Monthly Archives

February 2011


I love you – don’t be mad!

OK, I know the theme changed.

It’s not me being capricious and evil; it’s because the prior one was throwing a fit and refusing to show up on mobile phones.

So I tried another, similar one. That one threw a fit when I tried to widen it to accomodate 700 px images.

Next one – died when I tried to turn on a vital plugin.

A dozen themes later, this one works. It functions in the essential ways I need it to and it’s not hideous. Yes, I could throw Twenty Ten up there or even (at this point) write my own, but then it’s boxy and dark and ugly. I am superficial. I needs my pretty.

I fought with the CSS today to make sure the text is large and readable. If anyone’s still having trouble reading it please let me know.

I am HOPING that when WordPress 3.1 is released the anticipated flood of new 3.1-optimized themes will let me pick one that has a sidebar again. For the few weeks until the new platform is out there, this theme (which I know is not ideal, but it’s at least written cleanly enough that it doesn’t fight with every vital plugin) needs to stick around.

I will try to distract you with pretty pictures.

(Oh, and may I suggest that you free yourself from having to deal with anybody’s theme ever again by using RSS subscriptions and a reader? I am subscribed to hundreds of blogs and I get to read them in exactly the formatting, font, and blessed ad-freeness I want. Google Reader is the classic but I have been using, which works as a sort of skin over Google Reader and makes it pretty and organized, for months now and really like it.)



I had been promising the kids for days that we’d go out and find the deepest snow we could and take snowmaggedon pictures. When today came, though, it was after a night of miserable rain and it was already 40 degrees. Snowmaggeddon has become heavy deep slushmageddon (still up to your waist, but now it goes through snow pants and freezes you in seconds).

How to solve this dire parental lapse? Can I hear you say PINK GLITTER!


Loving the guineas

Guinea fowl are really cool. We have nine of them out there with our chickens right now, and while their main role is supposed to be as tick-eaters, they are also expert alarm-callers and they keep the chickens safe from any danger. Since we raised them together they’re very bonded to the chickens (at least the current adults) so they protect them and watch the sky and the woods for them. This may become a bit dicey when we introduce the growing adolescents, because guineas are known to be terrible snobs and bullies, but for now it’s great.

The best thing about guineas? THEY SLEEP IN. Our neighbors don’t mind a little noise – as long as it’s a civilized hour of the day. The dang roosters, as soon as they realize they can crow, are yelling at 4:30 AM, which leads them straight to the dogs’ dinner bowl. The guineas only yell when they think something is wrong, and they shut it off when they conclude that the threat is gone. So they perform the protective role of the roosters without the crowing.

Plus they look awesome. Each feather is intensely spotted, their bodies are as round as a ball, their helmets are blue, their heads are white – they’re space alien birds. And where the chickens are always either panicking, eating, or sleeping, the guineas think and plot and scheme and go into team huddles where they talk intensely with each other while darting glances your way.

Right now out there in the barn coop we have two almost-grown roosters; they are the two that don’t crow until after 8 AM. I am sure they don’t realize that their sleepiness is what’s keeping them alive, but it is. I’ve already made plans for the two young cockerels still in the grow-out pen in our basement, who realized they had voices this week. If the outside roosters change their minds about when dawn is, we may end up with nothing but guineas and hens out there.

If that happens I’ll be a little sad, but as long as I get to keep my guineas all will be well. The guineas and the seramas (Honour’s tiny tiny chickens) are the two that have totally unexpectedly won me over. They manage to have such personality for basically being lizards with feathers. And in this case, HORNED lizards with feathers.

dog diets

Whole prey – love/hate/love

A few weeks ago Doug and I offed seven young roosters (NOT a great experience – and no, not the one in the picture; I wouldn’t do that to you!) and gave them to the dogs as soon as we knew they were deceased. Feathers-on, everything exactly as in life except that they weren’t in life anymore.

I sort of thought there might be lots of hemming and hawing and nosing around and feather-pulling amongst the dogs. I couldn’t have been more wrong. They ate those birds like it was the best thing they’d ever been given; every single bit was eaten except a few of the biggest wing feathers.

It was all they ate for about four days and they’ve been snacking ever since on the frozen-and-buried portions they have stashed in the snow.

Because of this I am forced to come to the following conclusions:

1) I hate killing things.

2) The dogs look intensely amazing.

Seriously, where they’ve always had great coats, typical raw-fed dense gorgeous hair, now their coats are PACKED, from the skin out. Juno looks like a fur seal; I have to dig hard to touch Clue’s skin. And they’ve all put on hard flat muscle over the hard muscle that was already there. Bramble combined his rooster experience with a crash diet (meaning “If you steal food from people one more time I’m going to crash you”) and he lost all the typical dachshund heft and looks like a teenager again.

The casualty of the diet was poor Ginny, who was so appalled that she was being offered something that had feathers on it that she went on a hunger strike and refused to eat anything even resembling chicken. I caved today and bought her Bravo and Orijen because she was looking decidedly wan.

So, aside from Ginny, we now know we need to keep supplying whole birds to the other dogs. There are two or three more that are heading in that direction thanks to a sudden fondness for crowing, and after that I need to figure out whether I’m going to buy and raise meat chickens for the dogs or whether I can maintain enough of my own production to give each dog a whole one every couple of weeks and keep the pullets for myself. I also need to streamline the “process.” Ick.

More to come as we figure out how to do this the right way.



The ever-fabulous Kelly reminded me that my eBooks are not proceeding as promised. TRUE! I actually got totally stuck because I couldn’t figure out some of the vagaries of InDesign and then I got my good camera and it’s been all Photoshop ever since. I know, I feel the guilt, and as soon as I wrap my brain around ID I will be back on it, I promise.

Kelly also asked for a “balanced” view of natural rearing. That, my friend, is quite a request. Natural rearing has mushroomed from the gentle “let them eat out of your bowl” of Juliette de Bairacli-Levy (though, of course, Juliette’s bowl would have been a finely balanced herbal miracle) to a whole bunch of people who go so far as to not put the whelping box near any electrical outlets. So yes, I will start work on that. But it may take a while.

Responsible Ownership

Do dog ethics affect your wallet?

Help me out with a problem, my friends.

Doug and I are trying to slowly transition our buying habits to support local small producers. When we’ve got $20 left in the account until next week we’re still stuck with the mart of the wall, but when we have a little extra or when we’re buying gifts or unique items we try to choose local families, etsy, small farms, etc.

Here’s the problem:

I think most of us know that when you see a puppy or kitten for sale in a pet “supply” store, you turn your little boots around and walk out, no matter what. No ifs, ands, or buts.

So what happens when, say, your lovely dish towel is produced by someone who is also a backyard breeder of chihuahuas, or you know the guy who sells fair-trade chocolate has a chocolate lab on a chain behind his house? Do I purchase the photographic product from the woman who says on her blog that her new puppy is never allowed inside? Do I hand a check to the lady in the farmer’s market stall who just told the customer before me that she “studs out” her “Old English Renaissance Blue-Nosed Bull Doggue”?

I actually WISH the above examples were exaggerations; they’re not. And there are tens or hundreds more.

So lay it on me, Internets: How far into your economics do dog issues reach?

Family, General

The long-awaited 2010 slideshow!

Yes indeed, not since 2009 has there been such a slideshow of slideshows 🙂

Enjoy – and I apologize for waiting until Feb. 1 to get it out there.

Oh, and because this one is a little more family-oriented and has proper names, here’s what you need to know: “Sa” is my great friend Sterling’s mom. She owns a house on the top of the mountain and hosted this party. “Julian” is my sister Delia’s baby boy, who was born in 2010. “Blake” is my sister Missy’s baby boy, who was born right before Christmas. Jon is my brother, who got married to Latoya in my parents’ library.  There. Now you know the whole group.

Family, General

Not on Lifetime

I’ve been sadly isolated from my iMac while it was at Apple hospital for the last couple of days.

If this were a made-for-TV movie, the removal of my computer would have been followed by my head slowly coming up, and then a clearing of my eyes as I awoke to the miracle of the Real World. And then the next ten minutes would be a musical montage of me cleaning my counters with a toothbrush, riding with my kids on matching scooters down tree-banked roads, and then laughing as we mixed smoothies and made a mess with a blender.

Since it is NOT a movie, what actually happened was that I grumped around and tried to log into things with my phone, and kicked aside a few thousand toys as I trudged through the living room.

This is the second big repair we had to do in a month – the DVD drive had to be replaced and then this most recent fix was a total display replacement because their no-burn-in-ever-in-the-entire-history-of-the-universe screen burned in. I am a rabid fan of Macs and this hasn’t changed my mind; this computer has been on and running 20 hours a day for two years straight and the repairs were free thanks to extended AppleCare.

Anyway, I am finally back online and just waiting for !!SNOWPOCALYPSE!! tomorrow. I actually love big storms but I am praying that we keep power this time. I have an incubator running and a total of thirty chicks of various ages that can’t make it without heat, so if we lose electricity we won’t be snuggling under blankets and waiting for power. We’ll be loading kids, dogs, cats, and chickens into the car and heading out Dust Bowl-style until we find lights on.

Which could be ANOTHER movie, actually…