Friday, June 24, 2016

Two for Four

We have most likely lost another one of our chickens. Blondie, the surprise-green-egg-layer, disappeared from our backyard yesterday in the late afternoon. There was no sign of any predators- a hawk would have left behind a messy scene, as would a fox or bobcat. She would have been pretty big prey for a hawk and I don't know how any larger predators would have scaled the 6' fence anyway. The greatest probability is that she ducked through a small gap under the fence to explore the neighbors' lawn and got attacked or lost. I searched as best I could in the adjacent yards, and kept checking late into the night for her return- even if she'd gone away, she should instinctively return to our coop after dark. This morning I search through all of the trees on and around our property in case she roosted up high up and couldn't get down. I keep glancing out back, hoping she may have returned and is pecking to get back into the run to drink some water, but by now there is almost no chance she's still around. Only a vague fantasy that she has decided to go join the neighbor's flock. I am sad, not as sad as if I had lost a pet- the chickens are definitely more of a livestock animal to us- but still sad that I won't see her pecking around the yard anymore. Natalie and Angela really liked her because she was friendly and very sweet and liked to squat down and let us pet her. Also, her eggs were just beginning to approach full size!

I couldn't sleep all night. I was filled with anxiety over the hopeless cause of man versus nature, of civilization conquering the jungle, of survival facing the wild. I kept worrying about Natalie or Angela getting attacked by an alligator or drowned from wandering off and falling into a pond. By morning, I was more myself, the anxiety present though weak.

I am now both annoyed and optimistic about getting a few more chicks. Chicks are needy and smelly and won't lay eggs for months... but, it's interesting/fun/challenging to consider which breeds we will get now that we have some experience. Perhaps the elegant and docile australop would best withstand the long, hot summer here. Then again, a white leghorn would stand out so nicely while foraging in the yard. Or there' the classic Orpington with its golden plumage. How will the flocks merge? Will the pecking order be smoothly established or will fights break out? Can we get them to last, to keep our flock at 4 chickens? What more can I do to keep them safe while allowing for plenty of free ranging for improved quality of life/economy/egg quality?

All I know for certain is this: For the closest living relatives to the T-Rex, chickens sure are vulnerable little stinkers.
Blondie on the right

EDIT: Blondie miraculously returned! She found her way back Saturday morning. It is truly amazing that she survived two nights outside. We're so happy!

In other news, summer storm season is HERE. Heavy rains pop up suddenly and frequently.

Last Saturday we had an especially strong storm, with tons of lightning, extremely heavy rain sustained for over an hour and winds up to 50mph.

Silly girls not knowing they ought to run for cover

 I recently read a book called "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up". It was pretty interesting. Her basic premise: Only keep items that spark joy within you. Throw away everything else. I think her method was a little impractical for me. I hang on to many, many things because they could be useful. That's just good thrift in my mind. Also, if I kept only clothing that brought me joy, I might end up throwing away every single item and become a nudist. That won't really work. I felt discouraged that I couldn't come up with more than a couple bags worth of stuff to get rid of. Part of it may be that we just moved so I've already weeded out a lot of the junk I owned. Also, our house is quite a bit bigger than we need right now, so closet space isn't exactly in high demand, so I don't feel much pressure to discard things. A few areas were very helpful to examine. I was able to sort through this tote of random computer-related items (which I was previously proud to have even gathered together into one box) and condense it into a box 1/3 the size.

Another thing I threw away- tons and tons of empty boxes!!! I was used to hanging onto boxes- moving boxes, diaper boxes, boxes that delicate objects came packaged in. It's part of the "I'm-gonna-move-soon" mindset that I've had for the last 9 years and I have finally decided to quit. I'm done looking forward to the next move and ready to just experience living in my home. I saved a few small ones, like shoe boxes, for organizing closets and such.

Another great victory: Our garage is officially 100% unpacked and de-junked. We moved all of our storables into the backyard sheds or into upstairs closets. We have now joined the 1% of Floridians without a garage full of storage. Yay! I should take a photo, I'm so proud. We have a 2-car garage that could actually fit 2 cars! Time to get another car, I guess :/

The most beautiful scene on earth: Small children cleaning up their mess without threats, raised voices or promise of a reward

For fathers' day we got Micah a chainsaw/pole saw tool to help him him get his yard work done much faster. We also got him an emergency radio/flashlight/hand-cranked or solar-powered cell phone charger. He went out and got himself a grill and cooked up some T-bone steaks on Sunday evening. He commented that he felt that his man score had increased significantly on this holiday, with the first power tool and grill additions to our household. The picture above is what Natalie brought home from primary. Glad to know she understands her dad's job about as well as I did mine at the age of 12.

Fruit and lemonade popsicles for FHE treat- another dessert inspired by Nerdy Nummies

At the latest free summer movie series- peanuts the movie! We ran into some friends and it was fun all sitting together at the theater. We have been to the movie theater more in the last 2 months than the previous 2 years!

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