Photo Salad

Some pictures that have no rhyme or reason other than I like them. . .as is evidenced by my deciding to take them, resize them, and post them.

Blog Clearing

It may not be evident if you’ve not been to our house, but Tony and I have been doing some clearing in the back. . .just to make a more gradual step from lawn to woods. We’re leaving some of the yaupon and American Beauty berries, though.

Blog Evening Light

Light shining through the trees over the chicken run and coop. . .Blog Evening Shadows. . .and the shadows that are created on the side of the house.

Blog Chicken Vertigo

I’ve entitled this one “Chicken Vertigo.” They were pecking at American Beauty berries that I’d thrown into the coop, but with the black and white on the Barred Rock, there is somewhat of a hypnotic effect.

Blog headless chickens

Same three hens doing their best impersonation of Marie Antionette. . .look, Ma. . .no heads. Really, they are all three preening their feathers. Prissy.

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It’s worth the effort though–pretty hens.

Blog Chicken Bokeh

I call this “Chicken Bokeh” from the blurred effect on the hens that are not in focus.

Blog Chicken Beauty

She’s a beauty.

Tra-la.

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Pre-Halloween

Both kids were invited to Halloween parties tonight, so after school they got all duded up in their outfits.  This year, we have a mythological being and a video game character. . .and a friend who was ALSO a video game character.

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Scorpion, a Creeper, and Medusa ready to rumble.

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Thad put his hands in his pockets, because Creepers have no arms.

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Creeper and Medusa taking a selfie.

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Medusa and her snaky companions.

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She wore sunglasses so as not to turn anyone into stone. . .so thoughtful.

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A little using the back of a cell phone action a la Percy Jackson.

When I went to pick up Thad (and Thomas), Thad heard me call him and called back, “Not yet!!!!”  Victoria called about 9:00 and asked if she could stay until 10:30 rather than 10:00.  I’d say they had a fun time.

Revolution

Victoria recently had her art chosen to feature in the fall art show at her high school.  This is her second year with her incredible teacher .  They did a project where they took a word and then represented it in three different ways.  They had to sketch black on white, then white on black, then use thread to sew part of their last sketch.  Victoria chose the word “Revolution.”  And, of course, every time I look at this, the Beatles song starts playing in my head. (I uploaded the actual art photos at a larger resolution, so click on them to see them bigger.)

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I made her put on a “nice” shirt. There MAY or may NOT have been a partial eye roll.

  Blog Victoria Art Show 10,2013 002  Blog 2 Victoria Art Show 10,2013 003Blog Victoria Art Show 10,2013 004This one is a little harder to see–it’s a girl with long hair and a VERY LARGE flower in front of her face.

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Victoria and her super cute and IMMENSELY talented art teacher. We love her!!!

AND Some special artwork from God as we left to go home.

Blog Victoria Art Show 10,2013 012Victoria has always loved creating and making things.  We are so proud of her and her determination to learn more about using this particular talent.  We are also very thankful for the blessing of a teacher who encourages her in what she loves to do.

Aygs*

Chickens lay eggs.  This you know.

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What you probably DON’T know is just how MANY eggs a group of eleven hens can lay in one month’s time with some if not all of them taking a day or two off each week.

One of the Girls making use of the ramp and The Sky Walk to go inside.

Excuse me.  I need to go and lay an egg now.  BRB.

Go ahead.  Guess.

Can't a girl get a little privacy?  Seriously.  I'm working here.

Can’t a girl get a little privacy? Seriously. I’m working here.

Here’s a hint.  We get anywhere from 6-10 eggs each day.  We’ve not gotten less than 6 in quite awhile but have yet to get 11.  Keep that in mind as I tell you a thing or two about chickens and their eggs.

Thing the first:  Hens do not need roosters to lay eggs.  I believe I’ve covered this before, but just in case, ’tis true.  Hens (like human females) are born with the total number of ovum they will ever possess all packed away in their little avian ovaries, but unlike human females who only release one (very tiny, miniscule) egg a month (although on occasion there might be two or three), most hens  lay about one egg  per day (with the occasional double or triple yolker–and those suckers are BIG).

Thing the second:  Would an egg of any other shell color taste as good as a brown egg?  Yes.  All eggs taste the same with the exception of fresh eggs possibly tasting a little “better” because they are fresher.  Brown, white, cream, pinkish, blue, AND green shelled eggs whether they are small, medium, large, or jumbo taste about the same.  If a hen eats a lot of a certain type of food, the yolks of her eggs can be much, much darker, but this does not normally affect the taste. (Although, if you feed your hens an exorbitant amount of onions or other strong tasting greens and foods, it CAN affect the taste.)

Thing the third:  Eggs last a LONG time and can be kept on the counter for short amounts of time.  Of course, they last longer if kept in the fridge, but some doomsday experts state that sealing an egg with wax or oil can keep it fresh for up to a year.  We don’t plan to try this–but I suppose it’s good to know.  If your fridge is PACKED for the holidays or a party, just put those eggs on the counter.  They are better for baking and scramble, mix, and froth (the whites) better when they are at room temperature anyway.

THIS is the number of eggs we have in our fridge right now.

THIS is the number of eggs we have in our fridge right now.  We gave some to our neighbors yesterday and are not hoarding them.  I promise.

This is the back side of a hen (no “guess what” jokes, please).

Eggs and chickens 9.13 139Victoria tells me that this is Rubye Mae (named after my Granny), and I can think of no finer specimen to carry that moniker.  Seriously.  I LOVE this picture.  Do you know WHY?  Because it shows (much like the ovum packed ovaries of fetal pullets/aka: future hens) how incredibly creative, thoughtful, and awesome God is.  This is a New Hampshire red.  She is perfectly suited to sit on a clutch of eggs–those downy soft feather will keep them warm and protected should she ever go broody (which she won’t unless we get a rooster). Her tail feather curve back perfectly to help create her chicken shape.  That is some serious soft right there.  Feather pillows, feather beds, feather duvets. . .geese aren’t the only fowl who can stuff a tick.  Rubye Mae, however, will keep all of her fluff for herself as I plan to pluck no chickens.

Okay.  Have you come up with a number?  Our hens started laying August 7th.  We know not who laid the first egg (although we DO know that the chicken came first), but here it is.  We were VERY excited.Frist egg 8.19.13 rsz

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Later in the month of August, some of the different colors of shells.

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I know that one egg looks either lavender or gray, but it is tan with a chalky coating on it. You can get up close and personal with the array of hues if you click on the pic.

Tony discovered that our red hens are laying the eggs with the chalky coating.  He said it is called “bloom.”  It is a natural coating that is on eggs when they are first laid.

Okay. . .any guesses as to how many eggs 11 hens can lay in one month?  Well, in the month of August with only one hen laying starting on the 7th and the others joining in fits and starts, we got a grand total of.

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For the month of September the hens totaled out at 256 (no including some misfires in the form of soft-shelled eggs and one that was just plain wonky–it looked like a hen drawn by Dr. Seuss laid it.)  So far in October we have 126 which puts us on track for 250+ again this month.  Of course, the time is changing, so Tony is trying a “trick” to keep the girls laying a bit longer by having the coop light on a timer so it stays on for a bit after they come in for the night and turns on a little earlier than the sun actually rises.  I’ll keep you posted.  In the mean time, how about an omelet.

*There are many, MANY words I heard pronounced as a child that do not strictly adhere to the rules of (American) English phonics.  I spent a large portion of my early childhood wondering why on Earth a soldier of Christ who had gone through all the trouble of arising AND o’ercoming through Christ alone would want to “stand in tar at last.”  Tar is hot. . .and sticks to your feet, and tires, and makes gravel from newly paved roads adhere to a paint job as though attached with super glue.  Seriously!  It took a bit before I realized that the word was “entire” and that standing in tar was not required of soldiers of Christ or any other cohort.  Eggs was yet another word that rattles around in my memory as being pronounced “aygs.”  It was REALLY more like “aaayyygs.”  Rubye Mae said it that way.  She also let her aygs come to room temperature before making meringue (which Daddy told me was calf slobber. . .OH, The South!) and her (world class) divinity.

ALSO, FYI a website has to say this about storing eggs:

Storing Eggs
Store your eggs pointy end down to keep the yolks nicely centered.
Keep them in an enclosed carton for longer freshness.
And don’t forget to keep your eggs refrigerated – an egg kept at room temperature ages the same amount in one day as a refrigerated egg ages in an entire week.

The Girls

As you recall, back in mid-March we took a trip to get our newest family members.

Day One on the trip home

Day One on the trip home

While the chicks seemed to enjoy their sojourn in the large cardboard box in the breakfast room, they were finally large enough to move to the coop by the end of April.

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You will notice the VERY clean shavings. . .not so anymore.

Eventually, the girls were out in the run every day.  Their combs and wattles began to come in, and they generally took on a more chicken-ish appearance.  Here they are during their awkward adolescent phase–a little skinny and gangly with a “trainer” comb.

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And here is the entire flock just a couple of weeks ago–all filled out and reminding me of a certain scene from “The Music Man.”

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“Pick a little, talk a little, pick a little, talk a little, pick, pick, pick talk a lot, pick a little more.”

pickalittle

I hope the costume department won an award, because this group of ladies DOES look like a flock of pecking hens.

For a comparison of how our girls have grown–here are the two blondes as I call them (they are really Buff Leghorns) shortly after graduating from college.  Young lady hens, if you will; sleek, fresh-feathered, ready to take on the world with their JCrew caramel sweater sets and their smart, red caps.

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The one in back is Lacy, and the one in front is Macy.

Fast forward about 6 weeks, and Macy is sporting an impressive comb.  She’s very chic.

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Here is one of the Barred Plymouth Rocks. These are not my favorite hens as they tend to be somewhat aggressive at times.  Her comb, however, is brilliant red (if a bit dusty) and lets you know she is a healthy hen for sure. This is either Bobby, Esther, or Lolly–probably not Lolly as her comb isn’t this spectacular.

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When we first brought the babies home, there was much interest in the coloring of two in particular.  The one in the center of the photo that looks speckled almost–brown, black and white splotches–is our Silver Campine, Alpha.

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And here is Alpha today.  She has blue feet and HUGE eyes for a chicken.  She is the smallest one we have, and lays small, white eggs.

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My personal favorite was Hazel–the lovely little striped pullet.  I think she pulled at my heart strings, because she reminded me of Charlie.  She could be a house sparrow if she weren’t a chicken.

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Here is Hazel today.  Isn’t her coloring amazing?  Unfortunately, and though she is one of the larger birds, Hazel ended up at the bottom of the pecking order.  Literally.  She has been pecked and plucked and chased and squawked at since we moved the hens into the run.  We make sure she gets plenty of treats though.

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This is Morgan.  She is the Diva of the bunch–no ones’ feathers are a shiny with oil–no one has quite the exotic beauty.  She knows it too.

There is nothing little about our red hens.

There is nothing little about our red hens.

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I absolutely love this picture!!!

When I mentioned aggressive chickens earlier, I was not kidding.  For some reason, chickens LOVE to peck at toe nails and shorts hems and arm hair and freckles  on legs–namely mine.  This is not fun, nor is it comfortable. The toe nail pecking was the WORST. For the longest time my “chicken run shoes” were a pair of flip flops.  One does not walk into the run with unshod feet lest one plans to step in chicken leavings.  Chickens leave a LOT of leavings.  So–old flip flops it was.  They would peck, and peck, and peck at my toenails–not a moment’s peace did I have and it’s none too comfortable either.  I got a  Chicken Stick with which to shoo them away, but they would sneak up behind me or under my chair.  (We take lawn chairs into the run at times just to sit and enjoy the activity.)  I finally dug these out of my closet.  They are my Chicken Coop Protective Footwear.  Now my toes can rest easy.

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Blog Pecking

Victoria doesn’t seem to mind the pecking on her toes or the poo between them as much as I do.

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For now, it’s time to fly.  In our next installment:  Chickens and Other Things They Lay Besides Poo.