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Archive for March, 2018

Naming names

When I first started raising chickens about eleven years ago, I named each and every one. One year, they were Blanche, Dorothy, Sophia, and Rose, aptly named for The Golden Girls, because they were all Buff Opringtons and a lovely golden color. Another year, I named all the new chickens after female singers, and enjoyed a few years with Pheobe Snow, June Carter Cash, and Mother Maybelle Carter, just to name a few. Lucille was a friendly red chicken who would come when I called her, and I know many of you remember my sweet little Banty, Old Mum, who lived nearly nine years. Sadly, most chickens are not so long-lived, but I try to give them a happy life during their time here on earth, and in return, my egg basket is full. Last year, looking toward retirement, I decided that when these chickens pass on to that big coop in the sky, that would be it for us. By “us”, I mean “me”. HE was never too interested in raising chickens, and in fact, if I remember correctly, I was hearing the words “No, we don’t need any chickens around here” shortly before I got my first flock. Last spring, I was down to 16 hens, which was enough, although I missed picking out and raising some cute fluffy-bottomed chicks under a heat lamp in my laundry room. I missed feeding and watering and cuddling them until they got big enough to get smelly and scratch chicken poop all over the floor or until it warmed up enough to move them to the coop, whichever came first. I no longer name my chickens , because each year, there were more and more, and with that many, it is too hard for an old Farm Woman to remember all the names and faces and fluffy bottoms. Wait. I take that back. I do name them, and they are all called “Mama”, and they all come running when I call. Surprisingly, because some are quite elderly in chicken years, all 16 made it through winter and all are thriving. Spring is here, and although I am once again feeling the itch for baby chicks, I will remain strong and steadfast in my plan. If you do happen to be near the farm store and see me hovering around the brooders and giving each baby a name, please buy them before I do. HE will thank you for it.

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Renew and Reset

This week was the week of renewals and resets. First, I decided to renew my professional license seven weeks early. It’s not that I wanted to do it so early, nor would I wait until the last minute, but they wore me down with all the emails and phone alerts that I have been receiving, telling me that my license was going to expire. For years, I really did have to start the process seven weeks early, as I received ONE notification, by mail, and in the form of a renewal certificate. I wrote out a check, licked a stamp, and *voila!*, a new license was mailed and received. In filling out the computer form, I had to change my password because I couldn’t remember the old one, which was written on something and put in a safe place somewhere else. Where? I have no idea. To add to the confusion, I had to complete a survey before writing down the confirmation number, which couldn’t possibly be something easy, but more like MHFsr#Cxyf236542w@. After that, I discovered that it was time to reset my computer password at work. This was also preceded by a password reset reminder each and every single time I signed in, which is about a gazillion times a day, so let’s just say that I was bullied into it before I was ready. Truth be told, though, I’m never ready. Since that password must be kept TOP SECRET, it must be something that can be remembered easily and not written down. With someone of my advanced age, however, it would remain a secret either way. If I wrote it down, it would likely never be found again, because it would be in that place called somewhere. If I have to rely on memory, well, let’s just say that if I were kidnapped by Russian spies, any and all secrets would be safe. After a week or two of daily use, I will hopefully be able to remember the password and not enter the old password, which if used enough, could potentially cause me to be locked out of the system, which would mean getting a NEW password and starting all over again. Yes, I know. The stuff of nightmares, isn’t it? Speaking of resets, since this is Daylight Savings Time week, I not only have a new password to remember, I will also feel like I am running an hour behind all week. Reset, renew, remember, and rejoice…because it will all be better next week, once I get used to it.

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The Simple Life

I know that I am not alone when I tell you that sometimes I wish that that I could have lived in a time when life was more simple. I love reading books that take me back there for a few hours and even have a copy of Household Discoveries and Mrs. Curtis’s Cook Book copyright 1903. It is very complete, and in today’s world would probably be called The Idiot’s Guide to Household Management: A Book For Women Only, but it is well-written and gives helpful information and tips about things such as trimming your lamp wicks and warming your bed with a bed warmer filled with coals from the stove. Even better, according to the book, would be to heat bricks on top of the stove every evening, then wrap them in cloth and distribute to each family member’s bed before retiring yourself. I think a better way to describe it would be “before falling into bed in total exhaustion, but removing your bustle beforehand, or you will bounce”. Every woman also needed to know how to choose the right fowl, fish, or meat from the market for her family’s dinner. That was, of course, for a City Woman. A Farm Woman of those days probably had to gut her own fish and chase down her chickens, hatchet in one hand and toddler in the other. Nothing was wasted in those days, hence the recipes for scaling, soaking and splitting pig’s feet, making desserts out of stale cake and bread, stuffing and roasting a beef heart and preparing sliced tongue. While her fricaseed lamb kidneys were simmering, the woman must remember that each day of the week had a different chore assigned: Monday was wash day, Tuesday was ironing day, etc., etc., ETC.! There are actually a few paragraphs on “How to Raise a Mustache” and making mustache pomade. Making homemade mustache pomade for hubby must have been among the projects for the woman to do in her spare time. I was beginning to understand that the simpler times weren’t that simple when I got to the chapter on preparing the sick room, caring for the infirm, and what to do in case of an emergency. It didn’t involve calling 911 or Googling the symptoms, either. One of the more interesting recipes for a sore throat or lung problems was Irish Moss Lemonade. Thinking that it was probably a hot toddy of whiskey, lemons, and sugar, I was surprised that it really did require moss, with sand and leaves removed, of course. Do NOT try this at home, unless you substitute Irish whiskey for the Irish moss. Even though I may occasionally go back to those simpler times through reading, I am thankful that I don’t have to write this column in the dim light of an oil lamp while dipping my pen in an inkwell. Another winter storm is brewing, so I can just turn up the thermostat if I get chilly, that is, unless HE notices and turns it back down. Barney the Chihuahua curled up at my feet might not be as warm as a hot brick, but he certainly is a lot softer. I have neither Irish whiskey nor Irish moss, but a cup of tea heated up quickly in the microwave sounds pretty good.

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