Saturday, January 24, 2015

Star Struck


  I'm not sure why I added my "clucks" to this post, because - spoiler alert! - it has nothing to do with chickens! Nope, sorry, not today! It does, however, have everything to do with why the Chicken Lady writes. (That counts for something, right?)
  So I write every day. I started doing so last year during Lent and haven't missed a day since. I dedicate some days to this blog (I'm glad I've got it going again), other days I try to work on my top secret -I-don't-want-to-say-too-much-about-it-project, and the other days I call my "cheat days" where I just fill up a page in my journal. Most of that stuff is about Carl, so I'll be glad later in life that I took a few "cheat days" and recorded down the daily life with my little boy mixed in with some milestones. (Who needs a baby book?)
  I really thought today would be a cheat day, but I wanted to share it with everyone - though I'm sure not many people really care - and "journal it" here.
  Above is yours truly with the super-talented Karen Marie Moning. I feel in love with this woman's work in 2006. I remember walking into Boarders and seeing one of her books. Buying it on a whim, I instantly got hooked. Around this same time, I began my office job in downtown Cincinnati, where I never felt like I quite fit in. (Talk about trying to stick a square peg in a round hole!) On my lunch hour I would walk to this "park" not far from my building and sit in the sun and read. As I did so I became more and more enamored with her style and grittiness; the books fulfilling my appetite for some aspects in novels I tried so hard to find, without making me physically sick to my stomach in how flowerily and non-realistic they are. Quite honestly, I have never been disappointed in any of her works.
  Besides the Chick-fil-A located in a mall that was within walking distance from my office, the other saving grace I had downtown was a bookstore, which sadly ended up closing before my time in the city was through. After finishing Moning's first book, I went to said bookstore and found even more of her books, which I ended up purchasing and reading one after another. Needless to say, I have read every single book she's put out.
  Several months ago I saw where she was going to do a book signing at the Barnes & Noble down at Newport on the Levee. I HAD to go! It was so close! When else would I get the opportunity to tell her how much I love her?
 So today, mom and I braved the few hundred other people who also love Karen Marie Moning and who also probably told her that they loved her!

 Even though we got to Barnes & Noble by 10:00 A.M. to purchase our books (or Golden Tickets) in order to meet KMM and have the books signed, we were at least 300 people back in line. The reading and question and answer session didn't start until 1:00 P.M., so we shopped around and got to have lunch at Tom and Chee (I think that's right), a place that I've heard about on the news and that was on Shark Tank. Amazing place to eat and what a wonderful/friendly staff!
 After the reading, it was another three and a half hours until the big moment finally arrived! Standing in line my heart started to pound and I felt the blotches explode up my neck (darn pale skin, but it's better than falling apart emotionally like I do whenever I see the Beach Boys!). When I walked up to her table on shaky knees, my words tumbled out and absolutely NOT the order in which I'd rehearsed them. It seemed like yesterday, and not early this morning, when my father-in-law told me (I'll tell you in the cleaner version) that she "uses the bathroom the same way we all do." In any case, she seemed flattered by my praise and not creeped out at all when I told her my dream in life is to be like her. After asking if I was a local, I told her kinda and she seemed to act as if she had heard of Hillsboro.
  I'll be lucky if my back supports me erect tomorrow or if it will rebel against the torture I put it through today. It doesn't matter though. After listening to her talk I feel better about my own literary producing ebbs and flows and am even more fueled to pursue my dream on her advice of keep dreaming and never give up.
  Because one day I really do want to be the one sitting behind the table with a scarlet red girl telling me on shaky knees that her dream is to be where I'm sitting.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

My Water Boy


   Despite all the times a certain little boy of mine makes me cry or provokes me to violently slam my cabinet doors shut,  I can't put into words how much I love him. Thankfully, this winter isn't proving to be as harsh as last years and we've even been blessed with "almost" spring-like weather the past several days. This means Carl and I can venture outside, even without having to wear our ski pants! It's been much easier work on the Shawhan farm thanks to Mother Nature's generous gift - Dan was finally able to pry the barn doors free this weekend from the ice that was keeping them permanently shut!
  We've been trying to take advantage of this nice weather spell while we can. Yesterday afternoon Carl and I went up to the dairy and took in the sights (and smells) while riding the gator. Today it was back to work out in our own barn.

  Carl already has a great attitude when it comes to work. He is always more than eager to "help" me in whatever task it is I need to get done (even when in the long run it creates more work for yours truly.) For example, when I clean out the horse stalls he likes to point and grunt to all the fecal balls that I don't pick up with the manure fork. He has even been so kind as to pick them up and bring them to me. YES! You read that correctly. The first time it happened I almost died. The air sucked out of my lungs and when I was able to gasp it back in again I ran in slow motion over to him all the while crying out "NNNNOOOO!!!!" in a deep, drawn out voice. Well, that has been a couple of months ago now, and Carl is alive and well, so I guess it didn't hurt him too bad.  I will be keeping a thing of soap out in the barn from now on for such instances in the future. (It's funny because other moms apologize for their kids sharing germs with Carl and I just think and laugh to myself, 'You have no idea what my son has touched.')
  Anyhoo, other than pointing out "You missed a spot", I think Carl's favorite barn chore is changing the chicken water. He has always liked doing this, from carrying the lid of the waterer down to the spigot

 to splashing his hands in the full container, he now knows that when I open the coop door, the water is probably coming out.
  Today was no different. Though he failed to bring me he lid, which is fine because I don't need it at the spigot anyway, he did pretty much put the lid on all by himself! I was a little impressed!

  This must be some gene he got from Dan because Dan's first jobs on the dairy when he was a little boy were to refill the calf water buckets and feed milk to them.
  Carl got the stubborn gene from me, because after I helped line the lid up on the waterer, it turned into a  clash of the Irish temperament tug-of-war fight to get the waterer out of his hands so I could put it back in the coop. Carl can carry a lid; he can't carry a full container of water.
  Thankfully the melt down didn't last long and I can't get mad at a kid who wants to help.
  And, might I add, that my little water boy is a whole lot cuter than that Sandler guy!

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Frozen Eggs

  Yup, that's right folks. One evening this past week we discovered a frozen egg! (Poultry eggs...NOT MY very own personal eggs. I'm not some over the hill celebrity who needs to preserve her reserves for the day her career will be over, though sometimes that lifestyle looks appealing!)
  Anyhoo, one evening Dan brought in the day's worth of eggs. I decided to make scrambled eggs for Carl's dinner that night and just reached for some of the fresh ones straight from the coop. We hadn't even put them in the refrigerator yet. The first one I broke open was just fine. The second was frozen! Or at least in the process of freezing. The 'white' was a slushy consistency and ice crystals were there. Needless to say I scooped this mess out and got another. (It even sang to me, "Let it go! Let it go!")
  Even in the bitter throes of last winter's polar vortex, I don't remember getting frozen eggs. Of course, that's not to say we didn't have a few. I suppose it's possible to have several frozen eggs when they sit out in the coop all day, especially if they were one of the very first eggs to be laid that morning (some of the biddies are 'early birds'...the pun was intended there). I guess there's no reason if they come in frozen they couldn't 'thaw out' in the refrigerator since it's not zero degrees in there. 
  Hmm, a mystery of life, we may never know the true answer...
  On the topic of this freezing weather- we have been keeping the chickens penned in the coop lately. This kills several birds with one stone in that:
1.)  We magically get more eggs! No one can escape the kennel area and go play Easter Bunny and hide their day's work;
2.) The chickens would just stand around the kennel all day huddled together. It's not like they go anywhere when it's this cold; and
3.) I have peace of mind that probably nothing is going to come in and attack them. You never know when a predator is looking for food in these conditions.
  Despite maybe being a bit testy they are penned in a lot, everyone seems to be handling the cold just fine!

Sunday, January 4, 2015

False Alarm and a Mouse in the House

  Happy New Year from all of us here on the Shawhan farm! Before we delve into a new year of chronicles and characters, I feel like I would be cheating everyone if  I didn't share a story that took place the day before New Year's Eve...
  The first event took place in the hours of late afternoon, say around 4:00 or 4:30 P.M. (Late enough that all the hens should have been done squirting out their eggs by then.) I was upstairs in Carl's room sorting through all his books and re-organizing them on his bookshelf, which is located in Carl's closet. I had to move the bookshelf to the closet because otherwise a certain little boy would take his books, one at a time, and toss them over the gate and down the stairs. I decided to teach him early on how one respects works of literature, no matter how small, and took the temptation away all together and so far the plan has worked. Over the holidays, Carl accumulated several more books, including some that were Dan's and grandpa's, so I was sorting through the masterpieces of the Little Golden Books, Stan and Jan Berenstain and Mother Goose, when I heard a loud ruckus coming from the barn. At first I didn't think anything of it...I mean, how many times have those girls cried wolf, just to have me fly out there and have nothing be wrong?
  I completely forgot about the commotion when the bookshelf came toppling over and all of Carl's literary works fell on top of me with a soundtrack of expletives and a fear Carl was hurt. Thankfully, the cascade missed his little legs and he was content to sit down and start flipping through pages. As I began to replace the books, I heard the chickens again. Sighing, I stood up and decided Carl was happy for the moment, hurdled the gate at the top of the stairs and ran out to the barn.
  My original thought was the Mink Mob has struck again. What was I going to do about it? Stab it with the pitch fork? Shoot it? I could probably figure out how to shot the antique .22 Dan keeps in the barn for such occurrences, but it would take precious time the Mob could use to get away. Plus, by this now, I was sure we already had a s few casualties.
  When I got there I saw almost everyone milling around in the Kennel Bar area. They seemed pretty calm...not that edgy energy they get after an attack. I looked into the coop still expecting to see feathers and headless bodies against the door, but I didn't see either of those. All that was in the coop was an excited, and very VOCAL, Orpington perched on the edge of the nest box. Maybe she really was just announcing her work for the day was done? All that commotion for an egg? Just to be sure, I went into the coop and looked all around, even in and under the nest box. Well, no mink and no dead bodies. Same thing for the kennel area. As I was turning around, a motion and noise caught my attention. A HUGE white cat, with no tail I noticed, leapt from the hay and ran through the barn, under the horse gate and out into the pasture. It scared me half to death, and perhaps this was what had the chickens tail feathers all in a twist. Shrugging my shoulders, I returned to house concluding that the whole fiasco was just a false alarm.
  So a little later that evening, after sunset and before Dan got home, I was talking to my mother-in-law on the phone and discussing New Year's Eve plans. Carl and I were in the office. He was standing and looking out the window and I was spinning around in the office chair. On one rotation, I spun around and was facing the doorway when I looked down and there was a grey mouse staring at me with wide black eyes. My first impression was that it was a cat toy...after all, would a mouse really be sitting out in the open with a noisy little boy and chatty Chicken Lady? My brain quickly put the pieces of the puzzle together...I had seen my cat Cy sitting and starring in that exact same place before...the corner of the room where Dan keeps his golf bag, and this didn't look like the mouse toys Santa had left in Cy's stocking.
  Mid-sentence with my mother-in-law I exclaim, "There's a mouse in my house!" and I quickly drew up my legs, expecting the office chair to protect me from the motionless varmint.
  "There's a what?" She asked, confused, however her voice was laced with a trace of humor.
  "A mouse! It's here in my house! It's just sitting there looking at me! How did it get in here? It's in the office!"
  "Oh. We have mice too. Just set a trap for it."
  "But it's looking right at me!" I was finally able to get out the chair. "Come on, Carl. Hurry, hurry, hurry!" I grabbed Carl's arm and we raced into the kitchen, my mind racing as to what to do with it. I had no clue where the cat was...and if I found him there was no guarantee he would kill the thing. He'd probably bat it around enough to get the mouse moving again and it would get away. And there was NO WAY I was going to knowingly have a mouse running around in my house!
  By this time I was in slight hysterics, Carl was yelling because I had raised my voice, and my mother-in-law was laughing uncontrollably. I kept repeating, "I have to go there's a mouse in my house!" But I never did hang up the phone. Finally I got into the cupboard and found a large, heavy bowl. If I could trap until Dan got home, I'd let him dispose of it.
  It was a tense situation; me on the phone with a toddler walking up to this mouse, who just sat there. I was guessing the thing was hadn't been there earlier in the day. I was only about 5% sure of my plan...I was dealing with a mouse after all...surely it was going to dart away when I approached it.
  In the end, I came out the victor. I was able to walk up to it and place the bowl over top of it. I made sure Carl left the bowl alone until Dan got home and he picked it up with gloved hands and tossed the beast outside.  I did my part and caught the thing!
 The next evening, I was resting assured that all my cluckies were alive and well and that, as far as I know, we don't have a mouse in the house.