Wednesday, December 30, 2015

good for what ails you

It has been, in the way of all Decembers, a very hectic month. With a new job still taking all my extra time and energy, I did my best to ease up this year: no handmade gifts (except the traditional photo albums). No cookies baked. Minimal social engagements. An attitude determined, at all costs, not to get too bent out of shape over meaningless details. Stay calm. Focus on what is important. Breathe. Repeat.

We had one very big wrinkle, however, in the form of this unassuming pumpkin:

This pumpkin was one of the benefits of Secondo's fall job, working at a local pumpkin patch. On the last day, he took his pay in the form of pumpkins for everyone to carve, hence the Halloween pumpkin carving party, and this particularly large and spectacular specimen to grace our front stoop. It did a great job providing seasonally appropriate decor through October and November (pumpkins are still appropriate in November!) and into December (because, see above, not getting bent out of shape over details).

So it was still sitting there when Secondo came out of the house early in December, in a fury over being grounded, put on his rubber boots, and delivered a good, solid kick of rage to the pumpkin. He was hoping the pumpkin would explode in a spectacularly satisfying display of destruction. But the nights had been cold-ish, and the pumpkin was pretty much frozen, and instead the thing that gave way was his big toe.


In retrospect, perhaps I should have been a little more concerned with the decor.

Secondo was, of course, completely out of sorts at this news. Instead of getting his winter track season underway as planned, he was facing a very different month hobbling around in a walking cast. Not to mention the fact that he had effectively grounded himself for far longer, since he could not drive with his right foot in that cast.

My seasonal attitude came in handy that day. He loves to cook and bake, so we took it back to basics with the simple meditative exercise involved in making chicken soup together. Peel carrots. Chop onions. Simmer. Skim. Breathe. Repeat.

The Italian wedding soup we produced seemed to cure all evils, at least that night.

This picture is from mid-month, when Primo came home for a few hours to help us get our Christmas tree. (The walking cast is the least problem with that picture! The fact that the boys were in short sleeves, and in Terzo's case, shorts, is even more messed up.) The cast came off on Christmas Eve, in time for him not to clomp up and down the church aisles in his role as head acolyte, and he returned to running winter track this week with no apparent ill effect. It might even have been a blessing in disguise, forcing him to slow down for a month, to take a breather from all the stress and strain of being a high school junior with a lot on his plate.

Every so often, we all need that space to breathe, whether we make it for ourselves or have it handed to us by life's equivalent of a frozen pumpkin.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

chicken adventures

A post before the end of December! But our chicken had such a day today that it DEMANDED a blog post.

(Yes, chicken, in the singular. We are down to only one chicken as of September, or maybe it was October. She really doesn't seem to mind but we hope to find her a friend or two soon to help her keep her conserve body heat as the temps drop.)

I came out to find the chicken strutting around helping my husband move cattle panels. She doesn't have a name, because we have had chickens for so long at this point that no one gets names anymore; my husband calls her Chicken, so we will use that for purposes of this post. She usually stays in the coop for her own safety—way too many hawks and foxes around here—but she had enough supervision for today while we did a zillion farm winterizing chores. (To be perfectly accurate: my husband did a zillion chores. I helped with about 1/4 of them.) 

Dusty had been asked to keep a respectful distance, but he was somewhat distressed about Chicken not being where she was supposed to be.

She was having a high old time exploring.

We went into the barn to find a few supplies—I was going crazy trying to locate a reasonably sharp pair of hoof trimmers—and came out to find that Dusty had put Chicken back into her coop and was guarding the door to make sure that she didn't escape. He really saw no reason why she had to be out.

Dusty was called off and Chicken was allowed to continue her adventures following her favorite person in the world. Can you guess who feeds her every morning?

One of our most pressing chores was getting sheep hooves trimmed and coats changed before the weather turned. I never did find a dang pair of shears; I had to make a trip to Tractor Supply for that specific purpose.

I had plenty of help from Chicken while trimming up 36 hooves. For once, I remembered to wear a pair of gloves and save my hands from the inevitable blisters when I forget the gloves.

It's entirely possible that Chicken was solely interested in the grain left behind by the sheep when we were trying to catch them. Either way, she was a constant presence.

Kali had no idea what to make of Chicken being out of the coop.

Sheep chores were eventually done but the sheep pasture is a far way from the coop at the moment. Chicken showed no inclination to leave the sheep and head towards home, so she had to be forcibly carried from the back.

What a man. Feed bucket, halters, crook, and chicken. It's almost American Gothic in tone.

Although he didn't take her back to the coop! He is a sucker for this bird. He dropped her off in the garden, where Terzo was busy cleaning it out. Don't be too impressed, it was a paid job. But Chicken was happy to help for free.

Eventually she made her way back into her coop on her own accord, and we locked the door for the night. She ate her weight in bugs today and I'm sure she'll sleep well tonight, dreaming of all her travels and wanderings. For a cooped-up bird, it was quite a day.