Saturday, October 31, 2009

Update on the chicks

From our hen who stole her nest, she had two living chicks and eight unhatched eggs with her when we found her. Two of those eggs had holes as if the chicks were trying to push out but not succeeding. I put them under the heat lamp and gently broke open the shells. One egg had only a half-formed chick, so evidently the shell just had a hole in it. The other had a fully-formed chick, barely alive. I peeled off the shell and let it dry under the lamp, but it died.

We also lost one of the living chicks as well. This leaves Frightful with just one chick left. On the bright side, the little guy is pert and healthy and his mama just dotes on him, so keep your fingers crossed that he makes it.

We had a light snowfall the day after we found Frightful - first snow of the season - but it was very light and didn't last. The weather has been hideously windy and chilly, though. My husband insulated the ceiling of the chicken coop and put up tar paper on the walls, getting ready to insulate them as well. The coop will be snug before serious snow flies. Meanwhile Frightful and her chick are tucked in the rabbit hutch under the heat lamp, nice and warm.

Drying clothes in the winter

In conjunction with my recent obsession with saving electricity, somebody asked if we ever use our clothes dryer, and/or how we dry our clothes in the winter.

We never use the dryer. This is what we do:

I'm picking up clothes racks as I find them in thrift stores or yard sales. I'm scouting for two more, as then I'll be able to keep abreast with laundry all winter long. Love these clothes racks! They're one of those great undiscovered but marvelous gizmos.

*Screamingly* funny photo!

In case you can't read the sign, here's what it says:

My Next Door Neighbor wants to BAN all GUNS!

Their house is *NOT* ARMED!

Out of RESPECT for their opinions I promise NOT to use MY GUNS to PROTECT THEM.

It's like I've always said: those of us who DO have guns are subsidizing the safety and protection of those who are "against" guns.

How many anti-gun types would be willing to post a huge placard in their front window that says, "This home is proudly gun-free"?? Answer: very few, because they know robbers intent on home invasion robberies must always worry about what homeowners have guns. If you put a placard in your front window stating your vulnerability, which house do you think a robber will choose to rob?


Wednesday, October 28, 2009

More power to ya

I've become mildly obsessed lately with saving electricity. We have a home that's approximately 2300 square feet, along with a shop with a home woodworking business. Our average monthly power bill has been about $45. A few weeks ago we learned our electricity rates were going to increase 13.2% starting this month.

So we've been trimming here and trimming there - putting up signs next to light switches advising each other to turn off the lights when not in use, etc.

Sure enough, our October bill reflected the price increase, along (frustratingly) with a $16.50 fee (up from $10) for a "Service Availability Charge" (in reality, we're paying for the electric company's new building). But - the electricity usage portion of our power bill was still $44.29. This meant we managed to trim 13.2% of our usage.

In the bill's accompanying newsletter, I learned an interesting thing. It said the average residential member uses 1000 kWh per month. We use 750 kWh (down from 780 kWh last year at this time).

So even though I'm grumping about the price increase, I guess we're not doing too badly.

Life is just FULL of surprises

Life on a homestead farm has its ups and downs, but it's rarely dull.

One of the "downs" happened about three weeks ago, when my favorite hen disappeared. She was this really neat looking bird with almost falcon-like markings on her head, so we called her "Frightful" after Sam Gribley's falcon in Jean George's My Side of the Mountain (my favorite book as a kid). When a chicken disappears, it means a coyote got it for certain.

Meanwhile, a couple months ago one of our neighbor's hen hatched out three chicks. It was late in the season to have chicks, but they have a nice big barn and the chicks had shelter.

The weather for the past couple weeks has been turning wintry. Yesterday we had drenching cold rain and wild wind. This morning it was cold (20 degrees) but clear. We worked outside today - a neighbor was stacking some hay for us in our barn, we were cleaning up the outside area in anticipation of the year's first snowfall (due tomorrow), etc. Just ordinary things around a homestead.

I kept hearing the neighbor's chicks peeping and kept thinking their hen was wandering pretty far from their barn. In the late afternoon, noticing some magpies nearby (magpies can be carnivorous), I decided to shoo the neighbor's hen and chicks back toward their barn.

But the peeping was not coming from the neighbor's side of the fence - it was coming from ours. In our bull pen, there was none other than Frightful - with a tiny inch-high chick next to her!

I blinked in astonishment and walked into the house. "Girls," I said. "You will never ever in a million years guess what I just saw."

The kids shrieked in excitement. We all marveled that this wily young hen (five months old) had stolen a nest at such a young age! And she'd survived outside for three weeks (the hatching period for chicks) in some terribly nasty and cold weather too!

We gathered an old rabbit hutch we had salvaged at the dump a few months ago and set it up inside the chicken coop with the heat lamp poised right over it. We put fluffy dry hay inside, along with food and water. I took a bucket and handed it to the girls. "I'll get the hen," I told them. "When I pick her up, you get the chicks and we'll bring them inside the coop.

There were two chicks, barely an inch high. But another surprise awaited us - when I lifted the hen off the nest, there were eight more eggs under her, in various stages of hatching! The girls handled them very carefully. They patted down a nest in the straw in the rabbit hutch, then gently laid all the eggs inside the new nest. Next came the chicks. When I slipped the hen inside, she clucked and settled immediately on the nest, but kept getting off to eat and drink. I have no doubt she was pretty darned hungry! Not to mention glad to be under a heat lamp!

I called my husband, who was in town for a meeting. "The feed store closes in five minutes," I said. "Can you run quick and get some chick starter [feed]?" He was as astonished as we were at this turn of events.

So there you go. I'll keep you posted how the chicks do in this cold weather, as well as how many chicks hatch.

Atheist Holy Day

This was sent by a friend. I can't testify as to its truthfulness, but it makes for a great joke if nothing else.


In Florida, an atheist created a case against the upcoming Easter and Passover Holy days. He hired an attorney to bring a discrimination case against Christians and Jews and observances of their holy days.

The argument was that it was unfair that atheists had no such recognized days. The case was brought before a judge.

After listening to the passionate presentation by the lawyer, the judge banged his gavel, declaring "Case dismissed!"

The lawyer immediately stood objecting to the ruling saying, "Your Honor, how can you possibly dismiss this case? The Christians have Christmas, Easter and others. The Jews have Passover, Yom Kippur and Hanukkah, yet my client and all other atheists have no such holidays."

The judge leaned forward in his chair saying, "But they do. Your client, Counsel, is woefully ignorant."

The lawyer said, "Your Honor, we are unaware of any special observance or holiday for atheists."

The judge said, "The calendar says April 1st is April Fools Day. Psalm 14:1 states, 'The fool says in his heart, there is no God.' Thus, it is the opinion of this court that, if your client says there is no God, then he is a fool. Therefore, April 1st is his day. Court is adjourned."

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Great Baby Einstein Scam

When it comes to raising kids, I have (no surprise here) some very strong opinions. And one of those opinions is to keep young kids the hell away from television. That also includes movies and computers.

Obviously this gets mitigated as kids grow older, but as far as I'm concerned, babies and toddlers have no business even seeing the mesmerizing glimpse of a screen because they're hooked - to the detriment of their brain's development. In this, I was backed by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

But parents hate it when they're told they have to work at raising their children... y'know, actually interact with the little tykes. That's why they seized on those stupid "Baby Einstein" videos. Parents could happily plant little Junior (age: one) in front of the TV and feel good about it because Junior was going to turn into a genius through his lack of interaction with real, live people. Uh huh.

And now parents are shocked - shocked! - that Disney conceded the videos don't work and are offering refunds.

My personal opinion is that if the parents were stupid enough to fall for this in the first place, maybe it's the parents who should watch the videos and increase their I.Q.

Just a thought.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Lunch with Joseph Farah

Well well. I can honestly report that Joseph Farah is as decent a guy as he is brilliant.

I met him for lunch in Coeur d'Alene and we talked for an hour and a half straight. We'd have undoubtedly talked longer but he had to get back to the conference. He told me some of the history of WorldNetDaily, we discussed my writing, and we touched on a number of the "state of the world" topics.

He's very approachable and not at all intimidating. Very very nice fellow.

(slightly blurry photo - sorry - we tried it without a flash at first)

Saturday, October 24, 2009

"Are you serious?"

So it seems a reporter finally - finally! - asked the most simple and logical question of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi: “Madam Speaker, where specifically does the Constitution grant Congress the authority to enact an individual health insurance mandate?”

Pelosi: “Are you serious? Are you serious?” “Yes, yes I am.”

Pelosi then shook her head before taking a question from another reporter. Her press spokesman, Nadeam Elshami, then told that asking the speaker of the House where the Constitution authorized Congress to mandated that individual Americans buy health insurance as not a "serious question."

“You can put this on the record,” said Elshami. “That is not a serious question. That is not a serious question.”

Yes, Madam Speaker, it IS a serious question. In fact, it is probably the most serious question anyone could ever ask. The reason you're flustered, dear Madam Speaker, is because you know exactly what the answer is...namely, NONE. There is NO authority in the Constitution to require people to buy health insurance.

Then to top things off, CNSNews also asked Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy a similar question, and Mr. Leahy was similarly flummoxed.

Leahy...was asked by where in the Constitution Congress is specifically granted the authority to require that every American purchase health insurance. Leahy answered by saying that “nobody questions” Congress’ authority for such an action. "Where, in your opinion, does the Constitution give specific authority for Congress to give an individual mandate for health insurance?"

Sen. Leahy: "We have plenty of authority. Are you saying there is no authority?" "I’m asking--"

Sen. Leahy: "Why would you say there is no authority? I mean, there’s no question there’s authority. Nobody questions that."

When again attempted to ask which provision of the Constitution gives Congress the authority to force Americans to purchase health insurance, Leahy compared the mandate to the government’s ability to set speed limits on interstate highways--before turning and walking away. "But where, I mean, which–"

Sen. Leahy: "Where do we have the authority to set speed limits on an interstate highway? "The states do that."

Sen. Leahy: "No. The federal government does that on federal highways."

Although Sen. Leahy said that "nobody" questions that Congress has the authority to force Americans to buy health insurance, Republican members of the Senate Finance Committee did question whether Congress had that authority when the health-care bill was being debated in their committee. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R.-Utah) tried to offer an amendment that would expedite judicial review of the bill were it enacted, but Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D.-Mont.) ruled that Hatch's amendment was out of order.

In making his ruling, Sen. Baucus said the issue should not be considered by the Finance Committee because it came under the jurisdiction of the Judiciary Committee--the panel chaired by Sen. Leahy.

"If we have the power simply to order Americans to buy certain products, why did we need a Cash-for-Clunkers program or the upcoming program providing rebates for purchasing energy appliances?" Hatch asked on Oct. 1 when trying to offer his amendment in the committee. "We could simply require Americans to buy certain cars, dishwashers or refrigerators."

Ha. Caught.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Hey, guess what??!!

You'll never never never never never guess what I'm doing this Saturday!!

It seems Joseph Farah, head honcho of, will be in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho attending a conference. Since Cd'A is practically in my backyard, I got up my courage and sent an email asking if he'd like to get together for a cup of coffee. He did that one better, and instead we're having lunch on Saturday. Imagine that!

Now I'll have to think of something to say to the guy...

Yeah, I'm nervous. A little. Being tucked away in the boondocks as I am, I never meet famous people. This ought to be interesting. And maybe a little nerve-wracking.

Monday, October 19, 2009

What a mess

Scenes of destruction after a typical school day.

Random pix

Guess what our chickens are (finally) doing!

We went to fetch a thousand-pound haybale from our tarped pile, and the view was so pretty across the canyon that I snapped a couple of shots.

Here's the view from our driveway yesterday morning as we were leaving for church.

Wrestling dogs

Just some action shots of our dogs romping. Mostly it's Lydia that did the romping while Major just stood there, but hey, it was cute.

Canning pears

True to my new agenda to can every surplus thing that comes my way (especially since I now have such an abundance of canning jars), a friend had extra pears from her tree and gave me what she didn't need.

The pears were too soft to use the apple peeler, so I peeled them all by hand.

Then cored them. (The chickens got the leftovers.)

Made the syrup. I prefer to use a thin syrup.

A quick wash of the pears...

Then into the hot syrup they went to cook for a few minutes before packing them into the jars.

Got 13 pints. The nice thing about canned pears is they're so pearly white and pretty in the jars.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

This came in an email from an investment firm whose mailing list I joined. (Yeah right, like we have any money to invest...) I get "alerts" during the week via email. Sometimes they're scary.

Gold's proven ability to bust cleanly through the $1,035 level — and now the $1,050 level — confirms what I've been saying all along:

A coordinated international effort to replace the U.S. dollar as the world's dominant reserve currency is now well under way ... and gathering steam.
Consider the gathering forces that are now converging and pummeling the U.S. dollar in international markets ...

* The G-20 countries, now largely in control of the world's economic caretaking, are turning the U.S. into just one of many countries setting the rules for our future.

* Behind closed doors, Arab Gulf States are seriously considering replacing the dollar for pricing oil.

* The U.N. Commission of Experts on International Financial Reports is now recommending that the world ditch the dollar as its reserve currency and replace it with a basket of currencies.

* China's central bank governor Zhou Xiaochuan is calling for a new global reserve currency run by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

* A host of leading and Nobel prize-winning economists — such as Robert Mundell, Joseph Stiglitz, George Soros and fund manager Jimmy Rogers — are making similar arguments and doing so with growing influence.

Make no mistake about it — the world's monetary system is on the verge of dramatically changing. And the chief reason behind it all is ...

Washington's Tower of Debts

The total amount of U.S. government debts and obligations is far greater than what most people realize.

Uncle Sam is saddled with ...

* An officially recognized national debt of $11.8 trillion, which will likely exceed $12 trillion sometime this month.

* Unfunded national obligations of $104 trillion!

* Another $9 trillion in cumulative deficits over the next ten years.

* Plus another trillion dollars for health care reform, no matter what bill finally makes it through Congress.

Grand total: $125.8 TRILLION of public debts!

All told, that means that each and every household in America is now indirectly responsible for more than 1 MILLION DOLLARS in government debts and obligations. And that assumes no new government spending, no new social programs, no new wars, no new economic disasters or bailouts. Worse, it assumes no new deficits in the meantime!
Put another way, even if the government could somehow pay off that debt at the rate of $100 million PER DAY, it would take 3,446 years before the total government debts and obligations are paid off.

Even if Washington were to pay off $1 billion per day, it would still take nearly 345 years to pay off those debts!

Patently unsustainable debts? Yes! Patently unpayable? You bet it is!

Of course, Washington will never default outright on its obligations. But it doesn't have to. By devaluing the dollar, Washington can effectively pay off its debts with a cheaper currency.

This is why the dollar is falling … and why savvy investors all over the world are beginning to lose confidence in Washington and our currency … and why it’s all leading to a massive renewed bull market in natural resources, especially gold.

Make no mistake about it: By doing nothing, your finances become a victim of a falling dollar — a currency whose purchasing power has already lost more than 36 percent of its value in the last decade … will lose a lot more purchasing power in the months ahead … and eventually lose its status as the world’s reserve currency, ultimately replaced by a new world currency.

Oh goodie - I'm not alone!

A couple of years ago, a friend got a book published. Being a good publicist, she immediately launched all sorts of publicity stuff including a MySpace and a Facebook page.

I couldn't see her Facebook page without joining Facebook myself, but I went to her MySpace page and was appalled. It was full of stuff that had a great deal of sexual suggestiveness, mostly from her "friends." An author, I'm told, can't necessarily refuse "friends" on a social networking site because hey, you might be missing out on potential readers or something.

It was such a turn-off for me that I decided never to get a MySpace or Facebook page.

My husband, who is on Facebook but limits his "friends" to actual friends, continually urges me to change my mind. Nope, won't do it.

Besides, I don't have the time to mess around with social networking sites. It's all I can do to keep up a writing schedule along with our woodworking business, livestock chores, general farm work, school work with the kids, and oh yeah, being a wife and mom.

And don't even get me started on Twitter, whatever the hell that is.

Bottom line, I'm not interested, and so far no one's been able to convince me I'm missing much.

Now I find I'm not alone. Whooo-hoo! While I'm a bit older than the demographic they mention in this article, the sentiment is the same. Over the past couple years, I've been contacted by friends and strangers alike, inviting me to join Facebook. The strangers I ignore - how can I know what kind of people they are? - and the friends I answer with a "No thanks" and explain why.

Besides, with all the stuff you hear about employers or whatever scouring the internet for incriminating stuff for new prospective new employees, I figure I don't need the temptation to load any old photos of me doing something questionable.

Here's another article justifying my aversion to social networking sites.

So there.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

We lost a friend yesterday...

We learned yesterday that Leslie Engle, affectionately known as "the Shrew," passed away at 3:45 am.

The Shrew is - was - the owner and founder of the Shrewsbury Renaissance Faire in Philomath, Oregon.

For fourteen years, since its inception, my husband has been the site manager of the Faire and a dear, close friend of Leslie.

She's been in desperately poor health for the past two years so her death is not surprising. Just rivetingly sad.

My favorite story about the Shrew:

Many years ago, Leslie loved going to the Northern California Renaissance Faire (which used to be in Blackpoint, Novato but has since moved to Casa de Fruta). Her "schtick" was a goose puppet nestled in a basket.

She would walk around Faire with her arm inside the goose puppet and talk with children. She was wonderful with children.

One day at Faire, a strange man in dark sunglasses walked up and started talking to her goose. The goose talked back. Back and forth, forth and back, they threw fast, witty, hilarious barbs for several minutes, Robin Williams-style, until they both collapsed with laughter.

The man said, "Wow. You make a great Mother Goose."

Leslie wiped her eyes and said, "Thanks. You make a great Robin Williams."

The man tipped down his sunglasses, looked her straight in the eye, and said "Thanks." He pushed his sunglasses back up and walked away.

Leslie stared after him, mouth agape. She'd just spent the last five minutes trading quips with Robin Williams himself.

May you rest in peace, Leslie. You are deeply loved.

Friday, October 16, 2009

A snarky chuckle du jour

A friend sent this.

No Nativity Scene in Washington This Year
There will not be a nativity scene in the United States' capital this Christmas season. This isn't for any religious reason; they simply have not been able to find Three Wise Men in the Nation's capital.

The search for a virgin continues.

There is, however, no problem finding enough donkeys to fill the stable.

Windfall. Absolute WINDFALL.

I've been facing a chronic shortage of canning jars. I actually went so far as to buy five dozen new ones, something I never do, but I needed them. I'm lucky to find two or three single jars at a time in thrift stores, and most of the time I find none.

Still, I inquire every time...and this time it paid off. BIG.

Some sweet LOL's (Little Old Ladies) who ran a hole-in-the-wall thrift shop in Coeur d'Alene had a few jars for sale, but they also told me they were overseeing an estate sale which is taking place next weekend. They were pretty sure there was a significant number of jars available. Did I want them?

You bet! I gave them my contact info and told them I'd take every last one.

Sure enough, they called last weekend and said there were nineteen dozen jars, as well as assorted boxes of lids and rings. Hallelujah!

I picked them up immediately.

Next Friday is the estate sale. I plan to go to that too.

Attitude is everything

A friend sent this. Can't vouch for its authenticity, but it's inspiring.

John is the kind of guy you love to hate. He is always in a good mood and always has something positive to say. When someone would ask him how he was doing, he would reply, “If I were any better, I would be twins!”

He was a natural motivator. If an employee was having a bad day, John was there telling the employee how to look on the positive side of the situation.

Seeing this style really made me curious, so one day I went up and asked him, “I don't get it! You can't be a positive person all of the time. How do you do it?”

He replied, “Each morning I wake up and say to myself, you have two choices today. You can choose to be in a good mood can choose to be in a bad mood. I choose to be in a good mood. Each time something bad happens, I can choose to be a victim or...I can choose to learn from it. I choose to learn from it. Every time someone comes to me complaining, I can choose to accept their complaining or...I can point out the positive side of life. I choose the positive side of life.”

“Yeah, right, it's not that easy,” I protested.

“Yes, it is,” he said. “Life is all about choices. When you cut away all the junk, every situation is a choice. You choose how you react to situations. You choose how people affect your mood. You choose to be in a good mood or bad mood. The bottom line: It's your choice how you live your life.”

I reflected on what he said. Soon hereafter, I left the Tower Industry to start my own business. We lost touch, but I often thought about him when I made a choice about life instead of reacting to it.

Several years later, I heard that he was involved in a serious accident, falling some sixty feet from a communications tower. After eighteen hours of surgery and weeks of intensive care, he was released from the hospital with rods placed in his back.

I saw him about six months after the accident. When I asked him how he was, he replied, “If I were any better, I'd be twins. Wanna see my scars?”

I declined to see his wounds, but I did ask him what had gone through his mind as the accident took place.

“The first thing that went through my mind was the well-being of my soon-to-be born daughter,” he replied. “Then, as I lay on the ground, I remembered that I had two choices: I could choose to live or...I could choose to die. I chose to live.”

“Weren't you scared? Did you lose consciousness?” I asked.

He continued, “'....the paramedics were great. They kept telling me I was going to be fine. But when they wheeled me into the ER and I saw the expressions on the faces of the doctors and nurses, I got really scared. In their eyes, I read 'he's a dead man'. I knew I needed to take action.”

“What did you do?” I asked.

“Well, there was a big burly nurse shouting questions at me,” said John. “She asked if I was allergic to anything. 'Yes, I replied.' The doctors and nurses stopped working as they waited for my reply. I took a deep breath and yelled, ‘Gravity!’ Over their laughter, I told them, 'I am choosing to live. Operate on me as if I am alive, not dead.'”

He lived, thanks to the skill of his doctors, but also because of his amazing attitude. I learned from him that every day we have the choice to live fully. Attitude, after all, is everything.

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (Matthew 6:34.) After all, today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday.

Cute puppy pix

For those waiting with bated breath, here at last are the latest snapshots of Lydia.

Action shots of romping with Major, who is finally accepting the fact that this brat isn't going away.

Tucked into a baby blanket, courtesy of Younger Daughter:

Naughty puppy, chewing on a sock:


Sitting on a neighbor boy.


TweedleDee and TweedleDum

I'm attending obedience class with her. While I can't claim that she's the star of the class (of 20 or so dogs), she's not far from it. So far she's very attentive and responsive - especially for a Great Pyrenees! Okay, I'm biased!