Thursday, January 31, 2013

Enough already!

 Enough already with this cold stuff...

I realize that it's still January... but barely.
The last week, I have been enjoying 70 degree temperatures, a handful of daffodils in a vase and those ever so cheery crocus to brighten walking the dog in the wee hours.

Actually, when it's nippy cool but still warm enough for you to wear your gown and flip flops to walk the dog in the wee hours, it's just about perfect... sets my heart to spring... and I order up some garden seed]

and drool over the seed catalogs.

I grab that last bag of garden veggies from the freezer and turn them into dinner.

Then, it happens... the dreaded 'cold snap'... which isn't actually a cold snap... it's a return to what is normal for January.

(except for those daffodils... and the crocus.... and the frisky bird behavior...)

Anyway, enough about the unseasonal warm and the daffodils.

I've promised a tale about quail... 

Late last fall, while at work, a coworker who also has 'birds' and I were talking about quail.
I expressed that I'd been very curious about quail, and several times had gone on exhaustive searches to find some that were local enough that I could drive to get them and that wouldn't cost me an arm and a leg to experiment with.

Small and fairly tidy, they are easily kept for meat and eggs.  The Coturnix quail are fast to mature, being ready for egg production and the table in about 8 weeks. 

So the friend says "I can get you some of those!"  Turns out that he goes to farm auctions on a regular basis that have them come up for auction occasionally.  I gave him a price range, which based on my previous research would have netted me a little roo and a couple of hens.  Ten days later, I get a call.  He has me a dozen quail.  Wow! 

I bring them home and we acclimate.  Which means that I had to get used to being fussed at when I went out the back door.  They make sweet little noises but they're insistent boogers.  They like fresh sand to dust in and my particular quail do not like treats.  They instantly started to lay eggs.  One even laid an egg in the box on the way home.

 Pretty, pretty, speckled little eggs.  Little eggs that if proven to be from fertile birds can be quite expensive.

Little eggs that,if put into incubators, turn into a few more birds, so you have a breeding plan.

And little eggs that in 19 days can be the cutest little birds you've ever seen.
Little chipmunky sort of birds, except for that little yellow one...

For size comparison, this little dude is sitting beside a quarter.

...and I guess, by size comparison, yes... that is a tiny, wee little poop.

I raised enough to overwinter.

And as soon as this whole winter weather lets up, and the days get a bit longer, they'll go back to laying and we'll repeat the process.

So, as I spent part of the afternoon wrapping their pens with a tarp to try to keep down the wind factor, I thought I'd share.  They're really very sturdy, but after yesterday's wind and storms, I thought it would be a good idea to offer them a bit more shelter.

I'll let you know when we start to get some eggs... then we'll know it's really spring!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

We miss them so.

After many years of lots of sweet moments, laughter and a good bit of calling her 'the fat dog' instead of Daisy,   we woke one morning to find that she simply had died in her sleep.  We did not know her age or even where she came from.  She was tossed from a moving Jeep, many years ago.  That day, so long ago, she was so fat that her little legs were shorter than her belly.  We expected to be surprised with puppies, but instead, discovered that she would eat more than her weight in anything left at her disposal.  After a  solid diet and exercise plan, and vigilant protection of the 50 pound bags of dog food, Daisy became our beloved little girl. A fierce barker when anything happened on the farm, she was as good as any alarm system and constant in her devotion.    This is the last photo that I made of her.  Just after we got the quail  late this past fall, I looked out the kitchen window to see this.  Bittersweet...  Rest in peace, sweet Daisy.  You are missed.

Days before we lost Daisy, we lost Bailey as well.  Ever a free spirit, she was hit by a car one afternoon.  I think we all knew that is how it would end for her.  Though she had a metal hip and a rod in one leg from a truck versus dog collision when she was less than a year old, her fondest desire in life, after being Elizabeth's dog, was to chase cars.  Over the more than 11 years that she was ours, we'd tried everything.  She was not a dog for confinement.  Bailey came to us when Elizabeth made a trip to Petsmart, just weeks before starting college.  Nothing would do, but I go back with her and see this amazing little pup who had stolen her heart.     Bailey was personable and sweet and so, so smart.  Her charming personality was known to all. She loved Elizabeth best of all and was never so happy as when the Jeep slowed up to turn in the yard... her girl was home. She was companion and protection, canine love in a special package.  She rests by the river, where she loved to play.

It is lonely just now on the farm.  They left so close together that it seemed suddenly quiet.
We're glad for all the days that we had them, for the memories and for the devoted affection that life with a dog brings.

Strength to meet the challenge... and depth of gratitude.

A lot has been going on here.  Good stuff, difficult stuff... height of hilarity to depth of anxiety stuff...

Normal life stuff is what I'm saying.

Over the last month, we've celebrated Christmas and New Years, an engagement, health issues, work issues all around, weather challenges, animal challenges.  Endless prayer... Tangible, intangible precatory overtures.


It's been a while since I have shared what I am grateful for.

I am grateful for that which is inside of me that believes in the power of prayer.
I am grateful for my 'direct line'.

Recently, I have been awakening in the middle of the night and determined that if I should be awake at such an hour that I will not waste the time in worry, I have begun to think of it as time that I should offer prayers for all in my life that I am grateful for.  The time has been valuable.  It has helped me to see the multitude of blessings in my life.  In the still and quiet of the darkest of night, there is room for the light of all of those blessings to come shining through.

I am grateful for the middle of the night.

I am grateful for friends, who both listen to me and hear what I am saying.
I am grateful for their counsel and their guidance and their love and devotion.
I could not live without them.

I am grateful that I count among those friends my children.

I readily admit that days happen that I am stunned by my children. For any part that I played in who they are, I am grateful.  Every day of their lives, I have prayed for them and for me to be the example that God would have me be.  I pray for strength for them and love and life abundant. They are adults of substantial heart and soul.  Like all young adults, they are faced with challenges.  I see them rise to the challenge time and time again.  I am glad that they are both tender and tough, by equal measure.
I am most grateful for the days when their arms are around me, and I am grateful to hear their voices at times when they are not close enough to touch.

I am grateful that also among my friends, is my husband, of nearly 30 years.  Really... it seems like yesterday.  I am blessed that he has spent all this time encouraging me and supporting me. I appreciate his sacrifice on my behalf and on behalf of the children more than words can say. In a rather strange way, I am grateful for the tough times,which has shown us what we're made of and forced us to work together as a team.  After Christmas, we took a trip.  The first trip, alone, together, since children came along.  We laughed a lot and have vowed to do more of this in the days ahead. 

I am grateful that life is never dull.  Never a predictable moment here...

I pray for strength to meet the challenge of each new day.  Strength of mind, and strength of body.
I pray for courage to face the challenge, even when strength fails.
I pray that my life reflects God's love and that He works through me as long as I live and breathe.