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Archive for July, 2015

In the past few days, I have found a couple of teeny tiny eggs in the chickens’ nesting boxes. Being a former City Girl and not the world’s expert on chickens that some of you might think I am, I tend to Google a lot, and in this case, found a wealth of information on this tiny egg phenomenon. It happens when there is a little glitch in the hen’s reproductive system that day. Sometimes the small eggs are yolkless and sometimes they’re not. They are also known as faerie or fairy eggs. I knew it! I knew there had to be a fairy around here somewhere. Folklore tells the tales of tiny mischievous creatures who are always up to something Tinkerbellish. Around here, things have been disappearing for years. Where are the scissors? I KNOW I put them back where they belong. Who moved my keys? Why is there often a missing sock on laundry day? It’s not just me. Just today, HE lost his money clip and we searched high and low for it. To think I was beginning to worry that we were getting old and a little bit forgetful, when it’s been the fairies all along. Now we can blame the naughty little rascals on other things that happen around here such as: Who ate all the ice cream? Who used the last of the toilet paper and didn’t put out a new roll? Unfortunately, if I start asking all these questions out loud and talking about fairies, people will begin to wonder about me, as if they don’t have enough to wonder about already. Before you know it, my daughter will start getting phone calls, and as much as I hate to say it, she probably has the nursing home on speed dial already. We did find the money clip, by the way, and it wasn’t a fairy who hid it, but another naughty little rascal named Barney the Chihuahua. He figured out how to jump up on the windowsill so he can better guard us from the squirrels, and apparently knocked it off and it ended up underneath his toy basket. Wait a minute….UNDERNEATH his toy basket? He is too small to lift the toy basket, and besides, he has paws and not hands! I wonder….oh, never mind. My lips are sealed.
fairyeggs

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I wonder how they did it? I mean Ma Ingalls, my great-grandmother, and other Pioneer Women and homesteaders. HE is in the process of remodeling our laundry room/breezeway/mud room and I have spent an entire week without a washing machine. Yes, I know there are laundromats, but there is only one in the area, and it would involve me staying after work for a couple of hours, (No!!) or driving sixteen miles back to town on a Saturday (Double no!!). So, I did the next best thing and used my bathtub as a washing machine. I filled it with warm water and soap and added a load of “lighter” clothes, tee shirts, socks, and the like. I agitated the water with a long-handled scrub brush, then left them to soak. After a while, I drained the tub and added rinse water. On my knees, I drained and squeezed each item dry. There was a crick in my back after the first five minutes. As much as I complain that our new energy-efficient washing machine spins the clothes too dry and causes wrinkles when I line dry them, there is no way a middle-aged Farm Woman with a crick in her back can be as efficient. This was WORK! Since I only use the dryer in the winter, hanging clothes on the line is not a big deal for me, but now the laundry basket that I had to lug outside weighed about 30 pounds more than usual. Complicating matters, there are no back steps anymore, so I had to go around the house the long way. After two loads, I called my friend and invited myself and my dirty laundry over to her house for the afternoon. Ma Ingalls probably would have beat the clothes on a rock in the stream and laid them on the prairie grass to dry. My great-grandmother would have pumped and hauled her own water, boiled it in the washtub, then used a washboard to scrub everything clean, something HE was making jokes about as he carried the second load of heavy dripping clothes outside for me. How did the two of us manage to get so many clothes dirty in seven measly little days? Both Ma and Grandma and everyone else back in the day probably wore their clothes more than once before washing them. It is a hot and humid summer, and in our spare time, he’s tearing apart the laundry room and I’m working in the garden, so we change clothes a couple of times a day. Although we don’t mind working hard enough to break into a sweat, neither of us particularly wants to smell like perspiration, chicken coops or damp old insulation. Our friends and acquaintances are most appreciative of that, I’m sure. Although I’m hoping for a speedy renovation, things don’t always work out that way. As I hung out the heavy wet clothes, I noticed my old laundry sink sitting in the back yard amid a pile of lumber. It is nice and deep, and even has what looks like a molded washboard on one side. Thank goodness I have a hose in the backyard and don’t have to prime the pump or haul everything down to the creek like those strong women before me. I’m just a middle-aged Farm Woman with a crick in her back who would have probably lasted three days as a Pioneer Woman before dying of exhaustion.

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Some people have the impression that chickens are dumb. I disagree. Not only are they smart, they know exactly what they are doing. They know that someone carrying a bucket means they will be given food or water. They know when an eagle soars overhead they need to take cover. They know when the sun starts going down and a tired old Farm Woman is ready for her bath, it is time to go into the coop for the night. At least most of them know that. The naughty girls like to stay out past their bedtime. At first it was just one, then two, and now THREE girls have gone bad. I don’t know if the problem is caused by peer pressure or if it is that sweet-talking rooster from the neighboring farm and all of his cockadoodledooing. The chickens need to be safely cooped up because around here, there are plenty of nighttime predators such as foxes, wolves, and coyotes. Last night I made plans to go out with friends. I showered. I fluffed my hair. I hunted for, found, and dusted off my eye shadow. Heck, I even changed my earrings! The chickens were outside for the entire afternoon for some free ranging. Thirty minutes before my ride arrived, I whistled for them, carrying a bucket of leftover popcorn, and they all followed me like I was the Pied Piper or something. Popcorn is their favorite. One by one, in all shapes, sizes, and colors, they jumped up on the single step and into the coop. All except one, that is. She looked me straight in the eye, turned, and ran off into the woods. The woodticks-are-everywhere woods. The fox-wolf-coyote woods. Yes, those woods. Two of her cohorts followed. I cajoled them out of the woods and they ran around and around the coop. I was not far behind, and was using all the forms of bribery I knew. I shook the bucket of popcorn. I called out “Here, chicky chicky”. I whistled. The other chickens all came out of the coop, thinking I had more goodies. I shooed them back in. My ride was due in 15 minutes, my face was beet-red, and I was dripping sweat from all the running around and calling those chickens everything but a son of a rooster. If it weren’t 85 degrees outside with 100% humidity, I would have seriously considered cancelling my night out and making a nice pot of chicken and dumplings. If I could catch a chicken, that is. Instead, I locked the coop and opened the door to the shed, hoping they would find their way inside before dark. I brushed a couple of crawly things off my shirt and checked for ticks. I had just enough time to wash my face with a cool washcloth. Ready or not, my ride was at the door. Later that night, I tiptoed through the dewy grass with my flashlight and checked the shed, finding two of the naughty girls sound asleep inside. Figuring the third one was either roosting up in a tree somewhere or a coyote’s midnight snack, I’m ashamed to admit that I felt only a tiny bit sad about the latter. I repented early the next morning, and went outside to look for her. There she was, eating worms for breakfast and not looking the least bit guilty. As I opened the door to let her into the coop, she looked me straight in the eye, turned, and ran off into the woods.

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