Sunday, June 26, 2016

Eggs! And More...

To paraphrase Scotty from Star Trek IV The Voyage Home:  Admiral, there be eggs here!

Finally, after several months of watching my chicks grow and mature, I proceeded to the chicken coop to feed and water - my daily routine - and was surprised to discover an egg scurried in the corner on the floor.

Uh, that was about 2 to 3 weeks earlier than I'd been told to expect eggs.  Almost everyone had told me not to expect any eggs until sometime in July. Well...


It was the cutest little egg.  All brown and smooth.  But, oh, so small.  About 1/2 the size of a normal egg.  Still, one of my 18 chickens decided to give me an egg.  I proudly carried it into the house and presented it to my wife.  She was ecstatic.

Now, one must remember, she was the one who wanted to have chickens.  I wanted to raise about 25 for butchering and stocking the freezer.  She wanted eggs.  I have been the one who goes out every day to feed and water the hens.  Uh, not her.  Also, I don't eat eggs because they make me sulfuric and you don't want me like that - trust me, but that's another story.

Since the first egg's discovery, my wife is more involved with the chickens.  Well, sort of. Okay, she only goes out (about 2 or 3 times a day) to check for more eggs.  I'm the guy who still has to feed and water the chickens... oh, and clean out the coop, etc.

With the egg discovery, my #1 son made us 4 nesting boxes.  I've put some straw in them.  The hens use the boxes for roosting at night, throw out the straw, and continue to lay their eggs on the floor AND NOW, even outside on the ground.  I am going to paint some plastic eggs tan and put them in the boxes to see if that helps.  If not, I will lock them in the coop temporarily in an attempt to get them to lay the eggs inside, at least. Hopefully, at some point, they'll realize they have nests.

It looks so lonely, all by itself on the counter for the picture.

This is what it appears in size against a regular-sized egg.
Also, so you know it, there have been more eggs laid since the first one appeared.  We have a total of nine eggs now.  My wife, in her modest brainstorm, has been saving all the used egg cartons for this adventure - much to my surprise.  In fact, I think she has all the kids saving them, too.  She has a huge stack of empty egg cartons.  But, here is what the eggs in a carton look like...

The darker ones are from the Red Cross hens, the two lighter ones are from the ISA Brown hens. As the hens mature and continue laying eggs, they will get larger. I'm told all the lighter eggs will get darker with time and size.

There are 18 hens.  Egg production should increase with time, as well as size.  Right now, we're getting about 1 or 2 eggs per day.  As stated, I don't eat eggs but do look forward to a lot more angel food cakes to munch on.

In other news, my garden is coming along well.  The peas have really done well and the vines are loaded with pea pods.  My wife figures she will have to consider ambling out to harvest them.  I can't believe we only have about 2 cups of frozen peas left from last year.  I'll probably use them in the next week or two.  By that time, I would say the new peas should be coming in.  Mmm.  Fresh peas in a cream sauce over new baby potatoes.  YUM!

My tomato plants are doing well, growing strong in their wire cages.  Can't wait to make this year's salsa.  I only have 1 qt of salsa left.  My garlic and onions are coming along.  Two days ago I put up the lines for the pole beans to grow on.  Amazing how fast they latched onto the lines and started growing up them.  I'm sort of excited to see how the fish line trellis works this year.  I've always used the tee pee pole method and my loving wife wanted something a little easier to deal with.  We'll see.

The flowers I started are coming along beautifully.  The orange petunias aren't quite the exciting, electric shade as shown in the magazine.  Still, they are pretty, but not so much orange right now, as more coral-colored.  They look good against the white petunias, purple sweet alyssum and lime-green sweet potato vines.

Has anyone ever attempted to grow that large foliage plant, Elephant Ears? See picture.

I've got 3 bulbs that I've planted. It has been 3 weeks now and so far, nada.  Last year I bought a package of 5, planted them in a moist, but not soggy, area, with shade and sun.  My granddaughters, 4 of them, helped and there was one for each of them, plus mine.  None of them grew.  I figured it was something I'd done wrong... or the ground wasn't good.  This time I bought another 5, gave 2 away, and planted the 3 in huge pots, hoping for a fabulous tropical look.  So far, I'm disappointed.  I planted them as shown on the instructions - uh, all the dirt basically washed away in the first rain, leaving the tops exposed.  I figured that was what it was supposed to do.  I'm probably wrong. HELP!

To finish up, a little health update.  My dietitian has me on an 1800 calorie diet with 40-60 carbs per meal and 15-30 carbs per snack.  I gained weight.  NOT GOOD.  She wanted me to have an intake, at minimum, 165 carbs, preferably closer to the high end at 270.  Yeah, I gained weight.  Went to the doctor and explained the circumstances and he agreed, I should go back to my diet, lose the weight and see if we can get me off a lot of these diabetic medicines.  So, I'm now eating small meals, about 4 a day, cutting out carbs but not completely, and, of course, exercising.  I've cut out the biggie carb monsters: rice and potatoes; plus I've given up pop.  Okay, I cheat. I have ONE diet pop at night along with a bowl of popcorn.  Sorry, but I was born in Iowa, the corn state, and I love my corn, especially popcorn.  I use a dribble of oil in a microwave popcorn popper just so the small amount of salt I put on - stays on. LOL.  Of course, I'm consuming more veggies, fresh and raw veggies, not from cans.  Plus, now that fruit is once again in season, I'm checking those out.  My sugar was up a tad when I went to the doctor, but with the new meds (got rid of Januvia, now on Victoza) and new diet, I'm seeing the numbers come back down and that's what I want to see. Yes, I know. Victoza is an injection and I fought to avoid this, but it is NOT insulin. The doctor assured me if I can get my weight down, more than likely the sugar will also come down and I can stop Victoza. It better!

Finally, I'm writing again.  Back to my sequel for "The Secret Voice."  I now have Daniel Yoder, my Amish character, in New York City.  He is following a dream, testing Rumshpringe.  I can't believe the trouble he has found himself in, plus I know a few little secrets that should keep him off-balance and the reader turning pages.  More about "The New York Voice" as time passes.

Until next I ramble on...

Monday, June 20, 2016

Just A Rant


This week has been one of desperation and exasperation. I went out, an innocent lamb to the slaughter.  Okay, let me tell you tales of horror. LOL.

I went up near the Detroit area last week to visit my youngest son and his wife to babysit their twins so they could attend a dance banquet for the eldest daughter - a six-year-old

It is summer time and of course, every road is under construction - for miles! I can take the south route (low road) or the north route (high road) but... wait.  They are both under construction at about the same area so the idea of taking one to avoid the other is a moot point.  Oh, wait, I could slip around the whole mess by taking a road headed north before I got the construction.

Silly me.  That road was under construction, too.  Well, I was committed to this road when I discovered the construction. Therefore, a quick dido might be the best answer. Wrong again. A left turn here, a right turn there, a couple of each and finally I was in an area I recognized. A little further and I was able to eliminate another construction area and I was clear of the big city and headed on to my destination.

Wait.  This road was taking me back away so I had to cut across the countryside to catch another highway to get me up to Detroit.  No problem. (So he thought.)  Speeding down the backroad and I see the flashing lights.  No, not the police.  In front of me is a tractor on the country road. It was chugging along at a snail's pace and there was NO way to get around it.  Did the young driver think to look in his rear-view mirror for traffic?  Nope!  He was getting down in the cab with his headphones on so the loud tractor with the immensely wide row of plows didn't bother him. No on-coming traffic and I couldn't pass him - the plow went from side of road to side of road. He really should have had them tipped up, but...

THREE agonizing miles at the breakneck speed of almost 10mph, he finally turned off into a field.

We finally got to my son's house before they had to leave.  We allowed almost 3 hours to make a 90-minute drive.  It took over 2 hours.  Therefore, visiting with them before they left was a lost cause. They assumed the banquet would be over early and they'd be home by 8pm, 9pm for sure.  They didn't get home until almost 10pm.  For us, no biggie since the twins, 14 months old, decided to call it an early evening and went to sleep without too much effort on our behalf.

We headed home the next day after an enjoyable visit.  We had a 1pm meeting and again, we allowed ourselves 3 hours to travel the distance.

About 40 miles from home, I thought we had it 'in the bag' ... we'd arrive almost 30 minutes before the meeting - but I was wrong.  I turned onto a connecting highway between the "high" road and "low" road.

Are you ready?  More flashing light.  Still, not the police.  Seems they decided to 'sweep' the highway and the big rig was moving along at ... okay, it was so slow we were passed by a kid on a bicycle as he cycled leisurely down the road licking a popsicle.  Actually, we were going so slow I was on idle - my foot was on the brake, not the gas, and I had to keep applying the brakes because I was moving too fast.  YUP!  It was THAT slow.  There was a county or state truck behind the sweeper with its caution lights flashing.  Behind that (and in front of me) was another truck who, for some reason, felt it unnecessary to pass.  The road is 3 lanes.  The lane going north, the lane going south, and a turn lane between them. For the one-mile strip, there is absolutely NO place to turn left or right from the highway.  Why is there a turn lane?  I have no idea, but it was there. But I figure, at about 1mph, no faster than 3mph, I had the right to pass.

Exasperated, I finally gunned my motor and, using the turning lane, passed the two trucks and sweeper at an outrageous speed of 20, almost 25mph.  Was it legal?  I don't know.  I might get a ticket in the mail and, if so, I will address the issue at that time.

I was ahead of schedule, but due to the sweeper, I fell behind and we were 5 minutes late for our meeting.  Not so bad, but we'd called to let them know we were running late.  I didn't mention that I was racing through the countryside in an attempt to gain back some time. If I hadn't raced, we probably would have been about 30 minutes late.

Oh, I forgot about the one car I had before me on the country road. She would stop at the stop signs. That's a good thing. She would left, look right, inch ahead, look left, look right, look left and finally cross the intersection.  Of course, I could not pass her due to poor timing of on-coming traffic. She did this at 3 different intersections.  Even my wife wondered why she spent so much time looking left and right to ascertain traffic.  Uh, you could see left and right at these stop intersections for over a mile in each direction. There was nothing coming either way.  We only had on-coming traffic and never met one of those vehicles at any intersection.

Yes, it was a trip of tension.  The only trips I can claim to be worse is when we decide to travel through Houston, Texas.  For me, my last 4 trips through the construction there have all been white-knuckle events. We (my wife, her brother and his wife, and me) now plan our trip to Corpus Christi to avoid Houston. I'm the only one 'dumb' enough to drive through Houston. They won't even attempt it.