Tuesday, January 30, 2018

The Chickens are On Strike

"Put eggs on the grocery list," Kim says this morning while I'm pouring myself my first cup of coffee. The list is written on a piece of scrap paper that sits on a wooden stand right next to my beloved Bunn O Matic.

"I don't think buying eggs is necessary, we have chickens for that," I say, while trying to come up with a quick chicken defense.

"Have you looked in the refrigerator lately? I think the chickens are on strike."
It is true, lately the consistency of egg laying has been a little... well... inconsistent. I relate it to the stress caused after a neighborhood dog attacked our flock last November, killing Brownie, my favorite Rhode Island Red and severely de-feathering Sunflower the Americana. Between that and the last month of below freezing temperatures I'm ready to pack up this entire herd and head down to Key West, where the sun is always shining and humans, chickens, and other animals seem to naturally co-exist.

"You know it's been a stressful winter on all of us, not just the ladies," I say. I've always called our chickens the ladies because they feel like they're part of us, especially when they fly up to the kitchen window and peer inside, looking as if they are wondering, "What's cooking in there?" Don't worry, it's not chicken.

"I think we just need to give them a little more time."

"Time to what? The whole reason we have chickens is to have fresh eggs, they're not keeping up with their end of the bargain," Kim says. "Why do you have to take it so personally anyway? This is only the second or third dozen eggs we've had to buy in like three years." She was right. Until recently, we always had an abundance of eggs.

Several years ago, when I was trying to convince Kim how great it would be to have pet chickens, part of my seductive sales pitch was, 'Just consider how much money we spend every week on organic, free range eggs... and the cost is just going to increase.' I sounded like a 1950's door to door saleswoman, but I was ready to be a farmer and I knew had to raise the persuasive bar.

"For some reason buying eggs makes me feel like I am cheating the ladies in some weird sort of way. It's crazy, I know."

"Crazy indeed," Kim adds.

So today I bought a dozen organic, free range eggs at Kroger for $3.79. I didn't tell the ladies, I merely snuck the eggs into the house while they weren't looking. Afterwards I went into the coop and made their nesting boxes more attractive with fresh shavings and several ceramic eggs to get them in the mood. For now I'm just going to keep reading
and hope to see a blue egg in the nest tomorrow morning.

If you have any good ideas I would love to hear them!

Saturday, January 27, 2018

The Long and Short of Things

"Those new sweatpants your mom bought Senia Mae are almost too small," Kim said as she pulled a colored load out of the dryer. "Do you think she knows she got her a 6x?"

"You know how my mom is with sizes," I said while rolling my eyes.

Recently, well maybe not so recently, my baby weight has returned and is now mixed with hormonal peri-menopause. So, after years of having almost identical body shapes, my mother and I are no longer able to share the same clothes. She is now two to three sizes smaller than me, which would be not be a problem if it wasn't made into such a spectacle when we are together.

A few months ago we happened to be clothes shopping. My mother turned to me and shouted, "Do you think this comes in a small or extra small?" I had to warn her that she might want to talk more softly because an average shaped woman is going to want to yank on her ponytail in frustration when they overhear that all of the sizes are "just too big."

My side of the family has an obsession with all things small and being small and staying small... forever. At some point in my life I would like to be able to look at myself in the mirror and be happy with what I saw in the reflection, whatever size I am. The weight obsession is a constant struggle, one that I am trying not to pass down to my daughter who is perfect just the way she is.

"Senia Mae is almost 8. We haven't bought a 6x in two years," Kim said.

"I don't know. Maybe she thought Senia Mae is still extra small," I said, eye-balling the length of the sweatpants while holding them up in the air. "At least they're not super short."

"Yet," Kim said. "She'll be outgrowing them in a month. I'll ask your mom about them tonight."

Later that evening I sat down next to Mom. "Did you know that running suit you bought Senia Mae was a 6x? She's practically outgrown it already."

"No way," Mom said. "I'm pretty sure I got all the kids the right sizes."

When my parents visit my sister's family in North Carolina Mom runs with all five grandchildren. The kids love it and call their group 'Grammy's Running Club.' Over the holidays Grammy got each of the three boys and the two girls matching running suits for the club.

"Did you check the size of the top?" Mom asked.

"You know, I didn't even think about that," I said.

"I'll call Kristy and see if Morgan has the right size since their suits are almost identical," Mom said. Morgan is a year and a half younger and one size smaller than Senia Mae.

"Yep, Kristy said Morgan's pants are a size 7/8 and her top is a 6x. They must have got switched in the laundry when we were up there a few weeks ago. I knew I wasn't completely losing it."

The moral of the story?

When multiple kids have the same clothes in different sizes make sure you pack up YOUR OWN kid's clothes BEFORE you start blaming your own insecurities on your innocent mother! Sorry Mom!

Sunday, January 7, 2018

3rd and Inches

Picture it: January 4th, 2018 in North Georgia. The East Coast is getting plummeted by what meteorologists have labeled a "bomb cyclone," a mammoth storm bringing frigid temperatures and arctic blast weather. Fortunately in this part of Georgia we didn't get hit with any snow, but the well below freezing temperatures made it feel like Queen Elsa had gotten more than a little bit angry with us.

My parents hoped to avoid the arctic chill by taking Senia Mae to Universal Studios, but even in Orlando it was a chilly forty- six degrees. Our car has a built in DVD player so we let my parents drive our SUV to Florida and I decided I could tool around in our old truck for a couple of days.

Under normal conditions we take the truck out at least once a week to keep it running well, but over Christmas we had to make extra room in the driveway for guests and parked the truck in the woods up by the road. It was already pitch dark when we moved the truck so we pulled it into the space facing two trees and a five foot high woodpile instead of backing it in like we usually do. Yesterday when I tried to crank the engine, not a single sound came from under the hood. The arctic blast had frozen the life out of our old truck battery.

Because of the way the truck had been maneuvered into the tight slip in the woods, there was no way to pull another car anywhere close to the engine for a jump start. My only option was plugging up the battery charger, which was a good choice except that it required electricity. The nearest outlet was about the length of a football field away from the hood of the truck.

"I can do this," I said to myself as I headed to the storage shed. The two remaining extension cords were six-foot candy cane striped cords I had gotten in last year's clearance sale at Walmart. They were the only ones currently not in use either for Christmas decorations or to keep something from freezing in the frigid cold.

I couldn't unplug the heater keeping the well pump from icing over or the cord for the heat lamp to the hen house, but we could do without the light up Santa on the porch. Even though that drop cord was probably fifty feet, sixty-two feet of cord was still not going to be enough. Remembering the last time I used the battery charger was on the dock last summer, I ran down to the boat and found the charger tucked away in a compartment with a twenty-five foot extension cord. Bonus points... I was making headway.

My hands burned in the bitter cold as I lugged the two extension cords and battery charger up the thirty stairs dropping them by the electrical outlet in the driveway. I eye-balled the length of the four cords I had piled up then looked up the hill to the truck in the distance realizing I was still going to come up short.

Years ago, during a bad breakup, my crazy ex had said, "I came into this relationship with ten extension cords..." as we were dividing up the house stuff. My initial reaction was "who the heck counts extension cords?" but I sure wish I had fought harder for them now. Heading back down to the basement, I rummaged through some boxes in the utility closet and found one more fifteen foot cord.
The two candy cane cords made it from the outlet half way across the width of the driveway. I then attached the fifteen foot orange cord and tossed it across the rest of the driveway. Instead of climbing up the steep embankment, I carried the other two cords and the charger along the edge of the drive and started at the engine of the truck.

The charger itself had about two feet of cord, so I clamped the red and black posts and laid the charger on the edge of the truck. Tossing the first drop cord over the five-foot high wood pile, I carefully navigated through the briars in what seemed like the shortest path to the electric outlet. The second cord seemed like it was going to be plenty long enough as I tossed it down the embankment towards the open end of the orange cord in the driveway. All I had to do was walk back down the hill and put the ends together.

When I got back to the driveway, what looked like plenty of cord was probably the same illusion that baffles football players after third down when the chains come out and measure third and inches. I could hold both cords, one in the left hand and one in the right, it was so close. But even with a good tug on the line, there just wasn't enough leeway to connect them together.

I ran back up to the truck to see how I could stretch a few more inches out of the already taught line. Grabbing a knee high camping table, I placed it halfway between the hood of the truck and the woodpile then stretched the cable of the charger enough so it reached the table. Hopefully this would be enough. When I pulled the two cords together I lacked about a half of an inch. A swift tug on the cord running up the hill allowed me enough lag to plug the cords together, leaving a spot in the middle slightly suspended in the air. Finally the crazy debacle was over.

A few hours later I checked on the battery. I turned the key to find lights turning on and dinging on the dashboard, but the engine wouldn't turn over. It went into the passive theft-deterrent mode as a safety precaution. The last time the truck battery lost power it took me over an hour to figure out how to disengage the high tech security feature of the truck. I had written the sequence down and kept it in the glove box.

All I had to do was hit unlock on the key less entry fob, place the key in the ignition, turn it slightly, press and hold the valet button under the steering column for at least five seconds and then the security system should disengage. Simple enough. I fumble through the cup holder with the spare change to find the keys. When I hit the unlock button on the fob nothing happened. I hit it a second, third, then fourth time with no results.

"Nooooooooooo," I whined as I laid my head on the steering wheel, disgruntled and disgusted. Of course, the battery of the key fob was dead too. Thanks Elsa. I may as well buy a couple more extension cords while I'm picking up new batteries for the key fob!