Thursday, January 28, 2010

More fabulous hen poetry

And a surreal chicken photo:

One of my readers just left this most FANTASTIC poetry in the comments section of my Hen Haiku:


Haiku was ready.
Then I felt I got a kick:
The Lady wants a Limerick.
That's why I thought it's wiser
to offer both not, either. :)

However I came to think of:

Two hens who lived in London planned
To walk to Melbourne overland,
But, footsore in Southampton Row
when there were still some miles to go,
They thought it wise to not extend
The Journey to the bitter end.


Many thanks to Sean Jeating, for his much-better, chickeny version of this. And if he hadn't told me otherwise, I'd have thought he wrote the entire poem himself. It warmed the cockles of my heart on a blustery winter day (is there REALLY going to be a -40C windchill tomorrow?! And what's this about a frostbite alert?! Lalalala, I can't hear them!)

"Bitter end"... I think for my hens that would be Willie or Chef Nick's STEW POT!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

My lovely girls..

I am very smitten with my chickens. (No, Chef Nick, Willie, and HWB, I do not mean "I love you, hens, and you are going in my stewpot!" ) Today the girls got carrots and cucumbers as treats, and I let them out to run around the barn for a few hours.

Steppin' out!

Stampede for the open door!

"Hmmm, what should I peck? Juicy carrot or shiny camera? Juicy carrot or shiny camera. Well, I do SO love the shiny things!"

Henrietta looking totally, chickenly gorgeous! The big comb and floppy wattles = good layer. She may even be the one behind the 107-gram egg!

Gordon has a waiting list of co-workers who want some of our eggs. I like to add a little value to our eggs by putting something on the cartons each week. Right now I'm doing a hen-of-the-week thing, which evolved from the Art Trading Cards I made a while back featuring hen haiku. Every week, I highlight a different hen. I need to finish assigning names! I can tell about half the chickens apart now and am studying them carefully to figure out the rest. A few of the black hens are particularly hard to distinguish!

The lovely Anastasia, named after my dear Irish grandmother who died when I was 12. She had a great sense of humour and I hope she'd get a kick out of having a beloved chicken named in her honour. It's not like I have any human kids to bestow names upon!

Charlotte, probably my cuddliest hen.

Buffy, the first hen I could reliably identify because of her smooth,buffy plumage.

Gordon's co-workers and our friends are all getting really good about sending home empty egg cartons. A couple of weeks ago, I opened a carton that still had Buffy's "Hen of the Week" card on it. Inside I found this sticky note:

Gordon's co-worker John put a big smile on my face by sending this home to me.

And then last week I gave some eggs to my friend Ronna as a "hostess" gift, and I got this in my inbox, with the subject line "Message for Charlotte c/o Natalie"

Dear Charlotte:
I had two of your most delicious brown eggs this morning for breakfast and I must tell you that your creations were superb. I had them fried in a small pat of butter, sunny side up, no salt. I don't want anything to impede their delicious flavour.
Many thanks for laying such beauties and may we meet someday so that I can compliment you in, in chicken.
Cheers, A Fan

I love my chickens! I have been calling them my "budgies", because they are getting so tame that when I want to put them in their coop at night, they will step off the woodpile (where they like to congregate in the barn) onto my arm and perch there as I carry them back.

Meanwhile, we've had a messy January thaw going on, but the temps are dropping again. The creek that runs through our farm is running with quite a bit of water right now:

I have a strange craving for an omelette.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

iMoo... do you?

Evidently more than eleven people are reading my blog, because last week I received a request from the extremely genial Patrick at Panda Club Productions. He asked me to review the company's new iPhone/iTouch App, iMoo. I was graciously offered a free copy, but because iTunes didn't like the fact that I am Canadian and thus refused my special code (I always have been special), I threw caution to the wind and spent 99 cents Canada on the App. And I am most pleased I did!

Years ago, a friend of mine gave me a baaaa-ing "sheep-in-can." But after moving across the country twice and living in four provinces, I discovered that my "sheep-in-a-can" had gone to that great coyote lunchbox in the sky. No more did it "baa" its plaintive "baa", seeking release from the can. No, it crapped out and for quite some time, I have been bereft, left alone in the world without my disembodied farm-animal-in-a-can.

But now I can smile again, because not only do I live on a real farm with a bunch of hooligan chickens, I can now whip out my iPod Touch and experience the joy I once only felt when tipping my sheep-in-a-can. That's because I am now the proud owner of iMOO. Yes, yes, I know it's bovine, not ovine, but in my opinion that's an improvement, because as much as sheep rock, COWS ROCK MORE! (Visit my Cow Diaries and you'll see why.)

Here's how the iMoo works. You install the App, fire it up, and then turn your iPhone or iPod Touch upsidedown, then right-side up. Out comes a glorious MOOOOO! But not just any MOOOOO! You have a choice of seven different moo sounds (like "La vache qui rit"), and if your iPhone or iPod Touch has a microphone (mine doesn't, damn it!), you can even record your own mooing sounds (and I can only imagine what else. I'd be partial to a "fart-in-a-can", but my husband would not approve.)

I am most pleased with iMoo and would recommend it to anyone with an iPhone or iPod Touch and a sense of humour. The graphics are very appealing, the sounds are cowishly delightful, and it's cheap fun. No doubt kids would love it, and since I never grew up, I am in bovine love. Go treat yourself to a virtual can of Holstein happiness!

PS: Not only was I NOT paid or rewarded in anyway for writing all this, I even spent my own dime on my copy of iMoo, so you can trust me when I say I am writing from the heart! I do so love amusing apps, and the Panda Club website is pretty darn hilarious too.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Mother always said...

I was, in my opinion, a pretty good kid, but one thing my mother constantly nagged me about was my habit of not hanging up my coat. And here I am, well into middle age, and I still have to make an effort to put my coat in the closet. Instead it ends up on a kitchen chair, and Gordon (who is NOT the neatnik in the family, I feel compelled to point out) breaks down and hangs it up.

But yesterday that didn't happen fast enough, and Alex the three-legged cat decided my expensive new "made in Quebec" parka would make an EXCELLENT cat bed. I would like to note that in our house, cats ARE NOT allowed on the kitchen table! Ahem.

"Do you mind? That flash is blinding!"

"Oh hi Naomi -- hey! Wait a minute! Get your head out of there!"

"Shut up, Alex, and let me give you the washing you so richly deserve!"

"Ahhhh, fine Canadian craftsmanship, so soft and cushy on my behind!"

"Can't a guy get some privacy around here?"

Turns out Mum was right. I should hang up my coat!

PS: I'm working on a chicken video, especially for my friend Richard (who will have to watch it on Ronna's higher-speed internet connection. Dial-up does not cut it for video-watching!) It's a comin'!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

It's a tough job...

I maintain a website for my friend who breeds Cairn Terriers. The other day I went over to photograph a batch o' puppies. It's a tough job, but somebody's gotta do it..

"Get the ball! Get the ball!"

Puppy stampede!

Getting a little tired!

Fun in the snow. Bounce, bounce, bounce!

I'm gettin' me some good puppy lovin'!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Gordini's Special Day

Today is my favourite person's BIRTHDAY, and it's also the first time, in the 21 birthdays we've been together, that I am not going to see him on his special day, because he is stuck up in Fort Frances on business. This totally sucks, particularly since it means I have no excuse to bake and eat a birthday cake today.

So • • H A P P YB I R T H D A Y • • Gordon, and I hope you have a great day and that someone at least gives you a cupcake. Make sure you at least have a nice dessert at Fort Frances' finest restaurant tonight.

Je t'aime!


The chickens send kisses, as do the dogs and cats. The gecko is not interested, as per usual.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

A Pileated in Lanark...

My bloggy friend Paula took this great video in Lanark County, Ontario this past week. The pileated woodpecker in action! Thanks, Paula, for letting me share this. (Her blog is wonderful!)

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Love hurts...

... especially sock monkeys!

My apologies to those of you on dial-up... it's bad enough with my medium-speed satellite internet!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

That's one hard skull!

Yes, that's a pileated woodpecker and his handiwork!

One of my readers, Doreen Seguin, (I love that: I have "readers"!) noted my love of woodpeckers, and was kind enough to send me these fantastic photos of a pileated woodpecker wreaking havoc on a tree in a front yard in North Bay, Ontario. She gave me permission to put them on my blog for all of you to enjoy (so please don't STEAL them! The pics belong to Doreen. If you have to steal pics, take one of my giganto-egg photos or something.)

My more devoted (dare I say fanatical?) followers (hello, Happy Wombat Boy!) may remember my brief trip to North Bay in 2008, and the exciting shadfly invasion. Well, now you get to see a North Bay woodpecker!

There are pileated woodpeckers around our farm, mainly in the woodlot (for obvious reasons, if you were paying attention to the photo above!) but I find them hard to photograph. I have never before seen one do quite this amount of damage to a tree, so I am very impressed by the beak power in evidence here, not to mention the hardness of this bird's skull.

The pileated woodpecker beginning his work.

Working really hard!

Taking on another section of the tree!

Around here, they put wood cutouts of pileated woodpeckers on hydro poles. This make the real pileated think somebody's already hammering away on the pole, and thus prevents the true bird from damaging the pole.

Thank you Doreen, for sharing these wonderful pictures!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Um, I think that's extra-jumbo!

Here's the 107-gram whopper the girls laid the other day, if the video wasn't enough for you! That's 3.773 for the Americans amongst us.

"One of these things is not like the other, one of these things just doesn't belong..."

This was the first time I couldn't close the egg carton over a WHOPPER.

Read it and weep. For the hen who had to pass it ! (Nah, don't worry, the hens are fine. The black chickens are known to lay whoppers.)

Monday, January 11, 2010

Deer me!

After skiing Saturday, our friends spied some deer on the way out of the parking lot. They backed up their minivan to illuminate the deer in the headlights for us, and I took a video with my digicam:

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Making the most of winter

I deal with a long winter by getting outside and making the most of it. Otherwise I'd have to take to the bottle to cope with the long, cold, dark days.

Of course, that means dressing properly for the cold temperatures. Long underwear is my best friend from December to February!

Yesterday we went skiing with our friends at the Upper Canada Bird Sanctuary, which is a very beautiful place. I need to go there to watch birds sometime! There were lots of tame chickadees hanging around the parking lot, looking for handouts. They were all but landing on us, but alas I had no birdseed with me. Next time!

This is my impersonation of an owl. I can't quite turn my head 180 degrees!

It was -16 Celsius yesterday and became more frigid as the sun set, sinking to -22C at bedtime, according to our car thermometer. Gordon is looking rosy-cheeked but happy as our friends ski off in the background.

We've had quite a bit of snow lately, as this buried picnic table shows!

Hell on skis!

The sunset was lovely last night, and by the time we got back to the parking lot, it was quite dark.

Today we lazed around and Gordon made a fabulous lunch. We recently went to the Pan Chancho Bakery & Café in Kingston, Ontario, and I bought their cookbook which I really like. Four lunch, Gordon made a yam/arugula/cheese/roasted pecan salad recipe from the book:

We substituted sweet potatoes for yams, but these were beautiful delicate ones grown in Ontario. It's the first time I've found sweet potatoes from Ontario in the grocery store. I would like to find out what varieties you can grow up here and try my own. Until recently, I didn't think you could grow them at all in northern climes. These were wonderful and tender.

Gordon was very proud of his beautiful creation and it was so delicious!

Yummy, with Quebec cheese.

Happy winter!

107 grams of yolky goodness

Somebody laid another whopper yesterday, at 107 grams! Gotta love those hens.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

The RAF Corporal

I'm not sure of the exact span of his service, but from about 1949 to 1954, my Dad was in the Royal Air Force. Here he is in 1957, posing in his uniform after he left the RAF. He had attained the rank of corporal.

He didn't tell me a lot about his time in the RAF (which was post WWII), but he did have a few stories about his tour in Egypt in 1949. For a while he had me believing a birthmark on his back was a bullet wound scar, and that he'd killed the guy who shot him, but before I became I teenager, I'd figured that one out! My Dad was a great storyteller and sometimes you had to delve a little to separate fact from fiction.

Here's Dad in Egypt, age 18 or 19, serving up drinks in the what looks like the NCO's mess. My Dad is the guy on the right, behind the bar with the bottle in his hand. I guess they tended bar out of uniform! I'm wondering what brand of drink was in the bottle; I'm guessing it's beer but the only clue to brand is the star on the label.

Dad was also on a water polo team there. He's in the front on the far left, lucky #7. To the best of my knowledge, his water polo career ended after he left Egypt!

And here's Dad posing in front of a quonset hut in his spiffy white shorts and shirt. Actually, the quonset huts look like barracks to me.

Uh, the guy in the middle with his shirt open and a cigarette hanging out of his mouth? That's my Dad. Life of the party! But he was a teenager at the time.

On the back of this, my Dad wrote "Me in a canoe." An Egyptian canoe, perhaps... with a kayak paddle.

I love these old photo gems.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Is it spring yet?

Slowly and insidiously, the snow has been piling up here, centimetre by centimetre!

That said, I do love January and we had a great time snowshoeing with two friends and five dogs on Saturday!

The poor little holiday penguins are buried up to their necks, while the polar bear snuffles in the snow for a seal to eat.

The white stuff is piling up against the kitchen window, too!
Incidentally, we bought that shortwave radio to take on our 10-week southeast Asian honeymoon in 1993, back in the days before the internet. We had an American Express credit card at the time, and I remembering stopping in at various Amex offices to pick up snail-mail from home.