Saturday, September 25, 2010

Preparing for Winter



 As I mentioned in a previous post, one of my chickens (Peggy), was born blind in one eye. I believe that as a result of this disability she has been subjected to a lot of bullying from the other girls.  The only girl that doesn't pick on her is Scarlett,  a black Australorp, who I got when they were both baby chicks just 3 days old. I call them sisters, even tho technically they're not biological sisters.   So I had these girls in temporary housing until they could be integrated with the rest of the flock, but because of the situation that has frequently turned nasty at times, it looks like these gals will have a bachelorette pad all to themselves.  Peggy's just too docile, submissive, and therefore, a target, to have it any other way.  Scarlett can hold her own, but I don't want Peggy to be all by herself at night.  Just seems too lonely.

I went to Craig's List and found a nice solid dog house that I bought from a lady in Virginia whose small dog was far too spoiled to live outside.  It was in perfect condition, being that it was never used and had been sitting in her garage for a little over a year collecting cobwebs. Craig's List is just the greatest, isn't it? I've found some fantastic bargains there. I also found practically brand new kennel fencing on Craig's List, too,  for the girls to stay in while hubby and I are at work, or out and about and not able to supervise the goings on between the "mean girls" and little blind Peggy.  Maybe I'm being overly cautious, but I just don't want to take any chances.

Let's go before Dad asks for help!

That  afternoon my husband put together the fencing.  It was really easy to assemble and took him less than an hour to complete.  As you can see, our busybodies/dogs can never be too far away from the action.  Of course, ask for their help with anything and they can't be bothered.  Always micromanaging.      

He then began to construct a door for their new home with a screen window built in for ventilation, which hinges and unhinges when needed.  I figure I can still use the screen door option until the end of October around here and after that shut the screen so they are not exposed to the cold air, wind, sleety rain and snow when winter arrives. Of course, the red door was my idea.

I'm really happy with the way everything turned out. They've adapted very well to their new living quarters and area.  The first night they seemed a little freaked out by the change of scenery, but once it got dark they gave up the nervous pacing back and forth in the run and just went right into their house for the night.  The next day I let them out of the run to range in the whole backyard with all the other girls when I was home, periodically checking on them and then chilling on the chaise lounge in the yard while reading my book. Once twilight started to creep in they wandered back to their new home as if they'd been there forever!


Friday, September 24, 2010

Can We PLEASE say Good Bye To The Dogs Days of Summer?

So here we are almost into October and the thermometer is still registering in the 90's in Maryland.  UGH. I tell you I'm done with it. This past summer was just brutal in terms of the temperatures. Record heat waves...which meant one thing; A/C was running non-stop at our house.  Another UGH.  We recently had a break in the temps for a couple of weeks and I was LOVING that the windows were up, the A/C was turned off, and temps were in the mid to high 70s during the hottest part of the day. I thought I had said goodbye to summer once and for all.- at least for another year that is. So long, sister! The mornings were cool and I never left the house without a light sweater or jacket. It was such a welcome change. But like the proverbial "bad penny" it seems that summer has turned back up in Maryland again and the weather gurus are  predicting more hot weather for the rest of the weekend. Enough already!  

As you can see, just like any other summer day, the impatiens are still going strong in the hen house window box...

...and Lilly pants for air on the back porch steps because it's just too darn hot...

...but no matter to Darla and Lucy who enjoy a cool dust bath in their run as the trees shade them from the blazing sun above...ahhhhh!

...while Zeus spends his time supervising  the activity  that goes on  all around him (and probably wonders "what ARE those things, anyway?")

..and yours truly is still wearing her very fashionable backyard ensemble of cut off jean shorts and flip-flops!

But hey, despite all that, I hope everyone has a great weekend :-)!!!

Friday, September 17, 2010

What A Week!

I know just how you feel, little guy!
This past week has been so crazy/busy/hectic for me and I'm SO glad it's over, although it felt like it would never end! Our Firm's office manager went on vacation this week, and guess who's been filling in as her replacement while she's gone? Yours truly. After doing her job and mine, I've been completely and totally wiped out! This is the reason why as you may or may not have noticed, I have not had the chance to post one single thing to my blog. I'm just that tired. I mean, I don't even have the energy for one creative thought or an interesting tidbit about my day once I get home. Even on my way into work in the morning I've been feeling like zombie brain. I think fatigue has a way of doing that to you. I have enjoyed reading the other bloggers that I follow though, which seems to be about all I could handle this week, with a comment posted here and there. But every evening after work I've had near zero energy, but try to rally at least a little something that's left in me to spend time with my "babies" when I get in, feed them, then head out to the backyard to say a word to two to the girls and give them a little snack before it gets dark and they head into their coop for the night (as you can imagine, it's less and less time as the days get shorter. In another month or so they'll already be in bed with I get home - SAD!) And don't think the guilt of being a bad dog/cat/chicken mother isn't eating away at me, either. So I'm racked with exhaustion and guilt. Great. I even worked a full day today (Friday) which I haven't done since February and wow, what a difference that extra day made in sucking every last bit of energy I had out of me. No way to live I can tell you that.

 On a more positive note, however (I hate to completely bum everyone out), things should (fingers crossed!) be back to normal next week and I'm looking forward to a good weekend. We're expecting beautiful weather so I plan to spend a good portion of my days outdoors communing with dogs and chickens, cleaning out the chicken coop and attempting to at least start on some much needed weeding in the flower garden, as well as moving a weigela bush from one area of the yard to another where it will get more sun and produce more blossoms in late spring/early summer of next year. It may seem like a lot of work to some, but this is actually the kind of thing that I consider completely therapeutic and look forward to doing.  This is my version of sanity. 

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Run 4 Shelter

Today my husband and I participated in the "Run 4 Shelter" (   10K/5K Run/Walk  to benefit the Our Haven Homeless Shelter on Kent Island.  I'd never done an event of this type before, but I know the good work that the shelter and everyone associated with it does to help our area's homeless, so I thought it would be a good idea, as well as fun and good exercise.  Being the non-competitive slacker that I am, however, I chose the 5K walk instead of the run  (it's best to break into these things slowly, right?) 

Registration for the event started at 7:00 AM and the race began at 8:00.  The weather could not have been any more beautiful, either.  It was relatively cool when we got there and was only predicted to be in the high 70's later in the day.  We were blessed with sunny, bright blue skies and puffy white clouds the whole time. Perfect!  

Apparently this is the second annual event of this type to benefit the shelter, and although it was no Boston or New York marathon in terms of participants, I would say that it still attracted a very respectable number of people for our small town and apparently many more than last year's run.  From what I saw, I would say it was somewhere in the hundreds, with people of all ages participating.  But the best part was that all the proceeds from the registration go directly to the shelter.  

I wasn't interested in competing with anyone else in order to make the best time in my age group (better known as "middle-aged and then some!") or for a trophy.  I did it mainly for fun and to help out a worthy local cause.

Hurry up, Tony, before all the cookies are gone!
As you can see, we completed the 5K in a little over an hour's time (hey, I said we weren't going for any records here!).  We both had a really nice time on a beautiful day and after indulging in the free water, cookies, and bananas that were handed out to the race participants afterwards, I came home and took a nap! 

Who knew these events could be so exhausting?

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Livin' Large By Not Livin' Large

Last February my boss was kind enough to offer me the opportunity to work a 4-day work week, and because I commute so far from home to work into Washington, D.C. each day (60 miles each way), this makes for a very long day.  In fact, I usually don't pull up in my driveway until almost 7:30.  As you can imagine, this doesn't allow for a lot of quality time with my husband who has to be in bed with lights out by about 9:00PM (his alarm goes off at 3:30 AM), or the animals either for that matter.  The reduced work schedule sounded great, but the only hitch was getting paid for 4 days instead of 5.  This was a significant decrease in my salary, but when Tony and I talked it over he said go for it, we'll manage, and you'll be so much happier with one less day of commuting and more time at home with the animals.  Needless to say, however, our lifestyle would change a little because of the decrease in cashflow. As a result, I've had not only just to cut down on, but almost completely cut out the luxuries we used to enjoy.  One of the first things to go was eating out.  Don't need to tell you how expensive that can be, and I think I was getting a little too used to it.  Next was online and catalog shopping.  I've always for the most part been a bargain shopper and enjoyed thrift and consignment stores, but I'd say we were previously on an acquaintance basis; now we're BFFs.  We also cut out our super duper cable package with every channel imagineable and down sized to basic cable and that was a pretty significant savings, too.  Personally I'm not much of a TV watcher, but where we live you pretty much have to have some form of cable in order to get any kind of reception at all, and God knows now that Fall is here my husband would not survive one Sunday without his NFL football!  We did manage a little weekend getaway to the mountains a couple of weeks ago as you read in my earlier post, but our annual July beach trip to Ocean City, MD went bye-bye, too. Hotel prices in peak season, as well as all the other costs associated with vacation (kenneling the dogs and paying a petsitter to come in and feed chickens and lock them in their house at night, as well as feeding the cat, have to be factored in as expenses as well) was more than we could handle. Hopefully next year we can swing it.   

I have to admit, in the beginning the adjustment was hard for me.  In fact, after I got the first paycheck reflecting the difference in salary, I wondered if I'd made the right decision. One day a week doesn't sound so awful, but you'd be surprised how you get used to it.  There is a bright side though.  It's now been 7 months into the new schedule and I realize how much "stuff" I didn't need.  I really do stop now and think long and hard before I impulsively buy something that isn't a necessity.  I've also used my day off during the week to volunteer for a couple hours, which is something I said I'd always do "when I had more time."  But mainly, I get to spend more time with my wonderful menagerie of animals that I love so much, and to sit down for a home-cooked dinner, together, with Tony (imagine that!). It's great because we never get to do that when I'm working the rest of the week.  Even made a peach pie from scratch(!) for the first time a couple of weeks ago and was really happy with the way it turned out. Yum!