Category Archives: chickens

Well, Hello, Mr. President

Last night I dreamt that a friend and I were to appear on Good Morning America with none other than the president. The reason behind it seemed unclear even in my dream.

However, it was quite clear that Obama sat between my friend and me on the pre-show couch, and I found his hand making its way up my thigh.

This development found no protest from me.

*******

I also had night sweats for the first time since getting off citalopram.

That development was met with cursing protests from me. Four times I woke up in drippy disgust.

I’m hoping this was due to an anomaly in internal body temperature or my hot presidential dream, and not a new trend.

Blargh, tiredness.

*******

I also dreamt that Scout shat on me.

Which sounds about right.

I feel bad that she’s so alone, but she’s such a jerk. Porkchop tried incorporating Scout into her flock, and it was a bit of a disaster.

Porkchop’s hens welcomed Scout into their coop, and Scout reciprocated by pecking their eyes.

Such an ungrateful little hen.

Perspective

Nothing can jerk one out of maudlin existential woe like finding a disemboweled chicken, one half-dead chicken, and one injured chicken.

A raccoon broke into the chicken coop through an air vent. My roommate found the mess.

Porkchop came over to help with clean up.

June Wayne is gone, and Scooter is following quickly. Scout was able to hold her own better and escaped with minor injuries (we think).

Damned raccoons.

To Agnes

Little Agnes

You were the best little chicken ever, and you’ll always be our favorite.

Countdown to August 8

On August 8, summer school will be over and done, my center’s conference will be underway in Beijing, and I will be on my way with Porkchop to Potawatomie State Park in Wisconsin. There, we will canoe, fish, hike, swim, poke around Door County, pick cherries if it’s still cherry-picking season, dump all microbiology knowledge from my mind, and not think about work.

I can’t wait.

This summer has become rather tiresome, despite my efforts to sprinkle it with some fun. It’s difficult, though, because most weekends are spent cramming for microbiology tests. Last night in lecture, our professor was reviewing the coming lectures, and he said, “…and you have a test next Monday. Oh wait, you had a test last Monday too. Wow, your professor is a real bastard. Hahahahahahah.”

Not a single student was laughing. Because in our heads we were all agreeing, you ARE a bastard.

Class is hard because it’s biochemistry-intensive, which was quite surprising, but makes sense because the professor is a biochemist. Unfortunately.

Meanwhile, the lab instructor is a complete doof who sings in class and says gems like, women change their clothes and hair every 70 minutes. I spoke up to this last night and said, I don’t, I wear the same thing for years. I don’t know if he heard my exact words, but I think he got the message that he’s an asshat and should perhaps shut his effing mouth before I pour E. coli down his throat. Anyway, he’s a doof and then hits us with incredibly difficult tests, even though we never talk about any of the material in class.

Welcome to my pity party, folks! Please pick up after yourselves and don’t mind the chicken living in our dining area.

Poor Agnes injured her wing and is molting. It’s a rough time for her, but Porkchop is an excellent chicken caretaker. Agnes is living inside for now so that her wing doesn’t become infected with flies or other nasties. The poor thing is super lethargic and doesn’t eat much, but her wing is healing. Being injured and molting takes its toll on little chickens.

As much as this summer is taking its toll on me, I feel pretty good about the year in general and its double threes.

Yeah, I had a birthday a couple of weeks ago, and I’m now on the cusp of my mid-30s. Egads. Thank goodness for awesome presents from Porkchop.

Awesome new shoes!

Pretty new bag! This replaces my other bag of nine years.

A screenprint by one of Amanda's students. Lettuce Turnip the Beet. Get it?

There were other, unpictured items as well: a cute t-shirt and Tomatoland.

So, here’s the summary of things: I’m older, summer school sucks, and work is not fun. What’s new, right? 20 days until vacation – I do hope I can make it!

Sweet Temptations

Two weeks ago, I gave up sugar and caffeine. I’m also putting an abeyance (hello, GRE vocab word!) on grains and starchy foods.

Unfortunately, this comes at a time when Porkchop’s younger brother is the manager at Jilly’s Cupcake Bar.

Seriously? Thanks, Universe.

This box nearly did me in over Memorial Day weekend:

Box full of sugar and pain.

But Porkchop kept me strong, and I didn’t set myself back with cupcakes.

You might think I’m crazy for giving up sugar and other tasty treats, but I was feeling crazy while on the sugar. I mentioned some of this stuff previously while writing about going gluten-free, but I’m not sure if it’s the gluten that was bothering me. When I eat refined grains (gluten-free grains are the worst), anything with refined sugar or other sweeteners in it, dates, potato chips, corn in any form, bananas (which are super sweet), and a host of other things, I have the following problems:

  • cheeks flare up right away and remain hot for some time
  • fatigue and complete exhaustion in extreme cases
  • foggy brain that lasts for a couple of days
  • anxiety and depression
  • indecisiveness (grocery shopping while I feel bad takes forever, and I feel like an incompetent driver)
  • extreme hunger
  • headaches
  • dizziness in extreme cases
  • difficulty sleeping

After consulting with my primary care physician and an endocrinologist, the consensus is that I have reactive hypoglycemia. But this is where I part ways with the endocrinologist.

The endo suggested Celiac’s, which I doubted (and the test came back negative). When I pointed out that I have had my worst episodes after eating gluten-free grains (spelt, I’m looking at you), he declared that I’m depressed. I told him that when I eat the items listed above and start feeling bad, then yes, I often become depressed. However, I am not depressed otherwise. The endo is welcome to his opinion, but if I tell someone that sugar makes me feel bad, I can’t figure out why more credence is given to the theory that I’m depressed, rather than the theory that sugar fucks me up. At least I received a diagnosis of reactive hypoglycemia, so I can now see a nutritionist, which is what I really wanted.

Overall, I’m feeling much better, but I have my bad days, especially when I test the food waters. I had very small servings – less than a 1/4 cup – of brown rice Monday night and Tuesday at lunch, and I became utterly exhausted afterwards. Monday night, I went to bed at 8:30. By the end of Tuesday, I was so tired I was reduced to tears.

So, I’m keeping to a stripped down, low blood sugar food regimen at the moment. Here’s a typical day:

  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup of plain yogurt upon waking
  • 2 eggs around 7:45-8:00 am
  • Snack around 9:00-9:15. I often go for celery with peanut butter here.
  • Snack around 10:30. This is usually a 1/2 cup cottage cheese, maybe sweetened with a bit applesauce (unsweetened).
  • Lunch around noon. This is usually a salad of some variety, often with chicken.
  • Snack around 2:00. This might be half an orange with cheese or some almonds with sunflower and pumpkin seeds.
  • Snack around 4:00. This is often an apple with peanut or almond butter.
  • Dinner by 6:30. Usually meat and a vegetable, or salad again.
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup of plain yogurt around 10:30-11:00.

I didn’t formulate this plan on my own, I found it in the Low Sugar Handbook. The book is a bit wacky in some ways, but this eating schedule works, as do the food guidelines given in the book.

I’ve also learned that sometimes I need a big injection of sugar quickly. Over the weekend, I went to an intense exercise class early Saturday morning. The rest of the day, I kept throwing food down my throat, but I couldn’t get rid of my feeling of hunger, no matter how much broccoli, peanut butter, and cheese I ate. And this isn’t gurgly-stomach hunger, it’s a full-body, about-t0-be-consumed-by-a-black-hole hunger. It’s hunger triggered entirely by blood chemistry, not the sight or sound of food, and believe me, there is a huge difference. By 4:00, I was shaking and felt like the world was going to end. I actually had to look online to figure out what to do. Two tablespoons of raisins and 15 minutes later, I was feeling better. Now I have a stock of 4 oz apple juice containers that I keep nearby in case of emergencies, and I have a half cup of fruit juice after exercising to prevent the shakes and hunger.

Other Food Stuff

Over the weekend, I made one of those power green vegetable smoothies…and I was so excited about it! Pretty:

Greeneyed monster.

I thought I would love it…but I didn’t. And I really wanted to. But I had to force the last half of it down.

What I do love is quark! No, not the software, this cream-cheesybut-better stuff from Marcoot Jersey Creamery.

Quark. My new favorite thing.

This stuff is amaaaaazing. It is especially good on this quinoa rice bread. I made a loaf of this Sunday afternoon and was enjoying quark on it immensely. But after the recent brown rice debacle, the brown rice flour in the bread is suspect. I will not be eating any more of it, sadly. Instead, I plan to make some rosemary almond meal crackers over the weekend and use the quark on that.

What Else?

The garden is growing, despite the chickens’ best efforts to sabotage it. I am hoping this year will be a bumper year for tomatoes. I’ve yet to have the “OMG I have too many tomatoes!” experience, and I want it desperately.

If you look through all the fencing, netting, and caging, you can see tomato plants. The beds are like maximum security prisons. No one in, no one out.

There's a garden behind all that fencing and netting!

And I have butternut squash in the backyard again! Grow, squash!

Welcome back, butternut!

And welcome to their friends, cucumbers:

First-time cucumber-grower.

Chicken Talk

Agnes is totally blind in one eye, and most likely very low vision in the other, thanks to the other bastard chickens. Seriously, Porkchop and I are considering offing Scout, and maybe Scooter. Scout is the most vicious hen to walk the earth, and Scooter is right there behind her. As they clamber about, they peck Agnes in the eyes.

Is it horrible that we might snuff out Scout and Scooter?

In the meantime, we’ve taken to offering Agnes shelter in the house at night. During the day, she can usually get away from the meanies, but in the coop, she’s a sitting duck (er, chicken). And the other chickens peck-peck-peck away at her head.

This is what things have come to:

Keetah and Agnes: reluctant buddies.

When we put Agnes out in the morning, she stumbles around the yard, bumping into things and walking in circles. It is so sad.

So, Scout and Scooter…who wants dinner?

Even Mountains Get Sad Sometimes

This has been a weird three-day weekend for me. Enjoyable, but weird!

We awoke at 2:40 am Friday morning to start watching the royal wedding. When the wedding date was first announced, Porkchop knew she was taking the day off. I finally came around to the idea as well – a day off is a day off! – and we invited a neighbor over for the viewing.

Since I haven’t been sleeping well lately, I was well practiced for getting up at 3 am. However, I certainly was glad to return to bed at 8 for a few more hours. The rest of Friday was a haze of studying, yardwork, and chicken salad from the Mud House.

Like us, our chickens enjoyed a day without rain. June Wayne assumed her favorite place in the yard:

I *was* going to plant basil in this pot.

She was accompanied by a couple of buddies:

Everyone wants a turn in the pot.

Saturday was good too…more studying and some time spent in the kitchen.

And today…today has been a mixed bag.

Porkchop and I biked to Tower Grove Park for a bit, even though it was on the chilly side. To warm up, we spent some time in the hot tub at the Y. After that, it was home to rustle up some chili.

I’ve been looking forward to my parents and my brother visiting us next weekend, and I called my parents today to talk details. During the conversation, I learned that my sister would be coming too.

This sent me into a bit of depression (okay, more than a bit).

My sister changes the dynamic of everything because she always has to be the center of attention…among other things. She is also lazy, manipulative, and a general pain in the ass.

My dad asks me to be “gracious,” during the visit, which irritates me to no end because I’m always being asked to do something due to my sister’s state.

Anyway, I am trying to not get too down about having to cater to my sister’s needs while she is here.

Instead, I am focusing on my upcoming trip to Milwaukee and Minneapolis! Yay, trips!

Buddies!

Porkchop snapped our two Wyandottes hanging out in the nesting box:

June Wayne and Scooter (or is it the other way around?)

The Wyandottes aren’t my favorites, but they’re pretty cute here.

Hail No!

As I get older, the more leery I become of big storms. While a younger self might have stood outside watching last night’s tremendous tornadic weather goings-on, I parked myself in the basement and listened to the hail pinging on the patio set.

I think the change happened in Madison, when we peered out of the basement window and saw swirling clouds above us, which then touched down a block away.

Anyway…between storms on Saturday, Porkchop finished the alley landscaping project. It looks SO MUCH BETTER:

Rubble pile no more.

Hopefully the phlox and nasturtium will settle in and grow big and pretty. Also, I hope this didn’t wash away during the storms last night – we didn’t check it this morning!

On Sunday, we put in our first garden installation, which you can see in the background here (PS the janky fence is our neighbor’s, not ours):

I am here to eat your food.

The trellis is for sugar snap peas, and later I’ll also plant green beans, black beans, and perhaps a cucumber or two. Under the trellis, I planted spinach and a couple of lettuce mixes. Although I’ve yet to have luck with carrots and beets here, I threw some of that in too. The rest of the bed is reserved for a tomato plant and basil.

What you can’t see is all the bird netting on the bed. If the chickens get any sprouts, I will be rather devastated. I love the chickens, but I don’t like how they’ve stripped the strawberry bed, the blueberry bush, and the rosemary plant. Grumble.

To tame the chickens, maybe we should let Keetah outside with them. This is what happens when Keetah is in the yard:

Chickens standing still. A rarity.

They stand stock-still, on alert for Keetah, that daring predator. Meanwhile, Keetah munches on weeds, which she will later throw up, possibly on our bed.

All for now!

An Honest Day’s Work

Today started out early with Keetah helping Porkchop with grooming:

Grooming Time!

Keetah’s licking is Porkchop’s secret to magnificent hair.

After getting pretty, we went out and bought some seed-starting supplies, such as this little greenhouse shelf:

Ready to grow things!

It isn’t the fanciest or sturdiest, but we needed a way to mount our grow lights, and this fit the bill. Plus, it will be easy to take it outside when it’s time to harden off the plants.

I actually just finished planting tomato, bell pepper, basil, and marigold seeds. The heat mats and greenhouse lids fit perfectly on the new shelving unit. Excellent. This is so much better than growing plants in the bathtub!

After having leftover brisket for lunch (from last night’s dinner – yum), I made snacks for this week:

Cashew and date bar.

This is the DIY version of the Larabar cashew cookie bar, which is one of my favorites. It’s so easy and delicious! You throw a 1/2 cup of raw cashews in the food processor until you have small bits. Dump the cashews in a bowl, and throw 8 oz of dates into the food processor. Process until you have date paste, and a ball forms (this takes a few minutes, and you might have to add a bit of water). Mix the date paste with the nut bits, form into a giant bar, and then cut into individual bars as you wish. Wrap in wax paper and store in an airtight container.

I also made these spiced fruit and nut balls:

Balls. Fruit and nut balls.

I can’t wait to break into these during work tomorrow.

For dinner tonight, I made two options: a tofu chili loosely based on this recipe and yellow tofu curry. Since we don’t have time to cook dinner during the week, we have to cook up a storm on the weekend. I’m exhausted from all the cooking and the clean up this weekend.

(And as I wrote storm, the storm siren started. Now I’m writing from the basement!)

Other Stuff

Twice in the previous week, we’ve had a chicken escape to our neighbor’s backyard via a hole under their fence. It’s always unsettling to realize a chicken is missing. Fortunately, they continue to produce eggs:

Pretty eggs.

Last weekend, Porkchop helped hang the Wisconsin printmakers show she organized! There are about 35 prints, and I wish we didn’t have to send them back to the artists next month!

This is by one of my favorite artists:

Why can't I have this?

And here’s Porkchop among the prints:

Prints. Lots of prints.

If you’re local, come to the artists’ reception! It is March 17, 6-8:00 pm, at the St. Louis Community College – Forest Park gallery (located right outside the library).

Good night!

Snow Beaks

Thanks to the recent 60+ degree weather here, all of the snow has nearly melted. However, I’ve been meaning to post this snowy chicken photo for a while, so here it is without further delay:

Snow is yummy!

That’s Scout and Agnes with snow-encrusted beaks. All of the chickens love to eat snow.

Chickens are funny animals. And mean too. Agnes is still at the bottom of the pecking order, and now Scooter and June Wayne (known as the Wyandottes around our house) have started harassing her constantly.

If Agnes is pecking at food off by herself, the Wyandottes come over and push her away. If Agnes is enjoying some alone time in the run, the Wyandottes take the opportunity to bully her. Over the weekend, Agnes developed a swollen right eye, and if I had to take a wild guess I would blame one of the Wyandottes. (The eye is getting better.)

If we had another chicken coop, we would give Agnes her own place.

In other news, some jackass busted out one of our car windows last week while Porkchop was parked at the community college art annex. Apparently, they thought Porkchop’s lunch bag contained some high value materials, as that was the only item disturbed. Nothing was taken, unless you count the $250 we spent to replace the window (and I count that).

On a happier note, we have guests lined up for March visits. Fun times are on the horizon! Until then, my time continues to be consumed by classes and studying. I have two big tests on Monday, and am feeling rather overwhelmed by the amount of material I still need to memorize.

Recent Eating

We’ve had a few meals recently that I’ve been meaning to recount.

One Saturday morning found us at Brasserie for brunch with an out-of-town friend. While the brunch menu is not online, trust that it is tasty and surprisingly inexpensive. I had eggs benedict with ham…the poached eggs were perfect, the hollandaise had a delight dijon mustard twist, and the ham was tasty. Porkchop’s brisket sandwich was excellent, and our friend’s quiche looked pretty darned good too. Other menu items like hazelnut waffles and french toast with lemon curd sounded tempting.

Local Harvest Café needs to be closer so we can just walk there. They know how to make a mean trout and meatloaf, that’s for sure. If you go for dinner, go early or late to avoid the 6-7:00 rush. Otherwise, you have to stand around watching people savor their food, and you kind of start to hate them.

At home, I’ve been loving these roasted sweet potatoes with ginger and honey. Seriously, tasty times a million. Over the weekend, I made this brown sugar glazed turkey meatloaf and chicken curry apple stir-fry. Both are from the Gluten Free Goddess blog, and both are new favorites.

Enjoy the warmth and sunshine!