Friday, July 29, 2011

The Dickenson Dozen...

Every year, we try to have a Dickenson family vacation. This is when all the Dickenson brothers and their families come together with Nana and PaPa and we do something fun. There are 12 of us, total...well, until Raegan gets here. This year, we went to Shawn, his wife Sandra and their two girls in Nashville. Shawn is Shannon's identical twin brother, pictured on the far left, Shannon in the center, and their older brother, Todd on the right. Todd and his wife, Kerry live in Montpelier, Va.

These pictures were at our wedding, 2 years ago...they haven't changed all that much. Well, Shannon's gained about 20 lbs, but that's a good thing!

Here are the kids at the Nashville Zoo. Pyper, on the left is ours, holding her is Hannah, Shawn's oldest, she's 13. Then sweet Willow, she's 3 and is Todd's, and then little Emma on the right, she's Shawn's youngest and is 9.

Pyper watching the monkeys, Hannah holding a monkey, and Emma looking at all the monkeys.

Todd and Willow looking at the monkeys.

Pyper on the trolley at the Zoo...

Todd giving a crazy face, I guess because he was the chaperone on the trolley with the kids.

Pyper watching the Bangle Tigers. Sandra, Shawn's wife, loves the kids and her enthusiasm was contagious.

A sweet picture of Pyper and I. The flamingos were my favorite. Pyper's hiding my 8 month preggo belly!

Their coloring was can't do them justice.

I really liked the elephants. They are so majestic.

Pyper was pooped after 4 hours at the zoo in 97 degree heat. The heat index on this day was 115. Whew!

The next day, we went to the Build A Bear workshop. Pyper picked out her bear, and here, she's watching the stuffing twirl around....

Watching the worker fill up her bear, Peeper, with just enough love and cuddles.

Pyper kisses Peeper's heart...

Puts it in Peeper for safe keeping. Then sews up Peeper really tight...

Trying to find an outfit for Peeper proves to be too much thinking and hard work. Pyper can't take the shopping stress... Peeper is adorned with hair bows. Build A Bear was a great experience. We had a great time the next day at the pool, where Pyper learned to go down the water slide. We didn't get pics of that because Shannon forgot the camera. Coming back, was uneventful, but certainly sad, as it was a fun trip.

Once we got home, Pyper spiked a fever. Then on Tuesday morning, as I was getting her ready to go to Nana's, I noticed she was burning up. She had a temperature of 101.7! I called the Dr, and was tested for Strep. It wasn't step, but instead, viral pharyngitis.

Even sick, my girl is still happy. Here she is at the Dr's office, enjoying a sucker...

In this picture, she's dancing for joy that she doesn't have Strep. Just some stinkin' virus, but she's tough...

She's already feeling much better! Getting ready for Mamom to come visit all next week!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Green Goodness

This is what our garden looks like so far. I'm pretty impressed! The potatoes aren't as great as last year, but we still have some time...

The corn is looking really good. Except for Goldie and Ida Mae being in there...

And there they are in the tomatoes, too! Those sneaky snakes!

Tassels already...

I can't wait to eat these tomatoes! I could go ahead and fry some of these up...

Cherry Tomatoes

This is a volunteer random squash. We have NO idea how it ended up in our garden, as we didn't plant anything like this last year! Anyone know what it is?

We've already harvested a few of these yellow squash. I have a new squash/potato au gratin recipe I'm looking forward to making with this one...

This will be our 4th zucchinni so far. I've made zucchinni bread and stir fry so far. YUMMY GARDEN GOODNESS!

As a side note, we are totally pestacides, herbacides, or any chemicals. Many people scoff at this idea, and it IS more more work...weeding, picking off bugs, etc. However, I feel the benefits outweigh the cons. I don't want to eat stuff layered in chemicals.

Escape Convicts

Yep, please note the direction of their escape...from the barn lot to the garden. Read below to see how the story unfolds....

This is the sweet face I found as I went out to check on the chickens. This is one of our resident barn swallow chicks. He was just hanging out in the sun on the lip of the run-in shed. I hope he makes it, but I'm doubtful. He didn't make any attempt to fly...

As I opened the coop door, I immediately noticed there had been an infiltrator in the coop! I'm guessing it was Hammish. He dug his way from the aisle of the barn into the coop. This isn't an easy task, mind you. I had reinforced this area with bricks, then covered and filled with dirt. I guess Hammish is more determined than we had expected. Shannon had found a similar hole right next to it a few weeks ago, and put the cinder block to prevent any similar mishaps. That lasted 3 weeks.

In the above picture, you can see Shannon's cinder block, and the brick Hammish moved to get in. The reason I'm thinking it's Hammish, is because if it were any other predator, it would have killed the chickens. After seeing this hole, I immediately counted chicken heads. All were accounted for and they didn't seem stressed at all. Once again, this is why I'm thinking this was Hammish. He must really love his ladies to break into their coop at night to spend some quality time with them...

I let the girls out, and they immediately found the fresh piles of horse pooh and started feasting. Yeah, it's gross, but hey, they do it. It really cuts down on flies, parasites, and chicken feed. Over to the left, you can see Blanche straining her neck to get to some insect on the wall...what cool scavengers!

Here, they are plotting their attack.

I left the chickens for awhile to go in and make dinner. I came back out to check on them, and they were no where to be found! I immediately looked at the garden...on the other side of the pasture fence. Yep, there they were...badnesses. My escape convicts.
Can you spot them in the corn???

What about now? I could just see Blanche telling Myrtle to be quiet, and they may be left unnoticed. No such luck, Blanche!
(Click on the picture to read Blanche's commentary...)

On the garden side of the fence I shoo'd them out back under the fence...Shannon wrangled them back up to the pasture.

They pecked and scratched for a bit...and planned their counter-attack.

Pyper decided to do her version of the chicken dance, and showing them her belly. That's where they will be if they keep getting into my garden!

The chickens were not impressed with her rendition of the chicken dance, or her threats of being eaten. They continued their plans. They ended up in the garden 3 times. All three times, we ushered these clucking beasts back to where they belonged. If I weren't such a nice chicken owner, and want them to be happy and free, I'd leave them in their coop!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Wordless Wednesday...

A Roo (?) and a Roost

So sorry about the lag in between posts, but we had a severe thunderstorm last week, and our Airport (Apple wireless router and modem) was blown to smithereens. The second one in 2 years. I'm seeing a theme...Anyhoooo! There are lots of pics in this post, as we've been busy and I've been taking pictures!

While watching the Dixie Chicks grow, I've noticed "Mable" (right) has developed a distinctive comb and waddle (the red fleshy bits on top of her head and under her chin). Her sudden growths have far exceeded those of her sisters, Myrtle (left), and Ida Mae (Bottom). Not to mention, her feather color is different than the other Rhode Island Reds we have. "Mable" has blackish-green feathers coming out at the base of her tail and around her neck. None of her RIR sisters have these colors. This leads me to think that "Mable" is really a Roo. A Rooster, that is. Pooh...I mean Stew. So, "Mable" will be renamed "Stew Pot." He'll be in the stew pot if he is hateful and mean to any of my girls or to my family. Now, I do understand that there are benefits to having a Roo. They protect their flock of women, and if I ever want to expand my flock, he will be an essential part of that endeavor. BUT, I have also heard of nightmarish stories of aggressive Roos and my mom has scars on her legs from the spurs of such beasts. Shannon is not in agreement with me on the sex of this chicken. He just thinks "Mable" is in the 90th percentile of growth compared to the other ladies. I think he's in denial. So, for now, we have a transgendered chicken.

Shannon built the girls a nice roost, and to encourage them using it, we put their favorite treats on several levels. It worked. That night, when I tucked them into bed, Goldie was already hunkered down on the top roost.

Goldie and Ida Mae checking out the roost and the watermelon.

Once they figured it out, we put the watermelon back on the floor. The next morning, it was nothing but a green shell...

We decided it was time to let them out to forage. They love going out, and run past me as soon as I open the doors in the evenings. They still come in and out of their coop, but mostly stay outside eating grass, clover, bugs and scratching through horse pooh.

Here's Myrtle, Blanche, and Goldie enjoying a beautiful day outside.

Hammish, our mighty barn cat/hunter, was at first only interested in a chicken dinner when he discovered them in the pasture. After the girls ganged up on him, pecking his ears and paws (he bears the scabs on both), he soon realized 9 against 1 weren't good odds, so he has become their faithful flock protector. He lays out in the pasture, surrounded by his girls, basking in the sun listening to their clucks and coos. His eyes stay in what seems like a constant state of half closure and contentment. He's in heaven with his Dixie Chicks.

We decided to go ahead and hang their feeder and waterer. The girls were roosting on top of the small waterer we had in there, and the water was a constant mess. So far, I love how this has worked out.

Two of the girls check out what Shannon and I are doing to their coop.

Shannon starts the process of putting up roosts...

We used recycled materials from around the farm. No use buying new, when the girls are just going to sleep and pooh on them...

The finished product. The top roost is a landscaping timber, and the bottom two are decking boards that we bought as face boards for our 4 board fence. They were damaged, and instead of taking them back to Lowes, we decided to just use them. The side braces are old oak from the barn...probably about 65 years old or so.

The girls checking out their new diggs.

Completely unrelated to chickens, here are some pretty pictures of my lillies that decided to finally bloom. They are near our side door and the smell is heavenly...

This one is my favorite. What's growing in your garden???