Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Great! Even at twice the price.

By the end of this month we will have gotten almost 4 dozen eggs out of our two laying hens in April. Even more impressive, they waited a couple of days into the month to actually start laying eggs. If The Princess' hen would get with the program, we would be approaching 5 and a half dozen eggs a month.

I have a spreadsheet and graphs if anyone is interested. But the hard-boiled fact is that our free-range, cage-free (except when they sleep), grass-fed, hormone-free, steroid-free, hopefully swine flu-free eggs are down to costing us only $5.73 a piece. Yeah, don't tell the wife or we might be eating Chicken and Dumplins for dinner, OK?

Monday, April 27, 2009

No, really. How do you REALLY do it?

True confession: I do not hold a pencil properly when I write.

There. It is now out on the 'net for all to see.

I am well past the point of flinching when someone notices me holding a pen. At most I may drop a "Yep, that REALLY is the way I write." when my pencil-claw grip is pointed out. Of course, working around a bunch of pre-school teachers, this gets noticed a lot. But I gave up actually caring about it in the 6th grade.

Back then, after every grammar school teacher I encountered tried to correct my pencil-holding abilities, I looked Miss Anders in the eye during an after school pencil holding lesson and told her "This way works for me. OK?" I guess it was OK, because no teacher ever tried (very hard) to correct my pencil-grip-of-death after that.

But truth be told, I still cringe when I see the pretty, little, colorful corrective pencil grip rubber things. I bet I have thrown a million of those things away over the years.

Evidently my writing skillz have been on The Talker's mind. First thing he said to me this morning: Not, 'good morning' or 'hi, dad', but "Dad, I think they have these things at school so that you can hang onto a pencil the right way. Want me to see if I can bring you one?"

Now, like many others before him, The Talker now stands, squarely looking failure in the face. He can try to correct my pencil hold. He may even bring a rubber coated specialized grip to me. But in the end, the last man standing - with a pencil in a modified Half-Nelson-Super-Claw, will be me!

Unless he whines about it for a long time.

Then I usually cave, just to have some peace and quiet.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Sneak attack!

The nephew's birthday party was almost a miss. At 5 minutes until start time we were still thinking the party started in over an hour.

And we were sitting at home. 15 miles from the party.

Which is kind of ironic since we were the only ones who live within 45 minutes of the party, including the honoree.

After the party the masses voted to descend upon our house. Which was in complete disarray. While waiting for the party I was busy playing Lego Star Wars on the Wii, instead of cleaning.

Anyways, The Boss Lady and I peeled out of the parking lot and got the jump on the rest of the fam. We made it home and cleaned like crazy for 12 and a half minutes before the first wave of the sneak attack arrived.

Our bedroom is trashed, don't even look in there. The Master Bath is surely off limits. the kid's rooms are wasted, but who could tell after 6 kids play in there.

Anyways, the living room, dining room and kitchen are passable. And when it comes to sneaky family, that is the best they can expect.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

I got nothing.

I know it has been almost a week, but there has been nothing happening here.

We did go to the first grade musical performance where the cassette player (yes, I am not joking...) was turned up so loud that you couldn't the kids singing, and did little bit of house cleaning last weekend. Exciting, right?

Otherwise, we are keeping the friends stocked with eggs; I gave away another half dozen this morning and the garden is coming in nicely.

So like I said, I got nothing. See you in another week?

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Mr Know-it-all, meet Mr. Smart-ass

A conversation between The wife and myself, while she was randomly browsing the internetz tonight:

She: Well, let's go to to find out the answer.

Me: Why do you need You have me!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Road Trip!

I tried to entice her north with promises of seeing Interstate 35 from start to finish and with shopping trips to the Mall of America. Heck, I even promised that I would leave her alone and play with David for a couple a days. But The Hammer has spoken. We are driving to California this summer.

Lego Land tops the To Do list. Disneyland is a weaker possibility (mainly just so people won't think we are mean to our children for not taking them). Joshua Tree is right along our route, so that is almost a sure thing. Carlsbad Caverns are high on the To Do On the Road list.

The highlight of the trip will be July 4th on the beach with my Aunt and Uncle, long time misplaced Texans. Add in several days of just being tourists in Southern California and vacation is shaping up nicely. This is that mystical part of the trip where 3500+ miles in a car with kids sounds do-able, exciting and downright fun.

The Grand Canyon is really too far north to visit this time, but when are we going to be 10 hours from it again? So it makes the Might Do, but Probably Won't Do list. Also given a chance I would be seen standin' on a corner in Winslow Arizona. And if driving all the way up to Winslow, we might as well keep going, so I can light up some cigars in David's garage. It is only 1700 miles out of the way. after all.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Welcome to the gun show!

My newest favorite photo of Mike 2.0.

Taken after he kept all shots out of the goal in his first ever try at Goal Keeper.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Backyard Tour

Since we skipped out on the Funky Chicken Coop Tour this year, I thought I should give up an online tour of our yard. This way is a lot easier on the neighborhood and my backyard grass too, since some of the coops had a reported 600+ people visit on Saturday. Still, I would have been the only coop out here in the Northwest, stuffed shirt side of town, and irking off my neighbors seems to be a specialty of mine lately. So I have some regrets about not participating. But next year, we will show the 'burbs how to rock the coop!

My chickens are well documented around here, so I thought I would give a peek at how we cram all of this chaos into a suburban backyard. So, on with the show...

First of all, every Stay at Home parent NEEDS a playscape.

It makes all of the other nonsensical and time wasting projects possible.
The kids play and I cause chaos in our yard. It is a perfect balance.

Our garden/outdoor coop.

This is looking directly out our backdoor, so we can peek into the hen house from our living room. Also, I have wire panels and gates to keep dog and birds from digging up the plants.

The chickens still overnight in the luxurious shed beside the house.

If I had moved the coop to the north side of the garden, the chickens would have more shade and the watermelons and cantaloupes would be getting more sun. But it would have been harder to control pet access to the garden areas.

Making things easier to deal with was big on my list of priorities because I am nothing, if not lazy. Besides, I'll probably rotate everything around next year, to make use of the chicken poop under the coop.

A second shot of the shady side of our yard.

And my swivel chair that I can watch over my chicken and children and dogs and cats and there may still be a turtle around here somewhere.

So we have a lot crammed into about 5000 square feet behind our house, but there is still place to play football, baseball, soccer and ride an occasional trike. Our backyard has been in transition since we moved here and I doubt it will ever be truly "finished".

Someday I would like to add a storage shed/coop combo unit on the shady side of the yard. And maybe a go-cart track. Or a fishing pond. Or a...

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Happy Birthday, Old Boss Lady

I like being married AND alive, so I won't tell you the number, but today is The Boss Lady's Birfday. Happy Birthday, Boss.

For the record, she is the luckiest woman alive, because she gets to spend the entire day on a ranch. In Texas. With my extended family. What is that thing about 2 out of 3 ain't bad?

I thought TBL had done me a favor when she brought home her own birthday cake from work. They brought her two, and did not even cut into one of them. But I noticed that the she and the kids cut into it last night, so I guess I need to scramble her up some birthday eggs or something.

So tell me, eggs? For your birthday? Would you hit your spouse with a frying pan for that?

What if the guy was on day two (or three), I lost count, of a migraine?

Addundum: I forgot to add, I decided, in my husbandly wisdom, that The Boss Lady would rather NOT have a herd of strangers and neighbors in our backyard all day long, so I declined to participate in Austin's First Funky Chicken Coop Tour. Maybe next year, with any cluck.

Monday, April 06, 2009

How to successfully turn 5

Our 5 year old Princess. The star of the show!

The Princess had a great birthday party this past Saturday. She is a super cool 5 year old, now!
Some things not related to her birthday celebration kept us preoccupied for much of the weekend, so I did not sit down and post about her party. Sorry about that, baby girl.

The weather was egg-cellent and the flowers were in bloom. The eggs were a nice present from the pets, but two years ago The Princess directed, and I planted, a flowerbed of mums and irises. Her favorites are the lavender bearded irises, but they had not bloomed this year. Until the morning of the party! So tell me another kid who plans a party that involves her personal flowerbed blooming just in time for the party AND chickens laying their first eggs during the festivities.

We all enjoyed the pink-est birfday cake EVER, thanks to The Boss Lady's mastery of the oven and KitchenAid Mixer and a wonderful decorating design handled by The Princess. The table decorations were also organized by the girl, with an assist from daddy, who cut some flowers from the yard, including a few purple and yellow irises, pink lantana and herbs for the centerpiece.

So there were loads of costume changes, lots of jewelry made, a haul of presents, blooming flowers, fresh eggs, good friends and family and CAKE! What else could a girl want of her 5th birthday?

What's that? You thing we should have cascarones to celebrate, too? No problemo, mi amigo.

Nothing tells a cousin that you love them, like smashing a confetti filled egg shell upside his head.

Happy 5th Birthday, Princess! I am glad you had a great party.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Eggs a plenty

We have definite confirmation that at least two of the girls are now egg layers. This afternoon Fillet wanted to go into the coop. A few minutes after I let her in there, she wanted out. When she walked away, I glanced in and found our second egg.

The same scene repeated about an hour later, with M&M. The coop was closed to keep toddlers from playing in there. After I let M&M in, she hung out in the hen house for about an hour. When she wanted out, there was another egg for me to collect.

We are up to 3 eggs in less than 24 hours. No 3 egg omelets for breakfast, but we are making progress.

Friday, April 03, 2009

The girls, celebrating the egg-citement, with a dustbath

Fillet, black and white in the back;
M&M, darker red with brighter comb;
Butterscotch, the butterscotch colored one, duh!

I suspect M&M is the lucky girl today.

Now, if we can eBay it for $250, we will be ahead in the game!

It has taken 7 and a half months, about 100 pounds of feed and 10 chickens to get the job done, but we have our first egg! Check out the nice, smallish brown egg the kids and I found in the coop about an hour ago.

Our first egg!

And here is the obligatory photo comparing our egg
to a grocery store Grade AA, extra large egg.

The kids were playing in the yard and and I decided to let the chickens run free for a while. When I headed for the coop, The Princess was convinced that one of the birds was missing. Luckily, Butterscotch was just sitting in the shade under the hen house. The egg was in the hen house, so I do not know which hen laid this one.

I did notice that M&M (Mystery Meat) was making an awful lot of noise this morning, so perhaps it is her egg. Either way, we are just glad it is finally here.

Anybody up for scrambled egg?

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Doubling down on Daylight Savings Time

There are at least two ways NOT to start a morning. I have just experienced them both:

First we are out of Dr Pepper. Never a good way to get moving.

But the bigger issue is the fact that The Talker just erased an hour from my morning and probably a few days from my life by startling me awake with "Dad, wake up! It is 7:42."

Crap on a crippity cracker, the absolutely latest possible moment for us to leave the house, drive to carpool AND be on time to school is 7:30. For some reason, leaving at 7:31 will make us at least 5 minutes late.

As I was running out from under the covers I had a moment of lucidity. I checked my atomic alarm clock. That sucker is never wrong, and it showed 6:42. Still a little late for wake up, getting everyone dressed and all the usual morning stuff, but not an insurmountable hole to dig out of, either.

We will still make it to school on time this morning. As long a I get us out the door within 32 minutes.

Ready, set, go!