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Saturday, December 24, 2011

From our house to yours...


I've been so busy the last few days that I haven't had time to stop and blog. Plus, Don's home on vacation for two weeks and I don't get much computer time when he's home.

In a couple hours I'm headed to Alabama to spend Christmas with my family. Don is staying home to take care of the critters. We have a deal...he goes to Louisiana to visit family for Thanksgiving and I stay home for critter duty. At Christmas I go to Alabama to visit family and he stays home.

I just wanted to take a moment before I headed out to say...

Happy Holidays
from
Hickahala Ranch!

Monday, December 19, 2011

It's the Grinch's fault!


This afternoon I strung Christmas lights along the front yard fence until it was dark and chilly. The dogs and I were singing Christmas carols, the cats were helping hang the lights and everyone was having a merry old time.

Okay, I confess. I strung Christmas lights until I got tired of trying to untangle huge wads of lights. The dogs kept barking and digging holes in the yard so I finally gave up. It's supposed to rain tonight and tomorrow so I really wanted to finish the lights this afternoon, but it will have to wait until after the rain.

I honestly do not know how the lights get so tangled. The wad that made me give up didn't seem to have a beginning or end.  While my memory isn't the best, I'm pretty sure I would remember if I took the lights down last year and tied them into knots. No, I recall taking them down quickly because it was cold and folding them neatly before storing in tubs.

So what happens from one Christmas to the next?  Do seismic shifts cause the lights to tangle throughout the year? Is it the pull of the full moon? Does Don go up in the barn loft to tangle the lights after feeding the horses?

After much deliberation I think I know who is to blame. The Grinch! Yep, during his off season I bet the Grinch sneaks in while I'm sleeping and tangles up all my Christmas lights. He was probably hiding behind a tree today while I was struggling to fix his mess.

I bet that's who the dogs were barking at the whole time!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Chicken in the hen house? Um...no!


Oh what a frightful day I had yesterday! First our old Lab Drake wandered off and it took a couple hours to find him. Well...technically we didn't find him, he just showed up. Don was down in the woods looking for Drake when I heard him at the garage door. Poor old Drake's been having a spell of senility so he'll be going out into the fenced in front yard from now on.

When I went out yesterday evening to do the chores I let several dogs out with me. This is routine for me and the dogs. Yesterday Maggie, Caoimhe, Seamus, Conan, Kyla and Katie went with me...the normal evening gang. As I stepped out of the garage and walked toward the chicken pen I realized the door was open and my Wyandotte chicken, Aunt Bertha, was OUTSIDE!!!

I ran to the chicken pen and tried to quickly guide her back in, but that wasn't going to happen. Chickens are not known for their high IQ. Aunt Bertha panicked and ran in the wrong direction, which caught the attention of two dogs...Maggie and Caoimhe. I'd been fortunate up to that moment that none of the six dogs had noticed the chicken was outside her pen. Now I was panicking too!

Screaming like a banshee I tried to keep Maggie and Caoimhe away while attempting to catch Aunt Bertha. It probably took just a few seconds to catch her, but it seemed like forever to me. Once I had her safely in the pen I have to admit...I shed a few tears and Aunt Bertha shed a few feathers.

I was quite upset with Don for not checking the latch when he was gathering eggs earlier in the day, but I am very grateful that the dogs were not interested in the chicken. I honestly don't think Maggie or Caoimhe had any interest in catching Aunt Bertha. No, they were just curious as to what was going on, otherwise they'd have definitely had her before I had a chance to get hold of the poor chicken.

A stressful day for sure, but you know what they say...all's well that ends well!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

A little touch of Mother Nature in the house...


The weather has recently turned chilly again so last night I decided to build a fire in the fireplace. Don had brought some damp wood in to dry a week or so back and I was quite delighted to discover that one of the logs had sprouted a gift from Mother Nature...mushrooms!

I believe these to be Oyster Mushrooms, an edible variety of wild mushroom. Oyster Mushrooms always grow on hardwood and these are growing on a piece of the dead Elm tree we had cut earlier this Summer. They're called Oyster Mushrooms because of the way they look, not because of their taste. They actually have a nutty licorice, or anise, flavor.

Now, I'm no wild mushroom expert so I didn't serve these up for supper last night! However, I'm 90 percent sure these are Oyster Mushrooms because of the way the gills appear to run down the stem.


When Don got home he admired my discovery, but agreed that it would be best not to eat them. Instead, he tossed the log on the fire and burned up my Oyster Mushrooms! I wanted to use them in a little Christmas woods land display under glass, but Don thought they'd just get slimy and nasty so into the fire they went.

I'm just glad I found them before he did. At least I was able to take some photos and do some research. It's always good to learn something new!

Friday, December 16, 2011

When your bowl is empty, sit in it!


Yesterday when I came into the garage after feeding the chickens I found Siobhan sitting in the bowl we use outdoors to feed the cats. Apparently, it was a comfy place to sit because she stayed there while I went inside to get my phone. I snapped several photos and she never got up.

Of course, she hopped right up when I opened the cat food container (we keep it in an old cooler). All the other cats came running, but I fed Siobhan first. Seemed only fair since she'd been patiently waiting in the food bowl!

Cats are so funny. I've found them curled up asleep in the kitchen sink and the bathroom sinks. I've found them in various sized boxes...some much to small to comfortably hold the cat! I've found them snoozing in plastic shopping bags and one year Hermione thought the Christmas wreath was the perfect place to nap!



They curl up with us, with the dogs and I've even found Fergus napping in the chicken house! There's not a nook or cranny in this house that I haven't discovered a cat at one time or another, but yesterday was the first time I ever caught one sitting in their food bowl.

I don't know...maybe Siobhan chose that seat because it fit her big wide hiney perfectly!




Thursday, December 15, 2011

Bad luck comes in threes, right?


If the old superstition about bad luck coming in threes is true, then I should be good to go! Computer virus last Friday, water leak in the laundry on Saturday and realized on Sunday our satellite wasn't working on the television.

Don fixed the computer last Saturday night, I called Directv on Monday and ended up having to set up an appointment to have a repairman come out on Wednesday, which turned into a very busy day!

I got up early yesterday so I could get the floors swept and the laundry room emptied while Don went to feed the horses and call the plumber. Plumber actually arrived before the TV repairman and got to work sawing two big holes out of my laundry room wall. Pictured above is the bad fitting he found. It has now been replaced, but the entire house was plumbed with this stuff so we're just waiting for the next one to spew. An example of the lovely plumbing work done on our house when we built it:


While the plumber was restyling the laundry room walls and plumbing, the TV repairman got busy restyling the cable to our television. Seems the dogs had been using the cable as a chew toy and the high winds we've had this Fall repositioned the satellite dish. The repairman replaced the cable and ran it above the windows along the back wall by screwing it to the brick wall.

HA! I'd like to see a dog chew on it now...the cable is a good 12 plus feet off the ground! Of course, I think it should have been installed that way in the first place, but we only had two well behaved dogs when we moved into the house almost eight years ago.

After everyone finished their repair jobs and left I was able to get outside and start putting up some of my Christmas lights. Don hopped on the tractor to do some driveway repair work and we stayed out until well past dark. Yesterday you would never have thought we'd already had snow twice this Fall as it was 68 degrees. I was hanging up Christmas lights in short sleeves...and enjoying every minute of it!

Here's hoping you don't get hit with triple trouble this holiday season! I know I'm keeping my fingers crossed that we don't get a triple whammy again any time soon!

Monday, December 12, 2011

More unexpected visitors...


The other day I was sitting here at the computer when I heard a sound that made my heart sink. From the sound I assumed that a water line had broken and water was spraying out into the back yard. Imagine my delight in discovering, when I peered out the back door, that it was an enormous amount of migrating birds!

I'll take birds over broken water lines any day, even if they are grackles, which these appeared to be. Obviously my neck of the woods is a very popular migration area for the noisy birds (just check out the map - http://www.birdsource.org/GIS/cgrackle.html). Next time I won't be surprised when I hear them out back!

They were a marvel to watch as they flew in unison from one group of trees to the other. I had to grab my phone and run outside to get a picture as they flew over the house. Unfortunately, it's very difficult to get a good photo of flying birds, so the picture doesn't even begin to convey the large amount of birds that flew over my head. I'm just glad none of them dropped a "gift" on my head as I was standing there gawking up at them!


Several years ago, during the winter, I caught a glimpse out the window of something large and white. I ran to the porch and marveled as a large flock of snow geese swooped around the barn and then landed in the horse pasture. There were so many that it looked like the pasture was covered in snow. Like the grackles, the snow geese didn't stay long, but I am so glad they graced me with their presence for a short time.

I have to admit, grackles don't even compare to snow geese, but the massive number of them was quite awesome and the sound was unbelievable. There isn't a week that goes by on the farm that something doesn't catch my eye and send me on a search to learn more about it. I am very grateful to live here where nature surrounds and entertains me. It makes my life full and exciting.

Now I need to go see what the dogs are so excited about outside. Must be another unexpected visitor...like a possum, an owl or a deer! Or, it could just be the neighbor driving down his driveway!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Sorry about that!


Poor computer caught a nasty virus Friday! And no, it wasn't my precious grandson's fault...he hasn't been on our computer since this photo was made two years ago!

The virus, called Vista Security 2011, masquerades as anti malware, but it's actually trying to steal your credit card information. The poor English used in the wording was a huge red flag for me, so I unplugged the Internet connection and waited to see if Don could get it off our computer.

He was able to access the necessary steps to remove it while at work and did so last night. YIPPEE...I've been online all day trying to catch up! Now I need to get off and do some of the Christmas stuff I should be doing, but first I need to fix the leaking drain pipe in the laundry room.

It's always something, isn't it?

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Family, fun and lots of holiday shopping!

Nerisha, Nicole, Audrey, me, Valerie, Amanda and Anna
I've been gone awhile and for good reason! Last weekend was our annual mother/daughter Christmas shopping trip and WOW...it was hectic, but lots of fun!

Last Thursday night I headed to Alabama and my sister's (Audrey) house. Arrived about 2:30 a.m. and slept a few hours before we were up and headed to Huntsville to pick up my cute pregnant daughter-in-law (Nerisha). After helping my son get a new battery to replace the dead one on his car we headed down the highway toward Birmingham.

Once we got to Birmingham the group of us checked into the Wynfrey Hotel and hit the Galleria. We were able to get a head start on some Christmas shopping and then hit the bed since we needed to get up early and head on down the road to Montgomery.

When we arrived in Montgomery we met up with my sister-in-law (Valerie) and niece (Anna) and began to shop until we literally dropped! Nerisha fell asleep at the mall so we headed to our suite at Staybridge and tucked her into bed.

Then we hit some more shops (I thought they were going to have to throw us out) before heading to the Montgomery Airport to pick up my daughter (Nicole) who had to catch a late flight from Dallas. My precious grandson's preschool recital was that day so Nicole wasn't able to join us for the entire weekend. Isn't he the cutest little Toy Soldier you ever saw?

Obviously Montgomery rolls up the carpet at 10 p.m. as we couldn't even find a Wal Mart Supercenter that was still open! Before heading back to the hotel we grabbed some snacks at a gas station so we'd have some munchies while gabbing in our suite.

Sunday we enjoyed a very nice buffet breakfast at the hotel before heading out to do some super fast shopping. I have to say, the Staybridge was very nice (the photo at top was taken in the lobby) and we'll definitely use them again next year if there's one in New Orleans. Yep, the girls decided we should do our holiday shopping in New Orleans next year. Last year we went to Nashville.

After some lightning speed shopping we parted ways at noon. Valerie and Anna headed back south to Mobile and we headed north, stopping once again at the Galleria to do some more shopping. We got Nerisha home to Huntsville in one piece and boy, was her hubby glad to see her!

Nicole and I spent the night with my mom and I know she enjoyed having us. I woke on Monday morning to the sound of Grandma and Nicole chatting up a storm. Unfortunately, it was a short visit as I had to get Nicole to the Birmingham Airport by 10 a.m. and head to Mississippi and MY hubby!

Monday night I fell asleep about 8 p.m. and slept a full 16 hours! I'm all rested up now and ready to get those gifts wrapped in time for Christmas!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Little Miss Attitude...


Even with dirt on her nose, Aislinn looks like a sweetie, doesn't she? Well, looks can be deceiving...just ask our vet!

For a couple weeks now I've been telling Don something was wrong with Aislinn's right ear. She whimpered every time she scratched it. When I would rub the ear it sounded squishy, which I took to be a sign of an ear infection.

Don finally had time to take her to the vet yesterday and boy...did he have an exciting time! At first they could not get her out of the crate. They even turned it on end and Aislinn managed to hang on somehow! So a vet tech reached up to pull her out and Aislinn let her know real quick she didn't care for strange hands. Don was finally able to get her out (while wearing gloves).

At this point the vet decided Miss Attitude needed a muzzle and one small enough was found, but it took THREE people to hold Aislinn down and get it on her. Next step was to wrap her up tight in a towel and tie it so she couldn't escape! Even all bound up Aislinn still required three people to hold her on the table so the vet could examine her ears.

Poor little girl...I was right. She had an ear infection and ear mites. Don said Aislinn didn't calm down until the vet put ointment in her ears and began to work it down into the ear canal. At that point she practically purred...just lay there with her eyes closed and made happy little moans and grunts.

Aislinn's chart now has the word "BITER" in big red letters written on the front and we are left to figure out how the TWO of us are going to hold her down (without a muzzle) while treating her ears. If we're lucky, Little Miss Attitude will remember how good it felt when the vet massaged the ointment into her ears.

I'm not holding my breath though...