Thursday, October 30, 2014

Death's Heavy Hand

I'm quite certain there are plenty of you who routinely say, "Not the chickens again!" But indeed, it is the chickens again, with a heavy heart. Some background…

The coop we purchased at Sam's Club almost immediately started to fall apart. When we found we could return it for a full refund, crazy huh?, we set out to turn our old playset into a new home for the Peeps.

It took us a few weeks, not fast workers, but we completed it, and had helpers along the way. Honestly, while hard work, it was fun.

Lovely shade of Tardis blue, is it not? It was roomier than their old coop and they seemed to like it. Certainly everyone, save Putin, went to bed much easier than before.

We designed it to have a run on the other side, knowing that as it got colder, and food more scarce, someone out there would consider the birds a fine Winter feast. And as they were escaping more and more to the neighbor's yard, we thought a containment protocol was in order. We framed it last week but had not completed it.

We thought we had time.

Then yesterday I returned home and found poor Attila the Hen lying dead, her throat ripped out.

Everyone else had escaped whatever killed her and hidden under the stairs or in the neighbor's yard. After some coaxing, they all came out. I determined that I would hang around the house today, checking routinely to ensure the flock's safety, with the idea that Friday we would finish the run.

That worked for all of 30 minutes. My first patrol, I found Putin and one of the Koch Brothers missing.

She was always my favorite. The Koch Brother was also 
a Barred Rock and looked like yesterday's victim.

The three survivors were huddled in the coop, looking terrified. For their own safety, I've locked them in. They aren't real happy about it but seeing as there is only three of them, they have plenty of space for the day

So RIP Attila, Putin and Koch Brother, we'll miss you.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Indian Summer Day

Our poor, old deck is slated as our next home improvement project.

We're pretty  sure it is from the early 90's, maybe even the 80's. The boards are getting soft and the outer edges have acquired a rakish tilt. It is time for it to go.

So we have started the process of getting bids for the new, improved deck. We're planning to make it a rectangle, rather than its current shape. While interesting, the design we have now has many wasted corners and useless steps.

The Chippendale railings will be replaced with steel cables, like this:

This should improve visibility immensely.

The deck also faces east and before 3pm, it is generally too sunny and hot to be out there. So we are planning to add a pergola over one area, hopefully adding shade early in the day and possibly something on which to hang some curtains, if needed.

And just because we want to dream big, the piece de resistance, we are planning to add a hot tub. As we are feeling our age daily, there is nothing that sounds more delightful than a hot soak after a long walk. (We just plan on the hot tub, not a pool.)

After listing out our desired features, the ballpark we are going to be in is looking a little eye-popping, so we will see if we get our full list when the final numbers come in. Today was 80 and sunny, showing off the view that makes such a project even seem reasonable.

Here's to hoping for agreeable weather when we get the estimate!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Maggie at Cotillion

When we received the email that they were restarting Cotillion in Roanoke, Maggie could not have been more excited. After two sessions, not so much.

She has determined it is boring, much the same reaction her sister had two years ago. Mags was not at all impressed with the section on manners where the boys would get them a drink and plate of food, confident she did not need their help. We explained that it was a kindness, much like when Tim opens a door for me, it is not meant to imply I cannot do it myself, but as a gesture of love. "Whatever, it is still boring."At least we have a few cute pictures.

Looking thrilled.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Hike Gone Sideways

On paper, it all looked great. We were going to Read Mountain with E's boy scout den. It was a leisurely four mile round trip hike - about two hours.

We started strong and happy.

We set off up the mountain. These guys were energetic and ready for action!

Here ad there we saw some pretty views.

But somewhere along the way, we lost our way. Probably, we shouldn't have had the pack of nine year old boys leading, but we realized it had been some time since we had seen a trail blaze. But we thought we were doing ok. Until it became abundantly clear that we were no where near a trail.

We were now hiking through this.

And by this, I mean slippery slopes, full of thorny vines. [By the by, if  you are about to fall on your ass, I do not recommend grabbing said vines. They hurt.]

We slipped our way down the mountain and there were some tears. Morrigan, at one point, requested we just leave her, as she could not make it.

Made it we all did, eventually ending up on private property, with signs abound telling us to KEEP OUT, and then having to wander through a subdivision for a mile to get back to our cars, but we survived, and have a better story for it.

Red Ribbon Dance

Yesterday Maggie went to her first middle school dance. [Morrigan opted out as many 8th graders do. We made pizza and watched Scream together instead.] I offered to take her shopping for a new outfit, but she insisted a dress she already owned was fine. I also offered to help her curl her hair but, still emotionally scarred from an accidental ear burning as a young girl, she refused. Whatever Maggie.

It was not until we picked up her compatriots, we've learned that one wants to arrive to these gigs in a pack, did I realize everyone was wearing red. Some sort of tie in with the Red Ribbon Week anti drug stuff. Just say no!

Maggie was especially pleased that, without planning it, she and Megan had on exactly opposite black and red outfits. She came home tired and happy, insisting that she did not dance with any boys, because eww.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Pumpkin Carving

After sitting on the counter for a week, we finally got around to carving the pumpkins. Everyone started off with gusto.

Eion was the first done. Can you tell?

I think he was mostly in it for the dessert and roasted pumpkin seeds. Maggie lasted longer but soon tired of the whole process, leaving me to finish her partially done creation.

Morrigan was by far the most meticulous and detail orientated. She finished last but had the best looking product in spite of having to work around a soft spot on one side of her pumpkin.

And everyone enjoyed the roasted pumpkin seeds!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

On Contacts and Clippings

So it's been quite a school year. And as the kids get older and more connected to the online world, the number of topics about which I am willing to blog gets smaller and smaller. It is all well and good to write all about their misadventures when they are five and none of their friends will read it. When you're thirteen, well, it gets much more dicey. Not to mention that sometimes there is just shit going down that I don't want to share with the whole wide world, as unreal as that seems.

But, a big but, I know that there are people (grandparents) who like to keep up with the kiddos and I love that they can have a regular look into our lives even though they are physically far away. So I'll try to be in here on a more regular basis. And if it seems that all you are getting is sunshine and rainbows, and occasionally unicorns, it is a heavy self censorship. Never think it is too perfect around here, even if I don't tell you about it. Believe me, things are routinely falling apart around here.

I'm also threatening to do more food blogging, though I'll confine that to my other, long dormant, blog, It's Not Cheap, It's Garde Manger. If you're so inclined, check in there for all the food we've been eating. Or not. I may just be issuing idle threats and have you checking in on two separate blogs only to find I am a woefully poor correspondent on both.

But enough with the self loathing! We do have issues of importance 'round here.

Because you know you want one, a chicken update.

The Peepers found a way to escape their confinement by hopping onto the stair railing and then setting out into the world.

The would go a-foraging in the planter boxes filled with lemon balm and, presumably, bugs and worms. Sadly, one of the black birds was always left behind. We wondered why she would stay when the others broke out and determined she was the Peep who was, earlier this year, the hawk attack victim. She apparently sustained injuries that prevent her from flying. The poor girl would fuss about it as everyone else expanded their territory.

It was mostly funny until they took over our neighbor's yard. Daily they would escape and invade an ever expanding portion of the yard next door until they were showing up on their doorstep. It was time for some action.

A quick search of the interwebs let me know that you could clip their wings just like you can smaller birds. Before you get all PETA on me, please note this only entails cutting feathers, which are like hair in that they have no feeling. Operation Peeper Confinement has thus far been a great success for us, I have a feeling they disagree.

Maggie is going to her first middle school dance on Friday. Morrigan has decided she is so over these and is staying home. Her older sister's plans almost made Mags bail out too but we're glad she decided to give it a chance.

And the top news item of the week, Morrigan was fitted for contacts this week! They are more expensive but we opted for the daily disposables. I remember what a blessing those were for me and couldn't imagine dealing with the cleaning etc again. As I think is the case with most people, she looks better without her glasses and we are happy to see her pretty eyes!