Page updates

In case you are lacking in reading material and have never browsed my other pages, I have updated my "About My (non-living) Chickens" page. Feel free to check out some of the cool chicken gifts I have received over the years. I apologize in advance if I have missed some. I will update this periodically.

Also, I will try to get my "About My Flock" page up and running soon (and by soon I mean hopefully before the turn of the decade!)

Happy Reading!!!

Poultry in Politics

Chickens in the national news: Chickens may determine the outcome of the Iowa Senatorial race. I don't espouse to know much about politics and quite honestly, I try to stay out of it as much as humanly possible, but it seems like pretty common sense that if you are running for any office in a farm state like Iowa, it is probably a really bad idea to complain about people's chickens. See here for the whole article. But the thing that really gets me about this article is the picture of the "fence" around the chickens…..I mean, those poor little hens, totally unprotected from any Hawk, Fox, Coyote, Raccoon or other predator that might come crawling out of the woodwork. Sheesh! Mr. Braley, if he knew what was best for him, should be taking the side of concerned neighbor over the welfare of those beautiful fowl! And for the record, Mr. Braley, (and neighbors living next door to us as well), chickens make GREAT pets!

This article really hit home actually as we have had similar issues with our next door neighbors. Upon putting the coop out, they were very concerned over the chickens next door. (And by concerned I mean totally and completely annoyed.) Before we even had the flock outside they told us they were very unhappy about our coop and the idea of chickens running around the yard. I appreciated their honesty, and assured them that our chickens would not be on their property (and they have not….which we know because we had the property lines staked and left the lovely wooden stakes with the obnoxious neon orange flags in the ground so that there is no question…..you're welcome, neighbors!) We promised that the chickens would not be out unattended until we built our run and fenced them in (seriously, they should be thanking us for the free entertainment each time we attempt to herd the hens) but then they got upset over the idea of a fence and made sure to tell us that if the coop were a children's playhouse, they would have no problem with it but the fact that there would be hens in there was very displeasing. I helpfully suggested that they just pretend it was a children's playhouse…..that went over smashingly. 

We then had other neighbors tell us how they had heard from non-neighborhood people about our chickens….funny how things go in a small town.  But we had done our homework and knew that we were within our rights in the township and knew that now that we have chickens we are considered agricultural so actually are given even MORE leeway on some of the usual laws, like fences and buildings and such. But, since our neighbors have not been too supportive (mowing way over the line, pulling out the stakes and putting them back incorrectly or not at all and then giving us a hard time about the stakes being there….which of course, they wouldn't still be there had they not started messing with them in the first place) we opted to add a lovely barn-like shed to the coop area in order to better contain our chicken and farm supplies (of which they would have been informed had they not stopped talking to us or even waving back to us….). At any rate, we are still trying to be considerate of what it all looks like and have ordered something that matches our coop: a cute little red barn with white trim, the epitome of "city-slicker" hobby farms (as one neighbor called us.) But I will admit, my patience has been tried (which says a lot coming from a parent of five) and we are now keeping the roosters; after all, without them we couldn't breed the silkies…..oh, which means we had to get more silkies since all three of ours were roos….oh, and now we need another coop….. 

I assure you this could have been avoided…..well, maybe. But it does show that you really oughtn't mess with the poultry-people next door. You might just lose an election….or at least a view from your kitchen window. 

You can see the gravel in the back where the new shed will go two weeks from now. The smaller area of gravel is where we will move the chicken coop. It will all be enclosed for the chickens to roam freely. Happy hens means happy eggs….or something like that.

Liam hanging out with Larry, Moe and Curly
(or Midnight, Raven and Fuzzy if you are Lily……or Superman One, Two and Three if you are Solomon….it's no wonder why they multiple personalities!)

The three Stooges/Supermans taking out an apple they found

Olaf, one of our new White Silkie Peeps


The rest of the newest additions

Have a super, hilarious weekend everyone! 


When it rains…..

It has been almost three months since the marathon and I have written what, once?!?! So much has happened, and admittedly I am behind in every area of my life. I am quite certain that when you break down Chaos Theory into tiny little pieces, at the very core you will find our family. A lot of Scientists are wasting their time…..they should just come visit Mars!

That said, here is the last couple of months, the good, the bad and the ugly, in a nutshell:

1. We considered getting some Guinea Fowl but acquired 4 Silkies instead (much to Kurt's chagrin…..) If you don't know what a Silkie is, click here.

2. Stripsies (a seven week old kitten) entered our lives…..(again, sorry Kurt! But how could you resist that tiny ball of fluffy love?!?!)
This is before he met the Solomonster…..now I am pretty sure he sleeps with one eye open.

3. Stripsies fell off the second story loft to the first floor. (He landed on his feet…..one life down, eight to go!)

4. We discovered that one of our Silkies, who was still living upstairs in the guest bathroom, was clearly a Rooster. Now what?!
Lily is determined that the Roo stays because: "But Mom! He's part of the herd!" Close enough.

5. Leroy got mauled by a raccoon. (We think.) Emergency surgery, a ridiculous amount of stitches, two drain tubes and $500 later, (and many days of finger crossings since he refused his medications), he unfortunately recovered.

6. Kurt and the boys were in a head-on collision with an intoxicated driver. My 5000 pound SUV was totaled but they all walked away with minimal bruises. (Oh and some traumatic stress…..and perhaps a wee bit of whiplash.) We love our Toyota! Ten years of loyal service and one, huge life-saving moment. Totally worth every cent we spent on that truck!

7. Our basement got flooded by an unruly toilet upstairs…..but on the bright side, we learned we own a lot of towels.

8. We tried to move the Silkies into the coop with the chickens and discovered that chickens can be fairly vicious. (The Silkies then took up residence with the bunny in his outdoor mansion……he's not too thrilled but we are pretty sure he will get over it.)

Don't let their apparent peaceful obliviousness fool you! They are monsters I tell you!  (Not really…. unless you are a Silkie!)
9. Our one working washing machine broke which made us bite the bullet and buy a new set. But we were able to donate a washer and the matching (and still working) dryer to a friend who acted like Christmas came early because as luck would have it, her dryer broke the very same day.

10. The tiniest of the Silkies got slaughtered by a raccoon who apparently tried to pull it (unsuccessfully) through the cage wires…..don't worry, I didn't take any pictures…..but the other Silkies and the Bunny have not been the same since!

11. After Fluffy's demise, we stuck the Silkies in with the other chickens. So far, they are all still okay (although Fuzzy, the last remaining, tiny, gray chicken is more or less attached to his/her black body guards…..)

12. Solomon claimed one of the Silkies as his own, and named him Superman.

13. Oreo and Stripsies shared a Vet appointment, which is really not news but I took a picture and thought I would share.

14. I learned that you really oughtn't put a 10 pound bag of bird seed in the passenger seat of your BRAND NEW SUV and then drive like you always do…….lesson learned.

We are off to Sun-struck-crazyville, I mean, Florida next week so I will update as I can.

Have a great day/week/month.


You Might be a Redneck If…..

Today I have to add my own list to Jeff Foxworthy's redneck humor because apparently living in the country does that to a person……so, here is my personal list of "You might be a redneck if…."

You might be a redneck if…..
-You run out of chicken wire while coon-proofing your rabbit hutch so you grab your roll of camouflage duct tape to finish the job.

(When I texted my verifiably normal friend the sentence from above, she replied, "Um, or if you use the word coon in a sentence" and I had to scratch my head because, really? It's not the fact that I have camo-duct tape?)

You might be a redneck if…..
-Your cat gets mauled by a raccoon a few days before your Silkie gets slaughtered by one.
-You not only know what a Silkie is, but you have some as pets!

You might be a redneck if…..
-Your 9 year old begs to get rabies shots

(Apparently some kids just don't understand that raccoon maulings happen…..you just have to learn to live with 'em…..one of life's many great lessons….)

You might be a redneck if…..
-You try to explain to your kids that it isn't normal that your friend has a "death tree" (where she hangs various dead animals in it to rot cleanly so that she can get the skeletons) but that it's okay because you learn different kinds of lessons at her house than you would elsewhere…..like don't die there because you might get hung in a tree!

You might be a redneck if….
-Your son brings up the fact that your friend launches her own mortars from her backyard and you explain that it isn't very safe because one time she accidentally shot one into her neighbors house and set it afire and your son is like, 'oh, that's nothing compared to the time she accidentally blew up an ATV during a bonfire' and you correct him because it wasn't an ATV she blew up but her boyfriend's monster truck…..

You might be a redneck if….
-You feel safe dropping your kids off at aforementioned friend's house so that she can watch them.

Have a great day, y'all!


Boston 2014: The Race (Finally)

Some people like to give you a mile by mile recap of their marathons. In fact, I am guessing you can find thousands of recaps of Boston online if you look hard enough. But I will spare you the details. Outside of it being shoulder to shoulder for the first 12 miles or so (because of the ridiculous, er, incredible amount of runners) and the lack of bombs, it was pretty much just like last year. Same start, same stop. Same hills. Same water stops. Same landmarks. Same distance. You get the point.

But I….I was not the same as last year. Interestingly enough, there is comfort in running a race you have run before. I knew the lay of the land, so to speak. I knew what to expect (unless you factor in that part where, because I was searching for Kurt,  I completely forgot about the hills coming up and thought I had hit a wall around mile 16, only to realize I had just finished the first hill….phew! For a moment there I was cursing at myself for having used a different training plan because clearly I wasn't ready to run more than 16 miles!!!!) And most importantly, I knew that when somebody offered me to take over wearing their bunny ears because the ears were making their head too hot, that I should probably say no even though I really wanted them, because why take the risk of bunny ears slowing you down?!

At any rate, I went all out this year. I didn't hold back. I just assumed I would make it to the finish, one way or another. And I did. Crossing the finish line in 3:18:59, exactly six minutes faster than last year, I felt like I could finally be done with this whole running thing. I had pushed myself to run a marathon in under 3 hours and 20 minutes (because that was the goal a friend of mine had and if it was good enough for her, why shouldn't it be good enough for me??) and with this success, I was done. And my body agreed. So much so that after the race, four different medics approached me to ask if I was okay. One of them stopped me and started asking me questions: "What's your name, runner?" (Oh, oh, I know this one! "Karen"!) "And where are you from, Karen?" (Oooooh……hmmmm…...well, I just moved to Mars……shoot, no, I can't tell him that because then he will think I clearly have a problem. Well, maybe he means where am I from originally, but what if he knows where MojoRunning is because that is clearly displayed on my hat??? Shoot…. oh, I got it….."Pennsylvania.") Apparently I passed the test because he let me out to wander the streets on my own.

After what seemed like an eternity, I finally ended up at the free massage place near the family meeting area. As I was leaning against a wall, almost in tears from the cramps in my legs and the emotion of the race (or perhaps that sudden drop of adrenaline!) I began to talk to other runners. One man told me about his pre-race anxiety, how he was so convinced there was something wrong with him last year that he went to the ER the night before the race. This year, he made an appointment with his doctor and changed his asthma meds a week before, which he said made a huge difference. I made a mental note of this and then asked him what symptoms led him to the ER.

"A general feeling like I was going to die…..some chest pains, shortness of breath, you know, basic heart attack symptoms….."

Halleluja and Amen! Apparently this is a thing…..not just my "thing" but something that other runners go through.  Phew!

Boston this year was a race to end all races. If I do it again, (which I won't), it will be at a slow and leisurely pace. It will be without the stress of someone who thinks they are dying and it will definitely include a post-race massage because, PRAISE THE LORD, there is nothing better than a cup of hot broth and a twenty minute rub down after running your tail off for 26.2 miles.

Oh, and it will include some bunny ears.

And perhaps some Xanax.


Easter Message from the Toll Booth

I have to interrupt my Boston Marathon posts because I forgot perhaps one of the most simple and significant parts of the story (it's like when you forget to tell a part of a joke that directly impacts the punch line….well, you know, if the joke isn't really funny to begin with and the missing part was only really important to the teller…..)

We were driving into Boston on Easter Sunday. We were skipping church. For heaven's sake, we were SKIPPING BREAKFAST! And we came upon a toll booth. I am not sure what happened but as we got up to the booth Kurt had to hit the brakes suddenly and he yelled out, "Jesus!"

The man at the booth, foreign born, with a thick, beautifully rich, far away accent, perhaps African, replied: "Thank you for calling on the Holy One when you most needed to!"

Kurt apologized profusely for his misuse of God's name, especially on Easter Sunday! The man adamantly replied, "Oh no, it is never a misuse to call on the Holiest of names in your time of need!! Always call on the one who can help you!"

An unexpected but powerful Easter Message indeed.


Boston Marathon 2014: Race Day Morning

This post is not going to go on at length about how incredible the Boston Marathon is, how it is like no other marathon or how it is essentially the Holy Grail of races. Maybe that is true. Maybe it isn't. What I know is this: Every marathon is unique and special in its own way. They are interesting snapshots into the culture of the city and the people who live there. And they are filled with excitement because the energy and enthusiasm surrounding the running community exists whether it is Boston, London, Dublin or Nowhere Land USA. After spending months beating yourself up to endure 26.2 miles, how could you not be glittering with nervous energy? Now multiply that by 32,000 and THAT is Boston. At least this year.

Race day. You awake early knowing you need to put in some calories and then are too nervous to eat very much and there's no chance you can go back to sleep. It's fantastic. But by this point, most runners are usually pretty pumped. It is race day morning when I am able to just throw myself into the experience and let the race play itself out, however it may go. 

We got ready and then headed down to the lobby to wait for our new friend we didn't know yet, Alli. She arrived promptly and after a quick introduction, we were off. Alli was my saving grace. We were best friends for the day. She was excited and nervous and totally at ease with the fact that we not only stopped for coffee but then proceeded to get lost AND HIT A ROBIN IN THE MIDDLE OF THE ROAD! But good ol' Alli just trusted the day and kept a smile on her face through it all. I love Alli.

While waiting at South Street to grab a bus, Alli proceeded to tell me all about her qualifier: how she had only signed up for the Marine Corp half marathon and then decided last minute to run the full (and by last minute, I mean she changed her race the night before!) Her longest run during that training had only been about 12 miles. She ended up running a Boston Qualifying time of about 3 hours and 28 minutes. I hate Alli. But when I pressed to know how she trained this time, thinking maybe she had done a little research and realized she might need to actually work on it given how hard her recovery was in D.C., it turns out she couldn't even recall her longest run and had no idea how much mileage she had put in each week. Ahh, the carefree nature of youth.

I proceeded to impart every bit of knowledge I had of Boston's course, what to expect, when to expect it, how many Gu's she would need, etc. etc. She soaked it up and as we stood in the ridiculously long line to use the restrooms, she and another younger woman started stuffing their Gu's in their sports bras and pants because neither of them had a running pack. I marveled at their easy-going (and totally disorganized!) styles. It was as if they had not put one bit of thought into the actual race and hardly any into their training. By this point, there were four of us in our posse, and as the oldest by at least 8 years, I became mother hen, forced them to put on sun block, and wished them well. It was time to get to our corrals.

The walk to the starting ling is about 0.7 miles. I spoke to other women about skin cancer, and whether or not to drink beer on the course. I had thought maybe I would just take it easy and accept whatever beverages were offered but when that first beer stand popped up, half a mile BEFORE THE START, I couldn't risk throwing away all that time and effort, so I kept walking and made it to my starting corral just in time for the gun. And four minutes or so later, I was turning my watch on as I crossed the starting line, relaxed and almost confident in my training, but fully joyful for having been of service to others for that last few hours. The day was a success no matter what happened from there.