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 🙂

The Garden and the Chicken Coop

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Let’s start with some pansies! I got so tired of Noah (and now Chloe) eating all the pansies that I decided to haul this big pot outside the fenced yard. Better to feed the deer than be irritated at my dogs. I found a little piece of portable fencing to try to protect it from the deer. Within a few days, there were a million blooms!

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I am so happy that the lilac is blooming so well this year. Last summer MLG, with my direction, did quite a bit of pruning. They say that lilacs don’t particularly like pruning. I guess we did a good job!

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Most of the blooms are too high for me to touch, but this is the best its bloomed in years. I am happy.

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And now inside the yard and to the right. Those tall plants are the money plants. They are way taller than I thought they would be. Their blooms aren’t anything spectacular, but its nice to see blooms early in the season. I like the shape of the plants and the leaves are very pretty.

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Here’s a close-up of the fringed tulips in that bed.

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The flowering cherry is blooming.

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And the Japanese maples look so pretty when the leaves first come out.

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I can hardly wait for these foxgloves to bloom!

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Another view of more Japanese maples. You can see my car there, and a truck behind it.

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The truck belongs to J. the Contractor. Yes! The time finally arrived for the construction of the chicken coop. He and his helper were here for an entire week working on the house and yards! Here is the coop with the first yard that was built between the wood shed and the coop.

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Nest boxes can be accessed from the outside, and are built at just the right height for me–no need to bend over 🙂

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Nest boxes from inside the coop. The rail in front can be removed for easy cleaning.

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And a little ramp for the chickens to get outside each morning. There is a sliding door (that I can close from outside) to keep them safe each night.

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I started worrying that the yard we planned would not be big enough for the chickens, so I asked J. to build a second yard behind the coop. Both yards are connected by a simple gate. You can see my house behind the coop, so you know where its located. I like that I will be able to look out my kitchen window and my studio windows and see the chickens.

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And I thought I’d end with a lovely neighborly story. My neighbor is a wonderful gardener. Over the years she has shared many vegetables with me. This year she planted a lot of tulips. And twice, before a big storm hit, she has gathered some tulips and brought me a beautiful bouquet.

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I wanted to show you the white interior of these dark tulips–so dramatic! Tulips last a long time in the house–who knew?!

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Here and There

First of all, thank you so much for all of the encouraging comments on my last post. Each success story builds my confidence and erodes some of my trepidation for my knee surgery. I do have a plan now. I am going to keep my schedule open in March and April, hoping that there will be a cancellation so that I can get in then. Otherwise, I will wait till the end of July so that I can get my chicks raised to a safe age.

After visiting one “rehab” center, which was nothing more than a nursing home (depressing) I formulated a plan to come straight home and recuperate. I would have to pay a co-pay for the nursing home, and I thought to myself, I bet my “babysitter” (takes care of the little girls when I travel) would be very willing to be on call for me for a couple of weeks. Yes, she’s very willing to do that for me. In addition, I talked to my BF, who is going to come down from Oregon to take care of me the first week. I know me, and I know I will recover much better at home than in a hospital setting. I am very exercise-motivated.

Speaking of exercise motivated… I never shared my “Christmas presents to me.” I needed new walking shoes. I looked and looked and tried on quite a few shoes. But none felt as good as the shoes I already had–Saucony Kinvara and Asics Gel Nimbus. Both are very expensive. And of course, a close second to comfort was the COLOR of the shoes. I started searching eBay. With some good tips from my brother, and knowing from Shelley that running stores sometimes take returns on barely used shoes, I got some great bargains. First, I got these Asics Gel Nimbus at less than half the price of new:

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I liked them so much that I decided I could afford to get a second pair, this time the Saucony Kinvara. I have an excuse for needing two pairs of running shoes. One of them is mostly for walking on my dirt road. And the second is just for going to the gym–no need to track my dirt into the gym 🙂 That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it!

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Here are pics from a couple of recent trips:

I went to Anaheim for our now-annual rug hooking retreat. My best rug hooking friend now lives in Austin, so we both flew in. Of course, this year we landed smack dab in the middle of one of the biggest rain storms in Southern California history! We drove around all day Sunday in pouring rain. We were both pleasantly surprised at how slowly the So. Ca. drivers were driving on the freeways!

Monday we took our annual trip to Crystal Cove.

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There was just enough of a break in the storm to give it a try. It was windy and cold, and there was some rain. But we enjoyed our shared breakfast of beignets and chilaquiles. And then I sat on Bette Midler’s porch and watched (Crystal Cove is where they shot part of the movie Beaches.)

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While Mary Lynn explored the beach.

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And here’s the real reason we went to Anaheim–rug hooking!

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I had a hair-brained idea that if I went to a chicken show, maybe I could find some chicken breeders that I could buy my chicks from earlier than the May 22 date that the hatchery had given me. No such luck–its just like dog shows. I think it would cost me a fortune to buy chicks that way. But here are some fun pictures of some of the breeds of chickens I plan to get:

Polish:

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Blue Cochin:

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Buff Orpington:

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And some funky little roosters (that I am NOT getting)

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And now I am home for a bit. Do you all know about the RAIN we’ve been getting out here? Its pretty crazy. After four straight days of rain, I took the dogs for a walk, and wondered, where’s that sound of running water coming from? Well, it was just a rivulet of rain running straight down the middle of our dirt/gravel road. A neighbor stopped to tell me we had gotten 10 inches of rain in four days. I live in the mountains, so am nowhere near the evacuations that are happening. But there are a lot of mudslides along the roads. We’re having a nice sunny break right now, but this weekend another big storm is expected! Hope you all are staying safe and dry!

Of Chickens and Surgery. The Connection.

Okay. Remember way back when I picked May as the month I might have knee surgery? Well, I did. There was a reason for that. One was because it seemed a long time away. I still needed to mentally prepare for this thing. The other, more important reason, is that I have planned for almost two years, to get chickens this spring. I planned to get them the first of March. It might be a little cold then, but that would be enough time to get them raised so they didn’t need constant care.

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Let me back up a bit. When J. the Contractor was working on my house, I mentioned how much I liked chickens. Years ago I had chickens for quite a while, but they were housed in a dilapidated shed/outhouse that was on my property, and had a yard that I proudly (and poorly) built myself. After a number of years, the whole thing crumbled, and that was the end of the chickens. So then J. shows me the fancy schmancy chicken house he has built for some people, and that got me dreaming. A year ago I told him to put me on the schedule for a chicken house to be built this February. Knee surgery was the farthest thing from my mind.

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After the failed attempt at the gel shots last fall, my knee seemed to be on the fast track to disintegration. I can’t walk normally, and it hurts a lot. To be fair, it doesn’t hurt to stand still, and sitting is not a problem 🙂 So now, in my mind, May couldn’t come soon enough.

Then, I decided I’d better order these baby chicks! I carefully chose all the pretty and colorful breeds that I wanted, and called the mail order chicken factory.

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The lady was so helpful, and checked, and because of some of the rare breeds that I wanted, MAY 22 would be the soonest they could get these chicks to me!!! Eek.

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This is how the mail order baby chicks arrive.

 

Plan B. I called the orthopedic nurse. Now my plan was to have surgery the first week or so of March, so I would be recovered enough to hobble out and care for my new baby chicks in May. After several calls, she told me that my doctor had agreed I needed the surgery, and we could proceed with scheduling the surgery. The soonest surgery could be scheduled was May. Eek.

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Plan C. I am dancing as fast as I can. I am leaving in an hour for the pre-surgical appointment with my PMD (why? since I just had a complete physical in November,) I have signed up for the pre-surgical information class, I have an appointment to visit the rehab hospital where I will have to spend a week after surgery (they won’t let you go home alone,) and at my appointment next week I am planning to beg my doctor to do my surgery sooner than later. Sometimes it is easier to get what you want from a doctor than a nurse…

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I imagine most of you are thinking “chickens??? Just forget about it.” But to me it has become something important. A symbol of sorts. I do a lot of things for other people. This was something I was doing just for me.

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Stay tuned. A Plan D might be in the works soon….