The Chicks Have Landed!!

My baby chicks were born on Monday morning in Ohio! I watched the online USPS tracking so carefully. I was much more nervous about these chicks than I was the last time I ordered them (probably more than 10 years ago.)

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Sure enough, right at 7am on Wednesday morning, I got the call from the post office–my chicks had arrived! I had already been up for several hours, and was dressed and ready to go out the door!

Back in the chicken coop, their light had already been on for a whole day, so their “brooder” was nice and warm. I took each one out, dipped its beak in the water dish, and showed them where their food was. Sadly, one little baby didn’t make it. But that is so much better than my imagination, where I thought that half of them would arrive dead! The box they came in had straw in the bottom, with one of those chemical warmers below it to keep them warm.

See that green stuff there? That’s called gro-gel. Its supposed to help them with electrolytes and hydration–hey, just like the gel things that runners use 🙂 They really liked it.

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Here is my favorite chick–that silvery grey one with feathers on her feet. I ordered some blue cochins. The color blue does not breed true in chickens–some will come out black, some blue, and some “splash”–a combo of black and white. In my imagination, she is the perfect blue cochin (cochins are the fluffy ones with feathers on their feet.)DSCN5154

This shot shows the two Polish chicks–they are the ones who have feather topknots when they grow up. You can see they already have funny little round crowns on their heads.

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I think they snuck in a Rhode Island Red Rooster on me. I ordered three New Hampshire Reds, which I think are a nicer bird–much calmer. This little guy is redder, and very bossy.

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The brown splotchy chicks are Speckled Sussex, and the kind of mottled beige/grey ones are Appenzeller Spitzhauben–the national chicken of Switzerland! They end up white with black dots on them.

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Its been a pretty intense couple of days. I run out and check on them numerous times a day. And honestly I just enjoy sitting there watching them. I brought one of my comfy patio chairs into the coop to sit on. Several of the chicks got “pasty butt.” Its just what you imagine. Their little poops turn to HARD PASTE, and then it glues their little bottom shut, and it can kill them. So all the books say to use a wet cloth to remove the paste. But it is really hard, and of course sticks to their down. I don’t like doing it, and kept thinking, if this was one of my neonatal babies, we’d put something on them to protect their little butts. Well, I called the company, and asked if there was anything else I could do for pasty butt, and guess what?! The lady said to put a little dab of vaseline on there. How about that? As of this morning, all the little pasty butts look like they are cured!

Yesterday we had one more fatality. I checked the chicks–all looked fine and lively,  and then left for a couple of hours to go to the gym and to get the all important vaseline. When I came home, one of the chicks wasn’t moving, and it wasn’t even one of the ones who had pasty butt. I tried to give it a little water, but it died shortly after. That is the way with chickens. Unfortunately, it was one of the more expensive chicks, and one I really wanted (well, LOL, I want all of them.) Anyway, it was one of the Copper Black Marans, which lay dark chocolate brown eggs. I still have two of them, and hopefully they will both make it.

And that’s the chicken report for today. I’m sure there will be another update soon 🙂

Noah’s Turn

HELLO TO MY WORLD WIDE FANS! I heard that a few of you were concerned about not seeing me in the blog world for a while. No worries, no worries. Its just easier for the lady to take pictures of the pesky mites because they stay in the building 99% of the time.

THIS is my kingdom. The entire outdoors. What more could a big dog want? While the self-appointed Queen scrambles to keep her inside kingdom in order, I have the outdoor universe all to myself.

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I keep a close watch for enemy activity. There is particularly suspicious activity in this direction.

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But I also keep watch the other direction as well. You never know where an enemy attack might come from. MUST BE ON ALERT AT ALL TIMES.

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Ha! Sometimes I watch from my camouflaged location.

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The lady provides fresh water in my favorite king-sized bowl.

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OH! Excuse me fans! What seems to be going on over there??

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The viscous pugs have decided to play!!

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Maybe I’ll join in the activity!

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Oh. That ended quickly. They’re back to the inside kingdom.

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And here, folks, is my magnificent sleeping room. Complete with full sized sofa for winter lounging.

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The best of both worlds. When I feel like it, I just come inside. My favorite thing is to plop down between the two chairs. The pesky mites are afraid to go by me. Its quite amusing. HAHAHAHAHA!!!

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When its really hot, I can stretch out on the cool floor.

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But my favorite spot, and I must admit, that as I age, I spend an inordinate amount of time here, is my summer throne! Its just perfect. And the lady has located it so that I can still keep an eagle eye out for possible enemy attack.

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Thanks for your continued interest and adoration. But no need to worry about me. The pesky mites have to fight for lap time from the lady. All I have to do is come and lean against her, or put my big head in her lap, and I have her complete attention.

All my love, NOAH the MAGNIFICENT!

This Week in the Garden

 

Well, lets start out with the biggest change in the garden this week–the new drip/watering system! After MLG installed it, I played with the settings, and got them all set to go off in the three different areas of the garden at 8 am each morning. So each morning I scamper out to stare at the little mini-sprinklers and see how they are doing. It will take a little time for me to learn just how much water each area needs. I have already found a few places that need more sprinklers.

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The foxgloves are just crazy big and tall and wonderful this year. In the past I have had to stake them up, but I haven’t done a thing with these. They seem to be holding their own.

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A close-up of their wonderful coloration:

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The new old iris!

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These pincushion flowers are doing well. I have a reader to thank for telling me to mulch them over the winter. All three plants made it through and are doing so much better than last year.

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This is the rose I got from J&P last year (that I complained about so much.) It seems to be very healthy and growing well. It smells delicious, and is pink. What more could I want?

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The Grocery Outlet roses (paid $3-5 for them.)

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These campanula are small but make a big impact with their big volume of blooms! I have them in several places in the garden.

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So. Last year I bought a nice little compact plant at the nursery with pretty pink blooms. But it was about done blooming and that was it. This year, in the same place, this multitude of single stems grew up. I really was not sure whether they were the same plant or maybe some weed. Turns out they were, and I am going to get a ton of blooms from them, if the buds are any indication. They are Mexican Evening Primrose. Hmmm. Just read up on them–can be aggressively invasive. They will fit right in with the violets and the fairy impatiens 🙂 Snapdragons in the background.

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This is the rose I got last summer in a four inch pot. Its on its own rootstock, not like most roses. I took this picture so you can see the multitude of blooms that it will have. Also, you can see some of Noah’s hair there…

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Back to the other side of the garden–this is the same rose that I showed at the beginning of the post, but now at the end of its bloom–still beautiful.

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And a last shot of the foxglove flower bed.

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The garden is good for getting me outside a bit every day, and getting in quite a bit of functional exercise. This morning I swept and then washed down ALL of the stone paths. And that’s the garden report for this week!

P.S. My baby chicks have been shipped!! I will be back soon with a different kind of report :))

My Healthy Life

Hmmm. I said I’d write this post weeks ago. I have thought about it ever since then, but avoided putting it to paper. I remember when I started this blog. I couldn’t stop talking about healthy food, exercise, weight loss, weight maintenance. It was a relief to have an online group of friends who were interested in the same things. I didn’t have to worry about people rolling their eyes back in their heads as I prattled on enthusiastically about all this stuff. Well, its been twelve years since I first darkened the W.W. doorway, and ten years since I started “maintaining.” Yeah, that maintaining is in quotes, because for me maintaining has been a bit of a roller coaster. Up thirteen, back down to 100 lost. Up 25, back down to 100 lost. Now, currently, up 40. So that’s still a net loss of 60 pounds. And I tell myself that that is a lot better than almost every study I’ve read, which usually ends with the participants losing an average of 17 pounds over a year’s time. Most of those studies conclude after that one year period. Their information is basically useless for me.  If you only study what helps people to lose weight without studying what helps them to maintain that loss, you are providing false hope for so many people.

So…about what is working for me now in living the healthiest life possible at age 62. So many of the good practices and habits that I have learned about and applied over the years has stuck.

Food: From W.W. I learned about the evils of high fat foods (I don’t necessarily believe this any more.) But eating low fat is a way of life that has stuck. I enjoy the fresh taste of most foods without added fat.

From my personal trainer, Vickie, I learned about so many new healthful foods. I got a little more adventurous in my food choices. And I learned that good fats make food taste better 🙂

From friends, the internet, other bloggers, books, maybe even Dr. Phil(!) I learned lots of new ways of keeping fresh foods available, new recipes, new healthy food combos. I love to cook and experiment with food.

So now, I still shop the perimeter of the store (where all the whole foods are kept,) I almost always eat fresh vegetables and fruit. The meat I eat right now is salmon, chicken, and ground turkey. Just my current fav’s.

I try to listen to what my body is asking for. I’ve noticed that I am not as hungry in the morning as I used to be. So my breakfast is usually 2-300 calories, and that is enough to satisfy me until lunchtime.

I try to have a vegetable with every lunch. If I remember, I like roasting green beans, cauliflower, beets, rutabaga, or butternut squash. Lately, my favorite lunch is a simple strawberry smoothie. I get it ready and drink it on the way to the gym. 1 cup yogurt, 1 cup strawberries, spinach, splenda, cinnamon and vanilla. Very satisfying! Oh, that reminds me. That is one thing I have changed. For better or worse, I changed to using whole milk for my homemade yogurt. And I started using real butter sometimes. Do you want to know what I still do with that? When I put a new cube of butter in the butter dish, I mark the top in 8 even slices. That way I know how much a tablespoon is, and I can use 1/3 of that marked piece for a teaspoon.

I look forward to my afternoon coffee break every day, and I will admit that I still have a protein bar (Quest or Oh Yeah) with that coffee. These bars have 20 grams of protein in them. So that means dinner is usually simple and light. Most nights its meat and a vegetable. Most nights dinner is about 300 calories.  But who’s counting? 🙂 I am not logging my foods right now, but there is always a running total going on in my head. I am eating between 1400 and 1800 calories a day.

Lastly, I really enjoy having one diet Coke, a bowl of Skinny Pop popcorn and a small piece of chocolate after dinner.

So, you can see that although my food choices are not 100 per cent optimal, I eat a very healthy diet. I didn’t talk about grains, but I do have pasta very occasionally, granola on my yogurt sometimes, and of course, almost always breakfast includes some sort of whole grain. I don’t try to stay wheat free any more (wheat tastes good 🙂 ), and I do have sugar occasionally.

Cutting back to lose some weight would be great. But that is not happening right now. So continuing to make healthy choices every day is a good thing.

Exercise: as I’ve said before, exercise is very important to me. That said, I will admit that my knee REALLY hurts, and many other parts hurt as well. So I avoid walking, and my walks with my dogs have become shorter and shorter. All this is a good reminder to me that I really do need that knee surgery. Which is scheduled for July! I decided that I really wanted to get my baby chicks first, and they are coming in a week! I can hardly wait (for the chicks 🙂 ) This will probably turn into a chicken blog very soon.

When I take a walk and everything hurts so much, that makes me feel bad about myself. It makes me feel like I am a failure and that if I kept my weight down, I wouldn’t hurt and would be a more successful person. Intellectually I know that is not true. But that’s what it makes me feel like. So that is one reason I have had trouble writing this.

I love going to the gym and exercising hard. The bike doesn’t hurt, and running in the pool and swimming doesn’t hurt. The weight machines don’t hurt in a bad way, and I am working on increasing my upper body strength in preparation for my knee surgery. I go to the gym three days a week, and I’m thinking about increasing that to four days until I have the surgery. It just takes a big chunk of time out of the middle of my day, so that’s why I only go three days right now.

Sleep: Well, that is hit and miss. I know that my older friends (haha, I’m fast becoming one of them) cut out caffeine more and more. So far I’m not willing to give up my afternoon coffee and my evening diet Coke. But I go to bed at a normal time and wake up at a normal time. I rarely set an alarm. It seems like 7 hours is good for me. Sometimes a take a melatonin before bed if my mind is racing or I have not slept well for a few nights.

For a retired person, I think I have a fairly disciplined life. I start every day doing some sort of housework. And then I spend a large amount of time every day working on my art in my studio. When I am done in the studio, that is usually when I go to the gym or take the dogs for a walk. I spend most of the evening working on my quilted embroidery. Of course, I work a bit in the garden every day. I could do a lot more out there, but bending over… well, you know.

I hope this review is helpful for someone. I know it was helpful for me to think about all the healthy habits I have worked on and maintained over the years. I personally think that it is much healthier to eat well, exercise, and get a decent amount of sleep even if you never achieve your “ideal” weight.

Garden Stuff

A few days after I shared the pictures of the beautiful blooms of the flowering cherry, I went out for a walk, and this is what I saw:

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Fleeting beauty, that’s what plants are.

In the background you can see those tall money plants. I had eight of them planted in various areas in the garden. I could see all their “money” seed pods starting to grow. And I could see why they would spread everywhere and why some people considered them a weed. I did not want a whole garden full of money plants. When I bought the seeds, the seed packet did not make them look five feet tall. And I did not like them well enough to keep them. So one day last week, I went out and uprooted ALL of them. They were blocking the view of some of the plants I really wanted to see.  I re-planted three of them outside the garden, in the forest, and if they grow there, fine. I will have a whole forest full of flowers in a couple of years. More deer food 🙂

These plants are so pretty! Lime green leaves with deep brilliant purple blooms. They seem to do well without a lot of sunlight. Sorry, I can’t remember the name.

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I am working on replenishing the shade garden. And for some reason, Noah has chosen to dig large holes here. So this is my attempt to deter him. You can see the little half-stomped heuchera there. I have a hard enough time with heucheras without Noah stomping on them. I got a couple of “Kong” coleus at the nursery because they were colorful. And that fern there–I’ve got high hopes for it. Its a maidenhair fern, but its from Australia, and its hardy to -9 degrees! and of course I had to get some of my favorite corsican mint. I don’t think I’ve ever planted it here–we’ll see how it does. Those spiky things growing there are, I think, the mini calla lilies that I planted last year.

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And lookie!!! The foxgloves have started to bloom. And can you see the surprise bloom in front of them?? Its an iris that I planted about four years ago that’s never bloomed. I was going to dig it up and throw it away last year, but decided to give it one last chance. I can hardly wait to see what color it is–its been so long I can’t remember what I bought.

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Yesterday I took a quick trip to the bay area to see my mom. I managed to fit in a very quick stop at my favorite Livermore nursery, Alden Lane. Just a beautiful place to explore.

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I only bought one plant for myself–one more addition for the shade garden. Its called a Jacob’s Ladder, and evidently its supposed to have some nice blooms. I bought it because I like the foliage.

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I am keeping busy, moving plants and other heavy garden things. Endless weeding continues. Lots of functional exercise going on! Hopefully I’ll have more to show you in a week or two.

Garden Report

The cherry tree! I remembered how, when I worked, I would take a walk on my lunch break, and go and stand underneath these two beautiful cherry trees. Those two trees were the inspiration for me to buy this tree. So I went out and stood under my cherry tree and tried to get some good shots. This is a flowering cherry (no fruit) and the blossoms are huge and fluffy. And pink 🙂

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I got a better picture of the fringed tulip. These were spectacular. I will be getting more tulips and daffodils from that John Scheepers company. All of the bulbs I ordered grew and bloomed. The daffodil, Narcissus Golden Echo, lasted forever! I went back and re-read the description, and one of the things they said about it was that it was “incredibly long lasting.”

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Then I walked over to get a picture of the lily-flowering tulips.

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I found a few pansies that Noah had not plundered!

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I turned around and thought that I’d take a couple of long views of the garden to share with you. the Japanese maples just glow in the early spring.

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And lastly, encouraged by Shelley’s new purchase, I bought myself a bougainvillea! Put it in one of my leftover big pots, and placed it near the fence. MLG even pruned up a couple of low hanging oak branches so it could get more sun. It will be an annual here, because it is not frost hardy. We had one when I was a kid in the Bay Area, and it covered our entire porch! I loved it.

Oh, and I couldn’t get a picture of it without the “Pile of things we might need someday” in the background… if the bougainvillea grows well, it might be able to hide that pile 🙂

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And that’s the garden report for the week. A garden this size takes a lot of time in the spring. I have spent a lot of time weeding and pruning and raking in the past few weeks, and very little time planting. I’m definitely getting quite a bit of that functional exercise!

P.S. I have to share a couple of pictures of the little girls. Every day I spend some time in the studio. The girls seem to enjoy spending time in their beds snoring while I stitch. Sophie, Bess, and Chloe got new sparkly collars. I looked at tons of collars, and finally figured out that the customized ones with their names on them were the most economical option!

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Little Fuzz (Zoey) likes to have a bed all to herself if possible.

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Something New!

Last Saturday I did something I’d been thinking about for years. I went to a bonsai class. Now I’ve loved bonsai since I was a kid. And when I moved back to California in 1986, I took classes from a bonsai master while I was in the Bay Area. Then I moved up here to the foothills, where its hot and dry all summer. Between the heat and the deer, I eventually gave up on my bonsai. Periodically over the years, I would buy little trees, and in fact I have quite a few right now still in pots. But bigger pots, where the roots won’t dry out so easily.

There’s been a notice on the checkout desk at the local nursery for years–bonsai class fourth Saturday of each month. FINALLY, I remembered to copy down the phone number, wrote it on my calendar, and actually went to the class. One of the motivating factors was this new drip watering system that we’ve put in. (That’s the royal we–MLG actually put it in.) When I was buying parts for the system, I saw “misters,” and actually bought a package. Those would be perfect for bonsai, I thought.

Anyway, off I went to bonsai class, and it was more wonderful than I could have imagined! The flyer said the teacher had some nursery stock for beginners to buy. I pictured a table with about 5 straggly plants on it. NO! He had probably an acre of bonsai trees of every type and style. Of course, the first two I picked out were “not for sale” and $300.00. Then I settled down and picked out a nice little tree for $20, including the nice pot! It is a Norway Spruce.

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There was a young woman there who was so friendly. We ended up sitting together and chatting quite a bit. (Side note: she is a world class power lifter–her deadlift is 440 pounds when she weighed 130 pounds!!) I went looking at more trees with her, and picked up a little Dwarf Persimmon, just because it was so cute, for only $5.

The teacher was excellent–gave two demos, and then spent time with each student individually. He is about 70 years old, and has been passionate about bonsai since he was 14 years old! He told the story of going to the state fair as a kid with his sheep, and seeing a bonsai master giving demonstrations, and said he spent more time at the bonsai booth than in the barn! There was also a man there who had a lot of experience with bonsai and we chatted a bit. He mentioned taking his daughter for horseback riding lessons in a nearby town.

This whole experience was so energizing, I can’t explain it. After I left, I had the thought that I was going to ask Dr. P if I could take horseback riding lessons after my knee heals! Another childhood interest that I gave up on. And the next day, while sitting in church, I had the thought that I might get a cello, and re-learn how to play. I played cello from third grade through being a senior in high school, and then foolishly sold my cello. Although, thinking back, I’m not sure it was foolish, because it might have sat and collected dust for many years…

Anyway, I don’t often try new things. There is only so much time in life for various interests. But this was such a great experience, I just might be more open to new experiences in the future.