Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Yet another rattler

This morning about 6:45 I was sleepily filling the bird feeders, until WHOA! A rattlesnake under the north one, and he was BIG and he was RATTLING! ANd he didn't seem to be planning on leaving anytime soon, so I went and got the .410 and shot him from the safety of distance. But it shook me, as well it should. That is the 4th one I personally have killed in the last 11 days.
I hope this doesn't go on much longer. I should always be cautious, but lately I should be hyper-alert, and that is NO way to live my life. I need to be calm and relaxed most of the time to ward off fibromyalgia pain and Crohn's Disease exacerbations.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Picture of original chicken compound

  Posted by Picasa

Another snake, and CSA update

Yesterday morning I was in the Cornish coop feeding the chickens when I realized there was a rattler curled up in the dog crate we have there for shelter. He wasn't moving; it was still cool. So I quickly upended the crate, throwing him to the bottom, and went out the door, across the yard, and out through the gate, holding the crate up with one hand. There I set it down, went and got my trusty shovel, then dumped him out on the driveway and cut off his head. Yechhhh! THen I stopped to think about it.
DH was perturbed because I didn't come and get him to kill it. Duhhh! He spends most of his leisure time with his community service project and then wonders why I don't even think of being helpless and needing him to do things for me when he's here. Anyway, later I realized that I probably pulled a muscle in my back carrying that crate awkwardly out of the chicken environs. Adrenalin was in charge when I was doing it.

Also, people at the CSA want to buy eggs, and they want to know something about the chickens that lay them. So I sent this Word file to the coordinator to see what she thinks. I have orders for 3 dozen tomorrow, and nobody has even seen them.

Desert Haven
AJ Wischmeyer
22900 West Eagle Mountain Road
Buckeye, AZ 85326
623 386 3295

So you want to know about the chickens that are producing these great eggs. I tend to run on too long, so feel free to stop reading when you get bored.

Desert Haven consists of 20 acres of desert hillsides and a major wash that acts as a wildlife corridor between the BLM lands to the south of us and the Gila River bottom to the north of us. We border both, and our neighbors on both sides have at least 10 acres each, so its really nice out here. However, that also means that we are in the middle of the hunting range for bobcats, foxes, coyotes, skunks, owls, several different varieties of hawk, and a pair of golden eagles. Also rattlesnakes and dogs running loose. Dogs are the absolute worst chicken predator, as they kill for fun.

So, when we decided to obtain some chickens so we could have natural meat and eggs, our first step was to remodel a couple of existing chicken coops to make them as predator-proof as possible. Then we built another one to raise chicks in, and connected all three with a communal yard. The yard we even covered with orchard netting to keep out wild birds and especially predator birds.

The eggs can’t really be called “free range”, because the only time the chckens get to really free range is when I can be right out there in the midst of them. That doesn't happen near as often as they would like. But they get to be out in the yard in the daytime and secure in their coops at night.

What kind of chickens are they? I’m glad you asked. There are 7 Egyptian Fayoumis, 6 hens and a rooster called Walii, 3 Barred Rock hens, and an Ameraucana hen. There were a few more Barred Rocks and Ameraucanas, but I lost some to heat stroke when we first started having days and days of record-breaking heat. Now I keep deep tubs for wading in the yard at all times, and when its really hot, I have a misting attachment on the water hose to turn on. They love the mister, and stand around under it like kids under the shower. The ones who didn’t love the mister have passed on.

Coming up I have 4 Speckled Sussex pullets (hens too young to lay), 2 Light Brahmas, a Black Minorca, another Barred Rock, and 2 White Leghorns. This variety is because I ordered a hatchery-choice bargain assortment last spring. They should start laying in another month or so.

I brought up the older hens on Purina SunFresh certified Natural chick starter and grower until they started to lay, and have gradually switched them over the last six months from Purina Layena to a mixture of whole grains that I balance and augment with kitchen scraps, oyster shell, and dry cat food(salmon-based, natural formula) (when they are molting). The cat food is animal protein, 31 %, that helps them to grow new feathers and prevents them from picking feathers off each other to eat. All of the chickens also supplement their own diet with all the bugs they can catch. I abet this by moving the feed and water dishes to let them get the bugs there, and often put a shovelful of compost, just filled with bugs, in the yard. You should see them chasing those bugs around!They don’t get any soy, they don't get antibiotics, and they don’t get any arsenic unless its in our well water.

I'll try to post the picture I sent when this connection calms down.

Thursday, August 24, 2006


Never become complacent and stop paying attention! After not seeing a rattlesnake since June, I have had to shoot one under the north bird feeder last week, and last night I killed one IN the chicken yard. And the worst part is that I didn't even see him until I turned around from shutting the chickens in for the night. Which means I walked right over or past him on my way to the door, than turned around and he started rattling right there in front of me!
I ran and got a shovel and chopped his head off. It was getting darker by the minute, so I left the body until DH got home and we removed it to the wash. It was gone this morning. The other critters do appreciate a free meal, and anything left near the chicken houses disappears right away. So they must come by to check every night.
I don't kill any snakes BUT rattlesnakes, and I wouldn't kill them if they would stay away from the house and yards. I know they come around to catch rodents, but I encourage OTHER snakes to make their homes close for that purpose, and would just as soon never see a rattler. I know the bite wouldn't kill me, as I have had both a foal and a puppy bitten on the face and survived, but there was a lot of pain and swelling and I don't want to go thru that. So there.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006


I went to EMCC and picked up my bag of produce this morning, after yoga. I got to meet Kolleen that I have been corresponding with for months, and also Rachel, the coordinator with Crooked Sky. Rachel says she has already had people asking about getting eggs thru the CSA and we all three discussed it for awhile, finally deciding that, for now, Rachel will give my card to those who want eggs and they can call or email me to bring eggs on CSA pickup day. This looks like it could really take off, and now here I am behind the 8-ball when some of the hens have decided its too much work to lay an egg every day and have cut back to every other or every third day. I wish the pullets would hurry up and start laying, as it looks like I will be able to sell all they can produce, whether to my quilting customers or the other CSA members.
I'm glad to be getting in on this right at the beginning. The produce I got is very nice and I know it is healthy and organic. I have visited the farmer, seen the fields, and gotten good answers to my every question. Its not only organic, but also LOCAL. Local is even better than organic. I just can't say enough good things about this.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Call Wave

Well, I gave up and downloaded the Call Wave software and signed up for the service again this morning, this time thru Earthlink. I thought we were doing fine without it, but my DH kept having awful fits about my being on the computer when he wants to talk to me. Shoot, it was for that reason that we got the voicemail in the first place, and the CallWave the first time. HE doesn't WANT to leave a message; he wants to talk to me RIGHT NOW. However, he does not want to pay for the service. In order to keep the peace, I have to pay for the extra plan myself, just in case he wants to call me once every couple of months or so. Bitch, bitch, bitch. But I don't understand why these tantrums. I do practically everything he wants already. The concept of compromise, to him, is that I will do whatever he wants. To be fair, its not just me. I think he is the same with everybody, and with Pat too. He always knows best, no matter what. But I get bloody tired of it.

So proud of my niece

Address by Ava Jensen

Good evening. I’m currently majoring in Philosophy with a strong interest in Ethics, and I graduated from the AIMS Diploma Program at the age of 16. I was given a district-paid slot in this program because I had little choice but to drop out even though I had an IEP. I was entitled to one as a twice-exceptional student, being both profoundly gifted and afflicted with major depression. It is due to that crippling condition that I began to fail school, but as a result of my status, I was placed on an IEP which bound my school and teachers by law to help me by making adjustments to my workload.

I should mention that even while I was too apathetic to get out of bed even to shower, I still tended to score A's and the occasional B on exams. It was the excessive amounts of repetitive homework which I had trouble turning in regularly. Yet despite the federal mandate that my teachers make accommodations for me as a disabled student, they steadfastly refused and so even with high test scores, I failed out of tenth grade. If not for the school district’s policy and responsibility to make amends for having failed to deliver to me a decent education, I would not have had the second chance afforded me by the AIMS Diploma Program.

Upon my successful exit from the program, my high school was eager to claim me as one of its graduates despite my decision to be awarded a Weld County High School Diploma instead. So now I have two high school diplomas, which brings me to my first question: With graduates no longer being allowed to have a diploma awarded by their former high schools, then surely they will no longer be unjustly counted as graduates of those high schools, correct?

The more compelling question here, however, is “What would have happened to me if I hadn’t been guaranteed a district-paid slot in the AIMS Diploma Program?” Most importantly, what will happen to the 120 more human beings who are now to be denied this much-needed second chance? How is reducing the available slots to be considered “moving the program forward”? What happens to the non-prioritized individuals who will remain on the waiting list year after year and never be deemed worthy of a second chance of their own?

The superintendent put forth the idea that reducing the number of district-paid slots from 200 to 80 will somehow serve kids better, since the other 120 were supposedly prone to “lying on the sofa” all day, using the AIMS Diploma Program as an easy and wholly unnecessary way out. With all due respect, that idea has little basis and fails to show that 120 students should be denied slots based on the alleged behavior of a few.

For one thing, those students who are not given a slot by the district must not only pay $1,000 out of their own pockets but must also wait until they are 21 years of age before they can apply to the program. Incidentally, I did spend a lot of time sleeping instead of actively working due to my medical condition, but I have gone on to cultivate a 4.0 and receive two awards of distinguished scholarship, one at AIMS and the other at UNC. That would not have been possible if not for the AIMS Diploma Program. Should I have been denied my second chance and condemned to a life of inescapable poverty? More pertinently, should others be?

Unfortunately, there are socioeconomic and racial factors at play here, and simply ignoring the cycle of poverty will not make it go away, at least not for those trapped within it. Many students drop out as soon as they are able in order to work to support their families, but without a high school diploma, they will find themselves unable to advance beyond a certain level of pay without resorting to professions beyond lawful society. No one ever really wants to become a high school dropout. At the very least, no one wants to be unable to succeed in life, and that is exactly what reducing the slots in the AIMS Diploma Program will cause.

The G.E.D. has been mentioned as an alternative, but it carries with it a heavy stigma, and I have personally seen great numbers of job listings which state that only those with actual high school diplomas will be considered for the position. There is much, much more which could be said, but for now I can only strongly urge you to alter your attitudes and actions regarding the AIMS Diploma Program. Thank you.

Bear Cabin Inn

Last weekend I went to a knitting retreat at the Bear Cabin Inn outside Show Low, and had a wonderful time. The first evening I did wonder why I wanted to go in the first place, since we had silly hats, birthday cake, flower leis (for me), and singing for MY birthday. Yechhhh! I have managed to avoid that sort of thing for many years and don't like it any more now than I ever did. But I do love my friends and I know they meant well.
As for immersing myself in knitting from Friday-Sunday, that was just fine. However, some knitters in the know (having been there before) brought sewing machines and worked part of the time on quilts. I WISH I would have done that, and definitely will next time. We arranged to have another in September 2007, since we couldn't get a date any sooner. There are also quilting retreats at Bear Cabin on a regular basis, but I have never attended because I save up to go to Quilt Camp in the Pines in Flagstaff every July.
Being used to spending a large portion of my time along, I got a little harried and sneaked out for a long walk by myself Saturday afternoon, and subsequently was able to maintain a little objectivity. I guess I just didn't realize how necessary the solitude still is to me. I have known it in the past, just forgot.
I took 3 dozen eggs from my precious chickens along to give the hostess, Carol, and we ate them for breakfast on Saturday morning. HaHa, there IS a method to my madness. A couple of the knitters have requested eggs to purchase on Fridays at Knit Studio. And Carol gave ME a box of Kenyan loose black tea in a wooden box after I admired it. Evidently her daughter still lives in Kenya and sends it to her on a regular basis. Its great stuff, although I can't take it strong and have to keep diluting it. Make it in the coffeemaker, and one little (measuring) teaspoon is enough tea for the whole pot. A cup of that will get rid of a caffeine headache in minutes.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

A swarm of bees

Yesterday a swarm of bees landed in the palo verde tree right outside the chicken yard. They buzzed away but just hung there, hopefully just to rest before continuing the search for a new home. This morning they had moved to a place under the overhang on the Cornish coop. No good! If they decided to stay it would be hard to remove them, and there is entirely too much activity by the chickens and us there to make them feel safe. I got on the net and researched and found that they would probably move on within a few days.
And lo and behold, I was just up there a bit ago and they HAVE moved on. Thank goodness, I was not looking forward to trying to remove them to a hive even though we have a smoker and bee veils. A reprieve, now we can be better prepared to capture and hive the NEXT swarm we see. I really would like it if DH would take up beekeeping. After all, he did work with bees some as a teenager, and we have some of the equipment, and we have the room, and there are surely enough bees coming to water here and visit the flowers. I would LOVE to have honey from our own bees.
But alas, he only wants to do what he wants to do, and so far, being a beekeeper is not what he wants to do. I understand, even though I don't want to. After all, I only want to do what I want to do, too.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Educating the Gifted and Talented

Educating the Gifted and Talented

My SIL Conny's blog. She is very smart and a talented writer. Back when we were kids, I guess they weren't classifying kids as gifted, normal, sub-normal. All I remember is normal and sub-normal in my school, But everybody knew who the gifted ones were; they just called us smart.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Hemp, again

I think this photo must be before washing and the previous one after washing. It didn't shrink at all, but did relax. That evened out the stitches some and made it much nicer to feel. Posted by Picasa

Hemp for shawl

Well, here is a photo of my swatch, either before or after washing. I can't tell which from the photos. However, I can really tell from the swatch in my hands. After washing, the yarn is much more flexible and the stitches even out some. It will never be called "soft", but is really very nice to feel. Its like linen, but the price was much more affordable. I have been knitting on it some the last couple of days and it is quite enjoyable to knit with, after you get used to it and solve whatever crops up. I don't have a bamboo circular the correct size (8US) so used a Bryspun (soft plastic) to start with. It clings just enough to help keep the stitches on the needle while you get used to working with the yarn. Now I have done about 6 inches of the pattern and have switched to Addis. I'll let you know how that works. I may need to switch back to something with more pointed needles to help pick up the stitches on M1. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Panic! No internet!

Yesterday when I got home from town, the phone was dead. I didn't think too much about it; I had read all my email in the AM, and I knew where my DH was. But it stayed dead all evening, and it was still dead this morning. I had asked DH to call it in from his work, so at least I knew it was reported, just in case the outage was ONLY ours. It finally came back on about an hour ago.
I have been online ever since. Its amazing how many things you think you need to know RIGHT NOW when you can't find them out right now.
I'm actually kind of ashamed of myself for becoming dependent on the computer. I think I'm so smart because I don't watch TV and I hate the telephone, but now look at how I acted when I didn't have internet for 24 hours. Bad.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

High cholesterol

I went to Dr. Kapur yesterday to discuss the results of my lab work. My total cholesterol is 213, or 231, I can't remember which, so I am going to say 213. He said the bad kind was over 100 anyway. I need to lose weight, as my BMI is 27, and that should help my cholesterol. Just from reading a few emails from RealAge, I find that garlic is supposed to help lower it, so I will get some when I go to GNC on Wednesday. He also gave me a script for Folic Acid, as it helps my B-12 work better, which I will fill then too.
This training class on Wednesday for the primary election is just for judges. First time I'll be going to one for a particular position. Dare I think that my feedback after every election has something to do with it? Lacking evidence to the contrary, I believe it has. But it won't affect Doris or people like her. They will still do everything the way they have always done it, and don't care to update their methods to allow the TEAM to take care of things. However, if the classes are any good, I will probably consent to be an inspector again in November.

New yarn

I've gone a little bit crazy lately, and bought several kinds of new yarn that I really love but didn't need. I bought 100% hemp lace weight for a shawl that I haven't had time to start yet, and I bought Butterfly Super 10 for a Peace Jacket that is lovely but I haven't started it yet either. That one I will definitely take to the knitting retreat to work on even if I don't start it beforehand. What happened to all my good intentions to finish UFOs at the retreat? I have at least 8 of those packed up in knitting bags to take along and finish and its only a weekend! Self-control is not my strongest suit.

Republican chickens

They are intolerant, small-minded, mean-spirited, and cruel to anyone weaker than they are.
I guess all chickens must be Republicans
DH has such a hard time with the way stronger and older chickens chase and peck the younger ones. I've tried explaining that chickens are like that, but he thinks there ought to be some way to prevent it from happening. Well, sure there is. You need separate pens for each chicken. Duh. That wouldn't be much fun for anybody. All you can do is eat or isolate the worst offenders and give everybody plenty of room to get away. Actually, I don't think we really have a problem that way. And both chasers and chasees get plenty of healthful exercise. Grin.