Sunday, March 30, 2014

A Sunny Day

It was a wonderful feeling waking up to sunshine and mild temps this morning. And being able to work outside cleaning the yard from the long winter was a real treat. The animals also seemed to appreciate the warmer weather - it was in the mid-forties by mid afternoon. The ducks enjoyed playing in the temporary puddle pond east of the peafowl pen, and the chickens scratched around in the mud and old hay. The tail of Peacock Senior glistening in the sun is a burst of iridescent color in a drab landscape. The Angora goats with their heavy coats of long curls even found the sun welcoming.

Pita is growing well and full of energy. She will be a week old tomorrow. She has become adept at climbing on anything she can get her little feet on - including mom Pepper, and me. Looking at her shiny black curls I think of how gorgeous they will be spun into yarn.

Spending time outside almost erases the extreme cabin fever this winter brought on. But then all I have to do is remember we can still be in for more snow. I guess we're not safe until, say, August.

Pita at six days old

Pita standing still for a split second

Peanut ready for a haircut

Sadie has to stick her nose into the action

Monday, March 24, 2014

Meet Little Pita

One of my goats, Pepper, gave birth this morning to a little doeling weighing in at 3 1/2 pounds. I guess she couldn't wait til her due date on Friday March 28 and warmer weather. 

"What are you talking about?"

Pita, a couple hours old 3-24-14

part Angora goat with black shiny curls

Sunday, March 16, 2014

"It's Okay"

The mournful cry made my heart ache. It made me want to pick him up and tell him "It's okay - you'll be alright tomorrow". But how do I know that? Because they say time heals all things. And to believe that is easier said than done at the exact time the hearts of both mother and child are breaking.

I had the chance to catch Peacock Junior (now over 6 months of age) this afternoon in the peafowl pen. He didn't like the experience one bit! I didn't expect him to, and I anticipated a fight on my hands. After a couple of minutes and a few tail feathers missing (his, not mine) I had him under my arm in order to band him with last years color (red for 2013). But there was another reason I wanted to catch him. For one thing, Peacock Senior was pestering Junior every chance he got. And, I also felt it was time for him to go in with the other peachick, who is also in with the chickens. By doing this he gets accustomed to the way of the chickenhood so when I let the chickens out to free range he will follow their habit of going in to roost at night.

What I did not anticipate was the heart-wrenching cries between mother and son. It made me feel like a heel. I actually went out to the chicken house to see if my presence, at least, would sooth Junior. Yeah, right! What was I thinking? He couldn't care less that my heart was breaking too. So, I stood there like an idiot watching him pace back and forth; both mother and son refusing to go to roost because things weren't the way they were supposed to be. So, back into the house I went, listening all the while to the sad cries from the chickenhood.

So, we'll see if tomorrow is any better for Junior. It's not like he can't see mom - there is only a screen door between the two. But, for tonight I have to resist the urge to lug my rocker and a baby blanket out to the chicken house and cuddle Junior until he falls asleep. If he only knew just how much better that would make me feel.

Monday, March 10, 2014


With the warm weather (50 degrees), today was a great day for getting outside and spending some time. The blue sky, yellow sun and…green grass! Even though that patch of green was the size of a baby blanket I could have wallowed in it until the cows came home, if it weren’t for the water puddle right in the middle. Nope, didn't want to get wet. After viewing snow and more snow for three long months - even though it felt like seven - that patch of green grass was a sight for sore eyes.

In my world green is an important color. To me it means warmth. It means there is life after snow and cold. It means I can get out and play in the dirt.

Throughout the centuries green has played an important role in just about every aspect of human life. An insightful look at revealed some interesting facts about the color green:

  • In the middle ages social rank and profession were often denoted by clothing color. Merchants wore green.
  • In the 18th and 19th centuries the Romantic Movement was represented by green in literature and art.
  • In Medieval times green represented love, and young women who were unmarried wore green clothing.
  • In the US, ever since 1861 the color green has been used on the back of the dollar bill. Not only was it used to deter counterfeiters, but green did not show through the thin paper of banknotes leaving the faces on the front clear.
Here are some other roles that are represented by the color green: 
  • Nature, plants, environment, springtime, growth, regeneration, rebirth, life, renewal, freshness, hope
  • Money, Emeralds, Jade
  • Good health, vigor, vivacity
  • Safety, permission, system on, go
  • Restful color (suggested for bedrooms), reduce fatigue
  • Inexperience, immaturity 
  • Political symbol, flags
  • Gambling, sports, camouflage
  • Religion, holidays
  • Monsters, dragons, fairies
  • Poison, misfortune, nausea, sickness
  • Envy, jealousy
 If it was up to me, every day in my world would consist of green, blue, yellow and everything in between except WHITE!

Okay, Readers, if you had to claim a color to represent your world, what would it be?

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

More Ways to Save on Your Electric Bill

I heard yesterday we have two more months of winter. Therefore, I thought I would add some more ways to save on your electric bill. I had mentioned among other things that if you had a sweater, it would help to keep you warm if you turned down your thermostat. You might want to add three shirts, a pair of long johns, knit cap, mittens, sweat pants, and two pair of thermal socks. Fashion is right up there with interior design when it comes to things we aren't concerned about at this point.

Here are a few more suggestions you might want to consider.

1. Go outside for awhile. It's amazing how much warmer the inside of your house feels at 63 when you first come in compared to -20 outside.
Inexpensive alternative: see number 2.

2. Visit a neighbor within walking distance. Someone else's house always seems warmer than your own. Chances are your neighbor is heating with wood. Or better yet, they're heating with wood and baking at the same time. Now where would you want to be?
Expensive alternative: drive to your neighbor's house.

3. Unplug anything that doesn't need to be plugged in 24/7. There are many appliances that steal electricity when not in use just by being plugged in. For example, tv, dvd player, vcr, radio, clock, modem, computer, and kitchen appliances. Its not difficult to plug something in when you need it and then unplug it when you're done.
Inexpensive alternative: see number 4.

4. Read a book. Turn the heat down more, grab several blankets, a thermos of hot tea and some reading material. Nothing takes us farther away from our current life in sub-zero weather than reading a good book. And its legal in all states.
Expensive alternative: move to Colorado.

5. Carry a flashlight. By doing this you can have all the lights off in your house and still be able to see where you're going. Or, don't use any light at all and practice being blind just in case you may need the experience one day. Note: this may not work if you live with someone else, or a dog. Stepping on a dog bone could cause some discomfort, but stubbing your toe and falling face first over the ottoman because someone wanted to add some excitement to the winter is not a good thing.
Alternative: save on batteries and use a solar flashlight. Then lock the other mammal in a spare room.

6. Turn off the water heater. This appliance can suck electricity faster than a spaghetti eater in a contest. Save the dishes and laundry for every other day or more. Only turn on the water heater long enough to get these chores done, and take a shower. Who needs a shower every day? If you work in a cubicle, who's going to notice?
Inexpensive alternative: set water jugs in a sunny window.

7. Take cues from the cat. Cats fend for themselves rather well and are excellent survivalists. Turn down the heat to where the pipes won't freeze and find the cat. You will have found a very warm place.
Alternative: sleep by the door with the dog.

* Again, Please Note: These tips are suggestions only. Don't hold me responsible if you were trying to plug the cat in instead of an appliance while all the lights were turned off in the house and the batteries were dead in your flashlight.

Monday, March 3, 2014

How To Save On Your Electric Bill*

For those of you who are set up to live without the electric company, I applaud you! I want to be just like you when I grow up. But for those of us who are bound by ball and chain to the electrical current running from our local provider, take heart. There are ways to lower your utility bill even though we are in the tight grip of Old Man Winter with Alzheimer's. It appears he forgot where he put his train ticket in order to get the hell out of Dodge. Maybe, if we all chip in we can carry him to the south pole. They probably wouldn't notice an increase in cold and snow down there...

Anyway, there are many simple steps that each of us can take to lower our electric usage such as turning off the lights in a room when not needed, opening the drapes to a south window on a sunny day and/or lowering the thermostat a few degrees.

But what if you've been as vigilant as the self-appointed Electric Gestapo, and you still can't seem to make much of a dent in your electric bill. Then I would say it calls for some drastic measures! Keep in mind the following suggestions are not for everyone. It requires an open mind, willingness to try, and an outlook on life as one long adventure to a Survivalists Weekend.

Ready? Many of these tips are multi-purpose. Don't scoff until you've tried 'em:

1. Lower your thermostat another five degrees. If you have carpet in your house, stuffed furniture, window curtains, short ceilings and a sweater, then a person can easily survive in 63 degree temps in their home. The softness of surrounding furnishings seem to help in keeping the chill factor at bay.
Inexpensive alternative: heat with wood that you have cut, hauled and stacked yourself.

2. Use heavy fabrics for curtains. The sheer lacy versions are for warmer weather. Get out the quilts, heavy blankets and sleeping bags to use as curtains over windows and doors in the winter. We're not in a home decorating contest at this point.
Expensive alternative: move to Florida.

3. Use rolled up rugs. One thing about winter is you will always find where the cold is sneaking into your home. And under the doors is one of the places it will leak. Rolling up heavy towels or rugs and placing them along the inside bottom of your entrance doors will help in keeping you and your floors a little warmer.
Inexpensive alternative: make the dog sleep along the bottom of the door.

4. Close off any unused rooms. If you don't need the space, turn your spare rooms into refrigerators. It may come in handy when the electric service fails. And, even if it doesn't, put your food in there anyway and turn off the fridge. This will also give you a chance to give the refrigerator a good cleaning.
Alternative: move to a one room hut.

5. Use the outdoors as a freezer. By placing your frozen items in ice chests and putting them in a safe northern location outside away from sunlight (or in an unheated garage/shed) you can turn off your freezer for a few months. This will also allow you to clean the inside of the freezer without rushing to get the food back in before it thaws. Note: the word "safe" is a key word here. Any type of animal will find a way to get to food if not stored securely.
Inexpensive alternative: go on a diet.

6. Keep blankets and throws handy. Place these throughout the house for chill attacks. Or just drag one around like its your security blanket. Sucking your thumb is up to you.
Alternative: where your one-piece jammies day and night.

* Please Note: These tips are suggestions only. Don't hold me responsible if your other half divorces you, your family disowns you, your neighbor wants nothing to do with you, your dog doesn't want to be your best friend anymore, and the cat finds a way to live with the neighbors. I'm only saying...

Chime in if you have found unique, out-of-the-ordinary ways to save on your utility bills. We can all help each other, even if we think you are a little goofy.