyone else was less impressed with the chill).


We toured the old cemetery at the end of the road.


These graves had been largely overgrown and forgotten until very recently.  A neighbor took it upon himself to cleat out the overgrowth and find all of the broken, scattered and sunken headstones and repair, clean, and re-place them.  Many of them had been covered over by sediment for years after the Genesee River flooded (severely so) in the early 70’s.  You can’t see it from this photo, but the river is just beyond the trees in the background.  The river rose again in the mid 90’s and probably buried them even further – but now they’ve been taken over by a caring steward and some of the town’s history can be gleaned from the old stones.  It’s all very incredible to me since this was all forested when I was a child there.  You could see one, maybe two, stones poking out of the weeds back in those days, but the old site seemed destined for obscurity.  My grandfather’s ashes will soon be residing here, and I think I may even want my own here some day.


Oona was her usual charming and energetic self, though she remained too shy to really warm up to anyone other than my grandmother.  Given more time she’d have no doubt demanded everyone allow her to treat them like jungle gyms.


We got to explore the old hotel a bit and see the work the new owners have been putting into restoring it.  A lot of walls and ceilings are being re-built, along with new plumbing and wiring.  The outside is being meticuloulsy repainted and a new fire escpae is at the ready to be installed.  I can’t wait to see how it looks when finished.


My aunt Leisa and uncle John drove out from Cayuga Lake and my uncle Jeff drove in from Buffalo and we explored a bit down by the river and collected fallen chestnuts from a tree Leisa had planted years ago.  It was funny to me to see the river so high – in the summers you could walk almost completely across on the exposed rocks.


Oona “helped” Leisa dump the wheel barrow full of weeds near the river bank.

Sunday we had more family out – Aunt Leslie, Uncle Jamie and cousin Tyler joined us for a stroll in the park.  I completely forgot my camera, so I had to use my Blackberry.  I think it actually took pretty decent pictures.  Tyler pointed out that the camera on his phone had just as many mega pixels as my good camera and that made me a bit sick to my stomach – and all the more determined to get a REAL camera sometime soon!


We focused our sightseeing on the water falls.  I’ve been there a million times but I always love it  – I could sit for hours just watching the falls and listening to the roar of the water.  Maddie, on the other hand,  likes to make faces.  (It’s ok – she was just being funny).


See the rainbow?


Leslie and I both think this waterfall – the Middle Falls – is the best.


There’s another hotel right here in the park – just above the Middle Falls.  One day I’d like to stay there – it’s just beautiful.


Check out Maddie’s Day-Glo pants.


This spot is called “Inspiration Point”.  I must have hundreds of photos of this spot, but I took another one anyway.  People get married at this spot – isn’t that lovely?  And then honeymoon at the Glen Iris Inn – that lovely old hotel above the falls.  Very romantic.

From there we took a little trail through the woods and came out at a visitor’s center and gift shop.  I bought a few small things, including a jar of “Letchworth State Park Chocolate River Rocks”.  They’re candy – coated chocolates that look exactly like little river rocks.  I kid you not.  Oona loves them (so do I, actually).  The thing is, they really really look like rocks.  One of these days Oona’s going to be out in the gravel driveway thinking she’s hit the chocolate mother load.

Anyway we had a wonderful, wonderful visit.  I really needed to be around my family and it was just what I needed.  The trip back was longer than the trip up, not just because that always seems to be the way of it, but traffic was heavier and we sat for nearly an hour trying to get through Selinsgrove, PA.  It didn’t help that we had quite a lot of wind noise from the passenger’s side window (bad seal, I think) and all we had was an fm radio – Maddie complained of “radio finger” from constantly having to scan through all the static to find a decent station all 9 hours.  We made it home safe and sound just as it was getting dark.

Paul had gotten home around 5 am Monday morning after a much later than anticipated start home.  He and the older girls of course were at his brother’s wedding.  Originally I had planned to go – had been looking forward to it – until we were told we couldn’t bring Oona (no small children allowed).  So, Paul and the older girls went and had a good time, though we were all very upset that the bride’s nephew – Oona’s age roughly – was there.  I can’t tell you how upsetting it is to know that no one cared that I was unable to attend because Oona was not allowed but the bride’s small nephew was more than welcome.   All I will say is that I learned to whom  I really matter this weekend, and it’s clearly my own family – they were fantastic and kept me from being too sad and upset about the whole thing.  I need to spend more time up north with them.

Now it’s back to routine – I have a house to clean and chickens that need tasty recipes for rotisserie read to them since they still have not produced a single egg.  AND – a little purry boy cat to find and cuddle!

My Little Boo

My sweet little Oona Boo dislocated her elbow today in a puddle rescue attempt gone wrong.  She hates puddles.  I tried to pick her up to carry her around it at the same time she was turning away to run in the other direction, and…..snap! Just a teeny, tiny little snap.  But it was enough.  She screamed a lot, and anytime she moved it caused her pain.  She kept pointed at her arm and saying What happen my arm? My poor girl.   Fortunately the doctor was able to pop it back into place and instantly my little Boo-ba Baby was back in action and then some.

This morning while we were laying in bed I was dozing a bit and she started yelling No!  No stop it!  Stop!!! and I woke up and asked her what was wrong.  She pointed to the tv where Dora was doing her “explora” thing and said Swiper grabbed it backpack! Funny girl.

She is currently scribbling little pictures onto colored paper and presenting them to me as gifts.  She’s all hopped up on the tamales Veronica made us.  It makes up for the loss of much needed time to get things done for the week.


Cuddles are better than clean dishes anyway.

Old Farm Day (Lots of Pics)

I hope all of you have had a great weekend – mine has been even more crazypants than usual.

On to Old Farm Day!

Our county has been doing this “little” event for a few years now.  Generally it’s been a small gathering of local farmers and craftspeople showing off their wares and giving demonstrations, along with typical fair food – pork pulled barbecue, funnel cakes.  You get the idea.  A miniature style county fair.  Or, a farmer’s market on steroids, if you will.  Each year it has grown considerably.  This year the 5 minute ride to the fields took us a little over 20 minutes.  The crowds were unbelievable.  It made me happy to see so many people turning out for the fun and investing in our local community.


Oona was thrilled that we went with Veronica and her two girls (husband Heath was out hunting – first day of the season here).


We spent some time looking at paintings and photographs in small tent galleries but Neve complained rather loudly and repeatedly that she was bored.  She perked up when this nice woman allowed her to try her hand at weaving a basket for a few turns.


Oona kept following around all the dogs and babies.  She was happy that she could pet the dogs (they were all ambassador dogs from local shelters) but not so happy we wouldn’t let her hold every baby we passed.


See Emily’s new haricut?


Pony rides!


Emily wants a pony now.  Doesn’t every little girl?


Pulled pork.  A “must” indulgence.  Sadly they were out of funnel cake when I went to buy some.  The crowds were far and beyond what anyone expected.


They DID have cotton candy, which made this little girl very happy.


And all of these little girls as well.


That’s my baby.  “I has some too pees mama?”


Livestock!  We got to feed the cow!


SHEEP!!!  Aren’t they beauties?  I wanted to take them all home with me.  As it turns out, they are for sale, but I still have no place for them to be sheltered so it’ll have to wait.


I don’t know this little girl, but she has an awfully cute llama.  I wanted to take him home, too.  Hmmmmmm………

So that was Old Farm Day.  We all got a bit of color, lots of fresh air, lots of bad-for-your-body but GREAT-for your-soul kind of foods, and some exercise running after Oona.  I got to drool over some ancient Farm All and Allis – Chalmers tractors and cute animals.  We would’ve stayed until they kicked us out, but we had a busy weekend!

My buddy from bus driving days, Hattie, came over (and brought us pizza, no less!!) and we caught up a bit, hung out in our new bus for a bit and had a great time.  Oona took to her right away.  It was a lovely and full day.

Today was equally as busy.  In the morning I headed out to the next town over to pick up some new babies.


There are 4 Barred Rock girls, and 2 Rhode Island Red Girls.  They are beauties, and they should be laying eggs any time now – you know, just like the girls I already had who’ve been overdue forever now.

That rooster in the forefront is poor rescue roo Berry, or Barry, depending on how you want to say it.  He was Veronica’s chicken and when they were babies the girls named “her” Berry.  Well, she’s no she.  And poor Barry was getting seriously picked on by their other roo, Papi, who has more testosterone than any MAN should, let alone rooster.  So, we agreed to take in poor beaten down Barry and he’s pretty happy with his new gals.

While they all got to know each other out in the tractor, Paul and I were busy builsing a new coop and run for the 10 we already had.


We got it all together and got them in it around dusk and I swear it was like they were new chickens, rolling around in the dirt to clean out their feathers, chasing each other playfully and clucking in appreciation.  The guineas were especially vocal.    I put the new babies into the old coop once I had it cleaned out and freshened up.  They’re in quarantine for a bit just to be sure.  I don’t think they really need to be, but it’s a safety thing.  Birds get nasty viruses from each other rather easily.  Eventually I’ll move 2 or 3 of our new girls in the bigger pen and then Barry will have the remaining 3 or 4 girls to himself in the older coop.  Unless I can get them to all live happily together in the bigger pen.  We’ll have to wait and see.  For now, my chickens are my babies.  Hopefully I’ll get my hands on a barn or barn – like structure before too long and I can get some dairy goats, fiber goats, sheep………………………………………………