Tuesday, November 25, 2008


Six months ago, I lost my Grandpa. Today, Grandma joined him.

Grandpa's loss was so unexpected and was totally a shock. We've been expecting and anticipating Grandma's death for a year or more, so all of us are experiencing some relief with our grief.

Where Grandpa was easy to love and was always ready with a hug, Grandma was not. She kept everyone--everyone except him--at arm's length. And that made it hard for all of us who loved her to show her we loved her and it made all of us try so hard to show her that we did love her, because no matter what we did, it never felt like it was enough. I never felt like she accepted our love. Maybe she didn't know how to allow herself to be loved--unconditionally.

Grandma was never healthy. Never. She had standing appointments at the Dr's office. Every Friday, we sat at the Dr's office. I've never been convinced that she was really ill... But I know at times, she truly was ill. She was very ill when she delivered Aunt Dorothy. I know she was ill at various times when Mom and Sandy were growing up. And yet. it was also a means of getting attention. And, as an adult, I wondered if being sick was the only way that the girl she once was could get attention from a very busy single mother.

My Grandma gave me many things. She taught me to embroider. She helped me with my 4-H sewing projects. We took art classes together. We also did ceramics together. She babysat me when Mom worked and I was too young to stay at home alone. I got my love of Chickens from her. I got my enjoyment of "farm wife" stuff from her. I have many fond memories of days and times with my Grandma. They weren't anything special, just everyday life. And, I will treasure my memories.

The woman she was died at least a year ago, and that small part that didn't die then, died with Grandpa. In my mind, Grandpa had finally run out of patience, waiting for her to come on her own and came to get her today. I imagine he told her that it was time to go and to just come on. And she did--as always, she went with him. She wouldn't go for anyone else, and she wouldn't go on alone, so she waited for him and then, she simply left.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Time, or lack thereof...

You know, I'm planning on taking off 2.5 days next week. I'm taking Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday morning off for vacation. (We closed Wednesday afternoon, Thursday and Friday.) So, in essence, I have all week off.

But, it's not enough time off for everything I want to accomplish. Here's my list...

  1. Go deer hunting.
  2. Go Christmas shopping with Mom--before Thanksgiving.
  3. Put up our Christmas decorations.
  4. Get the chicken brooder ready.
  5. Clean the house really well.
  6. Move the Hoosier into the dining room, move the old Armoir into the bedroom, move the dresser from the bedroom into the garage till we can get it to Bob and Kim. (Which means they all have to be emptied and then re-loaded with...stuff...)
  7. Get Steve's "inheritance" that we've got in the garage to his house and out of my way.
  8. Go to Colo Springs and spend 3-4 days with our family out there...
  9. Spend Saturday--this coming Saturday at the Berends Thanksgiving.
  10. Cook items to take to the Berends thanksgiving.
  11. Take Miss Kat to see Twilight.
  12. Buy Andy some dress clothes for his Basketball games.

It's too much! I can't get it all done. So, here's what I think will actually get done:

  1. Cook...something for the Berends Thanksgiving.
  2. Attend the Berends Thanksgiving.
  3. Take Miss Kat to see Twilight.
  4. Buy Andy's clothes.
  5. Clean the house.
  6. Go to Colo Springs.

If I'm lucky, I'll get to go shopping with Mom. We used to do this years ago--before I had children. Mom, Sandy and I went somewhere together before Thanksgiving. We'd spend the night in a hotel, and shop. We'd get all our Christmas shopping done in one day. We haven't done that since right after Andy was born. I took him along when he was a baby. Big mistake. I haven't gotten to do it since then.

If I'm really lucky, I'll get to do all the above and hunt too.

If I'm really, really lucky, I'll get to do all of the above and move around my furniture. Which will allow me to put up the Christmas decorations.

If I'm really, really, really lucky, then Steve will be able to haul his crap...I mean inheritance...home.

If I'm super lucky, then it will all happen.

But, I'm not counting on it.

Are you tired of Chickens yet?

Guess what!

I ordered me some chickens yesterday!

Yep, I will soon be the proud owner of 25 Buff Orpington pullets. They should arrive in the mail within the next 3 weeks.

That gives me time to get their brooder ready and to get electricity out to the chicken house.

It will probably mean that I have to take a morning off of work to get them settled, but I've got lots of comp time and lots of vacation time.

I'm so stinkin' excited!

Now, has anyone seen an IQ test for chickens?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

You know, when I decided to to the "I want that Wednesday" posts, I really thought I'd have to struggle to find things I wanted. I'm not really that materialistic, and I guess most of what I want falls into the category of "stuff that makes me more self-sufficient" or maybe it makes me more "country" or even a "hick."

I don't care. I like me, and I like our "hick" life!

Today the items on my discriminating list include items that we need for processing deer. We butchered Kev's deer all by ourselves, but it wasn't pretty. We quickly discovered the necessity of having a good set of knives. A butchering set. Now, I have a set of kitchen knives, but they are cheap knives and just don't hold up to the demands of cutting up meat. They got duller and duller and duller as we worked. I've never mastered the art of sharpening knives with a steel either. That was Daddy's job and Kev sometimes sharpens my knives. But, we really really need a good set of knives.

Besides a good set of knives, I also need a new one of these...
It's a vacuum sealer. Or, some call it by one of the brand names-- "Seal-a-meal". I need a heavy duty one. I have a cheap one, but it wasn't cooperating with me when we were packaging our not-quite-professionally-cut meat. Sometimes, it would seal, other times, I had to baby it along. So, I want a new sealer.

Finally, I want one of these:

We make lots of jerky out of deer meat. We borrowed this exact model a couple of years ago from a friend in Colby. It was FABULOUS! We loved it! We've been saving up for one of these, and we want this exact model. Besides drying jerky, I can dry onions, fruit, and herbs (if my herbs ever produce enough to dry). I can make fruit rolls and lots of other fun stuff.

Someday, I'll have all this stuff. Then, butchering & processing meat will be so much easier. Maybe by then, we'll be good enough that our meat cuts will even look like they should...

(Hey, I should update you all too...I got my meat grinder that I wanted about a month ago. It worked so nice! Just ground that deer meat up into burger like a pro! While our steaks aren't pretty, at least our burger looks like burger!)

Friday, November 14, 2008

The hardest part of hunting

Today, at work, I mentioned to a co-worker that I was planning on spending all day tomorrow in my tree stand, hunting.

He asked if I took snacks. I said no. For the record, this is why I don't eat or drink when hunting...

Early in the morning, I put on fresh undergarments. Over that, I add long-underwear. Next, I put on a warm shirt. Then I put on the camo pants/jeans. Finally, I add a camo sweatshirt. My hunting socks and boots are last. All this is bulky and heavy.

Then, we drive to our spot, where first, I take a potty break, then I add coveralls, (bulk), coat (more bulk), gloves, head net, hat and safety belt. The safety belt has straps that go over my shoulders and under each arm, and other straps that go around and between each leg. Another strap goes around my waist and a final strap usually attaches to the belt between my shoulder blades and is wrapped around the tree--and it has to be under your coat, but on top of everything else. Finally, I grab my backpack and bow and head off for the tree stand.

To get to the tree, I have to go through a pasture, and through a field, climb over a couple of barbed-wire fences, and try not to catch my clothes on the barbed wire...I always catch something on the barbed wire...

I do all this, in the dark, trying to be quiet so not to scare off any deer.

Finally, I arrive at the tree and climb up the ladder to the tree stand. When I get to the top, I take off the backpack and hang it to the side of my stand. Then, I hook my safety belt to the tree. Finally, I pull up my bow (with a rope) and get ready to hunt. Now, it's still dark, so I can sit and rest until it's light enough to see and shoot.

Ok, so let's say that before leaving the house, I ate and drank.

At some time, usually right after I get settled into my tree, what went in, now wants out.

If I were a guy, I'd just whip things out and take care of the coffee or hot chocolate or Dr. Pepper--right there from the tree stand.

But, I'm not a guy, and don't have anything to whip out.

So, I have to make sure the bow and more specifically, the arrow, is in a safe location. Then, I have to carefully look around to make sure there aren't any deer watching, unhook my safety belt, quietly climb down from the tree stand, quietly walk away from my tree, take off my safety belt, my coat, and my coveralls. Then, I have to pull down the pants and both pairs of undergarments; do my business, then get re-dressed, put my coveralls, coat and safety belt back on and go back to the tree and...repeat.

I've tried doing...it...from the tree stand, like the guys, but there's too great of a risk of
  1. Falling from the tree and
  2. "Watering" the ladder rungs, which could freeze and would be a greater hazard when I was done hunting for the day.
  3. Or, getting some or all of my clothing wet.
  4. Or, having my shiny white hiney being spotted by the world record buck, who would then take off--after letting me see him running away from my big, shiny, white hiney.

A couple of trips up and down the ladder makes me really tired. And, it tends to scare off the deer. (Who are probably really hiding and laughing hysterically at me.)

Don't even ask what guys do when they need to do that other thing. Knowing guys, they'd probably do that from their tree stands too. But, I don't know, and I don't want to know.

And you thought the hardest part of hunting was shooting the deer...

Thursday, November 13, 2008

My end of the conversation

Why are you crying?

What's my fault?

I didn't know the store would run out of those shoes.

I am not coming home to get you and bring you back to town.

Calm down. It's just shoes.

You do to have something nice to wear tomorrow.

Well, wear your flats.

Yes they do fit.

Oh, OK, maybe they don't.

What did Daddy say?

Honey, calm down.

Ok babe, calm down.

Kat. This is ridiculous! It's just shoes!

Kat. stop.

I will run to the store and pick up a pair of black boots.

Yes, some you can wear with pants or a dress.

I know, no heels.

Ok. Now stop crying.

I'll see you at home soon.

Ok. I love you too.


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

In light of my rapidly emptying Chicken Mansion. (Stupid birds.)

Today, I want...
Buff Orpington Chickens.

They are gentle birds. (Maybe Miss Kat can be convinced to gather eggs. Right now, she's scared of the rooster. and tries really hard to not gather eggs.)

They are big birds. (Probably not big enough to take on the 100 lb. and BIG lab.)

They are dual-purpose birds. (So, we can either have eggs or eat them--the birds, we already eat the eggs!)

They will set on a nest and hatch and raise chicks. (I still want to successfully raise some chicks of my own.)

They lay brown eggs. (There's no difference between brown and white eggs in taste, but brown eggs come in a variety of browns and are so much prettier.)

And, hopefully, they will stay out of the Dog pen. (And, we will be making the dog pen "chicken proof"...if there is such a thing...)

If I can't get any bought this fall, I'll wait till spring and get some.
But, I'd really love it if I could get some soon.
I will never again get Production Reds. They are some of the dumbest chickens I've ever had.
While I liked my Barred Rocks and my Rhode Island Reds, well, I've heard good things about Buffs. So...That's what I want....more chickens--just smarter ones.


Grandma is coming home. Except she's not.

See, she's been at another Nursing Home for a few weeks. They've been doing a mental evaluation on her. She's been depressed, and she's been childish and somewhat mean to the nurses. So, rather than keeping her drugged up all the time, they suggested to Mom and Sandy that she go for an evaluation.

I'm not sure what they decided, but they are sending her back today. And, she's going to the hospital because she has pneumonia. Which isn't a good thing for an 85 year old woman who probably only weighs 85 lbs.

I'm glad she'll be back in familiar territory, but I can't help but wonder if this is the end.

And, I'm so conflicted about how I feel about that.

Relief. Guilt because it would be a relief.

Fear. Because the holiday season is going to be hard on my Mom as it is. I don't want to add to it.

Hope. In a way, I hope it is the end, so that we can get this over with...which brings on the guilt again. And, yet, I hope that we'll see Grandma again.

See, the woman who is living in my Grandma's body isn't my Grandma.

My Grandma is already gone. Yet this person is still here, and she brings out these conflicting emotions and feelings.

I'm glad that Grandma is coming back. Except, she's not really coming back, and she'll never really be back...

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Stupid stupid stupid stupid stupid

I am annoyed.




Really, really, disgusted.





Cause 2 hens committed suicide today.

Damn it. I have their house winterized. I have a ton of free food. I have fed them well, watered them, talked to them, and then they have the nerve to go into the dog pen and get themselves killed.

This leaves the rooster and one hen, who doesn't lay regularly--or if she does, she's laying eggs somewhere where I can't find them. What good is ONE hen? Seriously. What good is she.

And, she's gonna get real tired of the rooster's attention. He likes his women and likes "it" numerous times a day.

Damn it. Damn it. Damn it.

This just pisses me off.

Stupid, stupid STUPID birds.

A father and his children

Maybe I'm paying attention more to my family because I know change is coming. Andy is a Senior this year. His time with us is growing shorter every day. Soon, he'll move out on his own, and be responsible for his own actions--without our guidance and input. Or, as he'd say, without my "bossiness." He's not a rebel but there have been times when Kev and I have said "No" and he hasn't appreciated it.

We lit a fire Sunday night and again last night. Kev is the official "fire starter" at our house, but on Sunday night, Andy was right down there with his dad, learning and asking questions of his dad. They were both on one knee, talking about the fire, debating about how to arrange the logs. Real "man to man" stuff. I watched Kev talk and share time with his son. They stayed there for a while while the fire got started, just visiting--having an adult conversation.

Earlier on Sunday, they'd gone hunting together. Andy did the driving--to prove to us that he knew his way to the farm and that he could get up early, and stay awake driving 40 miles to the farm. When they got home, my Menfolk worked outside together, on that wheat pile and in the discovery of the egg mess. They work well together, as a team, almost as equals. Andy's gotten so big and strong these past couple of years. It's interesting watching him learn how to take care of ...stuff...like his dad does. I like watching them work together. Kev's still in charge, but Andy is rapidly becoming more of an equal when the work together.

Then I like to watch Kev and Miss Kat.

For a very long time, she was definitely a "Mamma's girl." But now, she's spending more and more quality time with her Daddy.

She and Kev have to watch Ghost Whisperer every Friday night (or sometime on the weekend if we're gone on Friday night.) They usually snuggle on the love seat to watch it. They discuss the plot and what they think will happen. They discuss their various theories about the existence of ghosts and such. It's their time and their "thing."

Monday nights are our family TV nights. We all like the CBS line-up and watch them together. Last night, Miss Kat snuggled up on the love seat with her daddy. They were laying back, using the same pillow. Kev was on the inside of the couch and had his arm under her head and shoulders. Their heads were leaning in toward each other as they watched TV. Miss Kat's leg was laying across Kev's leg. They were even sharing a blanket.

I love watching Kev with his kids. I like seeing him show his kids love. I like seeing them accept his love. I like seeing them like each other.

A father and his childen...it's just something...special. Thank you, God, for giving me this family.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Adventures in the Chicken Mansion

Since it's nearing the middle of November, this weekend, I decided it was time to get the Chicken Mansion winterized.

You know, so that all 3 hens and 1 rooster can stay warm and toasty this winter. (Since I put that in writing, today, when I get home, I fully anticipate to be down to 2 hens...)

On Saturday, after shooting his deer, Kev got some wheat from my Dad. A pick up load. It was waste wheat, left in the grain cart since harvest. We were more than happy to take it, but...well, we only have 4 chickens and what on earth would we do with so much wheat?

(I suggested we buy a grain mill and grind it to eat, but I got funny looks from the men in my family. I always get funny looks...but this one was a doozy.)

So, on Sunday, Kev and Andy transferred wheat from the pickup to a couple of 55 gallon drum barrels and several left over dog food, rabbit food, and cat food bags. And there was more in the pickup. We decided to dump the rest in the pasture.

So, we put all this wheat in the chicken house. I put new shavings on the floor for insulation and to help break down the poop. As it breaks down, it will emit some heat, helping to keeps the chooks warm.

As we were shifting things around to make room for the wheat, I asked Kev if he'd found that dead mouse we've been smelling. He hadn't, so he boosted Andy up to check the eaves, thinking Mr. Mouse might have died up there.

Now, we've been smelling Mr. Mouse for a couple of months, much longer than we all knew to be normal.

Andy looked up in the eaves and said "Holy crap. This is full of eggs."

You might call this a light bulb moment for all of us. We hadn't been smelling Mr. Mouse, we'd been smelling rotten eggs.


Andy pulled down about a dozen--carefully. He broke one, but it was empty. In fact, it had been emptied by Mr. Mouse. Who probably thought he had hit the jackpot.

You see, Kev had put up a high roost for the chickens. It annoyed me because it was right above my head, and I always worried about the chickens dropping poop on my head. And, there were times this summer when I wondered why we weren't getting more eggs... I now know the answer to that one.

The hens were nesting up in the eaves, laying eggs in the eaves. We counted over 75 eggs in the eaves. Eggs which are now rotten and smell every time Mr. Mouse and his family get hungry for a little protein. And, none of us had ever seen any chickens up in the eaves. Never. So, it never entered out minds that they would attempt to get up there.

So...what to do with more than 75 rotten eggs...well, we left them there. Some were packed in so tight, that by trying to remove them, we'd definitely break them. Eventually, they'll all evaporate and such. But, next spring, we'll have to remedy the situation and close off the eaves so that our new batch of chickens don't go up there. And, we are not putting in that high, eave-egg-laying-enabling roost.

Stupid Chickens. They had nice, comfortable nesting boxes, and instead, they chose to lay eggs way up high in the eaves. Stupid birds. (Thank goodness none were smart enough to go broody up there!)

Since we were out there, making wonderful discoveries, Kev pulled down some foam insulation he'd put in on the north side. It had 3 nice holes in it. he carried it outside, and out popped Mr. Mouse. Then, out popped Mrs. Mouse and a couple of friends! They scurried away, upset at losing their nice comfy warm, safe, winter home. The chickens caught one (it was caught by my only smart hen.) The cat's gave chase to the rest.

My new chicken mansion. Home for more than chickens. Somehow, that's not quite what I expected...

Friday, November 07, 2008


Miss Kat decided to go out for Basketball. She wasn't going to. For the past couple of years, we've heard about how Basketball is stupid and how she's not going to ever play it.

Volleyball ended, and Basketball practice started immediately. Day two of practice, she announced that she's going out for basketball. Why the change of heart? Because Jr. High Basketball practice starts in PE and continues after school for an hour. If she didn't go out for Basketball, she'd have to run for exercise. And that is "boring." An additional reason for going out, she was the only girl who wasn't going out.

So...yesterday was her first game. She has another game today. And, she's mad at me cause I couldn't go yesterday, and I can't go today. So far this morning, I've gotten 3 phone calls and my darling daughter says in a sinister, evil tone:

"If we lived in Colby, you'd come to my games. You went to all of Andy's games. I guess he's more important."

Calls like this make me so enjoy being a mother. And, they make me understand why some animals eat their young.

Anyway, she got home last night from her game around 9:00. And, she had math homework to do. So, she's sitting with Kev and I doing her homework and we ask about the game.

Us: Did you play B team?

K: Yes.

Us: What position did you play?

K: I don't know.

Us: Were you at the top of the key?

K: What's the key?

Us: That's the painted area, you know, the rectangle part under the basket.

K: Nope, I don't play base line.

Us: Nope, that's the bottom of the key, were you a guard?

K: What's that?

Us: Well, where do you play?

K: I play way over on this side and way over on that side and in the middle. And, we run some plays like yesterday, he called it a triangle, but today he called it a "3" and I got confused and didn't know what to do. I don't know what I'm doing most of the time anyway. He explained it to me after the game.

Us: Did you shoot?

K: NO! I don't like to shoot.

Us: Did you foul anyone?

K: No, I don't like to get fouls.

Us: Did you get fouled?

K: No, but I like getting fouled, cause I like shooting free-throws.

So, now...her loving father and I decide to mess with her...

Us: Did you play full court ball?

K: What's that? You mean did we go on both sides? Yes.

Us: Oh, so you didn't play 1/2 court.

K: No.

Us: Did you play 5 man ball?

K: What?

Us: Well, did you play 5 man or 6 man ball?

K: Ummmmm. I don't know. What's the difference?

Yep, she's my daughter. She knows as much about Basketball as I do about Football and Volleyball! I'm so proud! (and for the record, I do know Basketball!)

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

playin chicken

Andy just called and gave me the bad news.

2 more of our chickens have committed suicide. They are crafty buggers. Instead of doing-themselves-in, they had the dogs do it.

Yep, the marched into the dog pen and dared the dogs to end their miserable existence. So, the dogs, being dogs, did just that.

You'd think that the chickens would have long ago realized that to go into the dog pen is asking for certain death.

Maybe they weren't suicidal...maybe they were just playing...


Maybe they were daring each other to go into the dog pen. If a dog caught you, well, oops. You lose. But if you escaped, you were a winner... Can't you just see a gang (well, flock) of chickens marching up to the pen, "egging" each other on, daring each other to go into the pen...

Stupid birds.

I started out with 27 chickens. I now have five until someone decides to play chicken with the dogs again.

Stupid birds.

Note: it's not 20 minutes later, and he found another one. so...now I have 3 hens and one rooster. stupid chickens.

I want it Wednesday

What I want today is rather radical.

Today, I want people to stop saying "Obama, the first black president" and start saying "Obama, the President-elect." Cause, technically, the media should be saying "Obama, the first bi-racial President".

Let's not emphasize the "difference" and simply move forward. Cause, I've never cared if he was black, white, purple or green. And, here's a question for those of you who were around when Kennedy, "the first Catholic President" was elected. Was that the headline? Was his catholicism such an issue? Are we a society that has to note the differences? If McCain had won, would the newspapers say "McCain, the first Vietnam Vet President?"

So, today, let's ignore the "black" part and just look at the man who is the President-elect.

That's what I want today.

Monday, November 03, 2008

the perfect popcorn ball

At times like this, I wish that Miss Kat could find my digital camera. It was last seen in her bedroom. It is probably laying next to my new tube of mascara and with my eyeliner. The three will probably never be seen again.

But, IF I had my digital camera, I would take a picture of my box of goodies that our friend, Sharon brought us. (And, by us I really mean me.)

Sharon brought us (me) 45-ish popcorn balls.

The day before she arrived, she and her parents had made 175. I'm not sure just why exactly I didn't get all 175. She said something about sharing them with her co-workers, but I think she really didn't want to make me look like a pig.

I know her parents were making several hundred more for trick-or-treaters, so there's no reason I couldn't have been the recipient of the first 175 popcorn balls.

You are probably wondering just what could be so special about these popcorn balls.

I'll tell you.

They are the world's best. Not to sticky, not to sweet, they melt in your mouth, they are chewy but not too chewy, firm, but not hard.

The ingredients include:
  • popcorn--air popped
  • butter--real butter, not margarine
  • dark Corn Syrup
  • sugar
  • sour cream

Sour Cream is the secret ingredient. It cuts that super sticky sweetness and gives a hint of creaminess to the popcorn balls. I'm not positive, but I've been told that the Sour Cream also cancels out all the calories...

Being the nice person I am, I gave my Mom--who loves popcorn balls--13 of them. I've let my son, Andy, eat 2 or 3. That leaves 30 or so for me (cause Kev knows better than to eat one, and Miss Kat hates them.) If I ration myself, they'll last till Christmas. Who am I kidding. I'll be lucky if they last till Thanksgiving.

I have the recipe. Sharon's mom wrote it out once for me--on the back of a deposit slip, when we were both standing in line at the grocery store. I could make more for myself, but Sharon and her parents are professionals. They are popcorn ball artists. Masters of Popcorn ball college.

Besides, I don't own an air popper...

Thanks Sharon, Fritz and Denny...they are wonderful as usual and I'm enjoying every single one!