Summer Drawing Club week #2

 

Simcha Fisher is hosting a Summer Drawing Club – check out the other participants!

Please excuse the poor picture quality.  I update my blog late at night when the children are mostly sleeping so the lighting is not too good.

I’m pretty sure you’re supposed to fail at this exercise.  Two tries.  Hated it.

voz or foz

voz or foz

 

Copying Picasso’s Stravinsky upside down.  Terrible at it.  Three tries and still couldn’t finish.

new appreciation for modern art

new appreciation for modern art

 

Copying Spiderman upside down.  All those lines!  Ack!!  Two tries.  Gave up.

stupid spidey

stupid spidey

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Pasta, Pope, Paint, Berries and Slaughter

Over dinner tonight my sister and I discussed whether or not we’d be comfortable serving puttanesca to the Pope.  She says she just wouldn’t feel right serving him anchovies.  His loss I say, it was delicious.

And while I lie here fiddling around on the computer she’s making homemade toaster pastries from this book.  Yay breakfast!  Who am I kidding?  Yay midnight snack!

So all this is to say that because my sister does the cooking fabulously well AND does dishes and because we are on a homeschool half schedule – which just means that we never did finish our math curricula and are using the summer to get them done – I have had time to do a few things around here.

This is how I know my kids are getting older:  after years of only being able to tolerate neutrals because anything else seemed too busy and I needed a place to rest my eyes, I am finally enjoying color again.  I was a little nervous so after I narrowed down my choices with the paint “chips” I bought two quarts and made big squarish swatches on the wall.  To my surprise the darker color won.  It just looked nicer with the white woodwork.  Kind of a big decision.  Anyone who says, “If you don’t like it, just paint over it” has never painted an old house with miles of window frames and door frames and baseboards to cut in around and probably has never had to deal with patching plaster walls.  I work slow, too – just a careful hour or two here and there.  The dining room has been off limits for about a week now and will be for probably a week longer.  My family has been very patient with me.

polka dots!

polka dots!

 

I’ve also been eating a lot of strawberries from our accidentally huge strawberry patch.  Last year I ordered 25 strawberry plants.  I thought.  But um, they were actually bare root strawberry plants packaged in lots of 10.  Wait.  Maybe I ordered 10 strawberry plants that turned out to be packaged in lots of 25.  Anyway, you get the idea.  I wound up with 25o strawberry plants.  I just shoved them all in the ground kind of haphazardly and hoped for the best.  This year we weeded, strawed, and netted.  And surprisingly – we got strawberries.  And let me tell you – a fresh, ripe strawberry warm and right out of your own dirt is something luxurious.  I sat in the sun in my camp chair with one leg thrown over the arm just savoring that first juicy jewel.  A queen should have it so good.

I just eat them fresh.

I just eat them fresh.

 

And finally, today was the first time I ever intentionally killed anything other than a bug.  My husband and I did two of our eight meat birds.  We followed these directions pretty closely.  I have to say the killing part was the easiest for me because I was able to practice it in my mind – I could see how it should be done.  The gutting not so much.  It was a little messy but not as bad as it could have been.  I did nick the crop and had to clean that up, and I did cut myself twice, but other than that no problems.  It took about an hour for the two of us to do two birds, which I guess is alright for first timers.  We’ll do two or four more tomorrow after church.

waiting for rigor mortis to pass

waiting for rigor mortis to pass

So that’s What I’m Doing on My Summer Vacation.  You?

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Filed under chickens, Cornish Cross, country living, garden, homeschool, house, husband, meat chickens, paint, puttanesca, recipes, school, strawberries

Summer Drawing Club week #1

Simcha is hosting a drawing class using Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain.  I was using this video while I waited for my book to be delivered but it turns out the exercises in the revised book are a little different from the exercises in the video and I had sort of zoomed ahead a bit.  Because my drawings won’t line up with everyone else’s I’ll just post the one that does and post the others as they come up in the book.

A pre-instruction self-portrait.  I am quite a bit older than this picture makes me look and not so much like a ballerina.  My boys say I’m prettier but that’s because I pay them in cookies.

IMG_5385

 You can join in or at least check out the other link ups!

 

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First Experience with Meat Chickens

Last year’s trial of six hens plus a donated rooster has turned out well; all the chickens are friendly, interesting, healthy, easy to care for, and they provide us with delicious eggs, so this year we decided to expand. We now have six more chicks who will hopefully grow up to be layers. They’re actually a dual-purpose bird, but we use them only for eggs. They are cute and docile and growing well.

Barred Plymouth Rock Chickens Eating a Tomato

Barred Plymouth Rock Chickens (dual-purpose chicken) Eating a Tomato

We also decided to try raising meat chickens.   These are the birds that have the body conformation that consumers have come to expect in the supermarket – big and with an abnormally large breast. I ordered them because I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to choke down something that looked different. Silly me. If we expand again next year, I’m going to order straight run (mixed males and females) and see what dual-purpose chicken tastes like.

These meat chickens (Cornish Cross)  gain too much weight for their frames.  You can’t even breed them naturally – they don’t usually live long enough and apparently even when they do the mechanics just don’t come together correctly. They’re lazy little eating machines.

All birds are messy, but these meat birds are just the worst. They eat a lot, poop a lot, they are dirty and yucky and weirdly shaped and apparently very delicate. Two out of the ten I brought home have died in less than ten days. Knowing that the conditions I’m providing are clean and warm and spacious enough compared to battery farming, together with the fact that these birds are just so ugly to look at is off-putting enough that I don’t think I’ll be eating chicken for awhile.

In contrast to these frankenbirds, the chicks we incubated ourselves are thriving little chickens now. They are outside in the Ark of the Poultry, eating weeds and bugs and being useful. I’m pretty sure we lucked out and got one cockerel and three little pullets.

Big Rooster Putting Finishing Touches on the Ark

Big Rooster Putting Finishing Touches on the Ark

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Filed under Barred Plymouth Rock, chickens, chicks, Cornish Cross, country living, eggs, incubating eggs, meat chickens

More than one, fewer than four

That’s how many s’mores an individual should consume at a cookout.  And when it begins to thunder, quick grab the sweets and run to the house leaving everyone else to fetch and carry in the downpour.  They’ll forgive you as soon as they taste  oven-baked s’mores.

I’ve finished Book I of The Iliad and it has gotten more interesting, mostly because I’m reading it with one of my sisters who narrates everything she reads with a girl-from-the-hood interpretation and a New Yawk accent.  “So Hera is giving Zeus grief about doin’ favors for other women and he says, ‘Sit down woman ‘fore I crack ya.”  I tried to find someone to do an illustration of this version but I know surprisingly few people willing or able to draw Zeus in a wifebeater.

After the kids were in bed tonight, I volunteered to walk with my husband in the rain to lock up the chickens.  It was wild and black and electric and made me feel like I was about to jump off into certain freedom.  Lovely and fierce.

The creek had been beginning to take on its summer appearance – very tame, quite dry in spots.  After about two hours it  is now flooding its banks.  I think that’s a rise of four feet or more.   We’re going to have to do something about erosion.

Still fast and swollen this morning, but no longer overflowing its banks.

Still fast and swollen this morning, but no longer overflowing its banks.

 

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Poetry and Me

For an hour or two I forgot who I am and I thought it sounded like fun to take an online class from Hillsdale College. I got halfway through the first reading before I decided The Iliad is as dry as a fart. Oh, Homer, it’s me not you.

Poetry and I have a complicated relationship. I want to like it, really I do. But when it comes right down to it I’m really really lazy. If I have a choice between reading poetry and staring off into space, well, I can see for miles. The poetry I know and like is stuff that got sneaked in on me. If it wants to hang out in my brain, poetry needs to be stealth.

“Little drops of water, little grains of sand…” I know that one because I illustrated it in my seventh grade caligraphy class. Imagine hour glasses and clocks and perfect blue drops of water. I recently wanted to carve it into some posts around our property for a sweet little surprise for whoever happens to be passing by but Cindy has said she likes that poem and now it would just seem like I’m biting off from her which I wouldn’t normally mind because she’s awfully smart, but this time it just seems weird. Besides it looks like Carney reworked this poem many times so I can’t find online the exact version that’s in my head.

Do you know this one? “My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song.  I thought that love would last forever. I was wrong.”  I guess it’s mushy and sentimental and maybe too obvious and besides was featured prominently in a popular movie and besides is supergay, but it moves me.

 

My favorite poem these days is “Noise” by Pooh by A.A. Milne.   Except for the poohing part.

NOISE, BY POOH

                     Oh, the butterflies are flying,

               Now the winter days are dying,

               And the primroses are trying

                   To be seen.

               And the turtle-doves are cooing,

               And the woods arc up and doing,

               For the violets are blue-ing

                   In the green.

                     Oh, the honey-bees are gumming

               On their little wings, and humming

               That the summer, which is coming,

                   Will be fun.

               And the cows are almost cooing,

               And the turtle-doves are mooing,

               Which is why a Pooh is poohing

                   In the sun.

                     For the spring is really springing;

               You can see a skylark singing,

               And the blue-bells, which are ringing,

                   Can be heard.

               And the cuckoo isn’t cooing,

               But he’s cucking and he’s ooing,

               And a Pooh is simply poohing

                   Like a bird.

 

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Filed under general, poetry, school

incubating eggs

I incubated some of my hens’ eggs recently.  Miracle of life and all that.   Counting the first day of incubation as day zero, it takes 21 days to hatch.  My chicks pipped on day 21 but did not emerge from their shells until early on day 22.

incubator eggs

incubator eggs

Out of seven eggs, four successfully hatched.  I think that’s considered a fair percentage.

first pip

first pip

Under duress, my husband did an informal necropsy on the unhatched eggs.  One wouldn’t open and two contained, as far as he could tell, fully developed chicks.  I know that means something but I’m not really interested in knowing right now.  I’ll just store the information until I need it.

almost

almost

Fred leaning on Ethel's egg as she pushes out

Fred leaning on Ethel’s egg as she pushes out

One of the chicks hatched with what appeared to be “wry neck.”  S(he) was spunky and energetic, but couldn’t lift her head, couldn’t drink or eat without assistance.  She was curled like a shrimp.  I splinted her as per some advice on Backyard Chickens on and off but after about 18 hours I decided to let her have a night without manipulation.  My mind was made up that if she was no better by morning, knowing that spontaneous healing was unlikely, I would kill her as humanely as possible.  When I checked on her at 5:30 am I thought, “Is it wishful thinking that she doesn’t look as bent as before?”  By 8 am, I had a hard time picking her out of a line up.  So yay!  It took her about another 8 to 12 hours to walk normally and now, except for some markings on her face, I wouldn’t be able to tell her apart from the others.

Ethel

Ethel at 6 days old – all the chicks have feathery feet like their Cochin sire

If you mock me for praying for the life of a little chick which I might even eat some day then you’re not a nice person and I remind you that not even one sparrow falls without God’s notice.  

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Filed under chickens, chicks, eggs, incubating eggs